Sunday, November 7, 2010

All Saints...even Charles Wesley

Once again, the library staff comes through. While returning some books I'll never read, I spied a freshly-laminated copy of The Lyrical Theology of Charles Wesley: A Reader, ed. by S.T. Kimbrough, a research fellow at Duke Divinity, which I promptly stole before any Methodists could get their mits on it. Sadly, I never read a page of either Wesley despite studying with Methodists for three years. To atone for this fault, and in honor of today's celebration of All Saint's Day (yes, even Methodists), I share below excerpts from Wesley's beautiful poem, "The Communion of Saints." Through it, may we all become more aware of the mystery that each of us is, through participation in and divinization through grace, a "transcript of the Trinity," as we seek to become "perfectly built up in love" and joined with one another in Christ.

Father, Son and Spirit, hear
Faith's effectual, fervent prayer,
Hear, and our petitions seal;
Let us now the answer feel.

Mystically one with thee,
Transcript of the Trinity,
Thee let all our nature own
One in Three, and Three in One.

If we now begin to be
Partners with they saints and thee,
If we have our sins forgiven,
Fellow-citizens of heaven,

Still the fellowship increase,
Knit us in the bond of peace,
Join, our new-born spirits join,
Each to each, and all to thine.

Build us in one body up,
Called in one high calling's hope;
One the Spirit whom we claim,
One the pure baptismal flame,

One the faith, and common Lord,
One the Father lives, adored
Over, through, and in us all,
God incomprehensible.

One with God, the source of bliss,
Ground of our communion this;
Life of all that live below,
Let thy emanations flow,

Rise eternal in our heart:
Thou our only Eden art;
Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Be to us what Adam lost.

Bold we ask through Christ the Son,
Thou, O Christ, art all our own;
Our exalted flesh we see
To the Godhead joined in thee.

Glorious now they heaven we share,
Thou art here, and we are there,
We participate of thine,
Human nature of divine.

Live we now in Christ our Head,
Quickened by thy life and fed;
Christ from whom the Spirit flows,
Into thee thy body grows:

While we feel the vital blood,
While the circulating flood,
Christ, through every member rolls,
Soul of all believing souls.

Daily growth the members find,
Fitly each with other joined:
Closely all compacted rise;
Every joint its strength supplies,

Life to every part conveys,
Till the whole receive increase,
All complete the body prove,
Perfectly built up in love.

(excerpted from The Lyrical Theology of Charles Wesley: A Reader, ed. by S.T. Kimbrough. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2011, pp.271-273.)

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