Psalm of Gratitude

26 11 2015

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.

Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.


Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

(Note that the landscape art above is derived from a photograph in the public domain provided by the United States National Park Service.)

The Proclamation of Thanksgiving and Praise

24 11 2015

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

October 6th

5 10 2015


Black almost total,

Makings of masses

For forms soon to perform.

Shadows everywhere, a

Landscape not there, but there.

Something, not nothing.

Things to see,

Yet difficult to do.

As gray and blue band one horizon,

An old earth hints.

The deep, deep sky tells.

Lights reach through darkness,

Some red, some blue,

All white royal and ringing,

Having sounded through the aged past;

 Lights still to hear and heed,

Morning stars still singing for the future,

Constellations of pattern, order, system:


Lyrics of light now chant soft

Save one star rising in the east,

A vibrant and crystal silver

Radiating up to highest heaven,

Yet speaking down to lowliest earth.

lakeview sunrise

Leaves breathe a still, small wind

And yield a pleased applause.

An orb blinks beyond hills:

A new day arrives,

Its Sun soaring over fields and into forests.

Poplars proclaim in Spirited delight

Strength the darkness cannot compromise,

Song the darkness cannot comprehend.

Light splashes against maples and oaks,

Casting a spray of yellow, red, and green.

Elms flow as fountains of gold.

Grasses below bow and sway.

Flakes of frost glow like unseen stars.

A stream is tickled into a glistening go.

An autumn dawn.


To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to bear

And a time to die…

Winter will soon come:

A time for death

And a time for transcending, to be born again;

Baptism in blanketing white water

Unshackling life,

Bringing verity virtue verve verdure.

A cardinal appears amid green,

Bringing glad tidings,

Singing simple joy sounds of

Praise preaching to every leaf:

Peace on earth,


Good will.

Kyrie Gloria!

Life Together

25 08 2015

The pastor of the church I attended while a student at university often mentioned the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This charismatic Swedish Covenant pastor spoke of the ecumenical German Lutheran pastor with so much respect that I decided to buy some of Bonhoeffer’s books.  These included The Cost of Discipleship, Ethics, Letters & Papers from Prison, and Life Together.

Decades have passed. Recently, I was inspired to pull that last one listed from the shelf and take a new look at it. Even though the book was first published in English by Harper & Row in 1954, reading it anew in 2015 has been a renewing experience.

As the blurb on the back of the Harper Jubilee edition says, “This story of a unique fellowship in an underground seminary during the Nazi years reads like one of Paul’s letters. It gives practical advice on how life together in Christ can be sustained in families and groups. The role of personal prayer, worship in common, everyday work, and Christian service is treated in simple, almost Biblical, words. Life Together is bread for all who are hungry for the real life of Christian fellowship.”

Many fine Christian scholars over the years have taught that, in this Age of the Church (which is also called the Age of Grace), the office of prophet is performed by those who preach and teach the Bible. In Pastor Bonhoeffer’s case, that title is indeed befitting. He really does sound like a New Testament apostle speaking with the authority and accuracy of an Old Testament prophet. In this epistle on how to be a church, and how to do church, Bonhoeffer’s words become, in those of an earlier minister of the Gospel, “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

This is due in great part to Bonhoeffer’s reverence for the Word: Christ Jesus the Word of the Triune God, and the words spoken and written by the prophets and apostles on behalf of the Triune God. As Bonhoeffer insists, not a person and not an assembly can be any good in the Church of our Savior and Lord Christ Jesus without centering in thought, speech, and action on the Word.

“The Christian lives wholly by the truth of God’s Word in Jesus Christ. If somebody asks him, Where is your salvation, your righteousness? he can never point to himself.  He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ, which assures him salvation and righteousness. He is as alert as possible to the Word. Because he daily hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he daily desires the redeeming Word. And it can come only from the outside. In himself he is destitute and dead. Help must come from the outside, and it has come and comes daily and anew in the Word of Jesus Christ, bringing redemption, righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

“But God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation.”

Bonhoeffer presupposes this occurs in church … that is, within what we typically designate as church: services and ceremonies both formal and informal conducted inside ecclesiastical buildings.  But Bonhoeffer has other assemblies in mind, too, such as monasteries and convents, communes, families and households.  As Jesus Himself said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

And Bonhoeffer has much to say to individuals. “We recognize, then, that only as we are within the fellowship can we be alone, and only he that is alone can live in fellowship. Only in fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in fellowship. Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.”

Life Together is not one of those books to be skimmed and then cast amid the jetsam navigated by garage sailors. Read it and read it again. The book is worthy of the kind of meditation encouraged by Bonhoeffer.


Holy Water

16 08 2015
Holy Water

Holy Water


“Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born of water and spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Jesus the Nazarene

The New Year

1 01 2015

Be welcome, year! with corn and sickle come;
Make poor the body, but make rich the heart:
What man that bears his sheaves, gold-nodding, home,
Will heed the paint rubbed from his groaning cart!

Nor leave behind thy fears and holy shames,
Thy sorrows on the horizon hanging low–
Gray gathered fuel for the sunset-flames
When joyous in death’s harvest-home we go.

George MacDonald

Watering the Earth

29 12 2014


Isaiah 55:9-11 

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways,
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For just as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and they do not return there
except they have watered the earth thoroughly
    and cause it to bring forth and sprout,
and give seed to the sower
    and bread to the eater,
11 so shall be my word that goes out from my mouth.
    It shall not return to me without success,
but shall accomplish what I desire
    and be successful in the thing for which I sent it.

Lexham English Bible (LEB)2012 by Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software


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