“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:33, NIV
For as long as anyone can remember, it has been the opening hymn of every clergy session at every Annual Conference gathering. “And are we yet alive,” we clergy sing, intoning the words of none other than Charles Wesley. We sing the whole thing. All six verses. Every year.
And to be honest, it has never been my favorite hymn. It has always felt a bit dirge-like to me, lacking in energy. Not the kind of hymn I’d necessarily choose for four hundred clergy to sing first thing in the morning, pre-coffee, when the answer to the question “And are we yet alive?” still seems a bit up in the air. But tradition is tradition. “And are we yet alive,” I sing with my fellow clergy.
Yet this un-favorite hymn of mine found its way into my mind’s ear today. Not the first verse, but the third. I couldn’t remember the words exactly, so I grabbed my hymnal and turned to the familiar page:
What troubles have we seen,
what mighty conflicts past,
and fears within,
since we assembled last!
What troubles have we seen… since we assembled last! Charles Wesley may have penned those words nearly three hundred years ago, but they are words for this moment. What troubles have we seen… since we assembled last.
Since last we gathered for worship, more than seven Sundays ago, we’ve seen some troubles. We’ve grieved some losses. We’ve experienced some pains. When we gather together again, at some point in the future, we won’t be the same people we once were. Our experiences in the midst of this pandemic will have changed us.
That may all sound a little too real this early in the morning. Yet I’m mindful of the fourth verse of that same hymn, too… the verse that comes after all this talk of troubles and conflicts and fightings and fears:
Yet out of all,
the Lord, hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford,
and hides our life above.
Verse three may feel a little too real at the moment… but verse four is still true, too. God will bring us out of it all. God, by love, will bring us out of it all. This God of ours knows a thing or two about overcoming trouble, after all. We learned that much from our scripture for today.
Perhaps we’ll sing these words on that first day when we worship together. I can’t wait to sing them with you. I can’t wait for us to remind one another that God has brought us through.
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
Want to know more?
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- View previous devotionals: https://wesleychurch.com/pastor-candys-devotionals-2/