Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians 15:54-57’

Despite groundhogs and robins: Spring is coming

February 13, 2018

With the especially harsh winter weather this year, we must remember that “Spring is Coming!”

This year February 2, Groundhog Day, slipped past without much recognition of the celebrated day that offers a prediction of the coming spring. According to tradition, if the furry critter sees his shadow and emerges from his burrow, we are in store for 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t and retreats into his dwelling, the weather forecast is for milder weather in the interim. Since 1886 the celebration of Groundhog Day on a grand scale has been associated with western Pennsylvania, the home of the legendary Punxsutawney Phil, the famed rodent. As it turned out, Punxsutawney Phil did behold his shadow this year, indicating a forecast of 6 more week of cold weather although other groundhogs around the world provided opposing predictions of a short winter.

Whether our furry friend sees his shadow or not, we are assured that after winter still comes the spring. Indeed, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? We can also be certain that in the midst of the most severe winter, a touch of which we have experience this year, growth still takes places. Tiny buds appear and lay dormant until spring’s warm rays stimulate the surging green we long to see. Here is a reminder that life goes on:

Even in Winter

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalm 1:3

Mournful dark notes of the wind’s contralto solo
Pierce the heart and chill the soul with its somber tones.
Shrouded in widow’s weeds all of creation groans,
Bemoans winter’s wilderness, lifeless and hollow.
Tall stark naked trees where nothing appears to grow
Bend in the wind, vacant lodges closed for the season.
To find life in this dead time seems beyond reason,
Yet tender buds sleep in blankets of ice and snow.
Though leaves once green have faded, fallen to frostbite,
Leaf buds cluster in secret places to keep warm;
Buds wrapped in snow are stronger than before the storm.
Soon the voice of the bridegroom will ring in the night.
The time nears when the turtledove returns to sing,
When ice-covered buds will blossom: firstfruits of spring.

Another traditional sign of the coming of Spring, is the sighting of robins on the Northern landscape. On January 31, 2018 two separate sightings of robins were noted in North Carolina, a sure sign that Spring is on the way, so I thought. When I see robins returning after a brief absence, I recall that I made my acting debut in the second or third grade when I played “Robin Redbreast,” with my red sweater and brown paper wings that I flapped vigorously as I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming!”

Robins are generally thought to be a sign that “Spring is coming!”

A few years ago my daughter, Melissa, sent me a card with the “Easter Legend of the Robin” on the cover:

A little grey robin, as he was flying to the Holy Land, saw Christ hanging on the cross. His heart filled with sadness. He noticed the crown of thorns the soldiers placed on the crucified Savior. The small bird, forgetting his timidity, flew down to remove a thorn from the brow of Christ. As he did so, a drop of Christ’s blood stained the little bird’s breast. The robin, through his act of love, earned the red badge of courage.

From this time forth, all robins have had red breasts as reminder that one of them was kind to the Lord. Thus, the robin is truly the harbinger of spring. He welcomes Easter with his cheerful note of hope, reminding us that from death comes life.

In reflecting upon my acting debut, I composed a new song that I sing when I see a robin returning in winter:

Red Robin, Red Robin—Harbinger of Spring,
Rear back with your red breast
And sing, sing, sing.

Here is a poem originally written in anticipation of one of my favorite seasons:

Until Spring

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption,
and this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death,
where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?

I Corinthians 15:54-55

 

Whether on earth or shuttled in the sky,

Death snuffs out our candles in devious ways,

For each man must learn to number his days,

Although the soul still probes to fathom why.

The mind made numb with pain can only try

To make sense of the immense ache that stays.

The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:

It is appointed unto man once to die.

Though grief surrounds us, comfort can be shown.

The sun melts frost with new life as surely

As blossoms will flourish from seeds once sown

Until Spring, on tip-toe I yearn to see

The day when I shall know as I am known,

When death is swallowed up in victory.

 

Despite predictions for more harsh winter weather or when we are blessed with unseasonably mild temperatures, we remember the words of Robin Redbreast, and enjoy this magnificent rendering of Steven Curtis Chapman’s exquisite musical composition, a reminder that, indeed, “Spring is coming!”

Death, where is your sting?

April 20, 2017

The Verse of the Day for April 20, 2017 reminds believers of the accomplished work of Jesus Christ when he arose triumphantly over sin and all of its devastating consequences, even over death itself. As the hymn reminds us, “Up from the grave he arose/with a might triumph over his foes. . .”:

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (Amplified Bible)

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [upon the soul] through [the abuse of] the Law. But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The passage which is often recited on Resurrection Sunday, also reminds me of remarks I shared during a memorial service for a church member who passed away a few years ago. Also included was verse 54:

54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory.

Picture this: Pick up a nitroglycerin tablet which is remarkably small, about a fraction of an inch in diameter and height. Pinching the tablet between the thumb and forefinger would cover it completely. Imagine using all the water in the Pacific Ocean to wash down such a small object. Without question, the nitroglycerin tablet would be “swallowed up” and utterly overwhelmed by the vastness of the ocean.

