lambie pies

While many try to ignore Jesus, when He returns in power and might,
this will be impossible.

Michael Youssef


(an Irish lambie pie / Julie Cook / Sleive League, Co Donegal, Ireland / 2015)


(my own lambie pie / Julie Cook / 2018)

Whereas this being Easter…there is much to say about lambs, sheep, shepherds, sacrifices
Salvation…but…unfortunately the pace of life right now just won’t permit me to dig
any deeper, share any more or go any further than this…

Two images of two very different lambie pies…

Each with their own very different stories yet under the watchful eye of the
same Creator, same Shepherd…

So as I will be here, there and yon all weekend…running on no sleep…
I wish you all a joyous Easter…

He is Risen…
and so we may shout Alleluia…

Oh, and by the way, the word Alleluia, or its variation Hallelujah, is not used in the
liturgical service throughout the Lenten season…as Lent marks a very solemn time period
for the Chruch.

But if you’ve ever had the opportunity to attend an Easter Vigil service on
Holy Saturday evening—a deeply solemn service bathed only in flickering candlelight…
as at the stroke of midnight, of which signals the beginning of the day
of Ressurection…the lights are illuminated as we shout
“The Lord has Risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!!!!

And now a little historical background to my most favorite Easter Hymn….

From the hymn, Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.

for Easter

This version of the anonymous Latin hymn,
“Surrexit Christus hodie,” is first found in a scarce collection entitled:—
Lyra Davidica, or a Collection of Divine Songs and Hymns,
partly new composed, partly translated from the High German and Latin Hymns;
and set to easy and pleasant tunes. London: J. Walsh, 1708.

Of the history of this collection nothing is known,
but the character of its contents may perhaps lead to the supposition that it was compiled
by some Anglo-German of the pietist school of thought.
The text in Lyra Davidica, 1708, p. 11, is as follows :
“Jesus Christ is risen to day, Halle-Haile-lujah.
Our triumphant Holyday
Who so lately on the Cross Suffer’d to redeem our loss.
“Hast ye females from your fright Take to Galilee your flight
To his sad disciples say Jesus Christ is risen to day.
“In our Paschal joy and feast Let the Lord of life be blest Let the Holy Trine
be prais’d And thankful hearts to heaven be rais’d.”

…The oldest Latin text known is that given by Mone, No. 143,
from a Munich manuscript of the 14th century.
This manuscript does not contain stanzas 4, 6, 8, 10, 11
(enclosed in brackets above).
Of these stanza 6,11 are found in a Breslau manuscript, cir 1478;
and stanzas 4, 8, 10 in the Speier Gesang-Buch (Roman Catholic), 1600…

The modern form of the hymn appears first in Arnold’s Compleat Psalmodist,
2nd edition, pt. iv., 1749, where the first stanza of 1708 is alone retained,
and stanzas 2 and 3 are replaced by new ones written without any reference to the original Latin.
This recast is as follows:—
Jesus Christ is ris’n to-day. Hallelujah.
Our triumphal holyday
Who did once upon the Cross Suffer to redeem our Loss.
“Hymns of praises let us sing Unto Christ our heavenly King Who endur’d the Cross
and Grave Sinners to redeem and save.
“But the pain that he endured Our Salvation has procured
How above the Sky he’s King Where the Angels ever sing.”

Variations of this form are found in several collections.
The following is in Kempthorne’s Select Portions of Psalms, &c. 1810:—
Hymn lxxxii.
“Benefits of Christ’s Resurrection to sinners.
“Rom. iv. 25. “For Easter Day. “Jesus Christ is ris’n to day;
Now he gains triumphant sway;
Who so lately on the cross Suffer’d to redeem our loss.
Hallelujah.
“Hymns of praises let us sing, Hymns to Christ our heav’nly King,
Who endur’d both cross and grave, Sinners to redeem and save.
Hallelujah.
“But the pains, which he endur’d, Our salvation have procur’d;
Now He reigns above the sky,
Where the angels ever cry Hallelujah.”

The next form is that which was given to it in the Supplement to Tate & Brady.
This was added to the Supplement about 1816.
This text is:—
”Jesus Christ is risen to-day,
Our triumphant holy day;
Who did once, upon the cross, Suffer to redeem our loss.
Hallelujah, “Hymns of praise then let us sing Unto Christ our heavenly King:
Who endur’d the cross and grave, Sinners to redeem and save.
Hallelujah. “But the pains which He endur’d Our salvation hath procur’d:
Now above the sky He’s King, Where the angels ever sing. Hallelujah.”

