September and October

As I find it difficult to post my lyrics early each month I  have decided to post two months this time to give me more time to do my next post for November.   Some of the tunes are not in AHB or TiS but hopefully you may be able to find then with the references I have listed.

Please check all the material I suggest on my Blog before you use it!  After a great deal of checking, I sometimes, unfortunately, let mistakes get through.   Sorry!!

My Website has all my 650 sets of lyrics on it.    As you negotiate through it you can, for each set of lyrics, listen to one verse of my chosen tune, use and project a Power Point  presentation of the words, print off the lyrics and, if not still under copyright limitations, print off the musical score.

Go straight to my Website.   All my lyrics can be found there.    There is also a set of  indexes which some find very helpful to identify where a particular set of lyrics is and listen to a verse of my chosen tune.   If you find it helpful, please tell your colleagues and friends.

If you are unaware, all my lyrics are free to use without copyright restrictions or limitations.  You do not need to have a copyright licence to use my material   God for it!!  I give full and unrestricted permission to use all my lyrics and any other material I post on this Blog.

September 4th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 16       Luke  14:25-33
Cost of discipleship   Tune Credition  AHB 197(ii), 202, 288, 381  TiS 269, 274

He walked the hills in Galilee;
He had no fixed address;
To follow him meant leaving home;
For Jesus – nothing less.

He warned believers, “Count the cost!
Think twice before you come!
There is a cross for you to bear;
Forsake all things, not some!

A wisdom teacher of his day;
Crowds heard him with delight;
He learned from his traditional lore
But spoke with new insight.

“When building or when waging war
Be cautious.  Do take heed
To costs or strength of enemies –
Be sure you can succeed.”

To follow Jesus costs my life;
This price I have to pay;
But living life by what he taught
Gives purpose to each day.

September 11th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 17      Two for this week                                      Luke  15:1-10 Particularly Vs 1-7
The Lost Sheep    Tune  Aurelia  AHB 385  TiS 457

The stories told by Jesus
Were told to simple folk.
He told them for their comfort,
As well as to provoke.
The leaders of the temple,
The ones who taught the Law,
They did not give approval
To what they heard and saw.

For Jesus ‘strays’ were welcome.
They were the ones he sought;
And so he told this story
To give them more support.
“Take sheep – You have a hundred;
You lose one.  You will leave
The ninety nine in pasture,
The lost one to retrieve.”

“And when you find the drifter,
The one alone and cold,
You take it to your shoulder;
Return it to the fold.
Your joy is overwhelming;
For what was lost is found.
You celebrate with neighbours.
Your happiness, profound.”

Just so. This is the message
Of hope and grace and peace
To those who feel ‘gone missing’,
For those who need release.
There’s joy in restoration
For when we feel alone,
In God we are accepted;
In God is peace unknown.

September 11th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 17       Luke  15:1-10 Particularly Vs 8-10
The Lost Coin    Tune  Glasgow  AHB 366  TiS 441

When Jesus lived in Galilee
They followed where he went.
He taught through stories true to life;
Though many caused dissent.

This Rabbi, unlike all the rest,
He noticed household chores.
He used such work to teach God’s love;
He spoke of sweeping floors.

“A woman had ten coins she prized;
But lost one; Who knows where?!
She lit a lamp; she swept the house;
She panicked in despair.”

“Imagine this”, then Jesus said,
“Imagine her delight,
On finding it, she calls her friends;
We’ll party here tonight.”

This story told so long ago
Can still give hope today.
In love, we too can gently search
For those who lose their way.

September 18th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 18       Luke  16:1-13 Particularly V 10a
A Smile    Tune  Gerontius  AHB 79(i)  TiS 141

This set of lyrics do not deal with the parable, however a quote from Fred Craddock
in the New Interpreter’s Bible Volume 9 page 311 prompted some new words – ‘Most of
us will not this week christen a ship, write a book, end a war, appoint a cabinet,
dine with a queen, convert a nation, or be burned at the stake.  More likely this
week will present no more than a chance to give a cup of water, visit a nursing home,
vote for a county commissioner, teach a Sunday School class, tell a child a story,
go to choir practice, and feed our neighbour’s cat.’  “Whoever is faithful in a very
little is faithful also in much.”  Luke 16, verse 10a.

We may not make the sun stand still
Nor cause the snow to fall,
But when we smile we change the world;
It’s grand, however small.

We may not close corruption down,
Prevent abuse and greed;
But when we smile we change the world,
We plant a justice seed.

We may not cause all wars to cease,
Restore those shattered lives;
But when we smile we change the world,
And show that kindness thrives.

We may not halt our body’s ills;
Disease will still remain;
But when we smile we change the world
And comfort those in pain.

We cannot build a perfect world
Change all that we abhor;
But when God’s smile is on our face
Then grace abounds much more.

September 25th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 19      Two for this week   Luke  16:19-31
Jesus and Wealth   Tune  Illa Sphor  Not in AHB  or  TiS                                           Presbyterian Hymnary – Metrical Psalms section No.131                                         

With this one, you may wish to omit verses 2 and 3 as being a bit too confronting.
My chief critic would suggest getting rid of verse 2 but maybe leaving verse 3.
You may wish to omit both and leave the first line of the last verse as sufficient
comment on the three-tiered universe ideas.   It’s your choice, if you happen to use it.

A Jewish Rabbi long ago
Told stories to the crowd
To lift the poor and broken souls,
Provoke the rich and proud.

He used the concepts of his day
His hearers knew so well;
Their three-tiered universe affirmed
A heaven and a hell.

Our ancient text can guide us still
But let us leave behind
Out-dated teachings which corrode
And stultify the mind.

Poor Las’rus sat outside the door;
He begged that he might eat;
The rich man just ignored the cries;
His avarice complete.

This story Jesus told condemned
Gross inequality,
He boldly preached, “Wealth should be shared
With generosity.”

We need not dwell on punishments
Or praise for actions done;
Enough to know that ‘Good is good’;
No prizes to be won!

Without the trappings of a hell
This parable is true;
Wealth can be used for doing good;
Let God’s reign thrive anew.

September 25th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 19      Luke  16:19-31
Economic Justice    Tune  Moscow   AHB 61   TiS  221, 447

These are momentous times;
Witnessing monstrous crimes
Against all life;
The war machine is king;
Earth warming scares the Spring;
Our human greed can bring
Enormous strife.

Our economic growth
Is not advancing both
The rich and poor;
Billions in poverty
While some boast luxury,
This is a travesty
We should abhor.

So where is justice found?
Can selflessness be crowned?
Can virtue reign?
While poor and hungry plead,
Can we define our need?
Does it slip into greed?
Who can explain?

Jesus was one who fought
Injustice; and he taught
A diff’rent way;
He sided with the poor;
Love was his inner core;
He never wanted more
To make his day.

We can be satisfied,
Our joy be multiplied
With simple things;
If we seek equity,
Trust in God’s charity,
We’ll find security
And peace it brings.

October 2nd. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 20      Luke  17:5-10  Particularly Vs. 7-10
Duty    Tune  Aurelia   AHB 385   TiS  457

Although these lyrics are not on the specifics of the text, they are on the
same general theme. This set of lyrics is somewhat long so omit a verse
or two if you wish!

We have a common duty
To lift humanity
Above self-preservation
And breed community;
Yes. Service can be duty
To love and bring relief;
When we are truly human,
We act on this belief.

When duty calls so strongly
To walk that extra mile,
We have no obligation
To do it with a smile;
But, if this is our practice
We show that we believe –
The more we give to others
The more we shall receive.

If duty is dictated
We may have little choice;
Our status may be humble;
And thus we have no voice;
We can perform a service
With due humility;
Yet still retain our honour
And live with dignity.

When life is trapped in duty
With no escape in sight,
When darkness fills the future
We need consoling light;
With friends and those who love us
Who help us see it through,
We may resume our duty,
And feel our strength renew.

When sometimes choice seems absent
But duty is quite clear,
When ‘ought’ and ‘must’ keep pressing,
When many ‘shoulds’ appear,
If love and if compassion
Both play a major part,
We can engage with duty
And with a joyful heart.

When Jesus spoke of duty
It was to do God’s will;
To love and show compassion
To exercise goodwill;
If, now, we follow Jesus
Our duty is the same;
To keep this love still growing
Will be our constant aim.

October 9th. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 21      Luke  17:11-19  Particularly Vs.11-14
The Ten Lepers    Tune  Hymn of Joy   AHB 92   TiS  152, 158

Can we get inside this story,
Try to think as lepers thought?
Totally despised, rejected;
Life for them was worse than naught.
Lepers were unclean, disfigured,
Outcasts, worthy of distain;
They were trash, not even human,
Their’s a life of constant pain.

So they shouted from a distance;
Too unclean to come too near;
“Jesus, Lord, You must have mercy;
Our whole life is full of fear!”
When he saw them he responded,
Not as one who did not care;
“Go and let the priests inspect you;
Throw away your deep despair.”

Jesus and his way of living
Dares us seek in everyway
To be gentle and be gracious
To the ‘lepers’ of today.
We can question in this story
All the lessons we can learn;
It has love and great compassion;
Jesus shows his great concern.

October 16th. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 22      Luke  18:1-8                                                       Persistence    Tune Beechwood   AHB 82   TiS  146

Jesus, in this tale,
Said “Persevere; Don’t fail”;
He said we can prevail;
Stand firm! Be strong!

If a judge is mean;
His justice is not seen;
Do not forsake the scene;
Stand firm! Be strong!

Though he may not care,
Much calling to be fair
May lead him to despair;
Stand firm! Be strong!

When the world is wrong
And evil is so strong,
The conflict may be long;
Stand firm! Be strong!

When the work is tough
And when the road is rough,
When we have had enough,
Stand firm! Be strong!

Let us all proclaim
Compassion is our aim;
With courage yet no shame,
Stand firm! Be strong!

October 23rd. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 23      Luke  18:9-14                                                         The Pharisee and the Tax Collector    Tune Belmont   AHB 435   TiS  514

To those who trusted in themselves,
Looked down on those who fail,
Who treated others with contempt,
The Rabbi told this tale.

A Pharisee and one who worked
Collecting tax for Rome,
When worshipping, one bowed his head,
And one felt quite at home.

