Weekly Reflections from the Clergy and Staff
Although I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink…
- 2 John 1:12
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on September 21, 2022 at 9:55 AM|
I was able to watch some of the wall-to-wall coverage of the various events related to the Queen Elizabeth II’s death. The pageantry, always done with such precision and dignity by the Brits, was truly something to behold. The mix of poignancy and gratitude exhibited by the participants and gathered crowds was palpable, even for those of us watching the events unfold on TV. It was hard not to be moved.
Our Anglican heritage as Episcopalians provides us with a deep historical connection to the British monarchy. It was during Henry VIII’s reign that the seeds of the Church of England were sown, the result of political, theological, and ecclesiological realities. Those seeds came to fruition during the reign... of Elizabeth I, when the Church of England made it’s final, irrevocable break from Rome and the Papacy and the British monarch became the “Head of the Church”. By the time the first British colonists came to the Americas, Anglicanism as a unique way of being Christian had been firmly established.
These historical connections to the British monarchy are undeniably a mixed bag. We cannot deny that our origins as Anglicans were intertwined with the machinations of power politics. Nor can we deny our ties to imperial colonialism and its disturbing treatment of indigenous peoples and their lands. And of course, there are mixed feelings among many today, both in the UK and world-wide, about the moral value of maintaining what is largely a figure-head monarchy, with all its privileges and the financial realities it entails.
With all this being said, we can also recognize in Queen Elizabeth II a remarkable life of servant leadership that was clearly rooted in a deep and abiding Christian faith. She was a flawed human being, like all of us, but she modeled in various ways a devotion to something larger than herself.
During our time working on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff, our first experience of the Queen came in the days following the events of 9/11. She immediately called for a memorial service to be held at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, to which the Archbishop made sure Julia and I got an invitation. It was a profoundly meaningful experience for us in those days when we felt so far from home.
Later, we had the privilege of actually meeting the Queen, when the Archbishop hosted a garden party for the Queen to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. It was a brief but meaningful encounter in which she asked about our work with the Archbishop and, when she realized we were American, expressed genuine sympathy to us about 9/11.
During the Queen’s funeral, the current Arcbbishop of Canterbury said, “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.” While we shouldn’t gloss over the less savory aspects of the British monarchy and our Anglican history, we can still acknowledge the ways the Queen did indeed provide loving service to many over the seventy years of her reign. May God grant her eternal rest in the land of light and love.
Yours in Christ,
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on September 12, 2022 at 5:30 PM|
My heart is full! Last weekend we kicked off Sunday School, in what I would say is about the most normal environment since Covid, and it was a huge success! With 17, yes 17!, kids in our PreK-4th grade class and 12 in the Middle/High Youth class, we were so excited to welcome everyone back. About 7 teachers were in attendance to get to know all the children and youth and we had a wonderful time “Showing Our Spirit” to get excited for our Sunday School year. We saw Spirit for Sports, Schools, Flowers, Disney, Animals, Colors, and most importantly we all were blessed with the Holy Spirit! Games were played to get to know names and matching first letter Spirit Words. My heart was truly touched by all of those that came out and I look forward to getting to know everyone better and who knows, we may need more than two classes eventually. Please join me in praying that we continue to see all the smiling young faces come back. We want to share our Spirit with them too!
Now on to launching our Middle/High Youth Group, as we are excited to gather this Sunday, September 18th from 4:30-6:30pm at the Davidson College Lake Campus for food, fun, and games! Last year we had as many as 25+ at some of our Youth events and hope to see all of them and more back for a full, fun schedule planned for this year too. We are excited to have our 6th-12th graders back for more amazing adventures including Carrigan Farms, Scarowinds, Davidson Football, and much more. If you have or know of a youth that might be interested, please have them come and check it out and bring a friend if they like. We hope to see you at the Lake this weekend!
Most importantly, I want to thank the large team of support that I am blessed with to make all of this happen! We have amazing volunteers that support me in teaching Sunday School, planning and helping host youth events, providing meals, and so much more! Our wonderful staff that supports me and all our youth, children, and family programs and an awesome group of volunteers that make up our Family Ministry Support Team, who work behind the scenes to help coordinate and plan many of these events. I will say it again, my heart is full! Thank you!
