ONE STEP ENOUGH FOR ME
September 12, 2011
Lisa Livezey writes:
My husband, David, believes that his faith in Christ was born and nurtured while singing Welsh hymns as a child. I, too, have grown to love those Welsh hymns over the past 25 years. They have encouraged my faith in many an uncertain hour.
When David visited Good Shepherd Rosemont, he asked God for a sign if this was a church to consider attending. Bishop Moyer’s sermon ended with the words, “Lead Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on….” Those words were all David needed to hear. His sign was there in the familiar words of his favorite Welsh hymn, Sandon. David then proceeded to coffee hour where, assembled around food and coffee, he met the heart of the church – warm, sincere, fellow-followers of Jesus Christ.
September 11, 2011
This past Sunday marked the second service of the Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman. It was my first service with the Newman Fellowship and I’ll admit a sinking feeling as we turned in at the black mailbox taped with a white sign which read “CHURCH,” handwritten in block letters. Exactly four years ago we were pulling up to a home meeting for a different start-up church. That church closed three years later. “Been there, done that,” I found myself thinking. I remembered Bishop Moyer’s words to “look forward, not backward…[giving] ourselves unreservedly to the path God the Holy Spirit is charting for us.”
We walked through the spotless garage, toting folding chairs and high hopes, and entered a beautiful home where, assembled in a few adjoining rooms, we met the heart of the church. I sat in a hallway facing friends in the foyer, not seeing, but still participating with Bishop Moyer in the next room.
The New Testament reading from Romans 14 talked about living and dying to the Lord. This brought to mind another Welsh hymn, Penpark.
Whether to live or die,
I know not which is best;
To live in Thee is bliss to me,
To die is endless rest.
Living or dying, Lord,
I ask but to be Thine;
My life in Thee, Thy life in me;
Makes heaven forever mine! [Penpark, words by Henry Harbaugh (1817-1867), vs. 3,4]
And then followed Hymn #304: There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy. My eyes met David’s. The words to my very own favorite Welsh hymn, In Memoriam, being sung to a different tune. As I learned recently from Prof. Patrick Burke, the words were penned by Catholic priest F.W. Faber, a 19th century hymnologist:
But we make his love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify his strictness
With a zeal He will not own.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at his word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord. [In Memoriam, words by F. W. Faber (1814-1863), vs. 3]
I watched Bill Gatens sitting three feet away, his fingers pressing the keys of the electronic keyboard as if it were a magnificent pipe organ. A few minutes later, I shared “The Peace” with Dr. Gatens, a rare privilege.
The Prayers of the People offered in a home setting allowed for group participation as we voiced petitions for the families of 9-11 victims along with a prayer for friends worshiping at Good Shepherd.
Bishop Moyer’s sermon focused on forgiveness. “Seventy times seven,” said Jesus (Matthew 18:22b). It brought to mind the continual need for help to forgive and to be forgiven. I prayed that God would put His love and forgiveness into my heart.
For the love of God is broader
Than the measures of man’s mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind. [Faber, vs. 2]
Also in the sermon was Bishop Moyer’s account of his own near-death experience following a car accident last year, reminding us that man knows not his time. He later recounted the moving story of former Good Shepherd rector Fr. George Rutler, who prayed with a group of firemen just before they entered the burning World Trade Center.
The service concluded with a corporate recitation of words penned by John Henry Newman, along with the prayer printed on the card we’d received that morning:
Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home-
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene, - one step enough for me. [Sandon, words by J. H. Newman (1801-1890), vs. 1]
I exchanged glances with David and our children as we recited the words from memory. There was no need to read them – we have been singing them for many years.
To hear Sandon, click here.