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Reflections

Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email,  provide your email address.

Friday, September 10 2021

 

He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

-Isaiah 25:8

 

The closing hymn for this Sunday’s services is Be Still, My Soul, a favorite hymn of mine. The hymn tune, FINLANDIA, was composed by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius as part of an orchestral work. This composition was actually a political statement by the composer in protest against censorship by the Russian Empire. Finland had been controlled or influenced by foreign powers since the Middle Ages and in the 1800s, anti-Russian sentiments steadily grew.

 

In the orchestral work, this music is without words, but words were added in 1940 and it became a national of Finland. These words speak of daylight dawning on Finland and paint an image of a free and independent country away from the imperial influence of their neighbors.

 

The words to Be Still, My Soul were written in 1752 and translated into English in 1855. Though the words to our hymn were probably not on Sibelius’ mind when he was composing the original orchestral music, perhaps he composed while imagining the sun setting for the first time on a Finland free of negative outside influences. I can’t help but see a parallel with this idea and our return to the Source when our time comes. The words to this hymn even evoke this same imagery in the third and final verse:

 

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on

When we shall be forever with the Lord;

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

 

Life can be very difficult, especially now as the pandemic drags on for longer than any of us expected. It is easy to feel discouraged and down, but singing this hymn helps me to re-orient myself with the grand scheme of things. We are but a blip in the history of the universe, a speck of sand in a vast desert, and yet our loving and unchanging God calls us and knows us. And God calls us to awake one day in his presence with the sun shining on that heavenly country where all pain and sorrow are no more. How does the knowledge of such amazing grace change the way we interact with people, especially with those who do not agree with us now in the midst of this frustrating pandemic?

Prayer for Today

Author of Peace, we often become overwhelmed and consumed by the circumstances at hand, failing to realize the transience of our situation. Help us to center ourselves and approach hardships with perspective as we work to live into hope and peace, bring love and understanding to all of life’s challenges. Glory to you, now and forever. Amen.

Posted by: AT 07:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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