Liturgy Lesson: April 19, 2020
Call to Worship: Psalm 16
Prayer of Invocation
Hymn of Adoration: We Come, O Christ to You (#181)
Confession: Jeremiah 17:5-10 and prayer
Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11
Hymn of Praise: My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
Reading of the Word: Psalm 1
Sermon: Rev. Shiv Muthukumar
The Lord’s Supper: Living Waters
Closing Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken (#345)
Sung Response: This is My Father’s World (Final Verse)
Digital Narthex (video greetings from CPC family members)
Before we get to the hymns, I wanted to let you know about a few things that we are doing to encourage you during this Eastertide season. These are slight changes to the end of our liturgy in an effort to respond to the corona moment and compensate for our inability to gather for worship. Directly following the benediction, we are going to close each service with the final verse of “This is My Father’s World.” In the face of such monumental disruption in our lives, it seems right for us to let these words echo in our ears:
This is my Father’s world, o let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world, the battle is not done,
Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heav’n be one!
Also, for the next several weeks we will be creating a “digital narthex” after the postlude. These will be video greetings and words of gratitude from several CPC members. It is our way of providing a virtual substitute for that precious fellowship time that always follows our gathered worship. If you are interested in submitting a video for this series in the next few weeks, just contact me directly.
Now, on to a few of the hymns we will sing together this Sunday.
My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
Words and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend (2003)
The other day I gave our 7-year-old an ice-cream treat. Uncontrollable delight bubbled up and a huge smile brightened her face. Then she lunged at me to give me what we call a “koala hug,” a full-body barnacle attachment that is impossible to resist or release. She then grabbed the treat and started running around in circles shouting repeatedly “oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” Following that was the sincere and obligatory “you’re the best daddy in the world,” a title that certainly is not earned and a statement that is highly debatable. How easy it is to be thankful when we get what we want! How difficult it is to give thanks to the Father when our hands are empty. This sort of gratitude in the midst of tough times is precisely the challenge that faces us in this moment. And yet, as people with a redeemed past and a secure future, we have abundant reasons to give thanks during hardship. Thankfulness from the heart is something that our sovereign God desires and most of our hymns elicit.
I’ve been told that my grandfather used to say, “discouragement can’t grow in the heart of a grateful man.” Well, folks, we are entering into some pretty discouraging times, during which the virtue of undaunted thankfulness will be more invaluable than ever. We are told in the Scriptures to “give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). In Psalm 35, the author is faced with evil and ruin, but he is bold enough to give thanks to God “in the company of the great congregation.” This kind of gratitude is the best kind of contagion, one that spreads life in the face of death.
The Christian hope is based on eternal realities. It transcends circumstance. This hymn affirms the truth that we can extol the Lord at all times, and his praise will continually be on our lips. Even though this hymn is normally associated with the Thanksgiving holiday, we can (and should) sing it more often, because for the Christian, every day is Thanksgiving. Here’s what the songwriters have to say about the spiritual perspective of this hymn:
“If we examine our personal devotions, or listen in on a prayer meeting, our thanksgiving often focuses on health and position, family and friends, home and belongings (and all these are right and good – the Bible tells us to give thanks in every situation). But the prayers of the early church in the New Testament never follow this pattern. The strong emphasis there is on giving thanks to God for spiritual blessings – the blessings that have true value beyond life on earth.
In ‘My Heart Is Filled with Thankfulness’ we give thanks to God for spiritual blessings – past, present and future: what Christ has done for us – for forgiveness and new life, which only He could bring by coming here to earth and suffering for us…how He walks beside us each day and having lived, breathed and walked here on earth…how He promises to be with us whatever our future holds.”
Whatever the future holds? Even if millions die and the entire global economy collapses? Even if war breaks out and we enter into another great depression? Even if all of the other worst-case scenarios that Covid-19 may bring come to pass, will we still cling to the unfailing words of our Lord, “Never will I leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:8, Heb 13:5)? Will we take to heart the comforting words of our triumphant and risen Savior, “in this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!”?
Oh Lord, give us grace to know your perfect love that casts out fear, and give us the assurance of hope that allows our hearts to remain full of thankfulness even when the world tempts to despair. Brothers and sisters, no matter what this pandemic brings, we will glory in the Lord; “let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” (Ps. 34)
My heart is filled with thankfulness to Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace and gave me life again;
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness and clothed me in His light
And wrote His law of righteousness with pow’r upon my heart.
My heart is filled with thankfulness to Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength and causes fears to fly;
Whose every promise is enough for every step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love and crowning me with grace.
My heart is filled with thankfulness to Him who reigns above,
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace, whose every thought is love.
For every day I have on earth is given by the King;
So I will give my life, my all, to love and follow Him.
Words and Music by Kristyn Getty and Ed Cash
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That means that a song is worth at least ten thousand (maybe a million). Music is unparalleled in its ability to express meaning beyond image or words. So, in lieu of writing about this hymn, I will just offer up a simple recording. This is me and the girls around our living room piano (which desperately needs a tuning, sorry). My daughters are ages 9 and 7, and these morning jam sessions around the piano are the delight of my heart. These two singing “la, la, la” is so much better than my own “blah, blah, blah.” So, from our house to yours, may this bless you.
Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken
Text: John Newton, 1779
Music: Austrian Hymn, Franz Haydn, 1797
This has been called one of Newton’s finest hymns, and it is certainly one of his most popular. It is known and beloved across the globe. The opening quotes Psalm 87:3 “Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God” (ESV). The theme of these stanzas is the universal church, and its story. The text begins with a vision of the new city of God (Hebrews 12:22) in the first two stanzas, and then looks back to the early journey of the Israelites, with references in the third stanza to cloud, fire, and manna (Exodus 13:21, 16:31). We are reminded through this of the long history God has with His people, and of the wonderful future awaiting those who are, through grace, members of God’s family.
The reason we are closing our service this week with this hymn is because it beautifully articulates some precious truths that we need to remember in a time of turmoil. Could there be any more defiantly and doggedly hopeful words to sing than these?
He, whose word cannot be broken, formed thee for his own abode;
On the Rock of Ages founded, what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded, thou may’st smile at all thy foes.
In the second verse we sing about the streams of living water, which spring from the Lord’s eternal love. This is the love that supplies our every need and satisfies our every longing. In this verse we also remind each other that the “Lord’s grace never fails from age to age.”
The music comes to us from a string quartet by the classical composer Haydn, whose 18th-century lifespan coincided with that of Newton. Haydn once wrote, “When I think of the divine Being, my heart is so full of joy that the notes fly off as from a spindle, and as I have a cheerful heart, He will pardon me if I serve Him joyfully.” This lightheartedness is a hallmark of Haydn’s music, and this wonderful tune is a mirthful mix of playfulness and pomp. Originally titled “Emperor’s Hymn,” it was the main theme of his string quartet in C, written in honor of Francis II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and later of Austria. This tune is most well-known as the national anthem of Germany. The music was paired with Newton’s text in the early 18th century, and it is a wonderful match. We sing this as an anthem to our Holy King, ruler over all, protector, provider, and shepherd of our hearts.