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Our Blest Redeemer, Ere He Breathed – Sunday Songs

Here’s a choice from the ‘God: The Holy Spirit’ section of the hymnbook.
As with a lot of older hymns there are a variety of verse settings and lyric changes around.
The tune ST CUTHBERT seems to be pretty standard, though.

The lyrics:
Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed
His tender last farewell,
A Guide, a Comforter bequeathed
With us to dwell.
He came in semblance of a dove
With sheltering wings outspread
Thy holy balm of peace and love
On earth to shed.
He came sweet influence to impart,
A gracious, willing Guest,
While He can find one humble heart
Wherein to rest.
And His that gentle voice we hear,
Soft as the breath of even,
That checks each thought, that calms each fear,
And speaks of heaven.

Here’s a Songs of Praise rendition.

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The Christian’s Everyday Companion For Life

Back to the Border Watch after a colleague submitted an article while I was busy last week.
This week’s article starts in reality TV and ends up with the Holy Spirit.
It also makes use of a thought attributed to Simone Weil from this review by Peter Adam as one of its turning points.
The paper chose to title this one ‘Reality Different From Television’.

When it comes to reality competitive television shows I prefer the cooking ones to the renovation ones. Not that I actually cook any of the recipes; but I do like food more than bathrooms and bedrooms. Why would anyone put a dozen cushions on their bed anyway?
Regardless of the type of show, any format that features a competitive element with a winner at the end will have good guys and bad guys. With each new series, as competitors are introduced, we wait to see who it is that we’re not going to like.
You have to be patient. They don’t emerge wearing a black hat, twirling a long moustache and laughing in sinister fashion. More likely they’ll be uttering passive-aggressive criticism, or even aggressive-aggressive criticism. They’ll talk everyone else down, while making all the same errors and demonstrating a lack of skills themselves. The longer they stay in the competition the more our desire to see them ejected increases. They are the villains.
We know we’re being manipulated through the selective editing of hours and hours of purposefully created recordings, but we still emotionally invest in a storyline where we want to see our favourites come out on top. It’s an element of all drama. The villains create the tension and maintain our interest.
Oddly enough real life is the opposite of entertainment.
I recently read a comment attributed to Simone Weil “that in fiction evil people are interesting, and good people are boring, whereas in real life, good people are interesting and evil people are boring.”
In a culture that increasingly blurs the lines between real life and entertainment this distinction is very helpful and needs to be remembered.
Navigating the incredible complexity of each of our own lives is best done in the company of those who have faced their own adversities and inner demons and made their way forward with integrity. We draw wisdom, strength and direction from their example and presence.
The disciples had found this to be true of the three years or so they had spent with Jesus. They had learned much, but more than that, they had grown simply by following him. They feared for what their lives would be when he was gone.
Meeting their fears and concerns, Jesus told his followers that they would have another companion, the Holy Spirit. All of Jesus’ people would know the presence of this one who brings comfort, encouragement, counsel, and is our advocate before the Father. The work of the Holy Spirit is just like having Jesus personally present with each Christian, all the time.
The presence of the Holy Spirit is not the splashy loud exuberance that we experience in dramatic entertainment. In the tradition of the Christian church the adjective most associated with his work is ‘quiet’. But if you desire the steady presence and support needed to sustain you through the challenges of your lifetime he’s the only companion who’ll see you all the way home.

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Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 17

Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 17

Q & A 30
Q How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us,1 and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.2

Q & A 31
Q What is effectual calling?
A Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ,3 and renewing our wills,4 he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ,5 freely offered to us in the gospel.6

*1 Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 1:29.
*2 John 15:5; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Ephesians 3:17.
*3 Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 1:17-18.
*4 Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:5; Titus 3:5.
*5 John 6:44-45;Acts 16:14.
*6 Isaiah 45:22; Matthew 11:28-30; Revelation 22:17.

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The Shy One (via David Cook)

The third in a three-part series (part one; part two) on vital issues in systematic theology by David Cook, current moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

An excerpt:

The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to apply the work of God the Son to the individual; in this way, He acts without our co-operation. Jesus said He is as sovereign as the wind; he brings new birth to us, without our help (John 3:3, 6, 8; John 1:13).
He also acts sovereignly, independent of us, in His distribution of gifts to the body of Christ. He allocates them as He sees best. Our ambition is not for any particular gift but to faithfully serve the body with the gifts which He gives us (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11).
But the Holy Spirit also acts co-operatively. The Scriptures were penned by men, but the Holy Spirit superintended what they wrote so that the words of Scripture are God’s words, Spirit-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).
Therefore, there must be no wedge driven between the Spirit and the Word, for the Word, the Bible, is the Spirit’s Word and we honour Him as we take his Word seriously. As we study to understand His Word, he helps us, illuminating our minds (1 John 2:27).
The Holy Spirit also works co-operatively in our moral transformation, making us like Christ.
Read the whole post here.

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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 25

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 25

Q. Since, then, faith alone makes us share in Christ and all his benefits, where does such faith originate?
A. The Holy Spirit creates it in our hearts by the preaching of the holy gospel, and confirms it by the use of the holy Sacraments.

Q. What are the Sacraments?
A. They are visible, holy signs and seals instituted by God in order that by their use he may the more fully disclose and seal to us the promise of the gospel, namely, that because of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross he graciously grants us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Q. Are both the Word and the Sacraments designed to direct our faith to the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?
A. Yes, indeed, for the Holy Spirit teaches in the gospel and confirms by the holy Sacraments that our whole salvation is rooted in the one sacrifice of Christ offered for us on the cross.

Q. How many Sacrament has Christ instituted in the New Testament?
A. Two, holy baptism and the holy Supper.

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Come Down, O Love Divine – Sunday Songs

Come Down, O Love Divine is a hymn with a pentecost theme.
Richard Frederick Littledale’s translation of Bianco da Siena’s lyric speaks of a desire for the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.
Coupled with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ more contemporary tune, DOWN AMPNEY it evokes connections with God’s people in ages past.

The lyrics.
Come down, O love divine, seek Thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing.
O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn, til earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace, till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling.

For the second week in a row, here’s Fernando Ortega on vocals, showcasing the powerful simplicity of the song.

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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 20

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 20

Q. What do you believe concerning the “Holy Spirit”?
A. First, that, with the Father and the Son, he is equally eternal God; second, that God’s Spirit is also given to me, preparing me through a true faith to share in Christ and all his benefits, that he comforts me and will abide with me forever.