Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me?

1. Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near With His cheer;
Never will He leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
That God's Son For my own
To my faith hath given?

2. Though a heavy cross I'm bearing
And my heart Feels the smart,
Shall I be despairing?
God, my Helper, who doth send it,
Well doth know All my woe
And how best to end it.

3. God oft gives me days of gladness;
Shall I grieve If He give
Seasons, too, of sadness?
God is good and tempers ever
All my ill, And He will
Wholly leave me never.

5. Death cannot destroy forever;
From our fears, Cares, and tears
It will us deliver.
It will close life's mournful story,
Make a way That we may
Enter heavenly glory.

7. Lord, my Shepherd, take me to Thee.
Thou art mine; I was Thine,
Even e'er I knew Thee.
I am Thine, for Thou hast bought me;
Lost I stood, But Thy blood
Free salvation brought me.

Hymn #523 The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Ps. 73: 23
Author: Paul Gerhardt
Translated by: composite, based on John Kelly, 1867
Titled: Warum sollt' ich mich denn graemen
Composer: Johann G. Ebeling, 1666
Tune: Warum sollt' ich mich denn graemen

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Four Preludes on the Playthings of the Wind

Here Sandburg gives us a somewhat uncomfortable perspective on reality. The language is nothing if not straightforward, and the meditation seems to come straight from Ecclesiastes: "Vanity, all is vanity." As Christians, our focus is to be "on things above, not on things of the earth"--items that become the "playthings of the wind." Christ Himself urges us to "lay up treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt, and thieves do not break through and steal." What are your treasures?

"The Past Is a Bucket of Ashes"
The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.

The doors were cedar
and the panel strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us every was.
The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.
And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
... and the only listeners left now
... are ... the rats .. and the lizards.
And there are black crows
crying, "Caw, caw,"
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.
The only singers now are crows crying, "Caw, caw,"
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are
... the rats ... and the lizards.

The feet of the rats
scribble on the doorsills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.
And the wind shifts
and the dust on a doorsill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled:
Nothing like us ever was.

Carl August Sandburg (18781967)