Monday, February 25, 2008

and are we yet alive

Each day of Lent I am publishing one of Charles Wesley's hymns or poems. In my experience, the selection of Charles Wesley's hymns that we actually use in worship is very small. This is sad, because his hymns are filled with deep theological truths and great beauty.

Use these as a part of your Lenten disciplines, and share any thoughts or reactions in the comments.

Lent Day 17

And Are We Yet Alive
(United Methodist Hymnal #553)

And are we yet alive,
and see each other's face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give
for his almighty grace!

Preserved by power divine
to full salvation here,
again in Jesus' praise we join,
and in his sight appear.

What troubles have we seen,
what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without, and fears within,
since we assembled last!

Yet out of all the Lord
hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford,
and hides our life above.

Then let us make our boast
of his redeeming power,
which saves us to the uttermost,
till we can sin no more.

Let us take up the cross
till we the crown obtain,
and gladly reckon all things loss
so we may Jesus gain.

1 comment:

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

This hymn, which is a traditional opening at Annual Conferences, has always struck me as odd, until some recent events. In the past year and a half, my home church, an old congregation (established in the 1880's, with a beautiful Greek revival building completed in 1916 complete with stained-glass dome) that, when I was in high school, boasted a membership of 430 and a weekly attendance close to two hundred in a community of 6000, shuttered its doors, selling the building to the Salvation Army. My parents transferred their membership to another UM Church.

I can't say I was surprised, and I was sad. But, I also wondered about what it might "mean" - and I realized something Lisa always says applied. This one congregation has shuttered, but does that mean that God's Word isn't being preached, that Jesus is somehow less Lord than when it was open? Could it not be that this community of believers had a mission, served their Lord, and then, when their time was over, went the way of all other contingent things of this world? Does the closing of this church not so much show us how bad things are for the UMC, as show us the semi-inscrutable ways of God, calling things in to being, only to see them pass once their mission and ministry is complete? Even should the UMC as a denomination end, and "Are We Yet Alive?" become ironic rather than affirmative, would God's Kingdom be farther away?

Anyway, some thoughts this hymn brings to mind . . .