Blessings of Long Ago and Blessings for Tomorrow
By Vera Entwistle of Eugene, OR, USA
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. —Psalm 67:1–4 NRSV
As I sing the wonderful hymns in our hymnal, Community of Christ Sings, my thoughts go back to some of the early women hymn writers. I wonder if they realized the effect their hymns would have on Christians around the world. Many of these women were wives of ministers and pianists and organists. Their lives were often a struggle.
I thought of Charlotte Elliott who, despite her physical suffering, wrote the hymn “Just as I Am, Without One Plea.” I remembered the story of Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote “Still, Still with Thee” soon after her young son’s death from cholera. Fanny Crosby, who lost her sight in the first months of life, wrote over 8,000 poems, many of which were set to music. Fanny said, “Blindness cannot keep the sunlight of hope from the trusting soul.” One of her hymns, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine,” reinforces that hope for many Christians.
As we use this hymnal in worship, I often see the authors are people I know. I reflect on the effect of their lives and ministry on my life. These writers of modern hymns join writers of the past who have heightened our worship in so many ways. I give thanks for them. Their talent will bless people in the future. God bless them all.
Prayer for Peace
O God, how wonderful you are. How can we help but write hymns and sing for joy? Even amid hardship and grieving, sacred music comforts and blesses us. It inspires us to share your peace.
Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community
Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the friendships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, and people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings flow to you from these circles? How have you felt the love of the community?
Reflect, pray, or write in your journal about the call to be “Community of Christ.” Go deeper each day as you consider what acts of blessing you can complete for stranger and friend alike.
Today, God, I have faith that the efforts I make today will bless someone tomorrow.