INVITATION and READING
Where charity and love prevail,
there Christ is ever found;
brought here together by Christ’s love,
by love are we thus bound. (UMH #549, st.1)
1 John 4: 16, 19-21
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Glory and praise to you, O God of love!
I was drawn to a particular phrase when reading the scripture from 2 Corinthians 6 for this coming Sunday. As Paul appeals to the people of Corinth to not “receive God’s grace in vain,” he demonstrates the endurance and grace of his own actions as he entreats the Corinthians to “open wide your hearts also.” Just as the reading from 1 John above commands us to reach out in love, Paul reminds us that harboring hate, prejudice, selfishness, and discord in our hearts hinders the work of God in our lives.
“Open wide your hearts also” – a powerful and resonate expression of God’s expectation that we, as Christians, are not only called, but commanded to love one another in true sacrifice and gratefulness for receiving His saving grace. This is a theme we have reflected upon several times in our devotionals, and I suppose that is my point today: asking ourselves – often – if we are living, and intend to live, each day loving and caring for one another.
“Where Charity and Love Prevail” (UMH #549) was written in 1961 by Omer Westendorf (1916-1997). Westendorf was a leading musician and composer in the Catholic Church as he forwarded the work of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in liturgy and song. This hymn is a translation of the 9th-century Latin hymn, “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est” (Where there is charity and love, God is there) based on 1 John 4:16. Traditionally used on Holy Thursday in connection with the washing of feet, our UMH hymnal does not confine it to the Lenten section, but includes it under the headings of “United in Christ” and the “Nature of the Church,” demonstrating that its message is relevant every day of the year.
There are several tunes associated with this text. Our hymnal uses ST. PETER, a tune composed 1836 by English composer Alexander Robert Reinagle (1799-1877). I was able to find a recording of this pairing in a service at the beautiful Duke University Chapel. The hymn is located at the 28:27 mark in the service, sung on each side of the Gospel Lesson. You may find the entire service inspirational as well.
With grateful joy and holy fear
His charity we learn;
Let us with heart and mind and soul
now love him in return.
Forgive we now each other’s faults
as we our faults confess;
And let us love each other well
in Christian holiness.
Let strife among us be unknown,
let all contention cease;
Be His the glory that we seek,
be ours His holy peace.
Let us recall that in our midst
dwells God’s begotten Son;
As members of His body joined,
we are in Him made one.
No race or creed can love exclude,
if honored be God’s name;
Our family embraces all
whose Father is the same. (UMH #549, st.2-6)
Offered by Joche Wilmot, Director of Music Ministries