One of my favorite spots to sit in the parsonage is on an over-stuffed chair by one of the windows in the dining room. This comfy, high back chair is adjacent to a large, clear, molded-plastic bird feeder attached to the outside windowsill. In the early evening hours— mourning doves often join me, as they rest or feed at the feeder and softly coo their melodic lament. I liken the song of the mourning dove to a somewhat melancholy, other-worldly, eventide hymn. At the end of the day, their anthem is a fitting offering of praise to their Creator and Sustainer. Well over a century ago, Henry Francis Lyte— in like fashion, wrote these familiar lyrics to a hymn we sometimes sing at our monthly N-M’s ministry fellowship:
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.
Encouraging words of comfort— we all need them from time-to-time. Even the Apostle Paul admitted that there were “those days” when he sensed the abiding, comforting presence of Christ, being lived-out through those around him. In his second epistle to the believers in Corinth he wrote: “For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.” (2. Corinthians 7:5-7, NASB)
“Conflicts without, fears within… but God who comforts”— Isn’t that exactly the message that was shared on the first Easter morning, with those who stood outside the empty sepulcher; filled with both conflict and fear? “Then the angel spoke to the women. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and He is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. Remember what I have told you.’ The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy.” (Matthew 28:5-8, NIV) That’s the challenge put before each of us… to live the gospel of grace— to share the good news: “Don’t be afraid! Christ, the Lord is risen today!”
Abiding in Him,