Suggested Hymns from

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Year C: Proper 6(11)

Unifying Theme:
Earthly desires cause us to fall away from God;
the farther we fall, the more we can be lifted up--
but don't try to fall!

Scripture Theme Hymns
1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a
2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15
A tale of Ahab's desire
A tale of David's desire
358: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
410: I Want a Principle Within
Psalm 5:1-8
Psalm 32
Cry for help; wait with expectation
Blessing in forgiveness
142: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee
372: How Can We Sinners Know
Galatians 2:15-21 Justification comes through faith in Christ 385: Let Us Plead for Faith Alone
714: I Know Whom I Have Believed
Luke 7:36-8:3 Greater mercy calls for greater love 355: Depth of Mercy
414: Thou Hidden Love of God

Featured Hymn
How Can We Sinners Know

Hymn #372
Text: Charles Wesley
Music: Genevan Psalter; adapt. by William Crotch
Tune: St. Michael, Meter: SM

There are many things that we "know." We "know" that two plus two equal four. We "know" up from down. We "know" left and right. These all seem simple enough, and we have no doubts about them--until we dig deeper. High level mathematicians can "prove" that two plus two do not equal four. People on opposite sides of the earth point in opposite directions when they point "up." When people face each other, "right" and "left" are opposite directions.

These are some of the simple things that we "know." If there is confusion about these, what can we do about more difficult issues? For example, how can we "know" anything about unexplored regions of the sea? How can we "know" anything about the depths of outer space? We have not gone, and sometimes are not able to go, to some of these places to gather information. We cannot touch and feel anything. We do not have direct access to find answers to our questions.

While this limits our knowledge of the seas and space, scientists are able to learn many things because of the signs that they see. They can know the depth of water by making sounds and measuring how long it takes for the sounds to bounce back. In outer space, astronomers can chart the positions and movements of stars to learn about their positions and the directions that they move. They can analyze light spectrums to determine what stars are made of, and how fast they are moving closer or farther from earth. Basically, these scientists look for signs to help them understand and "know" things about the world and universe around them.

How can we "know" about things that are spiritual? This is the question that Charles Wesley asks--and answers--in this week's featured hymn. Only God can forgive our sins. Because of our separation from God, we do not have direct access to Him so that we can "know" of our forgiveness. Like scientists who observe creation, though, we can look for spiritual signs of sins forgiven. To name just a few, these signs include peace, a meek and lowly heart, and transformation of the mind.

This hymn is especially meaningful because it was written by Charles Wesley. His father was a minister, and his mother was a very disciplined and devout Christian. His brother John is considered to be the founder of the Methodist Church. Charles himself studied to enter the ministry and began establishing "Methodist Societies" while he was in school. Later, he went to the colonies in North America to share his faith. A few months later he returned to England feeling that he had been a failure. But then something changed. After his return he experienced a "strange palpitation of the heart." It was at this time that he personally experienced the knowledge of sins forgiven. He had not received this knowledge through his parents or through his education. He had not received it through commitment to the mission field. Instead, he received it in a broken and contrite spirit, and it was then that the signs of sins forgiven became unmistakable to him.

As you read the words of this hymn, look within yourself for signs of sins forgiven.

1. How can we sinners know
our sins on earth forgiven?
How can my gracious Savior show
my name inscribed in heaven?
2. What we have felt and seen,
with confidence we tell,
and publish to the ends of earth
the signs infallible.
3. We who in Christ believe
that he for us hath died,
we all his unknown peace receive
and feel his blood applied.
4. We by his Spirit prove
and know the things of God,
the things which freely of his love
he hath on us bestowed.
5. The meek and lowly heart
that in our Savior was,
to us that Spirit doth impart
and signs us with his cross.
6. Our nature's turned, our mind
transformed in all its powers,
and both the witnesses are joined,
the Spirit of God with ours.

We are all sinners, but God is not willing that any should perish. We can all be forgiven, and we can know that we are forgiven through the signs that God gives us.

God bless you--
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Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.