Tuesday 8th September

September 8th

Now thank we all our God [see reflection]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s99dNPKYtHk from the Royal Albert Hall


Reflection – on marriage as hope for our times


On September 26th Rachel and James are married at Hartpury Church. The only wedding we are holding this year. It is a sign of hope for all of us.


Walter Brueggemann, in ‘Virus as a summons to Faith’ (Cascade, Oregan, 2020) notes that three times 7.34, 16.9 and 25.10 Jeremiah declares marriages ‘the voice of bridegroom and bride’ is banished during the time of exile, much like this year. Then we hear this:


There shall once more be heard the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD (Jeremiah 33. 10-11).


Brueggemann suggests the wedding is a sign restoration and homecoming – a return to Israel being the people of promise. He suggests the New Testament equivalent of the return of the prodigal. This brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found (Luke 15.32).


Brueggemann (p31) backs up his point with the story of Pastor Martin Rinkart who wrote the hymn “Now thank we our God” during the Thirty Years War when 1/3rd of the population of Germany died.


Martin Rinkart was pastor in Eilenburg, Saxony, the town of his birth. The walled city was a refuge for many fleeing war and pestilence. Left as the only clergyman in town, he buried as many as forty or fifty persons in one day. Although his wife died of the pestilence, Rinkart survived.


So lets ponder on this simple table prayer of gratitude amid pestilence, and the loss of his wife and his children’s mother.


1/ Now thank we all our God,                    3/ All praise and thanks to God
with heart and hands and voices,                the Father now be given,
who wondrous things hath done,                the Son, and him who reigns,
in whom his world rejoices;                    with them in highest heaven,
who from our mother's arms                    the one eternal God,
hath blessed us on our way                    whom earth and heaven adore;
with countless gifts of love,                    for thus it was, is now,
and still is ours to-day.                         and shall be evermore.


2/ O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
in this world and the next. 


Brueggemann (p31) says

The context of Martin Rinkart’s work, not unlike our own (over 200,000 people have died in the US), was a scene of relentless death. Yet Rinkart wrote and sang of thanks! The hymn celebrates the “wondrous things” done by this “bounteous God.” We can picture Pastor Rinkart with his children, one by one, “counting gifts of love.” The hymn invites us to cling to God’s grace that “frees us of all ills” in all imaginable futures. The words are as sure, bold, and awe-filled as is Israel’s best doxology in Jeremiah 33.11.

Brueggemann (p32) suggest that our task as Christians is twofold:

  • To engage in relentless, uncompromising hope. ‘God will not quit until God has arrived at God’s good intention. There is a purpose at work in, with, under, and beyond our best resolves. That holy purpose is tenacious, steadfast, and relentless, that we and all creation will come to wellbeing. The task of the church is to hope in a way that is grounded in the good faithful resolve of God.
  • To witness to the abiding hesed (‘tenacious solidarity) of God that persists amid pestilence. It is the witness of Jeremiah that in the midst of abandonment, God has not abandoned. A witness of a wedding during a pandemic…



Prayer – The Collect from the Marriage Service

God of wonder and of joy:

grace comes from you,

and you alone are the source of life and love.

Without you, we cannot please you;

without your love, our deeds are worth nothing.

Send your Holy Spirit,

And pour into our hearts

    that most excellent gift of love,

that we may worship you now

with thankful hearts

and serve you always with willing minds;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.



Come down O love divine        Bianco da Siena (d. 1434)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HPKL1wOVXk choir of King’s College Cambridge


Briefly joking

  • I recently started a literature group for inmates. It's got it's prose and cons.
  • 1984 is a great work of literature. I think all kids should be forced to read it.
  • A long time ago, I had a job where I translated pre-classical Greek literature into Braille. It feels like ancient history.
  • I wanted to buy some literature on DIY shelving. Sounds easy, but try going into a book store and asking if they have "any books on shelves"
  • A linguistics professor is lecturing: "In some languages - for example, French and Russian - a double negative represents a positive. But in no language does a double positive represent a negative." He then pauses to let the audience appreciate his point, but someone from the back of the room says "Yeah, right!"

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