My previous post was focused upon the utility of listening to the music and prayers of the Daily Offices of Worship. It was a baby step – a distant and tiny LED light leading the depressed and grieving out of their darkness. The North Star is not the brightest star in the sky, but with that tiny light, one can navigate the Northern Hemisphere.
This post revels in the JOY of the Daily Offices of Worship. It is a testimony of the personal resonances of my heart. Let me illustrate what I mean by the resonances of my heart.
Years ago, I discovered something amazing and beautiful. After tuning my trumpet to the piano, I held the sustain pedal down while playing an arpeggio C, E, G, C on my trumpet. The piano came to life with every string in the chord resonating with the sound from my trumpet.
Scientifically, the sound waves from my trumpet pushed on all the strings in the piano. The strings that were tuned to the notes in the chord began to sympathetically resonate (passively vibrate in phase) with the sounds coming from my horn. So the chord I played in series – one note at a time – became a full chord ringing all at once in the piano.
When I stopped playing my trumpet, the piano chord beautifully rang for several seconds. Amazingly, ALL the potential strings that could ring at multiples of the sound waves rang too. Thus, the piano chord rang at several octaves above and below what my trumpet played.
This became a favorite activity of mine. I would play various major and minor chords making the piano sound great or awful as the sympathetic resonances sang along with my trumpet.
This works best when the piano is in tune.
Spiritually, I suspect that this is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit of God in the life of the Christian.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:1-2 ESV]
Let me insert the language I am trying to emphasize,
…present your bodies [to be tuned] as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be [tuned] by the renewal of your mind, that by [tuning] you may [sympathetically resonate with] the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I’m not doing deep exegesis, here. I’m merely using the concept of sympathetic resonance as an analogy to explain one way that God can fill and overwhelm our “hearts”, meaning our mental and emotional selves.
Now to the filling and overwhelming…
The Venite – Psalm 95:1-7
I can remember singing these exact words in the Childrens’ Choir at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, TX. I was in 4th Grade. God has been tuning my heart with these words for over 40 years.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
[Psalm 95:1-7 ESV]
Personal Reflection: Having a rock of salvation is extremely comforting. Psalm 62 speaks of God as a rock and a fortress – a place of supreme security. All the strong places are His, AND all the chaotic places like the sea are his, too. And we are protected as sheep are protected and cared for by their shepherd. Jesus said,
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. [John 10:11 ESV]
This is the Song of Zechariah. There are several “songs” in the Bible. They seem to be bold proclamations prompted by God’s spirit when significant events occurred. This sounds a lot like sympathetic resonance to me. God does something significant (this is the trumpet call) and his faithful sing out in resonance with his call (like the piano responding to the trumpet).
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
He has come to His people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty Savior, born of the house of His servant David.
Through His holy prophets he promised of old that he would save us
- From our enemies,
- From the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant.
This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham;
To set us
- Free from the hands of our enemies,
- Free to worship Him without fear,
- holy and righteous in His sight all the days of our life.
[Now, Zechariah turns to his baby boy, John, and proclaims,]
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give His people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins
In the tender compassion of our God,
The dawn from on high shall break upon us
- To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and
- To guide our feet into the way of peace.
[Luke 1:68-79 ESV] Bulleted lists were utilized for emphasis and clarity.
Personal Reflection: Clearly, the language of fear and being set free were relevant in Roman-occupied Jerusalem. But this language is relevant at all times. We are self-censoring in this age of cultural Marxism because we are fearful of our “enemies”. This fear of disapproval can be seen as silly when our Christian brothers and sisters are being arrested, tortured, and killed by actual enemies using actual violence. But fear is fear. Enemies are enemies. And hope is hope. This Song of Zechariah proclaims real hope in the impending birth of Jesus. Zechariah’s son John alerts us to the darkness and the shadow of death that is on us all. John prepares us to see the dawn (Jesus) who shines on us and guides us into the way of peace.
Collect for Grace
O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God. You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day. Defend us in the same with Your mighty power and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Personal Reflection: Spontaneous prayer is good and we are encouraged by Paul to pray without ceasing. But these scripted prayers (called Collects) gather and summarize the prayers of God’s people, not just in aggregate on a given day, but also over time. This Collect for Grace was prayed over me essentially every Sunday of my life in Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist services. In all three denominational traditions, the same exact words were used meaning the prayer predates all of them. Amazing.
Thinking about the specific petitions in this prayer, I am comforted by the requests for protection. The phrase “ordered by Your governance” is one I have been recently chewing on. It could take a sovereign and fatalistic tone, which I struggle with. But it can also take a common grace tone, meaning that God in his grace to all mankind has established order in this world that is reliable. We are to seek His order rather than our chaotic sinful tendencies.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven;
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Personal Reflection: Luther devotes a large portion of his Small Catechism to expounding on the Lord’s Prayer. I have little of substance to add to Dr. Luther’s exposition.
On a trivial note, I’d like to mention why I like the archaic language of the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t pray in King James English, but I am a fan of leaving the Lord’s prayer in this form for the following reasons:
- It is most widely known by English speakers in this form, and can be recited corporately at a moment’s notice in times of celebration and duress. This has been a powerful reminder of the 400 year Christian heritage of the English speaking world that persists to this day.
- It reminds people of the 400 year continuity of these exact words. Destroy the wording and you destroy the continuity, unity, and fellowship of language.
- It prevents the revisionists from monkeying. Allowing a modernization of the words “art, trespass, Thy, and Thine” might be fine, but this trip wire sets off an explosion of efforts to “modernize the meaning” of the various petitions. Many see the concept of trespasses and sins as archaic and in need of modernization.
(As an aside, how many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: CHANGE‼?!???!???!?! -Mea Culpa)
The Lord Almighty bless us and direct our days and our deeds in His peace. Amen.
Personal Reflection: Again, one can read “direct our days and our deeds” in a controlling way or a gracious way. The director of a band does not control you. He does not force you to play your horn HIS way. He directs you to offer your music in an orderly way so that the whole family of musicians plays together, in tune, and in sympathetic resonance with His spirit.
Love to you all,