How sweet the sound! Amazing Grace played on a piper’s bag. The haunting drone enveloped me with peace. A tune I love reminded me that lost souls can be found and those we lose to death find faith’s release.
John Newton knew this truth first hand. By grace his life was saved. A reprobate became a parish priest. Through many dangers toils and snares, ‘twas grace that helped him see that all are objects of God’s love… the greatest to the least.
This month marks the 250th anniversary of the most-loved hymn of all time. I was grateful for Neil Hubbard’s rendition of Amazing Grace at a memorial service I recently conducted. Truly amazing!
Jack Hayford was a preacher. Just to hear him speak you’d think you were standing in the presence of a king. And when Jack would lead the hymns he wrote we’d stand with upraised hands and worship Christ the Savior as we’d sing.
Jack Hayford was an author. Truths he’d gleaned within The Book were planted first then watered on each page. Jack helped us see our kinship as the family of God regardless of our gender or our age.
Jack Hayford was the leader of the Foursquare Church at-large. To the church of Aimee Semple he brought cred. Jack helped show that Pentecostals weren’t just feelings focused folk. He was thoughtful in the things he wrote and read.
And Jack Hayford gave us Majesty. I love that worship song. In his lyrics he sees Christ upon the throne. As His subjects we give honor as we pay Him homage due for the glories of His grace He has made known.
May Your prophets find the courage to heed Your call as they strive to climb a mountain burdened for all. Help them dream a King-size vision of a land without division focused on a holy mission where tyrants fall.
May Your prophets speak out boldly hearing Your voice. Help them stand up for those victims denied a choice. Much like Moses and like Martin, use Your prophets as they pardon those enslaved and thus disheartened so they’ll rejoice.
May Your prophets stand on prophets’ shoulders of old, high above reproach or scandal grasping for gold. Help them to make plain Your passion even when it seems old-fashioned for the poor who have no stanchion out in the cold.
*This hymn text can be sung to the tune Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through the Night)
On this twelfth day of Christmas, I’m listening for the percussive rhythm of twelve drummers drumming. But I don’t hear it.
I don’t even hear the familiar melody of that traditional song that calls attention to (among other things) five golden rings, three French hens and a partridge in a pear tree.
Perhaps I’m barking up the wrong tree. It’s entirely possible. The recent “blizzard of the century” that blanketed upstate New York in an unprecedented snowfall unleashed the sounds of sirens from emergency vehicles helping the despairing and searching for the missing.
Rather than twelve drummers, what’s drumming in my head are the snares of holiday travel that kept families separated from one another this season.
I’m aware of the sighs and tears that punctate the pain and grief of those facing this new year without a loved one who left through the doorway of death in recent days.
I’m hearing the cacophony of chaotic concerns related to the recent upticks in COVID variants.
I’m listening to the constant (and as-yet unanswered) prayers for peace in Ukraine while those in Ukraine hear the scream of rockets overhead and the scream of victims on the ground.
My ears embrace the sounds of suffering from terminally-ill kids in cancer wards in children’s hospitals as well as the muffled weeping of countless women who regret their decision to abort their unborn baby.
I can’t help but hearing the sounds of praying parents and grandparents calling out to God on behalf of those they love who are making self-destructive choices or suffering the consequences of mindless decisions made in haste.
And on this day before Epiphany, when we will at long last celebrate the magi’s arrival at their longed-for destination, I also hear an infant’s cry.
It is a cry that echoes down the hallway of two millennia. It is the cry of empathy and understanding. God-with-us is with us, indeed.