Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 4, 1998
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
|The tribes of Judah in defeat
The righteous live by faith
|385: Let Us Plead for Faith
700: Abide with Me
|The Lord's compassions never fail
Don't fret over evil people; delight in the Lord
|140: Great Is Thy Faithfulness
430: O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee
|Luke 17:5-10||Serve the Lord, and serve the Lord again!||413: A Charge to Keep I
650: Give Me the Faith Which Can Remove
|2 Timothy 1:1-14||I know whom I have believed!||57: O For a Thousand Tongues
714: I Know Whom I Have Believed
Two themes run through the lectionary passages this week--or at least I have noticed two. One is a theme of defeat. In Lamentations and Timothy, the peoples and the writers are oppressed and imprisoned. Any earthly glory or honor has been replaced with condemnation and scorn. The tribes of Judah are likened to a widow; Paul the Apostle is in a Roman prison facing execution. The words of the scriptures make the heart heavy with sadness.
There is another theme, though. It is a theme of revelation, of truth, and of justice. It is a theme of the future that God intends for His people. Patience is required, but waiting is not in vain--there is hope! Perhaps the Psalmist says it best: "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land." Psalm 37:7-9 (NIV).
Based on Luke 24:13-35 and often sung at funerals, this week's featured hymn was written by the Vicar Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847. In his book A Hymn Companion, (Morehouse-Barlow Co., Inc., Wilton, Conn., 1985), Frank Colquhoun relates that Lyte served for 25 years as vicar of the parish at Devonshire, England. Three months before his death, his health was failing and his congregation was divided. On Sunday, September 4, 1847, he delivered a farewell sermon and went home to rest. After tea, he went to his study. Later that day when he rejoined his family, he had written the words of this hymn. Facing the end of his ministry as vicar, and indeed facing the end of his life on earth, he had penned words that carry the comfort of God's presence, even in times of sorrow, loss, and helplessness. Read them and consider the deep, abiding love of God for His people.
|1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
|2. Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
|3. I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
|4. I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears not bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.
Although these are the five usually published, the hymn was written with eight verses. The original verses 3, 4, and 5 also reverberate Lyte's deep and wonderful understanding of God's hand over him:
|3 Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as thou dwellst with thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free,
Come, not to sojourn, but abide with me.
|4 Come not in terrors, as the King of Kings;
But kind and good with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners and abide with me.
|5 Thou on my head in early youth did smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.
Lyte also wrote Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven, which appears at #66 of The United Methodist Hymnal. The tune EVENTIDE was written by William H. Monk, whose music appears with For the Beauty of the Earth (92), O God, Our Help in Ages Past (117), Hail to the Lord's Anointed (203), Hosanna, Loud Hosanna (278), All Glory, Laud, and Honor (280), The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done (306), The Head That Once Was Crowned (326), and As the Sun Doth Daily Rise (675).
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.|