Hymn: “I Must Tell Jesus” – Words & Music by Elisha A. Hoffman (1839-1929)
Prelude: Some of you may wonder how various hymn tunes get their names. They are often named for a city or place of significance to the writer. That is the case here: Hoffman’s hometown is Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.
We’re back to a good old gospel song today. Those of us who cut our musical/spiritual teeth on songs like this find ourselves singing them as prayers (aloud or silently), especially just when we need him most. That need may be to share some great, good news – and we run through the hallway joyfully saying, “Who can I tell? Who can I tell?” At other times the need may be just the opposite: we are so weighed down that we don’t know with whom we can share such a burden, and we whisper into our chest, “Who can I possibly tell?” That’s the kind of situation out of which this text emerges, emphasizing the trials, burdens, distress, troubles, temptation, and evil allurement. And each downcast stanza is followed by the closing words of the refrain: Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.
We’ve all been there, done that… and have found it to be one of the great truths of our hymnody.
Today is a Sunday, and we need to be reminded that those people we are about to meet down at the church house are also people who are (hopefully) willing to help us bear our burdens. They are there to be Christ for us… and we for them.
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but let us encourage each other." (Hebrews 10:25)
We meet together for many reasons today – primarily worship of the Everliving One. But let’s not overlook this burden-bearing ministry. After all, anything considered a ministry in the church should be a place where we step in and do what Christ would do if he were still among us in the flesh. Since he is not, he has called us and empowered us by his Spirit to fill the gap.
Every time you start to do any renovation on a building, you have to be careful not to remove a load-bearing wall. Your church may be going through some non-physical renovations – changing up the way things have always been done. If so, be sure you don’t let them remove the load-bearing wall of believers who are in place to fill in for Christ in his physical absence.
It comes down to this: none of us can bear our burdens alone.