Shalom! Translated simply “peace” in English, it’s a much bigger word in Hebrew than that. It’s “greetings, hello, good bye, God’s favor, lack of conflict, God’s blessings, prosperity, health, ….” I think you get the idea.
Today continues the CUFI (Christians United for Israel) national, Washington D.C. conference in support of Israel. Like many events in our COVID stricken world, this year it’s being held on line. This may be a blessing, allowing for many people to have the opportunity to attend, who for time and resource reasons would not have had the opportunity.
I just wanted to make you aware of it. It appears you can watch some of the meetings free on YouTube, Face Book, etc. and the rest for a $25 registration fee. I attended this meeting in person a few years back and it was an inspiring, insightful, and enlightening experience. If you’re interested in Israel, world events, Bible prophecy, Biblical history, political science, etc. I think you will find it worthwhile and personally enriching.
I intend to do a series of blogs on Israel in the future, showing her uniqueness and importance on the world stage and in history. And why it’s important for individuals and nations to support, defend, and befriend her.
This is just a short blurb to make you aware of this opportunity to see this and learn for yourself.
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Gen 12:3 NIV
“If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!“
I was up at 6 o’clock this morning reading first, second, and third John. That’s what our 2020 book club is the reading at the moment. After a second slow reading and meditation, my thoughts turned to John himself.
What a treasure to have this glimpse into the heart, mind, soul, and spirit of the last remaining apostle, “the elder”. The one who leaned on Jesus’ chest, who witnessed the crucifixion, the resurrection appearances, the ascension, and lived through the days of the early church and then some 60 to 65 years after that, seeing the church, the bride of Jesus Christ, flourish and develop, as well as, be attacked and deceived in some instances.
He also experienced the loss of his best friends and fellow apostles, Peter and Paul, executed by Rome some 30 years earlier. In fact all of his fellow apostles had been martyred. He himself had spent prison time at the hands of Rome. He alone remained of the original twelve disciples, now called apostles.
Yet his confidence in Christ and the Holy Spirit Who Jesus sent to the church to lead, indwell, protect, and help with life — both personal and corporate, is total!
This has him only summarizing the most important tenants of faith and action — a litmus test, if you will, that helps each person and the Bride of Christ to know if they are known by God, and walking in The Way.
He’s so casual yet solid about it, that it demonstrates his great faith, after all he’s seen, in Christ’s life and the Holy Spirit’s actions; that Jesus believers and church will do well and prosper by the power and intentions of God Himself — by His grace. His confidence flows with his strong, gentle words.
This prophet of prophets — who wrote the Gospel and the Apocalypse.
This apostle of apostles — who walked with Jesus three years as His closest friend.
This fisherman from Galilee — human to the core, one of the “sons of thunder” brothers.
Now aged, and seemingly more divine than human in his manner and his speech.
Living in Ephesus, and attending to the matters of the church in that area as led by the Holy Spirit.
Very loving. Very relational. Very calm and confident, while also being direct and kind in matters of church discipline. Calling a spade a spade, but trusting the Lord to handle the matter while casting light on the situation for the sheep to know who’s faithful and who isn’t. Who is walking in truth and light, and who is not. And ways to tell for themselves in the future, down to our very own generation. Thank you John, for a life well lived, and sharing what you heard and saw as a witness, faithful to your call. Selah (“stop and think about that”). Amen.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” IJohn1:1
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” I John 1:8-10 NIV
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” I John 2:1-2 NIV
I’m one day late, I know, but yesterday was filled with wonder and contemplation as I enjoyed my kids at our mountain-top cabin. There were joyful games, conversations, nature walks, and four wheeler rides. Meals together, sharing some suggested songs from a friend, and other worshipmusic, and resting as the time drifted by happily and lazily.
There were Father’s Day cards, lots of cards! And gifts too. My children have made these family celebrations an art form. 🙂 Stretching Father’s Day for me to more than a week this 2020! And family should be celebrated and lived more than written about. It was a joyful and blessed day, having us all together in a peaceful, quiet, beautiful setting, with only life and each other on our minds.
