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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We share our mutual woes;
our mutual burdens bear.
And often for each other flows
the sympathizing tear.

When we are called to part,
it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart
and hope to meet again.

From sorrow, toil, and pain,
and sin we shall be free;
and perfect love and friendship reign
through all eternity.

John Fawcett’s “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” (tune: Dennis)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

This is, of course, an old familiar hymn. Although I don’t think we sang it particularly often in my church growing up, every time I read or hear these words they conjure images in my mind of warm, long-standing church communities who experience life together season after season and year after year.

That strong sense of community—of shared life—was my favorite thing about church growing up and ultimately what led me to pursue a call to ministry. I loved the way my church community cared about each other and walked together through both good times and bad. It was the one place where I always felt like I belonged and was loved.

When I moved away from home, I was worried about leaving my home church and worried that I would never find another community like that again. But in each new place where I have lived, I have found new communities who love each other in God’s name. I can already tell that Fourth Church is certainly just such a place.

As this song reminds us, life sometimes calls us to new paths and adventures that take us away from people and communities, but by the grace of God we are able to carry those people with us in our hearts and find new reflections of God’s love in human relationship wherever we go. These relationships that bind us together even when geography or circumstance draw us apart give us just a glimpse of the divine Love that never lets us go and connects us all to one other and to God.

In this autumn season of new beginnings, let us give thanks to God for the gifts of relationship and community—the blessed ties that bind us all together.

Loving God, we give you thanks for all the meaningful relationships in our lives and the communities you bless us with. Help us to remember that we are always connected to those we love and that those connections are reflections of your great love for us all. Amen.

Written by Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident

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