Biblical Reference: Luke 7:11-17, 36-50, 7:22, 15:1-32, 4:18
Tune: Johann Michael Haydn; arranged by William Gardiner, 1815 ("O Worship the King, All Glorious Above!")
Alternate tune: HANOVER, William Croft, Supplement to the New Version, 1708 ("Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim")
Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/
Permission is given for free use of this hymn by churches that support Bread for the World.
Hymn Note for "O Christ, You Are Life"
Luke's stories of Jesus raising the widow's son at Nain (Luke 7:11-17) and forgiving a sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50) tell us about how Jesus lives out his teachings of compassion for the poor and outcasts.
Joel Green finds in raising the widow's son, "Surprisingly in a social context in which females are typically identified in relation to males, this dead man is presented as "his mother's son." Following this the focus of attention is on her: shewas a widow, the crowd was with her; Jesus saw her, had compassion on her, spoke to her, and, finally gave the dead man brought back to life to her. She who is husbandless and sonless and in mourning, she who epitomizes the "poor" to whom Jesus has come to bring good news, is the real recipient of Jesus' compassionate ministry. In fact, it is not too much to say that "healing" in this instance, although it entails the miraculous raising of this young man from the dead, should be interpreted as the restoration of this woman within her community." ( The Gospel of Luke, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1997, p. 289).
Luke Timothy Johnson observes about raising the widow's son, "The Sermon on the Plain showed how, in fulfillment of 4:18, Jesus "proclaimed good news to the poor." Now Luke has Jesus perform wonders that closely resemble those preformed by those "prophets of old" (see Luke 9:19)." Johnson comments on Jesus' forgiving the sinful woman: "What distinguishes this story, however, are the distinctive points of Lukan thematic interest: the language of possessions used to symbolize human relationships, the reading of hearts by the prophet; the forgiveness of sins, faith as saving; salvation leading to peace. Most of all, in the sinful woman we recognize again a member of the outcast poor, rejected by the religious elite as an untouchable, but like the poor throughout this Gospel, showing by her acts of hospitality that she accepts the prophet." ( The Gospel of Luke, Sacra Pagina, Liturgical Press, 1991, p. 120, 129).
This hymn was originally written to support Bread for the World's Bread for the Preacher, June 2010.
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books, 2009) and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship (Geneva Press, 2000) and the co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware. A complete list of her 160+ hymns can be found at www.carolynshymns.com/.
Several of Carolyn's hymns are on the Bread for the World web site: "When Mary Poured a Rich Perfume", "Sing Out! Sound the Trumpets! Proclaim Jubilee!", "In Haiti, There is Anguish", "Zacchaeus was a Tax Man", and O Christ, You are Life!".