Background Passage: Luke 24:1-12
Creativity is a gift from God. I read a passage in a book with a well-turned phrase or hear the dynamic lyrics to a song and marvel at the ability of writers to string words together to creates a sound that reverberates in the heart of the reader or listener.
This week, I heard the song, Glorious Day, performed by Casting Crowns. Though the song was not new to me, I enjoyed its message and melody. This time my ears picked up on the familiar lyrics. Lyrics that sat me down among my teenage friends in the second pew from the back on the left side of the church in the First Baptist Church or Ropesville, Texas.
“One day when heaven was filled with his praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men my example is he.”
The modern tune had disguised the lyrics of the song from my youth. I’m not sure why my ears heard the words differently today. The overwhelming sense of spiritual nostalgia took me back to the foundation of my faith in that small rural community. If you’re older than 30 you will probably remember the words penned in 1908 by J. Wilbur Chapman as the song, One Day.
According to most stories behind this famous song, Chapman, a Presbyterian pastor and evangelist who preached during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wrote a poem to go with a sermon he presented as a guest pastor at Stony Brook Bible Conference. He gave the poem to his pianist Charles Marsh who wrote the tune to the old hymn.
The powerful lyrics captured the essence of God’s plan for the world from the beginning of time. The first line confirms the pre-existence in time of Jesus, God’s son. One day dwelling in heaven. Receiving the praises of the angels for his glory and majesty. One day as God’s creation turned on the axis of selfishness, God sent his son to dwell among us as an example for us to follow of obedience and faith.
One day he is nailed to a cross, a grace gift offsetting the sins of any repentant soul. One day buried. One day risen. The eternal message of Easter.
Then, in an incredible fashion, Chapman crafted a succinct refrain that lays out the depth and breadth of God’s redeeming love.
Living he loved me.
Dying he saved me.
Buried the carried my sin far away.
Rising he justified, freely forever.
One day he’s coming
Oh, Glorious Day.
Though I love the tune written by Michael Bleecker, the melody doesn’t change the message. The old standard may well resonate with those of us who have lived long as recipients of his gift through Christ. The new tune may best bridge the gap between God and today’s contemporary seeker.
Whether you sing it in your mind the old way or the new, may its message connect. God sent his son to live unerringly. To love unconditionally. To die sacrificially . To be buried temporarily. To rise triumphantly. To come again eventually.
What a glorious gift of unmerited grace to all who claimed it that one day!