Archive for May, 2020

What does “mission” mean to me?

What does “mission mean” to me?

My colleague Esteban invited me to reflect on that recently. Here are some initial, though incomplete thoughts …

Let me answer that in a few ways.

First of all “mission” for the disciple of Christ is joining and partnering with God’s mission. Scholars refer to this as the “missio dei” – the mission of God. Let’s not see mission as us “taking the good news of Jesus in our spiritual backpack” out to where God isn’t. God – Father, Son and Spirit is not only with us and we with God, but God is already out there. That is liberating!

Secondly, being missional is intrinsic to following Jesus. Just as we are all called to care for one another (regardless of how gifted we might be) so we are all called to be missional. When in Matthew 28 Jesus says to his band of disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples … baptizing them … and teaching them …” in a real sense Christ calls us to this too. It’s bound up in being an “apostolic” (i.e. sent) people. Mission always has an “outward”, beyond -ourselves movement.

And what is the mission of God?

Well, to a significant degree, it is about living out Jesus’ words in Luke 4:18-19 when he stands before the synagogue, reads from the prophet Isaiah and proclaims:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

It’s a passage I come back to again and again. I take the liberty of understanding its wording both literally and figuratively, with words or phrases such as “the poor”, “captives”, “sight to the blind”, “the oppressed” having such meaning and gravitas.

We are people of the Spirit. We are people saved by and called by the grace of God through Christ. The call that Christ embodied and by the Spirit still embodies is the same for us.

In Luke 4:21, Jesus rolls up the Isaiah scroll and asserts, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” It’s no different for us. When we partner with God in God’s mission; as we engage with others in sharing in word and action God’s good news in Jesus, that scripture of liberation is incarnated in each of us, by the grace of God it too is fulfilled in others’ engaging with us.

What a joy that can be!
Mission is about that too!

David

Make it joyful!

Once again, playing catch-up to Facebook posting, so here’s a longer version to what I’ve recently posted there.

I don’t write many praise songs.

I’ve often wondered why down the years. Is it because I’m less than praiseworthy in my spirit, somehow lacking in my adoration of God? Maybe. Is it because of my longstanding restlessness about the way so many churches (not only the Pentecostal/evangelical) seem to base so much of their musical repertoire on songs of praise and avoid (or at least fail to recognise) the place of songs of lament, confession, mission, justice, discipleship, community, and so on? Maybe.

Amid this strange and tragic and agitating pandemic season, the melancholy side of me has certainly come to the fore. That’s me. That’s life. That’s been my journey, which I’ve been sharing in song, patient that you are😀

However, I found myself woken in the early hours of the morning yesterday with my namesake’s wonderful words from Psalm 100. Yes, I was surprised. A praise song at 2 am?. Sleepy-eyed … wanting so, so much to get back to sleep, I took my iPhone and noted the chorus words and wrote alphabetical letter names about many of the words so I’d remember the melody.

As it turned out, I actually remembered it when I woke many hours later. Always a good sign for a song if the tune stays with me. This is my hopefully-uplifting take on it.

UPDATE:
Dale and I have just done a multi-part vocal! Eventually I want to score this one in SATB. Maybe choirs could use it. It’s one of the least syncopated songs I’ve written for a long, long time … unusual for me .

Anyhow here’s my new unsyncopated song of praise:
MAKE IT JOYFUL! Hopefully I have.
Enjoy!

score lyrics 
mp3 backing
mp3 vocal [E]

Make a joyful noise to God (make it joyful)
Make a joyful noise to God (make it joyful)
Make a joyful noise to God (make it joyful)
Come worship and be glad!

Come before him with praise, thanksgiving
God has made us and we are God’s
We are God’s people
Embraced in love
Come bless, come bless the Lord

Make a joyful noise to God (make it joyful) …

For the Lord is every goodness
And God’s love is steadfast, sure
From generation to generation
God’s faithfulness endures

Make a joyful noise to God (make it joyful) …
… Come worship and be glad! (make it joyful)
Come worship and be glad !(make it joyful)
Come worship and be glad! (make it joyful)

David MacGregor
© 2020 Willow Publishing
from Psalm 100

Your love will follow

Hi.

Amid these up and down times for us, there are constants. I’ve just mused in our church’s Midweek Musing about “what sustains us”.

The love of Dale and others sustains me.
So does scripture. So does music.
So does the beauty of God’s creation – especially beach and bush.
I could say coffee … and just have

The love, presence of God and God’s prevenient grace sustains me especially – on the bad days, the good and the big in-between. Prevenient Grace is a term I discovered almost 30 years ago, as I began my involvement in the Walk to Emmaus movement.  It’s a term coined by John Wesley as he mused on the dimensions of God’s grace in Christ.   Prevenient grace is grace that woos us, seeks us out, follows us, is ever-present; never lets us go.

Through all of the past many months of change, lockdown, rearrangement and realignment and so much more, I’ve never lost sight of that.

