Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 21, 1998
Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a
|God's assurance given in a gentle, quiet voice
The inheritance given to God's chosen
|126: Sing Praise to God Who
369: Blessed Assurance
377: It Is Well with My Soul
42 and 43
|Our deep need for God
The Lord Rules!
|130: God Will Take Care of
142: If Thou Shalt But Suffer God to Guide Thee
731: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
|Luke 8:26-39||Christ confronts Legion||73: O Worship the
525: We'll Understand It Better By and By
|Galatians 3:23-39||One in Christ!||559: Christ Is Made the Sure
575: Onward, Christian Soldiers
Words and Music by Will L. Thompson
Tune Name: THOMPSON
Our God is indeed a great God! Creator, ruler, comforter, protector. The scripture passages for this week focus on many attributes of God the Father and God the Son. We, His creatures, have such a great need for God in so many ways. To make sense of the world around us, we, like the Psalmist, need God's rule. For safety from the powers and principalities of the air, we, like the man possessed, need God's protection. For comfort in times of despair, we, like Elijah, need God's tender assurance. For fullness of life, we, like the children of Israel and the body of Christ in Galatia, need unity through a shared inheritance--an inheritance in God's kingdom!
This week's featured hymn is often associated with the story of the prodigal son. Like the father in that story, this hymn depicts Christ as He waits and watches and welcomes. In Christ, God provided the way of pardon and forgiveness--the way to return home. When we realize how weary we are in our lives of sin, the welcome mat is already there.
The hymn goes beyond the story of the prodigal son, though. In that story, the father never came searching for his son; the father never called for his son; the father just waited. In the words of the hymn, Will L. Thompson caught another aspect of God--the aspect of a savior who comes to us and calls to us and actively brings us home again. It was an active God who sustained Elijah in the wilderness and led him to the mountain of God where the prophet had shelter from enemies and elements; it was an active God who sustained the children of Israel through defeat and captivity, keeping for them a great inheritance; it was an active God who moved the Psalmist to recognize the need for God in our lives and over our lives; it was an active God who confronted demons and cast them out; it was an active God who came to us, both Jew and Gentile, to make us one in the body of Christ.
The hymn carries at least one more important message. It is the same message that Elijah learned. God does not have to shout to be with us. God does not have to shake the earth, scorch with flames, or roar with the wind. God can be with us in a quiet voice in a remote place if we will only listen.
Born in East Liverpool, Ohio, Thompson studied music in the United States and in Germany. He wrote both secular and sacred music. "Softly and Tenderly" was among Thompson's most popular hymns. "Jesus Is All the World to Me" is another of his works, and also appears in the United Methodist Hymnal. D. L. Moody used "Softly and Tenderly" frequently as a hymn of invitation. It is said that from his death bed, Moody whispered to Thompson, "I would rather have written Softly and Tenderly than anything I have been able to do in my whole life."
God bless you--
God bless you!
|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.|