Bring My God Down (w/Monologue Six)

[from the pop musical, Song of Plenty, 1974]

Monologue Six:

GIRL (continuing letter). . .

It was all so clear. . .so simple. And yet I had this feeling of pride nagging away at me. It said, “Don’t give in. Keep searching. You’ll be okay. You’ll find what you’re after on your own.”

The the invitation hymn was sung. It was unlike any I had ever heard before. This one was meant for me.

Song:

Bring my God down,
Bring my God down
From your dark and unknown skies.

Make Him the sun,
Make Him the sun
In the solar system of your lives.

Bathe in His light,
Bathe in His light;
Warm to perfect love and peace.

Be His reflection,
Be His reflection;
Let all men known whose light you are.

About this Song:
One spring during the early sixties, I worked in the kitchen at the original Phillips Crabhouse in Ocean City, Maryland.

My job? Boring the stalks out of cabbage heads and quartering the heads in preparation for making tons of cole slaw. Ironically, I hate cabbage in any form.

But this one particular day, the idea of “Bring My God Down” came to me–even the melody–in the midst of my cabbage cutting, and it turned out pretty well, I think.

I always smile at the line in the monologue about this song being an invitation hymn unlike any the girl has ever heard before. Even though she explains that the difference is she listened to this one, the style of this song is so unlike the average invitation hymn that her statement has a double meaning.

Please leave a comment if this song–or this blog post–has spoken to you.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

                

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God Is the Spirit (w/Monologue Five)

From the musical SONG OF PLENTY…

Monologue Five:

GIRL (continuing letter. . .)

Oh, the difference! Their lives were happy! They had found the plenty they sought. I felt sick and, well, quite a bit jealous.

They invited me to a service with them. I was held in a very plain room (I’ll never forget that room) with a few folding chairs, a simple speaker’s stand, and a rough wooden cross on the wall behind the stand.

The speaker he…well, he was just one of the kids. But as he began his sermon, I could only stare at him, for my imagination clothed him in a flowing robe and I could hear the waters of the Sea of Galilee lapping at the shore.

He laid it on the line. He made it very clear. Mom and Dad, he told me what you’ve been trying to tell me for years. But there was a difference: this time I really listened.

Song:

God is the Spirit moving in life’s underground,
Inspiring those enslaved to this world
To rebel against their sin and despair.

You can’t control or improve your life
With just your determination.
It takes more than sleepless dreams
And self-made revelations.

God is the Spirit boiling in the souls of men,
Inciting them to conquer the world
And set it on fire with the heat of God’s love.

It takes more than hope and faith
To live in God’s world of spirit.
God must live in you with you as His slave;
That’s how to be free. Please hear it.

God is the Spirit, moving in life’s underground,
Inspiring those enslaved to this world
To rebel against their sin and despair.

God is the Spirit boiling in the souls of men,
Inciting them to conquer the world
And set it on fire with the heat of God’s love.

About this Song:

Jesus was physical. He actually lived on earth and ate and slept and did everything other human beings do. Everything but sin, that is, and even He wasn’t immune from temptation.

But after his his resurrection from death and ascension into Heaven He sent His Holy Spirit to urge us to follow Him and to guide us when we do. So this song focuses on the role of the Holy Spirit in changing our lives.

I think one of the most striking parts of these lyrics is the part about “God must live in you with you as His slave; that’s how to be free.” To the non-Christian, those words undoubtedly make NO sense whatsoever. But those of us who are Believers understand that following Christ is voluntary.

But it’s more than just accepting Him as our Savior. It also means accepting Him as Lord. And as Lord, He is in charge of our lives–to whatever extent we’re willing to let Him be.

Being His servant is a privilege, and obeying Him more completely should be one goal of every prayer we pray.

Next Wednesday I’ll post Monologue Six and “Bring My God Down.” 

Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the bottom right.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

                

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My Story Mystery (w/Monologue Four)

From the 1974 Christian musical Song of Plenty…

Monologue Four:
GIRL (continuing letter). . .

I was almost in tears as one person after another told me about themselves. Can you believe it? Their lives were all so similar to mine. The running away. The searching. The trying. The crying.

But their stories all had happy endings!

Song:

I was born the bitter child
Of a latter-day Adam and Eve,
Who lived destroyin’ God’s Garden
Till He sadly had to make ’em leave.

With a snake-filled apple in my mouth,
I was misconceived:
I grew up thinking I was all there was;
I was deceived.

Then I found I was nothing,
And my empty spirit grieved
And began a long search
For something bigger to believe.

Then God’s Spirit found mine
And gave me new breath to breathe;
He gave me warmth I needed badly;
My tiredness He relieved.

He filled me with His Presence,
My life’s pattern to reweave.
He gave me new direction.
All I’d lost has been retrieved.

