Notes on the Notes – January 20, 2013
Theme: The faithfulness of God and the gifts of the Spirit/Celebration of our Pastoral Care Ministry
Readings: Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
“Great is Thy Faithfulness” – (VU #288) – Thomas O. Chisholm, a Methodist minister, wrote the poem in 1923 about God’s faithfulness over his lifetime. William Runyan set the poem to music, and it was published that same year and became popular among church groups. The song was exposed to wide audiences after becoming popular with Dr. William Henry Houghton of the Moody Bible Institute and Billy Graham who played the song frequently on his international crusades. The version in Voices United is from the Hymnal of the Evangelical United Brethren (1957).
“Many are the Lightbeams” – (VU #588) – Anders Fostenson, a Swedish pastor and hymn writer, wrote this paraphrase of a passage from “De Unitate ecclesiae” by Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (died September 258), who was an important early Christian writer. The tune is by Swedish composer Olle Widestrand. This hymn, published in the World Council of Churches Songbook (1983) was sung extensively at the Vancouver and Canberra Assemblies of the World Council of Churches and in many other WCC worshops and conferences around the world. Its message of diversity of gifts used in unity of purpose strikes a healing note in a fracture world.
“With Gifts That Differ By Your Grace” – Today’s anthem is one of many modern hymns written by Ruth C. Duck. The song was inspired by the book Glamorous Powers by Susan Howatch. In the novel, Howatch describes an Anglican priest’s struggle to use his gifts to fulfill God’s calling, not to impress other people or set himself above them. When commenting on this song, Ruth says, “Indeed, faithfully using the gifts God places within us is one of the greatest challenges of the spiritual journey. Will we bury our gifts, use them for self alone, or employ them as we take our part in building human community and glorifying God?”
“Christ Has No Body Now But Yours” – (MV #171) – The words of this hymn were adapted by Stephen C. Warner in 2003 from the original poem by St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582).
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Born in Spain, Teresa entered a Carmelite convent when she was eighteen, and later earned a reputation as a mystic, reformer, and writer who experienced divine visions. She founded a convent, and wrote the book The Way of Perfection for her nuns. The music used in More Voices was written in 2006 by Rick Gunn, a United Church musician from Bedford, Nova Scotia.
“I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me” – (VU #575) – We will be using the first verse of this hymn as our benediction response. This traditional African-American spiritual is from the Presbyterian Hymnal (1990). The prophetic tradition of the black church has a long and rich legacy. When slaves converted to Christianity, they quickly saw a stark difference between the character of God in Scripture and the “God” so often preached by the preachers of the slaveholders. From the earliest example of David Walker, through, and beyond Dr. Martin Luthur King, Jr. many African American Christians have courageously called white American Christians to account for the gap between “slave Christianity” and their oppression of African-Americans, and have called for all Christians to obedience to God’s love and lordship. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a vital part of a rich legacy of African American protest which sought to prophetically declare God’s desire for justice.
Christian faith is to be lived in the world, to make a difference in everything we do.