‘This sudden Sabbath gives us pause’ – a hymn response to the Coronavirus crisis – link to new tune by John Kleinheksel added

This sudden Sabbath gives us pause
to rest and to reflect.
What is the focus of our lives
and what is its effect?
We live within a common world,
whatever race or creed;
for things maintaining life and health,
we share a common need.

For some a love of God becomes the
centre of their prayer,
but such a love’s a hollow boast
when neighbours have no care.
The early Christians took the lead
of Jesus as their style,
to hold in common all they had,
to go the second mile.

When people safe-guard all they have,
while others queue in fear,
when those who have are given more,
while hunger’s drawing near;
where is our faith, our common love,
as cries become more stark,
when poverty crowds round our door,
the future clouded, dark?

Now is the moment for us all
to live what we confess,
to live within community
the faith that we profess.
Then let us stand as one with all
we share a common birth,
that on until eternity
love holds each life on earth.

Andrew Pratt 18/3/2020 – In response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Tune: COE FEN; SOLL’S SEIN
New Tune: This.Sudden.Sabbsth.virus.2021.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.

‘Is this the day’ – poem – reflection on Coronavirus inspired by thoughts of Simon Sutcliffe – link below

Is this the day that dawns today, when all the world stands still,
when human lives are challenged in their arrogant, self-will?
Is this a time to sound again the grace which from our youth
Has brought us to this point in time to face eternal truth?

We wonder at the rhythms of creation we observe,
the genesis of all we see, the laws we sense and serve,
yet when we read in scripture of the wonders of this course,
we tend to shut our eyes to one last day of rest at source.

Now is the moment action takes the place of hollow sighs,
the sighs that speak of emptiness, of loneliness and lies;
great God, within this Sabbath rest we question and explore,
is this a time when you recede, a tide drawn from the shore?
 
Now is a time of deep compassion, caring and concern,
when every person needs the love that money cannot earn.
This is a time when values shift and search for solid ground,
to put aside our selfishness to go where grace is found.

© Andrew Pratt 17/3/2020
https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=simon%20sutcliffe&epa=SEARCH_BOX

I have already found the political emphasis on economics in the face of the Coronavirus to be rather tiresome. Surely care of one another ought to be foremost and enabling the security of every person ought to take priority over all else.

 

 

 

Christ’s body has been broken – and sometimes by political choice…

Christ’s body has been broken,
not bread but human lives,
each family has scattered,
just memory survives;
the parents cry in anguish,
the children cry in fear,
we label them as migrant,
not wanted over here.

These are our human neighbours,
relations from our birth,
each sister, child or brother,
as one on this wide earth.
If we claim God as parent,
‘our Father’ as we say,
when will we own the the meaning
of empty words we pray?

God, help us welcome others,
God break the barriers down,
that tears may turn to laughter,
and smiles displace each frown;
then may we live together,
forgiven by your grace,
the Pentecostal promise,
one Godly human race!

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2018 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: 7 6 7 6 D

No insurance – for Australia

These crazy flames lick and lap at all that ranges round us,
the trappings of our wealth,
experience and existence.
At birth we can’t anticipate our existential ending,
the length of life not ours to count or measure.
But then we face eternity,
or nothingness,
depending on belief.
Like night’s thief, flames hotter than hell’s painting are not some distant image,
but sharpened fronds dissembling each dwelling.
And if we leave reality says,
‘there is no return’.
Can faith uphold us through this conflagration?
Survival walks naked of all that we have known,
valued or possessed.
That is the option open to us.
Our Hobson has no choice.
So if we die we will know what rests beyond this life.
Remaining so much is loss or lost.
Whichever path we walk pray this,
pray only this,
that now and on beyond this moment
the love a letter writer once described
will hold,
enfold
and keep us still through all that is to come.
And no insurance…just the faith…

Words © Andrew Pratt 4/1/2019

I vow to love my neighbour, whatever race or creed – a hymn for love and unity

I vow to love my neighbour, whatever race or creed,
to join her in her suffering, to plead with him in need.
This love will always question, will search out right and wrong,
will give itself for justice, for those who don’t belong.
This love will never falter, till every soul is free,
till nations held in bondage can sing of liberty.

Through scenes of devastation, through famine, drought and war,
we’ll work in ways of gentleness, work hard till we restore
the vision of the people, the hope of human grace,
till nations dwell in peacefulness together in this place;
till all the world together can sing in joyful praise
till all have found communion together in our days.

Andrew E. Pratt (born 1948)
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.
13 13 13 13 13 13
Tune: THAXTED

Election, politics, loyalty and love (previously posted as Loyalty)

Love and loyalty hang together…
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.

When people say that the Bible and politics don’t mix, I ask them which Bible they are reading (1859-1918) wrote of loyalty and we are witnessing 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 this country, we will need to choose how to vote, and I feel confused. It would be wrong use of this platform to tell you who to vote for and, in any case, I don’t know the answer to that question for any of us individually or corporately, but I’ve been thinking. And it relates to that word loyalty. Where do we place our 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 natural destruction in other parts of the world, at fire by the Amazon, but also at gun crime in America and knife crime in our own cities.

And now, that imminent 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 people of faith, ought still to ask ourselves ‘where do we place our ultimate loyalty?’ And if this is too political then Jeremiah, Amos, the prophets were too political. I think it was Desmond Tutu who said, ‘When people say that the Bible and politics don’t mix, I ask them which Bible they are reading’.

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?
The Hebrew scriptures say honour your father and your mother. In Luke Jesus is reported as saying, ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple’. We cannot just read scripture without engaging our brains, looking at what is being said and to whom. Sometimes the Cain and Abel situation is re-run; verbally if not physically.

But to go back to the Bible one thing shines through, 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 FOR 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. And those people may be our Jewish or Muslim sisters or brothers, or those of other faiths or none. They may well be vulnerable with less wealth or power than ourselves.

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…but lets us prioritise LOVE.

20191021_165719.jpg

The depth of interstellar space – a Cosmic Christmas Carol

The depth of interstellar space,
the ultimate beyond,
the cosmic span of all that is
with Christ the common bond:
Word before world’s had come to be,
our common source and ground,
we stare into this starlit void,
that stellar craft will sound.

We fashion answers, look with awe,
and seek to understand
our place within this finite time,
this time in which we stand;
countless millennia plot the course
down to the present day,
but who can chance or even guess
what more may come in play?

Through this continuum of time
we surf on history’s wave,
we long for answers, never found,
that generations crave.
When will we settle trusting still
that peace is found through grace,
while all is relative in life –
and can love fill this place?

Andrew Pratt 5/11/2019
News that Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 had left the Solar System and are ‘exploring the outer reaches of our cosmic neighbourhood ‘. BBC News November 4th 2019 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50289353 accessed 5/1/2019

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: CHRISTMAS CAROL (Henry Walford Davies) Available at https://hymnary.org/tune/christmas_carol_davies;
Metre: CMD