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PASSIONTIDE HALLELUJAH

(Parody of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah)

The disciples met to eat the Feast.
The Master showed Himself the least;
The Lamb leading the Paschal celebration.
He took the bread; he took the wine:
“My flesh is torn; this blood is mine:”
The Servant-King preparing His oblation.

(Chorus)

In the garden He prayed in pain,
“Not my will, Father, Yours must reign” –
The Suffering Servant incarnate just for this.
The night was bright with sudden flame,
With men and swords our Judas came:
Betrayed his loving Master with a kiss!

(Chorus)

The High Priest’s demand was plain and dire:
“Tell us, man, are you our Messiah?”
Jesus was forthright; he didn’t cower:
“It is exactly what you say,
And you will see on that final day
The Son of Man at the right hand of the Power!”

(Chorus)

Now Herod who ruled in Galilee
Was very keen this man to see,
Confusing magic with divinity.
But when the King would not oblige,
All Herod’s men hurled scornful jibes,
The real King enduring all with silent majesty.

(Chorus)

Then Pilate said, “Behold, I find
No evidence of any crime,
But I shall have him beaten up to satisfy.”
The crowd all shouted, “He must die!”
And Pilate said, “He’s guiltless – why?”
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify!”

(Chorus)

The night was cold. I’m sure you know
How icy winds of fear can blow.
I was seeking warmth, while He was standing trial.
“You followed Him: we all can see
You also come from Galilee.”
No weeping can undo my loud denials.

(Chorus)

Three crosses stood upon the hill,
Though years have passed, I see Him still:
Divine yet human nailed up for my salvation.
On the guiltless one my sin is laid,
And with His blood my debt is paid:
He gives up His last breath in consummation!

(Chorus)

Then in the Sunday morning’s gloom
Our women saw the empty tomb;
The Master spoke to Mary; it was no vision.
So John and I ran to the place
But all we saw was empty space,
The grave clothes bare: the Master He had risen!

(Chorus)

[For an instrumental version of the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62JYtzi86M8]

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This is again a somewhat unusual posting. My Mom died on 19 June this year of congestive heart failure. Bluntly, in spite of treatment she died from drowning in the fluid collecting in her lungs. Many funerals deal with only the deceased and the family, and, to most intents and purposes, sideline God. Mom forbade a eulogy: below is the second half of my.tribute. Gloria soli Deo.

Right and wrong were very clear to Mom; as clear as black and white, with no shades of grey. And she was respected.

One thing that was always central to her life was the church. If she could help it, she wouldn’t miss, especially communion. If communion was at 08h00 and she had to sing in the choir at 10h30, well then, we went to two services. (We thank those of you who made her feel so welcome here, especially Yvonne, who became more like a daughter to her.) Her faith, she said, carried her, and at times when I was feeling pessimistic, she would say: “Have faith,” just like someone might say, “Have more common sense.”

Mom was stubborn – which in her later years she admitted. Sometimes stubbornness is a pain; sometimes it’s a virtue: Mom had a stubborn sense of duty. That manifested itself in the way she looked after us. When I was still very small, we were quite poor, but she always made sure that we looked clean and smart, especially our school uniforms. She also had a sense of duty towards God. She had her daily Bible readings from the lectionary (very Anglican!). Her faith was stubborn, and that’s really what carried her for years, but especially in more recent months, as she was walking through the “valley of the shadow of death”. I don’t think she was at all frightened about dying. As the hymn says:

Jesus lives! thy terrors now
Can, O Death, no more appal us;
Jesus lives! by this we know
Thou, O Grave, canst not enthral us.
Hallelujah!

Jesus lives! henceforth is death
But the gate of Life immortal;
This shall calm our trembling breath,
When we pass its gloomy portal.
Hallelujah!

Jesus lives! our hearts know well
Naught from us His love shall sever;
Life, nor death, nor powers of hell
Tear us from His keeping ever.
Hallelujah!

That’s what kept her alive; and that’s why she could die without fear. And that’s is why we could let her go. Granted, it was terrible watching her suffer; but death was more than the mere relief from discomfort and really difficult breathing.

In church, on the Sunday before she died, I had a vision, which is extremely unusual for me. It couldn’t have lasted more than a fraction of a second, but it was so powerful that it left me wobbly, physically and emotionally.

Imagine a picture in a frame. To the left is Mom. Then there’s a river. On the right of the river is a grassy field. On the upper right is an “empty” cross; between the cross and the river is Jesus, facing Mom and beckoning to her and calling, “Come!”.

So she has taken up His invitation and she is home with her Saviour.

I’ll close with the words of an sms from a close friend:
“Farewell to her, Amazing lady. Present with God breathing [the] fresh air of heaven.”

[As tomorrow is Good Friday, I am reposting this parody of Roxette’s The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye, originally posted in 2010.]

 
In my hour of  need you met me:
I tell the world there are no regrets.
In this heart there is such gratitude:
Grace received, Grace quite undeserved.
You are Messiah Guiltless One;
Yet You came down to die.