“My God, I thank thee that I am
Not like the rest of men.
I keep the Law; I worship well;
I know to sing ‘Amen’.

Adulterers and thieves should be
Banned from this holy place,
And tax collectors, like that one,
Are all a deep disgrace.”

Thus said the Pharisee with pride;
Judged that tormented soul
Who’d bowed his head in penitence.
He wanted to be whole.

“It was this one, who”, Jesus said
“Went home renewed and blest.”
For those with pride shall surely fall,
But troubled souls find rest.

October 30th. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 24      Luke  19:1-10                                                          Hospitality    Tune  Trust – Courage Brother  Not in AHB or TiS                                              The Psalter in Metre and Church Hymnary, Humphrey Milford                                         Oxford University Press 1924.

Jesus loved to dine with strangers
Even those we might despise;
So at Jericho he tarried
Though it could have been unwise.
There, Zacchaeus wished to see him;
Being short, he climbed a tree;
Jesus came and stood beneath him –
“Come on down!
Come on down!
Let me share your company.”

This chief tax-man was delighted;
But the crowd was not impressed;
People grumbled, quite disgusted;
“This is one man we detest!”
But Zacchaeus moved to penance,
Said that he would cheat no more;
“I have robbed so many people;
I was wrong!
I was wrong!
Half my wealth is for the poor.”

He continued to deliver
Promises to all he’d robbed.
“I’ll repay, but four times over”
Said, “I’m sorry.”, then he sobbed.
Jesus now began rejoicing;
Said, “Salvation has come here.”
“Abram’s son now stands before you!
He’s come home!
He’s come home!
Welcome him with love sincere.”

I hope you find some of use in this last post.  Grace and Peace   George.

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August 2016

My Website has all my 650 sets of lyrics on it.    As you negotiate through it you can, for each set of lyrics, listen to one verse of my chosen tune, use and project a Power Point  presentation of the words, print off the lyrics and, if not still under copyright limitations, print off the musical score.

Go straight to my Website.   All my lyrics can be found there.    There is also a set of  indexes which some find very helpful to identify where a particular set of lyrics is and listen to a verse of my chosen tune.   If you find it helpful, please tell your colleagues and friends.

If you are unaware, all my lyrics are free to use without copyright restrictions or limitations.  You do not need to have a copyright licence to use my material   God for it!!  I give full and unrestricted permission to use all my lyrics and any other material I post on this Blog.

August 7th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 12       Luke  12:32-40 Particularly verse 35.

Urgent Action  Tune  Coleshill   AHB 20    Not in TiS

The future lies beyond our sight
With tasks it may present;
Be ready for whatever comes –
For each unplanned event.

This message is a timely word
To be awake to find
The times and places to support
Outcasts of humankind.

This message is a timely word
To be aware to see
The times and places to promote
True peace and equity.

This message is a timely word
To be alert to know
The times and places to express
Our love for friend and foe.

The days of service are at hand;
This is our solemn vow –
To pray for strength to show our love;
The time to act is now.

August 14th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 13       Luke  12:49 – 56.

No Peace  Tune  Hanover    AHB 67    TiS  133, 188

A life of strong love in Jesus we find;
He would not submit to laws that could bind;
He came into conflict with unjust decrees;
No meek and mild Jesus when he disagrees.

His mission was clear – To combat all wrong;
Corruption he fought; his actions were strong;
With him came division and not peace and calm;
He clashed with ‘the systems’ when they could cause harm.

Each time when we stand for that which is right,
We may cause unrest; it may lead to spite;
When working for justice the risk can be great;
With Jesus, he knew that the cross was his fate.

Dissent can upset our home harmony;
And friction like this can cause enmity;
But following Jesus brings no end of grace;
We can be assured of God’s lasting embrace.

August 21st 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 14       Luke  13:10-17  Particularly verses 10, 14-15.

Healing on the Sabbath  Tune  Winchester Old  AHB 223(i)   TiS  299

When Jesus healed on Sabbath days
He broke the sacred law;
The power structures were appalled;
Were shocked by what they saw.

For breaking of the Sabbath rules
Was such a heinous crime;
But Jesus taught that giving care
Was right at any time.

Laws cannot bind the gen’rous soul
Nor halt love’s strong embrace;
We cannot regulate good deeds
Nor govern gifts of grace.

The time to give support and care
Is now and every day;
When love was needed, it was there;
This was the Jesus Way.

To fail to see the work of God
In acts of gen’rous care
Shows blindness and a hardened heart;
Of this we should beware!

When love is given and received
God is revealed each time;
When love is given and received
It renders life sublime.

August 28th 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 15       Luke  14:1,7-14  Particularly verses 1, 7-11.

Prestige and Humility  Tune  Caithness  AHB 448, 489   TiS  575, 576

When Jesus was invited by
A leading Pharisee,
He shared a meal; but Jesus knew
He was watched constantly.

When he observed how some guests chose
The places that were best,
He warned they should not think themselves
As better than the rest.

“Beware.”, he said, “For everyone
Who makes himself look great,
Will surely falter; then he must
Accept a humbler state.”

“But those who walk the lowly path,
Content with second place,
Will be exalted and will find
Fulfilment in God’s grace.”

Sorry I’m late again this month.    If you wish to have the lyrics for the Year C Lectionary earlier, they are all available by clicking on my Website  here and then click on the picture of Year C on the home page.    You will get the lyrics for that whole lectionary year.  I hope you find something of use in the above.    Grace and Peace    George.

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July 2016

My Website has all my 650 sets of lyrics on it.    As you negotiate through it you can, for each set of lyrics, listen to one verse of my chosen tune, use and project a Power Point  presentation of the words, print off the lyrics and, if not still under copyright limitations, print off the musical score.

Go straight to my Website.   All my lyrics can be found there.    There is also a set of  indexes which some find very helpful to identify where a particular set of lyrics is and listen to a verse of my chosen tune.   If you find it helpful, please tell your colleagues and friends.

If you are unaware, all my lyrics are free to use without copyright restrictions or limitations.  You do not need to have a copyright licence to use my material   God for it!!  I give full and unrestricted permission to use all my lyrics and any other material I post on this Blog.

July 3rd.2016.  Year C   Pentecost 7       Luke  10:1-11, 16-20  Particularly verses 1 – 11.

Disciples are sent out  Tune  Bishopgarth  Not in AHB  or TiS   Presbyterian Hymnary 370   Methodist Hymnbook  964(ii)

When Jesus sent disciples out
The harvest was extensive;
But workers who would gather in,
Were few; their work intensive.
When Jesus sent disciples out
As lambs, they would be fragile;
He knew the world had many wolves;
Some people could be hostile.

When Jesus sent disciples out
He said, “Do not take money,
Nor shoes nor purse; but heal the sick;
Do not disrupt your journey.”
When Jesus sent disciples out
“Remain where you are welcome;
But when rejected say to those,
‘We tried to share God’s Kingdom.’ ”

We too are sent, ‘Proclaim the Christ.’
In our own time and culture;
We need to seek new strategies
To feed the spirit’s hunger.
We too are sent, ‘Proclaim the Christ.’
In ways that lead to freedom;
The Jesus story has the power
To bring us near God’s Kingdom.

July 10th.2016.  Year C   Pentecost 8       Luke  10:25-37  Particularly verses 30-37.

There are two sets of lyrics, each with its own message.  Only the last 2 verses are different.  You choose.

The Good Samaritan (1)   Tune Stuttgart  AHB 200,216,265,447  TiS 272,291,347

Jesus told compelling stories;
Told to challenge, and refute
Many common-held opinions.
What he said could cause dispute.

Once a Jew, attacked by robbers,
Lay with injuries severe;
Temple leaders pause a little.
“Do not touch. Our law is clear.”

So they pass, show no compassion;
Keep the Law’s strict formula;
Then a stranger shows some pity;
He was from Samaria.

Oil and wine for wounds, then dressings;
Taken to an inn for care.
“Do not sell him into slavery.
I will pay. On this I swear.”

People list’ning to the story
Told by Jesus, would complain;
“Foreign outcasts are not worthy
Of such praise. They should be slain!”

Everyone is deemed a neighbour;
They need never know my name.
Jesus’ message, clear and simple;
‘I must go and do the same.’

July 10th.2016.  Year C   Pentecost 8       Luke  10:25-37  Particularly verses 30-37a.

This is the second of 2 alternatives.   You choose.

The Good Samaritan (2)   Tune Stuttgart  AHB 200,216,265,447  TiS 272,291,347

Jesus told compelling stories;
Told to challenge, and refute
Many common-held opinions.
What he said could cause dispute.

Once a Jew, attacked by robbers,
Lay with injuries severe;
Temple leaders pause a little.
“Do not touch. Our law is clear.”

So they pass, show no compassion;
Keep the Law’s strict formula;
Then a stranger shows some pity;
He was from Samaria.

People list’ning to the story
Told by Jesus, would complain;
“Foreign outcasts are not worthy
Of such praise. They should be slain!”

“You have damned our holy leaders;
Mocked our laws of purity.”
Those who listened would be outraged;
“This is rank apostasy!”

Can we learn from Jesus’ story?
Is there challenge for today?
Does our prejudice prevent us
Helping love to have its way?

July 17th.2016.  Year C   Pentecost 9       Luke  10:38-42

Mary and Martha   Tune Wir Flugen  AHB 59  TiS 130

Some stories told of Jesus present a forceful view
Of attitudes and visions from this confronting Jew;
He taught that Sabbath precepts demanded deep review;
In public, spoke to women although it was taboo.

Chorus
Jesus questioned customs,
Conventions of his day;
Repeatedly
And radically
He taught a different way.

His attitude to women was quite the contrary
To common held tradition with it’s inequity;
If Martha symbolizes this dreadful legacy,
Then Mary paints a picture of new found liberty.

Chorus

For Jesus, common practice was seldom on display;
Unlike religious leaders and rabbis of his day
He fostered women’s presence, encouraged them to stay;
When Mary chose to join him, then she could have her way.

Chorus

Much prejudice continues; injustice sill remains;
We need to find solutions for ‘Women held in chains’;
All toxic exploitation, all subtle sexist stains
Should never find acceptance, no sanction where God reigns.

New Chorus
Hear the call of Jesus
To act with empathy;
Stand constantly
For equity
For all humanity.

