A Canticle for Advent: Every Breath Hallelujah

Madonna and Child by Orazio Gentileschi
Madonna and Child by Orazio Gentileschi

I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
by Cloverton (original version by Leonard Cohen)

We just returned from one of our favorite music events of the season: the Lynden Christian Schools Christmas Choral Concert conducted by Ryan Smit.  At the end of the concert,  before the traditional “surround-sound” version of “Peace, Peace” and “Silent Night”, Ryan had asked each high school chorus member to choose one person in their life who would join them in singing the Hallelujah Chorus from “Handel’s Messiah”.   Over sixty members of the community — siblings, parents, grandparents and various special others,  then joined the chorus in singing “Hallelujah” with each breath.

I didn’t learn the Messiah until I was over fifty years old and regret not having learned it when I was 15 so that I could have sung it all my life.   It is a wonderful sight and sound to see people from multiple generations singing this beautiful chorus together.  May every breath we draw be Hallelujah.

lc
Tonight’s Lynden Christian High School/Community Chorus

 

Easter Meditation–Amen!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.
Amen.
Revelation 22:21

Experiencing grace within the body of Christ is the point of Easter.  This is a day to seek out our brothers and sisters as Jesus did on that Resurrection Day.
He did not remain shrouded and dead in the tomb, but rose, breathing the air of earth once again, to seek us out, call our names, walk alongside and eat with us.
Most importantly, he opened wide the hearts that had been closed in fear, confusion, and ignorance.

He makes our hearts burn within us as we contemplate the gift we were given when we deserved only punishment.

The Amen echoes our certainty.

Yes.  Indeed.

It is so.

And so shall it ever be.

Lenten Meditation–Forever and Ever

photo by Josh Scholten http://www.cascadecompass.com

Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him
that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb
forever and ever!
Revelation 5: 13
Forever and ever.

is bigger and broader
beyond what I can know or understand.
Today feels so finite,
I am so temporary on this soil.

To spend a mere six weeks
studying the Words
is only a glancing blow
a taste of forever nonetheless.

The Words last while
our earthly bodies will not
the promises ring out while
our attention wanes
the blessings perpetuate while
our gratitude is paltry
the glory is overwhelming while
our appreciation is lacking
the power belongs all to Him
and not to us

It is the Lamb we know so well
the gentle willing sacrifice
taking our place
taking on our guilt
taking off our accumulating debt
taking us along for a walk, for a breakfast, for a touch of his side, his hands

letting us know
through His infinite love
from both the man and the God
that He is with us
forever
and
ever

Lenten Meditation–For or Against?

If God be for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8: 31

On such a gorgeous Easter eve morning as this, how can anything be against us?
The cherry blossoms are bursting, the birdsong triumphant, the frost on the grass giving way to dew–what possibly could be wrong with the world?

It is a simple answer.  Everything.  We need God.  Badly.

We hold Him off.

We have seen the enemy and it is us.  We defeat ourselves with our thoughts, our deeds and our passivity.

We will be called to arms tomorrow.  Not arms as in weaponry, but arms that were nailed, bleeding, released, tucked inside a shroud and buried.
Then on a brilliant morning, arms that unexpectedly wrapped themselves around us once again.

God is for us.  So then who can possibly be against us?

There is no conflict left except the one we must wage against ourselves.

Let the battle begin.

Lenten Meditation-Swallowed Up

photo by Josh Scholten http://www.cascadecompass.com

Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

There are few thoughts as comforting as this:
death cannot overcome us.
When it is swallowed up,
it becomes something other than what it was.
It becomes a seed
covered in the ground,
waiting silently
for the signal to rise again,
to bloom and to fruit.

Death no longer
is our destiny.

Lenten Meditation–A Mystery

photo by Josh Scholten http://www.cascadecompass.com

Behold, I tell you a mystery:
we shall not all sleep;
but we shall all be changed in a moment,
in a twinkling of an eye
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

That moment could be our next breath, our next step, our next blink, our next thought.

Irrevocably changed, never to go back to the sleep of the dead.

We are merely a twinkle in the eye of God.

Lenten Meditation–Firstfruits

photo by Josh Scholten http://www.cascadecompass.com

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15: 20-22

Firstfruits are the best of the crop and flock to be turned over with gratitude to God.   There is no stinting or pushing forward the flawed or blighted.  It must feel like a sacrifice to be a sacrifice.
Abraham was willing to offer up his son but was stopped from having to go through with the sacrifice.

God was willing to offer up His perfect Son and absolutely did so.

So we offer ourselves, pitiful as we are, dead as a doornail through Adam, but saved by that firstfruits sacrifice of Christ.  We are swept into His basket of offering and presented alongside Jesus the Man, blessed by the grace and mercy of Jesus the Messiah.

We who have fallen asleep, dead and hopeless in the ground,  are awakened with the tenderness of the Father, to rise and bloom, reflecting His glory.

A grounded rainbow of life in the new kingdom.

photo by Josh Scholten http://www.cascadecompass.com