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 . 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.



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 . 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

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

Much brighter than a thousand suns – a Transfiguration hymn

I have always thought that the gospel accounts that point to the identity of Jesus as Christ, God’s anointed person, God with us, lay down three markers. As Jesus comes with the crowds of people to the River Jordan, to identify with them in Baptism by John, he is saying by his action that he is son of a man, human like us. In unison with this the writers gospel record God’s words, this is my Son, my beloved. Finally, Resurrection and Ascension confirm all that has gone before. Midway in the whole narrative of Jesus life, between these other events, is placed an account of the Transfiguration. Jesus has gone up a mountain with some of his disciples. Matthew 17: 2 says, ‘he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white’. This hymn starts at this point:

1	Much brighter than a thousand suns, 
	the source of life, eternal grace; 
	light of the cosmos and this world 
	now shining from a saviour's face.
	Upon the mountain's towering height
	they saw transfiguration's light.
2	This man, this Jesus, they had known, 
	who called them once by Galilee, 
	now stood upon the mountaintop, 
	he seemed exalted, shining, free. 
	Disciples caught in stark surprise 
	had shielded dazzled, blinded eyes.
3	Free of the bonds of human life 
	and distanced by some greater power, 
	a strange yet mystic harmony 
	joined earth and heaven in this hour.
	It seemed that God was very near,
	inspiring awe, dispelling fear.
4	The height of love, the depth of grace,
	the dazzling birth of something new,
	a supernova magnified, 
	a stunning, startling, shining view, 
	for God affirmed Christ's human worth
	illuminating all the earth. 

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2012 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England . 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 8 8 8 8 8

An old hymn, that many may know: ‘Stay, Master, stay upon this heavenly hill’, concludes the event, for the story goes on and after this height of exaltation as we return to what was normal. A message for us all perhaps…

	No, saith the Lord, the hour is past, we go;
	Our home, our life, our duties lie below.
	While here we kneel upon the mount of prayer,
	The plough lies waiting in the furrow there.
	Here we sought God that we might know his will;
	There we must do it, serve him, seek him still.
                                        (Samuel Greg, 1804-1876)