Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life (ELW 719)
1 Where cross the crowded ways of life,
where sound the cries of race and clan,
above the noise of selfish strife,
we hear your voice, O Son of Man.
2 In haunts of wretchedness and need,
on shadowed thresholds dark with fears,
from paths where hide the lures of greed,
we catch the vision of your tears.
3 From tender childhood’s helplessness,
from human grief and burdened toil,
from famished souls, from sorrow’s stress,
your heart has never known recoil.
4 The cup of water giv’n for you
still holds the freshness of your grace;
yet long these multitudes to view
the strong compassion in your face.
5 O Master, from the mountainside
make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
among these restless throngs abide;
oh, tread the city’s streets again;
6 Till all the world shall learn your love
and follow where your feet have trod;
till glorious from your heav’n above
shall come the city of our God.
I was just about to leave the house when I saw the televised image of smoke rising out of one of the world trade towers. How odd, I thought, that a plane should accidentally hit one of the towers on such a clear fall day. Then came the crash into the second tower, pictures of smoke billowing out of the Pentagon, and reports of a fourth plane crash in Pennsylvania.
The world seemed to be unraveling on September 11, 2001. The next Sunday, places of worship filled with people gathering to grieve and find something unshakeable to grab hold of. These past years our lives have been shaken again by the pandemic, gun violence, and political upheaval.
The God of “strong compassion” comes to us, as the hymn says, in “the crowded ways of life” to weep with us in our wretchedness, need and fears. God “has never known recoil” from our helplessness; or “from famished souls” or “sorrow’s stress.” Jesus the Risen Word keeps on speaking over “the noise of selfish strife” to assure us of God’s constant and amazing grace.
Come to us, Emmanuel, when our lives are shaken by tragedy, strife and fear. Thank you for first responders, firefighters, police officers, counselors and others who enter the chaos of our lives to bring help and healing. Amen.