Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind Forgive Our Foolish Ways

Friday, May 30, 2014
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’  But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’   Acts 2:1-4, 12-13 (NRSV)
In 1872 John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem entitled “The Brewing of Soma”.  Whittier was disturbed by the early Methodists, and their “noisy and hysterical camp meetings and revivals.  The first 11 (of 17) stanzas …describe in vivid images and compelling metaphors the rites of the priests of Indra [who] had brewed from honey and milk a ‘drink of the gods’ which when drunk by the worshipers produced a frenzy, a sacred madness, and ecstatic storm of drunken joy, the beginning of a ‘new, glad life’.[1]  

Some would describe that as shameful behavior, public group inebriation, something of a fraternity or sorority back to school orgy/party.  Some might describe it as Pentecost.

While Whittier may have been appalled by the early Methodists’ enthusiastic, ecstatic worship, the latter verses of his poem became one of Christendom’s most revered (and currently ignored) hymns. 

It is also good theology for our times…(no wonder it’s ignored):

    Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
    Forgive our foolish ways;
    Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
    In purer lives Thy service find,
    In deeper reverence, praise.

    Breathe through the heats of our desire
    Thy coolness and Thy balm;
    Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
    Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
    O still, small voice of calm. 
    O still, small voice of calm.

“Reclothe us in our rightful mind….Still, small voice of calm” – we could use some cool heads and faithful hearts in government, families and religious organizations/pulpits.
For You, Today…

Try to get some moments today when you’re apart from the buzz and frenzy of life in the fast lane. 

Listen for the still small voice; it (He) has been known to save many a believer from foolish ways.

[1] Carlton R. Young, Companion To the United Methodist Hymnal, (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1993), p.317

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