Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
Words: Henry Van Dyke, 1907 / Music: Ludwig Von Beethoven, 1824
Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother–all who live in love are Thine.
Teach us how to love each other; lift us to the joy divine.
As people who have grown up in church we are pretty comfortable with the “God our Father” language. For some it seems a little uncomfortable, perhaps, to refer to the Pope as the “Holy Father” as we have been hearing over the past few days with Pope Francis visiting the US and other countries in the area. By the way, I like Pope Francis and much of what he says and does. We need some leaders in all corners of the church today who will shake us out of complacency and lethargy.
However, we don’t much talk about “Christ our Brother.” Savior, yes. Lord, yes. Part of the Triune God, yes. Rabi, yes. Teacher, yes. Prophet, yes. Brother? Not so much.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ~Matthew 5:9
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. ~Romans 8:14
So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. ~Hebrews 2:11
But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.
In “Emmanuel” we have a brother; an older brother who has gone before us. This is not a physical connection, but spiritual adoption into the family of God. We are not on the same level as Jesus with regard to our spiritual nature–He is still the Messiah sent from God and I am not. That’s clear. But this Messiah was human and walked on this earth and understands my dilemma.
Those who follow his footsteps in doing the will of their Father in Heaven, are his brothers and sisters. Those who make peace become sons and daughters of God. Those who are lead by the Spirit and, we could add, show the evidence of the Spirit’s fruit, share in the inheritance as God’s children (Hebrew 9:15).
Mortals join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began.
Father-love is reigning over us; Brother-love binds man to man.
Ever singing march we onward, victors in the midst of strife.
Joyful music leads us sunward in the triumph song of life!