To this has been added by an unknown hand the following doxology:—
“Now be God the Father prais’d, With the Son from death uprais’d,
And the Spirit, ever blest; One true God, by all confest. Hallelujah.”

This doxology, from Schaff’s Christ in Song, 1870, p. 198,
is in the Hymnal Companion and one or two other collections.
Another doxology is sometimes given, as in Lord Selborne’s Book of Praise, 1862,
Taring’s Collection, 1882, and others, as follows:—

“Sing we to our God above—Hallelujah! Praise eternal as His love;
Hallelujah! Praise Him all ye heavenly host, Hallelujah!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Hallelujah! ”

This is by C. Wesley.
It appeared in the Wesley Hymns & Sacred Poems, 1740, p. 100;
again in Gloria Patri, & c, or Hymns to the Trinity, 1746, and again in the Poetical Works,
1868-72, vol. iii. p. 345.
The above text from Tate and Brady’s Supplement, cir. 1816,
is that adopted by the leading hymn-books in all English-speaking countries,
with in some cases the anonymous doxology, and in others with that by C. Wesley.
It must be noted that this hymn sometimes begins:—
“Christ the Lord, is risen to day Our triumphant holy day.”
This must be distinguished from:— “Christ the Lord, is risen to-day,
Sons of men and angels say,” by C. Wesley (p. 226, i.);
and, “Christ the Lord, is risen to-day, Christians, haste your vows to pay:
“a translation of “Victimae Paschali” (q. v.), by Miss Leeson; and,
“Christ the Lord, is risen to-day, He is risen indeed:” by Mrs. Van Alstyne (q. v.).
Another arrangement of “Jesus Christ is risen to-day”
is given in T. Darling’s Hymns, &c, 1887. This text is stanza i., ii.,
Tate & Brady Supplement, with a return in stanza i. lines 3,
to the older reading; and stanzas iii., iv. by Mr. Darling.
It may not be out of place to add, with reference to this hymn,
that the tune to which it is set in Arnold, and to which it is still sung,
is that published with it in Lyra Davidica. The tune is also anonymous,
and was probably composed for the hymn.
The ascription of it by some to Henry Carey is destitute of any foundation whatever,
while Dr. Worgan, to whom it has been assigned by others,
was not born until after the publication of Lyra Davidica.
[George Arthur Crawford, M.A.] –John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Hymnary.org

swimming elephants

“In the divine Scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps;
shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim.”

― John Owen

baby-elephant-swimming-05-632x397

Okay, so I love elephants…
and we already know I love sheep…so what a great picture…
and what an even better quote, right?

For there are indeed shallows and there are deeps..

And currently I’m in the deeps…

This commuting business 7 days a week now, is well, taking it’s toll,
just as is the vigil of watching someone you love…slowly die…

So I’m going to keep this short and sweet as it is now late and I am very tired…

Twice this week, throughout my travels, I have seen the same words in two very different places.
And I’ve lived long enough to know that if you see something repeatedly,
there just may be a reason.

“Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal”

What a blessed reminder…that there is nothing here that cannot be overcome…
nothing here that can be suffered or endured that Heaven cannot outwit, outrun or
overcome….

Thank God!!!

“and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades
will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be
bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18-19

black sheep

“America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.
That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in
the Declaration of Independence;
perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics
and also great literature.
It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice,
that governments exist to give them that justice,
and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism,
and it does also by inference condemn atheism,
since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom
these equal rights are derived.
Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of
such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally
God whose claim is taken more lightly.
The point is that there is a creed,
if not about divine, at least about human things.”

G.K. Chesterton

dscn4770
(folkart ceramic black sheep my aunt found at a crafts show in North Carolina)

Bah, Bah, a black Sheep,
Have you any Wool?
Yes merry I Have,
Three Bags full,
One for my Master,
One for my Dame,
One for the Little Boy
That lives down the lane

(the original 1744 English Nursery Rhyme from the Tom Thumb’s Pretty Song Book)

Anyone who knows me….
knows I have a thing for sheep.
Why, I don’t know…I’ve just always been drawn to them….

And it must be noted that it is those with either a black face or those entirely black
that speak most sweetly to my heart.

