Good Afternoon Pastors,
Do you wake up with songs, Scriptures, or Scriptures set to music on your heart? On the occasions that I do, I tend to have them with me all day long. This morning’s tune is a medieval Irish hymn that I sang a lot in high school:
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light
The older I get, the more I cherish story and meaning. While I can appreciate some of the recent worship music that is written, I find myself reaching further back into church history in search of the deeply theological and Christocentric music of old. Be Thou My Vision is one such tune for me. What are some of your go-tos?
The following is some of the background on this great old hymn, and I think its story is broadly applicable to our current cultural moment. May it edify you today:
History tells us that on Easter Sunday, A.D. 433, a provincial Irish king decreed that in observation of a pagan Druid festival there would be a prohibition against anyone lighting a flame or candle. Patrick, refusing to honor anyone but Christ, stood against the king. That morning, Patrick took to the tallest hill in the area and lit a fire. As the people woke up, they saw Patrick’s defiance of the king. His light wasn’t to be hidden. Patrick wanted to show the world that God’s light shines in darkness.
In time, the text of the hymn Be Thou My Vision was a poem written in honor of Patrick’s actions that day. Dalián Forgaill is credited with writing down the words which he called, “Slane,” after Slane Hill where Patrick lit his fire. Over time, the poem was put to music and subsequently rediscovered and translated into English, and it continues to be a gift to the Church to this day.
Let’s face it, we’re living in dark times just like St. Patrick did. This isn’t a political statement at all. Quite the opposite. Politics is merely reflecting the greater culture at large. Our dark times are not a time for us to bemoan what has become of our culture. Rather, it is time to light a fire.
Part of that light “strategy” if you will, is our faithful gospel presence at the Arizona Capitol this legislative session. We’re just lighting the match, so to speak. Eleven pastors jumped on a Zoom meeting this past Wednesday morning to set the stage for meetings with legislators. If you missed the meeting and would like the presentation, please email me. My goal is 45 pastor shepherds meeting with elected officials/shepherds of the government this year. It’s not too late to join us!
Finally, one quick closing lyric for you comes from Sovereign Grace Music. It’s the simple chorus of a newer (well, newish anyway) song that has also fed me in recent days:
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
In these days, may we lean completely on Jesus and less on our personalities, leadership acumen, and abilities. Christ is all, and truly, He is everything we need in these dark times. May we shine the light of the gospel of Christ like never before in these days.
May the Lord bless you and keep you this week, pastor. May the Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace this weekend as you prepare to bring His people His Word.
Waking or sleeping, His presence our Light.
Chris St. John
ICYMI: A little more about Arizona Capitol Project. Our mission is to build a relationship between the shepherds of God’s Church and the government: from our Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C., leaders in the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches, and the county and municipal government officials throughout Arizona. Read more…
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- Christian Nationalism and Christian Hope. An excellent 5-minute discussion on Breakpoint podcast with John Stonestreet and Timothy D. Padgett. Click here.
- Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. A helpful review of Abigail Shrier’s new book from The Gospel Coalition: Click here.