October 6

October 6
by Pastor Judy

Awaken the Dawn

1My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
  I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
   your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psalm 108:1-4

Bishop Thomas Ken was confessor to Charles II, and was something of a thorn in the flesh to the King.  Ken upheld a rather high moral code, which sometimes got in the way of the activities of the court.  But this steadfastness seemed to please the king; eventually he made him bishop.

Bishop Ken was not known as a poet, but three of his hymns are used to this day, and can be found in our green hymnal (Lutheran Book of Worship).  Two are quite well known: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” and “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night.”  A third hymn is a morning hymn.  It begins like this: “Awake, my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run.”  It ends with the doxology.  (LBW #269) This hymn reminds me of Psalm 108:2: “Awake, harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn.”  Awakening the dawn with praise.  I love the imagery: calling up the sun as we sing God’s praise.

It is said that Bishop Ken insisted on being buried under an eastern window of the church as his friends sang his morning hymn at dawn.  He had told them that when Jesus returns, he wanted to be the first to see him in the eastern sky. He eagerly anticipated that Dawn of a New Day.

I have to confess, my friends, that my own reaction to the Lord’s return was very different.  I remember the San Fernando (Sylmar) earthquake of 1971.  I was a senior in high school in Thousand Oaks, CA, and was getting ready for school when the house began to shake.  It shook and shook, and didn’t stop shaking, it seemed, for quite a long time, although it apparently lasted only 12 seconds.  We had no damage at our house, although it certainly woke us up!

At school, later that day, my friends all compared notes: what did you think and what did you do, when the earthquake hit?  One friend thought that the Lord had returned, so he ran through the house, throwing open all the doors and windows, yelling “The Lord is coming back!  The Lord is coming back!”  I was a little abashed to hear his rather laudable reaction, because my own was this: “Oh man!  The Lord is coming back… and I just got contact lenses.”  (Eyeglasses had been the bane of my existence.)  I was not as enthusiastic as my friend.

I hope that at the time of my death, or when the Lord returns (whichever comes first), I will be more like my friend, like Bishop Ken and like the psalmist, greeting my Lord with praise, joy and with song.  It will be a great day, for sure.

Choose the song of your choice:
Traditional: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPzhHmUVjM4 (“Awake, My Soul”)

Contemporary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buD17N-jlnM (“Awake the Dawn”)

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