Posts Tagged 'loss'

Christ shows his face … a flood reflection

Hi!

Long time since I last posted. Combination of post-Holy Land acclimatization, everything Christmas, helping out at NCYC 2011, beginning a holiday at Hervey Bay, coming home prematurely because of Brisbane River floodwaters entering our house, moving back into our home just two days ago and finally getting power restored just two hours ago.

This has been an incredibly draining time – and that’s without the massive hardship and loss experienced by so many.  It was SO hard being stranded for those days at Hervey Bay, yet unable to get back to Brisbane due to flooded rounds between there and Brisbane.  I reckon it’s been some of the hardest few weeks of my life.

We had no option – from afar – to leave the evacuation of our home (either to the top story OR the church OR friends’ places) to an incredible armada of folk from our church, longtime friends and of course Joel and Jeremy back at the ranch. Like so many others, I find myself not starting the year anywhere near refresh.  I feel totally drained.

I was taken by a Facebook posting by radio station 96.5 FM’s Billy Diehm last weekend.  Billy was asked basically, “Where was God in all this?”.  His marvellous answer was loosely along the lines of: God was there in every volunteer, every emergency services worker, every SES worker. So true.

So – the song that had been ‘coming’ for weeks finally poured out yesterday – Christ shows his face. Lyrics and leadsheet link below.  This song is dedicated to all of those “face of Jesus” folk these past weeks, and especially those who ministered to us.  And by the way, the photo here is of Oxley-Darra UC folk who two Thursdays ago (flood-peak day) got to the streets on some trucks and distribute over 400 bags of ice AND heaps of bread.  How overwhelmingly compassionate and kind is that!

David

leadsheet

Christ shows his face

Christ shows his face
when lives are pained
weary hearts are breaking.
shows God’s grace
while troubles rise,
past foundations shaking

Every smile
Every hand
Every soft embracing
Christ shows his face
when lives are pained,
hope is hard, displacing

Christ shows his face
in thirsting souls
When hunger’s met with feeding
When nakedness for all to see
is met with love, with clothing

Offered rest
Offered home
Offered hope’s new morning
Christ shows his face
when all seems dark, the
light of Christ keeps shining.

Christ shows his face
in community
extending past their comfort
Sharing steadfastly as one
Self-giving for another

Every smile
Every tear
Every soft embracing
Christ is found
when all seems lost, when
When love’s true heart
When love’s true hope
When love’s true light keeps shining.

© David MacGregor 2011
Willow Publishing
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Love … as a verb

Slide1I shared this sermon with the morning congregations at Indooroopilly on 17 May, drawing on some thoughts from Elaine Huckett (Upper Room Disciplines, 2009) and Kate Huey (Weekly Seeds, United Church of Christ).  I share my reflections with you to, on the theme – based on John 15:9-17Love … as a verb

What is love? How would you answer that question?  What is love?  “Love” is all over, under, around and through our gospel reading for today. In fact, “love” or a version thereof features nine times.  Nine times.  And guess what?  For all but two of these instances, “love” is not featured as a word naming the encounter … the interchange. No; in John 15:9-17, love is not a noun … “love” is a verb.

For millennia, “love” has been talked about, written about, intellectualized about, “psychologised”.  Love … a noun. We in the church do a lot of that too … we implore each other to love, we pray that we might be a people of love … we hold Bible studies about love … we consider how we might show love to our community … we sing songs and hymns about love.  Some of us even write songs … create works of art – all around the theme of love.

The call of Christ is to go beyond this … to actually “do” love – to love one another … love as a verb. On the surface it sounds simple, but you know and I know it is something difficult to do.  We know how to be in love.  We know about the deep feelings of love connecting us with family and special friends.  We know, many of us, the pain of losing a love.

But when love becomes a verb, a command requiring action, the challenging aspects of loving another come sharply into focus.  Now I tell you to love each other, as I have loved you – says Jesus Christ.  What does it mean to belong to God’s human family in ways that bear witness to God’s love for us?

