New Hymns for the Lectionary
Proper 28C Gospel, November 14, 2004

By Their Endurance
TEXT: Mark Ryman (2004) based on Luke 21:5-19.
TUNE: “Slane,” an Irish Folk Song.

By their endurance the saints have been blessed.
They kept their God’s Name—whatever the test.
Christians were hated for loving their Lord
And lost man’s favor but gained God’s reward.

They bore true witness of all that they’d known—
The true words they spoke came straight from God’s throne.
The Truth was worth the high price they might bear.
Prison and death could not bring them despair.

Faces were lifted when meeting such fear
For God’s bright countenance soon would appear.
This was their great chance to speak of the hope
Of Christ’s redemption—despite king or pope.

We are no diff’rent in calling today.
Our mission may be to do more than pray!
If we are summoned to speak of our ways
Will we find God’s condemnation or praise?

This is our grand opportunity, Friends.
Speak of your Lord before your prospect ends.
God will go with you and speak through your voice
And will convince some if you make the choice.

The Lesson - Luke 21:5-19

       So much is owed to the saints of old. Consider for a moment, just one man: John Wycliffe. He was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1324, nearly two centuries before the Reformation. Nevertheless, he was already preaching and teaching against the false doctrines of the Roman church. Because he was doing so almost 200 years before Luther, Wycliffe is called the Morningstar of the Reformation. Of special note is his translation of the New Testament from the Latin of the Roman church into the common language of the English people. The church forbade scripture in the common tongue, but Wycliffe did it anyway.
       His translation was a forerunner of later English Bibles, such as Tyndale, the Great, Geneva, and even the King James. It was not the church’s laws, but that economical printing processes had yet to be invented in Europe, that kept Wycliffe’s hand-lettered New Testament from becoming widespread like the later printed translations. Still, it was his stand for truth that tindered the later fires of the Reformers—and thus, the presses of Gutenberg’s successors.
       For his stand, Wycliffe was excommunicated from, and posthumously burned by the church. Luther would say in another century and another land, “Here I stand.” Wycliffe said it too—with his life. What do you say? Are you making a stand for God? Are you speaking for Him? Are you living for Him in such a manner that you are summoned to speak to the hope of your calling? So much held down Wycliffe but he stood up for God anyway. What’s holding you down?

© 2004, Mark E. Ryman

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Mark E. Ryman