You left your glorious throne in heaven on high
(O what precious sacrifice);
You were content to live on earth for a time
(O what precious sacrifice);
With your life in our hands, we shouted “Crucify!”
And I can’t help but wonder why
You made that precious sacrifice.

In wilful pride, we went along our own way:
You came to search and find and save.
You left your Father in heaven above:
You made that precious sacrifice.

I know You are the Only One
Who could ever pay that price:
Only a Lamb so pure could satisfy
(O what precious sacrifice);
And still your Heart is hurt, time after time
(O what precious sacrifice)
When from Your Loving Face we run away and hide;
Then I can’t help but wonder why
You made that precious sacrifice.
Jesus
You made that perfect sacrifice.

Your Blood was all that could justify
(O what precious sacrifice).
For us the spear was thrust into Your side
(O what precious sacrifice).
All our guilt and sin onto Yourself were piled;
And I can’t help but wonder why
It was for me You chose to die
Jesus
You made that perfect sacrifice

O what precious sacrifice
O what precious sacrifice

 

The references below are accessible in several languages (36, I think!). Click the link, and at the top of the new page click on the flag representing the language.

Luke 19:10  The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
To read this in context, click this link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/luke/19.htm

Philp 2:6 – 8 He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death— his death on the cross.
To read this  in context, click this link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/philippians/2.htm

Rom 3:24-25  But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free.  God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through their faith in him.
To read this in context, click this link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/romans/3.htm

Rom 5:6 -8 For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!
To read this in context, click this link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/romans/5.htm

Rom 6:23  For sin pays its wage—death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.
To read this  in context, click this link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/romans/6.htm

Heb 10:9 – 12  So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place. Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all. Every Jewish priest performs his services every day and offers the same sacrifices many times; but these sacrifices can never take away sins. Christ, however, offered one sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective forever, and then he sat down at the right side of God.
To read this  in context, click this link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/hebrews/10.htm

Joh 1:11  He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him. Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God’s children.
To read this  in context, click this link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/1.htm

Isa 53:4  “But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received. All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going his own way. But the LORD made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved.
To read this  in context, click this link:
http://niv.scripturetext.com/isaiah/53.htm

Lord, I wonder, why me?

While I’m honoured that this should be,
Wouldn’t it be better to get someone stronger,
One who can stay the course for longer?
I’m no Daniel in the lion’s den;
Like Peter I deny – again and again.
I’m more like Thomas, gloom and doubt,
Not like Paul with Biblical clout.
I’m not dedicated, like some monk;
My head and soul are crammed with other junk.

So, I say, why me?

I see others, higher up, who speak in tongues
While I occupy the lowest rungs
On the ladder of spirituality:
So, my Lord, why me?

What did You see in me, I ask,
When You gave me this specific task?
Yes, I’ll willingly undertake it,
But without Your help I just won’t make it.
I’m full of resentment, anger and stuff,
And You know how I buckle when things get rough.

I’d like to be a lot bolder,
A real Christ-soldier,
Receive Your Spirit
And be totally soaked in it.
Something always holds me back,
But You, You know what I lack.

Give me, please, Your Spirit-power
Minute by minute and hour by hour.
In times of crisis let me stand on Your Word;
Let me be, not shaken, but stirred!

 

[If you have a Christian poem that you would like me to publish, please submit or contact me via the comments.]

[This is a prayer by a small group of people on 3 continents who keep in contact via email to intercede.]

Single women
Father, I pray for all single women and ask that they may turn to You for love, acceptance, affirmation and affection. I ask Father, that You show them Your love and Your goodness. Please open their eyes to see how much You love them. Help each one of them to find fulfilment in You. Allow each of those who have accepted Jesus as their Saviour, to obey Your word and to put You first in their lives. Help each one of them to repent of any ungodly relationships. Please heal and restore them, in Jesus’ name. Help those who have a desire to be married to find the marriage partners that You have for them. Help them not to accept second best. Help them, Lord, to find security, significance and self worth in You, and NOT in anything else.

Single/divorced/widowed women who raise their families on their own, often with little or no help.
Father I pray that You would encourage and strengthen these women; many of them do an incredible job without much help. Please, Lord, help them to rely on Your goodness in faith rather than in anxiety. Please reassure them of Your love for them, and give them resources and support, and the wisdom, not only to cope but to be “more than conquerors”.

Women whose husbands are away from home working in other places.
Father, I commit to You women whose husbands work far away from home and so are absent for extended periods. I pray that those women will be given the strength to manage their homes and all that this entails: working, bringing up their children with possibly little help, being both mother and father. I pray that they would find in You a source of love, encouragement, inspiration and patience. I pray You will keep them and their from a loneliness that encourages or makes them susceptible to infidelity. Please give them the strength to resist temptations. I pray that their children, especially boys, will have good and Godly role models in their fathers’ absence.

