Archives For Joy

Since 2014 I’ve been committed to considering what different things God might have to say at the close of Christmas. Traditionally this is Epiphany, the 6th January, marking the end of the twelve days of Christmas.

Magi from the East (Persia), following the star (likely to be the well-timed rare alignment of three planets in our Sol system; a Nova or Super Nova) find confirmation of Micah 5:2:

‘but you, O Bethlehem who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient of days’.

The Magi, after arriving in Jerusalem, are sent by the malicious, King Herod, to Bethlehem. The order is: ‘diligently search for the child and report back’ (Matthew 2:9). The Magi are once again ‘guided by the star that they had seen when it rose before them’ (ibid). At this the Magi ‘rejoiced exceedingly with great joy’ (Matthew 2:10). Arriving at the house where Mary and Joseph now reside, the Magi gift their famous tribute of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This sacrifice honours the One whom they have sought to honour. Their mission is complete. Their journey comes to an end, and they’re offering enters them into a history they never intended to be included in. The Magi aren’t Jewish, but they know the Old Testament; they know of the Jewish prophets. From the East the Magi arrived, perhaps with apprehension and anticipation, but by the time that they end up leaving, they leave having that apprehension and anticipation answered with great joy. The Magi are not disappointed.

With their own eyes they not only see, but joyfully participate in the confirmation of the prophet Micah’s significant foretelling of the birth of the one who comes from the Ancient of Days; the birth of The King of Israel, in insignificant Bethlehem.

This great joy emboldens the Magi. They take heed of a dream in which they are warned not return to King Herod. This is later justified by Herod’s command to kill all male infants aged two and under, in Bethlehem and the surrounding region.

Like the Magi’s visit and their presenting of gifts to the infant Christ (Matthew 2:11), Epiphany is a time of stepping back and gifting God with the attention of our hearts and minds.

Wise men still seek Him, and Epiphany (the traditional close of Christmas celebrations and contemplation) is a good place to end one year and begin another.

Instead of us making our own resolutions, it’s a good time to seek out the resolutions God has already made towards us. Understanding that we ‘worship by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh’ (Philippians 3:3); and that we can rely on His strength to do so, not solely our own.

Looking to what God has already revealed about Himself, we ask, what can we draw from God’s self-revelation that will take us into the New Year with confidence?

What is it about God’s self-revelation that will help us build on God’s resolution towards us, one that outlasts vain and clichéd New Years Eve promises?

Epiphany is not without substance. The great joy of the Magi is not without justification.

They may leave empty-handed, but they don’t leave empty and disillusioned. The Magi leave well guarded; full of the joy of the Lord. This is a joy they’ve witnessed face to face with, and received from, the One who is the ‘fountain of all joy’ (Tony Reinke)[i].

As Karl Barth noted, this great joy is the radiance of God’s glory:

‘God’s love becomes an event and a person, God’s fellowship, powerful and a fact [.…]It is a glory that awakens joy […] God’s glory radiates it […] because it is God who Himself radiates joy […] His glory is radiant, and what it radiates is joy. It attracts and therefore it conquers.’ (Karl Barth, CD. II:1, pp.643, 655, 654, 661) (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 30:5; Isaiah 55:12; John 15:11)

May Epiphany remind us that ‘the presence of the Creator is not an idle or unfruitful presence. It is not the presence of cold confrontation. It is not a presence which leaves blind eyes blind or deaf ears deaf. It is a presence which opens them. God’s glory is the indwelling joy of His divine being which as such shines out from Him.’ (Barth, CD 2.1:647)

May Epiphany not be a cold confrontation with the great joy experienced by the Magi. May this great joy, be the joy of the Lord working in our lives. May we ‘not be grieved, knowing that the Joy of the Lord is our strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10), and that it is only in Him that great joy is to be found. That we too are guarded and that we too can march on as wise men, when kings, rulers, or the world (and sometimes those about us), are all too happy to deceive, mock, destroy, steal and tear down.

With the Magi, may we say that the great joy awakened in them by the glory of God is now also before us, for us and given resolutely to us. With the Magi, we can embrace the birth of the new and the continuing reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people, and the fact that His joy WILL BE our strength, and none other[ii].