July 24th.2016.  Year C   Pentecost 10       Luke  11:1-13  Particularly verse 1 

Lyrics are only about praying.

Praying – Living values  Tune Holywood  Not in AHB   TiS 501

When I pray I feel more deeply;
Reaching out with thanks and praise;
When I pray I think more deeply;
Pondering life’s puzzling maize;
When I pray I live more deeply
In the values love conveys.

When I pray I can’t act badly
Giving way to grim deceit;
When I pray I can’t be angry,
Wishing for some vengeance sweet;
When I pray I’m far more ready
To befriend each one I meet.

When I pray I act intently
Showing kindness, patience, grace;
When I pray I strive intently
Seeking justice for each race;
When I pray I toil intently
Building peace in every place.

When I pray I speak more clearly
To affirm the ones who fail;
When I pray I give more freely
To the poor, infirm or frail;
When I pray I live more fully,
And in God I can prevail.

July 31st.2016.  Year C   Pentecost 11       Luke  12:13-21   

Share wealth   Tune St Bernard  AHB 391(ii)  TiS 459(ii)

In many ways we are the same
As people long ago;
We still may feel a keen desire
To have our assets grow.

Such was the man in Jesus’ tale,
He had good crops to store;
His problem was he needed barns
Much bigger than before.

He made big plans to house his wealth;
‘A lucky man’, he thought;
He now could live the easy life;
Enjoy what riches brought.

The story did not end that way;
His plans were all in vain;
The message clear – Our riches count
For naught in God’s domain.

No matter how rich we may be,
Spend wealth to show we care;
Watch out and guard ourselves from greed;
The Jesus’ call is, “Share.”

I hope you find some lyrics that are of use in the above.  Sorry I am late this month.  I will try be on time next.      Grace and Peace    George.

 

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June 2016

My Website has all my 650 sets of lyrics on it.    As you negotiate through it you can, for each set of lyrics, listen to one verse of my chosen tune, use and project a Power Point  presentation of the words, print off the lyrics and, if not still under copyright limitations, print off the musical score.

Go straight to my Website.   All my lyrics can be found there.    There is also a set of  indexes which some find very helpful to identify where a particular set of lyrics is and listen to a verse of my chosen tune.   If you find it helpful, please tell your colleagues and friends.

If you are unaware, all my lyrics are free to use without copyright restrictions or limitations.  You do not need to have a copyright licence to use my material   God for it!!  I give full and unrestricted permission to use all my lyrics and any other material I post on this Blog.

June 5th. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 3       Luke  7 : 11 – 17  Particularly verses 11 – 15

The Widow’s only son   Tune  Hursley  Not in AHB  or TiS   Presbyterian Hymnary 292 (iii)and Methodist Hymn Book 942 (i)

Jesus lived with his human need;
He faced his pain, his sadness, grief;
He shared our hunger to succeed;
He shared our longings for relief.

He felt this widow’s agony,
Having lost husband, now her son.
She was alone in tragedy;
Who would give solace?  She had none.

Jesus, in his own loving way,
Said to her gently, “Weep no more.”
Her deep dark night then turned to day;
Receiving back the son she bore.

We cannot give such grand relief;
But we can give a listening ear
To cries of pain and tears of grief,
And with God’s love can cast out fear.

June 12th. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 4       Luke  7 : 36 – 8 : 3  Particularly verses 7 : 36 – 39, 44 – 47

Jesus at dinner  Tune  Hyfrydol  AHB 148(ii), 173, 439  TiS 217(i), 233, 517

Jesus, when he went to dinner, he used every time and place
To proclaim God’s love and mercy, and display forgiving grace;
Jesus, when he went to dinner, used the time to voice his claim
That his message was inclusive, even for those caught in shame.

At this meal he was dishonoured by the Pharisee’s neglect;
Jesus suffered many insults, insults of such disrespect;
At this meal he was dishonoured but a woman changed the scene;
Those who saw her love outpouring, whispered, “Stop! She is unclean.”

Jesus knew that love flows strongly when forgiveness is received;
And this woman had a history but her guilt had been relieved;
Jesus knew that love flows strongly, not to earn a pardon sweet,
But as proof of sins forgiven; new life can replace defeat.

When we know we are forgiven we can feel release inside;
We can seek a new beginning; we no longer need to hide;
When we know we are forgiven then our love can gently flow;
With forgiveness for past failures we are free again to grow.

June 19th. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 5       Luke  8 : 26 – 39

The Good news Bible translates the name of the demoniac as ‘Mob’. As some commentators say that ‘Legion’ gives a cutting political edge to the story which is often encountered in Jesus’ teachings, I believe it might be helpful to use a translation other than the Good News Bible if you use these lyrics.

Demons  Tune Wetherby  AHB 517  Not in  TiS

In Jesus’ day the ‘spirit’ world
Would dominate each day;
God’s angels and dark demons came
To rule the human way.

We look at life so differently
With extra knowledge now;
But still some questions linger on;
‘Peace can be found, but, how?’

This story filled with darkest tones
Of demons in control;
The name of ‘Legion’ leads to Rome
With violence as its soul.

When Jesus called the demons forth
They caused a pig’s rampage;
They rushed to death; they sealed their fate
With self-destructive rage.

The man sat down at Jesus’ feet;
Was calm, in his right mind;
When we sit with him we can know
Great peace and joy combined.

June 26th. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 6    Luke  9 : 51 – 62  Particularly Verses 57 – 62  

There is a choice from two sets of lyrics for this reading

  1. Would-be Disciples   Tune  Maccabeaus  AHB 303  Tis 380

Jesus gives challenge to those who would be
Fellow travellers with him; share his company.
One said he would follow; go where Jesus lead;
Jesus warned he had no place to lay his head;
If we would follow, let us count the cost,
Or our best intentions may be sadly lost.

One who heard Jesus said, “First let me go
And give to my father all the love I owe;
We might really wonder at what Jesus said;
“You proclaim God’s Kingdom. Let the dead be dead.”
If we would follow, not one thing can be
More acute or urgent as Christ’s ministry.

Another said, “I’ll join your ministry;
But first I must farewell all my family.”
Jesus then said to him, “You’re no use to me,
If, when ploughing, you then look back constantly.”
If we would follow and not turn away,
But keep looking forwards, we will walk his way.

Jesus gives challenge to those who would be
Fellow travellers with him; share his company.
His demands are total; he expects our ‘all’;
But if we should stumble, he renews his call;
“Come follow me; I want all you can be;
Live in all my fullness; share my destiny.”

     2.  Maybe Disciples   Tune  Old 124th  AHB 23  TiS 79

Jesus gave challenge to those who would be
Loyal to his cause and join his company;
One said he’d follow; go where Jesus led;
Jesus said, “There’s no place to lay my head.”
Such is his call; there is no sanctuary.

One who heard Jesus asked, “First let me go
To give my father all the care I owe.”
We really wonder at what Jesus said;
“Proclaim God’s Kingdom.  Let the dead be dead!”
Such is his call; it comes so radically.

Another said, “I’ll join your ministry;
First I must farewell all my family.”
Jesus relied, “You are no use to me,
If, when you plough, you look back constantly.”
Such is his call in all its urgency.

Jesus gives challenge to both you and me;
Calling to us to join his company;
His call is total; he expects our ‘all’;
If we should stumble, he renews his call;
“Come follow me and share my destiny.”

I hope you find some useful material above.   Grace and Peace   George.

 

 

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For May 2016

My Website has all my 650 sets of lyrics on it.    As you negotiate through it you can, for each set of lyrics, listen to one verse of my chosen tune, use and project a Power Point  presentation of the words, print off the lyrics and, if not still under copyright limitations, print off the musical score.

Go straight to my Website.   All my lyrics can be found there.    There is also a set of  indexes which some find very helpful to identify where a particular set of lyrics is and listen to a verse of my chosen tune.   If you find it helpful, please tell your colleagues and friends.

If you are unaware, all my lyrics are free to use without copyright restrictions or limitations.  You do not need to have a copyright licence to use my material   God for it!!  I give full and unrestricted permission to use all my lyrics and any other material I post on this Blog.

May 1st. 2016.  Year C   Easter 6        There are a number of lyrics for this Sunday from which you can choose. 

John 14:23-29  or John 5:1-9   Particularly Vs 14:23-29

Remembering  Tune  Maryton  AHB 522  TiS 601

Our memories are alive with him
Who was proclaimed – the Living Word;
He said his teachings were from God;
When we believe our hearts are stirred.

“Your love will show when you obey
The teachings that you hear and see,
For what I teach is not my own
But what my Father teaches me.”

“God’s spirit will bring to your mind
All I have said, all that is true;
Your Helper will be by your side;
My peace is what I leave with you.”

When we hear Jesus speaking so
We can but listen to his voice;
His word becomes our guiding light
For each decision, every choice.

When we hear Jesus speaking so
We can but listen and take heed;
As his disciples of today
We learn from him; he is our creed.

When we hear Jesus speaking so
We can but listen gratefully;
Good News from him allays our fears;
We sing a sacred melody.

May 1st. 2016.  Year C   Easter 6     John 14:23-29  or John 5:1-9   Particularly Vs 14:27   

I give you peace  Tune  Credition  AHB 197(ii), 202, 288, 381   TiS 269, 274

We look to Jesus and we see
A man so bold and free;
He speaks of peace and harmony,
Of peace with dignity.

“The peace I give is peace indeed;
Not bound by any creed;
No victory in a war can give
A peace by which to live.”

“My peace can calm a troubled heart;
Can bid dismay depart;
It casts out fear; it brings relief
In sorrow and in grief.”

“This peace of which I speak is found
Where love and care abound;
My peace is deep and ever new –
My peace I give to you.”

“Not as the world gives unto you,
For I give what is true;
This love I give you will increase
Your life’s enhancing peace.”

May 1st. 2016.  Year C   Easter 6     John 14:23-29  or John 5:1-9   Particularly Vs 5:1-9

Tough love  Tune  Angelus  AHB 169   Not in TiS

We look at Jesus and we see
The light of life in God’s domain;
We hear his call to act like him
In all our joy and all our pain.

The scene beside Bethesda’s pool
Was one of sickness, trauma, tears;
A man was there, who had been sick
For thirty eight pathetic years.

