Remembering all living things in prayer

This prayer is commonly attributed to Saint Basil, the Bishop of Caesarea in the fourth century, though this is somewhat contested. Irrespective of it’s origins I think we can benefit from it.

 

O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, even our brothers, the animals, to whom Thou gave the earth as their home in common with us. We must remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of pain. May we realise that they live, not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life

Hebrew poetry for non-Hebrews

I find that, if I am going to try and write a psalm of praise and worship, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the poetic devices I have at my disposal. Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up from my research and experimentation.
Poetic devices not normally present in Hebrew poetry
  • meter
  • rhyme
Poetic devices used in Hebrew that do not normally survive translation
  • repetition of sounds -alliteration, assonance andparonomasia
  • acrostic
Poetic devices used in Hebrew that do translate well
  • Synonymous parallelism – second line repeats the first in different words having the same meaning
  • Antithetic parallelism – second line contrasts with the first
  • Synthetic parallelism –  second line adds to the first
  • Climactic parallelism – successive lines build to a climax or summary
  • Eclectic parallelism – combination of different types interwoven
  • Emphatic parallelism – synonymous words used for emphasis
  • Emblematic parallelism – literal statement is contrasted with a metaphor or a simile
  • External parallelism – syntactic units balance one another across multiple verses
  • Introverted parallelism – the order of the parallel elements is reversed (also known as chiasmus)

Is injustice without consequence?

Was it unjust of Jesus to warn of coming judgement for Israel and the nations? Personally I see the teaching of judgement as having a lot in common with the teaching of karma. It is the simple observation that actions have consequences, socially as well as personally. Unfortunately I think the teaching has been much abused by Christians over the years, so there’s much we need to unlearn first, before we can understand it as Christ did.

There is no culturally neutral way of being contemporary

The problem with seeking to be culturally relevant, as a church, is that culture isn’t as homogenous as it used to be and there is no culturally neutral way of being contemporary. What can be culturally relevant for one person can be culturally irrelevant for another person, and that’s a fact whether we like it or not. As such, I think it’s time we abandoned the project of searching for one style to rule them all and recover an emphasis on substance. Encourage people to explore their own style as they can, for worship and everything else, and  encourage them to look through disagreeable styles to the substance underneath when they can’t. Of course, that puts an onus on leaders to make sure there is substance underneath.