King and I were looking at lyrics to hymns the other day. We had some songs in mind for the wedding and were looking them up…such richness to the words. King remarked that people love God so much in each generation.
“This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.”
From This is My Father’s World by Maltbie D. Babcock
As much as I am ready for some warm weather (mostly sunshine), the oversized, slowly drifting to the ground kind of snow flakes tug at my heart every time (in good way).
This morning at Mars Hill, Tim Brown, the president of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan taught. He shared the bolded part of the quote below, and I found it to be quite a stirring series of questions…definitely whetted my appetite to read some more from Frederica Mathewes-Green. The Illuminated Heart: The Ancient Path of Transformation and Gender: Men, Women, Sex, and Feminism sound particularly interesting to me. Anyone read any of her books?
“For all of us, I think, there is a recurrent sense of loneliness. Ultimately, we are alone, humanly speaking, on this hurtling earth. Even in the most jovial and affectionate of families-and I speak from blessed experience-there remains a melancholy awareness that each of us is still fundamentally alone, encapsulated in skin like a spaceman. Even when enjoying those whom we love most, we are looking through a pane of glass, and all the urgent longing of our hearts can’t break through.
We modern Christians have a ready and confident response to this dilemma. We say that of course this is so; it is because, as St. Augustine said, God has made us for himself, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together, as St. Paul put it. When we draw near God, and only then, do we find our place in relation to all the world. It is like going up the spoke of a wheel to the center, and when nearest him we find ourselves closest to everything else he has made.
Here is communion. In God’s presence we discover ourselves able to love one another, to be vessels of heroic love, even toward our enemies, even unto death. We find all creation in harmony around us, as responsive and fruitful as the Garden was to Adam and Eve. The peace that passes understanding informs our every thought.
It sounds pretty good, right? So why are we doing such a crummy job of it?
Why are we modern Christians so undistinguishable from the world?
Why are our rates of dysfunction and heartbreak just as high? Why don’t we stand out in virtue and joy? Does anyone ever say, “We know that they are His disciples, because they love one another”?
How come Christians who lived in times of bloody persecution were so heroic, while we who live in safety are fretful and pudgy?
How could the earlier saints “pray constantly,” while our minds dawdle over trivialities?
How could they fast so valiantly, and we feel deprived if there’s no cookie at the end of the in-flight meal?
How could the martyrs forgive their torturers, but my friend’s success makes me pouty?
What did previous generations of Christians know that we don’t?”
Frederica Mathewes-Green: excerpt from The Illiminated Heart