He could not move; his fate was fixed;
He could but drink his bitter cup;
But Jesus, he was not so sure;
He challenged him; he said “Get up.”

Should self-indulgence reign supreme;
Self-pity grow and rule unchecked,
We need to hear the Jesus word,
“Get up and show some self-respect.”

When love is tough and so severe,
But when such love is there to heed
Let us respond and stand erect;
Let strength return; let hope succeed.

May 8th. 2016.  Year C   Easter 7     John 17:20-26   Particularly Vs 20-23

Unity  Tune  Franconia AHB 376, 415   TiS 448, 490

In stories that they share
They tell of Jesus’ prayer;
Disciples see in Christ their Lord
The Father he adored.

He prayed for unity;
For close community;
That all disciples be as one
Like Father and the Son.

“O Father let them be
In us, like you in me;
Just as the same, I am in you
So, I am in them too.”

The Christ with whom we bond,
And God within, beyond,
Bring love to this deep unity
And forge our destiny.

May 15th. 2016.  Year C   Day of Pentecost     John 14:8-17 (25-27)  Particularly Vs 8-14

I am in  the Father  Tune  Wye Valley  Not in AHB nor TiS    Presbyterian Hymnary 443

Gospel writers tell us of our gracious Lord,
Praising him as Master, one whom they adored;
All they could remember pointed them to God,
Even as they treasured where his footsteps trod.
We now look to Jesus pointing to the way
Of abundant living each and every day.

In their vivid stories of his love and care
They saw God the Father’s love beyond compare;
When they looked at Jesus they saw God expressed;
In his very person God was manifest.
We now look to Jesus pointing to the way
God is present in us each and every day.

“Show to us the Father.”, Philip asked to see;
Jesus promptly answered, “Philip, look at me.”
“I am in the Father; He abides in me.”
With such words, disciples shared their memory.
We now look to Jesus pointing to the way
How the Father guides us each and every day.

We affirm their witness; Jesus is the one
Who reveals God in us, as in everyone;
With him let us honour our humanity,
And with him reflect a true divinity.
As we look to Jesus each and every day

May 22nd. 2016.  Year C   Trinity Sunday  John 16:12-15  Particularly V 13

The Spirit  Tune  Abridge  AHB 36(I), 476, 498  TiS 35, 115

The spirit Christ imparts to us,
By which God can be known,
Speaks to us with a still small voice,
And in a gentle tone.

This godly spirit teaches truth,
The truth that sets us free;
And in that truth ‘the Sacred’ dwells
Enshrined in mystery.

This godly spirit guides to truth
Lived out in Galilee;
This truth affirms for us, the worth
Of our humanity.

This spirit is the love divine
Embedded in our soul;
This spirit guides our daily path,
And makes us truly whole.

We make connection with this love,
That holds us constantly,
When we bond with this spirit’s zeal
With faith and energy.

May 29th. 2016.  Year C   Pentecost 2    Luke 7:1-10      Particularly Vs 1-6a

The Roman Slave  Tune Belmont  AHB 435   TiS 514

When Jesus was in Galilee,
A healer of renown,
He ministered to sick, oppressed;
Was known in every town.

He set no boundaries for his love;
He cared for peoples’ needs;
His love was not reward for those
Who practised pious deeds.

The elders sent did not perceive;
They did not understand;
For them, both love and care were earned,
And so brought their demand.

“This Roman, worthy of your help,
Has love for all our race;
He built, for us, our synagogue;
He now deserves your grace.”

But Jesus knew a slave was sick,
And that was his concern;
He did not heed the elders’ claims,
But wished that they could learn.

God’s love is never payment made
For any godly deed;
God’s love is free and never earned,
But plants the healing seed.

I hope you find something of use above.   Grace and Peace  George.

 

 

 

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Prayer and Praying

My Website has all my 650 sets of lyrics on it.    As you negotiate through it you can, for each set of lyrics, listen to one verse of my chosen tune, use and project a Power Point  presentation of the words, print off the lyrics and, if not still under copyright limitations, print off the musical score.

Go straight to my Website.   All my lyrics can be found there.    There is also a set of  indexes which some find very helpful to identify where a particular set of lyrics is and listen to a verse of my chosen tune.   If you find it helpful, please tell your colleagues and friends.

If you are unaware, all my lyrics are free to use without copyright restrictions or limitations.  You do not need to have a copyright licence to use my material   God for it!!  I give full and unrestricted permission to use all my lyrics and any other material I post on this Blog.

Prayer and Praying

Introduction.

Prayers are a significant part of public church services. They can also form an important part of one’s personal life.  Some people engage in praying frequently and regularly.  For some it is a formal, repetitive experience, performing the same ritual at the same time each day; for others it can be a long or short intimate time of spontaneous, deep reflection/sharing.  For some it can involve significant searching for a way through the maze of life, while for others it may be the outpouring of grief, sorrow or thanksgiving.  For many it is a time of self-reflection or contemplation of one’s particular situation.

This paper concentrates on prayers used in public church services and how these might impinge on individual worshippers.   There are many different sorts of prayer we use in public worship.   I comment on prayers of intercession, thanksgiving, confession and adoration.

My background includes leading worship regularly as a clergyman for many years. I have now retired but I attend worship regularly and still conduct worship infrequently. I believe we need to re-think the content of our public prayers and re-word some of the commonly used phrases that have become so familiar to church congregations. I refer to some of these at the end of this paper.

I offer these comments for your thought.

Intercession

I have been involved in a ‘Prayer chain’, praying for someone in a life threatening situation.   I have, on very rare occasions, experienced the feeling that ‘something’ beyond myself has been ‘present’ with me in a traumatic situation.  Like many of my friends, I have, in the past, sent a ‘quick prayer up to wherever’ when I have been confronted by an urgent situation of stress, hoping for some flash of insight, for some calming of my spirit, for some quiet guiding to see me through.  Whether these feelings or longings have made any physical or material difference I have no idea.  But I think they made a psychological difference and who knows what other difference.   I and many others have experienced comfort and support in times of strife, comfort and support that comes from who knows where.  Many would answer that it comes from God.

When people know they are the subject of prayers by others, when people know that they are being prayed for by a ‘chain’ of concerned people, when people realise that they are the centre of other peoples’ positive thoughts and silent prayers, it may sometimes make an important difference.   It may even contribute to the ‘healing’ or ‘calming’ process. Who knows?   It is all a total mystery to me.  That is why I remain open to various ways of thinking and practice regarding prayer, especially private prayer.   Who am I to discourage people’s desire, in whatever way may be helpful, to seek some personal support and comfort, be of support to their family, to their friends or even to strangers in times of trauma?

Some have lived all their lives with the belief in a loving god who ‘comes’ in times of trouble. Many have experienced the ‘everlasting arms’ of this love upholding them, ‘renewing their strength’, enabling them to face tomorrow.  Who am I to question this experience of support and comfort?  Who am I to query such a connection between beliefs and the way people tackle life’s difficulties?  Many of us remember verses in the gospels where Jesus, according to the gospel writers, said such things as, “Come unto me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  Numerous believers have gone to such verses and found in them an assurance and a promise that may have been the difference between ‘giving up’ and ‘enduring to the end’.   Who am I to suggest this is not authentic living?

I have baptised infants who have been in imminent danger of dying.   Mothers have come to me on a few occasions, frightened that their newly born baby might go to hell if not baptised. [What an absolutely disgraceful teaching by parts of the Christian church!]  As a matter of pastoral concern I have, without question, baptised the unfortunate infant and in the process, I believe, brought comfort to the mother.   I have, at times joined in the ‘laying on of hands’ in a ‘healing’ service when a person has requested that I be involved.  Again, as a matter of pastoral concern, I would never separate myself from such a demonstration of compassion and concern for the one who is stressed or in need of support.

I would not go so far as some clergy who say they no longer believe in intercessory prayer but I think we need to be as clear and as unambiguous as we can, when we talk about such things.   For me there are intercessory prayers and intercessory prayers.    I have experienced in public worship that some can be like a basket of requests for a god to intervene and ‘fix up’ things.   Some of these intercessory prayers are little more than a Father Christmas wish list.   Some seem to be cajoling or urging a god to do something and to do it quickly.   Some of these intercessory prayers are a ‘coverall’ prayer asking this god to bless everybody and make everything right.   I don’t believe in these sorts of intercessory prayer and I will not participate or lead worshippers in such.

However, if the intercessory prayer encourages us to think positively about someone, if the prayer invites our love to surround that person, if the prayer in acknowledging the suffering of the person, challenges us to do whatever we can to stand with that person in their suffering, if the prayer suggests ways of possible prevention of similar suffering to others in future and/or if the prayer alerts us to situations of suffering we may not otherwise be aware of, then I would participate and lead worshippers in such an intercessory prayer.

I was once told that the only intercessory prayer that is effective is the prayer that challenges us to be responsible and sensitive in our time, place and situation and to enjoin others that they may be the same in their time, place and situation.  I personally find that helpful but I think our prayers for others can go a bit further than that.

Having already canvassed the request for, and the participation in prayers for others when actually in the situations of trauma and suffering, and having stated that I believe pastoral concern is absolutely paramount at such a time, I wish to look at such prayers more dispassionately when we are not emotionally caught up, when not immediately confronted by a grieving mother or a family who are searching for comfort and support.  Although dangerous to do so, because it could be misunderstood as lacking compassion, I still wish to look at these prayers dispassionately, particularly from the perspective of those for whom ‘the prayers have not worked’.

In doing this, I think we need to speak a lot about God because our beliefs about and our approach to  God determine to a great deal what we think about prayer and what we think we are doing when we pray.   We often hear in church services, ‘Let us come to God in prayer.’ or ‘Hear our prayer, O God, and in your ….. answer us.’   What lies behind these statements?  What concept of God underpins our approach to prayer?   Throughout this paper I will take time out to present my underlying beliefs about God and how these affect the basis on which I continue to pray.

On this point, one modern writer of theology, Gretta Vosper, in her book ‘With or without God’ on page 28, states:
“We are not forced to deal with big issues if our created belief system designates a divine being as the origin of all blessing and curse in our universe.  With such a being in place, we can passively turn to it with either thanksgiving or lament, depending on what the day has unfolded for us.”

