Suggested Hymns from

Sundays After Pentecost

Proper 11 [16]

Unifying Theme:
Old promises kept--and extended

Scripture Theme Hymns
2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Jeremiah 23:1-6
God's temple, not David's
Bringing God's people home
117: O God, Our Help in Ages Past
559: Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation
580: Lead On, O King Eternal
Psalm 89:20-37
Psalm 23
138: The King of Love My Shepherd Is
381: Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
430: O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 A reputation of healing 266: Heal Us, Emmanuel, Hear Our Prayer
568: Christ for the World We Sing
Ephesians 2:11-22 No more laws of exclusion 369: Blessed Assurance
715: Rejoice, the Lord Is King

Featured Hymn
O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Hymn #117
Text: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
Music: Attr. to William Croft; harm. by W.H. Monk
Tune: ST. ANNE, Meter: CM

It is a rather ironic statement, but chaos often seems to be the normal order of things.  Chaos and order are complete opposites, yet we study "chaos theory" to understand or make sense of the outcomes that result from chaos.  In a sense, it is an attempt to find order from chaos.

Chaos theory itself is paradoxical.  On one hand, long-term prediction is considered impossible.  On the other hand, the theory holds that future behavior is fully determined by initial conditions, with no random elements involved.  The concept is sometimes discussed in the context of the "butterfly effect," which derives its name from a paper by Edward Lorenz, Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?  The flap of the butterfly's wings was unpredictable, as was the tornado in Texas.  But could it be argued that the two were connected?  That the outcome of a tornado was necessarily set into motion by the flap of the butterfly's wings?  To be honest, no one will ever know.  Any number of connections might be made, but our ability to predict or even appreciate the remote and indirect consequences of random actions today lies far beyond the realm of human understanding.  What we can understand is that butterflies do flap their wings in Brazil, and there are tornadoes in Texas.

This week's featured hymn, O God, Our Help in Ages Past, was written by Isaac Watts.  Based on Psalm 90, it was published in The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, as part of a project undertaken by Watts to reset the Psalms so that they could be sung by Christians in English using modern tunes ("modern" for the 17th and 18th centuries!).  The themes found in this Psalm are such a treasure!  God exists from everlasting to everlasting.  A thousand years are like a day.  May the favor of the Lord rest on us. And on it goes.  This Psalm provides such a rich palette that it cannot be contained in six short stanzas.  Indeed, Watts' original version had nine.

The Psalmist captured so many important truths.  Perhaps the most important one is God's eternal love for us.  In a world filled with chaos and unpredictable outcomes, we can find comfort in God's order.  God was our help in the past.  God is our hope for the future.  The connection between the past and future are beyond our grasp, but God's role throughout history is known.  Ponder the certainty of God's love in the chaotic world captured in Watts' verses:

1. O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.
2. Under the shadow of thy throne,
still may we dwell secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.
3. Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting, thou art God,
to endless years the same.
4. A thousand ages, in thy sight,
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night,
before the rising sun.
5. Time, like an ever rolling stream,
bears all who breathe away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.
6. O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come;
be thou our guide while life shall last,
and our eternal home.

We live in a world of chaos.  We also live in the light of God's love.  May you know God's love for you today and forever, and may your life be a reflection of that love for all of the world to see.

God bless you--
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Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.