Monday, January 7, 2019

TIME ZONES, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Paul McCartney wrote about 'Yesterday,' still one of his most popular songs. In 1999 BBC acclaimed it to be greatest song of the past 100 years. I'm sure there are contenders for that title but that is not my purpose for mentioning two more songs. They are 'Today,'' words and music by Randy Sparks and made memorable by the New Christy Minstrels and by John Denver; and 'Tomorrow,' by Quvenzhané Wallis, written for the musical, "Annie." 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

COMFORTING LYRICS OF HANDEL’S MESSIAH


Last evening Christine and I attended the Bell Centre performance of Handel's Messiah with the Surrey City Orchestra and the Vancouver Bach Choir and select soloists. No doubt you are very familiar with this oratorio. The oratorio is a marvel when I think that George Frederik Handel accomplished this 53 movement, 3-Part masterpiece, musical score and theological assembly of scriptural themes in about a month. For believers the sound of the words unites us immediately to the heart of God and the history of his dealings with humanity through all of the Old and New Testament times. And now in our time, His word has not changed. Part Three is shortest, the finale and I have placed here the movement numbers and titles and the scripture used because as I listened last night my heart was so gladdened, so uplifted, so confident that my Saviour lives. I know these recitations will lean so much to you too. 

45. I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall
I see God. (Job 19:25-26) - For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep. (I Corinthians 15:20)

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Is Our Society Ready to Castrate Boys So They Sing High?

Handel's Messiah. What possible connection can there be with castration?  Christine and I will attend a performance of Handel's Messiah oratorio tonight. This event prompts a personal observation that the composition never intended. I will pave the way a bit. The oratorio contains three Parts, 16 Scenes and 53 movements in which are numerous solo pieces for soprano, alto/contralto, tenor and bass voices. In 1741 when Handel first presented his Messiah oratorio in Dublin, the women soloists were soprano Christina Maria Avoglio and Susannah Cibber, an established stage actress and contralto. The female roles and the date are important to note. 
Tonight the alto (contralto) sections will be sung by a male counter-tenor. Alto is customarily a female vocal range. Counter-tenor is a male voice that naturally and through training is the equivalent of soprano, mezzo-soprano or contralto. It's a unique and somewhat remarkable sound. 

There is a stunning back-story to a high-pitched male voice. Centuries ago, boys were castrated so they could sing the high notes that some counter tenors can reach. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

QUESTIONS WITHOUT CENSURE

I have lived over three quarters of a century as I write this. All of my life has been spent with an awareness of a supernatural God with whom I was encouraged to have a relationship through faith, and whom I truly believe I have come to know. My knowledge is still minimal, even though I have spent an entire lifetime informing others how to meet God, and trust God and live for God. In a sense God is enigmatic, unknowable. The incarnation of Christ is an exquisite gift. For suddenly in earth time, invisible God made himself known to humanity by becoming what we are, human. Biographies about Jesus were written by persons who lived with him. Yet since deity inspired them to write, their words became his autobiography. As Jesus lived and taught and prayed, he informed contemporaries and me about eternal and celestial certainties.  He made it clear that he is one of a trinity of persons who comprise God. He called God his father, and taught his disciples to enjoy that familiarity too. He told listeners who believed in God, to also believe in him. His biographers told of hearing God’s voice from heaven announcing that Jesus was his beloved son in whom he was very pleased. Jesus told disciples that he himself was God, and that he and the father are one. He said that being able to see him was the same as seeing the Father. When he knew he was about to die, he promised that he would send another comforter, the same as himself, whom he named as the Holy Spirit who now would not only be with his followers as he himself had been, but would dwell inside them. With the indwelling Spirit, living Christlike lives became a valid opportunity. Being holy as God is holy was once a command, and now became a probability. This assurance is gifted to every person who takes Jesus at his word. He came that we might have life that lasts forever.

I only know about God what he himself has divulged, and that's a library of information.  Even so, I said that my knowledge of God is minimal because the more that I learn about God, the more inquiries arise in my mind. Not questions born from skepticism but rather from interest. God encourages my freedom to ask questions by being ever ready to provide responses. His responses come from my reading and re-reading scripture, and reading other respected students and scholars, and dialoguing with other seekers who can embrace questions without censure.  

Saturday, November 17, 2018

SUFFERING for FAITH

I work and play at Pagoda Ridge Golf Course. One day each week I am a marshall, a player's assistant. And one day a week I play golf.  At Pagoda I am working with and playing with mostly non-Christians. It's amazing that the Trinity is so closely associated with the game of golf. A player blasts a drive out of bounds and I hear him say, "Goddammit." Another player hits a bad shot and Jesus' name is mentioned as an expletive. I have told some of them, "I hear Jesus Christ's name more often out here than I do in churches." I can get away with that because I live in Canada, and I am thankful for my freedoms.
Asia Bibi is a Christian and does not share my freedom. I don't share her pain. I know nothing about it but what I read. She lives in Pakistan. She is married and she has two daughters. Her family is safely out of the country. She has been in prison for 8 years under sentence of death. In 2009 she was harvesting fruit with some neighbourhood women. She dipped a drinking cup in bucket of water and the women said they couldn't touch it now because her faith had made the water unclean. She rejected that accusation. They told her to convert to Islam and she countered that her faith is in Christ as Saviour. The women reported her as having blasphemed the prophet Muhammad. She was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence has been delayed by her legal appeals. Two weeks ago Pakistan's Supreme Court acquitted her because it ruled that here conviction was based on unreliable evidence and a confession extracted under the threat of death. She was released early this month and was to be flown to freedom and safety.  Then the 98% of Pakistan's population being Muslim, created chaos, threatening strikes and shutdowns and violence. The government rearrested her and is awaiting a review of the court decision. 

DOES GOD LEAD US INTO TEMPTATION?

The question is, why did Jesus teach his followers to pray this statement? "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." Our uninformed default reading implies that God leads us into temptation to tempt us. Not so. Perfectly offensive to God. Scripture informs us that God does not tempt us. James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” God does not do the tempting.

Friday, November 9, 2018

ORDAINED MINISTER DOESN'T BELIEVE IN GOD & IT'S OK

Gretta Vospers has been an ordained minister with the United Church of Canada since 1993. Gretta is an atheist. Does that surprise you? She neither believes in the Bible or in a theistic, supernatural, interventionist God about whom the Bible speaks. Gretta has made that clear for many years. She pastors West Hill United Church in Toronto. 

Does Gretta's non-belief pose a problem for either her local congregation or for the United Church of Canada? No, it does not. Most of her congregants have been supportive of her views, but some people have been critical that her opinions were contrary to church doctrine. 
Complaints resulted in a 2016 Toronto Conference Committee review of Gretta's ministerial suitability. With a split decision the committee ruled that she was unsuitable to continue in ordinary ministry because she did not believe in God or Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit.