Wednesday, January 07, 2004

From Peru Mission's website an excerpt from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales that paints a picture of a faithful parish priest.

There was a good man of the church, a poor parish Priest, but rich in holy thoughts and works. He was also a learned man, a cleric, who wished to preach Christ´s gospel truly and to teach the parishioners devoutly. He was benign, wonderfully diligent, and extremely patient in adversity, as he had proved many times. He did not at all like to have anyone excommunicated for non-payment of tithes; rather, he would give, without doubt, a portion of the offering and also of his salary to the poor parishioners. He needed little to fill his own needs. His parish was wide and the houses far apart, but he never failed, rain or shine, sick or well, to visit the farthest in his parish, be rich or poor, travelling on foot with a staff in his hand. To his congregation he gave this noble example: first he practiced good deeds, and afterward he preached them. He took this idea from the gospels, and added to it another: if gold rust, what shall iron do? For if a priest whom we trust is not worthy, it is no wonder that an ignorant man sins. And it is a shame, if a priest only realizes it, to see a wicked priest and a godly congregation. Surely a parson should set an example by his godliness as to how his parishioners should live. This Priest did not hire out his benefice and leave his people in difficulties while he ran off to St. Paul´s in London to look for an endowment singing masses for the dead, or to be retained by a guild. He stayed at home and guarded his parish well so that evil did not corrupt it. He was a pastor and not a mercenary. And yet, though he himself was holy and virtuous, he was not contemptuous of sinners, nor overbearing and proud in his talk; rather, he was discreet and kind in his teaching. His business was to draw folk to heaven by fairness and by setting a good example. But if any sinner, whether of high or low birth, was obstinate, this Parson would at once rebuke him for it sharply. I don´t believe there is a better priest anywhere. He cared nothing for pomp and reverence, nor did he affect an overly nice conscience; he taught the lore of Christ and His twelve Apostles, but first he followed it himself.

Having heard Wes Baker speak at our church, I know that the Peru Mission sincerely seeks to have a ministry that has much in common with Chaucer's exemplary parish priest.

Russ already mentioned T.M. Moore's article Whatever Happened to Singing?, but I enjoyed it so much I had to mention it here too. Here's a snippet, but don't let reading this excerpt be an excuse to skip out on the whole article:

It’s time for Christians to recover the spiritual discipline of singing to the Lord.  Not just on Sundays – although, from what I have observed over the years, that could use some strengthening – but during the day and throughout the week.  Turn off the radio in the car and use the time to learn a new song to sing to the Lord.  Don’t just flop down in front of the TV; first, lead your family in singing the hymns from last Sunday’s worship service.  Sing at your desk.  Sing over lunch.  Sing with a friend.  Sing your prayers to the Lord in the morning (my father-in-law “croaks” his out each morning) or before you retire at night.  Sing in the full expectation that, as you do, God the Spirit will bend to your joyful noise and seek you out as a vessel ready for His filling. 

One of the greatest things my Dad taught me was how to sing. I never knew that I was being taught, and I'm not sure he knew he was teaching me (that's often the most profound kind of teaching). But every Sunday, my Dad stood up, hymnal in hand, and belted out the hymns in on the Lord's Day as Christ's people gathered for worship. He wasn't in the choir, he didn't have the voice of an opera singer, but he sang -- with vigor and volume, I might add. I remember watching other men in our mainline Presbyterian congregation who respectfully stood for the hymns and in some cases even opened the hymn books to the right page to hold it for their wives or look at themselves, but who never sang. Why not I wondered. I never asked any of them, but I think my interpretation was pretty much on the mark. They didn't think singing was manly, but was for grandmas and little children. I took their silence as pride. Singing does involve a significant commitment after all -- you really must put yourself out there. You've got to let the voice venture out, possibly without much support. But where the voice is on a short leash, I would reckon that the man is as well. Our bodies (including our voices) must join in worshipping God--unless we are physically disabled--and to the extent that we hold back part of our bodies from worshipping Him, I fear that we are holding back our very selves, maybe quite significantly.