Add to that…that it seems black sheep have always gotten a really bad rap…
so perhaps there’s a bit of ‘supporting the underdog’ in my affinity….

Outsiders and or outcasts of a family have always been referred to as a black sheep….

In ancient times black lambs were killed by the farmer or shepherd as they were associated
with being like the devil as both were black in color.
Even ancient Greeks associated black sheep with Hades, the ruler of the underworld,
and would in turn sacrifice black sheep in hopes of currying favor while hoping to ward
off any unforeseen visits by this keeper of Hell…

Consider even the seemingly benign old English Nursey Rhyme, Bah Bah Black Sheep

baa_baa_black_sheep_pg_8
(Edmund Caldwell illustration 1880)

What was first published in 1744 as part of the oldest recorded collection of children’s
Nursery Rhymes, Tom Thumb’s Pretty Song Book,
is included the sing song tale of a little black sheep along with his wool…

Yet it is thought that the rhyme’s original intent was actually more of a political comment
on the wool tax of that day’s time…

And then in the late 20th century it seems a darker and more sinister twist took place
with our little children’s rhyme as it was seen to possess negative racial connotations.
Hence leading it to become its own black sheep of the nursery world….

Pity really….and even quite ridiculous….

As this is a prime example of how far we’ve detached ourselves from reality…
it is a prime example as to how our crazy minds have been sadly evolving…
spiraling down into the depths of sheer lunacy and madness….
As we’ve allowed a sweet little children’s rhyme to become a poster child for all things
negative or racist…

Shame on us all for being so damned sensitive….

I say this because I continue hearing and seeing all sorts of references to our becoming a
fascist Nation.

Didn’t I just touch on this little observation last week??
Did I not try explaining as to why we are not???
And yet it seems as if no one is listening…

Sigh…

If anyone really wants to understand about fascist regimes…
any book ever written offering first hand accounts of life in a Nazi occupied nation or
of life lived and lost in a concentration camp…
well, that would be the best and most accurate description of what fascism,
along with its spiraling nature of uncontrolled brutality, is all about.

Our current life here in the US is not, and I repeat, IS NOT,
an example of living under a Fascist regime.

The very notion that people are able to yell and scream at, to or about the president
and the government…while not suddenly disappearing…
never being heard from again…
should be proof enough…

That people may be hateful to one another, intolerable of one another, that they may
defame their leaders or their fellow countrymen, that they can throw things through
windows, spray paint buildings, set fires to cars, and basically destroy everything
and anything in their wake that is neither owned nor possessed by them….

That people are actually allowed to go crazy and ballistic over various speakers wanting
to speak…as these certain groups of people have now decided who will be allowed to
experience the First Amendment and who will not…
while taunting law officials, while wearing masks, while causing all manner of chaos
and havoc… with little to no repercussions…should be proof enough.

That you aren’t having to poison your own pets as an attempt to end their lives in what you
consider to be an act of mercy because you live in fear that when the authorities come for
you, you won’t have to worry about what will be happening to your pets when you
are hauled off….

That you haven’t had to surrender your technology or communication devices because
the powers that be have deemed them to be a danger to the state.

That you have not had your business seized, your home seized, your family incarcerated
because you were considered anti nationalistic…

That you are not afraid when you lay your head down on your pillow at night that there
will be a knock on your door demanding your sons or daughters be handed over in order
to the do their duty for the State while knowing you may never see them again….

Rather instead we are all basically allowed to be selfish, hateful, intolerant, violent,
mean, vile, vulgar, dangerous, inflammatory…
as well as…
secretive, selective, extravagant, flamboyant, pompous…
All behaviors which have been not only tolerated but to a great deal, protected…

that IS NOT fascism nor is it living in a fascist nation…

dscn0850
(little black sheep Co Kerry, Ireland sheep farm / Julie Cook / 2015)

Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.
“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.

Isaiah 65:16-17

Lambs and palms

“In the divine Scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim.”
― John Owen

DSC00804
(a little woolen black faced sheep holding an old palm cross from a long ago Palm Sunday / Julie Cook / 2015)

Palm Sunday.
A Spring day associated with newness, freshness and arrivals.
A day Christians remember as a day of holy joy and triumph.
The marking of a celebration–as proclaimed by the ancient prophets, the remembrance of Jesus riding into Jerusalem. He rides on the bare back of a young colt as the masses enthusiastically greet him, laying giant palm branches before his retinue.

