Hymns responding to Dr Tim Gordon’s Seminar for Bramhall Methodist Church Climate Change Series

Dr Tim Gordon
Marine Biologist, Exeter University

Pre-meeting text

Like concrete, coral crumbles, 
devoid of life and breath, 
and lifeless it will signal 
our finiteness and death, 
until with all creation 
we find our common place 
and treasure this our planet 
and see, in life, God’s face.
 
The reef can be a model: 
a commonwealth of care, 
of close cooperation 
of all that’s living there: 
yet human beings meddle, 
bring damage and distress.
We need to learn and listen 
if life is to progress.

A deeper understanding 
that science can provide
could bring the restoration 
our actions have denied;
while prayer can open senses 
to things that are obscure, 
God’s spirit offers insight 
to make the world secure.

Andrew Pratt 23/5/2021
Words © 2021 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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
Metre: 7.6.7.6.D
Tune: LLANGLOFFAN; AURELIA

Hymn responding to Dr Tim Gordon
Marine Biologist, Exeter University

The song of the sea, once melodious is dying, 
that song is essential, the calling of home; 
Great God, we lament, yet the sound of our crying 
is quieter than breakers, the wash of the foam.

What work must we do to restore what is broken, 
how can we encourage the choir of the sea? 
The spirit is moving, the waters are wounded, 
the oceans are anguished for life to be free.

You enter our suffering and love in our grieving, 
you join us in weakness, when frailty is near, 
God hold us, enfold us when hell overcomes us, 
stand near to the tomb of our folly and fear.

You promise a covenant, both gift and promise. 
Creation is groaning, still coming to birth. 
Bring newness, renewal, a hope that is living, 
from suff’ring bring joy for the whole of the earth.

We treasure the symphony, yet we are grieving, 
we long for the chorus, the song of the sea, 
bring light in the darkness and sound in the silence, 
Great God, co-creator let all life be free.

Andrew Pratt 24/5/2021
Words © 2021 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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
Metre: 12.11.12.11
Tune: STREETS OF LAREDO

More information click here

Pentecost resources – hymns, song, poem, monologue, reflection, drama

The following items are all written by Marjorie Dobson or Andrew Pratt.
More of Marjorie Dobson's writing can be found at Stainer & Bell Ltd - Marjorie Dobson
More of Andrew Pratt's writing can be found at Stainer & Bell Ltd - Andrew Pratt

Hymn: It was a new beginning on the day the Spirit came

It was a new beginning on the day the Spirit came.
The house was filled with roaring wind and heads were touched by flame.
Their lips were blessed with languages that all could understand 
and Peter led the charge into this new uncharted land.

It was a revelation when the doors were opened wide 
and all could see what happened to the ones who were inside.
“These men are plainly very drunk, at only nine-o-clock.
It’s surely very clear they’ve had a monumental shock.”

It was a new translation when the Spirit led their speech 
and Peter stood in front of them and then began to preach.
The people were amazed because they understood each word 
and, what is more, they acted on the message that they heard.

It was a new beginning, but the story carries on, 
as people still find inspiration, though the years have gone.
For Pentecost is permanent, the Spirit still holds sway 
and helps us to translate God’s word and challenge for today.

Marjorie Dobson	
© 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.
Metre: 14 14 14 14
Tune: THE LINCOLNSHIRE POACHER

Poem: Common language

Confusion – 
as the Babel-babble of languages 
ripped apart a proud people
and scattered them in misunderstanding.

Resolution – 
as a Spirit-filled language 
swept swiftly through a listening crowd 
and united them in understanding and community.

Same God.
Same Spirit.
But now in longed-for reconciliation, 
as the word of death defeated by the love of God 
was spoken with Pentecostal power.

©Marjorie Dobson

Hymn/Poem: Simultaneous translation

Simultaneous translation, 
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, 
all the world, it seemed, was listening, 
here the Spirit cheers, unites. 
	
Awe and wonder stunned the people, 
something new had come to birth, 
now the Holy Spirit, flaming, 
spread God's grace across the earth.
	
Faith's foundations shudder, quaking, 
preconceptions shift and shake, 
people share anticipation,
joy has come and love will wake!

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© Words © 2012 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.
Metre: 8 7 8 7
Tune: DRAKES BROUGHTON; SHIPSTON

Inspiration: I hate balloons!