Dad’s are super central figures in families! And I would suggest a bit more mysterious than mothers. Mother’s attachments, love, care, sacrifice are well documented and known by all of us from birth. They visibly met all our needs, taught us, spent the most time with us, and so much more, so that we are forever gratefully bound to them. And yes there is plenty of beautiful mystery in that relationship too, and there always will be.
But dads? Well? I could go on and on about what the Bible teaches and says about fathers. I could point out sociologically what happens in cultures where fathers are absent in the lives of their kids. And the deeper implications of father failure that are felt by children; so deeply they are not easily discussed, studied or adequately known. The same is true with fathers present and active in their children’s lives!
That’s what we celebrate today! Anything good your father has deposited into your life, and for giving you life in the first place.
It’s a starting place for coming to know our Heavenly Father and having a living, loving relationship with Him. So in that vein, later Father’s Day, my thoughts turned to my own dad, father, abba, daddy… and the things he taught me and did for me growing up, and also later in both our lives.
I tried to remember some facts that after just four years without him were becoming fuzzy. So I thought to go back and read a blog I wrote after his home going. I’ll share it again and anew with you. 🙂
I pray you had a good Father’s Day, whether you celebrated it as a father, son, or daughter. Isn’t God’s design of family grand!? It’s a picture of His love, goodness, and care. Enjoy the journey your father gave you to start, and which continues to this day!
With the advent of June, the DaySpringcalendar with quotes and Scriptures that lives in our bathroom is speaking about humility.
June 1: “We have the perfect example of humility in Jesus. If He could bow to His Fathers will, and consider others as Himself, then it is our honor to do the same.”
June 2: “Lord, I ask for Your help to truly humble myself, seek Your face, turn from my wicked ways and pray more fervently.”
June 3: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
As someone has wisely said, when you see a “therefore” in the Scripture, you need to stop and ask yourself, “What’s it there for?” Then go back and read above it, or the context. I’ve included those verses below, and the context is humility.
We really can’t make too big a deal about humility, in our life and in our relationship with God.
In Psalm 34:2b we find the phrase, “The humble shall hear …” Evidently, not being prideful or boastful or trusting in oneself, but being humble is integral to hearing the voice or whisper of God.
We know that satan’s biggest issue was pride and boasting that led to self deception. That’s true of secular humanist too, those who disregard God and make themselves out to be their own gods, and masters of their own fates.
But to all this boastfulness and pride the Scripture would say, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV
In fact the Scripture and prophets remind us in many places of a proper posture before God, “Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20b NKJV
To Whom did this magnificent, all powerful, all knowing God — the Creator and Sustainer of all, exalt to the highest place? And give the highest name?
His most humble and obedient Son.
Could this be the trait about God Himself He admires most? In Himself, the Trinity — the triune One God?
And in His creation? Especially His sons and daughters? Think about it.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 ESV
“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.” Psalm 34:2 NKJV
“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 NKJV
“But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:20
“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” Psalm 11:4
“Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD, for the Day of the LORD is near. Indeed, the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated His guests.” Zephaniah 1:7
“Be silent before the LORD, all people, for He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.” Zechariah 2:13
“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’ And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.” Psalm 75:4
“Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the LORD is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.” I Samuel 2:3
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4 NIV
That was 33 AD on this day. Last year on this day I was in Jerusalem with my good friend Joe Carruth. This year with the planet much sequestered by Covid-19, there is a completely different feeling, but then again, not really for the sons and daughters of God. We know He is caring, loving, powerful, and sovereign over creation and the affairs of mankind. So we look to Him, and we look within ourselves.
Why within ourselves? For His Holy Spirit Who came in 33 AD in power and birthed the church fulfilling the prophecies of the prophets Joel (2:28-29) and Isaiah (7:14), among others. That God would come dwell with us and in us.
Like the Wind
And make us like the wind, by faith following His leading, not really knowing where we’re going, but listening and obeying and trusting Him for His good will, helping us fulfill His good purpose for us by His power — an adventure, happy and free.
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 NIV
Life In The Spirit
I have a nagging thought within me, conflicting thoughts really. One is that the Lord, full of grace, loves me and accepts me just as I am and doesn’t really expect that much of me, because he knows we’re all like dust. That He just wants my company and trust, so we can know each other better. What could I, or any human do for Him really? But two, could it be that I/we don’t really understand the Power and Person of the Holy Spirit that dwells within all believers? That we are living well below our call and station because of this lack of knowledge and experience? And what can I do about that, if it’s true.
