Easter 3 B
Text: Jan Struthers (1901-1953) Tune: Irish Folk SLANE
1 Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy, Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares can destroy, Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray, Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.
2 Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith, Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe, Be there at our labors, and give us, we pray, Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.
3 Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace, Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace, Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray, Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.
4 Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm, Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm, Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray, Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day. Text Copyright Oxford Press 1931
REFLECTION "Hope is the thing with feathers/that perches in the soul…." Emily Dickinsen’s poem on Hope gets at the importance of hope in every day life. Without hope, we die. There is nothing to live for, no reason to improve your life or the lives around you. It sings in the "chilliest land" and sings of a better time and place.
Hope is also one of the three theological virtues—Faith, Hope and Love. As Paul says in I Corinthians 13, both faith and hope will end when we meet the end, but love endures forever. I like the double meaning in the word end in both English and Greek. Telos, the Greek word for end, also means something to look toward, as in our end, or goal, is to survive. And also the finish—the day is ended, the race is ended. To get to the end, people can often use terrible means—as in the revolutionaries’ cry that the "End justifies the means" often attributed to Machiavelli.
Even in a reign of terror, the ruler will say that certain brutalities are necessary to get to a better place. A cruel hope is even found there.
For Christians, however, faith and hope are what we live by, keeping faith in the promise of salvation and eternal life with Christ, and hope that it indeed will happen. In Pilgrim's Progress, Hopeful is the last companion of Christian the Pilgrim and urges him on as he faces the river. Love is, however, constant, it never ends. It is there in the most awful times and continues: heaven will be a place of eternal love which does not disappear. Love is, in fact, what makes the world go around. Not just our carnal love—which pop songs say makes the world go round--but the love of God runs the entire universe and makes it sing. Christians believe that our God is a God of love. Out of love the world was created, out of love God created human beings, and out of love God sent his Son into the world so we could be in loving fellowship with him for eternity.
If people didn’t think the shut down and quarantine would end, they could have perished of hopelessness. Even things in daily life are affected by our hope or lack thereof. There's no use in doing this, people say, nothing will come of it, so they quit.
Fear takes hope away and erases it from our view of the future. When we are fearful we cower in corners of the room, or in our own personal corners, afraid to walk forth into the light of hope.
So Jesus is always telling us to "Fear not!" and giving us peace. Only then can hope draw us forward into the day. The text for this day, Easter 3 B (Luke 24:36-49) describes how Jesus meets his disciples after he has appeared to the couple in Emmaus. They have run back to Jerusalem to say, He is risen! And as they do and begin talking together about his resurrection, Jesus appears among them. The first thing he says is “Peace be with you!”
He knows they will be frightened to death by his appearance. So he assures them he is the risen one, in the flesh, with flesh and bones, not a spirit. Wondering and astonished, they see his hands and feet. And then he asks for something to eat. A spirit would not be able to ingest a plate of broiled fish.
The physicality of our faith is always surprising. The resurrection is both spiritual, and physical. For many this is the hardest thing to believe. But Jesus is eating fish right in front of them, in a body they know and love.
The American writer, John Updike, a Christian, in his poem “Seven Stanzas at Easter” confesses in vivid language how the resurrection is real. “Make no mistake: if He rose at all/it was as His body;/if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules/reknit,/the amino acids rekindle,/the Church will fail.”
Updike goes on to say what Paul does, in modern images and terms, it was not “metaphor, /analogy,/sidestepping transcendence.” We must believe it because “If Christ be not raised, then we are to be pitied.”
This changes everything about today. Because Jesus is raised, he is now among us, through his spirit, which will clothe us with power, giving us hope as we go about our daily lives in his strength, love and peace. He will make a heaven out of even the grimmest life, because his love surrounds us and recreates in us new life. For now and all eternity! Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
HYMN INFO Jan Struther is the pen name of Joyce Torrens-Graham She was the author of the popular novel, Mrs. Miniver, among many other books: poetry, hymns, novels, satires. She wrote this text for Percy Deamer when together they were editing Songs of Praise (1931). She was married twice, first to Anthony Maxtone and then Adolf Kurt Placzek. During World War II she left London for New York where she continued writing and raising her children. She died there from cancer.
The tune SLANE is much loved for hymns. "Be Thou My Vision" is the most famous text with the tune, but people like the Celtic sound and this marriage of tune and text has been a happy one. It is a fine hymn to bless the day, both morning, noon and night. And it covers us as we go about our daily vocations.
Lovely oboe accompaniment https://youtu.be/9-D_aT8CXyc
Westminster Abbey Commonwealth service 2018
Choir of Ely Cathedral
Choir with organ
I wrote this text for my pastor and his wife as a farewell present. Dan's setting is very fine.
For permission write Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.