I awoke to these lyrics in my head this morning:
Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,Robed in the blooming garb of spring;Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine,Fairer still the moonlight,And all the twinkling starry host;Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer Than all the angels heaven can boast.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration, Now and forever more be Thine.
I have not sung this in many years. I can still hear my mother pounding through the melody on the piano on a Friday night preparing for Sunday morning. Many Friday evenings were non-traditional for me. There were many times I would be out with the Lionel Cables and David, Rapheals, and Cale’s and James A. Carr’s creating havoc in the mad streets of Topeka, KS. But then on some of those evenings I would return home early to enter the house to the sound of my mother preparing music for corporate worship. I see now while she was preparing to play for Sunday, a lot of those hymns were preparing me for today. Some history repeating itself is not a bad thing.
I have long since passed those days and have long embraced the fact that my parents are enjoying the autumn of their lives. (As a matter or fact we celebrated with my father his seventy-fifth birthday earlier this week.) It is bitter-sweet. I long for days of respite and the simplicity of enjoying the common unity of family in spite of all of our frailties. The long periods of dialog, the respect of person regardless of the age, the engagement, the critical thinking and challenge to see better, to feel right, to know humbly. I miss those kind of Friday nights.
Yet with all the glory and splendor those days together then and many enjoyable moments from time to time presently I see more clearly how the word ‘better’ is so key to the book of Hebrews (and becoming more important in the pamphlet of DeLanos.) The songwriter affirms what we so often fail to embrace. Of all the favorable and fairer things we experience Jesus is still fairer. Of all the hopes we think we need to succeed, to enjoy, to be alright, Jesus is still worth more. For the song writer it was the meadows for me it was the plains of content I found in those cheerleaders in my family. For the writer it was the stars shinning, for me it was watching my father shut lights off in the house (the light bill is too high.) Both were fair, neither is better than Jesus.
We know these things will fade away. But we would rather hold on to the fleeting, than to just take a chance with the eternal. Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus and to trust Him at His Word. One thing this is assures is I could go back to my old church and sing this with conviction knowing I believe the words to be true. But more than that, as much as Friday means too me I find the older I get I am willing to take a chance and give up my Friday if it means that Sunday will be everything I never considered it could be. Only looking to Christ will you ever find how much fairer He is than everything else. But that means you have to look at Him long and regularly.