I hate balloons!
Ever since that day
one horrid child
burst one behind me
at a party, 
when I was only four,
or thereabouts -
I’ve hated balloons.

And yet ……

a street-seller
captivates children –
and me –
by making shapes and animals,
as he breathes life
into long, thin balloons
and curves and twists them
in his hands.
Then, suddenly, a dog!
And a delighted child
sees, not breath encased,
only a new friend
to carry home with glee.

Empty,
balloons are nothing.
Air-filled,
they live.

Come Holy Spirit,
pour new life into me,
that I may fill
and change
and live and grow,
transformed 
by the very breath of God.

Marjorie Dobson
© Words © 2004 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.

Song: Lithe spirit you're bounding and leaping

Lithe spirit you're bounding and leaping,
stars shimmer and flash from your heels,
until the whole world burns with pardon and praise,
until the lost know how love feels.

O harlequin dazzle by dancing,
let joy spring like sparks from a flame,
until every person consumed by your love
comes blithely to join in your game.

Come juggler, spinning and turning
our chances and dreams like a top,
until all our values are turned upside down
whirl on through the world, never stop.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© Words © 2002 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.
Metre: 9 8 11 8
Tune: LITHE SPIRIT – from Reclaiming Praise & Whatever Name or Creed (https://stainer.co.uk/composer/andrew-pratt/ )
This can be heard with different words at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTFG7EXQQNM 

Drama: Pentecost People – Acts 2: 1-21
(Could be used as a substitute for a sermon, or in an interactive service, or in a discussion group. The characters could lead into topics for discussion or conversation.)

Reader - Acts 2: 1-21

Narrator: Can you imagine what it must have been like on that day? It must have been sunny – and very hot. What would you have been doing if you were in that crowd? They were mostly Jews from all over the world and this was a religious festival for them.
Maybe imagining how you would have felt then is not easy. For that reason, each of the following characters has brought the story into their own time – our time, maybe?

Maybe this was your regular visit to Jerusalem and you wouldn’t want to miss it? 

Regular attender: Do you know I’ve never missed a Sunday at church for the last forty years – apart from holidays and illness, of course. It’s just a part of my way of life. Every Sunday, get up, get dressed in my best, and off I go. I meet my friends, we have a gossip and coffee after the service and it’s all very pleasant and starts the week off on the right note. The service is OK, so long as the hymns are right and you don’t have to listen to the sermon if you don’t want to. I’ve heard it all before anyway. But these extra visitors are not like us regulars.

Narrator: Maybe you’re local. You live here and have to put up with the visitors. 

Local worshipper: I’m not really comfortable when we get too many visitors crowding our church out - like at Christmas, or Harvest Festival – but I reckon they’re not really serious about the service, so I don’t pay them much attention as long as I can be first in the queue for coffee. I’m not sure why these people come, even if it is a special occasion. We’re not a very adventurous kind of church. We know our own ways and like them and nothing exciting is ever likely to happen round here, so we just carry on as usual and they can make of it what they will.

Narrator: Maybe you’ve travelled a long way – you’re a Jew, but this isn’t even your country. 

Stranger from another place: I’m not from round here. My country is very different to this. So I came here to look for safety and security, but it’s not always easy being here. I hoped the church would offer me some kind of refuge, that’s why I came at this special time. I believe in God, so I should be as much a part of this company as anyone else. I struggle with the language sometimes and some people don’t seem very comfortable because I’m here, but I hope that God will speak to me wherever I am, even if the language is different.

Narrator: Maybe you think all this is a rip-off. People making money.

Cynic: I reckon there’s something fishy going on here. You come to church only because you’ve had your arm twisted up your back by the girl friend to be here for this celebration thing and then it’s just like any other big crowd anywhere. There’s always somebody making a noise, or acting funny, or talking about strange things happening at the front that you can’t see or understand. There are rumours that something’s going to happen and then nothing seems to – not that I can see anyway! I wonder who’s making money out of this and is all this talking and singing just a way of getting you in the mood to hand over even more money

Narrator: Maybe you feel others should recognize that it is a privilege for them to be here with you? 

