Sunday Ponderings: Give Thanks

One of my favorite hymns is "For the Beauty of the Earth," and what a wonderful surprise that we sang it during service this past Sunday. Written by Folliot Pierpoint in 1864, it's a wonderful hymn of thanksgiving to our Creator. (It also reminds me of the wedding scene in one of my favorite movies, "Little Women," where the March sisters are singing this during Meg's ceremony.)

1. For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

2. For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

3. For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind's delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

4. For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

5. For thy church, that evermore
lifteth holy hands above,
offering up on every shore
her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

6. For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

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Veggie Advice and a (Future) Book Review

I've been going to our local Farmer's Market for some weeks now, buying some wares from our local farmers. I picked up some bok choy this time around, and I'm not sure what to do with it. Any thoughts? I'm thinking it would be wonderful to cook it alongside one of my winter squashes, but I'm not sure. My milk and egg guys weren't there this time around, but maybe next week.

I have a review of Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" in the works, as well as a collection of thoughts on the state of the Houston local scene. Maybe in a few days?

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Kingdom Privilege

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. --Winston Churchill

Our church is currently going through a capital campaign in order to raise money to construct a church building, so it has been a very exciting few weeks in the life of our church. Our pastor has been going through a series concerning the kingdom of God and a Christian's response to money. Since today was the "Commitment Sunday" where we made our pledges for donations, the sermon itself was shorter, but it still was very powerful.

The Scripture reading was taken from 1 Chronicles 29:9-16.

The people of Israel were giving money in order for the temple of God to be built. The Israelites responded not with a sense of duty, or a sense of solemnity, but with utmost joy. They gave wholeheartedly, freely, and joyfully to the Lord. When we give, we should give with joy and with "clarity." Our pastor explained that when we realize clearly who God is, we will not want to hold back on our joy. After receiving the people's gifts for the temple, David said:
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
We should also have clarity about who we are. Who are we, in comparison to the great and mighty God? David says that "our days on earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding." Nothing is ours, everything we have comes from God.

During the service, we recited the first catechism question from the Shorter Catechism: Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We live our lives most meaningfully glorifying God, which results in our dying to self and serving others. Giving should be an outpouring of our love for others, and an opportunity to glorify our Father. It is our privilege to serve. When we give to our spouses, we don't do so out of duty. To do so would be absurd. Even more so it should be like that with our God. Christ gave us the ultimate gift by dying for our sins. We can never come close to matching this gift, but our response should be an outpouring of joy in giving back to our Maker.

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The New Kitten

Lucy is absolutely loving the new toy we have bestowed upon her. We even caught her grooming it the other day. (Shock!) We have named the new "toy" Lily, and it seems to suit her just fine.

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