Day by Day

Day by Day

Liturgy Lesson: May 26, 2019
Introit: Of the Father’s Love Begotten
Call to Worship: Acts 17:24-28; 1 Cor. 8:6; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 11:36
Prayer of Invocation
Hymn of Adoration: O Father, You are Sovereign (#75)
Prayer of Confession
Song of Response: Abba Father
Assurance of Pardon: Gal. 4:4-7; 1 Jn. 3:1
Hymn of Assurance: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Catechism/Congregational Prayers
Reading of the Word: Luke 11:1-2
Gloria Patri
Sermon: Rev. Eric Irwin, title TBD
Tithes and Offerings
The Lord’s Supper: Day by Day (#676); Be Thou My Vision (#642)
Closing Hymn: This is My Father’s World

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ And he said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name…'”
– Luke 11:1-2

“The Patriarchy.” “Toxic Masculinity.” “Male Privilege.” “Mansplaining.” “Manterrupting.” “Bropropriating” (look it up!). These are the misandrist terms concocted in your local gender studies department, an ideological laboratory where the scientists are truly mad. Having abandoned God’s guidebook on humanity and creation, they have written their own anti-manual, which seeks to erase the distinctions between the sexes, and completely redefine masculinity. This is a whole different Genesis, a remaking of a false Paradise in which man is deconstructed and returned to the dust. The gender revolutionaries believe they have cooked up something medicinal that will cure the historic abuses suffered by women. But these language pills turn out to be poison, especially for young men at the University. I know; I teach at one of these institutions, and the young men are floundering more than the women. These young men, who in previous generations would have been encouraged to be competent, capable, strong, and responsible, are now told to confess their privilege and historic oppression of women, and shed any of those outdated and socially constructed ideas of manhood. They are told to be allies for the empowerment of women, who already outnumber them and outperform them in virtually every sphere of campus life. In such an environment, two things are assumed: There is something inherently flawed with masculinity, and the most a guy can aim for is to be harmless. Courtship and Chivalry are truly dead, and masculine courage is redefined, or at the very least it is suspect. Protecting, providing, and procreating are no longer seen as acts of self-giving love, but attempts at power, privilege, and pleasure. It is all a broad social experiment, and a huge mistake.

This tidal wave of androgynous anti-male bias has overflowed into the church, which has altered and adapted the language of her historic prayers and hymns in order to be PC (Patriarchy Crushing). This is the most grievous error because it is an abandonment of a biblical language that clarifies the character of God.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

– 2 Cor. 1:3

“One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
– Eph. 4:6

Let’s do a little research, shall we? There are about…oh…10,000,000 references to God the Father in Scripture. In the book of John alone, Jesus talks non-stop about His dad.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”
– Jn. 14:10

And, of course, in the prayer that Jesus taught us, we are to address God as “our Father.” But even that prayer is not sacrosanct for the language police, who have lent their editorial hubris to many of the historic hymns of Christianity. Their revised and updated hymns are emptied out of all masculine-oriented terms and pronouns. In the name of inclusivity they have excluded references to him, he, his, man, father, son, king, prince, and even Lord. In each case, what we are left with is a Frankenstein that wobbles and warbles incoherently. Do you even recognize this hymn?

Crown with your richest crowns the Lamb upon the throne;
Hark! How the heavn’ly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Christ who died for you,
And to your risen Savior bring your thanks for life made new.

How about this one which is just so awkward to sing?

Be now my wisdom, and be my true word;
ever within me, my soul is assured;
mother and Father, you are both to me,
now and forever your child I will be.

And there are countless other laughable one-liners:

Of the Parent’s heart begotten…

Joy to the world! The gift is come. Let earth her praises bring…

Great is thy faithfulness, O God Creator…

I wonder how Luther would feel about this butcher job of the second verse of Mighty Fortress?

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
But there is one who takes our side, the One of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be? Christ Jesus sets us free!
With mighty power to save, victorious o’er the grave,
Christ will prevail triumphant.

Ugh! Bad poetry. Bad theology. Bad idea.

