Simple Songs: January 2004

We sang Christmas carols at The Word Shop party; people leaning on the doorjamb, sprawled on the floor or sitting around the table loaded with eclectic offerings. No printed words, no musical accompaniment; just folk calling out a title or bravely launching in--hoping someone would remember the words to the obscure third line. We sang first verses mostly, sometimes a second. "Away in the Manger" got three full verses. Energy opened to each other differently than when noses are buried in books or eyes are focused on a screen. We listened to each other for the words, for the tune, for the joy. Sometimes "la, la, la..." we'd hum and grin through a line everyone seemed to have forgotten. It was fabulous.

We sang the national anthem, sixty Toastmasters crammed into two hallways. No printed words, no musical accompaniment. Some words undoubtedly fumbled, but enough rising, reverberating off the walls to link us together in joy and hope. Why have we let this become a performance piece? Why is singing together off-the-cuff so rare?

Bis Orat Qui Cantat. "He who sings, prays twice." --Augustine of Hippo

Praying once is good, too. FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE by Jim Cymbala ($6 used) is the story of a young pastor in Brooklyn. A handful of people, a broken down inner city church. Nothing much happening. He gets a lingering cough, goes to Florida to rest and hears from God: "lead my people to pray and call upon my name." He comes home, focuses on Tuesday evening prayer night, praying at choir rehearsal, praying together... and things change. A good reminder. We'll do another LOWER ROOM prayer time between Easter and Pentecost. Say....Thursdays at 11:00. Free form prayer for ourselves, our loved ones, our churches, our country...and whatever else as the Spirit leads. Don't let me forget.

I had a lingering cough since before Christmas. No desire to go to Florida, but I did happen in a church last Sunday that offered personal prayer after the service. I got prayed for, anointed and by evening the cough had disappeared. Thanks be to God!

OK, I read the Da Vinci Code: The mean ole patristic church versus the Oh so enlightened feminine pagan goddess sex principle. *yawn* Isn't it about time for a new polemic? This one is impossible to swallow if you've done even a modicum of reading around the early church. It's also hard to stomach if you've tasted the mystery hidden from the beginning in God, and now made known. (Eph. 3) Unfortunately so many people haven't...

LOCAL AUTHORS NIGHT: This month we feature David George. After spending 7 years in Sudan, Africa working on famine relief and agricultural development, David returned home and began putting together a convergence of the four gospels. Using the New Living Translation, he wove the four stories into a single, seamless account titled, THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE. The book, which includes profoundly simple illustrations by local artist Eric Joyner, is now in its second printing. David will share with us difficulties encountered and graced moments in the process of writing and publishing this book. See for more info on David. Everyone is welcome to attend. January 20, (the third Tuesday) 7:15 at The Word Shop.

THE DUNG DIALOGUES: Joanne writes that "in Nepal every bit of cow dung is carefully picked up, placed on a fence to dry and used as fuel to keep warm. Dung is not such a bad thing when it keeps people warm."
Deborah sent word of a petition for people that want to object to the FCC's approval of using the F-word on network TV.
Bob wrote that he disagrees with Dave. "Philippians 3:8 translates skubala as "refuse" ordinarily, but that is not considering the etymological genesis of the word. Liddell and Scott's Greek - English Lexicon (Oxford University Press) renders "dung" the first choice for meaning of to skubalon. They say the word derives from es kunas balein which literally means "from a dog thrown." (You can pick from which end, but it won't make it any better.) The context even supports it: Paul is speaking of the change of his value system since his conversion to Christ. He is using the most extreme contrast he can think of. What he used to prize as possessions or accomplishments have been reduced to skubala when compared to the real prize he has gained through Christ." Are we back to the sh-word?

For some reason I'm reminded of Dear Abby's ongoing letters about which way the toilet paper roll should be installed. ...and people think that Christians just accept everything without thinking. Every scrap of scripture gets SOOO kicked around. We had over an hour conversation at the store the other day about "their worm does not die" and "wormwood." Which of course brings up Lewis' SCREWTAPE LETTERS. (No, that is not about the F-word...)

"So then, poor Christian, you need not go pumping up your poor heart to make it glad. Go to your maker and ask him to give you a song in the night." -Charles H. Spurgeon

Alliee +