References:

[i] Tony Reinke noted that ‘joy is fundamental to God’s triune nature. To find God is to find the fountain of all joy […] We participate in joy when we reach the essence of all joy: God Himself’. I disagree with how Reinke’s article conflates happiness with Joy, but I agree with the fact that ‘God is the fountain of joy’.

[ii] Dietrich Bonhoeffer: ‘One should, in such times of confusion, go back to the beginning, to our wellsprings, to the true Bible, to the true Luther. One should keep on, ever more undaunted and joyfully, becoming a theologian who speaks truth in love (ἀληθεύοντες ἐν ἀγάπῃ). (DBW 12)

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2019

Also published @ The Caldron Pool, January 13, 2019 under the same title.

The melody for this was written about two weeks ago. I’ve been casually working it and reworking it to find the right mix, right accompaniment and correct context for a video.

As for the creative process:

I started with sequencing drums, bass and then created multiple semitone bass lines until I had a beefier background. I came up with the melody using the ‘garage band’ piano. The sound wasn’t full enough so I decided to add more keys and liked it for what it was; a fun little tune that offered a welcome distraction to our hardworking homeschoolers.

When I sat down with my guitar to really lay this out, I struggled to find the right tone. Every creative angle I tried didn’t work. Because of this, I made the decision to mute the keys, cutting the riff down to just bass, drums and piano.

Once I’d done this the song started to come together.  I worked the guitar in and then went back to the piano to add a bridge and intro; hence the high F semibreve in the introduction and finish.

After I’d mixed the instruments, I noticed a serious hole in the sound. If you listen closely you’ll hear a wave of air, another layer of bass, and a slight melodic echo. This was created by morphing three separate drum, keys and a guitar tracks.

What I’m happy with is how the piano and guitar ended up sounding together. For now, I’m content with the sound-bed, lead and bass.

What I could improve on is not having the main riff appear as often as it does. I’m conscious of it repeating too much to the point where it starts to sound, as my youngest son pointed out with another tune I was doing the other day, “like a broken record”. I don’t think this song does that.

Thus I present to you, this.

(Side note: due to lack of availability of models, I made an executive decision, and filled in for my own “photo-shoot”. I advance to you an apology for it – on the bright side, it doesn’t take away from the music too much. For the best sound experience, headphones or good speakers are recommended.)

Happy Friday, folks.

 


Source:

Video, images & music are my own.

Karl Barth On Joy & Theology

Joy & Provision.

Epiphany

Protection & Hope.

Caught

Peace.

Weeping

Wisdom & Reverence.

Wisdom

Jesus Is Victor.

Jesus is Victor


 

Images:

Photographer: Ian Adams 

Source: Beloved Life

 

 

Advent Day 7: Humour

A few days ago I did some research on what Tim Hawkins might have had to say regarding the topic of Christmas.Karl Barth_Laughter

I would have posted this earlier, unfortunately I wrestled with how to lay out a blog post about it.  I did not want it to be pretentious and inauthentic. This was due the presupposition that Christians, theologians in particular, are not for laughter of any kind.  Sadly, it seems that we can at times perpetuate this false perspective, and then wonder why such a negative assumption exists.

Contrary to said assumption, Christians like to laugh, celebrate, and smile. Some even laugh at themselves, and even if their humour can be a bit dry, it is difficult to not appreciate the brokenness and the humanity in it all.Emboldened by the hope anchored in Jesus the Christ, His spirit, His humanity and God’s proclamation of reconciliation, and through the narrative accounts of  participants and witnesses. Advent reminds us to listen, to laugh and then pass that joy on.

Of course there is a lot to say about humour, laughter and joy around this time of year. How it fits into our advent journey and the important role it plays in unifying communities instead of dividing them. Laughter is found in giving. Comedians, no doubt, spend hours perfecting how they are going to deliver joy in their message.

Joy, the gift and its delivery are all key themes of Advent.

Karl Barth is reported to have said:

‘Joy is the simplest form of gratitude’

‘Away with the yardsticks! Those who cannot laugh with others and laugh about themselves are warmongers…Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God’

In sum, the end result of my two-hour research session, was a video montage found on YouTube. To me, the funniest clip was the one tagged on at the end.