I won’t have any of it. Not on my watch. If you come and join us on Sunday, you will be speaking and singing the word “Father” quite a lot. His proper name should be on our lips as much as possible. Eric is preaching on the beginning of the Lord’s prayer, and so we are going to address the Lord in the manner that Jesus taught us: “Our Father.” Our worship will begin with the reminder that the entire cosmos was “of the Father’s love begotten.” Then, we will lift our voices and boldly declare together:

O Father, you are sovereign
in all the worlds you made;
your mighty word was spoken,
and light and life obeyed.
Your voice commands the seasons
and bounds the ocean’s shore,
sets stars within their courses
and stills the tempest’s roar.

O Father, you are sovereign
in all affairs of man;
no pow’rs of death or darkness
can thwart your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending,
supreme in time and space,
you hold your trusting children
secure in your embrace.

We will have a time to confess our sins and run back into the loving arms of our Abba Father (Rom 8:17), who has compassion on those who fear him (Ps. 103). We will then celebrate his goodness by affirming “How Deep the Father’s Love” is for us, and how this love has brought so many sons to glory. We will have a time to pray to the Father together, and then sing the “Gloria Patri” (Glory of the Father). We will hear a sermon on our Father God, after which we will come to the table to commune together. Our first supper hymn will celebrate the provision and protection of our good and faithful Heavenly Father. It is the simple and beautiful hymn called “Day by Day.” It is a powerful song of trust in the Fatherly heart of God.

“Day by Day” was written by Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell, a hymnwriter who is often called the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden.” Her story is worth telling. She was born on October 3, 1832, the daughter of Lutheran pastor Jonas Sandell. Little ‘Lina,’ as she became known, was ill as a child and spent many hours with her father in his study. Lina published her first book of poems when she was 15. When Lina was 26, she accompanied her father on a boat trip across Lake Vattern to reach Goteborg, Sweden. During the journey, the ship suddenly lurched, and Lina’s father fell overboard and drowned as Lina helplessly watched. From that tragedy, many hymns were born from Lina’s broken heart, but the two most famous of them were hymns about the fatherhood of God, “Day by Day” and “Children of the Heavenly Father.”

The original title of “Day by Day” in Swedish is “Blott en Day,” meaning “just one day” or “just another day.” I imagine that after Karolina lost her father—her ballast and best friend—she had to lean on the mercies of her heavenly Father one day at a time as she navigated the waters afraid and alone.

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best–
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev’ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Here is the sheet music and a recommended recording.

One of the stated reasons for the use of gender-neutral language in hymnody is kindness or compassion toward women, particularly those who have been abandoned or hurt by men. Those who remove any “offensive” masculine terms do so under the guise of compassion, in hopes that the timid and wounded soul may approach the throne of grace with greater ease. There are now no triggers for those who had absent or abusive fathers, and the hymns are rendered more relatable and accessible for use in worship. But this reasoning discounts the powerful healing surrogacy of God himself, who is a “father to the fatherless” (Ps. 68:5), who in love predestined us to be adopted as his children through Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:5, Gal. 4:4-7), prepares for us a place in his home (Jn. 14:1-2), and holds us forever safe in his loving embrace (Jn. 10:28). A soul that nearly drowned in its youth can still learn to swim. We should not offer it a desert wasteland because it is afraid of water. Karolina Sandell’s story is a beautiful reminder that we can never drown in the living waters.

Before the supper ends we will also declare these timeless and beautiful words of loving communion. They are some of my favorite words to sing:

I ever with thee and thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling and I with thee one.

And the last thing on our lips before we go out into the world will be a song that reminds us to whom all things belong:

This is my Father’s world, o let me never forget,
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world, the battle is not done,
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.

Come and celebrate the truth of who God is. Our Father is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love” (Ps. 103:8). We should approach him with great confidence and respect, admiration and adoration, fascination and firm faith in his character.

As a man chosen by God, I will now confess my privilege. Here it is. My privilege is to honor Father God, to worship him, to love him. I am his Son, and I am a man made in His image. Nothing about these truths is toxic. They are timeless, transcendent. They will forever be on my tongue. I don’t care if it’s “mansplaining”!

O Father, You are sovereign!
We see You dimly now,
But soon before Your triumph
Earth’s every knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us
Our faith springs forth anew:
Our Sovereign Lord and Savior,
We trust and worship You!