and Hymn Reflection
December 2, 2020
Advent 1 – Dreams of Hope
INVITATION and READING
Let us prepare our hearts
as we await the coming of our Lord,
Let us watch for the one who heard our cries
and shouldered the suffering of our world,
Let us anticipate the coming of Christ’s eternal world
with wholeness, reconciliation and plenty for all.
Let us wait in expectation for the day
when God’s glory is revealed in all its fullness. Christine Sine
Isaiah 40: 25-31
25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Lord, bless the reading of your holy word.
All glory to you, God of hope, strength, and love everlasting! Amen!
I really wanted to use the hymn “Hope of the World” (UMH #178) as this past Sunday’s online opening hymn, but could not find a suitable recording that included the tune used in our hymnal. Since it fit the theme of this Year’s Advent 1 service so nicely, I’d like to use it for our devotional today.
Most important here is the text written in 1953 by Georgia Elma Harkness (1891-1974), one of the most celebrated Methodist theologians of her day, and well worth time learning more about.
We reflected on another of her contributions, stanza 3 of “This Is My Song” in our Veteran’s Day devotional.
“Hope of the World” essentially concerns social justice and is thought to reflect one of her famous quotes: “it is easier to praise Jesus than to follow him.”
Dr. C. Michael Hawn notes that the first two lines of each stanza describe Christ’s life and ministry while the last two lines of each stanza call for our response following Christ’s example.
His compassion for us is unwavering, and we answer the call by caring for and about all of humanity, especially the weak and downtrodden.
To that end, may we allow ourselves to fully awaken during this Advent journey to the illness, pain, and division around us, understanding that this is not how God intends us to live. For with this realization comes hope because we more clearly understand what it is Christ asks us to do. It would be so much easier to follow a defensive mode, retreating while letting the status quo pass over us, than to recognize it and face it head on – daring to hope that we can make a difference. So, we begin by dreaming of what can be done and what we can accomplish, both alone and together as Christ’s body. The tools are already ours; we need only choose to use them.
“Hope of the World”
Though not the tune used in our hymnal, gospel/folk musician Bryan Field McFarland sings these five stanzas to a much older melody, DONNE SECOURS from Genevan Psalter, 1551. The text is displayed as he sings:
Dear Lord of our hopes and dreams, we come to you this day praying for the clarity to see the world as it is, and how it fails to honor you. Where we have become too used to the destruction around us, stir in us the desire to improve things as you would have us do. Make the discomfort of death and division so unbearable to us that we are prompted to change it.
We ask that our hopes and dreams be aligned with yours as we seek healing for our neighbor, our nation, and our world. Let all that we do serve your kingdom, and reflect your grace so freely given to us.
Therefore, grant us renewed strength to keep vigilant and not grow weary. For our hope is in you, and only you.
Offered by Joche Wilmot, Director of Music Ministries