Another illustration came to mind as I thought of the time when I came across a dead mouse, a small rodent about 4 inches long, as walked I outside of the condo where we were living at the time. I scooped up the tiny carcass and placed it inside a small plastic bag that was then stuffed inside the 13-gallon trash bag that would be tossed into a dumpster that would compress hundreds of similar-sized trash bags, all of which would be taken to a massive landfill encompassing several acres. I could see that in the same way the dead mouse would be “swallowed up” when it eventually found its way to the landfill, even so to an even greater degree, “. . . Death is destroyed; victory is complete!” according to the Good News Translation.

I rejoiced as I saw how God illustrated in such a striking manner just how inconsequential death, the last enemy, has become because of Jesus Christ’s triumphant defeat of him “who has the power over death, that is the devil.”

Because of Jesus Christ and his mighty triumph over sin, disease, and death, as believers in his resurrection, we have a decidedly different perspective on death. We rejoice, as we anticipate the manifestation of the ultimate triumph over the last enemy when we shall experience the reality of the “Final Victory.”

David Goodwin offers an anthem “O Death, Where is Your Sting?”

We conclude with another musical version of Christ’s triumph:

“O Death, Where is Your Sting?” (Pepper Choplin)

Final Victory: Soon and very soon

April 20, 2016

1-corinthians-15 57

The Verse of the Day for April 20, 2016 reminds believers of the accomplished work of Jesus Christ when he arose triumphantly over sin and all of its devastating consequences, even over death itself. As the hymn reminds us, “Up from the grave he arose/with a might triumph over his foes. . .”:

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (Amplified Bible)

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [upon the soul] through [the abuse of] the Law. But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The passage which is often recited on Resurrection Sunday also reminds me of remarks that I shared during a memorial service for a church member who passed away a few years ago. I also included verse 54:

54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory.

Picture this: Pick up a nitroglycerin tablet which is remarkably small, a fraction of an inch in diameter and height. Pinching the tablet between the thumb and forefinger would cover it completely. Imagine using all the water in the Pacific Ocean to wash down such a small object. Without question, the nitroglycerin tablet would be “swallowed up” and utterly overwhelmed by the vastness of the ocean.

Another illustration came to mind as I thought of the time when I came across a dead mouse, a small rodent about 4 inches long, as walked I outside of the condo where we were living at the time. I scooped up the tiny carcass and placed it inside the small plastic bag that was then stuffed inside the 13-gallon trash bag that would be tossed into a dumpster that would compress hundreds of similar-sized trash bags, all of which would be taken to a massive landfill encompassing several acres. I could see that in the same way the dead mouse would be “swallowed up” when it eventually found its way to the landfill, even so to an even greater degree, “. . . Death is destroyed; victory is complete!” according to the Good News Translation. I rejoiced as I saw how God illustrated in such a striking manner just how inconsequential death, the last enemy, has become because of Jesus Christ’s triumphant defeat of him “who has the power over death, that is the devil.”

The selected passage from I Corinthians 15 was also used as the epigraph or introductory scripture for “Final Victory”, an original blues poem that speaks of “Old Man Crab”, referring to cancer, the dreaded disease that takes its name from the constellation Cancer, portrayed as “the crab.” I was first inspired to compose the poem after my father, Lonnie Johnson, died of complications from cancer in 1996. My mother, Jessie Marie Johnson, survived two bouts with “old man crab” and after another valiant fight, died of cancer in 2002. I revised the poem in 2001 after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the entire poem has since taken on even greater significance.

Final Victory

I Corinthians 15:53-57 & Romans 8:37-39

Old man crab is mighty sneaky,
always creepin and up to no good,
Old man crab, is mighty sneaky,
always creepin and up to no good,
That low-down dirty rascal,
Messin with folk all round the neighborhood.

One dark day old man crab came callin,
Crawlin in like some uninvited mouse,
One dark day old man crab came callin,
Crawlin in like some uninvited mouse,
That nasty dirty devil,
Sneakin in the back door of my sister’s house.

First you first attacked my mama, old man crab,
You tried to pinch her with your greatest fears,
First you first attacked my mama, old man crab,
You tried to pinch her with your greatest fears,
But she didn’t want no she-crab soup,
You tried to served with pain and bitter tears.

You may have come to our house, old man crab,
But I’m sorry, you can’t stay.
You may have come to our house, old man crab,
But I’m sorry, you can’t stay.
Whatsonever in the world you may do,
Everyday we still gonna watch, fight, and pray.

Nothin’ low down on earth, old man crab,
Or nothin high up in heaven above,
Nothin’ low down on earth, old man crab,
Or nothin high up in heaven above,
Not even death, your creepin pardner,
Can ever separate us from God’s love.

