I must admit that the past few weeks have been distressing.  We are living in a strange time.  Politics have overwhelmed us.  Many of us find ourselves at odds with friends and family.  We are being challenged to stand up for what we believe; to find our voices.  I needed to process all of this, and I needed to speak to it.  But what a challenge.  What will my voice say?  What will it sound like?  Who will it offend?  Who will it encourage?

As I searched for a hymn that might help me find my way, I came across this one.  A beautiful, haunting tune, with powerful lyrics, written in 1846 by Horatius Bonar.  As soon as I read the words, I knew they spoke to what was troubling me.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto me and rest;
lay down, O weary one, lay down
your head upon my breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn, and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Behold, I freely give
the living water, thirsty one,
stoop down and drink and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s light;
look unto me; your morn shall rise,
and all your day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
in him my star, my sun;
and in that light of life I’ll walk
till traveling days are done.

As always, I appreciate that different people will read these words differently.  But, I was struck by their relevance to the current situation in North America – and many other places in this world.  The offer of rest, shelter, water – life – is clear.  This is the example we are given.  This is what we have been offered, this is what we are to provide.  We are not asked what we believe.  We are not asked where we are from.  We are not even asked what we have done.  We are simply given a light to travel with, and provisions for the journey.

I read these words as a guide to what we can offer.  There is no exchange involved.  Our own comfort and safety are not part of the equation.  Although the promise of the sun rising and filling our days with brightness is there, this is about what life becomes when we are truly willing to share all that is good with those around us.  With those in need; with those that are different.   For me, the value lies in what we can learn about ourselves and how we should behave, not in a self-centred attempt to make the rest of the world a reflection of who we are and what we believe.

With increasing difficulty, I still identify as a Christian because that is the space I was born into and I am fortunate to be part of a community that values diversity and justice.  But it is time for us to understand that the example found in Christ supersedes the religion created in his name.  I am dismayed by what some preach.  I am heartbroken by what some are willing to accept.  And I will admit that when I read some of the things being said and done in the name of Christianity, I am disgusted.    They reflect nothing of this hymn’s simple words.  They reflect nothing of the example we’ve been given.

This is difficult to write.  It is difficult because it requires me to speak with a voice not all will understand.  But if I replace the name of Jesus in this hymn with my own, it is the voice I want heard by whomever needs to hear the words.

I found in her a resting place, and she has made me glad.