The world is burning, twinkling lights betray a damaged conscience, we have lost our way. Our neighbours drown, we build on solid ground, as Jesus weeps while songs of praise resound. Within this season darkness clouds each mind, consumption numbs the pain we ought to find when hearing news of hunger and of drought, a stable’s birth should soon erase all doubt: the Christ we claim to know, born in the dirt, while at our doors our neighbours starve and hurt. So put aside this carolling and praise until compassion drives our words and ways. Andrew Pratt 19/11/2021 Words © 2021 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: WOODLANDS Metre: 10.10.10.10
Mark 8: 31-38 Challenge ‘You don’t need to do that! Why do you put yourself through it? It’s totally unnecessary!’ Wise advice? Maybe – in some circumstances. Self-inflicted suffering doesn’t seem to make sense in the everyday world. But there are times when we have to face the facts – ‘no gain without pain’, is the old saying. Yet Jesus, making his future clear to his followers, discovered that even the best of them had no idea of what he had to face. And, for all the best possible reasons, Peter wanted to spare his friend the horror of the predictions that were being set before him. ‘Don’t tempt me, you devil!’ What a response to give. One that rocked Peter on his heels and made him feel hurt and guilty. Only time would heal that wound, but only as the wounds that Jesus suffered were made evident to them all. The challenge to suffering for the faith goes on. And when asked, ‘Why do you put yourself through it?’ is our answer tinged with the temptation to turn and creep away in another direction? ©Marjorie Dobson, This may be used personally or for local worship, but not published elsewhere without permission. All the pain and hurt and horror All the pain and hurt and horror, loss, denial and mistrust, hovered round as Jesus waited for his friends to re-adjust. Lost within misunderstanding: thought that love was just a dream, knew that it would be so easy, they’re confounded by Love’s scheme. Jesus taught that love would conquer only through integrity, that the way his life was pointing tested his humanity. Jesus felt that Peter’s challenge undermined his purpose here, spoke quite harshly, underlining, made his need both plain and clear. Death was now the final payment, Jesus spelt out to his friends. To them this was not expedient, not the way Messiah ends. Love would be denied if actions led to violence or defence, Jesus, lamb led to the slaughter, death the cost of love’s expense. Andrew E Pratt Words © 2012 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England firstname.lastname@example.org . 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: 220.127.116.11D Tune: LUX EOI Determination Nothing could deter him. Not religious opposition. Not the wily Herod. Not the prophetic predictions. Not the Pharisees with their plotting, nor the teachers with their testing, nor the disciples and their doubting. Nothing could stop him. For as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saw their persecution of prophets and their future of desolation, he saw his own destiny of death at the hands of those who set out to destroy him. Yet he moved on. And those who walked with him could only fear for his life and try in vain to shield him from his enemies, but knowing deep within their hearts he was determined to go on. ©Marjorie Dobson, This may be used personally or for local worship, but not published elsewhere without permission. Infectious faith Infectious faith we demonstrate by action, when words are lived and people feel God's grace, when platitudes are kept in quiet abeyance, and love expressed through every human face. This is the witness we are called to offer: the smile of welcome and the touch of care, when every neighbour frames the Christ we honour, the angel that we're greeting unaware. My friend, we cannot claim to grace the Godhead when those who stand in tatters at our door are turned away without a moment's notice, while others sleep upon a stone cold floor. Our faith and love are nothing, simply empty, just words we fling against a cloud filled sky, when those we see derided, disregarded, are left, without our protest, just to die. Are we to be just noisy, clanging cymbals, or signs of hope upon this cold, dark earth? Ours is the calling now to re-imagine the love of God, to sign each person's worth. Andrew E Pratt Words © 2016 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England email@example.com . 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: INTERCESSOR
Great God, your love has held our lives
through all the years down to this day.
Your constant presence held us fast:
remain with us we plead and pray.
We’ve seen the ruins left by war,
the tumbled buildings, street by street;
some heard the voices that they loved
and cried for those they’d no more meet.
As time moves on some memories fade,
some griefs we shared lie in the past;
for others pain is just as sharp,
we know their hurt will always last.
Some human acts have swept away
our partners, parents, children, friends,
some people we had never known;
the memory lives and never ends.
Beyond this day we try to live:
a sinew of each life survives,
but where is God in hurt and hate?
The questions stay to haunt our lives.
Help us to build a better world
not fuelled by vengeance, fed by greed;
a world in which we all can live,
what ever colour, race or creed.
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) Words © 2015 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.
We live in times of crime and violence
where guns and knives would seem to rule;
incarceration offers respite,
is prison now the only school?
We learn so slowly in this era,
how we should nurture love and care.
For still we model cold derision,
with disrespect, derisive stare.
Our politicians rage and stumble,
as racists bawl across the street,
then disagreements twist and tangle,
with language coarse and indiscreet.
God give us grace and apt discretion,
the skill of choosing words that skirt
around each tempting confrontation,
give words that calm instead of hurt.
Words (including alternatives below) © 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: ST CLEMENT (Scholefield)
The original first verse of this text is as follows and can be used if wished:
We live in sharp infested waters,
the law of Cain would seem to rule,
incarceration offers respite,
is prison now the only school?
In the second stanza, first line ‘era’ can be replaced with ‘country’.
At a time when knife and gun crime are rife this text may be seen to be pertinent either as a poem or a hymn.
When arguments are brewing we don’t notice,
it seems that tension builds with every word,
we say things while not hearing one another,
like children in a playground, quite absurd!
It could have been a cosy Armageddon,
the words had seemed innocuous and bland,
yet hidden in each phrase, each idle sentence
were thoughts designed to undermine each stand.
If we could simply seek a gracious outcome
when others hurt and harass, fault or harm,
a look inspired by love could turn the tables,
could echo hidden need, befriend, disarm.
© Andrew Pratt 3/5/2019