Some people turn to this ‘being’ for all manner of reasons however, I’m not sure that believing in such an almighty God who is a separate supernatural being, in control of everything and who dishes out rewards and punishments, necessarily leads that believer into thinking that this absolves them from the responsibility of living a loving life, caring for others, etc.  However, there are many people in our churches today, who attribute to God the good things that happen and they give thanks to God for them.  It seems however, that many of these people are reluctant to also blame this same god when bad things happen.

Gretta Vosper continues:
“Following any natural disaster, newspapers are filled with stories and pictures of people thanking God for their survival.  The feeling is natural but the attribution is problematic.  It is as though they are utterly oblivious to the loss or death of their neighbours, of children and the elderly – who have succumbed to the conditions…. We must listen to the words we so commonly use, and hear within them the silent implication that if God chose to save us from the flood, God must have also chosen not to save the person who drowned next door.”

That seems to me to be a totally reasonable conclusion for those for whom intercessory prayer ‘has not worked’, even if they do not attribute to a god the bad things that happen.  It is not that this god has done something bad.  It is just that this god has not done enough good.  If this god has saved certain people from disaster or has healed certain people miraculously or has enabled certain people to escape injury, why then has this same god chosen others not to be ‘protected’ or healed or escape injury?  It is not that people attribute curses to this god.  But this reasonable analysis remains – If this god chose to save/or heal some then this god has also chosen not to save or heal others.

Whenever some are chosen, in any situation for whatever reason, then there are always others who are not chosen.   Choosing always creates a ‘them and us’ situation.

Inevitably, then comes the question – Why?  We humans are always looking for causes or reasons for things.  We are always asking the question, Why? – even from childhood.   We want to solve the mystery.  We don’t like unanswered questions, uncertainty.

If this god is thanked for survival or healing or whatever, it is presumed that this god had something to do with it.  Otherwise why thank this god?   For some people this god is the whole answer and for others, at least part of the answer as to – Why?   If there is an answer or at least part of an answer as to why some are saved/healed, it is most reasonable for the same question be asked about those who were not saved/healed. This, I think is where some church people, usually unconsciously, un-thinkingly can be unhelpful or even cruel.

The argument can sometimes go this way:-

It cannot be God’s fault that some person was not saved or remains un-healed, because God is all-loving.  God always wants the best for all God’s children.   It must therefore be the fault of the person not saved or the fault of the people praying for the person who was not saved or remains un-healed.  It can’t be God’s fault.

Recriminations can begin. Not always, maybe not frequently, but by no means rare. “The person suffering didn’t have enough faith.” or “You’ve got to pray believing.” or, “Those who were praying didn’t have enough faith.”  Even if this is not actually said, by implication it is often understood to be present.   It’s called: ‘Blaming the victim’.

However well-meaning this approach may thought to be, it is cruel!   The person suffering or the people standing by and trying to support the suffering one, do not need guilt heaped onto them as well.  They have enough to cope with as it is.   But because we continue to ask the question – Why?, because we wish to solve the mystery, at least partially, and there are no clear and unambiguous answers that are satisfying, some find themselves going deeper into their pain because just maybe they are the cause of the lack of saving/healing.  It just might be their lack of faith.   It just might be that they are not praying in the right frame of mind.   Etc., etc.   Guilt is added to pain.   It happens!   This depends on what one believes about God, at least to some extent.   What sort of god are we talking about?

I think that one of the reasons for some insensitive beliefs about this matter are still abroad in the church today, is because of the reluctance of some church leaders to confront these difficult questions even when far away and significantly separated from the emotionally charged situations.

Most people, most of the time, want to be helpful and considerate of others but unfortunately, sometimes their beliefs get in the way of this happening.   Some beliefs are based on the ‘rewards and punishments’ approach to God.   The above cruel, insensitive attitudes often arise from an emphasis on the ‘judgements’ of God.   Good faith, strong faith, right faith is rewarded.  Lack of faith, wrong faith is not.  Often lack of reward can border on punishment.   I do not believe this is the Gospel nor do I find it in the teachings of Jesus.

An important reason to risk thinking more deeply about this issue, I believe, is that people for whom intercessory prayer has ‘not worked’ are often forced into silence.  We are told that it is not a good thing to question a person’s belief if those beliefs are a source of strength and comfort.  It is deemed unhelpful to diminish or question the comfort others receive from ‘wherever’.  Beliefs are sacrosanct. They should not be questioned.  So most of these people for whom intercessory prayer has ‘not worked’ are forced into silence; they remain mute.  Sometimes they suffer in silence, unable to accept their situation but also not able to voice their feelings for fear of upsetting someone for whom such prayers ‘have worked’.

Recently in a church weekly news sheet there appeared – “Thank you to all who have prayed for the recovery of my husband from …   Our prayers have been answered. He has recovered.”   Others in the same congregation have partners with serious conditions and for whom many prayers have been prayed, have not recovered.  I have been told by these people how guilty they feel, how inadequate their faith must be because their prayers have not been ‘effective’ – like those mentioned in the news sheet.

If we do confront these situations and attitudes/beliefs we are calling on people to look again at the question of God ‘intervening’ and this can be very threatening to many church people.   If God doesn’t make things happen or prevent other things from happening, who or what does?  Someone must be driving the bus!  If we can’t pray to God for help what can we do?

If we can’t answer these questions we are left with too much uncertainty.  We are left without the security based on what we have believed and what the church has taught us. After all many of us remember the regularly quoted ‘saying’ of Jesus, “Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

To continue with the quote from Gretta Vosper’s book:
“We explain the tragedy of death by assuring ourselves that God, in love, took the deceased home to heaven.   It is crucial that we peel away the interventionist deity concept from our belief system and face reality.   We are the origin of blessing and curse in our world, not some otherworldly deity – not in Christianity, not in Judaism, not in Hinduism, not in Islam, not anywhere.”

That is hard!   And because it is so hard, I think, we avoid thinking this way.  I believe the above quote puts the issue in cold hard terms but these are the terms in which this complex issue can be properly addressed.  I believe very firmly that we are responsible for much of the blessing and curse we experience in this world.

Another suggested part of this picture is the behaviour of nature.  Nature is sometimes thought of as being the source of blessing and curse in our world.   We don’t control nature but surely God does!!  God, we have been taught, is almighty.   As stated before, ‘If God doesn’t make things happen or prevent things happening, who or what does?’  Someone has to be driving the bus!

To quote from Gretta Vosper again:
“Some might look at hurricanes and landslides and want to add nature as co-creator of blessing and curse, too; despite the fact that lately we’ve been found to be terribly responsible for what Nature has been handing us.  I would agree that what nature doles out is neither blessing nor curse – it just is.”

What is, is just what is.  I think we need to accept this.   This is not fatalism – that everything is pre-ordained – but it is an acceptance of the things we cannot control, as just happening, maybe for no particular reason, certainly with no consideration of what the implications are for humanity.  Nature behaves according to the ‘laws of nature’, those dictates which have evolved with the earth, our solar system and the rest of the cosmos over many billions of years.  Now, it just is, and when we humans ‘get caught up’ or affected by nature, chance or luck is at play.   To think otherwise and give a decision-making ability to nature, whereby it can decide to punish or reward, is nonsense.  Again, some dangerous religious leaders suggest that God who rewards and punishes, uses nature to execute these judgements.  The results of the so called ‘Acts of God’ in nature are so random, that to suggest that God has a decisive hand in them, is to suggest a type of god that I would have nothing to do with at all.

As Rabbi Harold Kushner says in his book ‘When bad things happen to good people’:
“When bad things happen the question is not, Why?, but, Now that it has happened what are we going to do about it?”

Gretta Vosper then asks a few piercing questions:
“Can one’s concept of a guiding, loving God be a source of help to them in difficult situations?  Absolutely.   Does everyone experience it this way?  Of course not.  Should the church declare and guarantee not only that an omnipotent, omniscient god helps everyone in this same way (When clearly it does not) but that everyone should seek guidance from it?  Absolutely not.   Could the church help us to figure out how to choose to be a blessing instead of a curse?  How to open ourselves to another’s plight instead of retreating into a guarded self-protection?  How to open our hands instead of closing them whether we believe or not in God?   I certainly hope so.  If not, we might be sunk.”

I believe that we are the channels of love to the world; we are those who can bring about justice and equality; we can give comfort and support.

From ‘Process Theology – A basic introduction’ by C. Robert Mesne.  “Every person incarnates the divine call – i.e. incarnates God – to some degree.”   I try to say this in the following lyrics.

God’s Incarnation

Tune   Lauda Anima (Praise my soul)  AHB 68  TiS 179

We can be God’s incarnation
When we live in love and peace;
God’s own kingdom is reflected
When all wars and conflicts cease;
With the promise
Of true justice
We may see God’s reign increase.

We can be God’s incarnation
When we care for all around;
God’s own kingdom is reflected
When in kindness we are bound;
In our living
And our giving
God’s own action can be found.

We can be God’s incarnation
When we link with Galilee;
God’s own kingdom is reflected
In our life and ministry,
When with Jesus
We find purpose
Bringing love to victory.

If we don’t decide to live lives of compassion there is no point talking about a god of love.  If we don’t work for justice there is no point talking about a god of justice. If we don’t support those who are suffering, there is no point talking about support a god can give.

I need to say more about my concept of God and in particular how this affects my approach to prayer and praying.  I make a few quotes from the New Testament but I do not do this as using ‘proof texts’.

‘Yet He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being’ Acts 17: 27b-28.   ‘One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’  Ephesians 4: 6.  ‘Though God has never been seen by any man, God Himself dwells in us if we love one another…’ 1 John 4: 12 and ‘God is love; he who dwells in love is dwelling in God and God in him.’  1 John 4: 16b.   There are many other New Testament comments about ‘Christ’ being in us; etc. etc.

I make these quotes, not to try to prove my approach to God is correct, but to demonstrate that it is consistent with at least some Biblical teachings.

If we speak of God within the human situation, I wish to use the word ‘involvement’, not ‘intervention’.  I think the two are very different.  If God is ‘involved’ then ‘intervention’ makes no sense at all.   It has no place.   If God is within us all then God is involved when we are involved and God may not be involved when we are not.  We participate in the decision as to whether God is involved through us, or not.   We limit God’s involvement or extend and enhance God’s involvement by what we do.

If we no longer attribute happenings to the ‘intervention’ of God then we need to start again when thinking about God.   This is not easy; it’s hard!!

