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Friday, August 02, 2002
- Battering Rams upon the Church -
"Madame, I am in exceeding great heaviness, God thinking it best for my own soul thus to exercise me, thereby it may be to fit me to be his mouth to others. I see and hear, at home and abroad, nothing but matter of grief and discouragement, which indeed maketh my life bitter. And I hope in God never to get my will in this world. And I expect ere long a fiery trial upon the Church; for as many men almost in England and Scotland, as many false friends to Christ, and as many pulling and drawing to pull the crown off His holy head! and for fear that our Beloved stay amongst us (as if His room were more desirable than Himself), men are bidding Him go seek His lodging. Madam, if ye have a part in silly, friendless Zion (as I know ye have), speak a word on her behalf to God and man. If ye can do nothing else, speak for Jesus, and ye shall thereby be a witness against this declining age. Now, from my very soul, laying and leaving you on the Lord, and desiring a part in your prayers (as, my Lord knoweth, I remember you), I deliver over your body, spirit, and all your necessities, to the hands of our Lord, and remain forever your Ladyship's, in your Sweet Jesus and mine."

- Samuel Rutherford, Letter LXXV

posted by Jamie 11:39 AM

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Thursday, August 01, 2002
- Bent and broken reeds begging for mercy -
I received an early email yesterday morning from friends of mine studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem saying, "If you haven't yet heard about the bombing this afternoon (Israeli time) at Hebrew University in Jerusalem I imagine you will soon. I wanted you to know that we're ok." I am still extremely thankful that I received this before my normal ritual of reading the latest news. However, you read the news differently when you it affects those you care about.

Most mornings upon arriving to work, I glance through the headlines - sometimes I even scan the stories - but I usually stay away from studying the photos or reading the articles in-depth. Honestly, I can't take it. I know the world is sinful, but I still want it to be Durante’s “Wonderful World” - and you can easily fool yourself into believing that it is so – but I know that it’s not and I honestly don't know if I can take 40 or 50 more years of this. It's hard to believe that someone could do such things - plant a bomb in a university cafeteria, rape a ten-day-old baby, shoot someone while debating salvation. I just don't think I've met anyone who seemed capable of doing these things - yet these are just a few examples of what goes on all the time, so they can’t all be lunatics!

What can we do? These are somebody's mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers that are suffering. We can say, “This shouldn’t be happening” - but there is no hope in this. We can condemn those who participate in such events, but this does not stop it from happening again. We can grieve - and grieve everyday it seems. We can distract ourselves. We can hide from the headlines. We can try to create a Utopia. And yet all these things fail, because eventually these headlines creep into our own lives with one early morning email.

This is when we realize that our hopes are so trite. Recently I’ve been working on a song about the joys of my old college town, but today those joys seem so weak – almost foolishness – when sitting next to CNN, BBC, and the New York Times. How can I comfort myself with winding country roads and early mornings at local coffee shops while photos of body bags flash on my computer screen? These things are by all means good, but they cannot sooth these horrors. But then can we even call something “hope” if it can be so easily cast off? I think not. Hope is not clinging to broken pieces wishing that perhaps one day we will see some good come of this. Hope must be secure or I would dare to say it is not hope at all. I despair when I read the news because I do not believe things will one day be better. I have never seen anything that proves such a thing is possible.

However I do believe there is hope – not a take-this-and-feel-better-in-the-morning sort, but one that allows us to hope while we are still grieving. Isaiah foretold of the coming Messiah in following words -

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. [Isa. 53.3-5]

We do not worship a God of pretty pastel prints and feel-good stories. We worship a God who came here and suffered like none of us have – and for our sake! We worship a God who sought after us - in the midst of our rebellion. We worship a God who died so that there can be another ending. This is the God who tore the veil of separation and to call us with a loud voice to come and feast. This is the God who proclaims that this world is not the end, but only the beginning and like the Israelites who journeyed through the desert, He will also bring us to a final resting place – a resting place with no more suffering and despair. This is the God who does not leave us to wrestle with the world alone. This is the God who comes and dwells in us and strengthens us in the midst of all this insanity.

So, today I am still overwhelmed and mourning, but I am not hopeless. I also know I may not be fully recovered tomorrow, but I do not fear that my well will run dry. I may still avoid the news, but I also know that can bear it if I must for I am confident that my Bridegroom will come one day with a shout and bring us to our final, complete rest. Until then I will be sustained for this also the God who promised, “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.” This is hope secure.

posted by Jamie 11:36 AM

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Wednesday, July 31, 2002
- Another Mortal Sigh -
I don't think I should always follow the news as closely as I do sometimes. Maybe I should say more original thoughts and quote less, but I find it hard to recreate when it's already been said so well. So, here's another hymn...

Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand

Ten thousand times ten thousand
In sparkling raiment bright,
The armies of the ransomed saints
Throng up the steeps of light:
'Tis finished, all is finished,
Their fight with death and sin:
Fling open wide the golden gates
And let the victors in.

What rush of alleluias
Fill all the earth and sky!
What ringing of a thousand harps
Bespeaks the triumph nigh!
O day, for which creation
And all its tribes were made;
O joy, for all its former woes
A thousand fold repaid!

O then what raptured greetings
On Canaan's happy shore;
What knitting severed friendships up
Where partings are no more!
Then eyes with joy shall sparkle,
That brimmed with tears of late;
Orphans no longer fatherless,
Nor widows desolate.

Bring near thy great salvation,
Thou Lamb for sinners slain;
Fill up the roll of thine elect,
Then take thy pow'r, and reign:
Appear, Desire of nations,
Thine exiles long for home;
Show in the heav'n thy promised sign;
Thou Prince and Saviour, come.

posted by Jamie 1:39 PM

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