Christ, our Light

Quotations for December, 1996

Sunday, December 1, 1996
Commemoration of Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916

Assuredly there is but one way in which to achieve what is not merely difficult but utterly against human nature: to love those who hate us, to repay their evil deeds with benefits, to return blessings for reproaches. It is that we remember not to consider men’s evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. I [1559], tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, III.vii.6, p. 625 (see the book; see also Matt. 5:44-45; 6:14; 18:35; Luke 17:3-4; more at Achievement, Blessing, Evil, Intention, Love, Nature, Sin)

Monday, December 2, 1996

Christians seeking social justice have a special responsibility. Much more is required than the bringing of aid to people who are homeless and in need, and contributing to their support.
There are real dangers to be faced. It must never be allowed to appear that charity is dispensed to the unfortunate by superior beings... Much greater care must be taken to identify the giver with those whom he comes to serve.
... A. C. MacInnes (1901-1977), “Social Justice,” included in Anglican Congress 1963: Report of Proceedings, Eugene Rathbone Fairweather, ed., Editorial Committee, Anglican Congress, 1963, p. 70 (see the book; see also Isa. 59:14-15; 1:15-17; Amos 5:23-24; Zech. 8:16; Matt. 6:1-4; 12:7; Luke 12:33; Acts 2:44-45; Rom. 12:8; 1 John 3:17-18; more at Attitudes, Charity, Justice, Responsibility, Service, Social)

Tuesday, December 3, 1996
Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552

What is the Christian? Everywhere the man who, so far as he comprehends Jesus Christ, so far as he can get any knowledge of Him, is His servant, the man who makes Christ a teacher of his intelligence and the guide of his soul, the man who obeys Christ as far as he has been able to understand him... I would know any man as a Christian, would rejoice to know any man as a Christian, whom Jesus would recognize as a Christian, and Jesus Christ, I am sure, in these old days recognized His followers even if they came after Him with the blindest sight, with the most imperfect recognition and acknowledgment of what He was and of what He could do.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Addresses, Philadelphia: Henry Altemus, 1895, p. 122-123 (see the book; see also Luke 9:44-45; Isa. 52:14-15; 65:1; Matt. 13:13-16; 16:8-11; Mark 4:11-12,33; 8:17-21; Luke 8:10; 18:34; 24:45; John 8:27; 9:24-25; 10:1-6,24-29; 12:16; more at Guidance, Jesus, Knowing God, Man, Obedience, Sight, Soul, Teach)

Wednesday, December 4, 1996
Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637

It is a Gospel to men who are without God, sinful, bewildered, anxious, discouraged, self-sufficient and proud, yet destroying themselves and others, caught in a desperate plight from which they cannot extricate themselves. The Bible characterizes men in such a state as “lost,” and as being “without hope in the world”...
And let no one suppose that such a term as “lost” is merely a bit of conventional theological jargon. It stands for a terrible reality, a reality which modern man in his modern predicament knows only too well from his own bitter experience. It gives rise to the voices of despair which haunt our radios, our newspapers, our fiction and poetry, our stage and screen, our doctors’ offices, our hospital wards, our grisly nightmare of atomic war, and the conversation of common people who no sooner meet than they begin to bemoan the fate that has overtaken the world.
... Lewis J. Sherrill (1892-1957), Lift Up Your Eyes, Richmond: John Knox Press, 1949, p. 7 (see the book; see also Isa. 8:21-22; Jer. 18:12; Rom. 15:21; Eph. 2:12; more at Bible, Bitterness, Despair, Discouragement, Experience, Fate, Gospel, Hope, War, World)

Thursday, December 5, 1996

“There is no God,” the foolish saith,
But none, “There is no sorrow.”
And nature oft the cry of faith
In bitter need will borrow:
Eyes which the preacher could not school,
By wayside graves are raised;
And lips say, “God be pitiful,”
Who ne’er said, “God be praised.”
... Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, London: MacMillan, 1899, p. 259 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 1:22-29; Ps. 14:1; 46:1; Luke 12:16-20; 16:19-31; Jas. 4:14; more at Atheism, Faith, God, Pity, Praise, Sorrow)

Friday, December 6, 1996
Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326

