One crumb of Thy grace

Chapter 23/2020 – Storytelling

Good Monday Morning to this week 23 of 2020 (week 11 with restrictions)

Waking up after the shoulder operation last week, I had this intense urge for music. I’m not sure what it was, but you can’t imagine how desperately  I wanted to get back to my room and put on  a mix of music I had with me, varying from Worship to African and more.

You might have missed this news of the passing of great musician this week. If I’d play the tune you’d immediately recognize it: “Bi sounkouroun lou la donkégna ah ah” … One of the biggest hit songs by an African music artist, “Yé ké yé ké” is sung in Bambara, an official language of Mali (Kanté was born in Guinea to a Malian mother). Originally a success across Europe in 1988, with the dance remixes up to the mid-1990’s.
Guinean singer Mory Kante, helped introduce African music to a world audience in the 1980s, died in the capital Conakry on the 22.05.20, his family said. He was 70. “Guinea and the whole world have lost a great personality,” Kante’s son Balla Kante told The Associated Press on Friday. “My father was a great personality. We lost a large library today.”

We lost a library …. an interesting quote. Since the 13th century, when Griots originated from the West African Mande empire of Mali, they remain today as storytellers, musicians, praise singers and oral historians of their communities. Theirs is a service based on preserving the genealogies, historical narratives, and oral traditions of their people.

Storytelling … music is storytelling, with or without words be it through tone painting or many other ways. Just imagine the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman and Jesus in Mark 7.24-30

Immediately as a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at Jesus’ feet. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus says first, let the children eat all they want, he told her, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs. Yes Lord, she replied, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs. Then Jesus told her, “for such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”. She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Just imagine this story and encounter composed for storytelling and singing. The song leader directing the group, accompanied by a traditional drum, thumb piano and hand shaker, the emotion of a woman’s pleading for her daughter highlighted by style and rhythm of the song. The words matched the rhythmic syllabic space, the context in a form of liturgy, and recognized as an open courtyard. Appellations are exchanged as she addresses Jesus: Lord, Teacher, Respected Leader. The song leader then guides the music to the woman’s riposte with an additional accentuated rhythm led by drums with an occasional silence. A final turn comes as the storyteller finishes the story with the woman’s daughter greatly relieved and freed from demons. An incredible proclamation of the nature of God in song and deed. This experienced performance opens up an opportunity for liberation as a community interacts with the powerful biblical message.

One crumb of power and grace from Thy table shall cast the devil out of my daughter.” Oh, what lightning quickness, what reach of instinctive ingenuity, do we behold in this Syrophoenician woman! Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

One crumb of power and grace from Thy table!

Wishing you a good story of God’s grace this week.

Philemon

 

Inconsistencies

Chapter 22/2020

Good Monday Morning to this week 22 of 2020 (week 10 with restrictions)

We’ve seen a lot of this currently going on with the restrictions we’re facing, following
the advice of our leaders and recommendations of health experts, yet seeing how much it does affect our beliefs or values at times. For example the ban on churches to meet in larger groups.

I was in hospital for a few days this week, having some shoulder surgery done. Sharing the room with an elderly man suffering from dementia was quite challenging at times. Various times a day we were checked on, at least every four hours someone came in and asked how we were feeling. If was often asked in regard to the level of pain on a scale from 1 to 10. With my room companion they just asked if he was doing well. He mostly had two answers. I am doing well. Or, I am not doing well. I went on to try to give my specific answer and mentioned the numbers – a level 3 or 4 or 5 of pain. One day it was again mentioned that my blood pressure was very low, to which I would answer that I was aware of it and and coffee would be one solution to that problem. Ordering a coffee quite loudly, he would join in and say oh yes, me too – could you bring me a coffee.

And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. For we come to God in faith knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who give all their passion and strength into seeking him. Hebrews 11:6  (TPT)

The apostle Paul writes that anyone who comes to God must believe that He is and diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

… back to the situation in the hospital room … a bit harder to imply  … not to fall asleep, or become distracted, hard having our minds wander when to pray, study, or meditate. Inattention and mind-wandering, although they are related to double-mindedness, do not seem to be what James had in mind.
So what is this then this Greek word  “double-minded”  or “double-souled,” like having two independent wills describing one divided in mind, that wavers between two opinions.

Maclaren puts it this way in his commentary:
If you hold a cup below a tap, in an unsteady hand, sometimes it is under the whole rush of the water, and sometimes is on one side, and it will be a long time before you get it filled. There will be much of the water spilled. God pours Himself upon us, and we hold our vessels with unsteady hands, and twitch them away sometimes, and the bright blessing fall to fill our cup.