VIP: It’s really difficult for me when there are all these strangers milling about. Some of them even try to talk to me. But do they know who I am? I have been a pillar of this church and taken on every office I possibly could and given loyal service to this building over many years now. My name has even gone down in its local history and when I speak in a meeting, most people take note of what I’m saying. But it’s so difficult to command respect in a crowd that doesn’t know you. They only come on these special occasions, so I think I should just keep my distance and maybe some of them may recognize that I’m a person of some importance and a force to be reckoned with.

Narrator: Maybe you are panicking because you feel out of control?

The anxious one: I don’t like crowds. I have never liked crowds. I get panicky and afraid because you never know what might happen. That’s why I keep myself to myself – even in church. I don’t want anyone to know how I feel, so I hide it. And who would be interested in my worries and anxieties anyway? I do try to pray about them sometimes, but I’m not even sure that God would want to listen to someone as insignificant as me. So I just keep quiet and hope that I can get away by myself as soon as possible. But it’s so difficult in this crowd. And I’m so easily frightened.

Narrator: The city is hot and noisy and dusty and sweaty and you’re lost and simply moving with the crowd. 

The lost one: I have no idea of how I got here, or why I should be here. I never do have much idea of who I am or where I’m going. I just keep looking for something new, or interesting and seeing where it leads me. Most times, that means nowhere. I don’t suppose this day is going to be any different. I’m sure there must be lots of people who have definite ideas of where they’re going in life and I sometimes envy them. But, for the moment I’ll just drift along following the next craze and not really caring very much about anything. These people seem to be finding something interesting. I suppose I might as well go along with them. For now.

Narrator: Then they come to a standstill outside one particular house. You hear the rumours about the strange people in it. You wait because you’re curious – or simply because you can’t move anywhere else.

Then, suddenly –

Cynic: What did I tell you, Drunk as lords, they are!

The anxious one: Somebody said there was fire somewhere. I’ve got to get out of this!

VIP: Oh dear, what a dreadful noise. This isn’t the sort of behaviour you expect from church people. And they tell me he is a common fisherman!

Local worshipper: They can’t do that kind of thing round here. It’ll give the neighbourhood a bad name!

Regular attender: That man seems to be preaching a very long sermon. I do hope that kind of behaviour won’t catch on!

Stranger from another place: Why are they talking like that? Hey, I can understand that! What does this mean?

The lost one: What that man’s saying really makes me think. Maybe I ought to start taking things seriously. He’s down to earth, but he’s certainly a powerful speaker. This could be the start of a whole new life!

Narrator: All those strange events and Peter filled with a new Spirit of power – surely that was bound to have a tremendous impact on the people there.

It certainly did!

For one thing, three thousand people were added to the church on that day, as they responded to the message that Peter was giving. 

Why? 
Because it was powerful and they could understand it, as it was being explained in their own language.

Is there some lesson in this for us – HERE and NOW?

©Marjorie Dobson

Hymn: Wind of the Spirit, move us on

Wind of the Spirit, move us on,
drive us before your force.
We need that power to strengthen us
of which you are the source.
Blow off the cobwebs of the past
and set us on your course:
O come Holy Spirit, move us on, move us on.
O come Holy Spirit, move us on.

Fire of the Spirit, burn in us,
surround us with your light.
Destroy our sense of apathy,
give us the will to fight.
That with our hearts on fire for Christ
we set the world alight:
Chorus

Voice of the Spirit speak to us,
give us your words to say.
Inspire the language of your love,
help us to preach and pray.
That all may hear of saving grace
translated for their day:
Chorus

Christ, let your Spirit sweep through us,
your serving church renew.
Give us new hope and confidence
in all the work we do.
That those who seek for faith today
may find their way to you:
Chorus

Marjorie Dobson
© Words © 2004 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.
Metre : 8.6.8.6.8.6. & Refrain           
Tune: GOD REST YOU MERRY.

Monologue: Three thousand – plus one!