His gift of love, His gift of peace:
These blessings I have received.
I don’t know why He loves me so;
That He does I do believe.

About this Song:
This is one of the strangest songs I’ve ever written–the first few stanzas, anyhow– although it fits right in with the story. And it looks like I must have been going crazy making rhymes, but in a strangely fun way.

I must admit I get a kick out of the reference to the “latter-day Adam and Eve” because that describes every set of human parents. The part about being “misconceived” simply means that all of us human beings are born under the burden of original sin.

I think the progression from very negative searcher to someone God finds and rescues is clear and encouraging. We may look for God, but He’s the one who ultimately finds and accepts us–and changes us if we allow Him to. I like the variety of “benefits” the singer has received from becoming a Child of God.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

                

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Posted in Adam & Eve, Garden, Mystery, Sin, Song of Plenty, Story, Testimony | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Almost You’re Smiling

Even though Christmas was two days ago, I’m still enjoying wonderful thoughts about a wondrous event. If you’ve been following the series of songs from A SONG OF PLENTY, I hope you’ll forgive me if I interrupt that by sharing a Christmas song I wrote in 1992 but recently added the refrain to. You can watch a Youtube video of me singing “Almost You’re Smiling” here.  A free lead sheet is available here.

If you’re like me, you’ve often wished you had been around two thousand years ago to witness Jesus’s life and ministry in person. But wishing doesn’t change the fact we were born two millennia too late.

Rather than fret about it, let’s imagine we were among the shepherds who saw and listened to the angels’ spectacular announcement of Jesus’s birth–no Super Bowl commercials could come close to matching it!–and have come to the stable, where we’re looking at Jesus as a newborn.

Hmm. No matter how special the angels said He was, He looks pretty much like any other baby, doesn’t He? Or does He look a little bit more peaceful than a regular baby as he lies there sleeping?

He opens His eyes. He appears to look first at you and then at me. Strange. Newborns aren’t able to focus that way, are they? More amazing still, He appears to be deep in thought. But babies can’t think yet; thought requires a knowledge of language, something  babies aren’t born with.

Of course, we know He’s both human and divine. So isn’t it possible He can observe things a normal baby can’t observe? And think or feel things babies shouldn’t be able to think or feel?  Alas, the Bible doesn’t tell us.

I speak to baby Jesus, aware that He shouldn’t be able to understand me. Yet He appears to be listening to my words. Perhaps even comprehending them. As if He might truly be more than just an ordinary baby. After all, fully human and fully divine is a strange and powerful combination. Not to mention a unique one.

Yes, Jesus is unique. Even so, I’m certain He won’t be able to answer my questions or comment about my observations. But I’ll ask and comment anyway.

“Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.
Can it be You feel the coldness of the world You’ve come to?
Do You somehow miss the warmth You’ve left at home in Heaven?
Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?

Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.
Can it be You feel the joy of those who wait Your coming?
Do You somehow know what hope You’ve brought to earth from Heaven?
Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?”

I don’t know how Jesus differed from ordinary babies while–at the same time–still being quite ordinary. It doesn’t  matter. Even as a baby, He deserved and deserves my praise and adoration–during the whole year. Not just at Christmas.

Please share a comment.

I’ll be back again next Wednesday with the next song from the SONG OF PLENTY musical. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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A Lamb Out of Every Crisis (w/Monologue Three)

Monologue Three:
GIRL (continuing letter). . .

As she talked, I felt the excitement in me growing. Mom and Dad, a fleeting thought of you and home ran through my mind. But I quickly grew nervous. . .restless. Things weren’t right in me, and I knew it.

It must have shown. I don’t know how or why, but this new friend–oh! did she know me already–said, ‘Nothing but the love of Jesus can give you the peace you seek.’

Song:
God makes a lamb out of every crisis in your life
When you let Him become the keeper of your heart.
It is God who puts to pasture every care and worry.

God makes a lamb out of every crisis in your life
When you let Him become the keeper of your heart.

About this Song:
Although the lyrics for “A Lamb Out of Every Crisis” are barely longer than the song title, it’s one of my favorites. It gives me a calming effect similar to Jesus’ calming the storm at sea with “Peace! Be still.” Somehow, it also makes me imagine God as a lion tamer who converts a ferocious beast into a cat tame enough to make into a house pet.

At some point in the early 1970s, a close in-law left home unexpectedly, and no one knew where she had gone. Because she was at least eighteen, it wasn’t legally a matter of running away from home. Yet that’s what she’d done.

She ended up going from the Midwest to New York City and staying a few days before returning home. I don’t remember any of the specifics, and I wouldn’t want to embarrass her about something that happened more than forty years ago, but her search for. . .whatever was the inspiration for this song.

