April 26, 2020 Reflections
Well, here we are with our Sunday # 7 get-together. Welcome!
The story is told by Rev. Nicky Gumbel of a shipwreck at Cornwall, off the coast of England 100 years ago. A 15-year-old on board made it to a rock and clung to it all night. When he was rescued the next day, someone said to him, “You must have been scared.” He answered “Yes, I trembled with fear and cold all night, but the rock never trembled once.”
This is the Sunday when we’d planned to have a spring hymn sing at St. A’s with Group Aeternal as our guests. (They send their love.) These weeks are regular reminders of plans gone awry, right? Believe it or not, we’ve decided to go ahead with the hymn sing anyway! Thanks to Doreen and Craig, you can go to You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWojqts1J44 and find music and words with which to sing along.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken advantage of more at home time to listen to selected speakers on YouTube, (many of which I’ve mentioned to you) while working at a quilt I started around 20 years ago. Before COVID hit, I thought it might be a goal to try finishing the quilt this year. Now it looks like that goal might be achievable!
As well as taking in lectures, I’ve also benefitted greatly from music, mostly of a spiritual sort on You Tube. (I’ve mentioned some of them to you, too.) I’ve realized afresh that our western world has this glorious heritage of large and small groups singing of their faith in the living God, – Who gives us every reason to sing! People sing in great cathedrals accompanied by massive organs, all the way to those who are confined in prisons. (Acts 16:16-34)
If we look at the Scriptures we will find the Jews and the Christians were people of song, ( e.g. Psalm 96, Psalm 98) often mentioning that even God’s natural creation sings its Creator’s praises. Have you listened to the birds singing?
As well as singing the Psalms from the Scriptures, throughout the ages since then, people have sung about God and their hope in Him through thick and thin. They have found like that teenager clinging to the rock, that God has been their Rock. “Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)
Those singers have come from around the world. In the songs that Doreen has chosen for today, we have some examples. There is “Welcome Happy Morning” written ca. 582 AD by Venantius Fortunatus of Italy! He was healed from blindness caused by an eye infection from lamp oil. There is the splendid “Thine is the Glory”, by Edmond Louis Budry, a Swiss writer from 1884. The music is that of George Frideric Handel from 1747. In some countries, it is very popular at weddings and at funerals. What a powerful piece! “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, written in 1923, based on Lamentations 3: 22-26, came from American Thomas O. Chisholm, but made famous by our own Canadian George Beverly Shea, (born in nearby Winchester, Ontario) when he sang it at Billy Graham Crusades in England in 1954.
There are also more contemporary writers who’ve shared their messages of faith in song. Bill and Gloria Gaither, (do they really need any introduction?) from the USA wrote “Gentle Shepherd” and “Because He lives”. Both pieces were written as a result of trying times they’d been experiencing. The same goes for “Through it All” written by American Andrae Crouch (b. 1942) who’s been nominated for Academy Awards for the films The Lion King, The Colour Purple, and Free Willy. In the space of two years, both his parents and a brother had died. He later battled with four kinds of cancer and congestive heart failure. While struggling with losing his mom, he asked the Lord “Why?” He eventually sensed the Lord encouraging him to praise Him. After at first resisting God and then obeying, he felt “strength come like a gushing well. The joy of the Lord came in the room and filled my soul…. If depression comes for anything, learn to praise Him. I know I’ve written a whole bunch of songs about that, but I learned it myself. It’s incredible—the power of praise.”
Today we are finding ourselves in turbulent times, like so many of those song writers who survived because of their faith in God. Let us cling to the Rock. God our Rock is not trembling. He wants to hold us steady. I attached a little piece of paper to one of our doors that is similar in thought. It reads “God is bigger than Goliath.” Thanks be to God!
Prayer: I will run to you, Lord, whenever I feel afraid. I know Your hand will protect me and lead me into Your shadow, Almighty God, where I can rest and be safe. I know that bad things can happen to all of us, but You are always there to bring good out of it. And You’ve promised me that no one can harm my spirit/soul—the innermost part of me that You’ve destined for eternity. Because when I belong to You, You will give me safe passage—all the way to my eternal home.
But while I’m still living in my temporary house on earth, I pray You will not only guard my heart, but also my mind from foolish thoughts and actions. Expose the lies that try to twist the truth. Give me discernment, Lord, and wisdom for the good times, the hard times, and all the in-between-times. Let me never leave home without Your protection and without the spiritual armor You’ve given me. May I place my trust and dependence on You, today, Lord. Like the commander of a great army, You are in control, and You will go to any lengths to insure the safety of those under Your wing of protection.
I believe You want good, not harm for my life. And I am asking that You will replace fear with the confident assurance that You are always here with me, protecting me from harm. Others may try to hurt my body, Lord. But they can never destroy my soul. I’m safe with You, Jesus. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen
(Content gathered and adapted) from “A Prayer for Supernatural Protection” by Rebecca Barlow Jordan. crosswalk.com
Happy Birthday Heather Sheppard, Chris Ryan, (April 27th) Ib Nielsen, Zoey Blum (April 28th), Aria Goodfellow, (May 1st) . Think of how much more cake you get to eat because you don’t have to share with so many people! I know, I know,- that thought was not very Christ-like. … You could freeze some and save it until you can share. …Or not. Decisions, decisions….!
Benediction: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. —2 Corinthians 13:14
With love, prayers, and computer hugs! Rev. Alice