Dear Friends and Fellow Children of God,
One of my very favorite pieces of choral Music is the anthem, "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come" written by Dr. Paul Manz, and his wife Ruth. I first sang this anthem while part of the choir at Concordia Lutheran College in Austin, Texas, as a freshman in the 1971-1972 school year. However, I have also sung this anthem with choirs at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in each of the three congregations where I have served as pastor, and also in the joint choir for the Community Advent Service in Palmer, AK. So many sing this anthem because the tune is hauntingly beautiful, and because the thoughts and the prayer of this piece of music are always timely. “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Actually, when I later learned about the situation behind the writing of this beautiful hymn and prayer, the story brought tears to my eyes; this composition became even more one of my all-time favorite anthems. So, I looked on the internet and found a story written by Pastor Larry Peters of Grace Lutheran Church in Clarksville, TN, who, during the second year of his ministry, heard Paul Manz himself lead a performance of this piece. Pastor Peters writes, “According to Manz, the piece was written in 1953 when his 3 year old son John was desperately ill in the hospital. Little hope was given to the parents. Paul's wife, Ruth, had worked the words together from Revelation 22 and gave it to Paul to do something with... And so he did. After John had recovered, the sketch was revisited and Paul published it, dedicating the piece ‘To John and all who prayed for him.’"
The deep prayer of this beautiful piece of music came to mind as I have been reading during my daily devotions in the “Song of Solomon.” This poem about the love between a husband and wife is included in Scripture, not only as a picture of God’s plan for the intimate relationship between a husband and wife, but also because this book depicts the deep love of our Savior, Jesus, for His bride, the Church. As the husband in this book longs for his wife, our Lord Jesus, loves us. Christ loves His Church, loves each of us, with an unfathomable, sacrficial love. The writer of the devotions for my Bible points out how often the bride of this book of Scripture calls for her husband to “come.” Because of our Lord’s deep love for us, God’s church longs for Jesus to come.
In fact, that is the prayer spoken by the Apostle John on behalf of the church at the end of Scriptures in Revelation 22. “17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. . . 20 He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen. (Revelation 22:17, 20-21)
We have left the calendar year of 2019 behind and have now entered a New Year. What are you hoping for in 2020? It is common for many to make resolutions. People traditionally make promises to themselves hoping for a better future. Have you made such resolutions? For a number of years I have resolved the same 3 promises to myself to care for myself spiritually, physically, and in my family. But first, before I make promises about what I want to do, I have a prayer asking God’s help. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
Yes, the day when Jesus comes again as Judge and Savior at the end of this world to take His people home will be a glorious day of deliverance. Life in heaven for those who believe in Jesus will deliver us from the sin, the pain, and the death of this world, and be a time of great joy!
But, as we pray “Thy Kingdom Come” in The Lord’s Prayer, my prayer is that Jesus will indeed come to us today. I pray Jesus comes to my family and loved ones, helping them to know His love and to help them to trust Him through good times and bad.
I pray that Jesus comes to Christ’s body, The Christian Church. I pray Jesus’ coming brings faithful pastors and leaders to His Church, leaders who teach what Scripture says. I pray that Jesus comes and His people are full of zeal so that they seek to live the life to which Jesus calls us. I pray that I may live faithfully as a child of God.
I pray that Jesus comes to the governments and leaders of our world bringing wisdom, justice, righteousness, and peace to the nations and communities of the world.
I pray that Jesus comes for all who are ill, all who are grieving, and all who are troubled, and that Jesus brings the peace of His saving Love.
Yes, I have plans for how I will live in the coming year. But, before I make resolutions for how I hope to act, I first have a prayer for God’s help. I pray as John writes in the book of Revelation, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Or, as Paul and Ruth Manz wrote in their time of desperation, "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come"
What are your resolutions for 2020? Perhaps more importantly, what are your prayers for the coming year? Are you praying for Jesus to come to you?
A Child of God, Praying for Jesus to Come in Our World and in our Lives,
P.S. Here is a YouTube Recording of the Paul Manz anthem, “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come”, sung by the Choir of St. John, Cambridge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdWN5DQ77Wk
P.P.S. Here are some pictures from our Rockey Family Christmas 12-28-2019. https://photos.app.goo.gl/S3UVEepkLrpbia4X7
P.P.P.S. Here are Ice-Fishing pictures
· Fishing with Gaelen, Jake, and Paul - 2 church members and the son of a workmate of Kathy. https://photos.app.goo.gl/dQ8esxLMUbzUVzy19
· Fishing with son, Josh, and grandchildren Henry, Anna, Jackson, and Kendall, after church on 12-29-2019: https://photos.app.goo.gl/5qysRprtGn1ipy7H8
ABOUT THIS DEVOTION – I am now retired as senior pastor of St. John Lutheran in Palmer, AK. This devotion was previously titled, “Thoughts from the Pastor.” However, with life’s changes I will now call it, “Journeys Through Life as a Child of God.” I am only sending this message to those who have asked to receive it. If you know someone else who desires to receive this message have them e-mail me at email@example.com. You can also view this message on my Facebook page.