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 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: 8 7 8 7 D Tunes: BETHANY (Smart); ABBOTS LEIGH
‘This will in time be over and then what? What have we learned? I am almost 83 years old, I will die. The cause of death is birth. The only real things in life are food and love, in that order, just like our little dog Ruby, I really believe this and the source of art is love. I love life.’
Bookends, birth and death, what’s between keeps the boards apart. That’s what matters, how we fill life’s sandwich. (AP)
With tender conviction I sense love is calling,
no grace is withheld, nor forgiveness repressed,
all people are held in unfathomable comfort,
this love is eternal, forever expressed.
The judgment some fear is a human construction,
for grace is a scandal for those who would judge,
they see it as fair to condemn, exact hatred,
while mercy is something they want to begrudge.
For me none is distanced from love by an action,
a word or a deed, we might not understand,
yet God’s love is wider, beyond comprehension,
if you share this creed, my friend, give me your hand!
[For me none is distanced from love by an action,
compassionate grace, could not set us apart,
for God’s love is wider, beyond comprehension,
if you share this creed, then we are of one heart.]*
*Alternative last stanza after conversation and critique by Pesky Methodists, thankyou!
© Andrew Pratt 5am 29/11/2021 - 4/12/2021
Link to A version of John Wesley’s sermon
While the nations guard their borders,
cherished cultures, ways of life,
people struggle for survival,
children die while fleeing strife.
Can we hear with calm acceptance
what the news has got to tell?
Can we claim to follow Jesus
while the world drifts into hell?
Hell is where there’s no more loving,
close at hand, not out of sight,
what we make denying others
grace of love, or hope of light.
When compassion’s drained and stranded,
voices might as well be dumb
human cries that we’ve avoided
fall on ears both blocked and numb.
Christ is calling in each murmur,
in each whisper framing need,
silence louder than God’s thunder,
loud enough to quell our greed;
yet we close our ears, our senses,
dreading every troubling fact,
lest we feel the pain of others
forcing us to rise and act.
I was welcomed unconditionally, with no requirements or beliefs to be fulfilled, simply by saying to a Minister that I wanted to be part of a people who through a single, simple act, not knowing me, had made me feel valuable and trusted.
I wonder if this ever happens today in churches?