How Great Thou Art
Tonight, after the evening meeting, our worship leader goes up to the piano and leads us in this hymn, "How Great Thou Art". (warning: don't click on the 'play song' button - it will kill the moment for you!) Of course, you had to be there, to really appreciate it, because context is everything. But on this night, heaven opened for many of us who were there. I'm trying to think of why it opened for me and I can think of several reasons:
1. I first heard the hymn when I was at a Billy Graham conference in Fresno in the early 60's, and now that Billy Graham has preached his last crusdae, the end of his era, and the end of a ministry marked by incredible integrity and devotion to Christ, makes me long for eternity when we, all of us from the differenat ages and generations, will be together.
2. The day was filled with conversations having to do with the suffering of this world, and that verse about Christ coming and taking us home (home, where there's no more cancer, or crying, or divorce, or war, or injustice, or poverty, or AIDS) filled us all with a collective longing for Christ to just step in, any time now would be find thank you, and bring His reign to culmination, so that all of the mess might be done away with.
3. The verse about the forest and birds singing has been very real this whole trip, as the song birds have been spectacular, both here and at the place we stayed in San Francisco. Of course, the mountain grandeur is here to, as I look at my window to 9000' peaks across the creek, as we sit here at 5k. God's majesty is heavy in this place.
And finally, time alone, away from any family has the effect of making me long for that final closure, that final time when there is no more separation, only reunion; no more sickness, only healing; no more dying, only resurrection life. Then we will all be gathered together at the feet of Christ worshipping this One who will finally bring peace and glory to His creation.
Yes, it's tough preparing a sermon on homosexuality, and preparing a budget for the coming year as we face the challenges and opportunities of a new facility, and dealing with the sea of human hurt that is ever present in pastoral care and ministry. But tonight, for some reason, heaven opened up, as we sang the song that allowed me to set all my cares aside for a little and just say, with a full heart of gratitude: Indeed. How Great Thou Art!