God’s on our side

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
 G
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…

COVID-19 in for the long run – church and society

Prof Whitty (Chief Medical Officer for England) said today (July 31st 2020) “The idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong,”. We have probably gone as far as we can in opening up Society. It makes sense. We have reduced the constraints with which we have learnt to live. The virus is now reaching a growing number of people. This suggests that the release of lockdown is enabling this. So we need to lockdown harder than we are doing ‘at present’, but all the Government is suggesting is not freeing us up as quickly ‘at the moment’.

In the Church many are still trying to return to ‘normal’ – to things as they were. Instead, in society and in the church, we need to recognise that we are in this for the long run and to adapt to a different situation for this ‘long run’.

That already requires changes to our behaviour and practices that have never before been needed or envisaged. So what are we going to do, and what are we going to stop doing? And love of our neighbour as well as preservation of ourselves, demands that we act quickly. Churches are not very good at swift change. Sociologically they are predicated on maintaining and promulgating the institution rather than on loving the individual.

The pandemic calls for closed hymnals

This article by L. Roger Owens is an interesting reflection for those who are finding the ban on singing in church problematic –

The pandemic calls for closed hymnals

L. Roger Owens teaches Christian spirituality and ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is author of Threshold of Discovery: A Field Guide to Spirituality in Midlife

 

‘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.

Rejoice, for things are as they are – a hymn in time of trouble

Rejoice, for things are as they are;
don’t flee as clouds that flow and drift
on wings of wind that shift and change;
God’s love will comfort, calm and lift.

For God is your celestial shield,
no cosmic power, nor human scheme
will separate you from that love
no matter how your terrors teem.

Your going out, your coming in
are safe, whatever, come what may.
You know the reason to rejoice
so sing God’s praise by night, by day.

Partly inspired by Psalm 121 and Romans 8 v38-39. Published in Reclaiming Praise, 2006, Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2003, 2006Stainer & 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: LM

See https://hymnsandbooks.blog/2020/03/12/hymns-in-a-time-of-pandemic/