“Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing”
May 15th 2016
Introduction: Turn in your hymnals to number 110. I want to begin by sharing a story from the life of one of the churches servant leaders of several hundred years ago.
The date was May 21st 1749, and the well known hymn, “Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing,” was being penned by Charles Wesley to commemorate the anniversary of his conversion, which had occurred 10 years earlier in 1738. The opening line is thought to have been inspired by a chance remark of Peter Bohler, the Moravian leader who was the chief instrument in the awakening of the Wesley’s, Charles and John. Bohler’s comment went something like this, “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with all of them.”
Have any of us ever tried to compose a hymn? Perhaps some of you have. I had the opportunity to give it a try during my seminary days many years ago.
Charles Wesley did not yet know the rules for writing a good and proper hymn as he wrote this wonderful hymn of faith. Six stanzas are about as long as a hymn should be and four would be the preferred length for a good hymn. Charles’ poem actually has 19 stanzas! In most hymns the subject matter is rather general in nature. In Charles’ it is about his personal experience of conversion. Most editors of hymnals cut out 13 of the original stanzas and also edit out the personal references and even part of the theological matter of the hymn.
Here are 3 of the stanzas that were edited out of what was then known as; “For the Anniversary Day of One’s conversion.”
“On this glad day the glorious Sun of righteousness arose, On my benighted soul he shone, and filled it with repose.
Then with my heart I first believed, Believed with faith divine; Power with the Holy Ghost received to call the Savior mine.
I felt my Lord’s atoning blood Close to my soul applied; Me, me He loved – the Son of God for me, for me He died.”
All churches then and now believe that Jesus’ death paid the price for Adam and Eve’s sin. These three stanzas speak about Charles’ personal conversion experience. It is the personal application of this belief that brings his words to life. It is the fervor of the spiritual life that takes on deeper meaning here.
What we see in our hymnals as verses one and two were actually stanzas seven and eight in the original poem by Wesley. Verse three in our hymnal speaks the praise of the effect of Jesus’ sacrifice for salvation. Verse four speaks of our work to proclaim the good news through out all the earth. And verse five gives praise and glory and honor to God and love that he has shown to all believers everywhere.
This is certainly and important and powerful hymn of our faith in Jesus Christ, the savior and lord of all creation!
Today is music appreciation Sunday and in a few moments I am going to invite Patricia Carey, our worship team chair to came and share some comments with us.
First, however, I want to remind us of the characteristics of Servant leaders and ask you to keep them in mind as you think of the people who lead and serve us as we worship together.
The ten characteristics are: Called and strengthened, spiritually centered, listening, manner of love, mission, expectations, outcome, joyful, and now for today; spiritual transformation, and reconciliation.
After Patricia shares with us, I want to touch briefly on the last two characteristics of servant leaders.
Patricia, would you come and share with us what God has laid on your heart for today.
A.) Spiritual transformation
1. We are always in the process of becoming as believers.
Ex. The old saying goes, “none of us is perfect.”
2. That is to say that we are in the process of being perfected as believers by the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.
3. When we stand before God one day we will be restored to where we supposed to be from the beginning.
4. We, as believers have received from Jesus the gift of new life.
5. We, as believers, in turn as servants invite others to share in this new life.
Ex. Another old saying goes like this, “The church is like a beggar telling other beggars where to find bread.”
Conclusion to point #1: Our goal, our purpose, as servant leaders is to engage in spiritual leadership and spiritual formation, here in our community of faith and in the world in which we live!
A.) The water basin and the towel.
1. Powerful symbols of what it means for us to live out servant leadership as believers.
2. We see it all around us in the lives of the people we inter act with every moment of every day!
3. Yes, here in this place with our sisters and brothers in the faith and with everyone in our lives everywhere.
4. We are given a powerful ministry, a powerful role to play in spreading the good news of God’s love for all of creation!
Ex. One of the members of our renewal team has expressed like this, “when servant leadership is done right it is seldom noticed. What we do we need to do because it is who we are.” At the very core of renewal is one simple thing, one powerful thing that transforms and reconciles us in all that we say and do, love. God’s love expressed in every facet of our living.
B.) When we wash each others hands and feet we are saying this very thing.
1. We humble ourselves before each other.
2. We serve each other.
3. We love each other.
4. As you sit here this morning I want you to search your heart and mind before almighty God and ask, “is there someone whose hands or feet I would not wash?”
Conclusion to message: Praise God if you can say that everyone you know is someone whose hands and feet you would be willing to wash. Prepare yourself to sing, Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemers praise!