Blogs

A patchwork of knowledge of science and praise https://bramhallmethodists.org.uk/scienceandprayer/

A patchwork of knowledge of science and praise,
exploring creation while numbering our days,
yet each can confound us, with challenge or choice,
unsettle or change us, give cause to rejoice.

Each discipline offers perspective and view,
some narrow, abandoned or followed by few,
our relative thinking, experience and ways,
maintaining a template for prayer and for praise.

Andrew Pratt 28/9/2019
Tune: ST DEINIO
Metre: 11.11.11.11
Words © 2019 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.

This fragile, passing beauty…Remembrance hymn

On the 1st September 1939, 80 years ago, the Second World War began. Germany invaded Poland; with the United Kingdom and France declaring war on Germany two days later…

This fragile, passing beauty,
this autumn, red and gold,
a season’s recollection:
love never will grow cold.
The seasons change and fracture,
the leaves of green turn brown,
as life seems tinged with sadness,
as petals flutter down.

This time of our remembrance
that reaches back to pain,
the chill of recollection
can open wounds again;
But this we must remember
that human war and hate
are matters of our choosing
and not some random fate.

God let this time of grieving,
of mem’ry and regret,
enable reparation,
in case we just forget.
Fill human hearts with courage,
frame human words with grace,
that love might flow among us,
make Earth a sacred place.

Andrew Pratt 16/9/2019

Words © 2019 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.
Tunes: BRED DINA VIDA VINGAR (Reclaiming Praise, No.142 – https://stainer.co.uk/shop/b891/), another setting of this tune can be heard at https://youtu.be/V6dDt3OJf6Q ;
Another tune: AURELIA.

When evil gathers in the wings – Bad things happen when good people do nothing…hymn

Bad things happen when good people do nothing…

When evil gathers in the wings
the time of crisis offers choice:
to rise with courage and resist
or keep our silence, still each voice.
What shall we do when chaos reigns,
act out God’s love? Submit to chains?

As history echoes from the past,
while memories can tend to fade,
‘lest we forget’ let us recast
the hard decisions others made:
to live the love that Christ had shown,
self sacrificial, Spirit blown.

Words © 2019 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.
Tune: ABINGDON

 

Loyalty

In this month 80 years ago the Second World War began –

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
the love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
that lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
the love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
the love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

Cecil Arthur Spring-Rice (1859-1918) wrote of loyalty and this week we have seen loyalty in politics stretched to the limit, at times, completely broken. Who can sing of a love for country that asks no question? Can anyone anymore, in this country or any other?

Soon, however things pan out politically in the UK, we are likely to have an election and I feel confused. It would be wrong use of this blog to tell you who to vote for and, in any case, I don’t know the answer to that question for us all individually or corporately, but I’ve been thinking. And it relates to that word loyalty. Where do we place that loyalty?

Let’s think back, dig into history a little. My Grandfather, born in 1886, fought in the war to end all wars. Served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, became a captain. People who fought in that war hoped there would never be another such war. The League of Nations was formed. TocH started by the Reverend Phillip Byard (Tubby) Clayton offered fellowship to members of the forces. Step through the door and rank disappeared. All in it together would be a reasonable summary. My dad joined TocH. Born in 1912 he was in the Eighth Army. Drove a water carrier at El Alamein. Royal Army Service Corps. Died when he was 60 in 1973. He and so many others fought against what they saw as ultimate evil in Nazism. Let us remember that the growth of Nazism took place in a Christian country through a democratic process.

Shades and colours of loyalty, interpretations of faith. A league of Nations that grew into the United Nations. In my lifetime Europe grew closer and distances seemed to shrink. Society has become global. We shudder at the destruction in the Bahamas, at fie by the Amazon, but also at gun crime in America and knife crime in our own cities.

And now, that potential election asks of us, against this back-drop of history, our varied and disparate experiences, our personal stories, our joy and our pain, where we place our loyalty.

Our faith and our doubt inform what we have become and put us where we are. Yet we each, as Christians, ought still to ask ourselves ‘where do we place our ultimate loyalty?’ And if this is too political then Jeremiah was too political. I think it was Desmond Tutu who said if people think the Bible has nothing to do with politics they’re reading a different Bible from me.

Where do we place our loyalty? Is it to our country? To our family? Our church? To our neighbours? My dad or your grandmother? Are we driven by self-interest?

One thing shines through the Bible, from Amos and Hosea (read them, they’re short books), through the Magnificat to the story of the Good Samaritan, to the crucifixion and on beyond the resurrection, and that is LOVE. If we are not loyal to LOVE we are just like ‘resounding gongs or clanging cymbals’. We make a lot of noise but we are worth nothing at all.

It seems that in all things, not least our political choices and decisions, we must decide how to prioritise LOVE over and above anything else. And that may take us out of Europe or leave us in. It may join us with our families or separate us from them so distantly that sometimes it will be as though we hate them. But above all only ‘resounding gongs and clanging cymbals don’t care‘. They are not human, they do not think, they CARE for nothing AND COUNT OF NOTHING.

In every choice, every decision, every vote if we see ourselves as Christians we will ask, does this choice, this decision, enhance or diminish the way those affected by it are LOVED.

YOUR CHOICE…AND MINE…EVERY TIME…don’t point the finger, don’t blame the other person, the other party, the other side, the other nation… YOUR CHOICE…AND MINE…EVERY TIME…

Henri Nouwen – this is worth reading and following – Freedom Is the Goal

Freedom Is the Goal

‘Though the forces of evil infecting whole nations and peoples are often hidden, complex, and elusive, we are called, as Christians, to unmask and expel them in the Name of the God of Love….’ Henri Nouwen – Meditation 13th September 2019

Read the full text at Henri Nouwen meditations

What sharp protestations might echo the prophets – hymn at the time of parliamentary disagreement

What sharp protestations might echo the prophets,
could mirror the actions of Christ and the cross?
We witness indifference, inaction and malice,
that break up communities, add to our loss.

But how can we counter political action
that builds upon selfishness slander and lies,
that blinds us to suffering, homelessness, hunger,
ignoring these needs as our barren earth dies?

While violence surrounds us, our dark contemplation
breeds hopelessness, helplessness, absence of light;
yet here in the darkness a spark might still smoulder,
that love might still fan to dispel hatred’s night.

Join hands now, God’s people, let love be our watchword,
let Christ be our model of life giving grace,
that those of each nation, the war torn, the migrant,
may find they are welcome right now in this place.

Andrew Pratt 31/8/2019
Words © 2019 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.
Tune: WAS LEBET, WAS SCHWEBET (or possibly THE ASH GROVE)

Written at a time when parliament was due to be prorogued.