All the clips can be located on his channel @: TimHawkinsComedy (well worth checking out)

Weekend kick-starter

June 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

Funny stuff.

Facile Friday

May 17, 2013 — 5 Comments

Ah…Facile Friday. How welcome you are… For those new to GVL: the general idea here is to give others a voice by presenting a summary of the things that I stopped to wonder at this week. Here goes…

IMG_20130329_143237_20130516184202372

Image credit: RL2013 – Autumn

1. “First cab off the rank” is Theinkslinger with an impressive book review of Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’. His analysis is real and his argument is convincing. Here, my friend takes on the long held presumption that Rand, who is also co-author of ‘The virtue of selfishness’, is somehow a benevolent, guiding force for conservative convictions….hmmm?…

2. An Alan Noble article, which blogger Sis linked on Twitter, caught my attention. It is a response to Eric Metaxas’ new book,  ‘Seven Men’. If you are a gamer Noble’s article is worth a read. Also the reference he makes about Mark Driscoll relates to a sermon he gave on ”video games” and real men. My take on this is as follows: I agree with Noble about being careful to not overgeneralise. However I agree with the warning found within Metaxas’ message, which is that video games, such as “massively multi-player online role-play gaming” (MMORGs), present a danger to men who find their identity in the game and communities they form or join.

Speaking as an EVE online veteran of six years, I know that MMORGs can provide a false sense of achievement and also a false sense of self worth. Having said this, by not finding room for balance between a game becoming an extension of ourselves, and a game being something that we do in order to just have fun, I think that Driscoll and Metaxas overstate their case . My question here is: Are they overlooking the fact that the online video-gaming-community is a mission field? (hmm…your thoughts?)

3. Clive James is releasing a translation of Dante’s Inferno (and Divine comedy). It turns out that his release ends up being in competition with Dan Brown’s new release of the same name. In a recent interview author/critic Clive James made some interesting quip’s about Dan Brown, this one in particular caught my attention :

“Dan Brown has spent his lifetime learning to write the kind of prose that has earned him nothing except millions of dollars. I pity him deeply.” read more…

4. Like so many Christian bloggers I have encountered on my pilgrimage through the blogosphere’s shadowlands. I think Ex religious Christian has written some important reflections for Christians on a relevant issue. This particular blog post is poignant and has a lot of depth to it. Kudos to the author, it takes courage to write about ‘what we learn from Church Sabbaticals’.

5. I forget how I stumbled across this one. It is a positive article written for the BBC on child sponsorship. I am a fan of Compassion Australia so to read such a glowing report, backed up by research was to say the least, encouraging. Stand out comment:

“Compassion has often been criticised for proselytising, with its sponsored children being selected by local churches and given an evangelical Christian education. But Dr Wydick found the spiritual aspect of sponsorship might be intrinsic to transforming children’s lives” (Emily Buchanan)..read more.

6.  A few days back I posted a prayer from Thomas Merton. I was directed towards this because of a discussion on uncertainty, vocation and calling. Katie Kiesler’s recent blog post was directly related to these themes. One of the high points that came out of reading this was how Katie related her subject material (Exodus 13:21-22) to the song by JJ Heller called ‘Who You Are’. For example: Katie points to Psalm 23:3 bringing emphasis to Heller’s lyric, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know who You are’. Katie concludes with: ‘I pray that we would let God take us through the desert – not just so that we can arrive in the Promised Land, but so that we can talk, or simply listen, to Him along the way‘ (and everybody said…..Amen).

Katie has also written a book called ‘My problem with Grace’.  This is an insightful book that just falls within the genre of ‘macro theological reflection’. One comment which substantiates this is Katie’s assertion : ‘I have never been more convinced that I am a product of a fierce God’s fierce grace’ (Loc.115). Overall the content covers a range of issues most of us struggle with from season to season. Her work is conversational and insightful. Both my wife and I recommend checking it out.

7. Scrounging highlight of the week: this really needs no words added to it other than @Crowdermusic #JOY

That’s all folks…have a great weekend.