Sunday, May 11, 2008

Arguing With a Hymn

OK, usually I'm not such a contrarian nor nearly so argumentative over a word or two. But this has been brewing with me for a couple of months now.

I want to change one word in a hymn.

I know-- there are so many bigger issues in the day that ought to get my best time and attention. But this one small change might unleash the masses for a life of action as our theology and lives are revolutionized. This one small change would help us move from our private piety several steps closer toward a life of faith that has expression in the world today. This simple adjustment would help maximize the fact that we are all called to follow Christ, and that we all should have redemptive ministries. It would also minimize any artificial differentiation between the call of clergy or laity OR any excuses ANY of us might offer to God or the world. This proposed change better expresses the truth of Scripture and the practical needs of real life and real faith.

Do you know the old standard "Here I Am Lord?" It's one of those hymns used often at the end of a worship service.

"Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart."

What I want to do is a simple switch of a one syllable word for a better one syllable word. I don't know how to accomplish such a feat. Maybe you can help in this campaign. Does it take a petition to a hymnal publisher? Do we include it for vote somewhere at a church conference? Or do we merely scratch it out in the hymnal and have churches start replacing the word so that a grass roots movement takes place in worship? Personally, I sort of like that last subversive approach! And then, like kudzu in Georgia, maybe we overtake a denomination or two!

Here's my simple proposition that might change our individual Christian lives, and perhaps change our congregations. It's time to change the "if" to "when." "I will go Lord when you lead me." After all, this is the Saviour who said "Follow me." This is the community of faith, called Church, that is to be empowered by the Spirit to be witnesses locally, regionally, nationally, internationally, and even to the "ends of the earth. This is the body of believers where everyone is gifted for the sake of the witness in the world and the mission at hand.

This sort of theology or understanding has been around a long time. The question remains, will we all step up to the challenge of the call of God in our life. God's call is going to happen to us in some ways we can respond to. When that does happen will we be prepared to take up our responsibility in serving God. I will go Lord when you lead me has a sense of certainty about what God will do. Then it's up to us to live out a faithful obedience to what we know.

On this Pentecost Sunday I'm fairly certain we know what the answer should be. Christ leads us and empowers us to be partakers in the transformation of the world into that which God desires.

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, when you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

5 comments:

Scott Parrish said...

I talked with our music director yesterday. We're going to substitute "as" or "when" or something similar since we often use the hymn or a stanza. Let the revolution begin!

SaraJane said...

We Presbos say "I will go Lord, where you lead me." I too, strongly dislike the "if". It implies that if you're not going, God's not leading... it's just an excuse for apathy.

Scott Parrish said...

And any excuse will do whether Metho, Presbo, or Bapto!!

SaraJane said...

Well, technically speaking, the street terms for Methodists and Baptists are Meth-heads and Baps. You don't want to know what Catholics are! ha ha

Scott Parrish said...

UPDATE:
We sang this again today and used the good word "WHERE" instead of "if." That sounds better and feels better!