Because of my age, I, like many others in church, have a great love for the hymns of faith that I grew up singing when I was a boy. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t love all the contemporary songs that we sing today, because I do…I absolutely do…I love todays songs just as dearly as those songs from the past. But whether or not you’re talking about the songs of yesterday or the songs of today, one of my favorite things to do is learn the story behind the song. Let me give you an example. In the little church I grew up in we would end every service the same way. We would stand together and sing the hymn, Blest be the Tie that Binds. Here’s the story behind that song:
Centuries ago John Fawcett was the pastor of a poor church in Wainsgate, England. Since he was a talented and dynamic preacher, he received an offer to be the pastor of a large, affluent church in London. It was a great opportunity, but it presented a problem: He dearly loved the congregation in Wainsgate, and it was killing him to leave. After he and his wife had packed away all their belongings, members of the church came to see them off. During their goodbyes, Mary Fawcett said to her husband, "John, I cannot bear to leave!" He thought for a moment and said, "Neither can I. And so we won't. This is our home, these are our people and this is where we will stay." John Fawcett spent his entire fifty-four-year ministry serving this one church. Shortly after making this decision, he wrote these words...
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
That's the verse everyone knows. Here's one of the other verses.
We share each other's woes, our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
This song reminds me of an immutable truth in the church, whether you’re talking about yesterday or today…we need community…we need each other.
Fall break is over and I hope that everyone who was able to get away had a fun and restful vacation. This two-week break (just like spring break) has an impact on three weekends of worship and always puts a dent in our momentum. So my hope, and my strong encouragement, is that as we move into the end of the year we will commit (or re-commit) ourselves to faithfulness in worship, growth and service. That’s something that can begin as early as this weekend as we kick off our annual stewardship series with the first of four messages called “The New ABC’s of Financial Freedom.” I hope you picked up your free copy of the book and, if you’re in a Home Group, I hope you’ve purchased your workbook (the cost is only $5). This series isn’t something that’s focused primarily on giving but on what it means to be a good steward with all the resources God has entrusted to us. We’ll be talking about some very important financial issues that impact our lives every day.
So, to those who’ve been gone, “Welcome back.” And to all of us, “Let’s get focused on faithfulness.”