The first principle of differentiation was laid down by Paul, when dealing with the problems of the spiritual phenomena that had arisen at Corinth... In the confusion of spiritual phenomena, ... it was possible that evil spirits, as well as the Holy Spirit, inspired some of the manifestations. One in particular Paul singles out as being in obvious contradiction to the work of the Spirit of God: “No man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema (cursed be Jesus).” On the other hand, “No man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). It is difficult to conceive the state of mind of a member of a Christian congregation who would curse the name of Jesus. Yet it is evident that at Corinth, people gave way to such uncontrollable frenzy, that either in folly, or in momentary reversion to Judaism or heathenism, they cursed the name in whose honour they had met... But the spirit that inspired disloyalty to Jesus Christ could not be the Holy Spirit, for in Paul’s experience and theology, the two beings were, if not identical, at least in perfect harmony of principle and action. This, then, was Paul’s first criterion for deciding which spiritual phenomena could be approved by Christians as the work of the Holy Spirit. They must be loyal to Jesus Christ as Lord of life, and as the object of faith and love for every believer. [Continued tomorrow]
... Thomas Rees (1869-1926), The Holy Spirit in Thought and Experience, New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1915, p. 87-88 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 12:3; Matt. 16:16-17; Mark 9:39-40; John 15:26; 1 John 4:1-3; ; more at Betrayal, Congregation, Faith, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Jesus, Love, Loyalty)

Saturday, December 7, 1996
Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397

[Continued from yesterday]
Another criterion was loyalty to the community of Christ both as gathered congregation and as organised church. The pride of spiritual gifts had led the Corinthians to jealousy and strife. They had divided into factions owning the leadership, one of Paul, another of Apollos, another of Cephas, and another of Christ. But such factions, the apostle tells them, were not characteristics of the “spiritual,” but of the carnal. To divide the Church was to destroy the temple of God, where the Holy Spirit dwelt among them (I Cor. 3:1, 3, 16). And the very gifts about which they quarrelled should have been a power to unite them, for they all proceeded from one and the same Spirit, from one and the same Lord, from one and the same God, who worketh all in all (I Cor. 12:4 ff). The Spirit was indeed the principle of unity in the Church, “for in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body” (I Cor. 12:13). Therefore to divide the Church was to drive away the Spirit... The tests of spiritual phenomena in the life of the community, and the proofs that they were of the Holy Spirit, were unity, order, and edification. [Continued tomorrow]
... Thomas Rees (1869-1926), The Holy Spirit in Thought and Experience, New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1915, p. 88-89 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 12:4-13; 3:1-6,16; Eph. 2:18,22; 4:3-6; more at Baptism, Body of Christ, Christ, Church, Community, Congregation, Holy Spirit, Loyalty, Spirit, Strife, Unity)

Sunday, December 8, 1996

[Continued from yesterday]
The sovereign antidote against strife and confusion, the supreme principle of unity and service in the Church, was also the greatest gift of the Spirit, and the perfect and abiding proof of its presence, namely, love. This introduces a third criterion of the Spirit, and on the wider stage of the moral life. It is loyalty to the moral ideal of Christ. “If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk” (Gal. 5:25). Where the Spirit dwells, it produces a new, a higher, a unique type of moral life. For Paul, the Christian life was not the normal and natural product of human activity (Rom. 8:18), but a gracious divine gift, received by the descent of the Spirit into the human heart, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23). And there is yet one higher manifestation of the Spirit, the participation in the divine sonship of Jesus Christ. “And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). Where sonship is, there the Spirit is. On the other hand, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). Where the Spirit leads, there sonship is... The possession of the Spirit and participation in Christ’s sonship are but two aspects of the same experience. Here, the phenomenon, if it may be so called, bears its own credentials. Sonship is a self-evident work of the Spirit. But the evidence is available only for its owner. In order that the Spirit of adoption may attest itself to others, it must issue in the life according to the Spirit, by walking in the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
... Thomas Rees (1869-1926), The Holy Spirit in Thought and Experience, New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1915, p. 89 (see the book; see also Rom. 8:13-19; John 13:34; Rom. 7:14; Gal. 4:6; 5:22-25; Phil. 1:9-11; 2:14-16; Col. 1:10-12; 1 John 4:21; more at Christ, Experience, Holy Spirit, Love, Loyalty, Morality, Spirit)

