Posts Tagged 'justice'

image of LOVE

Longer post this time.

For some time I’ve found myself pondering what the Christian and Jewish faiths (others too?) are saying when they affirm we human creatures are mind-blowingly made … created in the image of God; or as some would express it, in God’s likeness. Christian thinkers use the Latin words imago dei when talking about this.

Events recently in the USA of racism and sparked by racism … not only there but the history of treatment of First People’s in our own country have spurred on this pondering.

So do words from noted NZ hymn writer, the late Shirley Murray …

O God we bear the imprint of Your face
The colours of our skin are Your design
And what we have of beauty in our race
As man or woman You alone define
Who stretched a living fabric on our frame
And gave to each a language and a name

More from that hymn later …

Imago dei … image of God.

What does this all mean? What are the implications, the responsibilities of believing this?

In the Bible’s first creation narrative, we read:

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 NRSV

Doesn’t get much clearer than that. Yet, if we are like God, what/who is God like?! We can only unpack that in human terms and from human experience.

I read from this, as evidenced throughout the scriptures and ultimately in Jesus Christ, that if we understand and know God as God of love, justice, mercy, welcome, hospitality, hope, inclusion, presence and salvation … we of faith are likewise (and likewise sure is the word) to be people of love, justice, mercy, welcome, hospitality, hope, inclusion, presence and salvation.

Is this simply a no-brainer. I wish it was. Sadly, our human condition so, so distorts the image or likeness of God were made to be. We are created in God’s likeness but our lives and the life of the world point to other images – images and experiences of decay, ignorance, oppression, hate, harm, loss, injustice, environmental and human pillage … it’s that word sin.

Actually, we cannot affirm that we, by God’s Grace, made in God’s image, without in turn realising how this will impact (& indeed needs to) so much of how we go about life … in fact all of our lives.

One writer unpacks our responsibilities with this as people of faith

Humans … can be seen as co-creators with God. The moral implications of the doctrine of imago Dei are apparent in the fact that if humans are to love God, then humans must love other humans, as each is an expression of God.

Now, we humans have the God-given freedom to pay lip service at best to this imago dei and instead be creatures whose lives are far, far away from being that image of God’s creation. This has of course massive ethical, moral, social, and environmental consequences.

Theologian Mary McClintock Fulkerson writes that the imago Dei directs us to consider the way in which God is portrayed in our minds, as well as how such imaging contributes to the valuing and devaluing of human beings.

Has our image of God become so distorted that it sanctions excluding certain people from being image bearers? Are we representing God to people in a way that contributes to their devaluing others?

The race riots, demonstrations (mostly peaceful we need reminding) and the police brutality that served as catalyst for it forces us to ask: not just how I see my neighbour … who is the other person to me? Does my faith lead me again and again back, back to the affirmation that they too are created in the image, potential and goodness of God. It’s going to impact so, so much – how we will engage:

  • end of life issues
  • abortion
  • Racism
  • refugees and asylum seekers
  • Those different to us in
    • colour
    • gender preference
    • belief systems and world views
    • understandings of God
    • political leanings
    • Faith
    • Race or culture
    • Personality

So I ask myself; I ask each other; can I be bold enough to ask our world: will I … will we be co-creators with God … or something else ultimately ungodly … ultimately “inhuman”?

I find myself taken to one of Jesus’ parables – in the gospel of Matthew – Chapter 25, known by Christians as the parable of the sheep and the goats. It’s a parable about judgement – about taking account of our lives before God aka “the King” in the parable.  You’ll probably know it well …

“…  Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;  for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’  And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

The parable of course, goes on. It’s hard-hitting.  It’s insightful.  It speaks right into who we are … who, by the creative hand of God we’re made and called to be.

‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

When we fail to attend with compassion towards the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the imprisoned … we fail to attend to no less than God … to the one in whose image the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the imprisoned are made. More from Shirley Murray’s hymn …

Where we are torn and pulled apart by hate
Because our race our skin is not the same
While we are judged unequal by the state
And victims made because we own our name
Humanity reduced to little worth
Dishonoured is Your living face on earth

James 3:9 says this in The Message …

With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image.

God gives us a clear choice … by our words, by our hands, by our hearts and so much more we can incredibly bless others … incredibly bless others OR we can do something so opposite to that, that pains God … that pains another made also, just as we are, in the imago dei … the image of God.

