I Am Powerful
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know … his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead …” Ephesians 1:18-20
Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices
Who wondrous things hath done
In whom His world rejoices
Who, from our mother’s arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today.
This hymn was written around 1636 by Martin Rinkart.
But more of that in a moment.
You may have heard the folklore surrounding Poland’s famous concert pianist and prime minister, Ignace Paderewski. Paderewski experts say the story may have been inspired by a poster during World War II that promoted a meeting in support of the Polish Relief Fund.
Paderewski is said to have organized the meeting.
The poster included a sketch of Paderewski next to a boy at the piano. Here is the story:
A mother, wishing to encourage her young son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets for a Paderewski performance. When the night arrived they found their seats near the front of the hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on the stage.
Soon the mother found a friend to talk to and she being distracted didn’t notice her boy had slipped away. When 8pm arrived, the spotlights came on, the audience quietened and only then did she notice the boy on the stage sitting at the bench innocently playing Chopsticks.
His mother gasped, but before she could retrieve her son, the master appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. “Don’t quit – keep playing,” he whispered to the boy.
Leaning over, the master reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running Obbligato. Together the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerised.
Paul, in prison, prays that they may know His power.
At that time Gnosticism had infiltrated the Church and it still remains in some places.
A Christian Gnostic was someone who said all may believe but it’s the elite who know. It’s a lie.
An act of faith in the biblical tradition is always undertaken in an environment of knowledge and cannot be separated from it. The knowledge that God is carrying the weight of your life. It is to know the Master surrounding us and whispering in our ear daily, “Don’t give up, keep playing.” And as we do something beautiful emerges as He augments and supplements our efforts by his creative power.
The same power that reached down into the pain and emptiness of death is known by us! The Church has enough preachers who teach their church members about power and healing; power and answered prayers; power and provision; power and faith; power and blessing. All these are excellent topics. But the pews teach the pulpit more about the power of God. They know the power of God which reaches down into the pain of their prison; despite my MS; despite my deserting father; despite my emphysema; despite my cancer; despite my divorce; despite my grief; despite the Alzheimer care I continually give; despite my disappointment and sadness, I am here. And I know the power of God who reaches down into my struggle and raises me up.
Where is the power of God today? He has gone low, very low, into the evils of racism and discrimination, the disease of hatred and slavery, into the darkness where humanity is humiliated by the elite.
We experience the power of God as we become incarnate, as we get our hands dirty, and hold up the poor, the powerless, the marginalised and the weak. When we stop being silent or distracted or instead of becoming opinionated we become hidden in the graves and the prisons of the broken. Divine power is found in graves.
Let me take you back to the beautiful hymn that we all will have sung at some point in our lives.
Surely this was written in time of great blessing?
Martin Rinkart was a pastor at Eilenberg, Saxony during the 30 years war (1618-1648). Because Eilenberg was a walled city it became a severely overcrowded refuge for political and military fugitives. As a result the city suffered from disease and famine. In 1637 a new disease hit the city and 8,000 people died including Rinkarts wife. As the only surviving minister Rinkart buried 4,400 people sometimes as many as 40 or 50 funerals a day.
At that time Eilenberg was probably one of the most insignificant cities in the world.
Rinkart was there and Rinkart wrote Now thank we all our God.
Sometimes the insignificant is meaningless and painful and confusing, but it is there that God must be known and as He is then His power is experienced.