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No Earthly Good

April 23, 2013

“I’d stay in the garden with him

Though the night around me be falling,

but he bids me go;

through the voice of woe

his voice to me is calling.”

—verse 3 of In the Garden

My most recent blog entry was about a line from one of Vincent van Gogh’s letters.  There I wrote that  I found something missing in Vincent’s saying that what we do in this life is sow for a harvest that’s not in this lifetime.

Returning to my current Easter Song series, the very next one in the current edition of The United Methodist Hymnal‘s Easter section fits remarkably.  It was sung to me regularly by my  mom when I was very little.  I even remember thinking at some point as a child that she wrote the best songs, including this one.

Now I know it as one of the top 3 favorites at nursing home services.  The first two verses of In the Garden and the chorus comfort us with the joy of the reassuring presence and care of Christ.

Then verse 3 redirects us from this cozy time with Christ by ourselves to noticing the world around us.  We are sent to serve there.  This is what I was missing in Vincent’s sowing and harvesting theology.  As my pastor during my youth told us, “Be careful not to become so heavenly-minded that you’re of no earthly good.”

That’s also what’s missing from many churches and from many Christians.  We’ve forgotten the imperatives of social justice in its many forms.

As we continue living this side of Easter, may we hear the Resurrected Christ calling to us through the voice of woe and respond to his calling.


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