So, with all this occupying my mind. My heart, my spirit, I found myself writing a little song … wanting to use a simplicity of lyrics. I’ve called it  Image of Love.

score  lyrics mp3 vocal

Made in the image
Made in the image
Made in the image of God
Created with promise
With hope and with wonder
Made in the image of Love

Reflecting the holy
Reflecting the holy
Reflecting your holiness, God
Created with promise
With hope and with wonder
Reflecting your holiness, God

Seeing in the other
Seeing in the other
the hand of our God in each one
Created with promise
With hope and with wonder
each made in the image of Love

Mmm …
Mmm …
Mmm …
Created with promise
With hope and with wonder
May we be your image of Love
May we be your image of Love
May we be your image of Love

David MacGregor ©  2020 Willow Publishing

A Child, a Woman and a Man – poignant Brian Wren lyrics, my new setting


Yesterday in preparing for coming Sunday’s worship and its Interfaith September focus, I came across these most powerful and poignant words by iconic contemporary hymn writer – Brian Wren. The song: A Child, a Woman and a Man.   As I wrestle with the discipleship implications of hospitality with other faiths, the ever-present refugee/asylum-seeker issue, Christ’s call via Matthew 25 to attend to the hungry, naked and homeless … as Mother Teresa was “sainted” by the Roman Catholic Church, a new melody came to me.  It does use a common chord sequence.  So what!  It works for me in this song.  See what you think.  Eventually I’ll arrange a vocal track – not sure when – busy times. Anyhow, after this song, the way I engage the dispossessed or discarded people of this earth might never be quite the same.


score  mp3 backing demo

Continue reading ‘A Child, a Woman and a Man – poignant Brian Wren lyrics, my new setting’

a heart for you (working title)

Last week the Uniting Church in Queensland met (400 or so from across the state) for our synod: a 5-day gathering that happens every 18 months.  A key part of journey over those days (and in fact the 6 months prior AND the 18 months following) was … and will continue to be … the Together on the Way process a time of discernment for the future of the Church in Queensland.

We were invited to reflect on a draft statement or response to God’s call, along with a listing of core Gospel Values. Over a week has flown by since – I’ve been reflecting on these draft statements and values.  Yesterday the embryo of some song lyrics came to me – I guess it’s my journey with the process; my sense of who the Uniting Church is called to do and be in these times and into the future – in response to the prompting and gifting of the Spirit.  The tune etc has had umpteen drafts and redrafts — until it’s at the stage now where the chorus does it justice and it’s in a singable key (for me anyway!)

Its working title (as suggested by an e-group respondent is A heart for you – with “you” having the twin connotations of ‘God’ and ‘others’

Goes like this.  leadsheet

A heart for you

1. Ever moving on a journey
Ever travellers on The Way
Ever open as communities of grace
Knowing your renewing spirit
God you call us: faithful be
The love of Christ has saved us, set us free

With a heart for justice
With feet of compassion
uniting with hope in Christ our Lord
witnessing in faith
to the One who calls us
proclaiming Christ in deed and word

2. Ever offering compassion
Loving neighbour as you love
Ever serving in the name of Jesus Christ
Bringing God’s transforming hope for all
in overflowing joy
In Christ, the truth the world will not destroy
With a heart for justice …

3. Ever speaking out for justice
Ever telling out God’s truth
Ever risking Jesus’ way, despite the cost
Being doers of God’s justice
Loving, sharing mercy’s heart
Walking humbly with our God
How great you are!
With a heart for justice

© David MacGregor 2010
Willow Publishing

Congregational song – forming faith, making disciples – Week 2

Hi all

The teaching series kicked off well last Sunday – with some initial establishing some basics about the role of music in worship and especially citing the case for music seeking to engage the ‘totality’ of God and the totality of our human condition.   After this, we spent some time reflecting on congregational song  1. as praise   2. as prayer.  Yes, we sang lots.  I enjoyed the singing of a marvellous 20th century Fred Prat Green hymn: When in our music, God is glorified (I even played it on the new Allen organ in the evening) AND the way the congregation embraced the wonderful old Vineyard classic: Hosanna. In the evening service, we sang a South African short song: God welcomes all, as well as its companion piece, the (Themba) Amen.  This one was written in a South African hospice which works with HIV/Aids patients.  Great songs, and brought to world-attention through John Bell of the Iona Community

SO … on to today.  During all three services today, we’ll focus on the place of congregational song as:

  1. confession & lament
  2. proclaiming justice
  3. forming our intercessions and community life

I’m looking forward to it – though I’ll sleep well tonight!

Click here for a full transcript of today’s teaching.   For Christian ministry, non-profit use only please.



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