Hi!! I have missed you! Are you ready to have some fun as “We Gather Together?” My hope is that we will be gathering together (virtually) to consider some joys, challenges, opportunities, moments and surprises of the holidays.
The hymn “We Gather Together” is one of my favorites. It is a Dutch hymn, written in 1597 to celebrate the Dutch victory over the Spanish. The song is particularly poignant because the Spanish had oppressed the Dutch, with the Spanish King refusing Dutch Protestants freedom of worship. Americans adopted it as a song for the Thanksgiving holiday in the 1930’s. And, during World War II, Americans sang the hymn, considering the Germans and Japanese as “the wicked oppressing.” This song has legs!
I love the hymn for my own reasons. Some of these come for the first two lines of the song.
- It is “we” who gather together. We are equal; there is no discrimination among “us.”
- “We” decide to gather together. It is not an accident nor an activity that is forced upon us. We make a conscious choice to associate with one another.
- Our purpose is not prideful. We do not gather to pretend to be more than we are. Nor, are we focused on making others feel bad (or good). Instead, we gather together to “ask the Lord’s blessing.” This statement might put some of you off. If you are unsure of either the truth or value of that goal, please stay with me through this year’s musings. I am praying that there is something for each of us to learn here.
- God’s intention is to “make His will known.” So often, you and I, our community, our family, raises our faces to the sky and asks “God, what on earth is going on?” Or, “God, surely You are not paying attention.” Or, “God, are You even there?” The writer of the hymn tells us that God “chastens and hastens” (in other words, He is pushing hard to get it done) His will to make known.
(Do you feel like you are back in Junior High/Middle School with the teacher reading some obscure poem and asking, “What does this mean to you?” No worries, this is just the introduction to this season’s musings-it gets better!!)
So, as you and your family, friends gather together or as you gather your thoughts and enjoy/exist/suffer-through this Thanksgiving, consider what it might to “gather together.” Join me – it will be fun!!
Jill (just one of God’s kids)
“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; He chastens and hastens His will to make known. The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
“Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine; So, from the beginning the fight we were winning; Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
“We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant, and pray that Thou still our Defender will be. Let Thy congregation escape tribulation; Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord make us free!”