St. Patrick’s Day: Rifts and Reconciliation

St. Patrick’s Day is a light-hearted celebration day. At least in the States. Everyone wants to be Irish. All the things, clothes, and food are green. Or you’ll get pinched.

I even gave into the spirit of the day. Irish Pandora playing (Chieftains for the win!) while I baked scones donned in a green shirt. My Irish great- uncle would be proud. Or at least amused.

Throughout the day, I’ve been thinking about the more serious, tragic themes of St. Patrick’s story and the reasons behind the green and orange colors: slavery, religious wars, paganism, Patrick’s own animosity to his Creator. These in turn remind me of the rifts I see today. Dissent and polarization in politics, denominations, and even families. Slavery still to be eradicated. Hate-filled wars continue. People still reject their Creator.

But then there are other themes from St. Patrick’s story: Patrick’s reconciliation to God, his forgiveness and missionary work for his former enslavers, freedom from paganism for those who believed in Christ.

Patrick’s story that reminds me of Joseph in the Bible. And Paul. In these stories and more throughout history, God has shown himself powerful to work even in the bleakest, most hopeless situations. And His purposes led to life for his people, even when it seems all is lost.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis‬ ‭50:20‬

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭

That gives me hope for the rifts today. Hope to pray for reconciliation. Hope that God is still at work. Hope to keep doing the work he gives.

Sunday Song: I Will Sing of my Redeemer

The book of Psalms is a great gift. It teaches us to remember, to trust, to cry out, to rejoice… in song.

When troubles, worries, temptations, and frustrations take hold, when I can’t see past tomorrow’s responsibilities or today’s failures, when I’m gladdened with deep joy and contentment, my soul needs most to remember Christ’s great sacrifice on my behalf. And from that remembrance, my soul and body must join together and sing.

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

Thanks and credit to Marianne Kim who inspired the introduction.

What is Good: Justice, Kindness, and Humility

Yesterday was “Sanctity of Life” Sunday, set aside to pray for the end of the killing of America’s children through abortion. The day before, thousands of Americans marched in Washington, D.C. for the rights of these unborn children who are not able to speak for themselves. Outside of these special days, men and women work in crisis pregnancy centers to give hope and protection to women and their unborn children so that they will choose life over abortion.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honoring the man who was assassinated because he stood up for the sanctity of African Americans against the evil of racism and segregation. He was willing to die fighting against this evil that manifested as oppression and even cold-blooded murder. Outside of this special day, men and women are still working and hoping for racial reconciliation.

These days back-to-back are powerful reminders to me of Micah 6:8. Even when these days have passed, may we act in justice, not showing partiality or acting out of our own interests. May we truly love kindness, not just as random acts, but as a way of life. May we walk humbly with our God, listening first to His words in Scripture and obeying them.

May we pray Micah 6:8 for our leaders, even as we pray it for ourselves. As we pray those words, may we go and walk in them every day, not just on the special days.

Sunday Song: Jesus Paid It All (Medley)

The Scroll and the Lamb

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice,

“Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 

But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me,

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Revelation, Chapter 5

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie.

Saturday Song: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

This past week was Valentine’s Day.  Hard to miss, with all the pink, red, balloons, flowers, candy, stuffed animals, fancy dinners… and that was just Facebook.  Love was definitely in the air and to be celebrated.

I’ll admit, I did have some awkward moments, a sort of sense of failure really, when I walked past the displays in the stores, realizing that none of the tokens of love would be given to me.

Valentine’s evening, however, brought a greater token of love. I found myself sitting at a table with friends, talking about the meaning of 1 John 4:10:

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Atoning — to make reparation or supply satisfaction

Sacrifice — the act of offering to a deity something precious; destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else

Jesus was the precious offering. He supplied reparation, not for his sins, but mine.

“Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah 6:7

All else, no matter how great and wonderful, are trifles compared to the love of God for me. That verse, like so many, is a token to imprint on my heart the realization of God’s love.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all… (Isaac Watts)

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river. (Frances J. Crosby)

By the grace of God, arranged and played by Katie

 

 

Remember 


“Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friend.”John 15:13 

“Thanks and praise, for our days, ‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;

 As we go, this we know, God is nigh…

While the light fades from sight,

 And the stars gleaming rays softly send,

 To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.” 

Lyrics from Taps