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on September 8, 2022 at 12:05 AM|
This coming Sunday marks the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
I was a college sophomore walking back to my dorm after an 8:00 a.m. world politics class. I noticed a crowd gathered in the Common Room of my dorm, so I went in to find out what was going on. In the days before Facebook, Twitter, and smartphones, the small TV in the Common Room was our main source of news. We were glued to it the rest of the day, until my suitemates and I finally wandered over to the college chapel, where a candlelight vigil was taking place.
The next time I went back to that poli sci class, the professor had completely re-written the syllabus. Our class discussions would be different from that day on, because the world was different from that day on.
You have your own stories and experiences of that day. While today’s college students have no firsthand memories of the attacks, most of us can never forget the horrifying images we saw, and the pain and confusion that followed. Nor will we forget the incredible stories of bravery and selflessness that gave us hope and a sense of unity when we desperately needed it.
Now, more than two decades later, the recollection of that day feels both fresh and distant to me. And layered on top of the memories of 9/11 are so many other moments of tragedy and brokenness that have happened in the years since—the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, the bombing of the Boston Marathon, Hurricane Sandy, the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine, the shootings at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Charleston, Uvalde, and so many others. In the face of such awfulness, I cling to two things I believe to be true:
- When we are faced with the enormity of human suffering, we can find solace in a God who knows what it is to be human, and who suffered on the cross. While this does not take away our suffering, it does mean we never suffer or grieve alone. God is with us.
- We don’t get a choice in whether or not evil exists, or when and how it unfolds, as it did at Golgotha, or two millennia later, on September 11, 2001, and on too many other occasions. But we do get to choose our response to it. When we respond to evil with good, when we respond to fear with courage, when we respond to hatred with love, when we follow the way of Christ, evil does not triumph.
One way we can choose to follow Christ is to commit to serving others as he did. Over the next three Sundays, we will offer a series of “mini-ministry fairs” to raise awareness about the many opportunities to serve at St. Alban’s. I hope you will attend, either to explore a new ministry for yourself, or to grow in awareness about all the wonderful ministries that happen within and beyond our parish.
This Sunday, the 11th, we will feature our Formation and Fellowship Ministries. This includes the Ministry of Fun, Children’s & Youth Ministries, the Men’s Group, Moms Connect, Pastoral Care & Bereavement, SEEDS Community Garden, Newcomer/Greeter ministry, the St. Alban’s Anti-Racism Team, the Vestry, Tai Chi, and the Weekday Preschool.
On September 18, we will feature our Outreach Ministries. This includes the Angel Tree, the Back2School Blast, Epiphany Ministry, Episcopal Church Women (Thompson Child and Family Focus & United Thank Offering), Episcopal Student Fellowship, FeedNC, Habitat for Humanity, La Escuelita Bilingual Preschool, the Outreach Team, and our collection ministries (Red Wagon, the Blanket Drive, the Coat Drive, and the Turkey Drive).
And on September 25, we will feature our Worship Ministries. This includes the Acolytes, the Altar Guild, the Parish Choir, the Children’s Choir, the Flower Guild, the Lectors, the Lay Eucharistic Ministers, the Stream Team, the Nursery Volunteers, and the Ushers.
Another way to follow Christ is to pray. This Sunday, we will pray a special litany in commemoration of the anniversary of 9/11. The prayers are drawn from resources provided by the Episcopal Diocese of New York. And we will sum up our prayers with the prayer attributed to St. Francis:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
This Sunday, and every day, may we sow love.
May we sow pardon.
May we sow union.
May we sow faith, hope, light, and joy.
