Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 9 May 2021

 I’ve never been very happy with the song “I come to the garden alone” and particularly its refrain, “He walks with me and he talks with me” and even more particularly “And the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known”. Really? No-one else has ever encountered a profound assurance that God is with them in one of life’s mountaintop (or valley, but the song is relentlessly upbeat) experiences? And derived unspeakable joy (or blessèd assurance)?

It fits with the “Jesus is my personal Saviour” (often to be found as “Savior”, this being a phrase beloved of our American friends). Or the more banal of Hillsong’s “Jesus is my boyfriend” ditties. All seeming to forget John 3:16 “for God so loved the world … “

This is one of the reasons why I like communal, liturgical prayers and affirmations of faith. The wisdom of the sages and ages has come up with statements and intercessions which stand as great literature, leave alone profound, scriptural truth. We are a community of faith. The Uniting Church Basis of Union, a most wonderful document, allows that we are each Pilgrims, but that our pilgrimage is made up of a “People on the way to the Promised Land”.

Anyway, I was regaling a friend with my long-held and strongly-held views on the matter, when she interrupted, “The 23rd Psalm”.  “What’s that got to do with anything?” I shot back. And she calmly recited, I won’t take up more of Chitra’s space with all of it, you know the Psalm by heart.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul.

You get the idea. I do, now. Perhaps I won’t tackle the Psalmist when I bump into him at the heavenly banquet. But I still don’t like that song …


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