The War of Christmas

•December 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

IMG_5326Although not a song, this spoken word piece from our Christmas Eve services qualifies for a post on this blog!  Click here for the entry on Worship Devo.

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Remember

•September 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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A year after the four planes became weapons and thousands perished in a few hours, the country was still reeling with the horror of what took place on Tuesday morning, September 11.

Every year we relive it. Pictures and videos remind us of what we can never forget– even if the images were destroyed. Every shot is seared into our collective memory like brands on a heard of calves.

Pain.

Open wounds.

Scars.

Continue reading ‘Remember’

Christmas Day 2013

•December 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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and

You are Creator and the Word

The One who spoke and the Speaking

Speaking life out of nothing

Giving chaos meaning

You said, and it was so

Morning and evening

 –

You are the Voice and the Way

The Narrow Road and the Whisper

Whispering which way to go

Hearing cries to deliver

The Way and Only Truth

Small Gate and Life-Giver

 

You are the Cloud and the Fire

Shekinah Glory and the Burning

Burning up soaked wood and stone

Igniting, overturning

Behind and before

Thirsting and soul-yearning

 

You are the First and the Last

The Final End and Beginning

Beginning all things new again

Glory never dimming

The Root and Branch of Jesse

Victorious and winning

 

You are the Lion and the Lamb

Perfect Love and Agonizing

Agonizing wondrous cross

Conquered death by sacrificing

Fully God and Fully Man

The Crucified and Hope-Rising

…and…

Opposites and paradox.

Remember Venn Diagrams from math class? Circles that describes sets – if one circle is “Green Things” and another is “Round Things”, the circles both contain the green lollipops, traffic lights, and round-cut emeralds, overlapping with an intersection of “Green Round Things”.

But what if the circles are “Green Things” and “Blue Things”? Do they overlap, or are they exclusive– independent circles without an intersection? What about “Blue-Green Things” (green and blue mixed, make blue-green). And what about rainbows… every color is part of a rainbow.

Groups that seem to be exclusive, after thoughtful inspection, do share concepts.

Sometimes the set names are so specific the intersection contains a single item.

Often God is described with conflicting concepts. Like Morning and Evening; like First and Last; like Lion and Lamb; like Crucified and Lord… At first these seem to contradict each other, creating a paradox. But think about these pairs and how they relate to each other. Taken together they complete the larger concept.

How wondrous that conflicting concepts meet in God!

He is the total set. The Both/And. The Ultimate Concept. The All-in-All. The Complete Union.

He is greater than any single concept for several reasons, among them that He created the concepts.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Eph 4:4-6

The intersection contains one Item.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  Luke 2:10-14

And: Christ the Lord.

Winter White – Revealed

•December 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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They say that every snowflake is different.
If that were true, how could the world go on?
How could we ever get up off our knees?
How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?”
Jeanette Winterson

Frozen, starry, water crystals fill my heart with mystery and awe.  A most common compound, flown through the air by frigid winds, combines its particular journey to earth with perfect beauty.  Science and art collide in delicate and consistent angles rivaled by little else.  That no one has found two identical snowflakes compounds the earthly miracle.

In Winter White, there are three pairs of the words stars and one; not six distinct entities, but three descriptions of two: Man and God, the created and Creator, innumerable stars and the One God of the Abrahamic Covenant.

The God of surging power works on behalf of all his created children, not only those who love and acknowledge him.   He lifts them all to himself, even as they are intent on earthly pursuits and unaware of his care, through his resurrection, in which he triumphed over the death and decay that grasp the world he created by his breath.

I could write more.  Much more.  Poetry is the art of brevity, imagery, and word choice– three of the reasons that I enjoy it so much.  The explanation of the poem’s 19 lines takes the following long list.  (Phrases are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.)