Monday, December 9, 1996

A frequent intercession with God, earnestly beseeching Him to forgive the sins of all mankind, to bless them with His providence, enlighten them with His Spirit, and bring them to everlasting happiness, is the divinest exercise that the heart of man can be engaged in.
Be daily therefore on your knees, in a solemn, deliberate performance of this devotion, praying for others in such forms, with such length, importunity, and earnestness, as you use for yourself; and you will find all little, ill-natured passions die away, your heart grow great and generous, delighting in the common happiness of others, as you used only to delight in your own...
It was this holy intercession that raised Christians to such a state of mutual love, as far exceeded all that had been praised and admired in human friendship. And when the same spirit of intercession is again in the world, when Christianity has the same power over the hearts of people, that it then had, this holy friendship will be again in fashion, and Christians will be again the wonder of the world, for that exceeding love which they bear to one another.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728], London: Methuen, 1899, p. 413 (see the book; see also 2 Cor. 1:10-11; John 13:34-35; Gal. 6:2; Eph. 6:18; 1 Tim. 3:1-2; Philem. 1:4-6; Jas. 5:14-15; 1 John 5:16; more at Devotion, Enlighten, Everlasting, Forgiveness, Happiness, Holiness, Intercession, Love, Prayer, Providence, Sin)

Tuesday, December 10, 1996
Commemoration of Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968

While extremely sensitive as to the slightest approach to slander, you must also guard against an extreme into which some people fall who, in their desire to speak evil of no one, actually uphold and speak well of vice. If you have to do with one who is unquestionably a slanderer, do not excuse him by calling him frank and free-spoken; do not call one who is notoriously vain, liberal and elegant; do not call dangerous levities mere simplicity; do not screen disobedience under the name of zeal; or arrogance of frankness; or evil intimacy of friendship. No, my friends, we must never, in our wish to shun slander, foster or flatter vice in others: but we must call evil evil, and sin sin, and so doing we shall serve God’s glory.
... François de Sales (1567-1622), Introduction to the Devout Life [1609], London: Rivingtons, 1876, III.xxix, p. 246 (see the book; see also Prov. 11:9; Ps. 97:10; Amos 5:15; Jas. 1:19,26; Jude 1:4-5,14-16; more at Arrogance, Attitudes, Enlighten, Evil, Sin)

Wednesday, December 11, 1996

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.
Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.
Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.
Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.
... Jan Struther (1901-1953), first published in Songs of Praise, enl. ed., Ralph Vaughan Williams, et al., ed., Oxford University Press, 1931, n. 564, p. 164 (see the book; see also Ps. 127:2; 1:1-3; 96:1,2; Matt. 6:25; 2 Cor. 9:8; more at Faith, Gentleness, Grace, Heart, Jesus, Joy, Peace, Prayer, Trust)

Thursday, December 12, 1996

Many men’s scruples lie almost wholly about obedience to authority and compliance with indifferent customs, but very seldom about the dangers of disobedience and unpeaceableness, and rending in pieces the Church of Christ, by needless separations and endless divisions.
... John Tillotson (1630-1694), Works of Dr. John Tillotson, v. VIII, London: J. F. Dove, for R. Priestley, 1820, Sermon CLXXXVIII, p. 247 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 1:12-13; Matt. 22:21; John 14:27; 17:20-23; Rom. 15:5-7; 1 Pet. 2:21; more at Christ, Church, Custom, Danger, Disobedience, Indifference)

Friday, December 13, 1996
Feast of Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Commemoration of Samuel Johnson, Writer, Moralist, 1784

We took tea, by Boswell’s desire; and I eat one bun, I think, that I might not be seen to fast ostentatiously.
When I find that so much of my life has stolen unprofitably away, and that I can descry by retrospection scarcely a few single days properly and vigorously employed, why do I yet try to resolve again? I try, because reformation is necessary and despair is criminal. I try, in humble hope of the help of God.
... Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Prayers and Meditations, London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, 1806, Good Friday, April 14, 1775, p. 114-115 (see the book; see also Luke 18:7-8; Ps. 121:1-2; Matt. 6:16-18; 2 Cor. 4:7-10; 7:10; more at Fasting, God, Historical, Hope, Humility, Reform, Resolve)

Saturday, December 14, 1996
Feast of John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher, 1591

He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.
... Edward Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648), The Autobiography of Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, London: Walter Scott, 1888, p. 40 (see the book; see also Mark 11:25-26; Matt. 6:12,14-15; Luke 11:4; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13; 1 Pet. 3:9; more at Forgiveness, Salvation)

