I can’t tell you how much it pains me to have to write this article. If you have been in church the past few Sundays, then you will know that our theme for our Stewardship Campaign this year is “Rise Up! Commit!” Of course “Rise Up!” is the rallying cry of the Atlanta Falcons and it was thought that it would be a good rallying cry for us as well and I should write about it in this month’s Scribe. That’s where the pain comes in, because I am not exactly what you’d call a big fan of the Falcons. In truth, I still support my beloved Minnesota Vikings and so to write about anything even remotely associated with the Falcons,let alone their rallying cry, is very painful.
On the other hand, I should point out that we are using the hymn “Rise Up, O Saints of God!” as a kind of theme song for the campaign and that it was written by a guy who was born in North Dakota and is almost certainly a fan of the Minnesota Vikings and maybe even had them in mind when he wrote it. All of which means that the Falcons stole their rallying cry from the hymn (typical Falcon behavior) and so the original rallying cry had nothing to do with Falcons and thus we’re actually taking it from the hymn not them and hence I can write about it without experiencing any pain!
And the best way to write about it is to let the hymn speak for me, because it says it so well. Now note that in the hymn “saints” does not mean people who are perfect or who act as if they’re more spiritual than God himself. Rather, the word “saints” means believers, followers of Jesus, members of God’s holy, oddball people. So the hymn is talking about you and me and is calling us to rise up and do what Jesus commands us to do as his followers, as a people of God.
And what does the hymn say about what that means? Well, just listen… “Rise up… with nobler zeal burn. Speak out… His word of hope proclaim. Rise up… His kingdom’s task embrace… give justice larger place. Give heed… stretch forth your hand of healing now, with love the weak sustain. Commit your hearts to seek the paths which Christ has trod and quickened by the Spirit’s power, rise up, O saints of God!”
That pretty well says it. We are to rise up in the sense of rising to the occasion, rising to the challenge, rising up out of half-heartedness or apathy and having a passion for Christ and his way and giving ourselves fully to doing what Christ calls and commands us to do. And that means speaking out and proclaiming that there is another way than the way of fear and violence and prejudice, proclaiming the hope we have in Christ and his way. It means embracing the task that comes with being Kingdom people — living with kindness and compassion, working for justice, building up not tearing down. And it means to be healers, people who overcome divisions, who bring people together, who serve the hurting and love them back to life. And it means committing ourselves to Christ and to Christ Our Hope, putting our heart and mind and spirit into being all we should be, committing our time and abilities and money to God’s work in this place so that the vision of being a people who welcome all and serve all remains alive and continues to lead us toward a vibrant future. To rise up means to stop being satisfied with being less than we know we can be and to start striving to be the best we have it in us to be.
So yes, let us Rise Up! Let us Commit! And let us make Commitment Sunday, November 12, a day on which we offer
ourselves to God and his purpose with renewed love and devotion!
God be with you,