Today’s hymn from Sing Praise is by Bernadette Farrell, one of my favourite modern hymnwriters. She has a gift for writing in plain (American) English but without it sounding trite, and to melodies that are easy to sing. The title (first line of the chorus) is “Praise to you O Christ our Saviour”, but the theme of the four verses is Christ the Word. For an exploration of the different meanings of that phrase, see my commentary on her similar hymn “Word of God, renew your people” (25 January).
In the first verse here, the Word is the one who “calls us out of darkness and leads us into light, who brings us through the desert”; in the third verse, the one who “calls us to be servants, whose only law is love, who lives among us” and in the final verse the Word “binds us and unites us, calls us to be one, teaches us forgiveness”. In the second verse, “the Word” doesn’t appear but Jesus is names as “the one whom prophets hoped and longed for, who speaks to us today, who leads us to our future”. Many of these phrases contain verbs expressing the way Jesus is active in moving us along – leads, brings, calls, and (again) leads. The Christian understanding of God as revealed in Jesus is not like the remote mountaintop guru who must be sought out, but the complete opposite, one who is always on the lookout for people who might respond if he calls them, follow if he leads them.
Not for nothing is Lent often thought of as a period of journeying. We not only hear the story of Jesus’ own journey from fame to infamy and from Galilee to Golgotha, but also (hopefully) find him calling us and leading us on the next stage of our own journeys.