‘Empty’ Does Not Mean ‘Over’: Chair

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 14:15-24.

The wonderful folks of Tuskawilla UMC introduced me to a new beloved anthem. It is a cherished song that the choir and soloists alike sang as part of celebrations of life called “Untitled Hymn” by artist Chris Rice. It has since been called “Come to Jesus” as that is a repeated refrain throughout the song.

It is a bittersweet melody. It is a song of comfort and of sorrow. For it is, in a way, a musical representation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, whose refrain is “there is a time for (this) and a time for (that).” In “Untitled Hymn” Chris Rice explores some of the most fragile moments of our human experience and offers to hearers an invitation of what to do when it is “time.”

You may listen to a recording of the song by following the link contained here.

The last time I heard “Untitled Hymn” sung in worship, it was sung by my dear family friend, Alex Lilly, for his beloved Grandmere, at her celebration of life. I am grateful this Sunday at the South Shore UMC Family will hear this anthem sung by our wonderful Chelsea Hemenway as we celebrate Holy Communion.

“Untitled Hymn” has six verses. Each verse contains its own invitation of what to do when it is “time.” Below are six scripture passages offered for your reading and reflection as we prepare for worship this Sunday:

ComeCome to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

SingO sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be revered above all gods. – Psalm 96:1-4

FallSo have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:26-31

CryIn my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry to him reached his ears…

He reached down from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of mighty waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
    and from those who hated me;
    for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
    but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
    he delivered me, because he delighted in me. – Psalm 18:6, 16-19

DancePraise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its Maker;
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing,
    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre. – Psalm 149:1-3

FlyBut we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. – I Thessalonians 4:13-18

The last word of each verse in “Untitled Hymn” is the same. Live. “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

I believe. May it be so with you. Live, my friends. Live with Jesus. 

Prayer: “I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee. Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend. And I know that Thou art with me. Wilt be with me to the end. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him. How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus. Oh for grace to trust him more.”* Amen.

*”Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus,” The United Methodist Hymnal 462.  

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