I sat there at times thinking of how much we had in common, not just in the daily routine of questions to our feelings, but also to the way that God was with us in phases of struggling, how little we contribute to our well being and how much less we can contribute to the fact of God’s Grace and presence in “our room” and lives.

Still I fully agree, HE is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. The best reward that God, the Rewarder, gives is when He gives Himself. Enoch sought God, came to God, and so he walked with God. The reward of his coming was continuous, calm communion, which gave him a companion in solitude, and one to walk at his side all through the darkness and the roughnesses, as well as the joys and the smoothnesses, of daily life.

I wish you a blessed day and start into this new week, independently of how much
inconsistency or dissonance you face in your daily life and walk.

God is with you!

Have a great day
Philemon 

 

Can God end the conversation?

Chapter 21/2020

Good Monday Morning to this week 20 of 2020 (week 9 with lockdown openings)

There’s an old story that a Rabbi shared:

A listener to the story of Rabbi breathed in deeply and said: The way Christians read the Bible that doesn’t make sense to me as a Jew!  “We don’t read stories in the Bible looking for beliefs. We read them for meaning…to guide us in the predicaments in life, and help us know who we are, why we’re here, where we’re going, to help us be better people, so we can heal the world. And we never let one interpretation end the conversation. We see our sacred stories as bottomless wells of meaning.” That perspective seems like a much richer journey.

The story goes that there were a group of Rabbis arguing about the meaning of the Biblical text and they came back, day after day. The argument raged on about who had the right meaning of the text.

Finally, there was a voice from heaven and God spoke and said:

Here is the true meaning of the text…”

Well, all the rabbis stood up and looked toward the heavens and said, “Now you be quiet. If you gave us this book, then it’s our responsibility and our right to hash out its meaning. You aren’t allowed to come in and end this conversation if you gave us this text.”

hmmmm

food for thought!

Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Mark 9:4

Nice! They got to have a conversation, a very special one, with Jesus!

Might we be more than just a little part of God’s unfinished future here on earth?

Maybe it’s also our turn to tell God, no you can’t end the conversation! We’re in it too!

Wishing you all and end to the restrictions, solutions to battling the virus
and most of all, a continued and on-going conversation with God!

Philemon

 

 

 

Abide with me

Good Monday Morning to this week 19 of 2020 (week 8 of lockdown)

Hymns accompany us, especially through hard times. Yesterday I was still in deep thought after a touching sermon of Christine Caine as the channel went forward to the old yet very relevant hymn:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

The opening line starts with Luke 24:29, “Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent”, and the second last verse draws on text from 1. Corinthians 15.55, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”.

Abide; to stay, live somewhere, stand by, endure with, hang in, accept or act in accordance with. 

The hymn tune was composed b William Henry Monk, an English organist in 1861 and best know for his composition Eventide used for this hymn.

The author of the hymn, Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847), was an Anglican priest and vicar of All Saints Church in Brixham, England. For most of his life, Lyte suffered from poor health, and he would regularly travel abroad for relief, as was the tradition in that day. His daughter, Anna Maria Maxwell Hogg, recounts the story of how “Abide with Me” came out of that context.

Dictionary of Hymnology, Vol. 1 puts it this way:

The summer was passing away, and the month of September and each day seemed to have a special value as being one day nearer his departure.

His family were surprised and almost alarmed at his announcing his intention of preaching once more to his people. His weakness and the possible danger attending the effort were urged to prevent it, but in vain. “It was better”, as he used to say often playfully, when in comparative health, “to wear out than to rust out”. He felt that he should be enabled to fulfill his wish, and feared not for the result. His expectation was well-founded. He did preach, and amid the breathless attention of his hearers, gave them a sermon on the Holy Communion. . . .

In the evening of the same day, he placed in the hands of a near and dear relative the little hymn, ‘Abide with Me’, with an air of his own composing.

The hymn is popular across many Christian denominations, not only at funerals but was said to have been a favorite of King George V and Mahatma Gandhi, played at many events be it Anzac day or even the FA cup final about 15 minutes before the kick-off of the match!

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Each verse ends in the plea “abide with me,” making the hymn a sustained call for God’s personal presence in every stage and condition of life. The hymn resonates deeply with the hearts of those who feel their need of God.

Here the beautiful version I came across yesterday by Audrey Assad

Wishing you a blessed day, with the wish of this hymn that the Lord abide with you!

blessings
Philemon