INVOCATION and READINGS
Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more.
Feed me till I want no more.
UMH #127, st.1
Exodus 13: 17-22 The Pillars of Cloud and Fire
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. 19 And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here.” 20 They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
John 6: 32-33 The Bread from Heaven
32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Glory to God, my provider and redeemer!
In his early twenties, Welsh religious and literary figure, William Williams (1717-1791) felt his call to the priesthood within the Anglican Church in Whales, where he took his Deacon’s orders. During this time, however, he became involved in the Welsh Methodist movement, which followed the Calvinist teachings of George Whitefield. As a result, he was denied ordination in the Anglican Church in 1743, thus prompting him to begin the life of a Methodist preacher. As Williams endured the hardships of an itinerant minister, his writing reflected a reliance on God to see him through all of life’s trials. His most famous example was written in 1745 – “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” (UMH #127). His dedicated ministry of Methodism throughout the country, along with his writing, earned Williams recognition as a prominent leader and voice of the 18^th century Methodist Revival in Whales.
One of the great Welsh hymn tunes, familiar to many, is CWM RHONDDA. It was composed in 1905 by John Huges (1873-1932). In 1907, Hughes adapted the tune for the organ inauguration at the Capel Rhondda, in Hopkinstown in the Rhondda Valley. This was to accommodate the English translation of this hymn made by another traveling Methodist preacher, Peter Williams (no relation) in 1771. These are the three stanzas we see in our hymnal today.
As God led the Hebrews through the wilderness, providing for all their needs, so we depend on God to guide us in our own pilgrimage through life. Though we lose our way, face pain and suffering, find ourselves distracted by division and conflict, we turn to God for safety, truth, and light. He is always by our side. We are fed and refreshed to carry on. We not only take solace in God’s redeeming love, but offer it to others, as bread from heaven. And in so doing, we are strengthened in God’s will, and all of us – together – come ever closer to reaching Canaan’s side.
May we find comfort and encouragement in this great hymn, sung by the Morriston Orpheus Choir, founded in 1935, and based in Morriston, near Swansea, Wales:
Guide us God
as we seek to follow you.
In a world where darkness overwhelms,
help us recognize your touch,
your whispering voice,
your call in the desert.
Grant us your strength God
as we learn and live in your way,
and give us new hearts
and new eyes to see you.
Be with us on the journey
From darkness into light
Rev. Alistair Macrae
Offered by Joche Wilmot, Director of Music Ministries