Loving our Neighbours at a time of Harvest – Amos 6 – Luke 16 – Hymn

Loving our Neighbours at a time of Harvest

We are fortunate in this Country to either live in the countryside or to be relatively near to it – farming country. And now is the season of Harvest Festivals. This coming Sunday some of the Lectionary readings contain the following words:

From Amos – 6:4 Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall;
6:5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music;
6:6 who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

And from Luke – 16:19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
16:20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores…

We are bid, in the midst of our harvest celebrations, to love our neighbours. The hymn reflects…

1          If we claim to love our neighbours
            while the hungry queue for food,
            are we prey to self-deception?
            Is perception quite so crude?
            If we sit beside our neighbours,
            begging for the things they need,
            we might share their own injustice
            in a world that thrives on greed.
 
2          If we punish those with nothing,
            blaming them for where they stand,
            is this love of friend or neighbour,
            do we still not understand?
            Love of neighbour is not easy,
            cuts us till we feel the pain,
            sharing hurt that they are feeling
            till they find new life again.
 
3          Love of neighbour sets us squarely
            in the place where they now sit,
            till the richness God has given
            builds a pearl around the grit;
            till each person shares the comfort
            of the love of which we preach,
            till we live as fact the Gospel:
            none can be beyond love’s reach.

Andrew E Pratt – From More Than Hymns  published Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2015.
Words © 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.
Metre: 8 7 8 7 D Tune: BETHANY (Smart)

People that manage, manipulate markets – Luke 16:1-13

This hymn reflects on the lectionary Gospel reading for this coming Sunday – Luke 16:1-13

People that manage, manipulate markets,
using their skills just to maximise gain.
This is the focus that holds their attention,
working for profit, their purpose is plain.


Stewards work hard for their own satisfaction,
building on networks of interest and need,
moulding, with passion, each new situation,
earning is motive and profit is creed.


How single-minded is our Christian service?
Can we see Christ there in poverty's face?
What is our vision, our main motivation,
selfish enhancement, or self-giving grace.

© Andrew Pratt 3/9/2013 Please include on your CCL return

Words © 2013 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.

Tunes: STEWARDSHIP; LIEBSTER IMMANUEL, ST NINIAN (Dykes)

Metre: 11.10.11.10

A time for decisions – a hymn – What are the gifts we would treasure most highly

John Wesley once referred to the Methodists as ‘a peculiar people’. One of our peculiarities is treating September as the beginning of a New Year. 

At another level we live in a world in conflict and, in the UK with a government with a new Prime Minister.
All of us together are faced with decisions.
 
At a time of decision for the people of Israel Moses challenged them – ‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live’. (Deuternomy30: 19)

The following hymn asks what choosing life might mean for us today.

1	What are the gifts we would treasure most highly:
	freedom or justice or money or wealth;
	food for the hungry, or drink for the thirsty,
	love for our children, or power, or health?
	 
2	Once God had given a choice to the people:
	they could decide to choose life or choose death.
	They were encouraged towards life's enhancement,
	shunning the ways that would quench life and breath.
	 
3	What does it mean for ourselves at this moment,
        challenged by God, as to what we should choose?
	What does ‘life’ mean, for each friend, for each neighbour, 
        what will encourage and never abuse?
	 
4	Now at each crisis, each time of decision,
	save us from selfishness, things that oppress;
	help us, O God, to be wise, never grasping,
	help us to cherish those things you would bless.

Andrew Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2011 alt by the author 2022 © 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.
alt 2022 by the author. 
Metre: 11 10 11 10
Tune: EPIPHANY HYMN

Climate change…theology…iPad art… adapted from ArtServe Magazine Issue 33 Summer 2022

I was reflecting on creation and climate change, global warming. Tablet art enabled me to produce fiery images.

This would not be impossible with watercolour but here I was able to swirl colour together. If anything went wrong I had the facility to erase and correct. With watercolour this is more difficult. In the first image I went to Genesis 1 for inspiration the image of the earth ‘without form and void’. Science, cosmology, art and the Bible enabled me to envisage creation as a conflagration, a ‘big bang’, with interrelated matter and energy being brought into being. But then, on reflection, planets condense to spherical, or near spherical, form and so the first image is that swirling orb, formless but seeking an equilibrium and at the centre of the void will be Earth…or…

Without form and void…

As scripture unfolds, epiphanies, revelations of the divine, ‘the Other’, are described. They take many forms. One such narrative again brings together matter and energy in an enigmatic spectacle with no matter being consumed within an evanescent fiery, burning bush. ‘The Other’ has no name, utters no words, yet converts, forms and inspires humanity to action.

Burning bush

The colour palette of the creation image was retained for a burning bush. The flaming fire was ‘painted first’. Different tools allow the colours to merge in a variety of ways. The merge can be smooth, watery, bubbled or perhaps rough edged.  The bush was then lined in over the fire and the ground finished last.

Beyond the life of Christ, through incarnation and resurrection there is further revelation of the nature of God. Pentecost offers that image of fire again, with its contradictory character of energy, warmth and destruction, yet power and inspiration.

Pentcost or…

The fire was, again, painted first. The black, square blocks were formed using a template like a page frame but then filled using a fill tool that you may be familiar with in photo-editing software. The sky was similarly filled in, as it had been in the burning bush image. Subconsciously the colour I had chosen for this was very much reminiscent of some of David Hockney’s choice of pigments.

In the same way that scriptural and human inspiration interact in forming the images, paradoxically for humanity, that same divine presence of fire in creation and revelation offers humanity the capacity for self-destruction as global warming engulfs what might have been the ‘City of God’.

And is this the anticipated end of humanity? ‘Ashes to Ashes’? And is this the end, not just of each of us individually, but of all creation? Humanity’s knowledge, grasping the divine gift obliterates humanity itself while creation collapses back into the void from whence it came…

For the final image I used a copy tool to take the first image. I then used a sandpaper tool to scuff and scrape at the ‘surface’ of the image. I darkened it, mixing and merging colour to suggest, not just our planet, but creation returning to void and chaotic darkness.

Ashes to ashes…

Text and images © Andrew Pratt 2022 adapted from ArtServe Magazine Issue 33 Summer 2022