I’m going to leave you with those thoughts for prayer, mediation and reflection. I’m sure I’ll be hearing more and experiencing more as I pray. And I’ll probably blog some of it. Let me know if you do too!
Mainly I wanted to celebrate the day and give thanks to God for His Masterful plan to redeem us fully by His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, [Jesus — God is Salvation] and then empower us to live, love, and commune with Him by His Power sent to live with us and in us [Immanuel — With us is the Mighty One].
Happy Pentecost!! He is Risen! He has Returned in the form of His Spirit! He’s coming back in Person soon! Glorious Day!! Today and That Day!!
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28-29 NIV
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means ‘God with us’).”Matthew 1:21-23 NIV
From Ascension Day to the Day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit in power and in Person was ten days we now know. What was happening during those ten days?
In Jerusalem, the disciples of Jesus were waiting as instructed.
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49
They had been despondent, since their paradigm of Jesus being the Messiah, a conquering king, was crushed at the crucifixion. The resurrection appearances, and the forty days since with Him appearing to them in intimate situations, and to over 500 at once, had them reenergized and expectant, with their paradigms again in transition to the Truth they beheld and touched and heard from Jesus Himself. Proverbs says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” But hope had been restored, and the adventure wasn’t over apparently, it was about to shift into a higher gear. Maybe they remembered now Jesus telling them before the crucifixion, “It’s better for you that I leave you, so the Holy Spirit can come.”
“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:25
They might have even wondered, “Might this power come at the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot—Pentecost)? Our Master often does things on the Jewish feast days!” Indeed His most important life events seemed to be predicted and choreographed to the holy feast days given to Moses by God for the people of Israel some 1600 years before Jesus appearing.
But alas, they wait. For just what, and what it will look like, they do not know.
In Heaven, what was happening? The writer of Hebrews answers this question in part for us at the beginning of his letter. “After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3c) The writer of Romans tells us, “There Jesus is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34) And we’re told from that position of power at the right hand of the Majesty of Heaven, “He upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3b) Powerfully Jesus continues the work of our redemption from heaven in the earth.
In The Fullness of Time
In the fulness of time, in this case ten days after Jesus Ascension, on the Feast of Weeks, fifty days after Passover, known as Shavuot (weeks) in Hebrew and Pentecost ( fifty days) in English, the promise of Jesus to his disciples would be fulfilled as the Holy Spirit would be sent to tabernacle with Jesus’ disciples, endue them with power, and dwell with them as recorded prophetically centuries earlier by the Prophet Joel, and after the fact by Luke in Acts chapter two.
“This time of year marks the start of the wheat harvest and the end of the barley harvest. Shavuot also marks the time that the Jews were given the Torah on Mount Sinai.” BBC
Without too much difficulty one can see that this first Pentecost after Jesus resurrection was a deeply significant chapter change in God’s plan for man, resulting in a different type harvest and with God giving a new revelation from Heaven for men, this time not from Sinai, the mountain of God, but Jerusalem, the City of the Great King. And writing His laws no longer on stone or parchment, but internally, upon His believer’s hearts, dwelling with them. Immanuel — “With us is the Mighty One.” (Isa 7:14, Col 1:27, Eph 3:20, and many more.)
This first Pentecost would be remembered and celebrated as the birthday of the church.
The over arching lesson might be, that we should all wait for God to endue us with power from on high, and then go forward following Him in that strength instead of our own.
To be continued…
“His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.” John 12:16 NLT
“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;” Acts 1:4 NASB
“Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” Acts 2:33
Godspeed seems a funny thing to wish for Ravi Zacharias, age 74, who went to his eternal home May 19, 2020, just eight days ago. He’s certainly been in the actual presence of the Lord for some time now, or no time, for that’s what eternity is. But “Godspeed” comes to me now, as we consider his journey, impact, and continuing legacy in Christ.
