Friday, September 12, 2014

Shepherd, show me how to go ...

As some of you may know, I was raised in the Christian Science Church, as was my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. As a teenager I witnessed the conversion of my mother when she decided to place her trust in Jesus Christ and no longer in the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy.

In the autumn of 1974, I began to attend a Christian coffee house near where we lived in San Diego and met more people whose lives had been transformed through a personal relationship with Jesus. Such things I had never experienced as a Christian Scientist, though my favorite hymn in the Christian Science Church spoke of a shepherd, a shepherd who was nameless. 

Shepherd, show me how to go
O’er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow,
How to feed Thy sheep.
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.

Thou wilt bind the stubborn will,
Wound the callous breast,
Make self righteousness be still,
Break earth’s stupid rest.
Strangers on a barren shore,
Laboring long and lone,
We would enter by the door,
And Thou knowest Thine own.

So, when day grows dark and cold,
Tear or triumph harms,
Lead Thy lambkins to the fold,
Take them in Thine arms.
Feed the hungry, heal the heart,
Till the morning’s beam;
White as wool, ’ere they depart,
Shepherd, wash them clean.

Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science Hymnal #304, 1887

It is very much a Christian Science hymn because the emphasis is on the shepherd as the "Way-Shower," and not as The Way, our Redeemer, our Lord. 

Even today in Christian circles, we are sometimes taught that Jesus is an example, but it is overlooked that he is our redeemer. It is difficult to see him as a redeemer, if we do not know we are in slavery, in prison, lost.  It is not that he shows us the bread of life, to feed the hungry, heal the heart.  It is that He is the Bread of Life.  

I did not know I was lost until I was found.

The cross is hidden, missing from those teachings and so is missing from our lives—as it is still missing from every Christian Science Church (and its descendants) across the globe. 
Jesus is very clear when he teaches what it means to "follow" him.  It’s not just that he shows us the the way to go, it is that he is the Way.

And what does he actually say? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) 

Deny myself, take up his cross, and follow him.The cross— we are to pick up our cross?  I have a cross?

Are we not just to follow, but to pick up our own cross and follow? Are we to walk the road of suffering just as He did?  That part, the picking up the cross part, was missing from my life as a Christian Scientist.

Now when I hear Shepherd Show Me How To Go, I long for the missing verses. Where does the Shepherd go but to the cross? And how do I carry my own?

Jesus the Shepherd does not just feed His sheep, He lays down His life for His sheep. He is not only the Shepherd, but He is also the Lamb, the shepherd who became a lamb, one of us. 

The surprise about it all is that the cross, where the “Lamb of God” suffered and died looked and felt like a failure to those who followed Him. Most ran away.  It wasn't even enough for Jesus to merely follow on His own, but to do the will of His Father. And so He went to the Cross. 

Reading through the stanzas again of a song I still have memorized from babyhood, I see that imagery is meant to comfort, but it is distorted.  We are not washed in the morning beam, we are washed in the Blood of Christ, an image that reminds us of His sacrifice. By His wounds, we are told, we are healed.

So what is the new song?  What hymn is there to redeem this song of my childhood, to teach me how to carry my cross and follow Jesus?  

In the early hours of my own conversion in that coffee house in San Diego I heard a song.  This hymn recalls some of the thoughts of that song of my childhood—oh but the good news, the Good News of Jesus, my Shepherd, my Redeemer, my Lord.

To pick up the cross and follow Jesus, even though it may, no, it will be a path of suffering, is redeemed because Jesus is risen.  We do not follow a nameless Shepherd, but the Risen Jesus, who saves us, redeems us and fill us with the Holy Spirit. That is how pick our cross and follow him.

The cross, that looked like a failure is a reminder that we are loved.  When we pick up our cross we are reminded of the amazing love of Jesus. When we pick our cross and follow him, we are free.


Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Charles Wesley, "Hymns for those that Seek, and those that Have Redemption," 1747

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Monday, September 01, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Today at the Cafe: Remembering Robin

UPDATE: Just read one of the best written and thought-provoking pieces on Robin Williams. It's by Russell Brand - please read it here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Exodus 15

Been praying for Canon Andrew White today and this song came to mind. Please do continue to pray for him, as well as for the people of Iraq.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Financial Times takes note of Anglican Church growth in the Diocese of London

The Financial Times writes that, "the Church of England has hit on a winning formula to attract London’s younger crowd – musicians and DJs, good coffee and challenging talks. FT enterprise correspondent Jonathan Moules reports on its entrepreneurial approach to boosting attendance."

Watch the video - of interesting side note to us here at the Cafe is Nicky Gumbel in a "Roman-style" collar.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

What was it like electing the new ACNA Archbishop?

Watch Stewart Ruch, Bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, as he reports on his experience of electing the new archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America. A must-watch!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Interview With Philip Yancey — Why Suffering?

Author Philip Yancy speakes on suffering this past week at Holy Trinity Brompton in London.

