Thursday, April 05, 2012

the Lord is here

I can't remember exactly why I wrote this hymn words; I think it was because I was preaching on John 20.19-31, the whole Doubting Thomas story, and as I immersed myself in the narrative (my usual prep) this just came out.

As I write that, I have a sneaking feeling that I may even have written these words for one of the BBC Radio Wales broadcasts that we did in 2007; certainly they appeared for the first time in our song books at St Catherine's at that time. We recorded two services, one of them for Easter Sunday, and one of the features of that service was a scene around Jesus & Thomas. The music you hear on this clip comes from that service.

It's interesting to me that a hymn based so straightforwardly on a Bible passage evokes within me the strength of emotional response that these words always achieve.

I think perhaps they demonstrate something of how my faith works. Verses one and two are a fairly simple re-telling of the story of Jesus appearing to Thomas & the other disciples, but placing us within the timeline. Suddenly, we are there; he is here. There is glory and grace and peace & the Spirit breathed out over us. We see his hands & side; we see and half understand, for this is beyond us. Half understanding, we look from scars to eyes and see not pain but triumph and joy.

Those words are truths the disciples knew; truths Thomas knew; words and truths we find we too know. We are one, part of the same body, the same experience, the same family of faith. Easter binds us across the years.

And then the third verse becomes very personal. The first half of the verse may be the disciples on the first Easter Sunday evening; the second half is Thomas; the depth of the emotion for me is that all of these words are my heart as I see Jesus. Night is gone, day shines bright, hope replaces fear, and though I fall trembling before my Lord because I am uncomprehending, unholy, unworthy, my fall is halted by the Risen One whose hand now lifts me. After everything, knowing everything, his resurrection (it turns out) is not his alone.

It's ours too.

I saw an old friend last weekend. The first friend who ever invited me to hear of Jesus. We see each other occasionally. We have much in common and many differences. I will always, always be grateful to him for that invitation. He told me he quotes something I wrote in my Salvation's Song book; I say there something like, the Gospel is - we are free to worship God.

And so we stand with songs of rising praise,
and sing the anthem which can know no end,
confessing Jesus, ever and always,
our Lord, our God, our Saviour and our friend.

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