He certainly got through to me, that Peter bloke. I’ve never heard anyone be so forceful and so sincere in what he was saying. It was amazing.
I don’t know where he got the courage from. After all, he’d been hiding away with the others for weeks and I don’t blame them. They knew the authorities were out to get them if they showed their faces and tried to stir up trouble. The Romans and the religious leaders thought they’d settled their problems by killing Jesus, but they certainly knew that they had to keep his followers under control, or everything would flare up again.
So when things seemed to be happening in the hideout, it wasn’t long before a crowd gathered and I was determined to get as good a view as I could.
Everybody thought they were drunk when they spilled out of the door. The general opinion was that they’d been drowning their sorrows while they’d been locked away, but now the drink had given them enough courage to get outside again.
Then Peter started and we couldn’t believe what he was saying, or his confidence in saying it. By the time he’d finished, he’d totally convinced us that it was our fault that we hadn’t recognized Jesus as the Messiah and so we were the ones who’d crucified him. We’d rejected the very person we’d been expecting for hundreds of years and God wasn’t best pleased with us.
All around me people were crying out and asking what they could do to make things right again. As if we could? How could anything change the situation? He was dead and gone and according to Peter, he’d already been taken back to heaven. What difference could we make to that?
But he had an answer for that too. If we were really sorry for our mistake and were prepared to be baptised into the name of Christ, as a sign of our repentance, then God would honour that act and be a part of our lives for ever.
It reminded me of those days at the Jordan river, many years ago, when that odd, hairy prophet, John was pushing people under the water as a sign of repentance. I didn’t fall for that one then and I wasn’t going to be caught out by this Peter either.
All over the place people were falling on their knees amd begging God for forgiveness. I found it really difficult to get out of the crowd; pushing my way through distraught and supposedly repentant people. But I had to get away. I was in danger of being dragged into all this emotion and I didn’t like the idea. So I escaped down a side street and ran home. A little later one of my sons came back  and told me that apparently three thousand people had been baptised into this new group. It was unbelievable.
I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I spent the night pacing up and down, talking to myself and trying not to talk to God. Because I knew, deep in my heart, that Peter was right and I was wrong. And,until I admitted that, I would have to keep God at a distance. So, as day dawned, I knew I had to do something about it.
That’s why I’m off now to become number three thousand and one!

©Marjorie Dobson

Hymn: A commonwealth of love 

A commonwealth of love 
where all are held by grace, 
it seems idyllic on the page, 
could it infect this place?
Within that upper room
were people just like us, 
but meeting Christ in faith and love 
transformed their depth of trust.
	
And when we meet with God 
we cannot but be changed,
for God confronts our doubt and fear
as lives are rearranged.
This day the change begins, 
the vision is fulfilled, 
and life will never be the same 
where love can be distilled.
	
So let us grasp this hope
that set the world alight,
that love can never be destroyed 
and fear is put to flight.
A commonwealth of love:
let's risk a seed of grace
to bring this vision into life
within this time and place.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© Words © 2012 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.
Metre: DSM
Tune: FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH


Holy Week – from Sunday to Friday

Holy Week from Sunday to Friday – 
see also separate posts for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday - appearing soon

SUNDAY - From Birth to Pentecost…

When Jesus came to Bethlehem there was no harsh a day, 
they say a census had been called, there was no place to stay;
this baby who would shake the world, would first lay down his head, 
not in a royal house or hall, but in a manger bed.
	
When Jesus went to Nazareth his father had a trade, 
a carpenter now had a son and business plans were laid;
but soon within the temple courts, this lad would have his way, 
dissenting from his parents' wish, they'd looked for him all day.
	
The path that he set out to tread from Jordan's crowded bank
would take him him through a wilderness with neither power nor rank; 
returning he would scourge the ones and verbally deride
a viper's brood, these hypocrites, who dressed themselves in pride.
	
Returning to Jerusalem, but not in regal dress, 
he's seated on a donkey's back, not here to rule or bless;
the temple tables were upturned, but more disturbing still, 
his challenge to authority would cause the air to chill.
	
That chill was in Gethsemane when he knelt down to pray, 
and all the pain of all the world  seared through him on that day; 
the time of crisis had arrived to turn from what was right,
or walk with soldiers on to what now looked like endless night.

The trial came and ones that he had scourged with words scourged him, 
and this was brutal vengeance now, not wondrous, simply grim:
his flesh was ripped, his sinews torn, his body hung to dry, 
and as the darkness gathered round the whole world seemed to sigh.
	
That ragged child that Mary bore was taken from the tree, 
the women waited through three days, covertly went to see:
they found the tomb was empty now, the one they sought had gone, 
and as they raced in fear away, the mystery lingered on.  
	
