Thursday, July 6, 2017
"In self-forgetting love be our communion known."
Hymn: "A Parting Hymn We Sing" - Aaron R. Wolfe (1821-1902)
Tunes: DENNIS, SCHUMANN
This rarely-used hymn has been omitted from most recent hymnals. The singing of closing hymns that send the congregation out after corporate worship has become a thing of the past but were commonly used in the worship of our forebears. Nonetheless, this is one of those phrases that jumps out at me when I DO have the opportunity to sing this text.
This hymn-line is a more poetic statement of "They'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love," and quite honestly, we'd rather sing songs that are worded in a straight-forward way... poetic or not. However, encouraging the community of faith ("our communion") to make known their presence in the world by being people of self-less love is a great way to dismiss the flock.
In our social culture - especially American - the concept of self-less-ness is one of the most difficult of Christ's teachings for us to truly "get." Everything about media and the daily buzz among our peers, our leaders, our coaches is self-promotive. We are making ourselves the center of our universe. We hear the word "entitled" applied to more and more individuals and groups.
This hymn-line is a positive reminder to me - and hopefully you - that it is not all about me... that it is when I forget about myself that I am more Christ-like in my treatment of my fellow humans. In order to not be Oprah-ized into self-centered thinking and behavior, I have to remind myself of this constantly, more constantly than I should. When self-less-ness becomes our natural mindset, we come closer to "arriving" at that to which we are called.
May the faith community to which I belong be known around town as a group of self-forgetting, compassionate people.
Not as poetic, but that's what I get out of this hymn-line.