Thursday, December 30, 2004

Auld Lang Syne

Remembering Friends

The most commonly sung song for English-speakers on New Year's Eve, "Auld Lang Syne" is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns's homeland.

It is often remarked that "Auld Lang Syne" is one of the most popular songs that nobody knows the lyrics to. "Auld Lang Syne" literally translates as "old long since" and means "times gone by." The song asks whether old friends and times will be forgotten and promises to remember people of the past with fondness, "For auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet."

The lesser known verses continue this theme, lamenting how friends who once used to "run about the braes,/ And pou'd the gowans fine" (run about the hills and pulled up the daisies) and "paidl'd in the burn/Frae morning sun till dine" (paddled in the stream from morning to dusk) have become divided by time and distance—"seas between us braid hae roar'd" (broad seas have roared between us). Yet there is always time for old friends to get together—if not in person then in memory—and "tak a right guid-willie waught" (a good-will drink).

I received the information above from a Greek Orthodox Yahoo group. It is true that I have heard the song and tried to hum my way through it every new year but I had no clue what the words were or the significance of those words. I remember playing in my high school jazz band on New Year’s Eve this song to a bunch of drunk adults.

At the end of the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, Clarence the Angel leaves George Bailey a copy of Mark Twain’s adventure story, Tom Sawyer. Surrounded by scores of friends singing in celebration of Christmas, George smilingly opens the front cover, and we see what Clarence has wisely written: “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

Recently I gave a message on the importance of being a friend. The first trait of friendship that I focused on was dependability.

In 1 Samuel 18:1-4 we read that after David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

This covenant agreement made between David and Jonathan is like a pinkie swear but more. This pinkie swear goes beyond a promise, this covenant becomes an exchange of identity. They are now both equals.

We read that Jonathan gave David his robe, this is what identified Jonathan as prince, the heir to the throne of Saul. This identity was now given to David by Jonathan.

Next we read that Jonathan gives David his sword, his bow and his belt. All of this represents Jonathan’s strength in battle. Also this represents an alliance against each others enemies. They will now always be on the same side in battle. Jonathan’s enemies are now David’s enemies; David’s enemies are Jonathan’s enemies.

In 2 Samuel David gets an opportunity to honor this covenant. Jonathan has died in battle and leaves behind a crippled son. David brings this young man into his own home, adopts him as his own and cares for him.

Now most of us will not have the opportunity to stand up against our friend’s enemies the way David did for Jonathan. But we get opportunities to demonstrate dependability to our friends. Some thoughts on what dependability means to me:

Dependability is trust

Dependability is honesty

Dependability is being reliable

Dependability is keeping a promise

Dependability is integrity

I wonder sometimes how dependable am I?

As I start the new year I hope that nothing divides me from those that are my friends. I pray that I never forget those that have been there for me. That I will take from the cup of kindness and remember them with fondness!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

May God Bless You with Contentment

1 Timothy 6:6-10 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

How often I have strived with all my heart to me successful. I went to school, during my undergrad years, trying to learn all I could to be an effective supervisor. I wanted to be the best in all I did. I wanted to get others to do what was necessary to accomplish our goals. I wanted to be the best supervisor I could be. My ultimate goal was to be successful and well paid.

You know I was fairly successful, and well paid, but something was missing. I had a great house and always had great cars. My daughters went to an outstanding Christian school. We never were without. Trouble was we were always wanting. I do not think we were ever in a position of truly being needy though, except in one area.

I do not think we were ever content. Being content means that I am satisfied with what I have. Being content means that pleased and happy with my life. Being content means that I am in comfort. I lived so far away from being content.

This past year I took a new job. I left the business world. I left the well paying job and became a youth pastor. The hours are just as long if not longer. I still have deadlines and goals to meet. I still try to be the best, but it is for a greater purpose than for my self. I think I am learning more everyday about being content.

I don’t own that great home anymore; rather I rent from my in-laws. I have two nice cars. One daughter is in a nice community college and the other is finishing her year at a good public high school. Not the luxurious life I imagined I was going to live. But it doesn’t bug me; I am learning to be content.

God tells us to be content and that He will supply our needs, not our wants. As we approach Christmas I am learning to be happy, to be content. May God bless you with the gift of contentment.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Matthew 6:25-31 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?'