Yours in Christ,
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on August 30, 2022 at 3:20 PM|
Much has been written about the sense of loss that many feel about the events of the last few years. It hardly seems possible that it has been 2 ½ years since the majority of us first heard of the word COVID. So much loss and pain, but yet, we have learned so much: not only about a disease, but about ourselves and our world. Many, perhaps the majority of people in our midst, escaped the worst of the illness and financial pain brought on by the pandemic. However, there are those who have suffered and continue to suffer from these challenges. What should be done to help these people? Or, is it enough that the majority of the folks we know are ‘fine’? While looking at the upcoming readings to choose music for September, the Gospel reading for Sept. 11th(Luke 15:1-10) struck me as very relevant to looking at the inequity in our world in a new way. Although the parable contrasts the ninety-nine who are righteous with the one who needs repentance, I believe it also can open our eyes to needs we may have not seen before. In this passage Jesus replies with a parable to the criticism that he “welcomes sinners and eats with them.” The gist of the parable is that God is not content to just say that 99 out of a hundred sheep are safe, and write off the last one. Jesus says it is that one that is lost that he(and WE) should be most concerned about. Below is the text of a hymn, inspired in part by the passage from Luke 15, that speaks of celebrating the return of the lost and the joy of those being restored to wholeness. I hope it will speak the Good News of the Gospel to you.
A Long-Lost Lamb
A long-lost lamb is in the fold, a woman’s coin retrieved, a wayward son is home again, most lovingly received. The little man who climbed a tree has found a friend at last, a woman with her cup of tears has put behind her past. The fisherman who turned away receives another chance, a Pharisee has seen the light and mourns his arrogance. Let everyone who suffers now from guilt and deep despair return unto the house of God, for love awaits you there. Good News! It’s time to celebrate with friends who gather round. So, God rejoices, Jesus said, whenever the lost is found!
Words: Mary Nelson Keithahn © 1996 Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on August 24, 2022 at 1:10 PM|
As many of us prepare to start the new school year or a new job or anything new, we are anxious and potentially fearful of what we may encounter. We are not sure if we are ready or have made the necessary steps to prepare. I am in this season, myself. I have recently started a new position. I have had many of these thoughts and doubts the days and nights leading up to my first day. When I found myself worrying, I would cry out to God and ask him to remove my unbelief and to help me trust in His plan for this new chapter in my life.
The apostle Paul tells us to stand firm in our faith. The only way evil triumphs is when we forfeit. We are fighting a spiritual battle and when we exercise courage and stand firm in our faith. If we fight and push through, we win. Evil is not strong enough to defeat God. It is not strong enough to destroy good.
Apathy is evil’s best weapon. If we are lulled into a complacent daze, eventually, we give up. When we sleep on our faith rather than standing firm in our faith, the enemy destroys us before we even know we are in danger. We fail before we even give ourselves time to succeed.
Paul implores us to be on guard. We need to be aware not only of our daily circumstances but also of the opportunities they can provide. We can acknowledge the choices we have today and the consequences each choice will have. Your attitude determines your altitude. Choose to be positive, choose to trust God and line-up with His plan.
How can we stay alert? In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “Be on guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” It is through love that we can do it. There is nothing in this world that has more value than love. There is no circumstance in your life that love cannot overcome. Love is worth fighting for. Love helps us see things for what they are worth. It helps fuel our courage to face battles in this life. Love conquers all. It is the best weapon. Kevin reminded us of this in his last sermon.
The Word of God says that doing anything apart from love makes it worthless. Even martyrdom does not count for anything if you do not love. The path to true riches comes through a relentless and courageous pursuit of love. So, start each new day (in the routine or a new season of your life), giving thanks to God for His love, thanks for the opportunity to learn (school, job, teacher, friend, podcast, etc.), to live another day to shine the light that He has created in you and to share your love with others – who don’t know Christ, those who know Christ, the good, bad, the evil and the lost. Remember that God and His love for you, are with you wherever you are (old or new season).
Beloved, be encouraged, stand firm and “Go” in peace to LOVE and serve the Lord!
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on August 17, 2022 at 10:40 AM|
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” – Psalm 122:1
Earlier this week, I was having coffee with a delightful newcomer, which I always love to do.
She asked me how St. Alban’s has weathered the past couple of years of pandemic. She wondered if we’d seen a decrease in giving. I was happy to share with her that annual giving has actually increased, plus we recently had a successful capital campaign to expand our facility! Our parish has responded to the current moment with incredible generosity and faithfulness.
Then she asked if church attendance had gone down.
My answer? “Well…yes.”
