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HYMN FOR EASTER 3 LOVE DIVINE, ALL LOVE EXCELLING

Text; Charles Wesley (1709-1788)        Tune: Hyfrydol Rowland Huw Prichard (1811-1887) Beecher: John Zundel (1815-1882) Blauenwern: William Penfro Rowlands (1860-1937)


Jesus with disciples after resurrection.

1 Love divine, all loves excelling,

joy of heav'n to earth come down,

fix in us Thy humble dwelling;

all Thy faithful mercies crown!

Jesus, Thou art all compassion

,pure, unbounded love Thou art;

visit us with Thy salvation;

enter every trembling heart

.

2 Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit

into every troubled breast!

Let us all in Thee inherit,

let us find the promised rest.

Take away our love of sinning;

Alpha and Omega be;

end of faith, as its beginning,

set our hearts at liberty.


3 Come, Almighty to deliver;

let us all Thy life receive;

suddenly return and never,

nevermore Thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing,

serve Thee as Thy hosts above;

pray, and praise Thee without ceasing,

glory in Thy perfect love.


4 Finish then, Thy new creation;

pure and spotless let us be;

let us see Thy great salvation

perfectly restored in Thee.

Changed from glory into glory,

till in heav'n we take our place,

till we cast our crowns before Thee,

lost in wonder, love, and praise.


REFLECTIONS

Emmaus. by Rembrandt

(NB: I have started sending these out early in the week so readers can contemplate the hymn and text for the next Sunday and even pray that the service, its hymns, prayers, sacraments and sermon, will be edifying to all who come--an old practice.)


This is a remarkable hymn for a remarkable event in Jesus’ and our lives. Jesus, having vanished from the couple at Emmaus, appears in the upper room, where they now are. He assures the disciples that he is indeed risen and in the flesh, which he proves by eating broiled fish and honeycomb! A church supper! Then he teaches them more about himself, what his death and resurrection mean, and tells them they should preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. As Wesley has it, he is “visit[ing] them with his salvation!”


This is indeed Love Divine, All Love excelling! I have been stewing about the church since COVID. What is clear now is the epidemic of loneliness and anomie that has come upon our people especially the young. When the "experts" talk about the need for friendship and being part of a community, they seem to have not ever heard about the church. And maybe they haven’t.


I spoke with a younger person a couple of weeks ago who talked about wanting to find ways to get people of his generation to come and be around a congregation just to find out what the church is about. They have no idea, he said. And gave testimony to the importance it had for him as he was searching for help in a time of trouble. His generation desperately needs to be included and loved the way a congregation can.


That is, in fact, what the whole Christian enterprise is about. Lately I have been thinking that every congregation needs, besides a pastor, a chef and a nurse. People will come to eat together. And it isn’t for the food they receive. In being together they find solace and relationships. It has always struck me how significant the family meal is. In many ways the act of making a meal for the family, getting the kids to set the table and wash the dishes, brings the family together. And lest sheer common sense doesn’t teach us that, we do have the experts whose research says that those who grew up in families where the evening meal, at least, was sacrosanct, have done the best in their adult lives. Jesus eats with his disciples a lot and here he proves he was human by eating with them. Those of us who are single especially need church time together over some kind of repast. It is vital.


We are flesh, miracles of God's creation. How our bodies respond to the daily rhythms of sleep and waking, to the light and darkness, to the food we eat and with whom, are all intricately related. Our modern lives in some ways could be described as a flight from nature in search of conveniences. In our outreach we can speak to the lonely who are longing for what they really don’t even know about, that we have what will heal them and make them thrive, both in body and spirit. Not only can we feed their bodies with good things, we feed their souls with heavenly food.


Note. I am not talking about merely giving money to food banks and salving our consciences that way. While that is important--Jesus did feed thousands with his miracles, Scripture is filled with his eating together with small groups.This is our model for church dinners and coffees. Jesus shows us what can happen when small groups eat together, helping an actual person one or two at a time. That is why small groups make even the largest congregations flourish. The church is not about making people feel cared for in the abstract, but about actual human contact. Seeing all the need out there may make us try to feed the thousands which we do through hunger drives, but on a personal level, it is not what gives succor.


We are called to do what we can for the neighbor we can see and touch--especially those in our family and group of acquaintances. (One thinks of Mrs. Jellyby in Dickens whose children went without food and care while she devoted herself to writing letters to Parliament on the needs elsewhere.) Home is where we start. This is love divine, where the loving spirit of Jesus is breathed into everyone in our midst, person to person, mouthful to mouthful. As people of the incarnation, we know the Spirit hovers in, with under and through all we do in Jesus’ name.

Charles Wesley

HYMN INFO

First published in Wesley’s Hymns for those that seek, and those that have Redemption in the Blood of Christ (1747), this has gone on to become one of Wesley’s most beloved hymns—out of the over 7000 he wrote. Charles Wesley and his brother John Wesley, founders of Methodism, changed England and much of the English speaking world with their preaching and hymns. For those who want to know more on them, follow this link. The tunes popular for this text are at least these three below.


LINKS

Blauenwern/Welsh/William and Kate’s Wedding in Westminster Abbey

 

Welsh hymn sing!

 

Beecher by John Zundel

 

Hyfrydol/St. Olaf Christmas Concert

 

Mormon Tabernacle Choir


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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