Toast for Thanksgiving

I confess have a favorite movie—Babette’s Feast*. Babette, a spectacular chef who fled the French Revolution, made a feast for a village of Christian people who hated each other. The table was set with more than food—it was rich with joy, mercy and reconciliation. Just like Jesus when He ate with sinners. I hope you’ll watch it someday.

Near the end a surprising character, Old Lorens, offers a wonderful toast…

“Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another. Man, in his weakness and shortsightedness believes he must make choices in this life. He trembles at the risks he takes. We do know fear. But no. Our choice is of no importance. There comes a time when our eyes are opened and we come to realize that mercy is infinite. We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude. Mercy imposes no conditions. And lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us. And everything we rejected has also been granted. Yes, we even get back what we rejected. For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.” —Old Lorens Lowenhielm, Babette’s Feast

Hallelujah.

—j

*Rated ‘G’, French-Danish, with subtitles

Happy St. Crispin’s Day, Coach Lombardi

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle—victorious.” —Coach Vince Lombardi

And that was just football. We each have a calling from God—it’s rarely easy and often painful, but it’s entirely fulfilling. In fact all other life-pursuits leave us wanting at day’s end. To say ‘yes, Lord’ (and mean it) guarantees a target on your back, great reward in Heaven and exhausting work on a battlefield in-between. And it’s all worth it—victory is coming—victory is there.

What is your calling? I think you know. If you’re engaged with it, you also know, because you have the scars to prove it. The Apostle Paul ran his race to the finish line—exhausted, scarred—and victorious. Us, too—hard, but victory is always worth it effort.

Today is St. Crispin’s Day. I’m fairly sure Shakespeare had none of this in mind when he penned the rousing St. Crispian’s Day speech in his play, Henry V—but it fits our calling as Christians. O, how it fits…

(About to engage the battle at Agincourt, Henry’s troops are exhausted and grossly outnumbered…)

Westmorland speaks:

“O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!”

King Henry V:

“What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more…
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day!”

Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3

A Light in Mordor

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

It’s like a chapter from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings—hope dims in the creeping clouds of Mordor while armies driven by fear and rage cower in the eaves of the deepening shadows. But it was just today’s Facebook and news reads. Angry? Depressed? Fearful? Hopeless? It’s easy to slide into the reeking pits of the Land of Shadows.

Who do we believe? What is truth? We won’t find it in Mordor. The shadows “are only a small and passing thing,”—hope, truth, light remain like the stars and aren’t going anywhere. Man has made his mess, God made the stars.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” —Psalm 20:7–8

Arise.

—j

Someone OFFENDED You?

“Followers of Jesus are not fearful people. Followers of Jesus are not angry people. Followers of Jesus are the least offendable people in the world because they are not of the world. When did so many followers of Jesus forget this, I wonder, and why?” —JRM

The Grave-Diggers of Reason

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard—into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance—then we become the gravediggers.” — Rod Serling, “Deaths-Head Revisited,” The Twilight Zone

The Jews are God’s people; the Bible is a Jewish Book; the Lord Jesus—Savior and Messiah—was the ultimate Jew; God’s covenant with the Jews and their Land was an everlasting covenant. Everlasting.

The devil, politicians and madmen have attempted to nullify this fact since the inception of evil and they’re not finished—yet. Which is why we remember and must not forget until our Jewish King returns and sets the record straight—something about sheep and goats at the end of the world…

Thank you for the provocation, Mr. Serling.

—j

Eucatastrophe (A Good Thing)

“The Birth of Christ is the Eucatastrophe* of man’s history. The Resurrection is the Eucatastrophe of the story of the incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

The greatness and power of the Resurrection of Jesus is beyond measure—it’s the superlative of all happy endings. If you are His, revel in it; if you aren’t, plunge into Him. You will live forever. Because He loves you.

Rejoice.

—j

*Happy ending

His Unquenchable Fire

I sometimes think about the cross
And shut my eyes and try to see

The cruel nails, the crown of thorns
And Jesus crucified for me;

But even could I see Him die,
I would but see a little part

Of that great love, which like a fire,
Was always burning in His heart.

Bernard of Clairvaux

Well said, St. Bernard. Now it’s our turn to seek and see.

—j