“Christ is risen, we are risen! Shed upon us heavenly grace,
rain and dew and gleams of glory from the brightness of thy face;
that we, with our hearts in heaven, here on earth may fruitful be,
and by angel hands be gathered, and be ever, Lord, with thee.”
– Christopher Wordsworth, 1807-1885
I think that to ask me which Easter hymn is my favorite is very much like asking a parent which child they like the most: it leaves me wanting to answer, “I like all of them!” But if I absolutely had to specify which Easter Hymn always catches my attention the most, then hymn “Alleluia, Alleluia, Hearts to heaven and voices raise” wins hands down.
I love this hymn because of one particular line in the stanza printed above that catches me every time: “that we, with our hearts in heaven, here on earth may fruitful be…” Our hearts may be in heaven – but our hands are on earth – so don’t just stand there, do something!
During last Sunday’s gospel from John, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Three times, Peter says, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Each time, Jesus replies: “Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.” The message is the same – if you truly love me – show it – do something!
But I often worry about the fruit that my ministry bears. I worry that I haven’t loved enough, or that I haven’t acted visibly enough, or that I haven’t worked hard enough. Results come in, and often, they’re not always the ones I want to see. But, like the hymn says, if our hearts are in heaven – when we are united with Jesus in his death and resurrection – we can’t help but be fruitful.
This is why we’re called to abide in Jesus, the true vine. Some days, we’ll be fruitful – and on others, all we will be able to do is rely on others. But when our hearts in heaven – and our hands here on earth – Jesus will use us. Jesus will mold us. Like a gardener, Jesus will tend to us. And above all, the Risen Lord will make us fruitful.
Consider how your baptismal ministry has caused you to bear fruit – to do something beautiful for God. At what times have you most blossomed? And at what times have you had to abide in the vine?