At the census in the city – We welcome Christmas Day

1	At the census in the city, 
	at the crossing place of life, 
	where the homeless and abandoned 
	share the scars of human strife; 
	mid the rubble and the ruins 
	shedding God's prophetic light
	see, a star is softly shining 
	through the horror of the night.

2	In the cross of shifting shadows 
	see a mother and her child, 
	see the wetness of his features, 
	freshly born, so not yet filed. 
	In a world of cold statistics 
	yet another mouth to feed, 
	for the parents' love holds tension 
	with a calling, crying need.

3	So from Bethlehem in history 
	to this present place and time, 
	God has entered human anguish, 
	sung in tune to human rhyme; 
	yes, the baby that we welcome, 
	yes, the Christ of Palestine, 
	are as one, we seal remembrance 
	in a feast of bread and wine. 	
        [signature of love's design.]* 

4	For the ruin of the manger, 
	this prefig'ring of the cross, 
	offers Christ as our relation 
	in our chaos and our loss, 
	puts the Christ into the present, 
	places God in human hands, 
	tests our loving and our living 
	here in this and every land.

*for use when there is no communion

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2003 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
Tunes: BETHANY (Smart); ABBOTS LEIGH

ASH WEDNESDAY/LENT – A calendar has called us to share with Christ in Lent & Tangled in prejudice

 A calendar has called us

 A calendar has called us to share with Christ in Lent,
 to walk within the darkness: some drawn, yet others sent; 
 and here we sense contrition, an ashen cross we bear: 
 a sign for our remembrance, God’s love is everywhere.
 
 In many different places God's people bear the strain
 of human expectation as cruel norms constrain;
 for each convention sealing another person's fate,
 forgive, release, give freedom before it is too late.
 
 We witness acts of hatred dressed up as self-defence, 
 where vengeance is the motive hid deep in self-pretence; 
 great God, forgive those moments, when hate and human pride 
 lead to the domination of those we might deride.
 
 As Christ you suffered torment, the torture and the hate,
 yet on the cross forgave them, the ones who sealed your fate, 
 so as we kneel confessing complicity, we pray, 
 great God, forgive our cruelty when selfishness holds sway.
 
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2020 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: 13 13 13 13
Tune: CRUGER 

Tangled in prejudice, lost in presumption
  
 Tangled in prejudice, lost in presumption, 
 locked in our judgments, so sure of our ground; 
 others are sinful, but we are the righteous, 
 this is the truth we are sure we have found.
             
 This is our blindness and now we must own it, 
 owning suspicion of those we deride; 
 painting them wrongly, unjustly with hatred, 
 side-stepping honesty, trying to hide.
             
 For like the Pharisees' we are self-serving,
 gaining our wealth from the ones we oppress;
 sometimes we bring down the ones who would challenge, 
 this we have done and now this we confess.
             
 In this confession we seek your forgiveness, 
 God who has touched both the broken and frail. 
 We were thought strong, but we plead for compassion, 
 we, the successful, have found we can fail.
             
 Yet you astound us, 'your sins are forgiven', 
 words that have echoed down into our time.
 How can we warrant such scandalous mercy?
 Only through grace can you offer this sign.
 
Andrew Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2011 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: 11 10 11 10
Tune: EPIPHANY HYMN; IN THE BEGINNING GOD PLAYED WITH THE PLANETS