Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
|2 Kings 5:1-14||The Lord heals Naaman||127: Guide Me, O Thou Great
382: Have Thine Own Way, Lord
|Psalm 30||The Lord responds to His people's needs||479: Jesus, Lover of My Soul
510: Come, Ye Disconsolate
|Mark 1:40-45||Christ cures leprosy||190: Who Is He in Yonder Stall
266: Heal Us, Emmanuel, Hear Our Prayer
|1 Corinthians 9:24-27||Training for the eternal prize||301: Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross
427: Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life
We never really know which actions that we take will have a lasting influence, or what that influence will lead to. My own father died several years ago. On my father's side of the family I am only the second generation born in the United States. My great-grandfather Daniel brought his family through Ellis Island. My grandfather Gottfried grew up in immigrant communities where German was sometimes the only language spoken. Some of these communities retained their language and culture for many years. My own father spoke German as his first language. He had to learn English when he entered grade school.
When my father died, the final surviving member of his generation, I had the burden and the pleasure of reviewing his personal materials. They included many things I had never seen before. There was information about his childhood, education, and professional life. There was also information about the communities where the family originally settled. It told the story of immigrants that functioned as communities of faith. They had faith in themselves and faith in each other. Most of all, they had faith in God. I cannot claim that my family's faith changed or influenced the character of the world or their communities in a dramatic way, but it was a faith that passed from Daniel's generation to Gottfried's; from Gottfried's to my father's; and from my father's to mine.
I learned many things about my family heritage from my father's materials. As a result, I view my faith heritage in a different way than ever before. When I think of Daniel, I wonder about the places I will go; when I think of Gottfried, I wonder about the communities I will encounter; when I think of my father, I wonder about the language I will use. And as I think about the path that was prepared for me, I consider more deeply the path that I am preparing for my children's generation, and another generation after, and another generation after.
This week's featured hymn was written by William Williams (1717-1791). Williams was active in the reform of the high church in Wales. Although he received deacon's orders in the Established Church, he experienced an "awakening" after hearing a sermon delivered by the Calvinistic Methodist evangelist Howell Harris. Following that experience, Williams became a Calvinistic Methodist preacher as well. He reportedly logged almost 100,000 miles in his evangelistic journeys and was a prolific writer of Welsh hymns. In some circles he is referred to as "the Isaac Watts of Wales."
The history of the church during the 1700s is exciting and is filled with many figures who are influential in the faith to this day. This was the century of the Great Awakening, Whitefield and the Wesley brothers in England, Harris and the Williams brothers in Wales. Though there were some theological issues that held them apart from time to time, their influence for the church has lived on. No doubt the good that they were able to achieve bears witness to a theme that they all had in their hearts, and which William Williams captured in the words of the following hymn:
|1. Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me till I want no more;
feed me till I want no more.
|2. Open now the crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through.
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer,
be thou still my strength and shield;
be thou still my strength and shield.
May we always seek the guidance of almighty Jehovah, and may our witness lead to ongoing faith of our families, our commuties, and our world.
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.|