The words of worship are profound. We sing the hymns, we pray the prayers, we say “Amen” to the words of others, but we don’t always listen to what is being said. We don’t always recognize how much is being said.
I read the words from the opening hymn today before I began my sermon. They seemed full of special meaning in light of the events of this week when gunmen stormed Paris and left so much carnage behind.
Through the night of doubt and sorrow
onward goes the pilgrim band,
singing songs of expectation,
marching to the promised land.
Clear before us through the darkness
gleams and burns the guiding light;
pilgrim clasps the hand of pilgrim
stepping fearless through the night.
One the light of God’s own presence
on the ransomed people shed,
chasing far the gloom and terror,
bright’ning all the path we tread.
One the object of our journey,
one the faith which never tires,
one the earnest looking forward,
one the hope our God inspires.
One the strain that lips of thousands
lift as from the heart of one;
one the conflict, one the peril,
one the march in God begun.
One the gladness of rejoicing
On the far eternal shore,
where the one almighty Father
reigns in love forevermore.
I chose the hymn weeks ago. The bulletin went to press before the tragedy unfolded. But here were words to speak to our sorrow, to speak of our hope, to speak of faith’s journey.
These were by no means the only words in worship to radiate with special meaning this morning. Even the words of the Apostles’ Creed or the Lord’s Prayer, said so often, so routinely, becomes a stance against terror on a day like this.
But these are words that are always profound, no matter what the moment in our lives. For we are a people who need always to be reminded of our hope, who need to be called to our path, who need the assurance that heaven sees and hears and not only weeps with us but leads us to healing and redemption.
Onward, therefore, sisters, brothers;
onward, with the cross our aid.
Bear its shame, and fight its battle
till we rest beneath its shade.
Soon shall come the great awaking,
Soon the rending of the tomb!
Then the scatt’ring of all shadows,
and the end of toil and gloom.