Sunday, December 15, 1996

Faith is sometimes equated with credulity, but it can be so equated only when the profound mistake is made of thinking of faith as primarily a matter of intellectual assent. As the New Testament uses the word, faith is trust, acceptance, commitment, vision. It is not a belief in this or that creed, it is a quality which lies rather in the realm of intuition than the intellect. Faith has indeed an element of true simplicity; it is one of the qualities—perhaps the fundamental quality—of the child-like spirit without which no man can enter the Kingdom of God.
... Anonymous, attributed to Charles Wesley (see also Mark 10:13-16; more at Faith)

Monday, December 16, 1996

But lo’ the snare is broke, the captive’s freed,
By faith on all the hostile powers we tread,
And crush through Jesus’ strength the Serpent’s head.
Jesus hath cast the cursed Accuser down,
Hath rooted up the tares by Satan sown:
All nature bows to His benign command,
And two are one in His almighty hand.
One in His hand, O may we still remain,
Fast bound with love’s indissoluble chain;
(That adamant which time and death defies,
That golden chain which draws us to the skies!)
His love the tie that binds us to His throne,
His love the bond that perfects us in one,
His only love constrains our hearts t’ agree,
And gives the rivet of Eternity.
... Charles Wesley (1707-1788), from “An Epistle to the Rev. Mr. G. Whitefield,” in The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, v. VI, John Wesley, London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, 1870, p. 70 (see the book; see also Gen. 3:14-15; Ps. 146:7-9; Matt. 13:24-30, 36-42; Luke 4:18-19; Eph. 4:1-3; Col. 1:13-14; more at Eternity, Faith, Gospel, Heart, Jesus, Love, Strength)

Tuesday, December 17, 1996
Commemoration of Dorothy Sayers, Teacher and Spiritual Writer, 1957
Commemoration of Eglantyne Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save the Children’, 1928

Following the way of Jesus Christ and doing all we can for His cause and for our fellow men expresses something of our worship in action.
But how to give Him a present to express our love is a bit of a problem. How can you give God anything when He owns everything? But does He? How about that power to choose, that precious free will that He has given to every living personality and which He so greatly respects?
That is the only present we can give—ourselves, with all our powers of spirit, mind, and body—willingly, freely, given because we love Him.
That is the best and highest worship that you and I can offer, and I am sure that it is this above all that God most highly appreciates.
... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), Plain Christianity, London: Macmillan, 1954, p. 63 (see the book; see also Phil. 2:12-13; Ps. 19:14; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:23-24; Matt. 2:1-2,9-11; 5:16; Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:4-5; more at Appreciation, Christ, Free will, Giving, Jesus, Offering, Power, Way, Worship)

Wednesday, December 18, 1996

The genius of the Methodist movement, which enabled it to conquer the raw lives of workingmen in industrial England, and the raw lives of men and women on the American frontier, was the “class meeting”—ten members and their leader, meeting regularly for mutual encouragement, rebuke, nurture, and prayer.
... John L. Casteel (1903-1993/5), Spiritual Renewal through Personal Groups, NY: Association Press, 1957, p. 20 (see the book; see also 1 Thess. 5:11-13; Rom. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:14-15; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 5:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:2; Tit. 2:15; Rev. 3:19; more at Church, Encouragement, Growth, Leader, Life, Man, Prayer, Woman)

Thursday, December 19, 1996

As, then, a consummate master teaches both by example and precept, so Christ taught the obedience, which good men are to render even at the cost of death, by Himself first dying in rendering it.
... Rufinus (345?-410), A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, second series, v. III, Philip Schaff & Henry Wace, ed., New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892, p. 549 (see the book; see also 1 Pet. 2:21; Ps. 40:6-8; John 4:34; 6:38; 9:4; Phil. 2:5-12; Heb. 10:5-9; 4:1; 1 John 2:3-6; more at Christ, Death, Example, Master, Obedience, Teach)

Friday, December 20, 1996

It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain, New York: Macmillan, 1944, p. 133 (see the book; see also Matt. 5:8; Tit. 1:15-16; more at God, Heart, Purity, Sight)

