Archive for the 'Reflections' Category

Be Still

Psalm 46 is undeniably one of the great psalms of the Jewish and Christian faiths. It begins with these words.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Fast forward to verse 10 and you have the psalmist’s memorable words …
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

Many a time … right up to last night, as something quite disturbing was troubling me and I struggled to get to sleep, God’s reassuring words came once again to me. I said them prayerfully over and over: Be still and know that I am God. I sang them … finding myself reworking a short chant-like song I wrote a few years back. Somehow version 1 didn’t have enough “still”; enough “know”.

So here is the new version, Dale providing quite intentionally a subdued background vocal .. .. with a hint of harmony here and there.

 

Be still
Be still
Be still and know … I am God

words: Psalm 46:10
music: David MacGregor © 2020 Willow Publishing

leadsheet
mp3

Blessings,
David

 

 

Ride on, Jesus!

When in the States with Dale in late February, I had a retreat day … using an excellent resource by Irene Alexander that my presbytery had made possible . We were encouraged to read one of the New Testament Palm Sunday narratives, reflect on wrote it a wonderful (c) John August Swanson painting, and if we wished, do something creative with our musing. This time, this monologue came to me.
Feel free to use, with attribution.

I share it with you. It’s called Ride on, Jesus!

(C) John August Swanson

RIDE ON, JESUS!

Blessed?
Blessed?
Absolutely!
Absolutely!
Anyone who can draw in this sort of crowd
This sort of adulation
This sort of fervour
Hey, they must be blessed!

A rock star welcome!
Jesus, ride on!

Crowds out in their multitudes
from every crevice in the Jerusalem woodwork
… stonework
to meet you
to greet you
to praise you
to worship you
to check you out

to check out this oddity
this living, breathing, polarising
Captivating conundrum
that is you
the one who rides into town
as Prince of Peace
Not warrior of war and might …
as one who mounts a donkey
as one I’ve heard Peter proclaims
as the Christ, the Lord, the Messiah
as the Son of the living God
as the one … as the one
who soon will be mounted to a cross

as one who says
turn the other cheek
as one who offers
a new commandment to love
as one who rebuts the establishment’s cries
for the cheering to cease
as one who in the middle of this jubilant mayhem
cries out: “I tell you, if they keep quiet,
the stones under your feet will cry out!”

as one who says the last and the least and the lost
will come first
first at the table
first in your new kingdom
of grace, welcome,
hope and life
salvation

as one who not only talks about God
but who is God
who not only calls us to holiness
but is holiness
who not only calls us to repentance
but is repentance
who is forgiveness

Jesus, ride on!

Jesus, God
we’ve taken in your teaching
we’ve marvelled at your miracles
we’ve wowed at your wisdom
But how could all this be?

I’m waving my palm branches
My red cloak is laid out as you come by
Red cloaks, blue cloaks, green cloaks
They’re all being waved.
Green – for life and peace
Blue – for something deep in the soul … the heart
Red – well, raising a red flag means
Sit up and take notice
Something’s happening here
Something unusual
maybe even not right
Yes, red flag for me.
This is no ordinary parade
No ordinary welcome.

Forget the soldiers, the scoffers, the skeptics
I’ve heard what they think of you …
nothing but treachery
nothing but blasphemy
nothing but insurrection
nothing but elimination

Jesus
I can only tell my own story
We can only tell our own stories
When it was all hopeless
You offered my hope

When I was afraid
You offered your presence
When I felt forgotten
You brought me in
Offered welcome
Life in abundance
Life overflowing.

Is that what everyone around me
hollers about?
The latest Messiah
to get us out of our deep mess?
I’ve heard you’ll be tried
I’ve heard you’ll be betrayed
I’ve heard you’ll be ridiculed something shocking
I’ve heard – to be blunt
– they want to get rid of you
once and for all.

But that’s not all I’ve heard
I’ve heard there’s more to you
There always seems to be more to you.
That you promise a response
Like only God can offer
There always seems to be more to you.
You say the taints and torture
A deathly torture, no less
It won’t be the end
No way.
will be just the beginning.

So Jesus
Ride on
You Prince of Peace
Ride on
You healer of hearts

Ride on
You Son of God
… to your future
Not for yourself
No!
To our future
The future of all creation
Forever

So Jesus
bring in your kingdom some more
Go to your cross
Go beyond
Save us
Love us
Free us!
Ride on, Jesus!

Ride on
Blessed
Obedient,
faithful one
Saviour
Befriender
Welcomer
Redeemer
Messiah
Christ
Lord

David MacGregor
Ash Wednesday, 2020

Songs of hope for tough times

Hi.

A few days back, following up encouragement from others, I posted a YouTube playlist: SONGS OF HOPE FOR TOUGH TIMES. Here it is … nine songs of mine, including a few reflective instrumentals.  You may well have heard or sung some of them before.

I thought I’d include these songs:

I’ll Hold You Forever (Do Not Fear)
Reflecting on God’s constant promise in Scripture:  “Do not fear, I am with you”

We’ve lit a candle
As the coronavirus pandemic was deepening across our nation and worldwide, we joined folk lighting a candle each evening in our front window in solidarity with others doing the same, joining in solidarity and prayer.  On 22 March, churches across Scotland did just that.  A prayer was provided.  The lyrics of that prayer form the basis of this song.

