For whatever reason, I’ve had the old hymn “Revive Us Again” stuck in my head. To be specific, most of what I’m stuck on is the melody. While I could remember the chorus, I couldn’t remember the lyrics of any of the verses (don’t judge!). I got curious and looked them up. Verse 3 caught me:
We praise thee, O God, for the joy thou hast giv’n
to thy saints in communion, these foretastes of heav’n
This verse struck me because the writer is giving praise to God for joy that has been given. Not joy in the sense of some vague disposition of happiness, but joy derived from something quite specific: joy through communion. I think communion here is bigger than sharing communion at church. Communion is about intimacy and the nearness of relationship. So, this is joy that comes from communion with God himself, or with the body of saints, or, more likely, both. From a biblical perspective, I’d say you can’t have one without the other.
I’ve admitted before that my experience growing up in church wasn’t stellar. Unfortunately, I have a few unhappy memories mixed into the nostalgia that comes from hearing the melodies and words of many old hymns. I would bet we all share that type of experience a little bit. Most of us have learned that a church full of imperfect people will sometimes make communion tough and joy elusive. We will have days when the joy available is underwhelming.
In the final scene of C. S. Lewis’s book, The Last Battle, the great lion, Aslan, says to the children, “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”
Aslan was not done. Nor is God.
God is always at work drawing us nearer, even in the sad moments when we think He is not. We were made for communion. It is clear that on this side of eternity we fall short, we get distracted, and we make things messy. That’s natural for imperfect people. God takes our messes and makes beautiful things.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen!
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again
O Lord, revive us again.
Grace to you,