Funeral Songs

Last night I received an email from my good friend, Nancy, who is also one of our faithful readers.  She mentioned that she had been at a funeral and the music was just lovely.  In her words:

In keeping with the blog, I went to the funeral yesterday of a dear friend from church. It was the most singing at a funeral that I have ever experienced, and it was perfect. One of the songs we sang was the “Hymn of Promise” that I had sent to you. And we sang a medley of last verses of six old hymns that all spoke of heaven and Jesus coming to “take us home.” There were more hymns- all were affirmations of faith and hope.

This made me think about the songs that uplift me in times of grief.  One of my favorites is “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.”  It’s an Easter song, based upon Job 19:25-26

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God,

Whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

I can’t imagine anything more comforting and hopeful than that word  picture.  Here’s the whole hymn, in case you don’t know it:

 

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What Do You Really Know?

We tend to think of our civilization as very advanced;  humankind has certainly come a long way.  We can cure diseases that were once fatal; we can access all sorts of information instantly via the internet;  we can fly any place in the world, and we’ve even reached the moon!  There is a temptation to feel that if we don’t know it all yet, we will soon.  How far from true that is!  Turn to the book of Job.  When Job’s life started going down the tubes, he questioned God and His plans.  He thought his situation was unfair and God was unjust.  Here’s God’s answer:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements–surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstones, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?

It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment.

From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken.

Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?

Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?  Declare if you know all this.”  Job 38:4-18

In other words, God is God and we’re not.  There are many things about creation, death, and our own lives that we will never understand or know.  Real knowledge starts with humility — realizing how little we know, and how much we owe to God.

The Song of Christian Unity

“God has prepared for Himself one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter the community of God join in this song. It is the song that the “morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the creation of the world. (Job 38:7). It is the victory song of the children of Israel after passing through the Red Sea, the Magnificat of Mary after the annunciation, the song of Paul and Silas in the night of prison, the song of the singers on the sea of glass after their rescue, the “song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3) It is the song of the heavenly fellowship.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

Image result for it is the church that is singing images

Contractual . . .

Hosea 13:4-6

“Yet I have been the LORD your God Since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no savior besides Me. I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.”

I read, ‘ . . . And being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me.” And I think that Christians need to remember those words. Not because we need to tell others about the words of warning God spoke, but because Christians need to warn each other. God makes a promise and we all know he’ll keep it. We certainly balk if we feel he hasn’t or won’t; yet how easily we forget that long ago we agreed to uphold our part of a binding contract.

We are a government, people, society, even world of contracts. Paper work to verify other paper work to ensure promise of words written and said in processes of purchases, acquisitions, and agreements of all kinds. And we have laws that force any who would dare usurp such paperwork as this.

How hypocritical we all are. Christians descended of Jews who are descended of Abraham, Father of nations made a promise. To follow God, worship only Him, and to do so by obeying His will. Which, I might add, only looks to provide us the best and safest option. In other words, His will would never wish His people harm or leave us wanting. Yet we’ve strayed, and forgotten over and over that our God loves us and that we also made a promise. We have grown comfortable by the blessings He gives and in our comfort and satisfaction we forget who gives it. We think it must have been our own doing. That the ‘stars aligned’ and all our efforts came to bear fruit of prosperity and peace. But from where did we get the money? A job, the employer, the company, a city, the state, country; have all those things including the political web of red tape and regulations, with the world chess pieces of military power all been a product of our own hand?

God might ask us as He did Job if we laid the foundations of the earth and hung the stars and moon. No, we simply reap the benefits if we only obey putting one foot in front of the other. We must be cautious, and not forget when we sit on our soft couch in our warm homes just who made it all possible. Good for us we have a really big note a.k.a. the Bible, so that we can read it and remember not just God’s promises which are faithful, but our own.

Resurrection in the Old Testament

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.  I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27

I couldn’t close out the month without this verse which is one of my personal favorites.  It’s from the book of Job, which some scholars think is the oldest book in the Bible.  It records events that took place during the time of the patriarchs, approximately 2000 BC.  There was no doctrine of bodily resurrection at this time, yet here Job is, professing his faith in it.  This could only be through God’s inspiration and is a wonderful example of how the Old Testament “informs” the New.  When I read it, my heart also years to see God.

These verses also form the basis for a couple of wonderful hymns, one written in the 1700’s, the other modern.  I love them both.  Here are the words to the old classic:

I Know that My Redeemer Lives
By: Samuel Medley

I know that my Redeemer lives!
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living head!

He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives exalted, throned above;
He lives to rule his Church in love.

He lives to grant me rich supply;
He lives to guide me with his eye;
He lives to comfort me when faint;
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.

He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives to bless me with his love;
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend;
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King!

He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives, all glory to his name!
He lives, my savior, still the same;
What joy this blest assurance gives:
I know that my Redeemer lives!

Hymn # 264 from Lutheran Worship
Author: attr. John Hatton
Tune: Duke Street 1st Published in: 1775