Please watch it all:

Saturday, May 31, 2014

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town ...

Click here for the song:

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak

The place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf
Come sit down on my knee
You are dearer to me than myself
As you yourself can see

I'm listenin' to the steel rails hum
Got both eyes tight shut
Just sitting here trying to keep the hunger from
Creeping it's way into my gut

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Now, I'm sailin' on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I'll drag ‘em all down to hell and I'll stand ‘em at the wall
I'll sell ‘em to their enemies

I'm tryin' to feed my soul with thought
Gonna sleep off the rest of the day
Sometimes no one wants what we got
Sometimes you can't give it away

Now the place is ringed with countless foes
Some of them may be deaf and dumb
No man, no woman knows
The hour that sorrow will come

In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can hear a lover's breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Well, they burned my barn, they stole my horse
I can't save a dime
I got to be careful, I don't want to be forced
Into a life of continual crime

I can see for myself that the sun is sinking
How I wish you were here to see
Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking
That you have forgotten me?

Now they worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret
They waste your nights and days
Them I will forget
But you I'll remember always

Old memories of you to me have clung
You've wounded me with words
Gonna have to straighten out your tongue
It's all true, everything you have heard

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

In you, my friend, I find no blame
Wanna look in my eyes, please do
No one can ever claim
That I took up arms against you

All across the peaceful sacred fields
They will lay you low
They'll break your horns and slash you with steel
I say it so it must be so

Now I'm down on my luck and I'm black and blue
Gonna give you another chance
I'm all alone and I'm expecting you
To lead me off in a cheerful dance

Got a brand new suit and a brand new wife
I can live on rice and beans
Some people never worked a day in their life
Don't know what work even means

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

B. Dylan 2006

UPDATE: The song above by Bob Dylan is called Workingman's Blues #2.  It seems to be a follow-up or inspired by Merle Haggard's Workingman's Blues.  Merle Haggard, as I recall, was touring with Dylan around the time it was written.  Here is Merle Haggard's Workingman's Blues:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: Giving thanks for those who sacrifice it all

When they say goodbye they do not know if those they love who serve in the United States Armed Services will ever return. Our troops indeed are the bravest men and women on the planet, but their families who let them go are also brave, standing courageously and steadfast in their love and support of those serving their country so far from home. 

Today at the Cafe we remember the families who also sacrifice so much and especially those who let go of the ones they love forever.

I especially want to remember my grandfather, John William Ailes III.

Grandaddy on board ship circa WWII.
John William Ailes III

The Navy Cross is presented to John W. Ailes, Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding officer of the U.S.S. Cassin Young in action off Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, on 12 April 1945. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.

The Navy Cross is the second highest medal that can be awarded by the Department of the Navy and the second highest award given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard but could be awarded to all branches of United States military. It was established by Act of Congress (Pub.L. 65-253) and approved on February 4, 1919. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross.

Grandaddy with his sons, CAPT J.W Ailes and RADM R.H. Ailes
April 1, 1945, was D-day at Okinawa. After escorting assault craft to the beaches and providing shore bombardment, Cassin Young took up the duties of radar picket ship, possibly the most hazardous duty performed by any warship during World War II. The picket's role was to provide early warning of impending air attacks to the main fleet. The ships assigned to the fifteen picket stations bore the brunt of over fifteen hundred kamikaze attacks in the weeks and months ahead. Radar Picket (RP) Stations 1,2, and 3 faced the worst of these attacks. On April 6 the Japanese launched the first of ten massed attacks, sending 355 kamikazes and 341 bombers towards Okinawa. Cassin Young was on duty at RP Station 3. The ship downed three "bogeys" (enemy planes) and picked up survivors from the destroyers assigned to RP Stations 1 and 2 (both were hit and sunk by kamikazes).

Cassin Young was then assigned to RP Station 1 where, on April 12, the ship came under massive attack. Six kamikazes were shot down, but one hit the mast and exploded fifty feet above the ship. One sailor was killed and 59 were wounded. 

Grandaddy and me.
RADM John W. Ailes, III (1907-1974) was the commanding officer of the USS Cassin Young in April, 1945. He was a member of the crew of the USS Honolulu in Pearl Habor on December 7, 1941. In addition, he was the commanding officer of the Battleship, the USS Iowa (1955-1956) during the Korean War, was Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla 6 during the Cuban Missle Crisis (1962) and was Inspector General of the United States Navy.

But to me he was Granddaddy, always ready with a bottle of "Cherry Smash" or to  take me fishing or go to MacDonald's.  I had no idea about his background when I was growing up - he was just Grandaddy.  But you didn't tell him no.

You may visit the USS Cassin Young. It is open to the public and moored next to the USS Constitution in Charlestown Harbor in Boston, MA. Read more about it at the webpage of the Boston National Historic Park. The tour includes Granddaddy's Cabin - restored to it's World War II period. You may see a presentation on the kamikazes attack here.