• Oct27Fri

    "Did you hear about Harry?"

    Retrospective #40 October 27, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
    "The bells of Heaven were ringing..."
    "The bells of Heaven were ringing..."

    First I must apologize for the length of today’s post but I ask kindly that you plow through it just the same. For many of you who have been following (and Thank you, by the way) the story about to unfold, or something very similar, may well have been a part of your experience. Though fictional in nature – it is based on episodes that I have been blessed to share during my day. For some of you, it will be necessary to turn back the clock while others still participate in similar events even today. For those who have never been here – please be open to what you discover about our heritage as Salvationists. Blessings! RCH

    Did you hear about Harry?


    Well I was there so let me tell you how it went as I recall that night.

    It was Sunday evening last and I met John while walking to the barracks.

    Me: Hello! How are you John?

    John: I’m well, thank you, you?

    Me: I’m good thanks!

    John: Gonna be another good one tonight, I can feel it in my soul!

    Me: Yes! Me too! They don’t call it the “Great Salvation Meeting” for nothing.

    We entered the hall and managed to find a seat towards the back. The place was already quite full and some of the ushers were bringing extra chairs to put along the back wall for folk still coming in. The “before the meeting prayer meeting” was just concluding around the mercy seat and the elderly saints got up and moved to their places on the platform. In the meantime the pianist was playing the chorus “It Is Good To Be Here!” with a few folk singing along, tapping their feet, and clapping their hands. The Band and Songsters now took their places on the “steps” followed by some local officers and the CO’s. The officers knelt at their chairs and prayed silently for the meeting. Rising, the CO moved immediately to the pulpit while at the same time motioning the pianist to return to the piano.

    CO: Let’s all stand and sing the chorus you were playing as we entered because “It IS good to be here!”

    Chorus: It is good to be here
    It is good to be here
    Thy perfect love drives away fear
    And the light streaming down 
    Makes the pathway so clear
    It is good for us Lord to be here!

    The Captain shouted a “hallelujah” as (after the third sing) we finished the chorus and then he invited us to continue worshiping by turning to song #202 in the Song Book – WOULD YOU BE FREE FROM YOUR BURDEN OF SIN? The band struck up and off we went!

    Would you be free from your burden of 
    There's pow'r in the blood,
    Pow'r in the blood ,
    Would you o'er evil a victory win?
    There's wonderful pow'r in the blood.

    There is pow'r, pow'r, wonder-working pow'r
    In the blood of the Lamb.
    There is pow'r, pow'r, wonder-working pow'r
    In the precious blood of the Lamb.

    Would you be free from your passion and pride?
    There's pow'r in the blood,
    Pow'r in the blood,
    Come then for cleansing to Calvary's tide;
    There's wonderful pow'r in the blood.

    Would you do service for Jesus your king?
    There's pow'r in the blood,
    Pow'r in the blood,
    Would you live daily his praises to sing?
    There's wonderful pow'r in the blood.

    Words & Music by Lewis Edgar Jones

    © Arrangement Copyright 1998 by The Salvation Army, 10 W. Algonquin Rd , Des Plaines , IL 60016

    After a marvelous sing, repeating the chorus several times at the end, we sat down. The Mrs. CO now stood at the pulpit and invited us to turn to another song for our prayer time. It was #161 ALL YOUR ANXIETY. With accompaniment from the piano organ we sang, a little more subdued:

    IS there a heart o'erbound by sorrow?
    Is there a life weighed down by care?
    Come to the cross, each burden bearing,
    All your anxiety, leave it there.

    All your anxiety, all your care,
    Bring to the mercy seat, leave it there,
    Never a burden He cannot bear,
    Never a friend like Jesus.

    No other friend so keen to help you;
    No other friend so quick to hear;
    No other place to leave your burden;
    No other one to hear your prayer.

    Come, then, at once; delay no longer;
    Heed His entreaty, kind and sweet;
    You need not fear a disappointment;
    You shall find peace at the mercy seat.

    Before we sang the final verse the Mrs. CO had asked the YPSM to lead us all in prayer. John and I both had goose bumps as he brought us all into God’s presence and sought the Lord’s blessing on the meeting. He prayed for some of our sick and shut-in folk; he gave thanks and then mentioned several recent answers to our petitions; then finally, he fair cried to the Lord to save souls tonight in that very meeting! A chorus of “Amens” and “Thank you Lords” echoed through the room.

    One of the Corps Cadets then came to the platform and invited us all to follow in our bibles as she read from:

    Luke 15:11-32 King James Version 
    11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
    12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
    13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
    14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
    15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
    16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
    17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
    18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
    19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
    20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
    21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
    22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
    23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
    24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
    25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
    26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
    27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
    28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
    29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
    30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
    31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
    32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

    The Bandmaster then led the band as they played the Hymn Tune WHOSOEVER HEARETH inviting us to sing the chorus at the end. During this item the ushers received the offering.

