Yesterday, during my regular Community of Christ congregation’s services, we sang hymn #72 from our hymnal, entitled “Gather Us In,” which the Beyond the Walls Choir has beautifully interpreted in the video below:
As we sang, I was struck by the last half of the second verse, which reads:
Gather us in, the rich and the haughty;
gather us in, the proud and the strong,
give us a heart so meek and so lowly,
give us the courage to enter the song.
Since writing about it a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about how radical the message of Christianity can be. The main passage for this week’s worship service was the feeding of the five thousand, and one message that comes out of that story for me is that there is enough to go around if we want it to be so.
I love that message, and I want to support it, but I am (relatively) rich and haughty, proud and strong. To quote Michael Austin in a lovely post at By Common Consent back in May:
I know perfectly well that I am rich. I have lived a life of wealth and privilege that nobody in Jesus’s original audience could even have comprehended. Most people alive today could not comprehend it either. I have always had a comfortable home, a reliable vehicle, and plenty of food. I was able to get as much education as I wanted. And I buy an obscene number of books and electronic devices.
And I have no intention of selling everything, quitting my job, and helping people for the rest of my life. I am not even planning to sell half of my possessions and work half time, helping people for the other half of the time—even though I could do this without seriously altering my lifestyle or my living standard. I am not strong enough to do this. I like my stuff. And the thought of giving it all up fills me with dread. What if I need it later? What if I lose my job? How am I going to retire? Will I die homeless and penniless and without any friends? Surely that is not what Jesus wants me to do. Every time I read this story in the Bible, I come away grieving, for I have many possessions.
I want the message of the feeding of the five thousand to be true, but I am doing nothing to help bring that message to life. I have sung many hymns throughout my life, but few that have made me explicitly confess my sins and ask to be made into a better person. I appreciated doing so on Sunday, and I hope to have chances to return to this hymn (and other confessing hymns) in the future.
You can use click on the
< button in the top-right of your browser window to read and write comments on this post with Hypothesis. You can read more about how I use this software here.