He is welcomed, honored and proclaimed as King, Messiah, Savior.
A miracle worker whose benevolent and kindhearted ways were oddly unfamiliar and foreign.
A liberator who had finally come into the impoverished lives of those living in the dry,
barren and forsaken Roman outpost, as Jews were still living under siege and occupation.
For this man Jesus, had come to set the captives free. . .
Or so both wise and misguided solely believed–for each,
their idea of freedom was to be a double edged sword. . .

As the palms waved. . .

Sheep and lambs–
Is there anything seemingly more simple or docile?
The epitome of blessed peacefulness.
Nothing like a beautiful green field dotted idyllically with a flock of such easy going grazing animals bahhing and bleating til their heart’s content.

For some odd reason, I had always proclaimed that I would one day be a sheep farmer,
a shepherd of sorts.
A bucket list since I was a wee lass.
Tending and caring for the sheep and lambs.
The black faced ones, in particularly, seemed to call out to me much more so than
their all white or black counterparts
What do I know about raising sheep?
Absolutely nothing.
I was raised in a city with the closest sheep being at the zoo.
There was no 4H in my urban school affording this would-be shepherd any opportunity at the whole herding dream.
It was to the way out, miles out, another life out, out to the fleeting countryside where there were only cows upon cows with nary a sheep to be seen.

Yet sheep called.

Bach’s pastoral cantata, Sheep may Safely Graze was and continues to be a favorite.
Melodic, light, lulling, soothing. . .
Visions of an ancestral home in either Ireland or Scotland, depending on the side of
the family I was currently fantasizing about,
sweetly beckoned as I knew there were fields full of sheep each awaiting my care.

As the sheep called.

Yet as sweet as sheep and lambs appear, age has taught me that sheep are no pushovers. They can be a stubborn lot. Refusing to be guided yet needing constant direction.
Left unto their own devices, sheep can quickly wander into trouble.
They need to be coxed, prodded, and herded. They need to be watched as being almost entirely defenseless, they fall easy victim to any and all cunning predators. Running is about their only means of defense. They need shearing, feeding, protecting and lots and lots of space as they are voracious grazers.

Yet sheep called.

Maybe because I always saw myself as the 1 out of 99.
Maybe because I love the Little Drummer Boy, who had nothing to lay at the feet of a king but his tender lamb.
Maybe because I understood all too well the whole not being the brightest of the animal kingdom and needing lots of oversight and protecting as wandering lost was very real. . .because all of that hit too close to home.

And the lambs called

Maybe it was because I saw Abraham with his hand held high balancing his heart between love and obedience, as a single knife reflected the light from the heavens above. Obedience was set to slit the throat of his young son Isaac, love being almost crushed and silenced.
Tears flowed, a heart was breaking, young questioning eyes, frightened, stare into his fathers, as obedience was set to act. . .
When mercifully a substitute was graciously found.

And the lambs called

Maybe it is because of the words of Isaiah. . .

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

(Isaiah 53:3-9)

Still the sheep called.

As the sheep continue to call.
As a lone woolen sheep magnet triumphantly clutches a long ago discarded palm cross, worn on a long forgotten Palm Sunday. . .

And the sheep calls as the palms wave

Yet it is to the Shepherd who tends His flock that my ear is attuned. As the sheep whose shepherd calls their name and they respond, I too respond to the call of my own name being called.
Misguided
Lost
Wandering
Stubbron
and even defiant
The Shepherd patiently calls,
as the sheep knowingly responds. . .

as the sheep continue to call, the palms continue to wave. . .

Show me your Glory

“I caught a glimpse of Your splendor
In the corner of my eye
The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen
And it was like a flash of lightning
Reflected off the sky
And I know I’ll never be the same”

Lyrics by Third Day
Show Me Your Glory

“The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word “love”, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. “Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the divine love may rest “well pleased”.”
― C.S. Lewis

DSC00323
(rain droplets dangle from a blue spruce / Julie Cook / 2015)

Isn’t that what we all want. . .
We want to see and then we want to see more.
We want God to show Himself, to prove Himself, to, in turn, prove ourselves—
our existence. . .
To prove that’s it’s all been worth it—that we were right to believe all along.
We want Him to make things right, stop the badness, set the world right. . .
We want to see.
We want to know.

