Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lives Remembered

As the year 2008 draws to a close, my thoughts turn to those who left this life this past year.

On the national scene, we read about the deaths of actors, explorers and writers: Sydney Pollack, Charlton Heston, William F. Buckley Jr., Roy Scheider, Sir Edmund Hillary, Michael Crichton, and many other notables.

On a personal level, several family friends passed away this year: John Penfield (of Torrington, Wyoming), Reba Penfield (of Lusk, Wyoming), Alice Sheman (of Manville, Wyoming) and several others who knew my parents well.

On Christmas Day, Sue's grandmother Jane Mueller died. She was 93. She lived a rich and good life, and was surrounded by hugging great-grandchildren just a few days before her death. Her funeral service was yesterday and I led the graveside service.

As I prepared for her service, I was struck by a few ideas. The first is the sovereignty of God. I felt that He was not surprised by her passing. I remembered in Scripture that God is our sustainer and our provider:

"I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me" (Psalm 5:3)

"Even in your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you." (Isaiah 46:3)

The second big idea that I pondered was the incredible hope of eternal life offered by faith in Christ. At the graveside service I read the comforting words of forgiveness and eternal life found in the Anglican Common Worship service:

Hear the words of comfort our Savior Christ says to all who truly turn to him:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Hear what Saint Paul says:
“This saying is true and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

Hear what Saint John says:
“If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One; and he is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins.” (1 John 2:1,2)

May God bless those who have passed away in 2008 and comfort their families. May He also richly bless you this coming new year,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Handel's Messiah

A Christmastime favorite for many is to listen to Handel's "Messiah".

Here's a link to a live recording of Handel's "Messiah" performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra (the first ten minutes of the two hour broadcast have a good introduction of the work...the famous "Hallelujah Chorus" is at around 1:27:00 in the recording.)

The masterpiece, written in 1741, describes the life of Christ. Part One describes the Advent, Part Two describes Christ's death and resurrection while Part Three describes the events found in Revelation.

The link to the lyrics (called the libretto) can be found here.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Detective Story

Ever since I was a teenager, I've enjoyed detective stories, especially those written by Raymond Chandler. His fast moving thrillers are enjoyable to read. I'm also a big fan of the old black and white film noir movies that are based on his stories.

As I was chatting this week with a friend about Aimee Semple McPherson (a very popular minister in the 1920s and 30s who founded the Foursquare Gospel Church), I remembered that I had written a short story a few years ago inspired by her famous disappearance of 1926.

One day "Sister Aimee" (as she was known) went to the beach for a swim and disappeared (many at the time assumed she had drowned). Thirty-five days after her disappearance she stumbled out of the Mexican desert and into a border town. She reported that she was abducted, but many had doubts and different theories about her disappearance.

In 2005, after reading a brief account of her disappearance, I thought it would be interesting to write a detective story in the style of Raymond Chandler inspired by 1926 event. (As they say in "Law & Order", my story is completely fictional and doesn't attempt to portray any actual events or people).

Here's a link to my detective story.

A word of caution to sensitive eyes...there are a few accounts of violence in the story.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday Evening Worship & Prayer

Here the link to this week's Wednesday Evening Worship & Prayer:

This week we'll spent some time singing worship and praise songs, then pray the Evening Prayer from the "Book of Common Prayer".

The Scriptures we'll be reading tonight seem perfect for the Advent season:
-Psalm 72:11-18
-Jeremiah 23:5-8
-Matthew 1:18-25

The Old Testament passages focus on the glory and redemption of God, the New Testament pasage tells part of the story of Christ's birth.

I hope you find it a helpful resource in your devotional life this week,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Bill of Rights Day 2008

Among the holidays in December is the little known holiday called the "Bill of Rights Day" created by Franklin Roosevelt in 1941.

On this day in 1791 the Bill of Rights can into effect when it was officially ratified by three-fourths of the states. These first ten amendments to the Constitution (called the Bill of Rights) limit the power of the federal government by enumerating individual protections on the freedom of religion, speech, assembly, and petition. Also included is the right to bear arms and prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment and self-incrimination.

Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry for an explanation of the Bill of Rights.

The National Archives has a transcript of the Bill of Rights here.

For 217 years these basic principles have helped to limit the power of the federal government and protect individual freedom in a number of ways.

Happy Bill of Rights Day,

Why December 25th?

Christianity Today has an interesting article on why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th.

Click here for the article.