Monday, April 6, 2015

Blowin' in the Wind: Another Song for the Season

(Blowin’ in the Wind is a regular feature on my blog consisting of an assortment of nature writings – hymns, songs, excerpts, prayers, Bible readings, poems or other things – pieces I may not have written but that inspire me or have given me joy. I trust they will do the same for you.)

We’ve just come through the highest of holy days in the Christian faith, and my heart is absolutely full: I was able to lead Easter worship yesterday for the first time since 1996. Being on mid-judicatory denominational staff all the years since then has provided its wonderful ministry blessings, but wow, I have missed worship leading!

I’m brought back in memory to my first Easter away from local parish church ministry. My wife and kids and I were visiting family in Florida that holiday, something a pastor’s family is not typically able to do. (It had been nearly two decades for us.) But as the pastor in my in-laws’ church stood for the call to worship, leading the resounding call and response, “Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!” silent tears coursed down my cheeks, and I got so choked up not a word could be croaked of the traditional hymn that followed, Christ the Lord is Risen Today. I was wishing I were the one up there leading that proclamation that wonderful holiday.

Not so this year! As a result, I find my spirit overflowing with the songs of the season in a renewed way, having pored over the hymnal’s Lenten and Resurrection sections, seeing again all the good old tunes, reminding me of what I have missed. In the process, I was looking for one that had occurred to me while writing my blog two weeks ago on the heavens declaring the glory of God, Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies, and did not find it in one of those two hymn sections. There it was among the Epiphany hymns, appropriately so, but as I got reacquainted I thought it could also be a good’n to be reminded of during Eastertide.

It’s a ‘greatest hit’ from renowned Methodist hymnwriter Charles Wesley, right up there in my estimation with his Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Amazing Love, O For a Thousand Tongues, and the above-mentioned Christ the Lord is Risen Today, these among more than 6,000 that he wrote! Here it is, written in 1740, published since in over 400 hymnals, Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies.

Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies, by Charles Wesley

Christ, Whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise!
Triumph o’er the shades of night!
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Day Star, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by Thee.
Joyless is the day’s return
Till Thy mercy’s beams I see,
Till they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine.
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief.
Fill me, Radiancy Divine;
Scatter all my unbelief.
More and more Thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.

As mentioned above, I wrote two weeks ago on “The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1),” of the sky’s luminaries and phenomena reflecting God’s grandeur. Yet this old hymn picks up the skyward glory of God from another angle, Christ’s glory, the Light of the world, whose radiance dispels doubt, brightens the world’s troubling shadows, and lightens the load being borne by every child of earth. It’s not the Easter story per se, but it’s what was accomplished as the result of the Lord’s resurrection.

It’s a true truth worth contemplating awhile, and I will. Perhaps you, too.

Happy Easter!

~~RGM, April 6, 2015

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