One day, we catch a glimpse, a momentary shining light.
We feel something.
We hear something.
We actually see something as if a dream had come to life.
A wave washes over us.
We are filled with something we can’t explain.
A peace, such as we’ve never known, engulfs us.
Time stands still.
Certainly, everything, no matter what is within this single moment of time, okay.
Instantly we suddenly know, we are certain, it is all real.
He is real.

And just as suddenly, with the mere blink of the eye, the moment passes.
We desperately try to conjure back the moment, holding on to the rapidly fading wonderment.
However our senses are back.
Sound has returned.
The noises are blaring.
The lighting is now back to normal.
Movement, all around us, is passing rapidly by.
There are people.
There is pain.
We feel reality again.

And then we wonder.
Was it really real?
Did what just happen really happen?
We doubt ourselves.
We doubt Him.
We want it back.
We long to have the moment back.

And just like that, it is gone.
We are left wondering what to do.

Mother Teresa had such a moment.
It was the time she experienced what she later referred to as the “call within a call” experience.
It was when she was still a young nun and teacher, it was 1946. . .

In 1928, 18 year old Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu had left her native Albania for Ireland, to join the order of the Sisters of Loreto.
It was there that she would eventually make her solemn vows, taking the name of Teresa after the gentle saint known as the Little Flower, Thérèse of Lisieux.
Eventually her journey would take her to India, where she worked as a teacher and later principal at the order’s Calcutta run school for the local children.

One bright morning, 20 years into her life in India, while sitting on a train as she was embarking on a brief annual retreat, she had a profound encounter with Jesus. Time stood still and she was aware of only one being, that of Jesus himself.
He called out to her to help feed His poor. He revealed the pain of His heart over those who were hungry and dying. “Feed my lambs” He implored —yet He also implored the little nun to satiate His thirst. His thirst for the world filled with the hungry and hurting souls so in need of the literal and spiritual feeding of which He yearned for her to take upon herself.

It wasn’t until several years following her death, that through her letters and conversations with her confessor, when the world actually learned of this tiny obedient nun having never experienced that vision and feeling of nearness again. Despite her longing to hear and to see Jesus again, she was filled with only silence and emptiness.
There was nothing.
The only thing that remained was the daily task, each and every day, of doing what she was told to do that fateful day in 1946. . . “Satiate my thirst”. . .
Alone within herself, Mother Teresa felt empty, frustrated, and sad.
Yet no one was the wiser. No one knew of her pain, her emptiness, her “dark night”. . .she spent the next 51 years doing as He had instructed—working to satiate His thirst and to feed and care for “His lambs.”

Some may say that it must be a sadistic God who would play hide and seek, as it were, with someone as good and as holy as a Mother Teresa. Yet we must understand that it goes well beyond such simplistic observations. To us God may seem vexing and fickled, yet that is the human mind attempting to explain the behavior of the Divine and the Omnipotent—it simply cannot be done.

As C.S. Lewis so eloquently reminds us, “God does not exist for man’s sake.” Nor do we exist for our own sake.
God does not “need” us– it is us who needs God.
The crux of the matter is simply that God wants us.
Made, created, out of Love.

The difference between our need and His want.

Oh I suppose there are those who proudly exclaim that they do not need some invisible God, some deity to serve and to worship.
Self puffs up as we become our own deity—full of failures, let downs, pride, selfishness, vain glory. . .One would think time would be our teacher, yet we continue ignoring the past as we march forward, waving our own flag and thumping our own puffed up chest. . .

It is to these few and far between glimpses, of those miraculous moments, the overwhelming senses, and unexplained experiences, time and time again, that push us forward. . .still looking, wondering, hoping. . .forward to an encounter with the Divine—yet we simply cannot “will” it to happen. It is for God, and for God alone, to reveal Himself in such intimate ways—we cannot force His hand. We cannot trick Him or persuade Him. He is the Creator and we are but the created.
Yet we were created in and for Love. . .

We know that from such moments and chance experiences that we are forever changed and forever different, no matter if we never experience such a moment ever again in our lifetime. . .just knowing it happened, we know it can happen again and we know we won’t rest until we see Him again. . .

“When I climb down the mountain
And get back to my life
I won’t settle for ordinary things
I’m gonna follow You forever
And for all of my days
I won’t rest ’til I see You again
Show me Your glory
Show me Your glory
I can’t live without You”

lyrics by Third Day