    Whosoever heareth! Shout, shout the sound;
    Send the blessed tidings all the world around;
    Spread the joyful news wherever man is found:
    Whosoever will may come.

    Whosoever will! Whosoever will!
    Send the blessed tidings over vale and hill;
    'Tis the loving Father calls the wand’ rer home:
    Whosoever will may come.

    Whosoever cometh need not delay;
    Now the door is open, enter while you may;
    Jesus is the true, the only living way;
    Whosoever will may come.

    Whosoever will, the promise is secure;
    Whosoever will, for ever shall endure;
    Whosoever will, 'tis life for evermore;
    Whosoever will may come.

    The Corps Treasurer gave a brief prayer for the gifts given followed by the CSM who then shared just a few announcements. The Home League Secretary then led a wonderful testimony period getting us to sing all the oldies and there was no waiting at all as folk were eager to stand and share a word. The one I remember best came after we sang Fanny Crosby’s BLESSED ASSURANCE

    Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
    O what a foretaste of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
    Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

    This is my story, this is my song.
    Praising my Saviour all the day long.

    Perfect submission, perfect delight,
    Visions of rapture burst on my sight;
    Angels descending, bring from above
    Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

    Perfect submission, all is at rest;
    I, in my Saviour, am happy and blest.
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.

    Dear old Uncle Jake began to wander and wave his handkerchief as soon as we started with the first verse and the tears flowed freely down his face. Old Jake had been a mean drunkard in his early days and had mistreated his family something awful. But then he got saved and became a whole new man. For him to weep was nothing unusual as he had been so humbled by God’s grace that the tears of gratitude for his place in God’s family seemed to never end.

    Before the message from the Captain, the Songsters shared their selection entitled HE TOUCHED ME by Bill Gaither

    Shackled by a heavy burden,
    'Neath a load of guilt and shame.
    Then the hand of Jesus touched me,
    And now I am no longer the same.

    He touched me, Oh He touched me,
    And oh the joy that floods my soul!
    Something happened and now I know,
    He touched me and made me whole.

    Since I met this blessed Savior,
    Since He cleansed and made me whole,
    I will never cease to praise Him,
    I'll shout it while eternity rolls.

    The “Cap’” was on fire and he spoke with compassion and conviction as he poured out his heart concerning the Father’s mercy, grace and forgiveness. There was no doubt left in anyone’s mind but that all prodigals would find a welcome home!

    It was during the response time as we sang #208 DEPTH OF MERCY

    Depth of mercy! Can there be
    Mercy still reserved for me?
    Can my God his wrath forbear?
    Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

    God is love, I know, I feel,
    Jesus lives and loves me still.
    God is love, I know, I feel
    Jesus lives, and loves me still.

    I have long withstood his grace,
    Long provoked him to his face,
    Would not hearken to his calls,
    Grieved him by a thousand falls.

    Whence to me this waste of love?
    Ask my advocate above;
    See the cause in Jesus' face,
    Now before the throne of grace.

    There for me the Saviour stands,
    Shows his wounds, and spreads his hands.
    God is love, I know, I feel,
    Jesus lives and loves me still.

    While singing the last verse, John nudged me with his elbow and whispered “Pray for me.” With that he slipped from the pew and quietly moved back to the chair by the door. Though the congregation was standing, Harry was sitting there, bowed with his head in his hands. Now you need to know that Harry was a former bandsman who had gotten himself in trouble with the law and a number of folk in our town. Some said it was over money and some other stuff. It was complicated. It had been several years since he had attended a meeting and during that time he had moved in a whole other circle of acquaintances while shunning his family and friends at the corps. Well, I’ll never forget it; no sooner had John placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder when up he stands and, with John at his side, he headed to the mercy seat.

    Before he arrived, just like in Luke’s story, several of the elder saints, along with the Bandmaster and some bandsmen, immediately moved off the platform to meet him. They gently knelt with him as the Father welcomed him home.

    The meeting broke out into a moving prayer time with others seeking the Lord’s forgiveness or praying for loved ones. The closing song on the order was abandoned as Uncle Jake struck up a chorus while grabbing the flag and leading us in a “Hallelujah Windup!” We marched around the barracks singing at the top of our lungs:

    The bells of Heaven were ringing
    As the Prodigal came home
    And the angels they were singing
    As I lay my burden down
    My heart was filled with gladness 
    Like the sunshine after rain
    From the far, far land of sadness
    I came home again!

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