Daily Archives: June 15, 2011

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Even when we get what we want…


Disbelief

The other night my reading from  The Message//Remix:Solo for the day was from Acts 16.  Paul and Silas had just been arrested and beaten and thrown in jail.  The following reading comes that same night.

 

 

Acts 16: 25 – 34  “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 31They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.”

 

 

OK, I don’t know about you, but the first thing that made an impression on me was that after a really bad day, being beaten and probably still bleeding, sore, tired, and in prison Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns of praise at midnight!  Wow, now that is faith!  I would not even be finished whining about how much my wounds hurt, forget having moved on to singing hymns to God.

 

 

The interesting thing is that the notes in the devotional book focused on the fact that even after getting out of prison, Paul and Silas were somewhat unbelieving, they didn’t even leave at first.  Similarly, when the guard saw that the prisoners were still there and he didn’t have to do himself in, he still didn’t really believe. When he came to believe he was baptized right away, not waiting for morning, as if it might all slip away if he didn’t shore it up with the formality.  Does this happen a lot?  Do we get the things for which we prayed and then fail to believe that our prayers were really answered?  Do we just chalk it up to luck or even worse expect the other shoe to drop and take it away to the extent that we don’t take time to be happy about it or give thanks?

 

 

When we pray, ideally, we believe the prayer will be answered.  So, if we pray for something and then it then happens we rejoice and are glad right?  Our faith in God was a part of the efficacy of the prayer, so what happens then if the person gets better or we get the job and we fail to give God credit for the answered prayer?  Does that lack of faith in the face of proof mean that the person gets sick again or we lose the job?  Clearly not.  These issues are far more complex than that.

 

 

Notice that, after an interval of suspended belief, Paul and Silas do leave the prison and that after his initial reaction to the cells being opened the jailer moves forward to caring for the men and being baptized.  This seems to be the trick, move forward into belief.  It is never too early, nor too late, to say thank you to God for his goodness.


photo thanks to flickr.com/photos/ben_grey/3777024332/

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Hymn#15


Fifth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #15

The Lord’s my light

Psalm 27
St. Magnus
Paraphrase, Scottish  Psalter 1650
Music: Jeremiah Clarke, from Divine Companion 1707  public domain.
 
The Lord’s my light and saving health;
who shall make me dismayed?
God is the stronghold of my life:
who shall make me afraid?
 
Though wars arise and armies camp
against me, I’ll not fear;
I will stand firma
 and confident:
I know that God is near.
 
One thing I asked of God the Lord,
and will seek to obtain,
that all days of my life I may
within God’s house remain;
 
that I the beauty of the Lord
may worship and admire,
that I in God’s most holy place
may reverently enquire.
 
In evil, troubled days, my God
will hide and shelter me,
and raise me high upon a rock
above my enemy.
 
Now I will offer sacrifice
for all God’s saving grace,
with melody unto the Lord
and joyful shouts of praise!

If you have been following this series it is quite likely that as you read through the lyrics you said to yourself, “I know the first thing Cathy is going to comment on!”  If you did that, in reference to the third and fourth verses, you are spot on!  A verse in a song should not, or at least would not normally, begin with a lower case letter as each verse should be complete unto itself!  Since the paraphrase goes over eight phrases rather than four, perhaps a melody should have been chosen which was done in eight phrase verses.  Another option would have been to have a bridge inserted to carry those extra lines of verse three, rather than calling it verse four.

The tune St. Magnus is a pretty familiar melody, at least in the churches in my area.  In 4/4 time, the range is not wide and it is easy to sing.  It is used for four of the hymns in the Book of Praise all of which will be included, eventually, in this series.  It is also used frequently to substitute for less familiar tunes for hymns which follow the 8686 meter such as In Christ there is no east and west.  It is frequently used as a melody for the Gloria Patri;

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
the God whom we adore
be glory as it was and is
and shall be evermore.