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Saturday

2017 A-Z Challenge theme reveal: Hearty hymns from A to Z




Heart of a Ready Writer is on-board again for the April A to Z Challenge. This annual blog event brings thousands of bloggers together to post daily alphabetical entries throughout the month. (Sundays are the exception.)

Here’s the Heart of a Ready Writer’s theme this year:

Hearty hymns from A to Z



Throughout the history of the Church (and even since the biblical Psalms were first penned), hymns and sacred songs have encouraged and taught believers about God’s Word. Just leaf through an old hymnal, and you will find treasures of truth.

In fact, I have a faded volume (which I picked up many years ago) that I occasionally use for personal devotional times. I love to pick a beloved hymn and ponder the phrasings, which always point to the Lord’s own heart.

Certainly, modern worship songs can be heartfelt and meaningful. Still, I cherish the traditional hymns for their beautiful wordings, their rhyme and meter, and their familiarity. Besides, it's amazing how much Scripture may be committed to memory, simply by learning some of these church classics.

Watch for 26 April posts, featuring a different hymn each day.  

Every post will include a YouTube video, so you can view and listen. You may recognize some as familiar favorites, while others may be new to you. Those I’ve chosen to share will be extremely varied, in terms of artists and musical genres. I hope you will enjoy the selections and that you will be blessed by them.

You are invited to return often (How about daily?) to view all of the A-Z posts. Be sure to comment, and let me know you were here! And, if you have a blog, please leave a link, so I can find your posts too.
Happy A to Z.


Tuesday

On Good Friday: Are my eyes and heart dry?




Reflecting upon the Lenten season and particularly upon the sacrificial death of our dear Lord, I am struck by my own ability to slip into a strange and dangerous sort of devotional dormancy at times. Late winter can be just such a season.

But how can this be, in light of the remarkable grace and love of the King of Kings? How is it possible for a living human soul to forget even for a moment the majesty of God and the miraculous mercy that drove Him to the worst kind of death in our place?

19th Century artwork - public domain
 
Good Friday is good.

We shudder at the brutality and suffering our Savior endured on our behalf. We understand that He did it to rescue us from sin and from evil and from death and from ourselves. We know this dark day in history paves the way to eternal glory. So we call the day “good.”

Do we also realize that Good Friday is also good because this highest of holy occasions reminds us of the unimaginable cost of Calvary?

The Lord of the universe gave His very self for us. That cost Him everything.

Pause, and let that sink in for a moment. Can we carry that truth in our hearts?

Often, exquisite God-gifted art can point us back to the truth. Here’s an example.

This Good Friday poem stabs me right in the heart.

British Victorian writer Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) is one of my all-time favorite poets. I simply love her poetry. My Rossetti favorites include:

  • “A Better Resurrection,”
  • “A Daughter of Eve,”
  • “Consider the Lilies of the Field,”
  • “Fata Morgana,”
  • “Good Friday,”
  • “In the Bleak Midwinter,”
  • “My Dream,”
  • “Remember,”
  • “She Sat and Sang,” and
  • “Uphill.”
 
Christina Rossetti - public domain artwork

Rossetti’s poems display a depth of devotion and thought that strikes me to the soul. Perhaps her insights came in part from enduring three failed engagements (over matters of faith) and remaining single lifelong, devoted only to God.

Good Friday
By Christina Rossetti

Am I a stone and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy Cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

As much as I love them, these lines make my heart hurt.

I wonder: Am I a stone or a sheep? Do I look to the Lord, or do I stand stoically by?

A biblical witness is not merely a neutral onlooker. We are called to be active participants in the Gospel of Christ. If I truly believe the very Son of God took on human flesh to bleed for me, then I will not merely watch, but I will also weep. I will mourn for my own misgivings. I will bear remorse and repent. Then I will rise and follow where He leads me.

In Numbers 20, the Bible tells how, in the Desert of Zin, the people thirsted, but there was no water to be found. The Lord instructed Moses to speak to a certain rock, and He promised to gush water from the stone.  Moses struck the rock, and the Almighty One brought forth water from it. Although Moses overdid it, hitting the stone instead of following God’s specific instructions, the Lord did a mighty miracle.

God is in the business of changing stony hearts.

Consider this word of the Lord to His people, spoken through the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel: 

Ezekiel 36:25-28 graphic created by this user on poster generator.
 
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:25-28, NIV)

Soften my heart, Lord. Carve out callousness, and sweep away senseless scars. Keep my soul ever tender for you. Draw me nearer to the heart of God, and let my eyes and words flow with grace and gratitude for all You have done for me.

Image:
Created by this user with online generator

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