She understood. While we have welcomed many new faces over the past two years, we’ve also seen some longtime members drift away, and others attend with less frequency.
St. Alban’s is not alone in this trend. Most, if not all, of my ministry colleagues across denominations are experiencing the same phenomenon. The past couple of years have been tough on church attendance. When our churchgoing routines were disrupted, many folks formed new habits. Some individuals and families haven’t had room in their “Covid risk budget” for church. And others have grown weary of the safety protocols we’ve had to implement.
All of these reasons are understandable. I totally get it!
And yet, as we gear up for a new academic/program year, I want to extend an invitation to return to the routine of church for those who are able and have not yet done so.
Not because I miss seeing you. (Although I very much do!)
Not because you’ll get more brownie points with God. (I don’t think it works that way.)
I invite you to come back to church because you are an essential part of the Body of Christ, and it’s just better when you are here.
You help make this community more of what it ought to be.
And I believe that the rhythm of what we do at church together nourishes us. A consistent life of prayer, common worship, learning, and service helps our roots of faith to grow strong and deep, so that we are better equipped to weather life’s droughts and storms.
Even before I was ordained, I knew this to be true. I have found that, whenever I’ve been more consistent in my worship attendance, being in proximity to my fellow worshipers and to the sacraments has been a lifeline for me. It has given me a sense of meaning and purpose.
I do not bring this up to make anyone feel bad about not being in worship often. Goodness, no! Everyone’s circumstances are different, plus shame is not one of our values. So please, let go of any guilt you may be carrying about church attendance lately. There is no judgment here, only joy and welcome.
I simply offer this message to invite you and your family to come home to St. Alban’s this fall. We love you. More importantly, God loves you.
And there’s good stuff here for you. Fellowship events. Friendships new and old. Sunday School classes and outreach opportunities for all ages are gearing up soon. Most of all, there is bread and wine, broken and poured out for you. Come and see.
Yours in Christ,
P.S. If you are reading this and you are someone who has already been coming to church recently, think about someone you haven’t seen in a while, and reach out to them. Send them a copy of these words. Invite them to meet up with you on Sunday morning and sit together, or see if they’d like a ride to church. There is power in a personal invitation from a peer!
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on August 10, 2022 at 9:40 AM|
Not that you would know it from the temperatures, but summer, at least from the perspective of the academic calendar, is nearly over! I know this can be a time of mixed emotions for many of us, as we start to shift from summer vacation mode back into the busy schedules of the academic year. In the church world, it is the time when we are busily preparing for the start of a new program year. For me specifically, it is a time of excitedly preparing for the return of the college students and the kick-off of a new year of Episcopal Student Fellowship activities. I love this time of year!
An important piece of my plans is inviting members of Saint Alban’s to provide home-prepared dinners for the college students on Sunday evenings. This is one of the primary ways that Saint Alban’s members support and interact with our ESF students, and it is deeply appreciated by them and me. The wonderful news is that the current COVID policies (subject to revision) will once again allow our dinner providers to come in person and join the students for dinner, if they would like to do so.
If you would like to participate in this important ministry to our ESF students, I invite you to sign up for one of the fall semester dates. By following the link below you will find a copy of the dinner guidelines, which provides all the necessary details, as well as the ESF Meals Sign-Up Genius. If you would like to participate and none of these dates work for you, there will be further opportunities during the spring semester.
Please feel free to contact me or Elaine Carmann (704-896-4962), our ESF Dinner Coordinator, with any questions you may have.
Yours in Christ,
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on August 3, 2022 at 10:15 AM|
While many of us have been on the road this summer, it’s also been a major travel summer for The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
In early July, our denomination’s leaders met in Baltimore for the 80th General Convention (GC). Normally, GC meets for eight days every three years, but this GC was delayed a year and shortened because of the ongoing pandemic.
Each Diocese sends its bishops and elected clergy and lay deputies to GC to discuss and vote on resolutions that shape the values and practices of The Episcopal Church as a whole. All told, over 400 resolutions were proposed at the 2022 GC, covering everything from social issues to liturgical reforms to human resource policies such as family leave for church employees.
