Posts tagged ‘Micah’

December 2, 2014

Joy to the World

by Bethany

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

— Psalm 98:4-6

On July 17, 1674, when Isaac Watts was born in Southampton, England, his father was in jail for having been found guilty of teaching radical ideas against the Church of England. When Watts went away to school, he followed in his father’s nonconformist ways. He questioned everything, wanting to know why he or anyone should accept the way things were.

As a young adult, Watts found church music boring and uninspired. Although many of his peers agreed with him, they kept quiet. He, however, complained to his father, who challenged him to create something better. And he did—more than six hundred hymns and hundreds of poems. While studying Psalm 98, Watts wrote “Joy to the World” and set it to the tune “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” When he shared his music with the church, however, it was not well received. At the time, few English Christians felt comfortable with him having rewritten the Psalms. By 1719, he was able to publish the hymn in his new hymnbook, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament and Applied to the Christian State and Worship, which also included “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “At the Cross,” and “This is the Day the Lord Has Made.”

Forty-four years later, Lowell Mason was born in Medfield, MA. In 1812, he moved to Macon, Georgia, to pursue a career as a banker and study Handel in his spare time. On weekends, he wrote music and arrangements. His musical creations were initially rejected, but he found a publisher in Massachusetts in 1827. He immediately left the South and moved to Boston. For the next twenty years, he was a prominent musician in New England—funding the first public school music program and writing more than six hundred hymns.

In 1836, Mason composed a new melody inspired by Handel’s Messiah. He called it “Antioch,” but he lacked words for it. Three years later, however, he linked Watts’s “Joy to the World” and his “Antioch.” Interestingly, it is unknown how “Joy to the World” became known as a Christmas carol. It is not inspired by the New Testament but the Old and it has no words that directly allude to the birth of the Messiah. In fact, “Joy to the World” could be a song for all seasons.

Joy to the World (Listen: Red Mountain Church – 3:56)

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love.

Daily Reading
Micah 7 (Listen – 3:36)
Luke 16 (Listen – 4:19)

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Correction: A previous version of this post misstated Lowell Mason’s birth location as Orange, New Jersey, it is Medfield, MA.

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December 1, 2014

A Song Worth Singing

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Micah 6 (Listen – 2:41)
Luke 15 (Listen – 4:02)

While festive, the Top 10 Christmas Songs in America are profoundly and unapologetically devoid of spiritual joy. From Lennon’s Christmas-as-political statement, “Happy XMas (War Is Over),” to the Trans-Siberian orchestra’s unadulterated exuberance, they sing of happy feelings but miss transcendent peace. The list, reported by Business Insider, is topped by Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which desperately pleads with a lover to fill a need far too large for any person.

Christmas is at far less risk of attack, or war as some claim, than it is of counterfeit. Settling for happiness as proxy for meaning isn’t a recent change in America’s Christmas tradition. In 1944 Judy Garland sang, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” the song mandates merriness—challenging, “from now on your troubles will be out of sight,” while predicting, “through the years we’ll all be together”—but offers no sufficient solution as to how any of this will come to be. 

During our Advent Series on The Park Forum we’ll read the stories behind some of the most meaningful Christmas music in the Christian Tradition. We’ll feature ancient and modern songs, and have audio links which feature artists that range from abbey choirs to indie bands (like today). Our hope is that our minds would focus on the sufficient and transcendent love of God. It is an unspeakable privilege to celebrate a God who came to live among us, giving himself fully so we might have a joy that isn’t dependent on seasons or songs——a glorious life that cannot be taken.

As Christians, our goal isn’t to return to an idyllic image of Christmas past, but the renewal of transcendent meaning as we prepare for Christmas present. To start our Advent Series today we have Mark Lowery’s, “Mary Did You Know,” with an audio link to Pentatonix, an a-cappella group composed of five members still in their twenties. In contrast to the Top 10 Christmas Songs, it is refreshing to see a modern group covering a modern song which has such spiritual depth. Each week we’ll have a link to listen to the song on Spotify (you can set up an account for free to listen), as well as the lyrics. 

Mary Did You Know (Listen: Pentatonix – 3:23)

Mary did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM.

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Two quick Park Forum notes:
*Each day we’ll include original lyrics, the linked audio tracks may not always align as modern musicians often create their own arrangements.
*Beginning tomorrow, links to Daily Readings will be located below song lyrics for the remainder of Advent.

