Our Gospel reading this week includes the verse “‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’” (Matthew 18:20) This leads me to start the service with a prelude on Ubi Caritas. A translation of the Latin text “Where charity and love are, there God is. The love of Christ has gathered us into one.”
“Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: ‘Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?’ Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?”
Synesius of Cyrene (c.370-c.413) wrote several hymns as the Bishop of Ptolemais, and one of those is included in our hymnal. The translation by Allen William Chatfield --
Lord Jesus, think on me, and purge away my sin;
From harmful passions set me free, and make me pure within.
Lord Jesus, think on me, with care and woe oppressed;
Let me thy loving servant be, and taste thy promised rest.
Lord Jesus, think on me, nor let me go astray;
Through darkness and perplexity point thou the heavenly way.
Lord Jesus, think on me, that, when the flood is passed,
I may the eternal brightness see, and share thy joy at last.
I pair this hymn with the reading from Ezekiel because it seems to me that Synesius is asking how to live. He is asking for the strength and the vision required to do so.
Johann Gottfried Walther’s (1684-1748) chorale prelude on “Warum sollt ich mich denn grämen?” will conclude the service. The English translation is a happy question: “Why should sorrow ever grieve me?” and the tune is bright and bouncy.