In 1978, I became the leader of Beth Messiah Synagogue outside of Washington, D. C. A young couple in the congregation soon became friends, Jerry and Jo Miller, who had met and married during the days of my predecessor Manny Brotman. Jerry became a young elder and eventually served as the primary local pastor after Eitan Shishkoff made Aliya to Israel. Recently Jerry completed a book on the grace of God, what it is, and how it works in bringing transformation to our lives and conformity to the image of Yeshua. It is the best book on grace that I have ever read. We hope to see it published.
Sometimes in my devotions, I sing old hymns and meditate on them if they have depth. This seems strange to some of my Messianic Jewish friends. Yes, I enjoy the traditional prayers which are often very biblical in content but at best they are prophetic of Messiah and not able to convey the fullness of what is ours in Yeshua. As the doctrinal statement of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations says, we are to be enriched by the best of the Christian tradition. Many hymns fit this tradition. Jerry’s book on grace is wonderfully summarized in a hymn that I recently rediscovered. I probably have not sung it since high school. It was written by William Sleeper, a prominent congregationalist pastor in Maine in the 19th century. It reflects a teaching on grace called the exchanged life. This became part of the Keswick Conference in England and then in New Jersey. They also believed in a second blessing and with Methodist influence were predecessors of Pentecostalism. Here is the wonderful verses on what is available to us through grace. Yes, it is all of grace.
- Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus I come, Jesus I come;
Into thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness into Thy health, Out of my want and into thy wealth
Out of my sin and into Thyself, Jesus I come to thee.
- Our of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus, I come, Jesus I come
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm, Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm;
Out of distress to jubilant praise, Jesus I come to Thee
- Out of unrest and arrogant pride, Jesus I come, Jesus I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide, Jesus I come to thee;
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love, Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove, Jesus I come to Thee.
- Out of the fear and dread of the tomb, Jesus I come, Jesus I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold, Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold, Jesus I come to Thee. Amen.