In my paper, ‘A Trinity’, I speak of God as being Beyond, Within, and Between.  I try to explain what these words mean in terms of my personal experience of God.   In particular God Within for me, is the totally and continuously inherent mystery in all life, in my life and yours, by which we experience the promptings and guidance to live abundantly and responsibly.

I do not think of God as a separate being, creator, etc. and often spoken of as though God was a person.  In relation to prayer this raises serious questions.   These include:  Who do I pray to if God isn’t a person?  How can I pray to a mystery, an abstract?  Can I thank God if God is not a person?   How can I thank a mystery, an abstract?   Can I ask God for anything if God is not a person?  Can an abstract, a mystery comfort, guide or support me?   These are very serious questions.

I suppose I have arrived at a similar place that most people of faith and an open mind arrive at: that place where one is lacking complete answers but where one still has questions and wishes to ‘grow in their faith’.  Here it is that one can state what one believes, what one experiences.  If one does not arrive at the place where one is confronted by mystery with a capital M, then possibly one’s questioning needs to go deeper.

I can’t give comprehensive answers to these above questions but I am suggesting a different way of continuing ‘the journey’. I address them with my different beliefs about God – different to what I have been taught over many years by the church.  Those pervious beliefs are now totally inadequate for me.  They are inadequate because of the flood of scientific information now available to us about the cosmos, the profound new insights of modern Biblical and theological scholarship and because of my rejection of dualism – heaven and hell, as well as the anthropomorphic (human-like) pictures of God.  This extra information and new insights as well as these rejections have led me in a very difficult search for a ‘new starting point’ regarding my beliefs. While respecting the theological imperatives of the Bible and most orthodox teachings within the church as being helpful and instructive for past centuries, most of them no longer bear fruit for me in my search for a relevant set of beliefs regarding prayer and the practice of praying.    However, I believe growth and maturation has occurred.

I now build my beliefs about prayer on my concept of God Within.  I quote from my paper on the Trinity:
“God within is my experience of God as my conscience, the good inner voice prompting me to generosity and thankfulness, challenging me to be thoughtful and sensitive to others, guiding me to make loving decisions, gently affirming that I am OK, helping me to forgive my ‘dark’ side and try again, encouraging me with energy to live  abundantly.   Jesus tells me about all this.  He struggled, doubted, was tempted, was insecure and became disillusioned like the rest of us.  He was happy when things went well.  He grieved.  He was human but he and the stories about him also point to a true humanity that cooperates totally with, and completely uncovers God within. And so, because I can involve myself in decision making, I can co-operate with this intrusion/influence, God within, or work against it.  I can let it be exposed or I can keep it inoperative and hidden.”

And again I quote from my paper on the Trinity:
“If I live and move and have my being in God, as I believe, and God lives and moves and has being in me, then this announces God within. There is a divine dimension to humanity, my humanity and yours.  This is universal and not the possession of just a few.  There is a divine dimension of me, you and all that exists.”

When we use the word ‘God’ we can be referring to an external being, almighty and in control of everything, but separate and ‘other’, whom we call upon particularly in  times of stress and difficulty.  Many people do.  But we can also use ‘God’ when referring to that good, mysterious internal influence/experience that we all have from time to time.   It is that ‘divine/sacred’ dimension of our own being as a human. This understanding/concept of ‘God’ is what I mean when I refer to God Within.   Both these different beliefs, I think are individual beliefs about God and not ‘objective’ definitions of reality or the absolute nature of God – not to be proven but experienced.   Both try to address the Ultimate Mystery.  Neither explain it fully.

Regarding, the bus and who is driving it; I do not think of God as the driver but as a co-passenger, in and with each one.   Whether, in this metaphor, the bus is being driven through the beautiful countryside with lovely views on each side that we enjoy, or whether the bus has just crashed through a safety rail at the top of a cliff and is plunging to a rocky, tragic disaster below, God is in and with each one.  We, the passengers, are not alone.   God is not the author of the accident but God is in us, with us in the event.  God suffers.  God is ‘involved’ in our suffering and our good times.  If we die, we die into God.  If we live, we still have our life, our moving and our being in God.    This for us, I believe, is God Within.

I wish to develop this idea of God Within to the extent of suggesting that God Within is present when we involve ourselves in ‘self-talk’.  And we are all involved in ‘self-talk’ all the time.   We sometimes say, “I talked myself into it.”   I believe this is literally true.  After thinking about a matter for some time, we eventually come to a decision.   It might take some internal debating with ourselves, but ‘We talk ourselves into it.”.

Sometimes I have said, “Well.  Part of me says that I agree but another part of me isn’t so sure so I’m not altogether convinced by your argument.”  I am involved in ‘self-talk’, not audibly but certainly internally.  Sometimes we might say, “Well.  I had better think about that before making my decision.” We become involved in self-talk.

To take this ‘self-talk’ idea to somewhat absurd extremes – We are always talking to ourselves when driving a car.  Instantaneously, most of the time, but we go through the process of self-talk.  We say to ourselves, “There is a 60 km restriction sign.  I had better slow down a bit.  I will take my foot off the accelerator.”  It happens in an instant, automatically.  We take our foot off the accelerator and we slow down.

We don’t think of it as talking to ourselves but that is what is actually happening.   Many of these sorts of actions are performed so often that they become automatic and our mind is, one might say, in neutral.

We go through this process every time we do something.   Our brain has to tell the various parts of our body to do something and they do it, hopefully.  We go through this process every time we make a decision.    I understand this to be ‘self-talk’.

The more important the decision, the more significant is the ‘self-talk’.  Forming our opinions, I believe, involves us in ’self-talk’.  Taking significant action in our lives may involve discussion with other people – to get advice or more information – but I believe it also involves us in significant ‘self-talk’ – taking on board or not, new  information, etc.

So to prayer.

Prayer is very serious, intentional ‘self-talk’, and God Within for me, is totally involved in this.  This talking goes on internally, between myself and that good inner voice which is inherent in me.  I call this inner good voice, God Within. It is the sacred part of what makes me human.  This conversation/reflection goes on most times before any action I might take.   I am talking to myself; the inner part of myself, the divine dimension of me.  This ‘self-talk’, conversation with God Within, may lead to action but it may lead to taking no action.

Prayer as ‘self-talk’ is very intentional.  If we regard prayer as ‘self-talk’, it is a human exercise which does not need to involve a separate, outside being called God.  For those of us who are panentheists, (Those who believe that this universe is God-saturated – that God is everywhere, in all things, at every time and place) God Within is involved. God Within can influence our ‘self-talk’ by being part of our internal conversation.

As I have already quoted from my Trinity paper:
“God within is my experience of God as my conscience, the good inner voice prompting me to generosity and thankfulness, challenging me to be thoughtful and sensitive to others, guiding me to make loving decisions, gently affirming that I am OK, helping me to forgive my ‘dark’ side and try again, encouraging me with energy, to live  abundantly.”

This concept of God Within announces for me, the divine dimension of humanity.    We can think things through and allow God Within to be involved or we can ignore God Within.  Some would say this is our conscience. We can take notice of it or ignore it.   Our reaction to our conscience leads to different sorts of behaviour. This ‘God conversation’ continues whenever the good, the healthy, the generous, the forgiving, the thankful, the challenging, the holy spirit within us, is heard by us.  I have written many lyrics about this sort of conversation.

Divine Persuasion

Tune  Bishopgarth  Not in AH or TiS
Presbyterian Church Hymnary (1927)  No 370                                                                       Methodist Hymn Book (For Australasia and New Zealand – 1933) No 964 – Second tune

Dr Val Webb states:  ‘God is imaged metaphorically as Divine Persuasion – call it conscience, heart, ground of being, Love – working within us and the world towards richness and wholeness.’

Divine Persuasion urges us, “Make life-enriching choices.”
At every time in every place hear silent sacred voices;
As thoughts divine direct our ways and with us earth rejoices;
We move to wholesomeness enhanced by life-enriching choices.

Divine Intention prompts us to a way of love and justice;
The challenges enable us to bring about, through service
The reign of God, the prize of peace, and all that life can promise;
We move to wholesomeness in life by way of love and justice.

Divine Involvement permeates the essence of our nature;
Provokes, entices, sponsors us to forge a wondrous picture
Of human worth and dignity in every race and culture;
We move to wholesomeness and find the essence of our nature.

And again:

God Within

Tune   Ar Hyd Y Nos (All through the Night)  Not in AHB  TiS 168

From beginning to each ending
God is within.
Human and divine keep blending;
God is within.
In our coming and our going,
In our learning and our knowing,
As we struggle in our growing
God is within.

When supportive help is needed
God is within.
When our limits are exceeded
God is within.
When life is a hopeless jigsaw,
When we cry we cannot take more,
When downtrodden we survive, for
God is within.

When we cease from being greedy
God is within;
When we look to serve the needy
God is within.
When we use our wealth for sharing,
When we stand with those despairing,
When we live our lives in caring
God is within.

When we act with human virtue
God is within.
Strive for fine ideals we value,
God is within.
When we guard and guide each other
With compassion, we uncover
Our true self and we discover
God is within.

This internal God conversation or serious ‘self-talk’, can lead to godly behaviour.

This concept of God points me in the direction of ‘involvement’ rather than ‘intervention’.  It makes prayers of intercession different, in that I am not asking God to intervene and do something but I am being challenged to involve myself with God and ‘allowing’ God to be involved through me in bringing about positive change.

Again I take recourse to my lyrics.

Praying – Living values

Tune   Lauda Anima (Praise my soul)  AHB 68  TiS 179

When I pray I feel more deeply;
Reaching out with thanks and praise;
When I pray I think more deeply;
Pondering life’s puzzling maze;
When I pray I live more deeply
In the values love conveys.

When I pray I can’t act badly
Giving way to grim deceit;
When I pray I can’t be angry,
Wishing for some vengeance sweet;
When I pray I’m far more ready
To befriend each one I meet.

When I pray I act intently
Showing kindness, patience, grace;
When I pray I strive intently
Seeking justice for each race;
When I pray I toil intently
Building peace in every place.

When I pray I speak more clearly
To affirm the ones who fail;
When I pray I give more freely
To the poor, infirm or frail;
When I pray I live more fully,
And in God I can prevail.

