US hymnwriter and sacred music composer Amanda Udis-Kessler wrote the following text just after the 2020 election and has re-shared it following the violence at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. I have asked and been granted permission to reproduce it here. It is pertinent in the US context but also in the UK and Europe through pandemic and Brexit. Do visit her site - link below.
Rebuilding starts with weeping, with tears that fall like rain,
With full and honest grieving for years of loss and pain,
For suffering and sorrow that never had to be.
Rebuilding starts with weeping for all who are not free.
Rebuilding starts with praying, with hopes allowed a voice,
With visions for our country, with reason to rejoice.
We offer up our spirits, our hearts and minds and hands.
Rebuilding starts with praying for strength to heal our land.
Rebuilding starts with loving, with care for every soul,
With yearning in compassion that all may yet be whole,
That enemy and neighbor may know a better day.
Rebuilding starts with loving, for love will show the way
It is most often sung to the Bach Passion Chorale.
Amanda’s many other inclusive hymns, worship songs, and rounds are freely available for listening and download at https://queersacredmusic.com.
Twenty years ago this year the USA, and with it the world, was shaken with the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. This exacerbated the polarisation of faith traditions and ideologies across the globe. Tensions increased and an ‘us and them’ mentality, already present, was exaggerated by political posturing, understandable, to a degree, in the light of what had happened. Broken bridges have still not been rebuilt but today those labelled enemies in Western nations are as much within as outside out borders and reconciliation is still needed. Ideologies are in tension with each other and this is overlaid by the threat of a pandemic. Global cooperation has never been more necessary. A hymn I wrote in 2001 within 24 hours of 9/11 is perhaps still pertinent…those we label or sense to be enemies inhabit the fabric of our own politics. Their actions are not as obvious but just as damaging…trust is at a premium…
1 God's on our side, and God will grieve
at carnage, loss and death;
for Jesus wept, and we will weep
with every grieving breath.
2 God's on their side, the enemy,
the ones we would despise;
God quench our vengeance, still our pride,
don't let our anger rise.
3 God's on each side, God loves us all,
and through our hurt and pain
od shares the anguish, nail scarred hands
reach out?love must remain.
4 God show us how to reconcile
each difference and fear,
that we might learn to love again
and dry the other's tear.
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© 2001 Stainer and Bell Ltd., please include any use on your CCL Licence return or contact Stainer & Bell via www.stainer.co.uk. Administered in the USA by Hope Publishing.
Tunes: AMAZING GRACE; BASIE (Kleinheksel)
Some of the poetry in Words, Images and Imagination are perhaps pertinent to this situation…
The Methodist blog has recently had this entry and I thank Judith Simms for drawing it to my attention
This is interesting but while the change of ‘welkin’ has been remarked on before I do not concur with Ted Campbell’s admiration for Whitfield. The amendment alters the meaning of the hymn as Wesley originally penned it. Firmament today would be better understood as ‘cosmos’. The word ‘cosmos’, creation, ringing is much more powerful and incarnationally significant than angel song. Charles Wesley write swiftly but chose words with great care. I wonder if we have his reflection on this amendment?
So Covid-19 has mutated.
If only we had taken note of Richard Dawkins instead of lambasting him for his poor understanding of theology we might have learnt something to our advantage from his book, ‘The Selfish Gene’. This mutation was bound to happen. Mutations aren’t weird but natural and normal
All living things, however complex or simple, have a built in mechanism for self-preservation. Humans run away from lions, fish swim in shoals to save all of them being eaten by dolphins.
The Covid-19 virus was affected by our avoidance strategies. Relatively speaking it is a simple organism, a complex chemical. It can change, and does change, regularly, as a matter of course. It doesn’t think about this. It just happens. We can’t predict how it will change, but what is certain is it will.
Changes which are beneficial to the virus will enable its survival. Genes survive if they are ‘selfish’ – though there is no intention implied in this.
We have slowed the virus’s transmission by simple processes of washing our hands, social distancing and wearing masks.
A change which enables the virus to transmit more effectively is beneficial to it. Until we have effective vaccination we need to maintain actions which lessen that transmission. These actions will need to be kept in place until the R number is consistently below one to the point where the virus is no longer transmitted and/or an effective, long-term vaccination has been administered to everyone and test and trace is applied to anyone entering each country. Unless we are to exist as a totally isolated country all of this has to be applied with totality internationally.
This has massive economic and social consequences which we need to address to enable ALL people to participate in these measures and to survive. The process is not indefinite, but it is inevitably long-term. Our willingness to participate in this process is, for Christians, an indication of our love of our neighbours. Survival is predicated on our willingness to make personal and corporate sacrifices.
Without them the virus wins.
BBC News – Independent SAGE representative suggests whole of UK should be on Tier 4 (2200hrs 22/12/2020)
All this week I have written a Word in Time which is provided by the Methodist Church for every day of the year by different writers. It is a daily reflection on seasonal scriptures with questions for reflection – https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/the-bible/a-word-in-time/