Liturgy Lesson: January 26, 2020
Call to Worship: Jn. 3:13-15; Jn. 12:31-32; Ps. 57:5
Hymn of Invocation: O Breath of God
Prayer of Invocation
CTW (cont.): Selections from 1 Timothy
Hymn of Adoration: Crown Him with Many Crowns (#295)
Assurance of Pardon: Eph. 1:4-7
Hymn of Assurance: My Jesus, I Love Thee (#648)
Reading of the Word: 2 Kings 5:1-14
Sermon: Rev. Shiv Muthukumar, “Missions in Exile”
Tithes and Offerings
The Lord’s Supper: Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean; Take My Life and Let It Be
Closing Hymn: We All Are One in Mission
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Take My Life, and Let it Be
Text: Frances Ridley Havergal, 1874
Music: HENDON, Henry Malan, 1827
Frances Ridley Havergal is sometimes called the “consecration poet.” This is because most of her writings are full of dedication and devotion to Jesus. This hymn, which is her most famous, can rightly be read as her credo. In it, she gleefully consecrates every aspect of life to her Lord and Savior.
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
On December 14th, 1836, Frances Havergal was born in Worcestershire (as in the sauce), England. She was the youngest child in a loving and musically talented Anglican family. Her father was a quadruple threat (clergyman, author, composer, and hymn-writer) and a champion of the revival of Psalm singing in the church. Her older brother was both an organist and a priest (he even built his own organ). The Havergals were obviously passionate about music and faith.
Frances had prodigious talent from a young age. She began reading and memorizing the Bible at the age of four (eventually memorizing The Psalms, Isaiah and most of the New Testament). At age seven she wrote her first poems. When she was eleven, her mother died, and Frances lost herself even more in her musical and linguistic studies. By her mid-teens she was learning Hebrew, Greek, German, and French. At age seventeen she went to study at the Louisenschule (school for girls) in Düsseldorf, Germany. One classmate wrote how Frances would often burst into the classroom singing hymns. Her voice was lovely, and she was in demand as a concert soloist. She was also a brilliant pianist, with a near flawless aural memory. She could sit and play Handel, Beethoven, or Mendelssohn without the sheet music. She loved to travel, particularly to Switzerland, and served the Church Missionary Society. She never married, however, and was in poor health for most of her short life. She died just short of her 43rd birthday.
It is her hymns that are her legacy to the church. She was known to pray over her poetry before, during, and after writing sessions. In addition to “Take My Life,” she wrote such favorites as “Jesus, Master, Whose I Am” and “Like a River Glorious.” But the most famous of them all, by far, is “Take My Life, and Let it Be.” In a note to a friend, Frances left behind a written account of the inspiration for this hymn:
“I went for a little visit of five days. There were ten persons in the house; some were unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. God gave me the prayer, ‘Lord, give me all in this house.’ And He just did. Before I left the house, everyone had got a blessing. The last night of my visit I was too happy to sleep and passed most of the night in renewal of my consecration, and those little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart one after another till they finished with “ever only, ALL FOR THEE!”
This was in 1874, four years before she died. Those consecrated couplets went on to become one of the most beloved hymns in the whole world. I must confess that the third verse of this hymn has been a personal mantra. For a while it was the footer at the close of every e-mail I sent.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
In the fourteenth chapter of the book of Ezekiel, the prophet is calling for Israel to repent and turn away from her idols. They are told that the Lord desires to “lay hold of the hearts of my people, who are all estranged from me through their idols.” The Lord wants to “lay hold” of our hearts. A synonym for “laying hold” of something is to “take,” which is precisely the first word in every single couplet of this famous hymn.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Frances is asking the Lord to do what he desires to do. She wants him to possess her heart, to own her body and soul. And she knows that in order for him to do this, she has to willfully surrender the things most precious to her.
But for her there is great joy in the exchange. She is, after all, trading in the slummy mud pies and getting that seaside holiday.
The fourth verse of the hymn says, “Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.” In 1878, Frances wrote a friend,
“The Lord has shown me another little step, and, of course, I have taken it with extreme delight. ‘Take my silver and my gold’ now means shipping off all my ornaments to the Church Missionary House, including a jewel cabinet that is really fit for a countess, where all will be accepted and disposed of for me…Nearly fifty articles are being packed up. I don’t think I ever packed a box with such pleasure.”
Now that is practicing what you preach! Months before she died, Frances gave up her store of earthly riches that she might gain Jesus, her priceless treasure. Thus, her life ended just like her hymn, the poet and verse now in a sanctified symbiosis. The consecration was complete.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
We All Are One in Mission
Text: Rusty Edwards, 1986; ad. Hauck, 2020
Tune: LANCHASHIRE, Henry T. Smart, 1836
Rusty Edwards is a hymnwriter who was born in Dixon, Illinois on January 22, 1955. He has been an ordained minister for over 27 years, and is currently the Senior Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Marietta, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta). He and his wife, Lori, have been married for 33 years, and have two sons, Benjamin and Ian. “We All Are One in Mission” is perhaps his most well-known hymn. Below is the text (the portions in italics are ones that I have altered to fit our context). I have chosen this hymn as closing because its message encapsulates themes in our sermon series on missions, and it also seems a perfect match for the Perspectives course, which we have just started at CPC.
We all are one in mission,
We all are one in call,
Our varied gifts united by Christ,
The Lord of all.
A single great commission
Compels us from above
To go and make disciples
That all may know Christ’s love.
We all are called for service,
To witness in God’s name.
Our ministries are different;
Our purpose is the same.
To touch the lives of others
By God’s surprising grace,
So every tribe and nation
May feel God’s warm embrace.
Now let us be united,
And let our song be heard.
Now let us be a vessel
For God’s redeeming word.
We all are one in mission,
We all are one in call,
Our varied gifts united
By Christ, the Lord of all.
The tune that I have paired this text with is a familiar one. It is the melody for “Lead on, O King Eternal,” that great hymn about Christian warfare and the confidence to be found in the victory of the cross. This is a hymn tune that is really a march, and it is a good fit for a text that calls us to move forward in lock-step with each other as we obey the call of our captain.
Big Tech has set up shop all over our city in the past decade, and the world has come to Seattle. At the same time the cultural winds have shifted and intensified. A moral revolution has swept across the land at a blistering pace like an irreligious jet stream. For Christians in the northwest who are facing all of this, it is very tempting to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm. But a fortress mentality is not consistent with our calling. This hymn reminds us, in positive and encouraging language, that we are called to a great mission…should we choose to accept it (cue Mission Impossible theme music). This liturgy lesson will self-destruct in 10 seconds.