Thanksgiving.

When dealing with thankfulness, I think that being thankful and giving someone thanks engenders the same inner human feelings/emotions.   The experience is the same.  Here again I have problems with ‘thanking God’ for ‘his’ blessings.   If I attribute to God the good things that happen to me, then I have the problem that such good things may not have happened to others.    Why is this so?   Does God favour me and not favour others?   I think not!

If I am thankful, the feeling, the human emotion is the same but I am not suggesting that God has favoured me over others. The emotion of feeling thankful and the act of giving thanks is often natural and spontaneous. However, sometimes we need to be intentional about our thanksgiving.  We need to prompt ourselves or be prompted into giving thanks. I believe this ‘prompting’ comes from God within.

We can be thankful that someone has had a safe journey, that the bush-fire did not burn our house down, that an operation was successful, that a growth is not malignant, that the weather is what we want it to be, that we were not injured in the motor vehicle accident; and so on.

In life, it is often very appropriate to thank some other human being. Some of the ‘good’ outcomes in life can be attributed to the activity of others.   In the case of an operation we can give our thanks to the surgeon.   In the case of a safe journey we can give our thanks to the bus or train driver or air pilot.   In the case of a bush fire it may be most appropriate that we give our thanks to the volunteer fire-fighter.

But there are happenings in our lives for which we can just be thankful, sometimes profoundly thankful. Sometimes a ‘good’ outcome is pure luck, sometimes just our good fortune.  And we say, “Thank goodness”. A growth not being malignant will generate relief and then thanksgiving.  That is a matter of our good fortune as well as, possibly, good diet, avoiding smoking, etc.   Our self-talk can be, “I am so thankful.”  In the case in a motor vehicle accident, we can be thankful we were in the back seat and luckily walk away from the accident uninjured.  If we had been sitting next to the driver we would have been killed. If we thank ‘someone’ where does that leave the person who was killed and others associated with the person killed?  Is it also appropriate to blame that same ‘someone’?

Being thankful, thankful self-talk, is good for the soul, our inner being.  When we are thankful in a thoughtful way, this is a prayer of thanksgiving.  This is thankful self-talk but we are not thanking ourselves.  We may not be thanking anyone else either but in our self-talk we are still being thankful.  We are thinking in a thankful way.  We don’t necessarily need to thank ‘someone’ however, thankful self-talk can prompt us to give thanks if and to whom it is due.

Thankful self-talk can be similar to being pleased about something.  Being pleased can often give rise to giving thanks.  Being pleased, being thankful is an inner psychological experience/emotion.

What do you think a prayer of thanksgiving is?  Is it possible to be thankful without thanking someone?   I think so.

For me, all this points to mystery, particularly when sometimes intentional deliberate actions are mixed in with good fortune or bad.  To accept the mystery as mystery and not to try to answer the question, Why? can be, I believe, life affirming as well as realistic.   To pursue an answer, however enticing that process may be, or however partial that answer may be, I think can lead to unhelpful conclusions which often can present an extra burden for people experiencing grief or loss.  I admire immensely those who can accept what life deals out and then eventually continue to affirm life again even with all its vicissitudes.

Let us be thankful for the good things and work to enhance life thus making more good things happen.  Let us rejoice in the good things that happen, even the ‘miraculous’, the unexplainable, the mysterious.

But let us do it in a way that does not raise negative implications for other people who are in situations that are not good.  Let us do it in a way that does not create, even by implication, a ‘them and us’ picture.

Let us do it in a way that encourages hope and not despair, hope and not guilt.  Let us do it in a way that is not bolstering up our particular set of beliefs and again by implication, suggesting that others who do not share these beliefs, are ‘missing out’ or who are in some way deficient.   Let us rejoice and be thankful and leave it at that.

Confession.

When we move to confession, this is possibly the most serious self-talk.   Self-examination can sometimes lead to self-rejection.  If it leads to self-rejection it is accompanied by guilt and guilt is one of the strongest human emotions.    We have done or said something wrong or we have not done or said something that we feel we should have done or said and we feel guilty.

If guilt takes over we might feel we could make an endless list of our failings and our wrong doings.  We are reminded of many of these in the prayers of confession in many church services.   These prayers are often very detailed, listing the sorts of ‘sins’ we are told we have committed and these listings are often accompanied with short responses like ‘Forgive us Lord.’ or ‘We confess these our wrong doings.’.  These responses help us own the sins being listed.  These prayers often end with a longer response like, ‘We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed.  Lord, hear our prayer and in your mercy forgive us.’  If we listen to these prayers, we are left in no doubt about how guilty we should feel. This prayer is usually followed immediately with a pronouncement of God’s forgiveness but I often wonder if this has the impact that is desired. I would hope so.

Many of the hymns we sing in church leave little doubt in our minds about how sinful we all are.  There are practically no hymns in our traditional hymnbooks which suggest there is anything good about humanity.   We sing about our weakness and helplessness, that we are members of Adam’s fallen race.   One hymn I remember from my youth has ‘Before thy throne we sinners bend’ sung in every verse.   When singing this hymn I was left in no doubt about how bad I was.  That hymn did continue with a request to God for forgiveness however I remember that these further words didn’t help me much.

The main traditional Christian emphasis that has been taught in the church through the centuries is that the cross of Jesus was necessary to pay the price for our sin.   The sacrifice of Jesus, I have been told, was necessary to enable God to forgive my sin, as well as everybody else’s.   This leads to two main emphases of traditional Christian theology; that of the great love of God to initiate such a sacrifice and the great sin of humanity that made it necessary.

‘Confession is good for the soul’ we are told.  I believe this is true but one might also add, ‘All things in moderation.’  We need to find a balance.  Maybe we need to accept that we are both good and sinful; that we do have a bright side as well as a dark side.

Confession could well be one of our deepest and most searching forms of self-talk.  With self-examination we are sometimes reminded of things that are not the way we would wish them to have been.   Our past is not perfect.   We know this.   And because we are not perfect, we know we could be better people.

When we intentionally think this way, the self-talk is our prayer of confession.

I believe God within is involved in all this self-talk with us.   We are prompted by our beliefs in ‘the good’ and thus, by the comparison we make between ‘the good’ and what we think of ourselves and our behaviour, God within prompts us to accept our shortcomings and also accept that we are accepted as we are.  God within is the prosecution and the judge; but God within is our defence.  God within is in the ‘dock’ in us.  God within is the forgiveness and the erasing of our criminal record. God within is the challenge to improve our performance. Jesus conditions my beliefs about God within.

Adoration.

What can adoration mean if there is no ‘separate, external. supernatural being’ to adore?    How can a prayer of adoration be prayed if there is no ‘being’ to adore?  I go to my concept of God Beyond.   Again I quote from my paper on the Trinity:
‘God beyond, for me, is that ‘More’ outside me but not distant from me and in a sense not separate from me; inherent in me but in no way limited to me.  God beyond is that which keeps me together but keeps everything else together as well.   God beyond is the Life Force within all that lives, including me, but not limited to me.   Other people, trees, ants, rocks, moons, stars and galaxies, microbes and bacteria—all that is outside, beyond me is God beyond.  God beyond is God that everything has its being in. The phrase God beyond is appropriate because nearly everything is beyond or outside of me.’

‘God beyond is the Source of, and the all-pervading creative energy sustaining all that is, whether there be only one or even multiple universes.  This energy has been there before and at least for 13.8 thousand million years.  It is everywhere in the expanding universe and saturates all that is and is to come.

God beyond must be benevolent simply because many thousands of different things needed to have happened in sequence and now be in place, for human life to come into being.   It took thousands of millions of years for little me to emerge, for the atoms and molecules that are thousands of millions of years old, but which come together to form me. What a marvel! What a benevolent miracle!  If all these thousands of occurrences did not happen in the sequence they did and how they did, I would not be here!  This is benevolence par excellence!!

Not that it all happened because I was the end result being sought or the purpose for it all happening.   Rather it is that I happen to be part of the fortunate end result, maybe the inevitable result of the evolutionary processes which are basic to the whole universe.   My efforts at thanksgiving are totally inadequate. Remaining speechless is probably far more appropriate.  Awe is my response to this mystery.’

Again I take recourse to my lyrics:

In awe and thankfulness

Tune  Rivaulx  AHB 259(ii)  TiS 131

For God inherent and within,
That sacredness when we begin,
In awe and thankfulness we raise
Our hymns and prayers in grateful praise.

For God in process, movement, change,
In all things common, also strange,
In awe and thankfulness we raise
Our hymns and prayers in grateful praise.

For God involved in space and time,
In all things normal and sublime,
In awe and thankfulness we raise
Our hymns and prayers in grateful praise.

For God engaged, both day and night,
In pain and that which brings delight,
In awe and thankfulness we raise
Our hymns and prayers in grateful praise.

For God immersed in all our ways,
In life, in death, in all our days,
In awe and thankfulness we raise
Our hymns and prayers in grateful praise.

And again I am speaking of the ever and always present God and not as an external being to be worshipped and adored.  Before a God-saturated universe I can only stand before it in silence and awe.    In the face of such a universe, for me, speaking of a creator in the terms I have become used to in the church, presents me with a concept of a god who ’is far too small’.   God Beyond is totally mysterious.  My response to the awesomeness of the universe, to all that is around, outside and within me, is one of praise and thanksgiving, Yes, adoration.

God is mystery

Tune    Lasst uns Erfreuen    AHB 3, 42, 87, 276  TiS 72, 100, 150, 360

God in all galaxies beyond,
Yet in our hearts and we respond;
God of mystery shares our history;
God is the gentle breeze that blows;
In every creature as it grows;
God gives glory to our story;
God of mystery shares our history;
Alleluia.

God is beyond our wildest dreams,
Quite out of reach it almost seems;
God of mystery shares our history;
Yet we all know of God within,
Facing each day as we begin;
God in hiding, yet abiding;
God of mystery shares our history;
Alleluia.

God is the sacredness of life;
Meets us in all our peace and strife;
God of mystery shares our history;
God shares with us our human mess,
Feeling each joy and every stress;
God of trying; God in crying;
God of mystery shares our history;
Alleluia.

In God we live and move and be;
In God we find our destiny;
God of mystery shares our history;
God is the love that fills our soul:
God is the love that makes us whole;
God gives glory to our story;
God of mystery shares our history;
Alleluia.