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

                 

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Silver and Gold (w/Monologue Two)

[From the musical drama, Song of Plenty.]

Monologue Two:
GIRL (continuing letter). . .

Mom and Dad, they WERE happy! I couldn’t keep from smiling a little just from being near them. Yet it made me feel all the more depressed knowing that I didn’t have what they had.

So I asked this one girl, ‘What is this? You’re all no different from me, and yet you are! What is it?’

‘Jesus,’ she answered simply.

‘Jesus!’ I said. ‘That’s what my parents tried to force on me for years. I didn’t want it. But what you have is different. What is it? Tell me!’

By now the eyes of the whole group were on me. I felt embarrassed, and yet I knew that they didn’t mean for me to.

Trembling, I continued, ‘This plenty you have. . .it can’t be Jesus. Not JUST Jesus. That can’t be enough!’

The girl I had talked with a few minutes before said quietly, ‘He is. He’s all we have to give you, and he’s everything there is.’

Song:
Silver and gold and folding green:
These are things I cannot give you;
They’re things I have little of.
Houses and lands and the latest things:
These are things I cannot give you,
But I can show you God’s love

Sunsets and snowflakes and springtime showers:
These are things I cannot give you,
Though they’re things I have plenty of.
Rainbows and moonlight
And days that follow nights:
Things are things I cannot give you,
For they’re all part of God’s love.

God’s love shows in so many ways!
Life for us is free;
It is God Who pays.

Life and health and strength
And a sense of peace:
These are things I cannot give you,
Though they’re things I have plenty of.
Satisfaction and a sense of worth
And the feeling of being free:
These are things I cannot give you,
For they’re all part of God’s love.

God’s love shows in so many ways!
Life for us is free;
It is God Who pays.

Silver and gold and folding green:
These are things I cannot give you;
They’re things I have little of.
Houses and lands and the latest things:
These are things I cannot give you,
But I can show you God’s love

God’s love shows in so many ways!
Life for us is free;
It is God Who pays.

About this Song:
This is the second song in my 1974 pop-musical, Song of Plenty.

This song is based largely on the New Testament story of Peter and John on their way into the temple. A beggar, a man who had been lame since birth, asked for a handout. Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give to you.” And with that, he healed the beggar and sent him on his way–walking and rejoicing.

The girl the seeker in the monologue was talking to couldn’t offer her money or things or even the beauties of nature. But she could offer God’s love.

And isn’t that true of each of us as Christians?

The third monologue and song will be coming next Wednesday. If you want to subscribe to this blog by email, you’ll find a place to do that at the bottom right..

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

           

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Song of Plenty (w/Monologue One)

MONOLOGUE ONE:
GIRL: (reading letter)
Dear Mom and Dad,

It seems an eternity since I left home. How often I’ve wanted to write or call, but I couldn’t. The things that have happened. . .Mom and Dad, I didn’t want to make you cry. I lost so much.

But something else has happened. Something special, something great! It’s strange. I had been feeling especially low: lost, empty, hungry for something I didn’t have and couldn’t find.

Then I went to this place–I guess you’d call it a mission–where there were a lot of other kids. They looked so much like me. You could tell they’d been through a lot. But there was something different about them: a spirit! As they talked and moved and laughed and sang, they seemed, well, alive and happy.

SONG:
Sing a song of plenty to God,
Whose every gift to us is good.
Sing of perfect plenty to God,
Whose gift to us is His presence of love.

Plenty of God’s presence means plenty of His love,
And plenty of God’s love means plenty to sing about.

Sing a song of plenty to God,
Whose every gift is rich and free.
Sing of God’s every blessing to you with
Lives that are full of His presence and peace.

Plenty of God’s love means plenty of His peace,
And plenty of God’s peace means plenty to sing about.

Sing a song of plenty to God,
Whose every gift is good.

About this Song:
This is the first monologue and song in SONG OF PLENTY, a “pop-musical story of a modern day Prodigal Son” I wrote it in 1974 and presented it publicly three times: at the First Baptist Church of Cambridge, Maryland; at an evening worship service at Long Wharf in Cambridge; and once at a Methodist church in Vienna, Maryland.  I regret not being able to remember the name of that church.

The singers were Jestine Pryor and Jack Wright, the pianist was Billy Tilghman, and I played bass guitar. Debbie, my wife at that time, did the dramatic reading of the monologues between songs to a flute accompaniment played originally by Janet Carr and later by Connie Anderson.

You can find the songs from this musical (plus the short Prelude) on my website. If you like, you can open that window and listen to the songs while following the words here. Regretfully, the sound quality of the original recording makes it impractical to include the reading of the monologues.

Coming next Wednesday: the second song, “Silver and Gold.”

Look for me again next Wednesday. Better still, subscribe to receive these weekly posts by email.

Best regards,
Roger

             

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