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Streams of mercy, never ceasing

 

Volunteers, Triennium staff use Monday worship to ready and steady themselves

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Chip Hardwick preaches to staff and volunteers ready for the Tuesday arrival of thousands of youth at Presbyterian Youth Triennium 2019. (Photo by Rich Copley)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Presbyterian Youth Triennium staff and volunteers prepared for the Tuesday arrival of thousands of young people by worshiping together Monday evening and then remembering their baptisms and God’s unceasing mercy in a unique way.

The Rev. Dr. Chip Hardwick, the interim associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest, Ill., preached on the “Streams of mercy, never ceasing” line from “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” the theme this week. His companion Scripture was Titus 3:3-8, which reads in part: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, God saved us … according to God’s mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

That first part could have been written about Robert Robinson, who penned “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” nearly three centuries ago. Robinson, a contemporary noted, “associated with a notorious gang of hoodlums and lived a debauched life.”

The Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle is a vocalist and percussionist with the Nettletons, the house worship band at the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium. (Photo by Rich Copley)

Hardwick recalled receiving never-ceasing streams of mercy during his student days, when he dropped and damaged his laptop computer. Even though his warranty didn’t cover the self-inflicted damage, the store manager replaced his broken computer and even refunded the young scholar an additional $300.

“It was my fault. I should have paid the price, but the manager took the burden off me and put it on the store,” Hardwick said, hearkening back to Titus: “Not because we are amazing, but because God’s love is so extreme, imaginative and passionate.”

“When you feel grateful for what God has done for you,” Hardwick said, “you want to invite others to experience the same thing you have.”

Titus says those who trust God devote themselves to doing what is good, excellent and profitable. “When we do that, it becomes like a river that goes through the desert. It gives life to plants that haven’t felt life in months and to animals that are thirsty,” Hardwick said. “Our sin is as dry as a desert. We let streams flow out of us and into others,” including into all those youth making their way to Purdue University.

“And when they go home on Saturday, those streams will go out to the world,” Hardwick said.

While the Nettletons played Monday evening, worshipers come forward to receive a smooth stone as a reminder of God’s unceasing streams of mercy. (Photo by Rich Copley)

To conclude the service, the Triennium house worship band the Nettletons played while worshipers came forward, extended a hand, and received a small smooth stone as a reminder of God’s streams of mercy.

“God’s mercies,” they were told while receiving their stone, “never ceasing for you.”

 


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