Saturday, May 18, 2013

Great is thy faithfulness and Pentecost Sunday thoughts (pastor's noyes)

For the 19 May 2013 bulletin

The following piece was submitted by Magdalene, which I found so timely as last week I was discussing with a number of church members the stories behind some of the great hymns of the church. Enjoy!
Story behind the hymn:
is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas Obadiah Chisolm (1866-1960) had a difficult early adult life. His health was so fragile that there were periods of time when he was confined to bed, unable to work.
Between bouts of illness he would have to push himself to put in extra hours at various jobs in order to make ends meet.
After coming to Christ at age 27, Thomas found great comfort in the Scriptures, and in the fact that God was faithful to be his strength in time of illness and weakness, and to provide his needs.
Lamentations 3:22-23 was one of his favorite scriptures: “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”
While away from home on a missions trip, Thomas often wrote to one of his good friends, William Runyan, a relatively unknown musician. Several poems were exchanged in these letters.
Runyan found one of Williams' poems so moving that he decided to compose a musical score to accompany the lyrics. Great is Thy Faithfulness was published in 1923.
For several years ,the hymn got very little recognition, until it was discovered by a Moody Bible Institute professor who loved it so much and requested it sung so often at chapel services, that the song became the unofficial theme song of the college.
It was not until 1945 when George Beverly Shea began to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness at the Billy Graham evangelistic crusades, that the hymn was heard around the world.
Thomas Chisolm died in 1960 at age 94. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 1,200 poems and hymns including O To Be Like Thee and Living for Jesus.
A brief thought on Pentecost Sunday
Today is also Pentecost Sunday, where it is common (and a good thing) for many to reflect again on Acts 2. But I thought that it might help bring some freshness to also consider Genesis 11:1-9, which is the OT reading for Pentecost Sunday.
This passage reminds us that sin is a serious matter and humanity united in sin and disobedience can destroy all that is good in the world. It is a helpful context to understand Acts 2. In Acts 2, God reversed the confusion of the languages and signalled among other things a new unity through the Holy Spirit – a unity not for evil but  for good in the power of, and through obedience to the Holy Spirit .
It is in this age of the Holy Spirit that we now live – and it is good to reflect on how we can be united in Christ for the sake of living holy lives and doing our part to usher in the kingdom of God. 

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