So git out my face, old man crab,
I got your number, don’t you see.
So git out my face, old man crab,
I got your number, don’t you see.
You may win this li’l biddy battle,
But we show-nuff got the final victory.

Some say our Savior’s comin in the mornin;
Some say in the midnight hour or high noon
Some say our Savior’s comin in the mornin;
Some say in the midnight hour or high noon
I got a feelin He’s comin back
To gather us together soon . . . and very soon.

Because of Jesus Christ and his mighty triumph over sin, disease, and death, as believers in his resurrection, we have a decidedly different perspective on death. We rejoice, as we anticipate the manifestation of the ultimate triumph over the last enemy when we shall experience the reality of the “Final Victory.”

The closing phrase of the poem is taken from a song performed by the late Andrae Crouch, along with CeCe Winans and the Gaithers, “Soon and Very Soon.”

Final Victory: Death is swallowed up

April 20, 2014

1-corinthians-15 57

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 KJV

The Verse of the Day for April 20, 2014 comes to mind not only on Resurrection Sunday, but the passage also reminds me of remarks that I shared during a memorial service for a church member who passed away a few years ago. I also included verse 54:

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

The phrase “swallowed up in victory” brought to mind an illustration that I used during the eulogy. A few years ago as I was walking to the mailbox, I noticed a dead mouse on the sidewalk leading up to our condo. It had probably been deposited by a cat that may have tired of playing “cat and mouse.” When I saw the mouse, I returned and went to the garage to find a broom and small plastic bag, into which I scooped the dead animal before tying the ends of the bag. In the trash receptacle in the garage was a large trash bag from the kitchen, holding the deposits from earlier in the week.

The small rodent about 4 inches long was placed inside the small plastic bag that had been stuffed inside the 13-gallon trash bag that would be tossed into a dumpster that would compress hundreds of similar-sized trash bags, all of which would be taken to a massive landfill encompassing several acres. I could see that in the same way the dead mouse would be “swallowed up” when it eventually found its way to the landfill, even so to an even great degree, “Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever)in and unto victory,” according to the Amplified Bible. I rejoiced as I saw how God illustrated in such a striking manner just how inconsequential death, the last enemy, has become because of Jesus Christ’s triumphant defeat of him “who has the power over death, that is the devil.”

The selected passage from I Corinthians 15 was used as the epigraph or introductory scripture for “Final Victory”, an original blues poem that speaks of “Old Man Crab”, referring to cancer, the dreaded disease that takes its name from the constellation Cancer, portrayed as “the crab.” I was first inspired to compose the poem after my father, Lonnie Johnson, died of complications from cancer in 1996. My mother, Jessie Marie Johnson, survived two bouts with “Old Man Crab” and after another valiant fight, died of cancer in 2002. I revised the poem in 2001 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the entire poem took on even greater significance.

Final Victory

I Corinthians 15:53-57 & Romans 8:37-39

 

Old man crab is mighty sneaky,

always creepin and up to no good,

Old man crab, is mighty sneaky,

always creepin and up to no good,

That low-down dirty rascal,

Messin with folk all round the neighborhood.

 

One dark day old man crab came callin,

Crawlin in like some uninvited mouse,

One dark day old man crab came callin,

Crawlin in like some uninvited mouse,

That nasty dirty devil,

Sneakin in the back door of my sister’s house.

 

First you first attacked my mama, old man crab,

You tried to pinch her with your greatest fears,

First you first attacked my mama, old man crab,

You tried to pinch her with your greatest fears,

But she didn’t want no she-crab soup,

You tried to served with pain and bitter tears.

 

You may have come to our house, old man crab,

But I’m sorry, you can’t stay.

You may have come to our house, old man crab,

But I’m sorry, you can’t stay.

Whatsonever in the world you may do,

Everyday we still gonna watch, fight, and pray.

 

Nothin’ low down on earth, old man crab,

Or nothin high up in heaven above,

Nothin’ low down on earth, old man crab,

Or nothin high up in heaven above,

Not even death, your creepin pardner,

Can ever separate us from God’s love.

 

So git out my face, old man crab,

I got your number, don’t you see.

So git out my face, old man crab,

I got your number, don’t you see.

You may win this li’l biddy battle,

But we show-nuff got the final victory.

 

Some say our Savior’s comin in the mornin;

Some say in the midnight hour or high noon

Some say our Savior’s comin in the mornin;

Some say in the midnight hour or high noon

I got a feelin He’s comin back

To gather us together soon . . . and very soon.

 

Because of Jesus Christ and mighty triumph over sin, disease, and death, as believers in his resurrection, we have a decidedly different perspective on death. We rejoice, as we anticipate the manifestation of the ultimate triumph over the last enemy when we shall experience the reality of the “Final Victory.”

The closing phrase of the poem is taken from a song performed by Andrae Crouch, along with CeCe Winans and the Gaithers, “Soon and Very Soon.”