Seventh Sunday in Easter
May 16, 1999
|Acts 1:6-14||Christ ascends to heaven||701: When We All Get to
718: Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending
|Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35||Praise the Lord who rides the clouds||101: From All That Dwell
Below the Skies
598: O Word of God Incarnate
|John 17:1-11||Christ's prayers for His followers on earth||623: Here, O My Lord, I See
631: O Food to Pilgrims Given
|1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11||Christ will restore His followers||513: Soldiers of Christ,
514: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus
Faith versus science. Some people feel that they have to reconcile them. On bumper stickers you find the "big bang" theory restated, "God said it, and BANG! there it was." Other people seem to think that faith and science are in competition with each other. There are signs showing Ichthus (the fish) with feet and Darwin's name inside. Then you can find that sign being swallowed by a larger Ichthus fish, no feet, Jesus' name inside, and a caption, "Survival of the fittest." I wonder who will "win" this battle. Still others seem to think that this earth isn't big enough for both faith and science to exist. For some Christians, if science says it, they reject it. For some scientists, if the Bible says it, they reject it.
What has me talking about faith and science? How about our passage from Acts. Christ ascended, and Christ will return the same way that he left. I don't mean to sound trite, but to put it "scientifically," what went up will come down. It sounds almost like gravity. Simply stated, gravity makes things fall "down" to earth. To be more accurate, though, gravity is an unseen but very real attraction between any two physical bodies. Gravity pulls the earth and the moon together. Gravity pulls the sun and the earth together. There is no "up" or "down." There is only "together."
Of course gravity is not the force that pulls God and people together. Gravity is not the force that will bring Christ's return. But perhaps the concept of gravity can be instructive in our faith walk. God is drawn to us, His creations, by an unseen but very real force--the force of His love. We are drawn to God as well. Again it is the unseen but very real force of His love.
This week's featured hymn was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). It is reported that both John and Charles Wesley had a keen interest in science. They used the scientific knowledge of their day to understand God's creation, while remaining steadfast in the truths of the Christian faith. Faith and science were not in competition. Faith and science were not in conflict. Faith and science were simply faith and science. Both help us to understand God and His creation. If one leads to a deeper understanding of the other, all the better. In the end, though, who we are is based on what we believe. People of faith must be steadfast in their beliefs.
The practice of combining knowledge and beliefs to develop a fuller understanding of the world and a deeper faith in God lent itself to another trait that was very characteristic of Charles Wesley. Charles was known for developing theological themes in his hymns, rather than limiting his hymns to a single passage of scripture. This hymn is a good example. It develops the story of Christ's return. We see the saints attending, all eyes beholding, proof in seeing, and praise for the eternal reign of our Lord. The Old Testament and New are each present. See how many different scriptures are implied in these verses:
|1. Lo, he comes with clouds descending,
once for favored sinners slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.
|2. Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at naught and sold him,
pierced and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.
|3. The dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears;
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture,
gaze we on those glorious scars!
|4. Yea, Amen! Let all adore thee,
high on thy eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Everlasting God, come down!
The Lord went up. The Lord will come back down. This is a matter of faith. Believe and be steadfast.
God bless you--
Lection at HymnSite.com
|Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.|