Sunday, January 17, 2010

Early Morning Thought

The New Testament story in Greek, in its canonical form with all its argued uncertainties, the whole thing, is a translation, on behalf of the Gentiles, of the Hebrew experience of election. The Jews are the people who found these words. They are not the only people to have known election. The joy of their story is expressed throughout the Old Testament. How then should we view the anointing of these Scriptures both old and new? Not as magic. Fully human. Sufficient to reveal the purpose. Do other traditions help? To the extent that our shared humanity teaches us to listen.

Later - I was so moved by the post-communion hymn today. Four verses of Deck thyself my soul with gladness. It is as if my Lord was reminding me of the overabundance of his goodness in translation to the Greeks and to the English also.

Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
leave the gloomy haunts of sadness,
come into the daylight's splendor,
there with joy thy praises render
unto him whose grace unbounded
hath this wondrous banquet founded;
high o'er all the heavens he reigneth,
yet to dwell with thee he deigneth.
Sun, who all my life dost brighten;
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Joy, the sweetest man e'er knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth:
at thy feet I cry, my Maker,
let me a fit partaker
of this blessed food from heaven,
for our good, thy glory, given.
Now I sink before thee lowly,
filled with joy most deep and holy,
as with trembling awe and wonder
on thy mighty acts I ponder;
how, by mystery surrounded,
depths no man hath ever sounded,
none may dare to pierce unbidden
secrets that with thee are hidden.
Jesus, Bread of life, I pray thee,
let me gladly here obey thee;
never to my hurt invited,
be thy love with love requited;
from this banquet let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep its treasure;
through the gifts thou here dost give me,
as thy guest in heaven receive me. 
Words: Johann Franck, 1645; trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1863 Music: Schmücke dich 

If my early morning thought is a germ of truth, then I need a lot of work on my understanding of the NT. In particular, I need to note the connection of the Eucharist with the anointing and election in the Old Testament. After all, he gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink. This is more sweet even than words.

Prophets and kings desired to know these things.

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