As we approach an historic gathering of our church from across the nation, I’ve been reminded of Fannie Crosby’s classic gospel song, “Blessed Assurance,” especially its chorus, which I would adjust slightly, as follows: This is our story, this is our song, praising our savior all the day long!
I suggest that this chorus is so apt, as we recall and live into who we are, what our story is and the song we’ve always sung at our best.
Ours is the story of a great God who is supremely good, creating in love a world very-good, and placing it in the care of beloved image-bearers. And though the story got hijacked and diverted, our great God did not give up, but rather “graced-up” the story, determining to undo the wreckage and ruin, and restore all things once again
The story is of relentless reaching for the broken and lost, the story of rescue and ransom, and of restoration, through a people, then through a Person, Jesus our Messiah, who was no fly-by Savior, but who entered the story, enfleshing self, among our kind, to show us who we are and how we are meant to be, to save and heal us, and then to form us into new-creation people who become a force in his world. A people who learn to be WHOLE church ON MISSION: shaped by a song, a new song.
A people shaped by a song of love that reaches and redeems;
A song of grace that both favors and transforms;
A song of righteousness and holiness that advocates and agitates for the good, true and beautiful;
A song of peace that makes all things well and whole;
A song of freedom that breaks the bonds that hold and bind us; and
A song of praise, not just for us but for all, that extends to the whole of God’s created order and speaks words of hope and help and healing.
If we stick to our story, we’ll have a narrative that makes better sense than the rival stories of the way things are and must be.
We’ll show and tell the good news that people can change, and the world can change, change toward the love and goodness we see in Jesus, toward the well-being and flourishing of people everywhere, and toward the reconciling of all things and persons with the God who never stops loving, seeking and welcoming.
If we sing truly of godly-love and Jesus-grace, and Spirit-joy, light will shine, a better way will open up, and it will seem and feel inviting.
If we sing our song well, the melodies constantly sounded by the created order and the unseen hosts of heaven, will join ours in resounding praise of our God who loved us and gave himself for us, and is himself the firstborn from the dead that guarantees God’s final YES to all he has promised.
Our story and song, which is not only ours, but still is ours, situate and resource us strategically to serve the present age to respond to:
The violence, fear, and terror of our age;
The cheapening and devaluing of life;
The confusion about the human person and sexuality;
The stubborn bigotry and prejudice of the human heart;
The bitterness and vengeance that often drive persons and communities in their responses to others;
The wasting and trashing of the natural world, God’s world;
The greed and avarice that will never have enough;
The causes of generational poverty, hunger and loss of human potential; and
The disillusionment and emptiness of so many who are dying without ever having found reason to live.
We’re not the only ones, but we are among those, who are positioned just right to serve the present age.
This is our story and this is our song.