Birthdays

-Written by Katy (edited by Anna) –

Sunday, October 23 was my birthday, my 64th birthday. At times along this journey I wondered if I would live to see it, but here I am! Since my birthday was on a Sunday,we found ourselves at church. We go to a small white country church and since it is a small congregation my birthday was recognized. Instead of singing Happy Birthday, I requested an old hymn, And are we yet alive? (see hymn below) It was written by Charles Wesley and sung by early American Methodist pastors, many of them circuit riders, at their annual meetings. The lives of circuit riders were anything but easy. Living on the road, riding on horseback through all kinds of weather, exposure to the elements, sickness, and dangers on the road…this was not an easy or safe life. Yet their impact is not to be underestimated as they shared the Gospel throughout the colonies. Many of these preachers died at a young age but those preachers who did survive to see another year would sing this hymn when they gathered.

So this past Sunday, Mt Zion Methodist church sang this song as a way of celebrating the mercies of God in seeing me through this difficult year. It helps put life in perspective. It helps me remember that were it not for God’s great mercies, we would all be consumed.

A phrase I am hearing over and over again is “Ya never know!” and how true this is as we live with increasing uncertainties and anxiety as we look at our world, our nation and our children’s future. As we get older and experience more of the world’s brokenness and watch evil prosper, trusting God through it all is not easy. My prayer is that I can declare with an honest heart the reality that the Psalmist found in Psalm 73:

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold…When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply UNTIL I entered the sanctuary of God…Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

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And are we yet alive?

1. And are we yet alive,
and see each other’s face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give
for his almighty grace!

2. Preserved by power divine
to full salvation here,
again in Jesus’ praise we join,
and in his sight appear.

3. What troubles have we seen,
what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without, and fears within,
since we assembled last!

4. Yet out of all the Lord
hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford,
and hides our life above.

5. Then let us make our boast
of his redeeming power,
which saves us to the uttermost,
till we can sin no more.

6. Let us take up the cross
till we the crown obtain,
and gladly reckon all things loss
so we may Jesus gain.

(The United Methodist Hymnal Number 553, Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, Music: Johann G. Nageli; arr. by Lowell Mason, Tune: DENNIS, Meter: SM)

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