Though outside of a churchly setting I saw this illustrated in the movie Captain Corelli's Madolin. In the movie, set during WWII, the Italian and German forces are allied and stationed together. When the Italian soldiers get together they SING, they give themselves to the song and the act of singing. But the Germans can hardly understand. They can't relate at all. They don't sing the way the Italians do. They're too uptight on too short of a leash. They can't give themselves to singing. Now I have no idea whether that is a fair characterization of either that historical situation or Germans vs. Italians in general, but even the particulars are pure fiction, it's still a wonderful illustration of a masculine singing and a weak and emasculated silence, uwilling to break forth in song.

Now, I know George W isn't the messiah. And I don't believe the "urban legends" that make their way across the web every few months about Bush sharing the gospel with a little boy in the middle of a big event at the White House.

But there is a charming little story linked on Chuck Colson's website that comes not from "my cousin's neighbor's son...who was there and saw it", but rather firsthand from a reliable source and was apparently well after the flashbulbs had disappeared and the photo op was over. Here's Colson's recounting of this great moment:

Just before the president left, I introduced him to Al Lawrence, a member of our staff. I told the president that I had met Al more than twenty years ago in a prison. Jesus had got hold of Al’s life, and he’s been working for us ever since. Then I told the president that Al’s son was now a freshman at Yale. At that point the president stopped, exclaimed, “We’re both Yale parents,” and threw his arms around Al Lawrence—an African-American ex-offender being embraced by the president of the United States in a church basement. The ground is indeed level at the foot of the cross.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Anthony Bradley's
Devaluing the Black Family
is sadly right on target.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Want to read through the Bible chronologically this year? Well here's a printable schedule that will take you through the entire Bible in a year in chronological order. Printable schedules by quarter can be found here:

Jan - March
Apr - Jun
July - Sept
Oct - Dec

And if you start tonight you're only 5 days behind!! ;-)

OK, I'm a little late on my wassail recipe for Christmas 2003, better late than never, right? If you want to see my wassail recipes from previous years check here (Dec 27th post) and here (Dec. 29th post). Recipes for the Wassail Bowl!. Now straight to this year's recipe...

The Bishop's Wassail

1 Bottle red wine

1Pint/½ litre water

½lb/225g Honey

1 Lemon and orange, thinly sliced

4 Cloves

1 tsp. Cinnamon


Heat the ingredients, stirring constantly, to just below boiling point. Pour into a punch bowl, at this point you can add some spirit and raisins. If you add a generous amount of Brandy, it is possible to set a flame to it as a seasonal spectacle!

As always, for all things wassail...visit THE wassail site.

I wasn't all that crazy about it, but it got pretty good reviews from my family. Happy wassailing.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

This morning as I was on a walk through my community, I noticed the sculpture pictured below -- Adam & Eve. I remembered seeing it a couple of years ago as part of the People Project in St. Louis, but had no idea that it had found a permanent home about a mile from my house.

It's an interesting piece. You can't quite tell from this view, but both Adam & Eve are represented--as two halves of one person. We're looking at the Adam side here. You can see that the tree dissects the head and body. The Eve side is the right shoulder, leg, etc. (That's what I surmised at least, slight breast, softer nose, and wider hips on the Eve [right] side). I'd love to talk to the artists about their interpretation. Quite a nice rendering, in some ways, of the him/them dynamic in Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

I would like to ask Sprague & Rahn where the fruit is, why the Adam side is wrestling the serpent (the Eve side just has snake coiling around her waist), why the dinosaur lookin' head on the serpent, etc.

I forgot how much I liked horehound candy. On the way to visit family over the Christmas holiday we stopped at a Cracker Barrell and I picked up a bag of horehound candy to suck on while I drove. They were just as good as I remembered them. My grandpa introduced me to them when I was about 12 or 13, but I probably haven't had any horehound candy in 10 years or so.

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