We went to a hymn sing last night. My father, my mother, and I.
In the chapel of the baptist church, with the beautiful stained glass, and us with our opened leaflets singing the old songs from the summer tent revivals. The old ways, the old stories.
We need them and we forget we do. We need podiums and microphones where one by one people go forward and say, Prophesy! Hear what the Lord hath done!
And going down front is my mother, leaning hard on that cane, telling of thirteen years of affliction (scroll down on the link to see the content), of a body handed over to pain. And she says greater is He and she smiles most when she speaks of Jesus. And she says that He has said there will be healing this side of heaven.
And I needed to hear it, again, because I emailed one of my best friends last night and said:
That's been rattling around for the past two weeks. I want my mother to be healed. But I don't know how to pray for it anymore. I don't even know where to begin. How many times do you rattle off that one line over and over? Do so many repetitions turn the heart of God? And as much as I know it is not that, I come up empty for what it is. Maybe that's the practice, walking through the valley saying no to the untrue things, one day to stumble into True.
But there she stands and says, Prophesy, and we sing, we sing, and I wonder if these are the days of awe.
Lines that take us elsewhere.
There is pow'r, pow'r, wonder working pow'r in the blood of the Lamb.
I am with them in this chapel, but I am at the altar this morning. I am singing this line both here and both from before, when Body was placed into my hand and Blood to my lips. Does it matter that I should sing this line and think of these things while those around me draw from the firmament of self to make their own connections, to find their own revelations of His grace?
We are all His. All things of goodness are of Him.
And there is pow'r in that. Wherever we look.
I feel bad for the middle verses of hymns. There's a habit to skip the third or the fourth verse if the song is going too long. I wonder about the bits of the poetry we miss in the turn, the parts that we may need hearing more than we realise some days, some years, some seasons.
His dying crimson, like a robe, Spreads o’er His body on the tree; Then I am dead to all the globe, And all the globe is dead to me.
There is something about time buried in the syntax of those verbs.
His dying crimson spreads not in past but now, somehow still, and it is in this recognition that the dying to self comes. Moment by moment, turn by turn. And if we're not singing the part, are we still remembering it?
Flannery O'Connor has a short story, "A Temple of the Holy Ghost," that I have read a half dozen times now.
There comes a point in the narrative where what sounds as if a group of people in a revival are responding to an odd sort of preacher, responding to every I am a temple of the Holy Ghost with a simple, sure, Amen!
The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians that the fullness of God should dwell in us.
Does that ever arrest us for even a moment?
The fullness of God.
All of that.
All of Him.
Amen, we say, but do we know what we are saying amen to?
Since Jesus came into my heart.
Six little words mean all that.
Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves; He will lift you by His love out of the angry waves;
These are the hymns of tent revivals. The last verse is a call to the unconverted in the midst of these singing souls, under the billowing white sheets swaying in cotton-scented summer.
Should I, converted, sing these lines?
Is it not a similar action as walking forward each Sunday for the Host, to make the sign of the cross, to bow, to receive Body and Blood. At altar rail do I not again affirm that a soul that had been in danger reached out and still reaches out, that complete salvation was and is and is still coming, that time for spirit is not time of body, and that though I am completely hid in Christ, who is to say when and how and through?
So I sing. Soul in danger, Preston, remember that Jesus completely saves. He has and will and ever shalt life you by His love.
Amen, amen, amen.
I am a temple of the Holy Ghost.
It is Epiphany, the season of light.
These are the days of awe.
These are the days God, Jesus, reveals Himself to us slowly but surely.
These are the days the lectionary pulls us through healing story after healing story.
Standing on the promises of Christ my king.
Next Sunday night, my mother will go to a healing service hosted by the Anglican parish not far from our home. They are good people, true people, and they fling their doors open wide, full and wide, and welcome all who want to come in.
And He shall be there. He meets His people.
My mother's name is Pauline. I'm going to step out here, behind the safety of the words, and ask: would you commit this week to pray for her healing?
Anything could happen Sunday night, of course, but it doesn't hurt anything to reach out and ask for prayer.
Pray for Pauline?
Could these be the days of awe?
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