I visited a new church yesterday with friends and as usual was very critical of what I saw. Sometimes I wish I could go to church and just be satisfied with what I get but I always seem to find something that makes my head turn sideways and my eyebrows furrow. This week was no different. I am not sure I have ever been to a service where a huge America flag was brought out in front of the altar and everyone sang a hymn (verse 4) to it. While I am very patriotic, I do not see the middle of a service as the place for that type of thing. I am there to thank God for what I have been given. Maybe I am crazy and a snob.
One thing I did like was that we sang this hymn and I think I heard the words for the first time. I often come across passages from the readings or hymns that I have heard a thousand times and never paid attention. We sang all 6 verses and while I really liked all of them, I was especially moved by verses 5 & 6.
The great Creator of the worlds,
the sovereign God of heaven,
his holy and immortal truth
to all on earth hath given.
He sent no angel of his host
to bear this mighty word,
but him through whom the worlds were made, the everlasting Lord.
He sent him not in wrath and power,
but grace and peace to bring;
in kindness, as a king might send
his son, himself a king.
He sent him down as sending God;
in flesh to us he came;
as one with us he dwelt with us,
and bore a human name.
He came as Savior to his own,
the way of love he trod;
he came to win us by good will,
for force is not of God.
Not to oppress, but summon all
their truest life to find,
in love God sent his Son to save,
not to condemn mankind.
“He came to win us by good will, for force is not of God. Not to oppress, but summon all their truest life to find, in love God sent his Son to save, not to condemn mankind.” That is so beautiful. I want to stitch that on a pillow!! I love it. I might need to read that every morning for the rest of my life. What are some hymns, or lines from hymns, that move you?
Some of mine :
Lift High the Cross – I know it is over played and most people hate it but it was my grandmothers favorite and it always make me smile. I also love that people sing it louder than almost any other hymn because it is so common. I love a loud organ and I love a loud congregation even more!
All Creatures of Our God and King – We processed into the church to this hymn at my wedding. It was loud and sung proud. I love the language that understands the beauty and the majesty of the earth. My favorite is verse 5 “All you with mercy in your heart, forgiving others, take your part, O sing now: Alleluia! All you that pain and sorrow bear, praise God, and cast on him your care.”
Be Thou My Vision – “I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord” and I love the language of “O Lord of my heart”. Beautiful.
Come, Thou Fount – Being a singer (or an Episcopalian) I adore the line “tune my heart to sing thy grace!” Because I wake up every other day agnostic, I also love “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”