  • Stars – snowflakes, believers and seekers of the Abrahamic covenant: descendants that outnumber the stars (Gen 15:5; Gen 22:17)
  • One surge, one frost, one breath – Trinity
    • Surge: power, working on behalf of everyone, one wind floats all snowflakes (Mat 5:45)
    • Frost: makes the snowflakes and freezes the decay on earth killing bacteria and insect eggs; cold, new, untamed, sometimes harsh, and wild (1 Cor 15:50-56)
    • Breath: creative Word spoke everything into being (Gen 1; John 1:1-5) ; breath of God, still small voice (1Kin 19:11-13)
  • Enthralled – both enslaved (original meaning of “thrall is “slave”), unable to escape God; and at the same time in a love relationship (2 Cor 4:5)
  • Each and together – dichotomy of the individual life and being inter-dependent in community
  • Free to fly – snowflakes seem to be free, but are really powerless, subject to the wind, and ultimately gravity
  • Birthed the stars – actual stars, snowflakes, and descendants of Abraham (physical and spiritual birth) who inherit the New Covenant through Jesus (Heb 2:5-18)
  • Illumined them – lit the stars, put the light of Christ in us (2 Cor 4:5-6)
  • Killed deep decay – death and sin defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:5; Hos 13:14)
  • Leaf and frond motionless lay – all creation is subject to God for life and sustenance… and grace (Col 1:15-17)
  • Concealed and covered in thick grace – none of my sin sticks out from under the covering of His righteousness; in fact, unlike snow that covers over death, his grace wipes my sin completely away (Eph 1:7)
  • Around the pond – community, individuality of flakes or droplets is lost in the vast beauty of community (Eph 4:11-14)
  • Warm vapors rising – the prayers and good works of…  (Rev 5:8)
  • From melted stars – …of the saints, melted together as the Bride, and the Kingdom of God in unity (Rev 19:6-8)
  • That wait and long – for Christ to come again, and… (Ps 107:6-9; Mar 13:24-27)
  • For one breath over them – …and also the Holy Spirit to communicate (Job 37:10; Eze 37:7-14)
  • A still small whisper – the still small voice Elijah heard, as well as communication from the Bible, the Living Word (1Kin 19:11-13; 1 Pet 1:22-25)
  • In winter white – purity over the death of autumn (Ps 51:7-12)
  • Speaks a mirror of perfect peace – how God changes a pond to an icy mirror– ripples into calm– giving peace even in the midst of trouble (Isa 26:3-4)
  • On the earth all is bright – allusion to Luk 2 and Silent Night, the coming of Jesus restores what the enemy stole in the Garden of Eden

I am a northern girl.  I love snow, especially the blizzard variety (and until snowshoes are required it doesn’t really count).  While I love snowflakes and all-things-winter, Winter White is ultimately about the relationship between God and man– the relationship that Immanuel, God with us, came to restore.

May you be covered in his thick grace.

Winter White

•December 15, 2012 • 1 Comment

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Our Christmas offering to you this year.
Please stop by next week for an updated version with the symbolism explained.

WINTER WHITE

Untold stars float and swirl
.     enthralled by one surge lifting them
Each and together
    free to fly, albeit tethered
.     to gust and gale,
.           still intent on earth to lie

 

Where one frost, fresh and raw,
.     that birthed the stars, illumined them,
Killed deep decay;
.     leaf and frond motionless lay
.     concealed and covered
.           in thick grace around the pond
          of warm vapors rising

 

From melted stars that wait and long
.     for one breath over them–
A still small whisper
.    in winter white speaks a mirror
.     of perfect peace
.           on the earth; all is bright

 

© 12/3/2012 catherine howie

in everything

•July 7, 2012 • 1 Comment

Liner notes from our CD, Draw Near:

In college I was introduced to the JOY principle:  serve Jesus first, Others next, and Yourself last.  But I’ve been wondering if there’s a better way to think about life—a better way to do life—by allowing Jesus to be a part of everything all day long, instead of leaving Him in my devotional time at the beginning of the day.

Written for Becca, a kindred spirit in the quest for complete surrender, on her birthday.

in everything

in everything i am

and every breath i take

in everything i do

and every word i say

.

everywhere i go

every single day

in everyone i see

and every prayer i pray

.

be the center of it all

let me hear Your gentle call

to give myself

completely

fall down before You

.

i wonder at Your love

that beckons me to stay

in spite of what i’ve done

in going my own way

.

