Sundays after Pentecost
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
|Repentance and deliverance
Judgment at the Lord's return
|355: Depth of Mercy
384: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
730: O Day of God, Draw Nigh
Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12
|The Lord's people lift their eyes to Him
Our days are numbered; seek a heart of wisdom
|530: Are Ye Able
539: O Spirit of the Living God
727: O What Their Joy and Their Glory Must Be
|Matthew 25:14-30||Stewardship of the talents||650: Give Me the Faith Which Can
587: Bless Thou the Gifts
|1 Thessalonians 5:1-11||Be prepared for the end times||413: A Charge to Keep I Have
720: Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying
Thanksgiving is coming quickly. For some of us, though, it is already here. We all go through changes from time to time. Sometimes those changes are painful. But even in the midst of pain we can find encouragement. We can find solace. We can find peace. We can find friendship.
Over the years I have personally known the joy of being lifted up by those around me. From my family, to my church, to my office, to Boy Scouts, there has been no lack of prayers and support for me. No less than these, I have also been lifted up in prayers by a wonderful, online community of faith around the world--a community of people who will probably never see me or speak to me. The only connection that we share is a faith and a desire to lift up every member of the body of Christ. And I have felt your prayers lifting me up in all things. From the sorrow of my father's passing many years ago to the exhilaration of opening a new retreat center; from careers that end and take off again; from parents to children and then grandchildren. It all overwhelms me with the full range of human emotions. And through it all, my "virtual" church family has been there, on every continent in every circumstance.
The virtual church family has become more real to me. For four years I had a job rotating between the United States and Angola. Most of my time in Africa I was stationed inside of a camp that still has a perimeter barrier with barbed wire fences and land mines. For the last several months, though, I was able to work from Luanda where I attended Sunday evening worship services at the Luanda Central United Methodist Church. During that time I came to learn that they had been using HymnSite.com's hymn suggestions for years. We developed a bond that I treasure to this day. What a blessing!
This week's featured hymn appeared in these pages not long ago. It shares the story of John Fawcett, a minister who was appointed to a small church in a very poor community. He was given an opportunity to "move up" to a large church in London, bringing a nicer home, higher pay, and considerably more "clout." When they were packed and ready to go, though, his wife said that she could not bear to leave this community that she had grown to love. He shared the same feelings. They unpacked their belongings and never did move to London.
The following words were written by Fawcett because of that experience. I share them again with you because of the bond that has reached out and held me so firmly and tenderly. As you read these words, please know that I want you to accept them from me as an expression of my appreciation for all of you who also labor in the body of Christ:
|1. Blest be the tie that binds
our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above.
|2. Before our Father's throne
we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
our comforts and our cares.
|3. We share each other's woes,
our mutual burdens bear;
and often for each other flows
the sympathizing tear.
|4. When we asunder part,
it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart,
and hope to meet again.
Blest Be the Tie That Binds! Amen!
God bless you--
Lection at HymnSite.com
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.|