Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A song of praise...

As I was driving to have coffee with a friend this morning, I felt the rock I have been carrying in my pocket to remind me to praise God. So I began to sing a song of praise... not one I have ever heard before, but one that just came to me as I drove. I'm going to post it here, so I don't forget it. I've 'been given' songs before, but I never remember them a few days later. (I hope I remember the tune, too, as I liked it, but if not, I guess I'll just make another up!) Here it is... (Don't judge it too harshly, as I don't claim to be a poet or a lyricist!)

If I do not praise Him,
If no praise falls from my lips,
If no Hallelujahs
Travel from my heart to His...

The hills and the rocks will cry out!
The mountains and valleys will sing;
Shout 'Hallelujahs' to the King!
If I do not praise Him.

If I do not praise Him,
If my heart turns from His grace;
If my lips are silent
When I look upon His face...

The grass in the field will sing praises!
The trees on the hills clap their hands!
The mountains will shout out glad tidings,
If I do not praise Him.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The rocks and the hills will cry out....

At church this morning, the service was centered around the events of Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people praised Him. But the scriptures say that their praise was not necessary for Him, because if they didn't praise Him, the very rocks would do it. I think the point is that our praise is not necessary to God. He has created, or maybe instituted or 'highly suggested,' that we praise Him for our own benefit. There is something in the act of worship and praise, whether in a community church service, in our own homes in solitude, or in our studios or workplaces, that we benefit from. I know from my own experience that if I am praising, I am not quite so centered on my self and my own petty problems. I do confess that I feel this connection to God and distraction from self most when I am weaving or painting, not necessarily when I am 'in church.'

I believe, whether we are praising Him or not, the hills and the rocks are crying out praise all the time. And the trees and the flowers and the birds... the very earth itself. I have, on very rare occasions, felt like I have heard that praise when in the solitude of nature. It is a wonder and a blessing to be able to add my voice, both in actual song and in my work, to the praise all around me.

This week, before the world celebrates the death and resurrection, pick up a rock and listen for it's praise. Stick it in your pocket to remind you to add your own praise to it. Try to out-praise it, if you can!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When the world is too much with me...

The world has been too much with me of late. I am needing to turn my back on it; to go to the wilderness, as Jesus did, to be renewed. We don't really have a 'wilderness' to go to, but we do go to the mountains. We have a small rustic cabin there. We have been renewing there for almost 30 years, and it truly does help. I believe that is one example that Christ intended for us to take literally, as well as spiritually. There are times when you just need to get away from people, from computers, from telephones; from demands on your time, on your minds, and on your energy; from television and newspaper headlines; and from traffic and daily calendars, even if for just a short time.

When I need this retreat and withdrawal, I think of Patti Griffin's amazing song, written with inspiration from a Martin Luther King speech (and both speech and song with inspiration from God, I am convinced.) The song is called "Up to the Mountain" and here are the lyrics:

I went up to the mountain
Because you asked me to
Up over the clouds
To where the sky was blue
I could see all around me
I could see all around me

Sometimes I feel like
I've never been nothing but tired
And I'll be working
Till the day I expire
Sometimes I lay down
No more can I do
But then I go on again
Because you ask me to

Some days I look down
Afraid I will fall
And though the sun shines
I see nothing at all
Then I hear your sweet voice, oh
Oh, come and then go, come and then go
Telling me softly
You love me so

The peaceful valley
Just over the mountain
The peaceful valley
Few come to know
I may never get there
Ever in this lifetime
But sooner or later
It's there I will go
Sooner or later
It's there I will go

So we will go up to the mountain for a few days this weekend. And I am convinced that we will come home rested and renewed, ready to face life again in our not-always-peaceful valley.

Here is where you can listen to a bit of the song, or on iTunes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Think on these things...

Last week it was our turn, myself and a friend, to plan the Sunday service. We are on the worship committee at our local congregation, and our turn comes around every two months or so. We usually try to plan the songs and scriptures to compliment the lesson the speaker will be giving, but last week we were to have a guest speaker, and we didn't know what he would be speaking on. So we got to choose our own favorites! For the scripture reading I chose my very favorite scripture from Philippians 4. When the young man we had asked to do so got up and read it aloud on Sunday morning, it struck me again how much I love those words, and how I truly would love to live by them.

Right now, it seems that so many people around me are living with negative thoughts ruling their lives; fear, anger, resentment, hatred. And it is easy to be affected by those 'vibes.' But just think how uplifting even a smile from a stranger can be, or the sight and sound of a flock of geese flying overhead, or the beauty of a small child's voice. How wise Paul was to remind us that these are the things that will give us joy, when we send our thoughts in that direction!

Do not forget today that, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8) Look around you, and notice the lovely things, and meditate on them, and the God of peace shall be with you. (v. 9)