Monday, August 8, 2016

God of Grace and God of Glory

Central Baptist New York
On a recent Sunday morning, we sang the hymn, "God of Grace and God of Glory."  It's a lovely hymn set to the fine Welsh tune Cwm Rhondda.  But what struck me on that particular Sunday was the line "Save us from weak resignation/to the evils we deplore;"  Sometimes I think our overly-connected society is tuned out to the real evils around us.  

Here's what Rev. Dr. Cecil Kirk had to say about this hymn.

Harry Emerson Fosdick is probably the best known twentieth century American clergyman. Born in Buffalo, New York, He was educated at Colgate University and Union Theological Seminary. In 1926 he became the minister of Park Avenue Baptist Church, New York, later Riverside Church, and remained there until his retirement in 1946.
The great edifice of the present Riverside Church was built specially for his ministry. The church was opened on October 5, 1930. He wrote this hymn at his summer residence in Maine the previous summer in anticipation of the event. It was sung at the opening service and also when the building was dedicated in the following February.
Riverside Church, New York
The hymn is a call to active discipleship and repeats a prayer for wisdom and courage to present the Christian gospel, in all its implications, to a world that has turned its back on the teachings of Jesus Christ. In every age the followers of Jesus Christ are faced with decisions which cannot be avoided and we need divine help if we are to wrestle with the problems that confront us and arrive at conclusions which are in line with the teaching of our Lord. If anything the prayer of the hymn is even more vivid and apt today some 86 years after it was written.
Liberal theology in the early part of the twentieth century looked forward with anticipation to the establishment of a world of peace and brotherhood but that prospect, if anything, has receded even further. “The hosts of evil” still surround us on every hand and “the fears that long hath bound us” have become even more pronounced. We continue to see demonstrations of “Thy children’s warring madness” in various parts of the world. Capitalist states with their rampant consumerism serve only to underline the description of a society that is “ rich in things and poor in soul”. Christian people are no longer different from the society in which we live, having largely adopted the standards of the world instead of those of the One who called His people to holiness.
As Christians our lives must be filled with “Christ-like graces” as we fight against the injustices which are so much a part of society, and against the sins which enslave men and women in their personal lives. In this unending struggle it is always easy to become disillusioned to the point where we feel that we do not and cannot make any difference, and so we must ask God to “save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore” It may be that we will never achieve the goal set before us but we must persist in the fight and so hand on to those who came after us the tools that will enable them to build on what we have been able to accomplish and in this way “we shall fail not men nor Thee”.

Thanks to Edna for sharing Dr. Kirk's notes.

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