Yet through two thousand years and more the influence of that man
has rippled down through history from where it first began; 
his spirit stills inspires a faith that trusts to what is right, 
to seek for truth, to live in love, keep justice burning bright.

Metre: 14 14 14 14 
Tune: THE LINCOLNSHIRE POACHER
Words: Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) © 2015 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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.
From: More than hymns Stainer Bell Ltd., Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2015.

MONDAY - If he had come …

If he had come as a king with a robe and jewels 
and a crown of gold, 
he would have been impressive.
But there would have been those 
who envied him his wealth, 
tried to steal his jewels, 
or attempted to rob him of his crown.

If he had come with a sword and shield 
and a following army, 
he would have demanded obedience.
But there would have been those 
who feared his sword, 
claimed he was hiding behind his shield, 
or accused him of using military force to conquer them.

If he had come as a priest with elaborate vestments, 
sanctimonious speeches and zealous religious rituals, 
he would have commanded respect.
But there would have been those 
who found his vestments ostentatious, 
suspected him of hypocrisy in his speeches, 
or felt unable to live up to 
the impossible regulation of his religion.

So, when Jesus came as a vulnerable baby, 
grew up in a carpenter’s workshop 
and walked around in everyday clothes, 
meeting and talking to people about God, 
it really was a revelation.

Jesus brought no threat of wealth, or force of might, 
or blocking of the pathway to God.
He was a man and of the people 
and though his robe was stained with blood, 
his crown made of thorns 
and his death an ignominious execution, 
the power of his life has everlasting authority. 

Words: Marjorie Dobson - © Stainer & Bell Ltd 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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 ©  Stainer & Bell Ltd., From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019

TUESDAY - Crowd control

Flag-waving crowds 
prefer winners to losers; 
feel cheated when their heroes are defeated; 
lose heart when officialdom tears them apart; 
drift away at the end of the day, 
when there seems no reason to stay.

Palm-waving crowds 
greeted their king, 
who said that even the stones would sing 
if the people were silent. 
But authority was defiant and jeering, 
even while the crowds were cheering. 
And by the end of the week, 
very few would speak in support 
of the king the crowds had sought.

©Marjorie Dobson

WEDNESAY - Poem: Crowds are fickle - Mark 11:1-11 and 15: 1-39

Crowds are fickle – 
singing, shouting, 
clapping, waving, 
chanting, cheering, 
wildly blindly enthusiastic, 
brave and fearless, 
happy, noisy – 
on the winning side.

Crowds are fickle – 
shouting, swearing, 
spitting, screaming, 
chanting, boo-ing, 
wildly blindly condemnatory, 
fierce and fearless, 
spewing hatred – 
on the losing side.

Faced with judgement, 
weary, weakened, 
Jesus hearing 
chanting, cheering, 
blindly led by enemy action, 
knew the fickle crowd 
had failed him, 
by their verdict, 
‘Crucify!’

Words: Marjorie Dobson - © Stainer & Bell Ltd 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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 ©  Stainer & Bell Ltd., from Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019

THURSDAY - Each groan of pain from tortured lips 

Each groan of pain from tortured lips,
each tear that falls from anguished eyes,
the slightest murmur of a sigh,
as yet another victim dies,
are nails into the hands of Christ
counting against the tyrant’s lies.

Each agony of starving death,
each haunted look of gaunt despair;
the scrabbling hands that search the dirt
although the earth is cracked and bare,
are echoes in the mind of Christ
of his last agonising prayer.

Each home destroyed by missile blast,
each terror of a war-torn land,
the crying of a frightened child
alone without a loving hand,
are spears pierced in the side of Christ
and pain which he can understand.

Each empty mind which sees no pain,
each ignorance of crying need,
the pleas of those who go unheard
while others wallow in their greed,
are thorns upon the brow of Christ
and open wounds that tear and bleed.

Each healing touch relieving pain,
each voice which speaks aloud for peace,
the giving hearts and willing hands 
working so poverty may cease
are living out the words of Christ,
striving to give his love release.

Metre – 8.8.8.8.8.8. – Suggested tunes – ABINGDON or VENI IMMANUEL
Words: Marjorie Dobson © Stainer & Bell Ltd 2004 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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 © Stainer & Bell Ltd., From Multicoloured Maze, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2004

FRIDAY - Afraid and alone and worn out with his praying 

Afraid and alone and worn out with his praying, 
his friends sleeping soundly and all unaware 
that out in the darkness arrest was approaching, 
and Jesus was frightened and full of despair.