Saturday, December 21, 1996

A satisfying prayer life... elevates and purifies every act of body and mind and integrates the entire personality into a single spiritual unit. Such prayer can only be the result of a life lived in the Spirit...
In the long pull we pray only as well as we live.
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Root of the Righteous, Christian Publications, 1955, p. 81 (see the book; see also Gal. 5:16; Ps. 46:1; 119:11; John 6:63; 14:26; 15:7,16; 2 Cor. 3:6; Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:25; Eph. 5:18; Col. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:19; 1 John 2:27; 2 John 1:2; more at Life, Mind, Prayer, Purity, Satisfaction)

Sunday, December 22, 1996

Do you think that the work God gives us to do is never easy? Jesus says his yoke is easy, his burden is light. People sometimes refuse to do God’s work just because it is easy. This is, sometimes, because they cannot believe that easy work is his work; but there may be a very bad pride in it... Some again accept it with half a heart, and do it with half a hand. But, however easy any work may be, it cannot be well done without taking thought about it. And such people, instead of taking thought about their work, generally take thought about the morrow, in which no work can be done any more than in yesterday.
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), The Seaboard Parish [1868], London: Strahan, 1873, p. 31 (see the book; see also Matt. 11:28-30; Ps. 119:103-104; Pr. 3:13-17; Mic. 6:8; John 16:33; 2 Cor. 4:17; 12:9-10; Gal. 5;1; Phil. 4:13; 1 John 5:3-4; more at Burden, Giving, God, Jesus, Obedience, Thought, Work)

Monday, December 23, 1996

Given, not lent,
And not withdrawn—once sent,
This Infant of mankind, this One,
Is still the little welcome Son.
New every year,
New born and newly dear,
He comes with tidings and a song,
The ages long, the ages long.
Even as the cold
Keen winter grows not old,
As childhood is so fresh, foreseen,
And spring in the familiar green.
Sudden as sweet
Come the expected feet.
All joy is young, and new all art,
And He, too, Whom we have by heart.
... Alice Meynell (1847-1922), Collected Poems of Alice Meynell, London: Burns & Oates, 1913, p. 32 (see the book; see also Luke 2:8-14; Isaiah 9:6; Luke 22:19; John 3:16; Rom. 5:16; more at Christmas, Heart, Infancy, Son)

Tuesday, December 24, 1996
Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,
“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
... Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), composed 1915, Collected Poems of Thomas Hardy, London: Macmillan, 1920-24, p. 439 (see the book; more at Christmas, Darkness, Hope, Meekness)

Wednesday, December 25, 1996

Bright portals of the sky,
Emboss’d with sparkling stars,
Doors of eternity,
With diamantine bars,
Your arras rich uphold,
Loose all your bolts and springs,
Ope wide your leaves of gold,
That in your roofs may come the King of Kings.
O well-spring of this All!
Thy Father’s image vive;
Word, that from nought did call
What is, doth reason, live;
The soul’s eternal food,
Earth’s joy, delight of heaven;
All truth, love, beauty, good:
To thee, to thee be praises ever given!
O glory of the heaven!
O sole delight of earth!
To thee all power be given,
God’s uncreated birth!
Of mankind lover true,
Indearer of his wrong,
Who doth the world renew,
Still be thou our salvation and our song!
... William Drummond (1585-1649), The Poems of William Drummond of Hawthornden, v. II, London: Lawrence and Bullen, 1894, p. 21-24 (see the book; see also John 14:2-3; Ps. 19:1; Luke 2:8-14; Heb. 11:16; Rev. 4:11; more at Christmas, Eternity, Glory, Love, Salvation, Song, Star)

Thursday, December 26, 1996
Feast of Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr

Count not thyself to have found true peace, if thou hast felt no grief; nor that then all is well if thou hast no adversary; nor that this is perfect if all things fall out according to thy desire.
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ [1418], Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, III.xxv.3, p. 163 (see the book; see also Ps. 119:75; Jon. 1:14-2:4; Acts 16:23-25; more at Grief, Peace, Perfection, Weakness)

