Thursday, October 25, 2012

old hymns and new thoughts

Buckhorn Golf Course, early morning, October
This morning I thought I had a clear idea of what I wanted to write about. But then, during the last mile of my walk with Scout, passing the golf course in the early morning light, a verse from an old hymn (by John Greenleaf Whittier, 1807-1892) seeped its way through the partitions of my memory and spilled its message into my consciousness.
The opening stanza wouldn’t let me go until I held it to the light and saw that it was a serendipitous voice of spiritual reason in the midst of our fragmented, fractured, fractious culture.
Dear Lord and Father of mankind, 
 forgive our foolish ways; 
 reclothe us in our rightful mind, 
 in purer lives thy service find, 
 in deeper reverence, praise
Reclothe us in our rightful minds
FOOLISH WAYS: The sad thing is, I don’t even have to enumerate our foolish ways. Even those who are full-bull-foolish pretty-much know that they are compromised… but they still feel justified in their behavior. “Well, look at the other guy!” They say. As if that makes hypocrisy and meanness somehow acceptable.
Here’s the thing about God. God does forgive our foolish ways; fact is, God already has. But we have to receive the forgiveness. And it’s very hard to receive forgiveness absent admitting our need to be forgiven.
RIGHTFUL MIND: And, as for becoming reclothed in our rightful mind… Well, first we have to come to Jesus with humility, and we have to open ourselves to grace, and we have to be willing to leave it all behind, and we have to make the decision to follow Jesus.
Something outrageously marvelous can happen when we’re willing to leave all that foolishness at the cross and follow Jesus. The cross may be a hard place (humility, honesty, conviction, need), but if we continue to follow Jesus, with the cross as our starting place, then the next place we arrive at is RESURRECTION!
IN PURER LIVES THY SERVICE FIND: Interestingly, the evidence of a purer life tends to be service. Because Jesus doesn’t lead us into paradise right away, Jesus first leads us back into a world full with pain and hurt and betrayal and need. Jesus not only stands in stark contrast to brokenness, Jesus also stands in stark contrast to self-righteousness and the tendency of too many religious people to shun the world Jesus came to save.
Jesus not only stands in stark contrast to brokenness, Jesus also stands in stark contrast to self-righteousness and self-righteous religiosity.
There’s another stanza in Whittier’s hymn I’d like to leave us with today:
Drop thy still dews of quietness, 
 till all our strivings cease; 
 take from our souls the strain and stress, 
 and let our ordered lives confess 
 the beauty of thy peace.
In peace – God’s kind of peace – DEREK

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