In Christ Alone

This morning, something momentous happened during the worship service we attended at our daughter’s Christian Reformed Church in Willowdale. It wasn’t the baptism, the age appropriate profession of faith, the stirring Pentecost sermon, or even the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. These were all important, in their own ways, special even, but they would not have caused me to put fingers to keyboard this evening.

We sang the song “In Christ Alone” near the end of the service. I’ve sung this song many times before, love it even, but today, we sang the song in solidarity with the family of Tim Bosma and the Ancaster CRC. We sang along with more than 250 other CRC’s across the continent. Tim was the young father whose burnt remains were found early last week. He was last seen driving off in his truck accompanying a couple of men interested in buying it, a week earlier. A social media campaign brought the image of Tim’s smiling face to many of our computers. The conventional media’s attention was held by this case and they in turn recognized the importance of his church to the person he was and its role in the effort to find him.

I didn’t actually know Tim at all, and while I do know some people who know folks related to  Tim’s widow, I really don’t know her either, and yet, as we sang together this morning, I, like many others who didn’t know these folks either, experienced a deep emotional reaction. There were tears throughout the sanctuary, voices broke, some could no longer stand. I recognized that while I don’t actually know Tim or Sharlene, I really did. Tim’s face, smiling out of the “Missing” poster is so familiar, the face of many of the young men in our communities. Sharlene’s tear filled face exclaiming “It’s only a truck” could be the face of one of my daughters, or any of the young mothers in our congregation. Tim and Sharlene in their strangeness are not strangers. They are one of us. Part of our extended family; our church family. They are us.

And suddenly we found our mostly middle class church communities violated. We find “powers of hell,  schemes of man” breaking into our quiet, peaceful, safe lives and we find ourselves shaken. This sort of thing happens at Jane and Finch but not where we live and suddenly we realize there is no safety. We can’t count on our hard work, our precautions, even our strong communities. There is no safe place.

So today we sang. We stood up against those powers and schemes and held on to the only power we can really count on.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

As we sang, and cried, we did sing for Tim, his family, his church, but in reality we were singing our faith into the world. We’ve been given a glimpse of hell, the power of the schemes of men, and we stood together and sang out against those powers, holding up in front of us, for all to see, the power that really counts in this world.

In Christ alone our hope is found.

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5 thoughts on “In Christ Alone

  1. Absolutely beautifully said! As members of Community CRC in Kitchener, my family found ourselves at Hope Community CRC in Mt. Brydges this morning for the baptism of our friends adopted son. As we sang ‘In Christ Alone’ there, it struck a chord with me that we are all part of one family! The family of Christ! Our own church was hit hard by this tragedy through relations to the Bosmas, it also hit hard for many other people I know as it became realization that we indeed did know Sharlene through community, school, etc., and by extension Tim. This morning, I do have to agree with you that not only did many CRC churches stood in solidarity with each other, but the Church as a whole stood side by side, without a care to denomination, to profess our faith in our Lord, and to pray, weep, and love as a family does!

    Thank you for this post, as it really helps us to seek, and find, hope in Christ!

    • Thanks for stopping by.

      I was struck yesterday by the way the words of In Christ Alone echo Heidelberg Catechism Q and A 1. We could have recited those words together, but the song does a wonderful job of telling much the same story reminding us of where we look to find hope in a hopeless world.

      Be well

      Ken

    • Thanks Allen,

      It was a message of solidarity as we sang together, but somehow it was more than that. We should have the same feeling of solidarity as we recite the Apostles Creed together with the church universal, but we really don’t, and maybe its because we really don’t recognize those words as a rebellion against the trouble of this world. We’ve said the words so many times. The words and tune of the song, while powerful in themselves, took on a new meaning as we sang together this past Sunday. Maybe we just need to be reminded from time to time of the profound act of rebellion against the empire it can be to speak (sing) together and of the power that can be found in the subject of this unity.

      • Well said, and while it usually takes a tragedy to awaken us to the magnitude of this subject, I am convinced it need not be this alone. Perhaps a topic for another post.

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