Friday, December 27, 1996
Feast of John, Apostle & Evangelist

Father eternal, Ruler of creation,
Spirit of life, which moved ere form was made,
Through the thick darkness covering every nation,
Light to man’s blindness, O be Thou our aid.
Races and peoples, lo, we stand divided,
And, sharing not our griefs, no joy can share;
By wars and tumults Love is mocked, derided;
His conquering cross no nation wills to bear.
Envious of heart, blind-eyed, with tongues confounded,
Nation by nation still goes unforgiven,
In wrath and fear, by jealousies surrounded,
Building proud towers which shall not reach to heaven.
Lust of possession worketh desolations;
There is no meekness in the powers of earth;
Led by no star, the rulers of the nations
Still fail to bring us to the blissful birth.
How shall we love Thee, holy hidden Being,
If we love not the world which Thou hast made?
O give us brother-love for better seeing
Thy Word made flesh and in a manger laid.
... Laurence Housman (1865-1959), [1919] Songs of Praise, enl. ed., Ralph Vaughan Williams, et al., ed., Oxford University Press, 1931, p. 98 (see the book; see also John 1:14; Gen. 11:9; Luke 2:6-12; 14:27; John 10:10; more at Blindness, Christmas, Creation, Cross, Father, Holiness, Light, Love, Nation, Spirit, War)

Saturday, December 28, 1996
Feast of the Holy Innocents

Christian freedom, in my opinion, consists of three parts. The first: that the consciences of believers, in seeking assurance of their justification before God, should rise above and advance beyond the law, forgetting all law righteousness... The second part, dependent upon the first, is that consciences observe the law, not as if constrained by the necessity of the law, but that freed from the law’s yoke they willingly obey God’s will... The third part of Christian freedom lies in this: regarding outward things that are of themselves “indifferent,” we are not bound before God by any religious obligation preventing us from sometimes using them and other times not using them, indifferently... Accordingly, it is perversely interpreted both by those who allege it as an excuse for their desires that they may abuse God’s good gifts to their own lust and by those who think that freedom does not exist unless it is used before men, and consequently, in using it have no regard for weaker brethren... Nothing is plainer than this rule: that we should use our freedom if it results in the edification of our neighbor, but if it does not help our neighbor, then we should forego it.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. II, tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, III.xix.2,4,7,9,12, p. 63 ff (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 10:27-33; Rom. 2:14-15; 8:20-21; 14:22-23; 1 Cor. 8:7-13; Gal. 5:13-14; 1 Pet. 3:15-16; more at Conscience, Freedom, Neighbor, Obedience, Service)

Sunday, December 29, 1996
Feast of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170

It was the experience of the disciples who knew Jesus both before and after the Resurrection, and the conviction which they communicated to others, that laid the foundation of faith. This faith, once given, proved to be—like the Person who gave rise to it—essentially self-authenticating. And ever since, the Church has looked to the Cross, a symbol of weakness, as its unique source of power in preaching the Gospel, its authority both to teach and to preach has been of this kind. No amount of liaison between the Church and the source of any other authority, political or moral, must be allowed to obscure the simplicity—and the mystery—of the authority of Christ.
... Nick Earle (1926-2014), What’s Wrong with the Church?, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1961, p. 18 (see the book; see also Matt. 9:6; 28:18; Acts 2:22-28; 1 Cor. 1:17-18; 15:6-8; 2 Cor. 13:4; more at Church, Cross, Faith, Gospel, Preach, Proof, Resurrection, Weakness)

Monday, December 30, 1996

Let a man set his heart only on doing the will of God and he is instantly free. No one can hinder him. If we understand our first and sole duty to consist of loving God supremely and loving everyone, even our enemies, for God’s dear sake, then we can enjoy spiritual tranquillity under every circumstance.
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Root of the Righteous, Christian Publications, 1955, p. 129 (see the book; see also Rom. 6:22; Matt. 5:43-45; 22:36-40; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 5:1; more at Duty, Enemy, Freedom, God, Heart, Love, Tranquility, Will of God)

Tuesday, December 31, 1996
Commemoration of John Wycliffe, Reformer, 1384

It has been too much the custom to regard the earliest Christian books as written in a specially Christian form of speech, standing apart and distinguishable from the common language of the eastern Roman provinces. Had that been the case, it is not too bold to say that the new religion could not have conquered the Empire. It was because Christianity appealed direct to the people, addressed them in their own language, and made itself comprehensible to them on their own plane of thought, that it met the needs and filled the heart of the Roman world.
... Sir William M. Ramsay (1851-1939), The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1904, p. 51 (see the book; see also Acts 17:18; Gen. 11:1-9; Acts 2:8-11; 21:40; more at Apologetics, Heart, Historical, People, Preach, Religion, Thought, World)


Christ, our Light

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Compilation Copyright, 1996-2024, by Robert McAnally Adams,
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