The North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church meets this week at The Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. Laity and clergy will practice “holy conferencing” and do kingdom work. Annual Conference sessions include reunion, worship, business, debate, beginnings, and endings.
Annual Conference traditionally begins by singing And Are We Yet Alive? Charles Wesley originally published the hymn in 1749. John Wesley began using it around 1780 during the opening worship services of annual society meetings. The practice continues today.
The stanzas recall the past twelve months since the conference gathered last. The stanzas celebrate those “yet alive” to do God’s work, and those who “the crown obtain” in heaven’s kingdom.
The hymn’s lyrics have grown increasingly poignant and meaningful over the years. I enjoy the family reunion atmosphere of greeting old friends; but I mourn the absence of God’s saints no longer present. I remember and celebrate brothers and sisters who have gone from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant.
Reflect upon the power of the hymn’s lyrics:
And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace!
What troubles have we seen, what mighty conflicts past,
Fightings without, and fears within, since we assembled last!
Let us take up the cross till we the crown obtain,
And gladly reckon all things loss so we may Jesus gain.