Certainly it seems to me and most of the Christian world he can say with Paul at the end of his life:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Tim 4:7-8
Below is a link to get to know and appreciate Ravi Zacharias. I encourage you to sit with your family and tell them we’re going to get to know one of the modern Fathers of the Faith, one of the best known Christian apologists in history, who passed away a few days ago. We need to know who he is, his life message, and a little about the books and YouTube videos he’s produced in his life time, so we can share them with others when the need arises. And we need to thank God for his life, and pray for blessings on his family.
You and your family will be enriched by hearing this! Because of his testimony, and what the Lord has done with him. It will also serve as an introduction to Eric Metaxas of NYC who is a great author, Christian biographer, and talk show host… a light bearer in our dark times.
Blessings as you watch and receive insights into the King and His Kingdom.
“Love is the most powerful apologetic. It is the essential component in reaching the whole person in a fragmented world. The need is vast, but it is also imperative that we be willing to follow the example of Jesus and meet the need.“ Ravi Zacharias
I might add this as a possible tribute or gift opportunity in memory of Ravi and his life poured out for many. Wellspring
“Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:19
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
“Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter. It occurs 39 days after Easter Sunday. It is a Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven, according to Christian belief.” timeanddate.com
Honestly it’s hardly thought of or mentioned in most of the largest denominations of the Christian faith in the USA. I grew up in the largest US denomination and it wasn’t mentioned or celebrated. And as I learned this morning, it’s a national holiday in the largely Muslim nation of Indonesia!
How can this be?! 🙂
Anyway, the non denominational Bible Church we attend in our new city as of a year ago has been reading together the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs this year in an organized fashion following the ancient, liturgical church calendar. So we are all aware today is the 40th day of Easter and the end of Eastertide, a period of celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it amazing, as I pause to think about it, that the Risen Lord, having brought to a close the most important chapter in His redemption-of-mankind story, didn’t just immediately return to the beautiful, glorious, powerful, peaceful side of His All Powerful Father? Wouldn’t you have?
Instead He lingered for forty days and spent some additional special moments with certain followers and groups of followers. I suppose because He loved them. And it was part of His plan that they know for sure He was Risen from the dead, by and in the power of the Holy Spirit Who He promised to send to them as they now waited obediently in Jerusalem. It would be only ten more days, the Day of Pentecost, but I doubt they knew when He would come and what it would look like.
So up until then, 39 days since His Resurrection, He had appeared here and there, and according to some of them, speaking for all of them I’m sure, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He opened the Scriptures to us.”
Very understated, and humble, like He always was, there were 10 times or more in all: in the garden to Mary Magdalene first, to the disciples at supper that same evening, in the Galilee on a certain mountain and by the sea, and finally in Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, from where He ascended up into Heaven and out of their sight.
“Following His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus made a number of appearances to his followers—no less than ten of these are recorded in Scripture. Beginning on Resurrection Sunday, He “showed himself alive . . . by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3, KJV) and instructed His apostles and many other followers periodically for forty days. He then ascended from Mount Olivet, near Jerusalem, while the apostles watched (Acts 1:9–12).”
“Paul included a summary statement in 1 Corinthians 15 that provides information about these appearances and others unrecorded in the Gospels or Acts.”
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:3–7)”.
First let me say I don’t know. Only God knows, and He doesn’t make it the most obvious, as is His Way. I just know I’m intrigued by the man, his apparent faith and life lived in his community, and with His God. I tried very hard to search the web and discover who picked the powerful music for the Easter 2020 “Songs of Hope” Bocelli sang to millions that day live, and many more millions since via YouTube. Apparently he did.
It started with a prayer written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century put to music, asking that the Bread of Heaven (figurative of Jesus the Son of God — our sustenance and power for living) Who Is “the end of all Symbols” Most Highly Exalted, the promised One — come help us on earth, we who are “poor and needy.”
There followed two songs praising Mary, the Mother of God, for responding to God’s messenger angel, “Be it unto me as you have said.” Accepting God’s offer of divine life to be birthed within her, as mysterious as it mush have seemed to her, and to us still.
There is within these two songs, a prayer to Mary, not dead, but living in heaven, that she would pray for us in this time of our very real need.
His fourth song with 4th century lyrics was a powerful anthem of praise and acknowledgment, of worship, to God the King of the Universe and His son Jesus.