Together, they passed a churchwide budget and elected a new president and vice president of the House of Deputies (HOD). Julie Ayala Harris, a layperson from the Diocese of Oklahoma, is the youngest and first Latina ever to be elected as HOD president. The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, who is Shackan First Nation, is the first Indigenous person to serve as HOD vice president. The budget that was passed includes funds for examining The Episcopal Church’s involvement in Indigenous boarding schools, an important part of reckoning with our denomination’s overall history of racial injustice.
One of the most widely discussed topics at the 2022 GC concerned the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Some Episcopalians have advocated that the time has come to update the 1979 BCP in minor but substantive ways, while others would prefer the church continue using the 1979 BCP as is, while also authorizing supplemental worship materials for parishes to use in addition to the 1979 BCP. With the resolutions passed at the 2022 CG, the bishops and deputies seem to be leaning in the direction of the latter option for now, while not ruling out a new version of the BCP at some point in the future.
After General Convention, another big event quickly followed. The Lambeth Conference is currently underway. This gathering is for all the bishops in the Anglican Communion, the network of denominations that have shared roots in the Church of England. That means that, in addition to Episcopal bishops and British bishops, it also includes bishops from countries across North, Central, and South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and many more Anglican provinces all around the globe. 165 different countries are represented this year among all the attendees!
The Lambeth Conference only happens once per decade, so it is a BIG DEAL. But it is different from General Convention in that it is not intended to be a gathering for the purpose of decision-making. It is meant to be, at its heart, a gathering for the purposes of relationship-building as fellow followers of Jesus in the Anglican tradition.
After a several-year delay due to the pandemic, over 600 bishops have descended upon England at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for conversation, study, worship, and reflection. If you are the sort of church nerd who follows this stuff (and no judgment if you’re not!) you may be aware that this Lambeth Conference has its share of both joys and challenges.
One of the joys is that the number of women bishops worldwide has increased substantially since the last time all the bishops gathered! At the 2008 Lambeth Conference, only 14 of the bishops attending were women. Now, that number has jumped to nearly 100. Every Diocese I have ever served in has been blessed with the leadership of a woman bishop, and it seems that other parts of the Anglican Communion are learning what wonderful gifts women in leadership can bring! Seeing a photo of all the women bishops brought joy to my heart. Additionally, for the very first time in the 155-year history of Lambeth, a woman was invited to preach at the Conference. The Rt. Rev. Vicentia Refiloe Kgabe, Bishop of the Diocese of Lesotho, gave a stirring sermon on the theme of hospitality and service.
More challenging has been the tenor of ongoing conversations around human sexuality and full inclusion of LGBTQ folks in the sacraments of marriage and ordination. While The Episcopal Church has affirmed rites for same sex marriage and has blessed the ordination of openly gay clergy, many Anglicans around the world are opposed to these stances. This division has caused much pain at prior Lambeth Conferences and this one is no different. For example, this year, openly gay bishops were invited to Lambeth for the first time. However, their spouses were specifically not invited. Then, just a few days before the conference was to begin, the Conference organizers shared some documents that did not reflect the Episcopal Church’s values of full inclusion. This caused an uproar of frustration, and the documents were subsequently amended. Then, once all the attendees had gathered, some bishops refused to receive the Eucharist alongside openly gay bishops. And yet, these diverse and divided bishops have committed to listening to one another and remaining in relationship with one another. Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has shared that, despite these painful divisions, he remains hopeful about the future of the Anglican Communion. You can watch his most recent message from Lambeth here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/publicaffairs/message-from-presiding-bishop-michael-curry-on-lambeth-call-on-human-dignity/?wvideo=8aamf3jilm&wkey=Y2FybWVuQHNhaW50YWxiYW5zZGF2aWRzb24ub3Jn&foreign_data=mailchimp_campaign_id%3Af74068a0eb.
If you’ve read this far, God bless you! Church politics can be tedious and tiresome. But while we have not been in Baltimore or the UK, these two gatherings this summer are important for us, too. Our elected church leaders are working to make The Episcopal Church an ever more faithful and just body as we participate in the Jesus movement. Our bishops are engaged in important discussions with their colleagues about how to love one another and practice discipleship and leadership amid deep differences. We can all learn from their example. And we are called to pray for all our leaders.
