Gather us in
We went to church in the west end of town last week. Their opening hymn was Gather Us In by Marty Haugen. I had never heard it before, and I really liked it -- both the lyrics and the tune.
JtM mentioned it tonight, in conjunction with something else, so I pulled out The Faith We Sing and read the words again. A communion post was forming in my mind, so I "googled" the song, so that I could copy and paste the words for the post, rather than type them.
One of the entries I found was on Beliefnet -- it is one of the hymns referenced in an article called "Heretical Hymns? Sacred songs gone wrong? You Decide."
The lyrics in question are:
Not in the dark of buildings confiningThe Beliefnet article had two objections to these lyrics -- they seem to "dis" church building and "even the afterlife." Do you get that impression from these lyrics? I don't.
Not in some heaven, light years away,
But here in this place, the new light is
Now is the Kingdom, now is the day...
The point of this verse, I think, can be found in the last line -- "Now is the kingdom, now is the day." The kingdom of God is now and then. It is in the future and in the present. The kingdom of God cannot be confined to a church building; it cannot be found only sitting in a pew. God will not be trapped behind our closed door. He is everywhere.
The kingdom of God is not only to be found in some heaven, far away. God is here, now, with us. He is not sitting, far away, in a place we cannot touch or cannot even imagine. He's with us now. Here and now.
I don't think the song shows disrespect, either for church buildings or for heaven. The lyrics just point out the God is bigger than a church building and closer than a far off place.
Images: Crepe Myrtle from Mom's yard.