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Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Grant unto us communion with thee,
thou star-abiding One.
Come unto us and dwell with us.
With thee are found the gifts of life.
Bless us with life that has no end,
eternal life with thee.
“Many and Great, O God, Are Thy Works” (v. 2) by Joseph R. Renville
Hymn 21, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
“Thou star-abiding One”! How glorious! This reminds me that we have elements in our bodies that come originally from the stars. And what a powerful wish: “Come unto us and dwell with us.” This hymn pulls me to contemplate the eternal, to remember that God enters into flesh with us and that we have eternal life with Christ. How moving, how beautiful!
And then, because this hymn is new to me, I look into its history. How it is known as the Dakota hymn, written by a Dakota/French minister who founded the Lac qui Parle mission in 1835. And I remember the role missions played in decimating Indigenous cultures. And I learn that this hymn was sung by Dakota prisoners of war as they were led to execution at Mankato, Minnesota, on December 26, 1862, the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
This hymn holds contradictions—beauty and terror together. Just as we hold contradictions, always. Just as times of great change do. I can’t glory in the beauty of this hymn without also holding the history of it before me. So the question is: What then? What do we do with these contradictions? And I would say we hold them in open hands, we look at them with clear and open eyes, and offer them up to God, our North Star, and ask guidance. And just as the hymn asks God to dwell in us, we ask to dwell in God, who can hold all.
Creator God, you have blessed us with the gifts of life, with life that has no end. May we, dwelling in you, find ourselves open enough to hold all that we need, in this day and always. Amen.
Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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