The Rev. G. Runge Nease was my Pastor during my spiritually formative teen years. He often recited verses from Psalm 8 as the Opening Sentence for worship, reminding us that God is always mindful of us and that we are created a little lower than the Holy Angels. I can hear his voice even now six decades later proclaiming, "O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy Name in all the earth..."
We may - and often do - forget God, but God never forgets us, is always mindful of us, reaches out to us in Love Divine. I often pray this collect on Thursdays and imagine I'm walking with those disciples along the Road to Emmaus on that first Easter Day. The Risen Christ was their companion on that journey but they didn't recognize him.
Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Pastor Nease planted the seed of understanding in me that continues to reassure me every step along the way and every hour of every day, God is mindful of me, even when I am not mindful of God. My ultimate worth to my Creator is like that of the Angels.
Here's the Psalm 8 sung in magnificent Anglican chant.
Domine, Dominus noster
1. O LORD our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world: thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens!
2. Out of the mouth of very babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies: that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
3. For I will consider thy heavens, even the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained.
4. What is man, that thou art mindful of him: and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5. Thou madest him lower than the angels: to crown him with glory and worship.
6. Thou makest him to have dominion of the works of thy hands: and thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet;
7. All sheep and oxen: yea, and the beasts of the field;
8. The fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea: and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the seas.
9. O Lord our Governor: how excellent is thy Name in all the world.
One of the wisest saints I've ever known was Marjorie Lester. Marjorie was a member of Houston's Bering Memorial Church. She lived to be 101 years old. Before coming to Houston, she was the second woman admitted to the bar in the Commonwealth of Kentucky after her husband was murdered, leaving her a widow with two young sons. In Houston, she was in charge of legal records for one of the natural gas companies.
In my first year at Bering Memorial Church, during the worship service where I was asking worshipers to complete their pledge cards and bring them to the Altar, she asked to speak to the congregation. Leaning on her cane, she said these words, "The Apostle Paul would be envious of the mission field at our doorstep."
Those who recorded the pledges told me that about half of the cards had the first figure erased or crossed out and a higher amount written in, no doubt in response to what Marjorie said.
In one of my last home visits to her in 1986, she said this to me. "Ron, I hope what I'm about to say does not render me a heretic, but when we get to heaven if all we are going to do is stand around God's throne and sing, I'm not sure I want to go."
I replied, "The endless singing is the work of the Angels. We get to join them, but there are other things for us to do there. I'm not sure what our other tasks will be, but I look forward to your being there beside me when the time comes."
I wish I'd had this hymn handy to share with her.
Angel Voices Ever Singing
1 Angel voices ever singing
round Thy throne of light,
angel harps, forever ringing,
rest not day nor night;
thousands only live to bless Thee
and confess thee Lord of might.
2 Thou who art beyond the farthest
mortal eye can scan,
can it be that Thou regardest
songs of sinful man?
Can we feel that Thou art near us
and wilt hear us? Yea, we can.
3 Yea, we know Thy love rejoices
o'er each work of Thine;
Thou didst ears and hands and voices
for Thy praise combine;
craftsman's art and music's measure
for Thy pleasure didst design.
4 Here, great God, today we offer
of Thine own to Thee;
and for Thine acceptance proffer,
hearts and minds and hands and voices
in our choicest melody.
5 Honor, glory, might, and merit
Thine shall ever be,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
of the best that Thou hast given
earth and heaven render Thee.
Author: Francis Pott (1861)
ANGEL VOICES (Monk) Composer: Edwin George Monk (1861)
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