Hymnus Deo

Name:
Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bah

-rum-pah-pum-pum.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Ah, Holy Jesus

Listen to it here.

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended,
That man to judge Thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by Thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
’Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
I crucified Thee.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth,
God intercedeth.

For me, kind Jesus, was Thy incarnation,
Thy mortal sorrow, and Thy life’s oblation;
Thy death of anguish and Thy bitter passion,
For my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay Thee,
I do adore Thee, and will ever pray Thee,
Think on Thy pity and Thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Holy Days, Batman!

A happy All Saints’ season to you all. Or to be more technical, a happy fifth day in the octave of All Saints’. I hope it is proving to be a good season for you.

At St. John’s Anglican Church in Greensboro where I attend we celebrated All Saints’ Day through a Holy Communion service. The Rt. Rev. C. Peter Brewer, who has been our parish priest since May (and who is also Suffragan Bishop in our denomination, the Anglican Province of America), has done a great service to us in providing extra opportunities for corporate worship. In addition to Communion services on feast days other than the standard Sunday service, Fr. Brewer has been holding a weekly Communion service on Thursdays at noon. He has also been having Evening Prayer services on Wednesday nights, after which he has been holding an introductory course on Anglicanism. As one who believes strongly in the importance of the local church as central to the life of the community, I am glad to see these sorts of things going on and have enjoyed participating in them. I have often wished and prayed that there would be more frequent worship services in our area that I could participate in, particularly of a classical liturgical nature. And in the past, my options have generally been Fundamentalist churches, Liberal mainline churches, Seeker worship services, or the Roman Catholic mass. Other than the last option, I have at times attended some of these, finding myself leaving those services less than satisfied. So, having been limited to these others in the past, I have found the extra services at St. John’s to be a blessing.

We just passed Reformation Day, which was Tuesday. In honor of the day, I flipped through a biography of Luther that I picked up not so long ago that I haven’t read. It is called Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death, and was written by Richard Marius. I looked in particular at the section about Luther’s posting of the Ninety-Five Theses (which you can read here). I rather quickly ran across a piece of information that was new to me. Apparently some scholars in recent years have questioned whether or not Luther actually ever posted the Theses on the Wittenberg church door. It seems that Luther himself never made any reference to the event in his writings. Our record of the posting comes from Philipp Melanchthon’s brief account of Luther’s life, which was written some thirty years after the alleged event. But Melanchthon himself was not in Wittenberg at the time, not arriving until August 1518, whereas the posting of the Theses supposedly took place on October 31, 1517, some ten months before. Marius himself doesn’t appear to believe that Luther actually posted the Theses, but instead attempts a reconstruction of what might have actually happened in the development of the theses. The reconstruction is fairly detailed, so I won’t attempt to repeat it here. If you’re interested, you might want to try and get a hold of the book. I haven’t read the rest of the book, though, so for all I know it might be garbage. I thought I would mention it here anyway, since I imagine some readers would be interested in the simple fact that the debate exists. I don’t find the proposal convincing myself.

In more news related to All Saints’ Day, for my birthday my friend Chad recently gave me For All the Saints?: Remembering the Christian Departed by N. T. Wright. I just finished it yesterday. It is an outstanding book. If you have no familiarity with or interest in matters related to the Church Calendar, much of the book will be foreign territory to you. At the same time, Wright also deals with issues related to Purgatory and the cult of the saints, which should interest most Reformed folks and Evangelicals. And an especially interesting aspect of the book is that Wright really shows his Reformed and Evangelical leanings here, taking after the Catholic doctrines of Purgatory and Sainthood. I can’t say I agree with every jot and tittle of the book. At times in Wright’s writings and lectures one can sniff out a hint of religious liberalism that Wright doesn’t appear to realize he has. And if this were (American) football, and I were a referee, I would penalize Wright a combined total of thirty yards for a favorable citing of Process theologian John Polkinghorne and for an unnecessary use of the vomit-inducing phrase “househusband”. These things to the side, the book is shot through with the brilliant sort of insights one typically hears from Wright. It’s definitely worth the read. It’s also an easy read, and a short seventy-six pages. Mark Horne has commented about the book some on his blog, but I haven’t read the comments yet.

With Halloween safely out of the way, I was greeted on Nov. 1 by a flyer in my mailbox from Lifeway Christian Stores. The flyer was decked out from cover to cover with Christmas images and products. For those who don’t know, Lifeway is the former Baptist Bookstore, still run (so far as I know) by the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday School Board. There wasn’t a hint in the flyer that there might be a holiday called Thanksgiving wedged somewhere between Halloween and Christmas. Apparently, the Baptists are more interested in the more traditionally Catholic holiday of Christmas(s) than they are the more Protestant holiday of Thanksgiving. But let’s be honest. Far more money can be and is made off of Christmas. I’ll leave the implications of this for you to figure out yourself.

Opening to the second page of the flyer, I read the following:

Jesus Loves The Little Children – It’s never too early to begin teaching your child that Jesus loves them. Even if they can’t read the words, they’ll one day realized you were already teaching them about Jesus from their very first steps.

Wow. I’m figuring that this must have been written by one of three different types of people: 1) a universalist; 2) a consistent Presbyterian; or 3) a Baptist who really doesn’t understand the implications of his theology. I suspect it’s actually the last type of person. If that’s the case, then may all Baptists be as inconsistent in their theology as this. One way or another, someone was obviously asleep at the wheel in the ad department at Lifeway when this one came through.

And Christmas approaches rapidly. Most people technically celebrate it as one day, rushing through Advent (which most have never heard of) like a flash of light. We’ve allowed the consumer culture to push its version of Christmas on us, in some cases, beginning as early as August. Some of this is easier to take. Some people like to shop early, so it’s a bit understandable when the stores have their Christmas products on display a couple of months early.

But some of it makes no sense. I was riding in the car yesterday and flipping through the commercial radio stations when I ran across a version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” being performed, I think, by Martina McBride. I wasn’t familiar with the radio station, so I just figured it was a country station and that the DJ had a little mix-up. But then the announcer came on, stated that it was “your station for the holidays” or some such thing, and proceeded to play some Christmas song by Andy Williams.

I couldn’t believe my ears. So this radio station will be playing Christmas music (or rather, the ambiguous “holiday music”, overlooking the root words “holy day” and their accompanying meanings) for the next two months. In case anyone has forgotten, we only have twelve months in a year. That makes one-sixth of a year, for those of you who are mathematically challenged, that “holiday music” will be played on this station. Is this how you spell the word “insanity”?

I had some computer problems recently (and have been very busy in general anyway), hence the lack of postings. Among other things, I’ll be getting back to those music postings soon – I hope. Thanks to those of you who keep checking back.

Cheers

At the grocery store last night, I rediscovered another benefit of excessively early Christmas marketing.

Egg nog.