Accused and alone and awaiting the judgement, 
surrounded by enemies out for the kill, 
with none to defend him and friends who’d betrayed him; 
yet Jesus stood resolute, silent and still.

Abandoned, alone and in agony dying, 
the torture and pain brought a cry of despair.
For then, as the crisis of death was approaching 
for Jesus, it felt as if God wasn’t there.

Now dead and alone, they would bury his body, 
those friends who found courage to deal with his death.
A stone sealed the tomb and with soldiers to guard it, 
his enemies thought they’d seen Jesus’ last breath.

Alone in a garden, a woman was weeping.
In spite of precautions, the body was gone.
But then through her tears, she could hear her name spoken 
and Jesus is living. The story goes on!

Metre: 12 11 12 11
Suggested tune: STREETS OF LAREDO
Words: Marjorie Dobson - © Stainer & Bell Ltd 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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 ©  Stainer & Bell Ltd., from Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019

Mothering Sunday/Mothers’ Day – Two Hymns and a Dramatic Monologue

Psalm 131


God, you hold me like a mother,
Safely on her knee;
God, you hold me like a mother,
Close to you but free.

God, you watch me as I wander,
Keep me in your sight.
God, you watch me as I wander,
Hold me day and night.

God, you hold me like a mother,
Teach me to be free.
God, you hold me like a mother,
Show your love to me.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 1995 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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 ©  Also The Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes 
8 5 85 Trochaic
Tune: GOD YOU HOLD ME

Luke 2:22-40

Monologue: Old folks!

Have you heard the latest about that batty old Anna?
You know - that old woman who thinks she’s a prophetess. Wanders round the Temple all day, praying all over the place. Eighty-four if she’s a day! Don’t know how she’s managed to live to that age – not with all her problems.
Did you realise that she’s been a widow for years and years and years?
It’s true. She married this man who only managed to survive for seven years and then he died and left her on her own. Mind you, if she’s always been as strange as she is now, maybe that had something to do with it.
Anyway, I was telling you the latest.
Apparently this nice young couple had brought their baby to the Temple to be dedicated. First-born boy, you see. Everybody has to do it. And they’d already had an encounter with that other strange character – Simeon, they call him. He’s one of those weird people who still believe the Messiah will come. Only he’s a bit more peculiar than the others because he believes it will happen before he dies. And it appears that he thought that day had finally arrived. I ask you!
Well, anyway, this young couple and their baby had just recovered from him praying and praising God all over their baby, when they turned round and there was Anna lying in wait for them. They certainly had their fill of odd experiences this morning. 
She didn’t exactly leap out at them. Well, you wouldn’t at her age, would you?  But she certainly made sure they wouldn’t get past her until she’d said her piece. At first I think they just thought she was one of those old dears who drool all over babies and say stupid things about how much they look like their fathers, or mothers. But she took one look and then started off on one of her praising God sessions and telling anybody who would listen that this child was a special one promised by God.
I ask you, those poor parents must have been lost for words. One old man tells them they’ve given birth to the Messiah, so he can now die happy and an even older woman starts telling the same story to anyone who couldn’t avoid her fast enough.
What a day they must have had. I’ll bet they’ll never forget it. It must be the strangest experience they’ll ever have in their lives.
But what do old people know about anything? They’re just out of date and past it. They live in a world of their own, while the rest of us get on with our business.
It’s such a stupid idea. 
Fancy thinking that a child can make any difference! Whoever heard of such a thing?
© Marjorie Dobson

Hymn: Vulnerable presence of God in creation


Vulnerable presence of God in creation, 
fragile, yes broken, in order to be;
cracking the egg of existence in birthing, 
mothering God who is setting us free.

Vulnerable God source of nature, will nurture, 
sharing our pain in the process of birth; 
bloodied, yet beautiful, changed, yet unchanging, 
passionate partner of love on this earth. 

Vulnerable God found in human relations, 
held as a baby, yes, suckled and fed; 
yet an enigma, creating and feeding, 
God is our parent, while being our bread.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2012 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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

Words and tune in Big Blue Planet & CD 
Metre: 11.10.11.10 
Tune: STEWARDSHIP