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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Open now thy crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow.
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through.
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer,
be thou still my strength and shield;
be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever give to thee, I will ever give to thee.

     William Williams “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”
     from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

I’ve been puzzling over the phrase “Open now thy crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow.” What did the writer of the hymn text have in mind in his plea, asking God to open “thy crystal fountain”? 

When Millennium Park was new, I remember the wonder of sitting along the side of the Crown Fountain, watching with delight the changing images of faces on those tall pillars, waiting for the mouths of those  faces to change, knowing that at any minute water would start spurting as if from those mouths and would begin pouring from everywhere. Little children squealed with delight because they had been waiting with anticipation at the base of each fountain. Chaotic mayhem ensued with children running to and fro between those two fountains, having the time of their lives in the water pouring forth. 

So perhaps that’s the sense of the plea “open now thy crystal fountain.” Those are the high moments with God—those times of delight and healing and joy, when all of life seems so full that all we can do is say “Thank you, God.” Life doesn’t always feel that way nor does our relationship with God. And so we plead for those times to return, and in the meantime, we ask God to be our strength and shield for the dry times, our deliverer in the challenging times, our guide when nothing seems clear. 

Strong deliverer, thank you. Thank you for times of delight and joy and closeness with you. Help me to frolic in those times. But also, help me to see you as my shield when the healing waters of your fountain seem dried up. Remind me to sing songs of praises in all times. Amen.   

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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