“O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord the only-begotten Son, The only-begotten, Jesus Christ!”
It ended with “Amazing Grace.” A humble acknowledgement that it’s in Him (by and in His grace) that “we live, and move, and have our being” as Paul told the first century stoic philosophers and men of Athens on Mars Hill (Acts 17). And it’s only by His grace that we behold God and know Him, “see” Him, as the African slave trader and ships captain, John Newton, discovered after almost destroying himself and others — then coming to faith and going on the write this song in England about the time of our Civil War in the U.S.. It’s one of the most telling, insightful, powerfully-true songs of all times. It is a fitting ending to humbly bow and acknowledge how needy we are and how gracious He Is. The ending says it’s only by His Grace we see. Amen.
Snippets from Wikipedia
“Doctors had advised the couple [Bocelli’s parents] to abort him, as they predicted that the child would be born with a disability. It was evident at birth that Bocelli had numerous problems with his sight, and he was eventually diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. He has stated that his mother’s decision to give birth to him and overrule the doctor’s advice was the inspiration for him to oppose abortion”
“Bocelli grew up on his family’s farm where they sold farm machinery and made wine in the small village of La Sterza, Tuscany, Italy, about 25 miles south of Pisa.”
“Bocelli showed a great passion for music as a young boy. His mother has said that music was the only thing that would comfort him. He started piano lessons at age 6 and later learned to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, and drums.”
“At age 12, Bocelli lost his sight completely following an accident during an association football game. He was hit in the eye playing goalkeeper during a match and suffered a brain hemorrhage. Doctors resorted to leeches in a last-ditch effort to save his sight, but they were unsuccessful and he remained blind.”
“Since 1982, Bocelli has recorded 15 solo studio albums of both pop and classical music, … selling over 90 million records worldwide. His first compilation album, Romanza, is one of the best-selling albums of all time, while Sacred Arias is the biggest selling classical album by any solo artist in history.”
“In 1998, Bocelli was named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People.”The Prayer” is his duet with Celine Dion for the animated film Quest for Camelot which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.”
“Celine Dion has said that “if God would have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli”, and record producer David Foster has often described Bocelli’s voice as the most beautiful in the world”
In other places I’ve read he was first married ten years with two sons, and since married several years with one daughter. In spite of a normal life in many respects and a good deal of suffering, or because of it, he apparently has a heart of sincere love for people and for God. Although a somewhat reclusive, multi-millionaire, his wife mentioned that he visits local nursing homes and sings for the residents. Telling, isn’t it?
In His Own Words
Bocelli said: “I will cherish the emotion of this unprecedented and profound experience, of this Holy Easter which this emergency has made painful, but at the same time even more fruitful, one that will stay among my dearest memories of all time. That feeling of being at the same time alone – as we all are in the presence of the Most High – yet of expressing the voice of the prayer of millions of voices, has deeply impressed and moved me. Love is a gift. Making it flow is the primary purpose of life itself. And I find myself once again indebted to life. My gratitude goes to all those who made this possible, the City of Milan and the Duomo, and to all those who accepted the invitation and joined in a planetary embrace, gathering that blessing from Heaven that gives us courage, trust, optimism, in the certainty of our faith.”
In his own statement, Mayor of Milan Guiseppe Sala said, “I am happy Andrea has accepted our invitation. This year, Easter will be very different for all of us. The joyous serenity that usually comes with this day, has been greatly troubled by the pandemic we are experiencing. I am sure that the extraordinary voice of Bocelli will be the embrace we are missing these days, a strong, special hug, capable of warming the heart of Milan, Italy and the world.”
Once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Milan, Italy will mark Easter Sunday by staging a very special concert featuring Andrea Bocelli. At the city’s request, the famed opera singer will deliver a solo performance at the historic Duomo cathedral on April 12th. Though it won’t be open to the public due to the countrywide lockdown, the event — titled “Music for Hope” — will be live-streamed globally to promote a message of “love, healing, and hope to Italy and the world.”
