Faithfulness

morning-mist-wallpapers-198.jpg

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

-Lamentations 3:22

When I was first ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister, the first church I served was a small UU Christian congregation in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Its order of worship was very much like the congregational church I grew up in, very Puritan in its roots.  In fact, the church was established in 1742 by the ancestors of some of the first Massachusetts European settlers (we were right up the road from Plymouth). There was one man among us who had come from a very pentecostal background and was often frustrated by the restraint shown among us in our very New England ways of worship.

Although this was over 20 years ago, I remember something very specific about this man.   Twice a year, it was the practice of this parish to have a 'request a hymn' Sunday, and this man always, always, always requested the hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."  So whenever I hear that hymn or read these words, this man comes into my mind and heart.  His request meant that twice a year, the parish would sing this very un-UU hymn, and each time, I would watch him sing it from the heart with tears in his eyes.  It meant the world to him. And his deep faith meant the world to me. He never told me anything more specific than this hymn had deep meaning for him, but clearly, at some point in his life, he'd been touched by the forgiving love of God in a way that had changed him.  

1. “Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

 “Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

2. Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

3. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

This Sunday we'll be reading two classic healing stories for our gospel - a story of a woman finally being relieved of a long time ailment and one of a child who was dead coming back to life. As we prepare for Sunday, I invite you to consider when in your life a difficult burden has been lifted or when something you thought was dead and gone sprouted new seeds of life.  Take some time, not to gauge how faithful or unfaithful you have been to God this week, but how, and in what ways, God has been faithful to you.

(And don't forget to mark your calendars for our own after-church hymn sing, coming up on July 15.  Email Theresa to request your favorite hymn!)

Our readings for this Sunday are HERE.  Note that in ordinary time, we are using "Track 2"