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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, May 15, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

High King of Heaven,
my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys,
O bright heaven’s Son!
Heart of my own Heart,
whatever befall,
still be my vision,
O Ruler of all.

“Be Thou My Vision” (v. 4), translation by Mary E. Byrne
Hymn 450, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

This is one of my favorite hymns, so writing a devotion using it as inspiration should have been easy. But I’m finding it hard to swallow this verse in this day and time. Victory won? Heaven’s joys? Life in a global pandemic doesn’t feel so victorious or joyful. But it’s a good thing our God doesn’t work based on our feelings, and it’s a good thing there’s a second part to the verse.

“Ruler” can be a hard word for me to grasp, especially because so many of rulers act unjustly, speak unfeelingly, and seem to only be thinking of their own interests. So when I call God “Ruler” in this hymn, I imagine God rolling up God’s sleeves to get into the mud and dirt with us, enacting justice, speaking with feeling, and thinking of others’ interests first. Glennan Doyle, in her book Untamed, says that “heaven is not a place out there, not yet. It’s the hopeful swelling in here, pressing through our skin, insisting that it was all meant to be more beautiful than this. . . . If we work to make the vision of the unseen order swelling inside us visible in our lives, homes, and nations, we will make reality more beautiful. On earth as it is in heaven.”

Our Ruler works with us to birth forth that hopeful swelling within us. We don’t wait for someone out there to bring us the victory and joy. We birth it ourselves in partnership with the Creator.

Whatever befalls, you are the heart of our hearts. Be our vision, pressing inside of us like liquid gold. Help us to bring forth the unseen into this world that is seen, that we may be heaven’s joy for our aching and breaking world. Amen.

Written by Lois Snavely, Seminary Intern

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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