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November 28, 2014

Neither Toil or Spin

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Micah 3 (Listen – 1:50)
Luke 12 (Listen – 7:38)

It’s far to easy to get swept away in the rush of the holidays. Anxiety over wrapping the final quarter of the year, scheduling events, and traveling through busy airports can begin to build as Christmas approaches. On Monday we’ll begin our Advent series on The Park Forum (something we’re really excited about), but before we do we wanted to set a tone for the holiday season with the words of Christ, which remind us to trust him in the midst of the life’s pressures.

When Christ talked about anxiety and trust he wasn’t minimizing the stress of life, he was showing the sufficiency of his love. It’s only by placing our faith in Christ that we are given the opportunity to displace it in ourselves. We stop looking to calm daily anxieties with our own success, appearance, accolade—which change far too often to offer security. [1]

A meditation and prayer from the words of Christ in Luke 12.22-31:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

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Weekend Readings:

Saturday: Micah 4 (Listen – 2:41); Luke 13 (Listen – 4:36)
Sunday: Micah 5 (Listen – 2:31); Luke 14 (Listen – 4:09)

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Footnotes

[1] When Christ talked about anxiety, or discouragement, his words were focused on the daily pressures common to all people. He was not, nor are we above, trying to speak to mental health conditions that persist despite great effort and desire. In all things we look to Christ, but in many we find ourselves holding on for future relief, future glory, future joy—Christ will return, he will make all things new.

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November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Prayers

by Steven Dilla

Daily Readings:
Micah 2
 (Listen – 2:35 min)
Luke 11 (Listen – 7:01 min)

The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11.2-4)
Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.

A Puritan Prayer of Thanksgiving, Author Unknown, From The Valley of Vision

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil; 

for the body thou hast given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing senses to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding; 

for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste, sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, 

for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joys of heaven, for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly,

I love thee above the powers of language to express, 

for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

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November 26, 2014

Overcoming Excuses to Show Love

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Micah 1 (Listen – 2:56)
Luke 10 (Listen – 5:14)

A chronically prone host to robberies and murders, the 17 mile road referred to in the parable of The Good Samaritan descends 3,500 feet from Jerusalem to Jericho. In Jesus’ day it served as a commuter road for Priests and Levites. Original hearers of Jesus’ parable would have known the religious leaders in the story were returning home after their two-week period of serving in the Temple.

If a Priest or a Levite touched a corpse they became ceremonially unclean and needed to return to the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem, purchase a red heifer, and (at the proper time) sacrifice it. In addition to the financial cost, the process required would delay the Priest and Levites’ journey home by about a week. It is clear, however, from the Jesus’ story that cursory evaluation of the wounded man would reveal he was not dead——meaning the Priest and Levite leveraged God’s word to justify their unwillingness to sacrifice time, money, and comfort. Brian Stiller says it more strongly, “In a sense, these two continue what the robbers had begun in destroying the man.” [1] 

There are many excuses for the Samaritan not to show love. To help someone on a trade route was to take your life into your own hands; it’s clear there are wicked people nearby. Additionally, inns were known to be places of ill repute. Innkeepers were notoriously dishonest, and while the Samaritan protects the wounded man from debtor’s prison by offering to pay any cost incurred, he absorbs all the risk if the innkeeper takes advantage of either of them. 

It is a distinctly American way of reading a text to picture ourselves as the hero. Jesus wanted his listeners to find themselves in his parables——but in this story he’s revealing just as much about himself as he is about ourselves. Jesus is the true good Samaritan. We are the ones who are mortally wounded. We’re the ones overwhelmed by evil and incapable of helping ourselves. It’s Jesus who saves. He takes his life into his own hands——withholding nothing to pay the price. Like the Good Samaritan, Christ’s generous love defies logic and is offered freely at our most vulnerable point.

Prayer: God, thank you that you rescued us when we were yet sinners. We see that until we accept Jesus’ love for us, we’ll never be able to sustain in sacrificial love to our neighbors, let-alone our enemies. Remind us of the love you first showed us and allow us to live as extensions of that love to everyone around us.

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Footnotes

[1] Brian Stiller. Preaching Parables to Postmoderns. p.83.

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