Tag Archives: Christ

Have you heard God’s voice?

I have been massively encouraged – and challenged – today by Jacqueline Jones’ hymn Have You Heard God’s Voice? The deaths of LGBT clubbers in Orlando and of Jo Cox brought the final verse into stark relief:

Will you watch the news with the eyes of faith
and believe it could be different?
Will you share your views using words of grace?
Will you leave a thoughtful imprint?
In two services we reflected on the call of Romans 12: 1-21, especially vv17-18: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

The challenge of living well “as far as it depends on you” in an increasingly angry country is hard. The EU Referendum debate has become more and more bitter and, some would say, has given rise to the acts of violence which led to Jo Cox’s death.

 How do God’s people represent Christ while still giving space for proper disagreement?

 How do we avoid being dragged into the demeaning tittle-tattle that so easily moves from grumbling to character assassination?

 How do we slip the Christlike phrases into conversations with our friends and neighbours?

 The hymn’s lyrics say:

Will you use your voice; will you not sit down
when the multitudes are silent?
Will you make a choice to stand your ground
when the crowds are turning violent?

It was one of those times when the hymn-writer’s craft enabled a congregation to move beyond silence into expressing hope that could not otherwise have been articulated.

Looking for Christ in all the wrong places

Christ name

One of the imaginative campaigns at this time of year says Christmas starts with Christ. You can see their posters in many cities and they have a neat, punchy set of slogans, often tied into other advertising campaigns. So, one says “Does Christmas starcswc_logo_360t with a penguin?” No prizes for working out who that’s aimed at. The answer is, of course, no … Christmas starts with Christ.

Hat tip to them. It’s clear and understandable with their simple gift tag logo (pictured) it works well without being too preachy.

The problem, I guess, for those of us who would like a return to some mythical snow-tinted age when everyone crowded into a candle-lit church desperate to hear the preacher’s well-honed wisdom on the Incarnation and the Christ at the beginning of Christmas is that such an age never really existed.

It’s fine for a Miss Marple novel to have people crunching through the snow and blowing into their hands as a smiling vicar welcomes them into the parish church on a cold and frosty Christmas morning. Although, having said that, one of them probably wouldn’t make it out alive! Similarly in any of the Midsomer villages.

For most of us, Christmas starts in a shopping centre. That’s true even for those of us who believe that Christmas has at its heart the Prince of Peace and Saviour of the World.

Like the picture at the top of this post, we begin looking for Christ but find this instead …

Christ jeweller

In the wonderful worship resource Cloth for the Cradle, produced by the Iona Community, there is an Advent prayer We Suspect Angels In it there is the line:

We admit ourselves

to be both infected and affected

by the spirit of our times.

Perhaps the search for Christ at the heart of Christmas begins when we realise the truth of that and turn our eyes to something altogether different.

Three hymns for Christmas

If you’re planning worship over Christmas, here are three contemporary hymns you may want to consider. As usual, they are written to go with known tunes, although there is an original tune written for Mary in the stable waiting.

You can include them in your CCLI returns as well.

Mary in the stable waiting.

hears again the angel’s voice:

‘favoured one the Lord is with you,

all Creation sings: ‘Rejoice!’

Mary waits, and heaven wonders,

at the Prince of Glory’s birth

from her womb, inside that stable,

heaven’s waiting room on earth.

 

Shepherds waiting on the mountain,

Wise Men searching for a sign,

hear that outcasts can be welcomed

at the baby Jesus’ side.

So the earth’s unlikely pilgrims

find themselves upon their knees

and a teenage mother watches

as they hail a refugee.

 

Son of God and hope of heaven,

with the waiting ones on earth,

we expect a world of diff’rence

when your justice comes to birth.

So the world is waiting, hoping

for the promised day to dawn;

when our longings find fulfilment

through the babe in Bethlehem born.

Metre      8.7.8.7.D

Recommended tune: The Carnival is Over, Scarlet Ribbons or an appropriate traditional tune

Copyright © Gareth Hill Publishing/Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square, Uckfield, TN22 1QG www.songsolutions.org

 

The mystery of God on high

lies wrapped in frail humanity.

The Word of truth is now revealed

and echoes in a baby’s cry.

Here as we celebrate and sing

Be born in us, our Lord and King.

 

As shepherds bring their gifts to him

who left behind his majesty,

the shadow of a cross is seen

against the star-lit eastern sky.

Here as we celebrate and sing

Be born in us, our Lord and King.

 

Glory and grace are laid in straw

while hosts of angels testify.

A stable for the Son of God:

his mother sees and wonders “Why?”

Here as we celebrate and sing

Be born in us, our Lord and King.

 

The paradox of Bethlehem

is captured in that mother’s sigh.

As God, who brought a world to life,

must learn to live and then to die.

Here as we celebrate and sing

Be born in us, our Lord and King.

 

And all the dreams we dare to own

find refuge in this baby’s eyes;

we see the truth of God revealed

in one who laid his glory by.

Here as we celebrate and sing

Be born in us, our Lord and King.

Recommended tune: Companion

Copyright © Gareth Hill Publishing/Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square, Uckfield, TN22 1QG www.songsolutions.org

 

We do not look for angel choirs

or visions in the sky,

but simply pray that peace on earth

comes nearer through the Christ child’s birth

in Bethlehem for us,

in Bethlehem for us. 

 

We do not look for frankincense

or wise ones at our door

but simply ask our prayers be heard

and that our restless hearts be stirred

by Jesus’ newborn cry,

by Jesus’ newborn cry.

 

We will not rest until we know

that God makes all things new;

until our search for answered prayer

transforms the lives of all who dare

to put their trust in you,

to put their trust in you.

 

But still you send us songs of peace

and wisdom whispers near.

You call us to the way of Christ,

that in our living hope will rise

from Bethlehem to here,

from Bethlehem to here.

Recommended tune: Repton

Copyright © Gareth Hill Publishing/Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square, Uckfield, TN22 1QG www.songsolutions.org

Hymn for Remembrance Sunday

I struggle with Remembrance Sunday but a friend asked me if I had written any hymns for the day. I hadn’t but I have now! Here it is. It is a Common Metre setting (8.6.8.6.) and was written to go with an old tune Lloyd – it was in the old 1930s Methodist Hymn Book as an Alternative Tune

We stand for brave and selfless friends,

who sacrificed today.

In our remembering, Lord give faith,

and teach us how to pray.

 

We stand for all who die for us

– and have no more to give:

those we have never met or known,

those we should not outlive.

 

We stand and honour lives laid down –

futures that conflict stole –

and sing of one who died to end

the warring in our souls.

 

We stand to gain a greater prize

than any war can claim,

if we can hear the Saviour’s voice

as he calls out our name.

 

You stand for peace and truth and light:

we pledge our faith for now.

And when you wipe all tears away

all nations’ heads will bow.

 

Gareth Hill 2009 © GraceNotes Music