I would like to invite you to open your Gather hymnal to #598….I am going to ask for your help today as we reflect on this Feast and these readings. I also want to note the final line of the refrain….in 1988 the publishers redacted the original text….the original sings—Since Love is Lord….but since this is a Christian hymnal….the publishers felt it necessary to substitute “Christ” As we pray and reflect and sing today, I am going to ask if you would remember and sing the original text…..Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth…..I invite you to join with me on the refrain throughout our reflection tonight.
At the end of September, I found myself at 13K feet overlooking a vast mountain range in the Rocky Mountains….
The wind was brisk, the air was crisp, you could smell the pine and the aspen and see some snowcapped peaks across the canyon.
And in that moment and several others that happened on that glorious trip, I came to understand a bit more about the God of my understanding and my own place in this amazing universe.
And as I stood there this is what came onto my heart:
My life flows on in endless song above earth’s lamentation. I hear the real though far off hymn that hails a new creation. No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging. Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing.
I think I also got a glimpse of what maybe the Roman Catholic Pope Pius XI was trying to remind us of when in 1925 he established this last Sunday of the Liturgical Year as the Feast of Christ the King.
You see when one stands in places like Independence Pass in the Rocky Mountain Range or any other number of amazing places throughout our world, one is immediately confronted with the realization that this whole world in which we live is simply so amazing that there simply must be….there simply has to be a power so much greater than any one of us that it is absolutely undeniable.
Even though the idea of “King” is not something that bodes well in some circles, or even sits well with our current understandings, I think what this feast tries to get us to realize is that there is something bigger to which we all will answer and bow down.
The sheer awe of the mountains, or the utter magnificence of the Sea….the power of fire to help and to destroy, the gentle breeze or the raging wind…..they hold clues as to the utter incomprehensibility of God.
But where do those experiences leave us? I can tell you from my own initial reaction I thought….wow I am merely a speck in this whole thing….and a tiny one at that. These rocks and boulders have been here for millions of years and even they are nothing.
And then it struck me….As Pastor Rick Warren stated in the very first line of his popular book—The Purpose Driven Life….he says: “First we must realize, this is not about you!” And I thought again:
Through all the tulmut and the strife I hear that music ringing. It sounds and echoes in my soul; how can I keep from singing. No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging. Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing.
You see I have come to a place where I believe that Pastor Rick is right….it is not about me or you….this whole amazing thing….the world, our lives, our relationships….they really are not meant to be about us….they are meant to bring and to give glory to our God.
And as we celebrated Thanksgiving Day, I was struck again, how really our place in life must be first and foremost grounded in gratitude. Why? Because gratitude changes our entire perspective on life. If we held each and every moment—if we held each and every encounter as Sacred, we would transform the world.
Most of us don’t think of Prison as a place of love and peace, but as many of you may know I have had the wonderful opportunity to be walking with a gentlemen for the past several months who is in the process of transitioning from this life to life eternal. As we meet last week for our weekly meeting, and I gave him a hug as he left my office, he said as he always has, “Love you Rev.” and I said “love you too Garret”—as he stepped back I said “Garret why do you say that?” He said…well Rev. you never know when we will or if we will ever see each other again.
What though my joys and comfort die, the Lord my savior liveth. What though the darkness gather round—Songs in the night it giveth. No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging. Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?
You see my friends, we may have experiences of utter awe….like standing on the top of a mountain, or at the edge of the sea, or in front of a magnificent piece of art, or in a field looking at the sky and we may wonder what difference we can possibly make in this vast universe.
And yet if we think about it from the point of gratitude, we can transform the world.
If love is Lord of heaven and earth….and if we would commit ourselves to giving birth to that love every possible moment of our lives…then our world…how ever big or how ever small it may be, will be a pocket of peace, a haven of hope and an opportunity for God’s love to shine. And when that happens we can all sing:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain every springing. All things are mine since I am his; how can I keep from singing. No storm can shake my inmost calm. While too that rock I am clinging. Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth. How can I keep from singing.