A Lenten Meditation

“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

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The God who sees

Amaryllis

When we are in difficult circumstances, we tend to cry out that the Lord doesn’t see or He is too busy to help us or He just doesn’t care what is going on in our lives.  Do not believe these lies that Satan loves to whisper in our minds.  Our Lord is sovereign and He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).  He loves us more than we can ever know and His plans for us are good all of the time.  Just because we cannot see His salvation and restoration right now does not mean that He is powerless or is sitting idly by, watching us suffer.

Think about the story of the Exodus.  The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years.  If they thought of God at all, they must have questioned whether or not He cared about them.  They suffered, they worked hard, and then the Pharaoh even tried to kill their babies!  Where was God in all of this?  Despite the outward circumstances, God had a plan. First, He allowed Moses to be born and saved from the murderous Pharaoh.  Then, after Moses was a grown man, God spoke to him from a burning bush, and He said,

“I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.  So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.  Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 

Despite what the Israelites thought, God did care.  He did hear their cries.  He had a plan to rescue them, which is what He did, bringing them out of Egypt in a miraculous way.

Or what about the time the people of Israel had been exiled to Babylon.  For 70 years, they wondered about God’s promises to them to establish His kingdom through the line of David forever.  What had happened?  Did God forget His promise?  Had He abandoned them?  No, after a time, He brought them back into their land and finally, He fulfilled His promises when Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah was born in Bethlehem and with His coming, God’s promises to establish an everlasting king of Israel were fulfilled.

God has a plan for you as well.  He sees your suffering, your losses, your difficulties.  He hears your cries.  Just as He led the Israelites out of Egypt with gold and herds and many precious things, which had belonged to the Egyptians.  Just as He brought them back into Israel after the Babylonian exile. Just as He fulfilled all of His promises in Christ, who is our wisdom, our sanctification, our righteousness, and our redemption.  So He has a plan to save you, to draw you to Himself, to restore you.  Trust Him. He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten, as the prophet Joel wrote thousands of years ago and we shall “eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord our God”. (Exodus 3:7-10)

Shakespeare Plays I Have Watched

When I studied Shakespeare in college, one of the requirements of the class was to watch each of the plays we were studying.  Before that year, other than the couple of times I had seen live performances of a Shakespeare play, I had only read the plays, never watched a video.

However, since it was an assignment for class, I made my way over to the audio/visual library on campus and checked out my first Shakespeare video, Richard II*.  It was marvelous.  I had already read the play and watching it helped me to understand even more what was occurring in the play.  With facial expressions, props, costumes, and even the way the actors said their parts, I was drawn into the action of the play even more than when I had read them.

Since that time, I have watched many of Shakespeare’s plays.  Sometimes it was to go along with whatever play we were studying at the time and sometimes just for the fun of it.

I am listing the plays I have watched below with a brief idea of why I liked it (or not).  I hope to continue watching Shakespeare on video. In fact, I am eagerly awaiting my turn for our library’s copy of BBC’s The Hollow Crown series.

Comedies: 

Much Ado About Nothing – Kenneth Branagh, Denzel Washington, and Emma Thompson.  This is my favorite of Branagh’s Shakespeare films.  It is just so fun to watch.  Also, I love Michael Keaton as Dogberry.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – I’ve seen the BBC production and the 1999 film.  I liked both.  The BBC production has Helen Mirren as Titania, , Peter McEnery, and Geoffrey Palmer.  My favorite is the 1999 film.  It is delightful with Rupert Everett as Oberon, Stanley Tucci is a fantastic Puck, Michelle Pfeiffer as a beautiful, slightly dim Titania, and Kevin Kline as Bottom.  They use Mendelssohn’s music and it is simply magical.  I have yet to see the Royal Shakespeare Company production of the play with Ian Holm, Judi Dench,  Ian Richardson, Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren, and Sebastian Shaw.

The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino as Shylock, Joseph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons and Lynn Collins.  While I liked this movie, there were things about it that I didn’t like.  I enjoyed Lynn Collins but I didn’t care for Jeremy Irons as much as I had hoped I would.  Al Pacino is very good although I’m not sure I completely agree with the way he interpreted the role.  I long to see the 1973 version with Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright if I can find a copy.

The Taming of the Shrew – I have seen two versions of this play:  the famous Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor version and the BBC production with John Cleese.  Both have their issues and while it is interesting to watch one of the Monty Python cast playing Shakespeare, the Burton/Taylor version is just so fun and what chemistry between them!

The Tempest – I have only seen the version with Helen Mirren as Prospera.  I had never seen Prospero played by a woman and Helen Mirren is always good, but I’d like to find another version to watch.

Love’s Labour’s Lost with Kenneth Branagh and Alicia Silverstone.  It’s Shakespeare as a musical and while not perfect, an enjoyable way to spend the evening.

Tragedies:

MacBeth – The version with Ian McKellan and Judi Dench was good but not so compelling that I have wanted to see it again.

Hamlet – Kenneth Branagh’s version is the entire play and over four hours long.  Excellent and well worth the time spent.

Romeo and Juliet – I have seen both the Franco Zeffirelli and the Claire Danes/Leo Dicaprio versions.  I prefer the Zeffirelli version.  It is beautifully filmed and catches the tragedy of the play so, so well.

Histories: 

Richard II with Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud, and Jon Finch – Excellent production

Henry IV, Parts I and II with Jon Finch, Anthony Quayle, and David Gwillim  – Good productions

Henry V – Laurence Olivier is wonderful as Henry V, Kenneth Branagh’s music score makes his Henry V one of the best Shakespeare films to watch (I cry every time I watch the scene after the St. Crispin’s Day battle when they sing Non Nobis), and David Gwillim does a great job of playing Henry in the BBC.  Watch all three and decide which you like best.

Richard III with Laurence Olivier is a classic.  Although I don’t agree with Shakespeare’s portrayal of Richard, no one can deny that Olivier does a fantastic job playing the evil hunchback who wanted England’s throne so much that he would kill children.

 

*BBC’s productions of the plays:  These are a good place to start.  Some of England’s great character actors play in these and many of them are excellent; most are very good.  They are often more like a stage production than a film though.