Women who suffer from abusive husbands/partners/boyfriends.
Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Father, it was never Your plan for women to be abused and oppressed. I plead with You on their behalf. I ask You to give them strength and wisdom. I ask You to open the eyes of those who don’t know that they are abused and think their treatment is normal; to open the eyes of those who willingly let themselves be abused because they think it’s love. Please protect these women (and often children), Lord, and give them the insight to know when to leave their abusers and the courage and means to do so. Please free them from self-destructive bitterness, which is itself a prison. They are precious because they are made in Your image. Thank You for those whom You have rescued from such situations.

Women who have to cope with husbands/partners/boyfriends/children who abuse drugs/alcohol.
Father, I commit these heroic women to Your faithful care and protection. I ask You to bless them with abundant wisdom. I ask You to strengthen them; to enable them to give tough love (even if it goes against their natural instincts) and help them to stand firm. Please reassure them of Your love for them. And please give them the insight, courage and means to leave when they have to, without guilt and feelings of failure. Thank You for those whom You have removed from these situations.

Women abandoned by their husbands/partners/etc.
Father, You never abandon us. I ask You to be especially loving to those who have been abandoned by faithless husbands/partners. I ask You to protect and care for them (and their children), to encourage them, to see that they have people to support them; to be able to see themselves as people worthy of love. I thank You, Father, for those women who, in spite of their husbands’ unfaithfulness have chosen to be faithful as they show us Your faithfulness to us in spite of our faithlessness.

Women who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Father, You know that I can have very little idea of how deeply these women must feel, and I’m really too scared to ask You to show me in case I couldn’t cope with those feelings. I pray for them to be released from fear and terror; I pray that they will be able to feel the love I ask You to pour out over them; reassure them of their worth in You; protect them from pregnancies and diseases and judgementalism and other injuries; help them to be able to love themselves.

Women who live in oppressive cultures
Father, I bring to You women who live in oppressive cultures, where they can be forced into marriages, have no rights as regards their own children, are victims of so-called honour killings. where female babies are allowed to die or where mothers of female babies are forced to undergo abortions or even abandon their babies; where women can be easily forced into prostitution. I pray that You will bring these women comfort, strength, hope and the liberation that faith in Jesus’s Resurrection brings. I pray that You would enable them to escape from places where they may be held as virtual or real prisoners. I pray that You would free the males in these societies from the slavery of these ideas so that all may have justice.

Men & Husbands
Father, I pray that You will enlighten the minds of those who scorn women and treat them with contempt and disrespect. Please help them to see that we all have worth because You have made us in Your image. Please help them to understand their own worth in You so that they don’t have to compensate by putting women down.

Father, Your Word to us as husbands is: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:22) [To se passage click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/ephesians/5.htm] Please help us to practise this. Sometimes it is so difficult to put this into practice as our male egos get in the way. I ask You to give us grace, not so that we are grudgingly manipulated, but so that we willingly give and give way, and love sacrificially as You do.

[This is a short but powerful poem by Mary Louise Decker, who says:” I was thinking largely of the abundant evidence for intelligent design in our Universe.”  I am astounded that people can ascribe the incredibly intricate details of life that science explores (e.g. DNA) to some kind of chance explosion of energy and then still disparage faith; to believe this is all chance requires more faith than I (quite a questioning sort of bloke) can muster. Thank you, Mary, for this poem.]

In deepest, darkest outer space,
Where countless flaming stars were hurled,
In complex cell machinery,
In DNA, wound up and curled,
In every butterfly or flower,
In countless wonders of this world,
See there the Master’s signature,
See there His banner bright unfurled.
The Bible references below are available in about 45 languages. Click the reference and, after the page has loaded, click on the appropriate flag at the top of the page.
Genesis 1-2
http://niv.scripturetext.com/genesis/1.htm

Job 9:9: “He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.”
niv.scripturetext.com/job/9.htm
Isaiah 6:3: “And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
http://niv.scripturetext.com/isaiah/6.htm

Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
http://niv.scripturetext.com/romans/1.htm

Here is a poem emailed to me by Faith Bricher. There is a sense in which each of us shares the encounter between Jesus and Nathanael. One way or another, each of us has to make a decision which will affect us for eternity. 

 

Why should I meet him? I have friends enough:

All poor and rough; trustworthy, nonetheless.

A man needs only two, or three at most,

To whom to bare his soul; a tender wife

To warm his bed and bear and raise his sons;

Some strong, wise workmates, fishermen or such,

But let them be of trusted local stock.

Why should I go and meet this Nazarene?

 

Why should I meet You? You have scrutinised

Me, scanned our hearts and minds – and yet You love

The quisling Matthew, Simon in his zeal,

– Known Peter’s rashness, John and James’s fire

And Israel’s guile and my sincerity.

You keep the stairs to Heaven where angels climb

And none can hide, not angels nor yet I.

So, Jesus Christ, take Your Nathanael.

 

Faith Bricher.

 


To access  John 1:45-51 click the following link:

http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/1.htm 

 

 

 

(Initially I could not quite “get” the last line: the penultimate word is the key.)

 

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