Bocelli will be joined by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, who will be playing one of the world’s largest pipe organs. The Easter Sunday concert will consist of “carefully selected pieces, specially arranged for solo voice and organ for the occasion,” including “the well-loved Ave Maria setting by Bach/Gounod and Mascagni’s Sancta Maria – uplifting sacred music repertoire on a day symbolic of the renewal of life.”
Andrea Bocelli performed a special online concert from the Duomo cathedral in Milan this Easter Sunday (12 April 2020).
Entitled ‘Music for Hope’, Bocelli’s concert was poignantly performed without an audience and instead streamed globally via Bocelli’s YouTube channel, in light of social distancing measures in place across the globe to stem the spread of coronavirus. Bocelli was joined – at distance, of course – by cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, who provided accompaniment for his chosen pieces. Selected to communicate a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the rest of the world during this difficult time, the pieces included the popular Bach/Gounod setting of ‘Ave Maria’ and Mascagni’s ‘Sancta Maria’, as well as an arrangement of John Newton’s enduring ‘Amazing Grace.’
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It is Easter this Sunday. And in Milan, the renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will be sending a message of love and hope to the world, especially Italy, which has seen more death in this pandemic than any country.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PANIS ANGELICUS”)
ANDREA BOCELLI: (Singing in non-English language).
GREENE: “Panis Angelica” (ph) is one of the songs Bocelli will be performing Sunday at the Milan Cathedral, which is known as the Duomo.
BOCELLI: Many times, I’ve performed this piece also in front of the pope, for example. It’s a beautiful page of music.
GREENE: On Sunday, there will be no audience because of the pandemic, just Bocelli and his organist in the empty cathedral. He’ll livestream this concert on his YouTube channel for free. Bocelli joined me from his home outside Milan, where he and his family have been staying put, mostly. He says he knows how many Italians have been suffering through this. And he feels fortunate.
BOCELLI: For us – it’s very bad to say this, but I dreamed throughout my life to have a period to rest myself, to stay with my family, to speak with my sons, and I had. But anyway, I am privileged because I’m in my house with my families. And I’m – everything’s OK here.
GREENE: He was speaking to me along with his wife, Veronica. And as we were setting up, I could hear the tinkling of their piano. I mean, the idea of Andrea Bocelli playing for us in a moment like we’re in was a wonderful thought. Though, we were warned not to get our hopes up.
Who’s playing the piano?
BOCELLI: Me (laughter). It’s me.
GREENE: Yeah? Have you been playing a lot of piano during – while you’ve been home?
BOCELLI: Yes, yes. Many times during the day, I go to play the piano because it my first…
VERONICA BERTI: Hobby.
BOCELLI: Hobby (laughter).
BERTI: …And work. Work and hobby both go together.
GREENE: That’s great. Well, I want to hear about Easter Sunday. Andrea, you – the mayor of Milan invited you to do this show.
GREENE: Why did you decide to accept the invitation?
BOCELLI: Because I think that, in this moment, music can help. And in this moment, I think it’s very important to do our best to create positivity among the people. My idea – my will will be to help people don’t lose the hope.
GREENE: Well, I know the Duomo in Milan and the square would normally be very crowded on Easter Sunday. Is it going to be strange to be there and performing with almost no one else there?
BOCELLI: No. It’s not strange because this is not a concert. Basically, this is only a prayer. I really hope that people listening my singing can pray with me.
“This is only a prayer. I really hope that people listening … can pray with me.”
Sounds to me like someone who sees…. Amen?
Lord have mercy on our straying nation and world. Show us our blindness — help us see. Amaze us again, please, by your grace. Amen.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” II Chron 16:9
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7
Beautiful, sincere, and recorded previously in NYC — “The Prayer”
[The NYC version has been removed by Youtube. This one is inferior but worthy of your time and mediation.]
First let me say, “I don’t know.” But as a student of history and the Bible I’ve seen many times that things happen in certain places for a reason. It seems plain to see that it happens that way, but seldom do we see in the spiritual realm, why?
But this Easter 2020 performance, or prayer, as Andrea Bocelli called it, live on YouTube, has so captured my imagination and spiritual hunger, that I’ve tried to look into it as much as I can. To see its fuller meaning, if the Lord would reveal some of it to me.
