Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday 2013

Rise and Live

Awake, my spirit! be more fervent; cast off the galling chains that drag thee to earth; plume thine immortal wings and rise,—rise and live worthy of thine exalted destiny! Thou art not like the worm of the valley, which perisheth; thou art not like the flower of the field, which springeth up and maketh a goodly show for a little time, and then fadeth forever away; no, thou shalt live, though thy frail body be rendered to the low, strange tomb; thy soul—thy heaven-born soul—shall return, glad in its glorious being, to God, who first gave it life;—for He created man to be immortal, and made him an image of His own eternity.

Dorothea L. Dix (1802-1887)

The Promise of Spring

Soon will the Spring be here; and as we wander out to drink in the tender quickening influences, we shall feel all around, above and beneath, new life; swelling in the buds and down at the roots of the grass; living in the air, sparkling in the waters of the bay, thrilling in our veins, and that life will be the life of God. And when the summer months come, and we go and lie down beneath the shadow of the great hills, or in the aromatic air of the pine woods, we shall find the stillness filled with a breathing and palpitating life; and that life will be the life of God. We shall see the landscape we look out upon to be not a painted surface, but an outgrowth from the Spirit, — from that God ‘who out of His own beauty maketh all things fair.’

Samuel Longfellow (1819-1892)

The Infinitely Potential

“Speak, history! Who are life’s victors? Unroll thy long annals and say!” Which has triumphed more often—life or death, right or wrong, good or evil, peace or war, health or disease, joy or sorrow, love or hate? There seems to be an eternal concern in the world over anything that interferes with the achievement of the best. Were it not so then the earth and all man’s fair works would have faded into oblivion aeons ago. Man is no transient visitor come to this earth from a strange outside. Man came from the heart of life, he is bone of its bone, and spirit of its spirit. Since man is Life, and Life is eternally victorious, he cannot be defeated or destroyed. So Easter breathes the exhilarating assurance that at the heart of birth and death is victorious Life. Though man is the frail child of dust, yet evermore is he the mighty son of eternity. Not as a dumb, impersonal thing of matter came he to the universe. But as Life, a creature of will and purpose and love, the instrument by which the infinitely potential is made incarnate in the world.

W. Waldemar W. Argow (1891-1961)

Triumphant Spirit

The worth of a character that flowers into beauty in men and women who work faithfully and live nobly is in itself a triumph of the spirit. Among these are to be numbered saints and great leaders, and we must include a great host of unknown people who spread their benediction of kindly words and helpful deeds. Our own personalities are to be counted also, for a true understanding of our worth contributes to the argument. Even among the wayward there are elements of good. By our sense of human excellence, we are convinced that life so richly charged with divine implications is of imperishable value. To the worth of this life we add our hope of immortality.

Still more convincing is the career of Jesus. He made his friends conscious of a greatness of spirit which rose above disaster, and there was a feeling of fellowship that death could not break. They recalled his saying, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” It was a word of assurance so vivid that they became participants with him in a consciousness of eternal life. They were caught up in the persuasion that he still lived, and out of that conviction they joyous cry has sounded down the ages: “Christ Is Risen!.”

Charles G. Girelius

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Light Bursts Forth

The beam of light, which for a moment breaks the dark cloud of a wintry day, vanishes again, and seems to leave the world in deeper gloom. And yet that ray of sunshine brings the sure revelation of a realm of cloudless light beyond, and gives the certain prophecy of the summer's glory which shall burst upon the world when the storms of winter have passed away. And, even so, these seasons of spiritual vision give us hints of the power and depth of this life of ours, which sometimes seems so mean and small. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, the greater possibilities of existence. Let the power of the Highest remain with us. Though we descend from the mount of God into the dark valley, let our face shine with the glory of the heavenly vision. Amidst the imbecility and monotony and weariness of daily life, let our minds be glorified by these grand poetic symbols — Love and Beauty, Immortality and God.

Frank Walters (1845-1908)

As Good As God

That God of the clergymen, He is for me as dead as a doornail. But am I an atheist for all that? The clergymen consider me as such — be it so; but I love, and how could I feel love if I did not live, and if others did not live, and then, if we live, there is something mysterious in that. Now call that God, or human nature or whatever you like, but there is something which I cannot define systematically, though it is very much alive and very real, and see, that is God, or as good as God. To believe in God for me is to feel that there is a God, not a dead one, or a stuffed one, but a living one, who with irresistible force urges us toward aimer encore; that is my opinion.

Vincent van Gogh (born March 30, 1853)

The Sower by Vincent van Gogh (1888)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday 2013

Faith and Sacrifice

Good Friday is not so much an historic event as an experience in the life of man. Older than Christianity is the experience of human suffering for the highest at the behest of an inner compulsion. More ancient than the law of self-preservation is the urge of self-dedication, driving man to new and more thrilling achievement. From motherhood to martyrdom, lives have been laid down on history’s altars, and red blood has mingled with white hope to leave a priceless heritage. A thousand such sacrifices proclaim the divinity of man more eloquently than a million battlefields. Why men have thus lived we may never know; but that they have values something more than their own immediate concerns is the glorious testimony of history. Man’s willingness to die for his fellows’ redemption is the perfect revelation of the humanity of God and the divinity of man. Verily, we are greater than we have ever dared to be!

W. Waldemar W. Argow (1891-1961)

The Cross Lights the Way

Jesus had left his lifework incomplete. He have the world only the fragment of a normal career, but that unfinished life took on a world meaning. The enemies of light went down to ruin, but the cross towered above the darkness. The Roman Empire, with all its might of arms, its pomp and glory, ruled the world in defiance of the Christ-Spirit. But the Emperor Constantine saw the sign of the cross, and bowed to its command. Rome passed, but the cross still lights the way of human destiny.

    Charles G. Girelius

The Cross

So Jesus was crucified with the consent and approval of the authorities of church and state. From their point of view no great issue was at stake. It was simply sound policy not to take any chance with potential leaders of the people who might arouse disorder. He died the victim of the cruelty, the thoughtlessness, the hardness of heart, the cowardice of ordinary people and men of responsibility.

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” asks the old spiritual. The answer is: “Yes, we were all there.” We were there in our fears and insecurities, in our blindnesses and petty cruelties, in our indifference, in our abdication of the love we owe our fellow men. “Must a Christ perish in every age?” asks the Bishop of Beauvais in Shaw’s Saint John. The answer so far seems to be “Yes” We may only think and work that it may not always be so.

Among the words attributed to Jesus are three:

A word of love which revealed the depth of his compassion: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

A word of wonder and pain which revealed the reality of his humanity: “My God, my God, what has thou forsaken me?”

A word of faith, which revealed the ground on which he stood: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Harry C. Meserve (1914-2000)