Parked automobiles lined the road in all directions! Around five hundred people packed into the Meeting House and adjoining buildings! They had assembled with love and kindness to express their sympathy and care. A grieving godly family was there to welcome and receive comfort and prayers from sorrowing friends - the pervading sense was one of calm hope, trusting peace and confident joy - at what was for all, I think, an unexpected funeral service.
After a number of tributes from close family and their young minister, a call to worship was given and the precentor stood to lead. As his arms undulated gently, and his sweet voice rebounded from rafters, a grave and glad sweet melody united loving hearts. Ministers and members stood in earnest to seek, and call on, God. A close friend, and minister, then read the Holy Scriptures, his cadences marked by affection, reverence, gravity and warmth. Again a Psalm was sung that summed up God’s servant's life! Fruitful, full, well-planted, full of sap: all the self-evident outcome in God’s oaks rooted in His House by grace.
The ministers stood in the midst! Surrounding the man of God was a sea of solemn worshipers - here hearts were glad and fixed on seeking the glory of God! There were a few whispered 'Amens', occasional tears in eyes, and on a number of occasions the sound of trembling voices issued from those who spoke.
What mattered most today was that, for a few, brief, moments, time-on-earth stood still, as Heaven come down, by grace, upon the people of His choice! It took me back to childhood, and around 1,000 worshipers of God, gathered in His House, my birth church, to seek the face of Christ. The King and Head of the Church was present, by His Spirit, in the midst of His own blood-bought saints, graciously to help, encourage, comfort and bless!
My response today is about the same as then, now nearly half a century later, but I hope a little wiser - yet also with deeper, more intense resolution and conviction that, despite all the criticism, and a multitude of naysayers, reformed worship, at its core (when issuing from hearts that are purified by grace), is the most God-honoring and best!
I didn’t even have time, sadly, to absorb, by faith, the zenith point, when the Word of God was preached, in Spirit and in truth. Due to a prior promise to collect an elderly family member from hospital, I had to tiptoe out as the first hour drew to a close - the loss of joy and fellowship will of course be mine. I do hope soon, however, to have the joy of listening to the recording!
I trust I am not guilty of narrow-mindedness, spiritual blinkers, or party prejudice. Yet it does seem to me, if I am not mistaken, that it is long past the time that churches discarded emaciating snacks, and returned with vigor, resolution, appetite and zeal to the purity of worship! The current bland, trivial, superficial servings, are starving and strangling life out of worship services in the West.
The curious thing to realize is that there was nothing in this service which would appeal to human taste – all that pleases man had been excised, and yet there was plenty to please this soul and warm the godly heart! As Jacob said at Bethel, in Genesis 28:16-17:
“Surely the LORD is in this place and I did not know it! How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
This was a service of thanksgiving to God for the grace-filled life of a dear, beloved, esteemed, husband, father, brother, and friend and minister to many. What unbridled gladness this departed saint, the Rev. Charles Knox Hyndman, who suddenly passed away last Wednesday, enjoys now, as I write, in the nearer, brighter, presence of God.
As we join in our prayers and thoughts for Edith his wife, and his three children Charlotte, Conor and Hannah, his younger brother, and the wider family circle, we may justly envy our dear friend - now he stands, far above in glory, to sing and pray more sweetly.
This faithful servant of God still speaks though dead. The grace of God in a life, very well served and lived, today, yesterday and forever, has left a shining light and legacy, as John the Baptist did, to point us to the Lamb.