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Mercy & Grace – Day 17

Hebrew word cloud God's nameMercy & Grace – 40 Days with the Music of Amy Grant

Day 17 – Monday after 3rd Sunday of Lent

These Reflections which take the music of Amy Grant as their theme, were originally published in Lent 2015.  They are being republished during the Covid19 pandemic which is affecting the whole world 

To Read:

From the Scriptures:

7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.  (2 Corinthians 4.7-10)

 

From Amy Grant:                                  “El Shaddai”

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai, El-Elyon na Adonai
Age to age, You’re still the same
By the power of the name.
El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai, Erkamka na Adonai
We will praise and lift You high
El-Shaddai

Through Your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham.
Through the power of Your hand,
Turned the sea Into dry land.
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God who really sees.
And by Your might, you set Your children free.

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai…

Through the years, you made it clear,
That the time of Christ was near,
Though the people couldn’t see
What Messiah ought to be.
Though Your Word contained the plan,
They just could not understand,
Your most awesome work was done
Though the frailty of Your son.

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai, El-Elyon na Adonai
Age to age, You’re still the same
By the power of the name.
El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai, Erkamka na Adonai
I will praise you till I die.
El-Shaddai
 

TRANSLATION:

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai [means “God Almighty, God Almighty”]
El-Elyon na Adonai [means “God in the highest, Oh, Lord”]
Erkamka na Adonai [means “We will love You, Oh, Lord”]
 
 

To Listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PW_Gv6mx2W8

 

To Reflect: 

Have you ever heard of ‘Replacement Theology’?  You will not find references to it in a library under ‘theology’ but will have to search the ‘heresy’ section instead.  Put simply it teaches that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel.  Besides Scripture specifically denying this (cf. Romans 11).  Replacement Theology is found the justification for much Christian anti-Semitism and it laid the ground for the Holocaust of World War II. 

At first blush, the beautiful words and music of ‘El Shaddai’ may give a Jewish listener cause to think.  But the words are not about rejection and replacement, instead they sing of a loving redemption and, when this love needed to be demonstrated further (John 1.18), a second redemption for not only Jew but for Gentile as well.

God’s choosing of a particular people is not about their own abilities – the children of Israel were powerless outcast slaves – but mostly about their inabilities.  So it make sense that the ultimate instrument of redemption was not a mighty warrior but a babe in Bethlehem destined to be a broken and deserted failure on a Cross.  No, if a people or a nation thinks God needs them for their ability they have little idea of how almighty ‘El Shaddai’ is, nor how comprehensive is His love.

2 Corinthians 4v7The best treasure is kept in jars of clay and God chooses people not simply to redeem them but that they might also be agents of redemption for others. (2 Corinthians 5.19-20).   We cannot do this if we somehow think we are better than those to whom we are called to sing God’s song of love.  Having been slaves we are called to free others, once outcasts we must welcome all, once despised we are to extend fellowship to everyone.

Sometimes religious people, and this fault does not only belong to Christians and Jews, indulge in what I have named ‘Little Jack Horner Theology’.  God gives them plum pie and, refusing to share God’s bounty with everyone, they scurry away to an exclusive corner proclaiming ‘what a good boy they are’!  Once there they then feel they are entitled to ignore the cries of hunger from others for whom Christ stretched out His arms of love on the cross.

A proud religion is a contradiction in terms, and proud Christians are anathema to the Gospel of the Crucified One.  Like Him we are called to frailty.  How else can you speak authentic words to the powerless and the outcast?  Those who see themselves as ‘entitled’ to the love of God cannot easily share that love with the loveless.

Amy’s call in her song is for all people to see how ‘awesome’ God’s love and power is, and in realizing this fulfill the call of Israel as agents of freedom and celebration.  For in the love of this great big God no one can ever be replaced for…

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.  (Galatians 3.28-29)

  

To Do:

Do you know of anyone who has not been made welcome by your church fellowship?  At the least pray for them and for your church, if possible be in touch with them and offer them your own fellowship.

 

To Pray:

O God, make the door of this House
Wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship,
Narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife,
Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block
to children nor to straying feet,
But rugged and strong enough to turn back the tempter’s power.
O God, make the door of this house a gateway to your eternal kingdom.

(Thomas Ken in Pilgrim)

 

 

Acknowledgements:

All of the music on the video clips from YouTube is © Amy Grant.  If you enjoy listening to her songs please consider buying her recordings.  A full discography and other information about Amy can be found on her website http://www.amygrant.com

Scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America

Prayers from Pilgrim are copyright © 2015 Stephen Cottrell, Steven Croft, Robert Atwell and Paula Gooder.

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