Am I creation’s keeper,
a steward of this earth,
a singular vocation,
to measure all its worth?
As humans we must nurture,
the land, the sea, the air,
for all we see around us
is handed to our care.
Yet lost in self-obsession,
not feeding human need,
our greatest occupation,
is meeting human greed;
we cull and kill creation,
exterminate at will,
we hanker and we hunger
for more than just our fill.
The seas become polluted,
the forests burnt or felled,
the air a noxious fluid,
its temperature not held.
The world, unfit for purpose,
destroyed by human choice?
We need to hear the prophets,
to raise up every voice.
No faith or creed or preference,
exceeds our need for life,
this planet, all its value,
will it survive our strife?
When human life has ended,
this home left scarred and torn,
will God not weep with anger,
that we were ever born?
Written 13/9/2020 while watching David Attenborough’s broadcast:
Extinction: The Facts
Andrew Pratt, Words © 2020 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Suggested Tune: SALLY GARDENS
God marks no ending, only new beginnings,
until the consummation of our lives;
God keeps no count of losses, nor of winnings:
we move through grace, the holy spirit thrives.
So as we go beyond this time, this setting,
rememb’ring all the laughter and the tears;
we go with God in faith, so not regretting
the moments shared, the hopes, the dreams, the fears.
Though parted for a while, we travel onward,
not knowing what the future has in store.
This phase will close, the spirit draws us forward,
we’ve tasted love, but God has promised more!
Words © 2006 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk. Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
11 10 11 10 Suggested Tune: LORD OF THE YEARS
Great God, your love has held our lives
through all the years down to this day.
Your constant presence held us fast:
remain with us we plead and pray.
We’ve seen the ruins left by war,
the tumbled buildings, street by street;
some heard the voices that they loved
and cried for those they’d no more meet.
As time moves on some memories fade,
some griefs we shared lie in the past;
for others pain is just as sharp,
we know their hurt will always last.
Some human acts have swept away
our partners, parents, children, friends,
some people we had never known;
the memory lives and never ends.
Beyond this day we try to live:
a sinew of each life survives,
but where is God in hurt and hate?
The questions stay to haunt our lives.
Help us to build a better world
not fuelled by vengeance, fed by greed;
a world in which we all can live,
what ever colour, race or creed.
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) Words © 2015 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk. Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Anthony Reddie posted the following on 18th August 2020.
He points out the need to be careful in our use of familiar material in worship and even whether we should continue in its use. Tradition is not sufficient reason.
‘Speaking with Azariah France-Williams and others about his wonderful book ‘Ghost Ship’, I am reminded of the dangers of Whiteness as an unacknowledged generic theological and ecclesiological norm. I have NEVER spoken the words of the Methodist Covenant service because I have always found them deeply problematic. For a long while I couldn’t work out why I recoiled from speaking these words. Now as a Black liberation theologian I know the reason why is because they are steeped in privilege of patrician Whiteness. Black bodies have been colonised for centuries to the point where prior to the various Black power movements of the 20th century the notion of Black people having agency was an oxymoron. I remember as a young child sitting next to my Mum in church as she uttered these words of being ‘put to whatever use’ decreed by the White colonial God proclaimed by British Methodism and wondered how this applied to a poor Black woman who once literally broke stones with her hands for a White stone merchant in Jamaica in order to find the coach fare to travel home to see her dying elder sister before it was too late ( Andrea DA and Karen Hope that was your paternal grandmother Alvina). I didn’t have the words or the concepts to give voice to my anger at this exploitative framework that saw my family volunteering (no doubt under the guise that this was an expression of OUR discipleship) to clean the church floor prior to the 1978 Methodist Conference at Eastbrook Hall Central Mission but not good enough to be invited to the opening of the conference, when all the White people for whom the Covenant service of ‘being used by God’ didn’t include cleaning the floor, but were unsurprisingly invited and given seats of honour. And then remembering being scolded by the then General Secretary of the Methodist church for retelling the latter story at a Connexional event at Swanwick because presumably it was a worse crime to retell the story than it was that the only Black family in this church were deemed good enough to clean the floors but not good enough to sit in the balcony when Donald English was sworn in as President of the Conference. So the next time any of you have the unoriginal idea of asking me to stand for Vice President of the Conference again, please do remember this post and the stories contained within it and know that it will be a cold day in hell before I stand for such a post given the hypocrisy of White Christianity. Now, not only do I not recite the words of the Covenant service, I stay in my bed and not even dignify the service with my presence.’
One time they would not spare the rod,
for fear to spoil the child.
But now the ones who claim to ‘know’
will spoil the child by different means,
an algorithm sets the scene
and plots where they will go.
The damage is more distant now,
detached yet pain will grow.
To this the world has been inured.
And with the placing of a life,
the ledger reconciled.
© Andrew Pratt 16/8/2020
I watched the beginning of a film of Jane Eyre. Jane was beaten. Today, still with less of a eye on the welfare of children we rarely use the rod. It has been replaced with algorithms…financial balance sheets and privilege seem to occupy the bottom line…