Saturday, July 13, 2013

Enough talk, let's sing

On the first Sunday of the month, the usual time that our church celebrates Communion, I preached a pretty dense teaching sermon on the meaning of  the Lord's Supper. This is something I feel quite passionate about as Communion is of tremendous importance to me personally and theologically. At the same time I don't want to make it too complicated or burden people with too much talk.

The whole point of the Lord's Supper is that its a symbol and a sign, something that communicates much more than words ever can - it shouldn't be burdened with too many words. Yet it's important for people to have a sense of what the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition has taught. I firmly believe our tradition is deep and rich, and the deeper understanding I picked up from my theological education has helped me appreciate the Lord's Supper on a much deeper level. But how to do it without so many words?

Well, as usual there was a hymn before the sermon: "You satisfy the hungry heart." When we were done singing I told the congregation that if they didn't connect with the sermon, they could remember the words of the hymn and it would teach them much the same thing. This is part of the reason why I'm so careful with my hymn selections - as it's been said by many others, what we sing, we come to believe. Hymns are important teaching tools, and for that reason I try to pick hymns that have good content - and trust me there are plenty of well loved hymns and praise songs that have a lot of dodgy content.

So when I picked this newer hymn (and by newer I mean written in the 1970s) to introduce to the congregation a few months ago, I made the decision on more than just the fact that it has a pretty tune (which it does). In a few words it captures so much of the meaning of the Lord's Supper and does so in way that fits quite well with Reformed theology (which is highly ironic since it was written by a Roman Catholic).

Anyhow too many words about using too many words. Here's the lyrics and a YouTube clip of the tune.

You satisfy the hungry heart
Words: Omer Westendorf (1916-1997)

Music: Robert E. Kreutz (1922-1996)

Used By Permission. CCLI License #11055634

You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat;
come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat.

As when the shepherd calls the sheep,
they know and heed that voice,
so when you call your family,
we follow and rejoice.


With joyful lips we sing to you
our praise and gratitude,
that you should count us worthy friends
to share this heavenly food.


Is not the cup we bless and share
the blood of Christ outpoured?
Do not one cup, one loaf, declare
our oneness in the Lord?


The mystery of your presence here,
no mortal tongue can tell
whom all the world cannot contain
comes in our hearts to dwell.


In gracious love you give yourself;
then selfless let us be,
to serve each other in your name
in truth and charity.


No comments:

Post a Comment