And again:

It is so grand

Tune   Woodlands  AHB 109, 328  TiS 161, 411

It is so grand – the cosmos with its store
Of galaxies and stars; we stand in awe;
The constellations, nebulae and more,
So limitless, no human can explore.

It is so grand – the beauty of the earth –
Abundant life; all species seek re-birth;
We look at nature; she responds with mirth;
And then we wonder at her dazzling worth.

It is so grand – the body, soul and mind –
So complex yet exquisitely combined;
Belief, thought, deed – effectively entwined
Reveal the miracle of humankind.

It is so grand – the virtues we hold dear –
Soft kindness, goodness, gentleness sincere,
Faith, hope and love which constantly appear;
And grace, compassion which helps conquer fear.

The ‘God beyond’ is always on display;
The ‘God within’ sustains us all each day;
The ‘God between’ in all our interplay;
We are so blest; we need to kneel and pray.

If we are going to make some re-orientation to the place to which I am pointing, we will need to make some reasonably drastic changes regarding some of the commonly used phrases within our present prayers, particularly those used in public church services.

I believe the words we use are extremely important, particularly those we use repeatedly.   These repeated words in hymns and prayers can become an unconscious basis on which we do a lot of our ‘religious’ thinking.   Many are imbedded in our sub-conscious and encase concepts which have some sort of subliminal effect on our beliefs.   As with many words and concepts in our traditional hymns, I believe there are some regularly used phrases in our traditional praying that we need to abandon.

Some of these phrases are:

• Calling on God to ‘Hear our prayer’ is, for me, anti-Gospel.   To use the usual ‘church talk’- God is far more willing to ‘hear our prayer’ than we are to pray.  God Within is praying our prayer.  What we need to say is that we need to listen to our prayer.   We are the ones who need to ‘hear our prayer’.   We need to take seriously what is being prayed and let it affect the way we live.

• Calling on God to ‘In your mercy, forgive us.’  To use the usual ‘church talk’ – God is far more willing to forgive than we are to confess.   When it is stated, ‘We have sinned against You in thought, word and deed, and are no longer worthy to be …’, I am not sure what this means.    I can ‘sin’ against myself, my ‘good’ self, by abandoning my principles, the values I hold dear.   I can ignore the influence of my conscience, my inner ‘good’ voice, God Within.  When this happens, I fall, I fail and do wrong, even bad things.  I can also ‘sin’ against others by being hurtful, greedy, and irresponsible in so many ways. This I understand and I own all this.

I suppose the phrase above could mean that I have been disobedient; I have broken God’s laws and commandments.   But these ’sins’ have to do with me degrading myself and/or de-valuing others.    It is I who needs to forgive me and I need to ask forgiveness from others.   Again, we need to take seriously what is being prayed and let it affect the way we live.

• Calling on God to ‘Come to us’ or to say ‘Let us come into God’s presence and …’ is to presuppose God is separated from us and that some movement on God’s part or our part needs to take place before communication can happen.   Given the teachings of Jesus I think this is preposterous!   One phrase, associated with Jesus, is ‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’  This saying and so many others in the New Testament record we have of Jesus, emphasise the closeness/oneness of God and humanity.  John’s Gospel is awash with teachings about God in us and us in God. Also refer back to the New Testament quotes I make earlier.  Do we take the teachings of Jesus seriously or do we let the out-dated two tiered universe concept (heaven and earth) take over.   I think very often it is the latter.   God is in heaven.  We know that!  We say it every time we recite the so called, Lord’s Prayer!   Because of the teachings I have received from the church over 70 years, I automatically think of God as separated and in heaven, a different place.  I have to deliberately stop thinking this way.  Most hymns I am requested to sing in church services continually remind me of this separation.

We should abandon these sorts of phrases mentioned above and probably many others.  It is totally presumptuous for us, and using the usual ‘church talk’, to think that we need to cajole or urge ‘God to do’ anything.  This sort of speaking is so common in church services but we need to change.  Let us replace them with phrases like ‘We are aware of your presence.…’  ‘Let us be aware of God’s presence everywhere and in this place as we …’  ‘Let us rejoice in the life of Jesus as we…’  ‘May we be conscious that we….’   ‘May we be conscious of…. and be thankful.’  ‘Let us be mindful of….’   Etc. There are many more and better words that we should embrace, particularly in public church services.

I think the church, when using many traditional liturgies particularly in prayers, has a long way to go to ‘reclaim’ the beauty, strength and relevance of prayer.

As I say in some of my lyrics:

Moving forward in belief

Tune    Stuttgart  AHB 200, 216, 265, 447  TiS 272,  291,  349

When we ponder what we value,
When we search our past belief,
Then we struggle to surrender
What we’ve known that’s brought relief.

Explanations are more complex
Than the answers we’ve been taught;
Wisdom from the past can lead us,
But we now probe every thought.

We are called to venture forward;
We are challenged to review
Our beliefs and our behavior;
Always seeking what is true.

If we linger and are passive,
If fear makes us hesitate,
We may find life moves beyond us,
And we can’t participate.

God inside calls us to venture;
Calls to risk and be aware;
Calls to go and meet the future;
Be assured that God is there.

My self-talk in praying would often centre on the words of the Serenity Prayer:

May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference;
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as a rough pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would like to have it;
Living with the hope that life is good and love can make a difference.

Grace and Peace   George Stuart   March 2016.

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For April 2016

My Website has all my 650 sets of lyrics on it.    As you negotiate through it you can, for each set of lyrics, listen to one verse of my chosen tune, use and project a Power Point  presentation of the words, print off the lyrics and, if not still under copyright limitations, print off the musical score.

Go straight to my Website.   All the below lyrics can be found there.    There is also a set of  indexes which some find very helpful to identify where a particular set of lyrics is and listen to a verse of my chosen tune.   If you find it helpful, please tell your colleagues and friends.

If you are unaware, all my lyrics are free to use without copyright restrictions or limitations.  You do not need to have a copyright licence to use my material   God for it!!  I give full and unrestricted permission to use all my lyrics and any other material I post on this Blog. Below are the new lyrics based on the April 2016 gospel readings.  There are a number of alternatives that can be used at different times during the Easter period

In Praise of Doubt  Tune  Forest Green  AHB 240  TiS 316

Some people say, “To doubt is wrong”
We should not doubt at all;
To question our beliefs, they say
Could bring about our fall;
But doubt permits an honest stance
In those who are devout;
For those who think about beliefs
Can sing in praise of doubt.

The Thomas’ story has been used
To judge, condemn, deplore;
But Thomas shows he is sincere;
He wanted to be sure.
For doubt can help but not deter
A vital turnabout;
Yes!  Those who care about beliefs
Can sing in praise of doubt.

If our beliefs prevent our search
For new and different creeds;
Let us beware of narrow views
Where dogma often breeds;
With new, exciting facts we learn
Much love can come about;
Yes!  Those who grow in their beliefs
Can sing in praise of doubt.

OR…

Thomas   Tune  St. Magnus  AHB 32, 196, 301, 574  TiS 116, 378, 770

The Jesus’ story told before
By people of ‘The Way’,
Was told to stimulate belief;
And so it is today.

Disciples said, “We’ve seen the lord.”
But Thomas was not sure;
“I need to see the wounds myself –
Some proof on which to draw.”

The story tells that when he saw
The wounds that love had borne,
He was transformed; he then adored;
The light began to dawn.

Today we see the wounded Christ
In those who combat wrong;
In those who clash with wickedness;
In weakness, they are strong.

The miracle of ‘Life’ from ‘Death’ –
In Jesus we can see
That love, when killed, can rise again
To feed us constantly.

We need no proof when this occurs
We know with certainty
Whenever love, compassion stirs
We live abundantly.

April 10th. 2016.  Year C   Easter 3     John 21:1-19   Particularly Vs 15-19

Feed my sheep  Tune  Abridge  AHB 36(i), 476, 498  TiS 35, 115

Disciples were like you and me;
They often lost their way;
Their good intentions and resolve
Could sometimes go astray.

We hear that Simon’s name was changed
To Peter, meaning ‘Rock’;
When Jesus made this change he named
A leader of his flock.

And Peter, though impatient, brash,
He relished this new name;
He loved his Lord yet was disloyal;
He knew both joy and shame.

He followed Jesus to the end,
But failed him dismally;
Three times denied his Lord, but then
Went out, wept bitterly.

Yet he’s the man, just as he was,
Whom Jesus called to care;
He said three times, “You feed my sheep.”
“Do not yield to despair.”

We too like Peter can be weak;
We too can lose our way;
But Jesus still is calling us
To be God’s love today.

April 17th. 2016.  Year C   Easter 4     John 10:22-30   Particularly Vs 23-25

Are you the One?   Tune Ballerma  AHB 18  TiS 515(i)

The people asked for certain proof
That Jesus was the One
Who had been promised long ago
As God’s annointed Son.

“The things I do” was his reply;
“These things all speak for me.”
“If you observe them and believe
You will know I am he.”

In listening to his voice we hear
The guidance he will give;
Secure in his love we find
The strength by which to live.

When we accept his loving deeds
As pointing to God’s way,
We are inspired to do the same,
To follow him each day.

April 24th. 2016.  Year C   Easter 5     John 13:31-35 (Not used)   Matthew 22:37-40

The Two Commandments   Tune  Longwood  Not in AHB or TiS
Presbyterian Hymnary  566
or other appropriate 10 10. 10 10 metre tunes

Love gives expression to the faith we own;
‘Love God and neighbour’ – This is love made known;
Love brings a sacredness to all of life
In happiness, in tension and in strife.

Jesus said love fulfilled all sacred law;
“Love God and neighbour; there is nothing more;
All law and prophets on this love depend”
Love is enough because it has no end

Jesus said, “When you love in heart and mind
‘Love God and neighbour’ – are alike in kind.”
When we love neighbours, do not think it odd
That, in so doing, we are loving God.

Loving ourselves in true humility
Releases love within, that makes us free
To love our neighbours in the self same way;
Then love of God is surely on display.

Jesus showed loving is the way of grace;
Walking that way leads to a wholesome place;
Loving gives hope when things are turning grey;
Loving brings peace – a blessing for each day.

I hope you find something of use above.   Grace and Peace  George.

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