Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keep in Touch Newsletter 31 May 2020
I hope that my funeral is many years off yet. It needs to be, because the job of collating a few hundred pieces of music and booking performers will take me up to 2050, when I shall be 103, an age the significance of which I’ll tell you one day. Among my favourite hymns are Spafford’s It is Well with My Soul, JM Neale (tr) Christ is made the Sure Foundation, Winkworth (tr) Wake O Wake for Night is Flying, The Eagles Take it to the Limit – particularly great hymn that last one. If we guess that Eagles band members will predecease me (one has already), I’ll need to find a cover. Our nephew is 24, his band might not make it to 2050. They’re really Heavy Metal, anyway.
As for choral music, there’s just too much to whittle down. But a must-have is Stanford Nunc Dimittis in G. Luke 2, the Song of Simeon, when the baby Jesus is presented to him in the Temple. “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation ..." Look up Luke 2:22-38, it tells of Simeon, “who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel” and of a very old prophetess, Anna, who “never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
They had each been waiting for a promise many hundreds of years old, that Israel should have a Messiah who would be a light to the Gentiles too, to the whole earth. KUC has members who have been waiting for their “consolation” for many years, a lifetime perhaps. That their family would see in Christ what they have. That illness and chronic pain would be healed. For a firm assurance in a doubting world that their loved ones who have died are really safe with God, and that they will be reunited. You know what consolation you’re waiting for.
The day came when Simeon’s eyes saw the salvation for which he had been waiting. Not young eyes, he was an old man. And the second evangelist, after the shepherds, wasn’t a bright-eyed glamorous youngster, she was a very old servant of God, but Anna “... spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
I love this passage. Not just Stanford’s setting of it, but the affirmation that no-one is too old to see God’s promises fulfilled in Christ, nor to speak about the redemption which God has brought about in Christ.
Oh – I don’t know if the All Souls, Langham Place choir of the 1980s and early 90s will be up for it in 2050, but they sang a mean Mag and Nunc.