This Sunday I returned to the place I grew up in. I went with my father to his church. From the age of 7 until I was 18 I sang in the choir there, every Sunday morning and evening. Twenty years ago to the weekend I was married there. This morning we sang ‘Angel voices’ one of our wedding hymns.
It was strangely comforting to go back and find that nothing had really changed, almost a confirmation that God is never changing, that there is a constant in this ever changing and frenetic world. It is great news that there is still a worshipping community there. The service was a common worship sung Eucharist. The only difference is that 40 years ago we were experimenting with series 2 and 3. Most of the adults that were in my life are still there, instantly recognisable only a lot older. There are none of my contemporaries left, all have moved away and that is worrying. In 40 years time I wonder what community will be left that knows the story of the place. I wonder if there will be a community to welcome back a prodigal daughter.
This is the place that played a huge role in my formation as a Christian so it was good to sing the Wesley hymn ‘O Thou who camest from above’
O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
Upon the mean altar of my heart.
There let it for Thy glory burn
With inextinguishable blaze,
And trembling to its source return,
In humble prayer and fervent praise.
Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
To work and speak and think for Thee;
Still let me guard the holy fire,
And still stir up Thy gift in me.
Ready for all Thy perfect will,
My acts of faith and love repeat,
‘Til death Thy endless mercies seal,
And make my sacrifice complete.
This is the hymn I want sung at my funeral. It sums up so well the Christian journey and I am so glad that I can remember singing it as a child.
Lord, keep stirring up your gift in me as I guard that holy fire you have placed in me.