the weblog of Alan Knox

Prone to wander…

Posted by on Apr 11, 2009 in community, discipleship, fellowship | 8 comments

Last Sunday, as we gathered around the campfire with the church, we talked about several topics. At one point, we sang the hymn “Come Thou Fount”, which includes the following words:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;

Singing this hymn led to a great discussion of sin, acceptance, and judgementalism.

It began with someone talking about sin – how we all sin and how we all wander from God. We talked about how Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and other believers help us when we wander away from God.

From there, we talked about the community aspect. If we understand that we all wander away from God from time to time and that we all sin, then the community of faith should be a safe place to confess our sin and to ask for help.

Now, at this point in the discussion, I realized how glad I am that I’m part of a community in which the people discuss the hard issues. Someone brought up that the reason she doesn’t talk about her sin is because she’s afraid of being judged. Someone else said that he always feels that other people are more spiritual than him. Someone else said that she realizes that she often doesn’t know people as well as she should, and so she doesn’t open up to them.

All of these issues are problems in the church – in every church, including our church. But, in most churches, these issues are not discussed. Now, we have a platform and a reason to begin addressing issues such as these. We can start asking one another why someone would be afraid of being judged. We could ask why some may be acting as if they are more spiritual than others. We can ask why we don’t know each other as well as we should, and what we can do to get to know one another better.

All of this started with a simple hymn… one that we’ve sung many times. But, because people had the freedom to talk with one another and to discuss this issue, we as a church are better off – we were helped – we are more healthy and more mature as a group. When the church matures together, we are then able to help one another as each of us is prone to wander…


8 Comments

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  1. 4-11-2009

    Alan,

    Good thoughts and questions. All of which need to be probed in every congregation.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that most will ever go there.

    Blessings,
    Gary

  2. 4-11-2009

    We are prone to wander and our Lord hung on a Cross to bring us back and keep us from wandering.

    Makes me prone to wonder at the grace in His death.

  3. 4-11-2009

    Great hymn. In our gatherings here in Ecuador it is common practice to ask the person who requests a song/hymn to be sung, what line or phrase speaks to them and why. As you point out, this usually leads to something being shared that edifies or strengthens the rest.

    BTW (trivia question) how many of us know what we are singing about when we proclaim, “here I raise my Ebenezer…” :)

  4. 4-11-2009

    Gary,

    I’m glad that it’s happening in some congregations. I pray that others begin to exhort one another.

    Andy,

    Yes, he did.

    Guy,

    We like to ask questions about the songs that we sing too. By the way, an Ebenezer is a “rock of help”. In 1 Sam 7 it was a rocked raised up to remind the people that God was their help.

    -Alan

  5. 4-11-2009

    Another thought-provoking post Alan. Thank you! That openness often seems to be easier in an informal, smaller group of people than in a formal worship setting.

    Re: “Come Thou Fount…”

    I think that most of the modernization of hymns has been to their detriment. Our current hymnbook version of “Come Thou Fount…” has the Ebenezer reference changed from

    “Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
    hither by thy help I’m come;
    and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
    safely to arrive at home.” to

    “Hitherto Thy love has blest me; Thou hast brought me to this place; And I know Thy hand will bring me safely home by Thy good grace.”

    They’ve also changed the phrase “interposed His precious blood” to “Bo’t me with His precious blood”. “Interposed” is far more forceful than “bo’t”.

    Seems to me that, since the adapters have retained the “thee’s” and “hast’s”, they could have left well enough alone and just inserted a footnote explaining Ebenezer.

    I really hate to see meaningful hymns dumbed down, because they can be great reminders of God’s grace, and they can give us wonderful opportunities for interaction and testimony.

  6. 4-11-2009

    Kat,

    Can we have “corporate worship” – i.e. worshiping God together with other people – without openness?

    -Alan

  7. 4-12-2009

    A body of Believers that actually discussed the words within in a song that they sang? Incredible! ;)

  8. 4-12-2009

    Joel,

    Yeah, I know. Weird, huh?

    -Alan