by: Rich Vaughan
There is a wonderful story found in a book called, “MEGATRUTH, The Church in the Age of Information”. It is by David McKenna and he shares a moment from the early moment of Methodism.
The year is 1739 and “a young man with the sophisticated bearing of an Oxford don climbed the steps of a stone monument called the ‘Market Cross’. It was located in the industrial ghetto of Liverpool, England. Leaning against the cross and looking out over the milling masses, his eyes and ears were shocked by the sights and sounds of dirty and bedraggled miners and millers venting the rage of their hopelessness with damning curses and drunken brawls.
“Breathing a prayer and stretching tall against the cross, the young man began to sing:
‘O, for a thousand tongues to sing,
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King
The triumphs of His grace.’
“The words come easily from his lips because he had written them to celebrate the first anniversary of his conversion to Jesus Christ. He sang in the melody of a popular tune which all the people would recognize. His singing brought an abrupt halt to the bickering and brawling masses. Never before had this crowd heard a note of joy in a religious context.”
Remember at this time in history, you rented or bought a pew so only the wealthy went to church. The poor did not get to hear the gospel message and in their experience “Church” was for the privileged and was a division between the saved and the damned, with little doubt about where they fit in that division. No wonder CHARLES WESLEY (John’s brother) got their attention. He sang of a God of love who offered free grace for all through His son Jesus. It was a great message to the masses in 1739. It is a great message today to an angry world. I invite you to look up the words to this great hymn (#57 in the United Methodist Hymn Book). I invite you to sing the words, pray the words, reflect on the words and most importantly to live the words. Amen & Amen.