When our congregation has faced five deaths in the past two weeks, at least three more in the past month, and is looking at another two or three members who are struggling and not expected to make it past the next two weeks, it's hard to juggle conflicting emotions of grief, incredulity, and morbid humor. I just took a peek at tonight's worship bulletin, and in response to a Gospel reading that highlights Peter's denial, our music director picked the hymn "Abide with Me" to draw on themes of our denial and God's faithfulness. I think that in the midst of all of the grief and heaviness surrounding us here at church (which indeed makes me think more broadly about the griefs and struggles of our world and our existence), if we can pray nothing else, we can always look to God and plead, "Abide with me." This hymn is pure comfort to me:
Abide with Me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.