Through a song by New Zealand writer and friend Malcolm Gordon, I’ve recently been reacquainted with that middle-ages piece known down the centuries as St Patrick’s Breastplate.

It’s much longer than this, but lines from it such as these kept ringing in my head

I arise today through
God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to see before me,
God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me ..

Christ, be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit,

In the wee hours of this morning, this somewhat-hymnlike song came to me
Shalom, 
David

YOUR LOVE WILL FOLLOW   score mp3 backing

Strength to guide and wisdom deep
Lord, your love will follow
Your ear to hear, your word to speak
Lord, your love will follow
Hand to guard, and way to walk
Lord, your love will follow
You are faith and hope and love
Lord, your love
Lord, your love will follow.

Before, behind, around me Lord
With us now, forever
Within, beside, above me Lord
With us now, forever
When I rise and when I rest
With us now, forever
You are faith and hope and love
With us now
With us now, forever

Comforter and Spirit-friend
God, your presence always
In my highs and in my lows
God, your presence always
Christ my hope and Christ my life
God, your presence always
You are faith and hope and love
Lord, your love
With us now
God, your presence always

David MacGregor
© 2020 Willow Publishing
inspired by portions of “St Patrick’s Breastplate

“Liminally Restless”

Hi.

Two ‘movements’ to this blog … as my pandemic season composing continues unabated.  I could lightheartedly suggest this is only because the NRL footy season is yet to resume, but I sense this would be a way too frivolous excuse.

So, my first piece: LIMINAL.

Some years back, on a ministry retreat, I first heard the words liminal space. Back then, I “got it” … but not really.   I’m a slow learner some times, perhaps more than I really acknowledge.  Perhaps I’m just stubborn.  Anyway, as I was preparing the second episode in my church’s new Midweek Musing for last Tuesday – reflecting what a “reset” for both the world and us personally might look like, and continuing to be touched by Sonya Renee Taylor’s words … which with Dale I adapted into a recent song: Stitch a New Garment … it finally clicked what liminal space was and is.

I wrote this …

Liminal space?

The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. One writer explains liminal space like this: “Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.

Or , in the words of Richard Rohr, “The threshold is God’s waiting room.” I like that. Right now, you, I, our community, our nation, this planet … we are in Gods waiting room.

Now that I’d “got it” (well … have I really … and I suspect, it’s more a case of accepting it and as Rohr says, waiting in it), I wrote another piano piece: LIMINAL.  Here it is.


FAST FORWARD JUST A FEW DAYS …
Here’s an expanded version of what I posted on Facebook.  You may have already seen this 🙂

A few up-and-down days for both of us. It’s been such a week, including

  • one of Joel’s cats (9 yr old Gizmo … to a new home)
  • farewelling Joel and his partner Upasana to Emerald (central Queensland, Australia),
  • sharing nice meals – go Tarragindi Thai
  • an uplifting weekly meeting with colleagues – first time in-person since mid-March
  • all sorts of car stuff. You name it, we’ve done it, organised it, sorted it, paid for it!
  • fulfilling or continuing some ministry projects (yes!)
  • reading my pure escapist Dan Brown novel
  • having sleepless nights … and much more (much more includes coffee from our new L’or machine … so good!.

The “bad” (so to speak) in this has meant “stress central”.
Guessing most of us have these sort of weeks, at least occasionally.
So, as I said, it’s been really up and down. Good days are great days.  Not-so-good days are really not good at all.

No surprise that this new piece on my pandemic journey composing/journalling journey is called RESTLESS.

I ask myself: should one be restless in this liminal space?  Don’t have an answer to that question. Just know that as I blog this a few days on from writing the piece, I’ve ended up with four revisions of the original.  Self-fulfilling prophecy, or whatever the word is!

BTW, I enjoyed putting most of it together on Garage Band. The version for iPad is brilliant.

My Musing this Tuesday will be on the theme: What sustains you in your faith? That will be interesting!

Shalom,
David

Stitch a new garment

Once again my blogging is lagging way behind my social media posting.

Anyhow, I wanted to blog a new song which comes out of both this ongoing coronavirus season and a challenging, insightful, hopeful quote from American poet, humanitarian and activist Sonya Renee Taylor. I found this on Facebook last weekend.

Something started stirring deep within me. For weeks Dale, I and others in my networks has mused over what “normal” would look like once most of the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Who knows? What is clear is that with the world in lockdown or isolation in some way, we have this God-given opportunity to establish new, better, more-compassionate foundations. If you like – a huge reset. I keep on coming back to Jesus’ kingdom of God preaching in chapters 5-7 of the Gospel of Matthew.

The clincher was these words from Taylor …

We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment.

Wow! A song was soon born: Stitch a new garment.

Yesterday, Dale kindly added her vocals. I’m my strongest critic but I’m really happy with how I’ve preserved (I believe) the integrity of Taylor’s quote while adding my “garment” lyricism in the chorus.

See what you think.

Shalom, DAVID 

leadsheet.lyrics 


 


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