Posts Tagged ‘Wintley Phipps’

The forgiving Father receives the Prodigal Son

April 27, 2014

Rembrandt's Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son

Luke 19_10

As I reflected upon the Verse of the Day for April 27, 2014, I thought of three parables of “lost” items recorded in Luke 15: “The Parable of the Lost Sheep” –Luke 15:3-7; “The Parable of the Lost Coin”—Luke 15:8-10 and “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”—Luke 15:11-32. I recall seeing for the first time the Rembrandt portrait of the “Return of the Prodigal Son” which moved me in a most remarkable manner. That particular parable is a favorite of mine, and I have personalized and poetically expressed my identification with the Prodigal Son, who is impacted and forever changed by the compassion of his “Forgiving Father,” the “Real Hero” of the passage. Each time I read this account, I think of this poetic rendering:


The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32


I prodigalled

and partied

and boogied my

nights away.


I humped and bumped

and stumbled

till I found myself

in a ditch.


I squandered all

of my bread,

down to my

very last crumb.


I had no friends

to turn to

I had no place to go

but home.


I tried to sneak back


but Daddy ran

to meet me

and greet me with

open arms

(like I’d been down

the road apiece,

or just got

back from town,

or never been

gone at all).


He didn’t ask me

where I’d been,

didn’t ask how

much I’d spent.


He forgave me,

just forgot

all the times I’d

plumb missed the mark.


He spread the

welcome table

and had a

family feast

to satisfy

my hunger

and meet my

every need.


Later on in the

midnight peace

when Pa and I

were alone,

we said nothing,

yet so much;

then through tears

of joy he said,


“It’s all right, son–

it’s all right, now.”

The song that comes to mind in thinking about “that which was lost” is the ever-popular “Amazing Grace” with the opening stanza:

 Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I’m found.

Was blind but now I see.

Recorded countless times, without a doubt “Amazing Grace” has become one of the most recognized musical compositions in the English language. Listen as Wintley Phipps gives the history of song and closes with an unforgettable rendition of the most popular hymn of all time.

By grace: A quintet of songs

October 30, 2013

Ephesians 2 8-9


Take a look at the Verse(s) of the Day for October 30, 2013 as rendered in the Amplified Bible:

8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

The Amplified Bible offers perhaps the most common definition of grace as “unmerited favor.” To receive grace is to receive a gift, something so valuable that it must be given away because no one is wealthy enough to purchase something of inestimable value and worth. A common acronym for grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.”

In reflecting upon God’s grace, a number of songs come to mind, hymns from the past and contemporary music as well. Here are five songs, a quintet with the number five being symbolic of grace,  related to the subject of grace:

The first song I thought of was the traditional hymn “Grace Greater than All our Sin.”

A contemporary song of grace is “Your Grace Finds Me” by Matt Redman.

A song with a simple title is “Grace,” written and performed by Michael W. Smith

One of my favorite contemporary compositions is “By Grace Alone” with lyrics and music by Scott Wesley Brown and Jeff Nelson, offered by Maranatha! Music

Another composition related to grace has been recorded countless times and is recognized around the world. Without a doubt “Amazing Grace” is the most popular hymn in the English language. Wintley Phipps gives the history of the hymn and closes with an unforgettable rendition of “Amazing Grace”:

God’s grace is truly amazing; I shudder to think where we would be without this precious gift received by faith.

Thoughts about the 4th Day of Creation on January 4

January 4, 2012

On the 4th day of the first month in the New Year, which began on a Sunday, I happened to think of the 4th day of creation.  Biblical scholar and prolific writer, E.W. Bullinger, discusses various aspects of the number 4 in his book Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance:

Now the number four is made up of three and one (3+1=4), and it denotes, therefore, and marks that which follows the revelation of God in the Trinity, namely, His creative works. He is known by the things that are seen. Hence the written revelation commences with the words, “In-the-beginning God CREATED.” Creation is therefore the next thing—the fourth thing, and the number four always has reference to all that is created. It is emphatically the number of Creation; of man in his relation to the world as created. . . .

The fourth day saw the material creation finished (for on the fifth and sixth days it was only the furnishing and peopling of the earth with living creatures). The sun, moon, and stars completed the work, and they were to give light upon the earth which had been created, and to rule over the day and over the night

Genesis 1:14-19.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day.

Johnson and Johnson

This painting by Aaron Douglas accompanied “The Creation” in James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones: 7 Negro Sermons in Verse.

Renowned African American poet, James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), offers a vivid description of Genesis in “The Creation” taken from God’’s Trombones, 7 Negro Sermons in Verse, one of his most celebrated works. This opening excerpt describes the fourth day:

 And God stepped out on space,
And He looked around and said,
“I’m lonely —
I’ll make me a world.”

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God reached out and took the light in His hands,
And God rolled the light around in His hands
Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said, “That’s good!”

For a powerful rendition of the entire poem recited by Wintley Phipps, click below.

As a practicing poet, I have been notably influenced by James Weldon Johnson, with whom I have a number of things in common. In addition to being poets with the same last name, we have both taught literature at historically Black institutions, and both of us have been involved in careers outside of teaching, but most remarkably we both share the same birthday, June 17. I am not exactly sure what all of this meaning. That is perhaps the topic of another conversation.

This photo taken from the Hubble Telescope displays some of the “galaxies of countless stars.”

A few years ago I recall reading about newly discovered rings around Saturn and other phenomena in outer space that caused me to see and appreciate the magnitude of the creative power of God in a new way. This information is staggering in light of the demonstrated power of God manifested through the Spoken Word of God recorded in Genesis where the account of the fourth day indicates, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. . .” Then almost as a modest aside, we learn that “He made the stars also”:  All the starry hosts with its millions upon millions of stars God made, each of which He numbered and called by name.  That particular passage from Genesis inspired the following poem:

“. . . He Made the Stars Also”

 Genesis 1:16

Seventy thousand million million million stars

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;

Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars:

Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also.

Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also:

Witness to Abraham of what was yet to be.

The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

As the stars and grains of sand, so shall your seed be.

All creation unified by a single bond.

Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars

Express the breadth of God’s love, reaching far beyond

Seventy thousand million million million stars.

On the fourth day of the New Year, I happened to think of the 4th day of Creation and thought I would share my thoughts in this blog.