Never let go
This song of wasn’t written for these COVID19 times. I wrote it almost five years ago while walking along the beach and reflecting on the fading health of a much-loved member of our community. Yet amid the struggle, I couldn’t escape the promise of my Christian faith through scripture and personal experience, that God never lets us go. Dale did a brilliant vocal, backed up on vocal and guitar by Peter, a longtime friend, himself struggling with life issues. I share it because I believe it can speak into our current times too.

Bring your peace, Lord
In part inspired by some significant well-being challenges I faced in the second half of 2015 and Stephen Foster’s profound song Hard Times (Come again, no more) I wrote this one, in the style of sorts of an American spiritual.

No other hands
Based on the words allegedly centuries ago of the Christian music, St Teresa of Avila

Presence
This one dates back about 15 years.  It’s in my humble opinion, one of the best instrumental pieces I’ve ever written.  As I wrote it I was incredibly aware of the presence of God.   It continues to evoke that presence.

Fall
Written just days ago as autumn (fall) happens in the Southern Hemisphere and as treasured customs in society start falling or straining too amid all that the coronavirus pandemic throws up.

Because the Lord’s my shepherd
This is a real “oldie”; written ca. 1979 for an all-age musical I’d written called Rock-on Goliath, based on the Old Testament David & Goliath narrative.  This one is sung by “David” and is based on Psalm 23.  Chris Macnaught played David in this production. Many years later, Chris recorded the song professionally.  He does a fantastic job.

Irish blessing
Vocals by a longtime friend Katharine McPhail, this is my setting of the much-loved words of blessing.  I’ve been touched by how many people have been blessed by this song,.

Take care.
Blessings,
David

TAKE … with vocal

Hi
A few days back, Dale added her nice demo vocal to my song, Take, written a few weeks back amid an unexpected 36-hour two night retreat.  I just needed time out … with God, with the scriptures, with myself, and my favourite sort of place, the beach.  Too much was happening around me (none of it, in and of itself, “bad”) Simply too much attention being given to future things – in ministry, retirement, travel, family, health, well-being.  Not enough living in the “now” … in the moment.
So, I wrote this song, as shared previously.  I had resolved I would not write a song while away.  I guess God and I had other ideas.  It is how I’ve journaled over the years.

Blessings,
David

Here I am, open,
Take every part
Take all I am, Lord
Mind, soul and heart
Grace wash all over me
Hold me … within
Take all I offer
Renewing … begin.

Shine out your light, Lord
On spaces so dark
Make known your presence
When life’s pulled apart
There in the struggles
Enough is enough
There is your freedom
Your beauty, your touch

Live in each moment
Rejoice in the now
Consider the lilies
This moment, this hour
“Come to the water
Be thirsty no more” (0, to)
Find you each morning
to welcome, adore

Mmm …
mmm …

“Come to the water
Be thirsty no more” (O, to)
Find you each morning
to welcome, adore

© David MacGregor 2019

TAKE – RECEIVE – LIVE IN THE MOMENT


Interesting times.

Not quite a week ago, I woke in the wee hours of the morning.  I was having an epiphany. Why was I so anxious, unsettled, stressed, fatigued?   Not that in most cases things were going badly.  By-and-large, the opposite. Good, even great things happening … or going to.  That was the problem, as I reflected.

So much my life (Dale’s too) was being impacted by future considerations: soon-to-be church amalgamation, retirement (early 2021) planning, Dale ostensibly finishing up in a few weeks, health and family considerations, travel plans for 2020 and 2021, ministry in 2020. I could go on.

I’d lost sight of some wisdom from a member of my previous congregation: to live in the moment; to make the best of the time and space I am currently in, or at most the day ahead – to rejoice and revel in that moment.

So … with Dale’s encouragement, and with the help of a presbytery self-led Heart-to-Heart self-led retreat resource, I went away for two nights. Yes, to the beach.  That’s always done it for me.  Via scripture, silence, waves crashing and much more, I calmed.  I settled.  Still a huge work in progress, I began living in the moment.

I had quite consciously resolve to not write a song while away.  Yet a song came … coming amid and out of my time away.  The song is called TAKE.   Check out the YouTube video above.

 

I Facebook-posted:

Went offline recently. Needed to. Things had become too much. Used a self-led retreat provided by presbytery. (Thanks heaps, Jenny Tymms​). Best 36 hours I’ve had for a while. A lot of sitting, praying, doing nothing, reading scripture, swimming with soothing water all around me, listening to the waves crashing on the shore, reflecting on what God might be saying (or not saying). Needing to start living in the moment (to0 much thinking about “future stuff” … ministry, retirement, family, travel, health), building firmer foundations, pondering what I need to let go of, realising God’s grace is sufficient. Hadn’t planned to write a song, but yes, I did. This is probably NOT a congregational worship song. 🙂 It’s called TAKE.

Here I am, open,
Take every part
Take all I am, Lord
Mind, soul and heart
Grace wash all over me
Hold me … within
Take all I offer
Renewing … begin.

Shine out your light, Lord
On spaces so dark
Make known your presence
When life’s pulled apart
There in the struggles
The wrestling, so much
‘Enough is enough’
There is your freedom
Your beauty, your touch

Live in each moment
Rejoice in the now
Consider the lilies
This moment, this hour
“Come to the water
Be thirsty no more” (0, to)
Find you each morning
to welcome, adore

Mmm ….
mmm ….
“Come to the water
Be thirsty no more” (O, to)
Find you each morning
to welcome, adore

© David MacGregor 2019

Shalom,
David


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