There are several themes in today’s selection that are worth picking up on, including superstorm Sandy, Halloween and the end times.
First, let me introduce you to the Welcome Wagon. The Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique form a powerful duo that is currently rising up the folk and indie music ranks. Vito currently pastors a Presbyterian church in Brooklyn, New York; but the couple’s roots extend all the way back to plain old, small town Midwest. Their story is a refreshing example of two people who simply stayed true to their beliefs and themselves, found a place to that needed the love and care of the Gospel, and boldly but gently gave their lives to an unadulterated, strip-down tune of redemption.
In other words, if you pick up Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices off the shelf at the music store (if you can find it) you won’t find anything noisy or flashy. You’ll miss out on the layers of synthesized sounds and fluorescent pop, only to be left with a simple, intimate collection of songs set to the traditional liturgy of an old-fashioned church service. Even scanning the Christian music charts, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something so warm and quaint; and yet the Welcome Wagon is just that…and people are taking notice.
There is a lot more that could be said about this group, but I want to get to the song. But before I do, chew on this: if you think the church in America is waning and you are wondering why so many of our programs and style aren’t drawing in the masses anymore; then consider following Welcome Wagon’s example – don’t dress it up. Just be honest, caring and, well, uncool. You might be surprised how much your neighbor needs to meet a Christian like that.
OK, enough preaching. “Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending” is a song that trumpets the Lord’s return in a beautiful way. The album follows a flow of songs that reflect first confession and lament, redemption, Christ’s return and then Lord’s Supper. In today’s selection, we have another hymn wrapped in modern sound. Charles Wesley originally penned “Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending.” Listen to the verses:
Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
Once for guilty sinners slain!
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of his train:
Every eye shall now behold him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold him,
Pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
Shall the true Messiah see.
Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heaven and earth, shall flee away:
All who hate him must confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day;
Come to judgment!
Come to judgment! Come away!
Now redemption long expected,
See! in solemn pomp appear!
All his saints by man rejected,
Now shall meet him in the air!
See the day of God appear!
Answer thine own bride and spirit,
Hasten, Lord, the general doom!
The new heaven and earth to inherit,
Take thy pining exiles home:
Travails, groans, and bids thee come!
Yea! Amen! let all adore thee,
High on thine eternal throne!
Savior, take the power and glory:
Claim the kingdom for thine own!
O come quickly,
Hallelujah! Come, Lord, come!
As you listen to Welcome Wagon’s version of this old, sacred song, you’ll notice the homely, small-church-setting feel with the folk instrumentation and bland choir background. It is a song about dread, destruction and finality and yet it sounds so nonthreatening. Of course, it is about so many great and positive things as well for the Christian; but Wesley (and Welcome Wagon in turn) do not seek to sugar coat or even glide over the fact that this world will stand in final judgment someday soon.
Today is halloween, 2012. A day that many people throughout the world use to openly worship and celebrate evil. America has just been hit with superstorm Sandy, one the worst weather systems to ever crash against our shores, causing over $50 billion in damage. I’m not even going to get into the political climate that we are facing. Just thinking about all the wrong in this world makes it so easy to long for the Lord’s return. So many of our songs cry out to God, “Come quickly!”, because we are constantly feeling the pull towards what our salvation will culminate into: the end of all sorrow and the beginning of eternity with Jesus in bliss! Our Bible ends with this solemn reminder of what it will mean when the Son of God comes back.
And yet, our tune today presents this truth in such a calm and wonderful way. It reminds me of waiting for Christ’s return with expectancy AND peace, with anticipation AND trust in my heart. It reminds me of my need to build my awareness of my dying friends and neighbors around me who still need truth. He is coming again. His return will be terrible and wonderful all at once. Let us welcome in the low and lost with the love of Christ and the show them His good Gospel News – for it is The “precious remedy against Satan’s devices.”