Sunday, January 6, 2008

We interrupt this short intermission to bring you an important announcement:

God is still on the throne.

At church this morning the anthem by the choir was, "Thou, O Lord, Are A Shield For Me," a magnificent setting of the first five verses of Psalm 3. The accompaniment was an orchestral track from a project produced by the great Prestonwood Baptist Church choir in Dallas, Texas, and even though their choir has 400 singers and ours has about 25, I think they would have heartily approved. The song has become something of a theme song at our church, and whenever the choir sings it, every member sings with great conviction, and every member obviously believes the message being conveyed. You can see it in their demeanor and in their faces. You can certainly hear it in their voices; some people say that angels must be joining in. More importantly, many in the congregation are stirred to worship openly.

First the women sing in unison in E minor, "Many are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me." Then the men sing, also in unison, "Many there be which say of my soul, 'There is no help for him in God.'” The choir then breaks into four-part harmony in G major, proclaiming, "But thou, O LORD, are a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter of my head!"

Next comes a sort of awe-filled bridge, "I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy hill. I laid me down and slept; and awaked; for the LORD sustained me." Finally, the phrase "Thou, O LORD, are a shield for me: my glory, and the lifter of my head!" is repeated several times through several half-step rising key changes (G, Ab, A, Bb) with an ending tag for added emphasis, "My glory, and the lifter of my head!" It is truly a song of triumph and of victory, an example of how faith overcomes in the midst of depression and adversity.

Ellie's suitcase is all packed for tomorrow morning's trip to the hospital for her surgery. One of her favorite Bible passages is from Psalm 121: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth." What will help us through these days is the sure knowledge that He is a shield for us, our glory, and the lifter of our heads.

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