I know I can’t linger here too much longer. I need to move on to journaling, listening, writing about the next big thing He’s showing me — Grace. In many ways this Easter 2020 event is a good trumpet or launching point for looking at Grace, and its practical work, mystical work, and spiritual work in our lives. It would seem I’ve been blind to how important it is, but now I (am beginning to) see.
“Amazing Grace,” ended Bocelli’s prayer from Milan, Italy, April 12, 2020 — Easter Sunday, in a city and world silenced by a plague called COVID-19.
Snippets from Wikipedia
“Milan, Italy is an ancient city in northern Italy first settled in about 400 BC by Celts. The settlement was conquered by the Romans in 222 BC. Diocletian divided the Roman Empire, choosing the eastern half for himself, making Milan the seat of the western half of the empire, from which Maximian ruled, in the late 3rd and early 4th century AD. In 313 AD Emperors Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan, which officially ended the persecution of Christians.”
“ In 1450 Milan was conquered by Francesco Sforza, which ushered Milan into becoming one of the leading cities of the Italian Renaissance.”
“In 1629 The Great Plague of Milan killed about 60,000 people out of a total population of about 130,000. This even is considered one of the last great outbreaks of what was a pandemic that ravaged Europe for several centuries, beginning with the Black Death.”
“Napoleon invaded Italy in 1796, and later declared Milan the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. After Napoleon’s occupation ended the Congress of Vienna returned Lombardy and Milan to Austrian control in 1815. This is the period when Milan became a center for lyric opera.”
“With the unification of the country Milan became the dominant commercial center of northern Italy. In 1919 Benito Mussolini rallied the Blackshirts for the first time in Milan, and later they began their March on Rome from Milan. During World War II Milan was extensively damaged by Allied bombings. Upon the surrender of Italy in 1943 German forces occupied northern Italy until the end of the war in 1945. Members of the Italian resistance in Milan took control of the city and executed Mussolini, his mistress and other leaders of his Fascist government by hanging in Milan.”
“Since the end of World War II Italy experienced an economic boom. From 1951 until 1967 the population of Milan grew from 1.3 million to 1.7 million. The city was reconstructed, but in the late 1960s and early 1970s the city suffered from a huge wave of street violence, labor strikes and political terrorism. During the 1980s Milan became one of the world’s fashion capitals.”
“In March 2020 Lombardy had the majority of Italy’s cases of Covid-19 during the 2019-2020 worldwide coronavirus pandemic, with the highest rate of death in the world.”
[Bolding for emphasis is mine.]
Duomo — The Cathedral
“Milan Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Milano) is the cathedral church of Milan, Lombardy, Italy.”’
“The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete: construction began in 1386, and the final details were completed in 1965. It is the largest church in Italy—the larger St. Peter’s Basilica is in the State of Vatican City, a sovereign nation—and the second largest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world.”
“At the end of the fifteenth century the greatest architects and artists of the time, including Leonardo da Vinci, tried to accomplish the difficult task of designing the tiburium.”
“The 5-manual, 225-rank pipe-organ, built jointly by the Tamburini and Mascioni Italian organbuilding firms on Mussolini’s command, is currently the largest organ in all of Italy.”
“The American writer and journalist Mark Twain visited Milan in the summer of 1867. He dedicated chapter 18 of ‘Innocents Abroad’ to Milan Cathedral, including many physical and historical details, and a visit to the roof. He describes the Duomo as follows:
What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems …a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath!… The central one of its five great doors is bordered with a bas-relief of birds and fruits and beasts and insects, which have been so ingeniously carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures– and the figures are so numerous and the design so complex, that one might study it a week without exhausting its interest…everywhere that a niche or a perch can be found about the enormous building, from summit to base, there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself…Away above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond. … (Up on) the roof…springing from its broad marble flagstones, were the long files of spires, looking very tall close at hand, but diminishing in the distance…We could see, now, that the statue on the top of each was the size of a large man, though they all looked like dolls from the street… They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter’s at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands.”
I’m struck by many of the Duomo’s features, but especially the very high statue on the spire, and the extremely large crown at the churches center, homage to Christ the reigning and soon coming King. Amen. [Psalm 2]
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” [Revelation 22:17,21-22]