The CCEL Times 5.6 (June 1, 2010)

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In This Issue:

From the Director

Continuing the series of articles highlighting classic answers to the problem of suffering, I want today to mention François Fenélon. As a proponent of quietism, Fenélon is not without controversy. However, he has a perspective on suffering that is interesting and worth thinking about. Fenélon believes that pain and suffering come from excessive love of self. He writes that "it is the life of self that causes us pain."* The cure for this pain is the spiritual death of self. According to Fenélon, if we are dead to ourselves, yet alive in Christ, then "we should no longer perceive those pains in spirit that now afflict us."* In fact, when we do experience trials and tribulations, they will bring comfort and peace, rather than pain and misery. Fenélon concludes that "happy indeed are they who can bear their sufferings in the enjoyment of this simple peace and perfect acquiescence in the will of God! Nothing so shortens and soothes our pains as this spirit of non-resistance."*

Harry Plantinga
Director of the CCEL

What’s New

Newton’s Sermons on Handel’s Messiah, Vol. 1 and 2
by John Newton (1725-1807)

The Messiah of Handel consists of three parts. The first , contains prophecies of His advent and the happy consequences, together with the angel’s message to the shepherds informing them of His birth, as related by St. Luke. The second part describes His passion, death, resurrection and ascension; His taking possession of His Kingdom of glory, the commencement of His Kingdom of grace upon the earth, and the certain disappointment and ruin of all who persist in opposition to His will. The third part expresses the blessed fruits and consummation of His undertaking in the deliverance of His people from sin, sorrow and death, and in making them finally victorious over all their enemies. The triumphant song of the redeemed, to the praise of the Lamb who bought them with His own blood, closes the whole. The arrangement or series of these passages, is so judiciously disposed, so well connected, and so fully comprehends all the principal truths of the Gospel, that I shall not attempt either to alter, or to enlarge it.
— from Sermon 1: "The Consolation"
Read this sermon at the CCEL
Read more from this classic at the CCEL

Featured Hymn

Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying by Ken Medema

Author-composer-performer Ken Medema says the following about his writing of this prayer hymn:

‘"Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying" came out of my New Jersey years. One night [in 1970], I was with a youth group. We started talking about a young man who was in the hospital and who really needed our prayers. In the middle of our prayer time, the idea for this little chorus came to me. I started humming, then singing. Soon the kids were mumbling along with me. We sang that chorus, "Lord, listen to your children praying," several times over. Then I started adding verses, and the kids quickly joined me in singing the new words. So it was a song born out of our concern and prayer for a friend.’

Learn more about this hymn at the Hymnary
Read about the Hymnary

Praying With the Classics

Praying With Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-c.394)

You truly, O Lord, are the pure and eternal fount of goodness; … who did curse, and did bless; you did banish us from Paradise, and did recall us; you did strip off the fig-tree leaves … and put upon us a costly garment; you did open the prison and did release the condemned; you did sprinkle us with clean water, and cleanse us from our filthiness. No longer shall … the flaming sword encircle Paradise around, and make the entrance inaccessible to those that draw near; but all is turned to joy for us that were the heirs of sin; Paradise, yea, heaven itself may be trodden by man, and the creation, in the world and above the world, that once was at variance with itself, is knit together in friendship: and we … are made to join in the angels’ song, offering the worship of their praise. – from "On the Baptism of Christ"

Read more by this author at the CCEL.

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