You know my wandering heart

is longing to obey

but there’s no good in me

so at Your feet i lay

.

be the center of it all

let me hear Your gentle call

to give myself

completely

fall down before You

© 2004 Cathy Howie

Chord Charts and sound samples

Chord chart in A  | Chord chart in G

To listen to a sample of in everything:

Go to www.halcyonarts.com, and click on the “draw near album” tab.

The Irvington Maiden

•June 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Last summer the assigned topic for the Noble Writers was “Noblesville, Indiana”.  A new literary journal, The Polk Street Review, was going to be published locally, and our group wanted to support that effort.  As a resident of another town, I didn’t know much about Noblesville, to be honest.  I offhandedly remarked to a friend: “I wonder if there is a nefarious character in Noblesville history that would make an interesting subject for a ballad.”  She told me about DC Stephenson.

Nefarious doesn’t begin to describe him!  But as I researched his corrupt political career, a more honorable subject came to light.  A young woman from Irvington, Madge Augustine Oberholtzer was an Indianapolis teacher of underprivileged children before she was brutally abused by “The Old Man” as DC like to be called.  She died of the wounds he inflicted, but not before she could make a legal deposition about that night in April of 1925.

No one asked Madge Augustine Oberholtzer if she would like to give her life in order to shatter the KKK and destroy the Indiana political machine.  She did not get to choose, but the impeccable character of her life enabled justice to triumph over corruption right here in the courtroom of this small Midwestern city.  Her ordinary life accomplished an extraordinary feat.

This ballad could be about the evil, corruption, deceit, and bigotry of one man and his empire, but really, it’s about an ordinary young woman who became a lynchpin upon whom the trajectory of our state pivoted.

Before reading this article you had probably never heard of Miss Oberholtzer.  My purpose in writing this ballad is to make Madge Augustine Oberholtzer more renowned than her despicable perpetrator.

The Irvington Maiden

For Madge Augustine Oberholtzer (1896-1925)

.

Across the dinner table her auburn hair aglow

.        softly in the gaslight;

Lowering her eyes she hoped her interest wouldn’t show

       in the fading twilight.

Her host spread the word and his homemade wine,

“By this time tomorrow that miss will be mine.”

.

A serpent clothed in sheepskin, he lured the single lamb

       out into the open.

He charmed her with slick words, Grand Dragon of the Klan;

.        her plans to meet him – broken,

But his henchmen escorted her into his domain.

Drunk against her will, they dragged her on his train.

.  

.        A butterfly caught in his web, no one heard her cry.

.        .        “I am the Law,” he roared, pompously craven;

       “My Hooded Order owns this State; courts turn a blind eye.”

.        .        “Please, let me go,” faintly implored

.        .        .        the Irvington Maiden.

.   

       To one so young we owe a great debt!

.        Her fate: uncover hate—

       In this state we will not forget

.        .        the Irvington Maiden.

.

The Pullman car sped north as he brutally raped

.        and chewed her like a savage.

A fatal dose of mercury—her only sure escape

.        from him and being ravaged.

His man drove her home to her childhood bed;

Four painful weeks later she was dead.

.  

.        Grief swallowed up by anger charged the County Seat

.        .        to lynch the lawless thug, shamelessly brazen.

.        Outraged decency and justice ripped away the sheet—

.        .        his Empire lay naked in the blood

.        .        .        of the Irvington Maiden.

       To one so young we owe a great debt!

       Her fate: uncover hate—

.        In this state we will not forget

.        .        the Irvington Maiden.

.        .        She achieved what had eluded many a man:

.        .        Her dying declaration broke the back of the Klan!

Cowardice in hoods no longer marching in the street—

.        an ordinary girl had slain the Dragon!

Triumph claimed its sacrifice; the vict’ry bittersweet

       for Madge Augustine Oberholtzer:

.        .        the Irvington Maiden.

.        To one so young we owe a great debt!

.        Her fate: uncover hate—

.        In this state we will not forget!

.        To one so young we owe a great debt!

       Her fate: uncover hate—

       In this state we will not forget

.        .        the Irvington Maiden.

.

(c)2011 Catherine Howie

 
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