In the fall, we will offer a Sunday morning forum for those who would like to learn more about General Convention and the Lambeth Conference. We will share more detailed information about what happened at these historic gatherings and reflect together on what they mean for us here at St. Alban’s.
Yours in Christ,
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on July 26, 2022 at 2:25 PM|
Summer is the time of vacations, camps, VBS, high temperatures (we have certainly had those!), pool fun, beach fun, water fun, and most of all quality time with friends and family. My time recently has been mostly driving for vacation and picking my daughter up from Camp Trinity, where I also spent some of my teenage years. It always warms my heart to go back to that special place where I have so many precious memories. We all have those places I am sure that will forever hold those spaces in our hearts. These Episcopal camps, Camp Trinity, Camp Henry, Camp Kanuga and many other church camps offer the most life giving programs that will enrich our children’s lives forever. I want to share a personal story that happened with my daughter this summer after picking her up from Camp Trinity. I don’t know about you, but I always have the best conversations with my children when we are driving. She talked non-stop about everything she did, friends she made, inside jokes with counselors, and the list goes on. We talked about how we had missed each other and how happy I was that she had gone, enjoyed it, and put herself out there to experience it all even though truthfully she was a little anxious when I dropped her off. She paused and looked at me, touched my arm, and said, “Don’t worry Mom, I know God has a plan for me, we talked about it at camp”. Well every now and then, you have a parent moment that makes it all worth it and this was one of mine. My eyes began to tear up, as they are now, as I type this and I took a breath and was just in awe of her new found realization that I had known all along. It’s an incredible moment when they realize it too! I felt strongly about telling this story, because that is what these Episcopal camps do, and do well, I might add. All this is to say, that if you haven’t considered looking into one of these for your child, I highly recommend it from the bottom of my heart.
We work hard to share these same enriching, life giving, inspiring messages with our children and youth right here at St. Alban’s! Next week, we are thrilled to be hosting VBS Compassion Camp: Changing the World with Lovingkindness for 27 children, Monday-Thursday from 9-11am. There is an amazing team of volunteers that we absolutely cannot do this without and I am thrilled to say we have more youth helping this year than ever before. Our goal is to share having Compassion all around us, for ourselves, for our neighbors, and for our world. Our stations include Bible Stories, Create & Play, Compassion In Action, and Recreation/Snack. Of course, the children’s favorite is usually Recreation/Snack, and we will do our best to make the others just as fun. It is our pleasure to share our hearts and provide them with lifelong messaging that will impact their lives. Please keep us in your prayers that each child receives these messages and is inspired! Thank you for your support!
|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on July 18, 2022 at 9:15 AM|
Music Notes July 21, 2022
It never ceases to amaze me that God accomplishes so much for us through other people, often without us ever being aware that God has done so. Not that he needs us, necessarily, to accomplish these things, but he chooses to do some things through our efforts. Sometimes, it is the combined efforts of different people, over time, that produce a final gift that will be meaningful to many people. At times, the person offering his (her) humble gifts or talents may have no idea what it will eventually become. For example, the Offertory Hymn we will sing on Sunday (7/24)- “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”- is one of those instances in which the original purpose for the gift (a poem) was, I believe, refined by God and made into something that could speak to many people over many generations. To state the obvious: our God is very good at refining things.
Joseph Scriven, the author of the poem that, later, became the hymn, was an Irish poet who moved to Canada after his first fiancée drowned the night before they were to be married. When his mother became ill in Ireland, he wrote a poem to comfort her entitled “Pray Without Ceasing”. After Joseph’s second fiancée died of pneumonia, he devoted himself to serving others. He was indeed a man ‘acquainted with grief’.
It was the American lawyer and composer, Charles Converse, who set Mr. Scriven’s poem to music and gave it the title by which we know it today: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. This hymn is included in one of our supplementary hymnals, Lift Every Voice and Sing. When we sing hymns from this hymnal, we insert them into the service bulletin. Feel free to take the bulletin home if you wish to keep the words to re-read. I hope that this simple song will be a comfort to all those who, at times, feel overwhelmed by the world’s chaos and pain.