An interesting thing to observe through this season has been the increasing focus on Justice – that there are things that are Right and Wrong. That actually can be a good outcome for the future – that there is some Virtue that can be discerned. For a season I read a lot of philosophy, and particularly Secular Humanism was interesting – that we are all basically good, and that left to our own Virtues and natures, man (the animal.. not the sex) can live in harmony with one and other. Sorta “we can figure this out and work it out without any objective standards”. Anyone that has spent any real time with toddlers knows that can be true at times, but there are times… I heard a theologian say this is actually progress – because if there is Right and Wrong, then real Virtue should certainly stand out….
Declaring that you have a faith stance opens you up for a lot of attacks, some deserved, and some that are not, but all are worth considering. Can you actually be ready to make an account for what you believe? And as someone said once, if you were in a court of law, could the actually convict you of your Faith using evidence? Leading with your values, or Virtues, is a similar challenge – do your actions really align with what you say is important to you? In the last few weeks I have been called a Bigot, and also challenged that no Christian could possibly support the current President which they assumed I did. In a week when I was considering Virtue, both have been rolling through my mind. What difference does declaring Virtues make in your life – expressed or internal?
This particular selection was again recommended by my local organist friend, who reminded me of the context of the Magnificant – a prayer in Luke when Elizabeth pregnant with John the Baptist welcomes her cousin Mary to her home with “Blessed art thou among women…” and Mary answers in Latin “Magnificant anima mea Dominum” – which is what you hear about 6 minutes in. In English, this is “My soul doth magnify the Lord”. The story is familiar to me, and I love this treatment – it was Bach’s first large choral work after his appointment in the spring of 1723 to the church at Leipzig. This particular group erupts at 8:40 if you stay with it, and shows what Bach thought angels would respond with… and I love the Bass is center of the frame, although the maple fretboard is unique…
In addition to these musings, I have noticed that my interest and pursuit of Faith has been renewed. It may seem crazy but in times like this, I at least go back to what has worked in the past, and what made sense, particularly as a child. A “Child-like” faith can be misinterpreted as naive, one that hasn’t actually realized the paradox in loving all, and seeking justice. Or the one that you give to Caesar what is owed him, but your allegiance is due to something you can’t see, but I know is here. Right now – in ALL of this. It is hard to explain to non-believers, but I will keep trying. I use the challenge to keep me renewing and learning about myself, and know aligned appropriately, the right things will show up. Even for those that don’t understand, or don’t want to understand the love the Grace provides. For all. Including the name-callers on all sides.
Another person suggested a topic for us to consider is Patience – another core competency of mine 😉 And interestingly reflected in today’s Bach offering. Both Elizabeth and Mary were on a 10-month journey to motherhood – the ultimate test of patience which only gets more interesting as they turn in to children. Both would be tested on their actual Virtue’s seeing their son’s both sacrificed for something they believed in, and believed would change the world. And I believe that also, and am proud to be followers of both. And that is not a Virtue that stands alone, but calls me to embrace and engage with those that may or may not see what I see. I invite you to continue the journey next week, but for today, play through the whole offering from JS Bach – and think about the world in which we all live…. and how with Virtue we all can make it.. Magnificant.