“We die alone, for on its own, each ember loses fire”

I don’t know if you are a hymn lover or a chorus lover. I am hoping both. Without getting into that debate, there are excellent reasons for employing both in the worship of God. This post is not about that debate, however, it is instead a consideration of one particular hymn that has been meaningful to me and which I recalled during house church last night. Here are the words to “We are God’s People” by Bryan Jeffrey Leech:
We are God’s people, the chosen of the Lord,
Born of His Spirit, established by His Word,
Our cornerstone is Christ alone, and strong in Him we stand,
O let us live transparently, and walk heart to heart and hand in hand.
We are God’s loved ones, the Bride of Christ our Lord,
For we have known it, the love of God outpoured,
Now let us learn how to return the gift of love once given
O let us share each joy and care And live with a zeal that pleases heaven.
We are the Body of which the Lord is Head,
Called to obey Him, now risen from the dead.
He wills us be a family Diverse, yet truly one;
O let us give our gifts to God And so shall His work on earth be done.
We are a temple, the Spirit’s dwelling place,
Formed in great weakness, a cup to hold God’s grace,
We die alone, for on its own, each ember loses fire,
Yet joined as one the flame burns on To give warmth and light and to inspire.
Where to begin? This hymn has so many wonderful lines:

O let us live transparently, and walk heart to heart and hand in
hand…
O let us share each joy and care And live with a zeal that pleases
heaven…
He wills us be a family Diverse, yet truly one;

The final verse, though, is what really spoke to me last night in its emphasis on corporateness.

We are a temple, the Spirit’s dwelling place,
Formed in great weakness, a
cup to hold God’s grace,
We die alone, for on its own, each ember loses
fire,
Yet joined as one the flame burns on To give warmth and light and to
inspire.

For many generations in the West, and most acutely in America, we have been incredibly individualistic. This plays itself out in our cultural values and icons and, sadly, even in the church. The ways in which many come to faith, choose their churches, choose their careers, their spouses even is highly individualistic. Not all of that, of course, is inherently bad.
When it comes to the faith, though, we really lose something when we are highly individualistic. In fact, this hymn seems to indicate that our relationship with God is dependant on corporateness. Not convinced? Here is the Apostle Peter on the subject:

As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)

A professor in a seminary class I once took argued that perhaps the central characteristic of the image of God which was created into human beings is not the intellect or even the spirit that worships, but the relational aspects of the Trinity. We are created to be relational with God and with our fellow humans.
If we needed others before the Fall, we surely need them now in our fallness. I need no other proof for this than the witness of my own life. It is when I choose to remove myself from church, from the influence of family, from the influence of godly friends that I am most prone to sin, when I am most prone to pity myself, to excuse myself, and ultimately to loathe myself. It is no coincidence that my hiding in such times reflects Adam and Eve’s hiding from God in the garden.
This past weekend, my roommates and I barbecued a lot of meat. And it was key while getting the coals going and to keep them going that they be close together. When I isolate myself for extended periods of times, either because of committed or impending sin or for other reasons, then I am prone to become an ember that loses its power to burn effectively, to give heat and light.
You may argue that we are saved as individuals and that this coal analogy if carried too far might become heretical. And that may be true. But if God does work in our spirits individually (and clearly there is generally much coporateness involved in the means of most people’s salvation), we are not meant to live our Christian lives alone. Passage after passage of scripture affirms this.
Last night in house church, singing songs together, studying God’s word together, sharing our fears and praying together, I was reminded about this important truth.

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Curses!! Foiled Again!!!

OK, I don’t think that this was because I took off work yesterday, as everyone in the library swears that they have no part in these attacks. My male coworkers made light of a Secret Pal Society comprised exclusively of women and they have subsequently targeted all the males in the library. One office was decorated in bubble wrap and toilet paper in honor of Bubble Wrap and Thomas Crapper days. Next, the director’s office was decorated with numerous pictures of ballerinas and rose petals. Mine was done as you see below with individual books and a soda cup and lamps and pens wrapped in aluminum foil (aluminium for the Brits).


Of all the sundry signs they put up, this one I am going to keep as a good reminder.

So if life hands you tin foil…I figure you make a giant arch. I went to the Gateway Arch with some visiting friends yesterday and so it was fresh in the mind. Oh, and with left over foil? A giant Ball O’ Aluminum.

New Narnia Featurette and Wallace and Gromit on the Big Screen!!!

This looks pretty good. There are still a lot of monsters, but some of the location shots look very good.
And I don’t know how well Wallace and Gromit will work in an extended big screen movie, but I am there. Gromit is my favorite, and, hopefully, the name of a future pooch when I get to the point where I can willingly commit to the responsibilities of dog care. Ah, there’s that “c” word and the “r” one too.

Recipe-Fru Fru Berry Mango Compote for a Baked Brie

OK, so I am not as fru fru as this post might indicate. But it was the Oscars and the roomies were putting on a wine and cheesish affair, and so I thought I would rise to the occassion. Plus, I like to think I have a good mind for cooking and brie is one of the snobbish types of cheeses I really do enjoy. So without further adieu, here is a recipe for a compote for a baked brie.
I am not certain about the amounts, but just experiment. Ingredients can be all added in the beginning or save part of the fruit for adding later if you want some chunkier bits.
*8 oz. box of strawberrys, chopped in small pieces
*4 oz? box of blueberrys
*1/4 of a mango, an excellent way to get mango for cooking or eating is to slice off one side close to the seed and then take the resultant oval and score the firm yellow meat of the mango in a checkerboard pattern all the way down to the skin, and then push up from the skin side so that you should have something that looks like a yellow, blocky hedgehog, allowing one to easily cut off cubes of the divine fruit that is the mango. Oh yeah, and get a ripe mango. It should be pretty firm but not tight. The meat should be bright yellow/orange and not pasty white.
*water
*sugar to taste, you should test this throughout the cooking process
*red wine
*1/8 teaspoon of freshly and finely chopped ginger. I am in two minds about this addition, but it did give a nice zesty little bite. Not too much, though, or you will not like the bite at all.
*a little Promise margarine at the end, butter would work too. Not so much so as to make it greasy, but just a little to give it a pie-ish flavor
*salt to tast, you should not need much, but more if you don’t add the butter. Hey, it gives flavor. No matter if my friend Becky denies this and persists in baking saltless cookies. Her husband Kenn agrees with me, but then again he is a husband and so he supports her by eating her excellent, though saltless cookies. And for matter, I do too.
Let all this simmer and simmer until it reaches a compotish conistency and put it on your baking brie. A woman in my bible study noted that this would be even better with a brie in a pastry crust. Alas, that pastry business does exceed my culinary skills. At least as they currently stand.