John suggests it has something to do with dying … with giving up to God … with letting go.  In John’s gospel this is the model.  Jesus demonstrates his love for the world by offering his life.  Writing for the Upper Room, Elaine Puckett makes the thoughtful comment:

His [Jesus’] response leaves us with a task to accomplish and a question to ponder, “How shall I love my neighbour when love cannot be limited even by death”

Continue reading ‘Love … as a verb’

Then you found me

brokenman1Thought I’d share the lyrics of a new song written for our quarterly Lero Stadio creative arts worship service at our church – we gathered for this earlier tonight.  The theme was SAVED LIFE LOST LIFE SAVED.  It was a particular take, c/- Tony: an incredibly gifted member of our evening congregation, on the Mark 8:31-38 lectionary gospel for today.   The focus was especially on Jesus’ words:  If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it.

Felt inspired to write something a bit different.  Not strictly speaking, a congregational worship song.  More in the roots/country/pop/bit-bluesy feel of Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson on their “Rattlin Bones” album, in a minor key to boot.  I took my inspiration from the Biblical metaphor/teaching of the shepherd and the sheep; the shepherd going all out to “seek and save the lost”.  Alongside this, I reflect on how it’s often in the desert experience, that we find God.  More accurately, God, in all God’s prevenient grace finds us.  Dale and I presented it tonight, even doing some rare harmony vocals (I’ve never been great in that area).  Quite taken by the number of affirming responses. Here it is …

Lost – then you found me
Lost – now I’m found
(was) deaf to your calling
deaf, nowhere bound
You searched  and sought unceasing
Astray, you brought me home
Lost – O God you found me
You claim me as your own.

Desert life so daunting
Wilderness surrounds
Desert life, it haunts me
Such emptiness abounds
I’ve strayed long in the wastelands
a sheep so far from home
Lost – O God you found me
You claim me as your own

Blindness overtakes me
Perspective never there
Jesus meet the middays
of my hopelessness, despair

Jesus – you are welcome
Jesus – you are care
Christ– your nailed hands open
to each sinner, everywhere
God – we come, surrender
To your grace that calls us home
Lost – O God you found me
You love me as your own
You love me as your own
You love me as your own

David MacGregor © 2009  Willow Publishing download leadsheet

Bushfire song

A week or so back, I received this contemporary hymn lyric from Peter Woodward, a ministry colleague of mine with the Uniting Church; in Peter’s case – in Ipswich, Queensland.  It’s Peter’s musings on the flood and fire dramas of recent weeks here in the north and south of Australia.  I offer it with Peter’s blessing …

To God be the glory: how can we sing this
when fires destroy us and floods threaten life?
A world that is suffering and wants to know why
can barely believe in a God in the sky.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord: seems a torment to us.
God of Love! God of Love, we are conflicted and lost.
We come to you Father and want to believe;
so help us see Jesus and know that you grieve.

For all who are suffering and all who are lost
we pray special caring whatever the cost.
In all of our neighbours, O, help us to see
the call to look out and build community.            Peter Woodward (C) 2009

Songs of sadness & sustaining

These past days, as folk here in Australia have reflected on appropriate worship resources to use this weekend – in helping God’s people deal with the horror, grief, sorrow, anger, sadness and bewilderment of the Victorian bushfire tragedy (and not forgetting 62% of my state Queensland in flood) – here are many of the songs that have been suggested and some of my own thrown in.  This is far from an exhaustive list.  For a longer selection, go here.  Special thanks to Natalie Sims – Uniting Church, Victoria

God, we’ve known such grief and anger  –  Carolyn Winfrey Gillette     lyrics

Babylon (by the waters, the waters, the waters of Babylon ..)  traditional – the one popularized by Don McLean back in the ’70s

We cannot measure how you heal  – John Bell/Graham Maule   (Iona Community: When Grief is Raw, also Church Hymnary, Common Ground)

Nothing is lost on the breath of God –  Colin Gibson.  Words and music are here. Sound sample here.

Touch the earth lightly, God weeps  –  Shirley Erena Murray (various)

Don’t be afraid  (my love is stronger than your fear) – John Bell    (Iona Community,  All Together Whatever 496)

O God of mighty wind and flame –  Carolyn Winfrey Gillette   lyrics etc                  

O Christ you wept when grief was raw. –  John Bell/Graham Maule   (Iona: Love from Below,  Church Hymnary 734)

When pain and terror strike by chance  – Brian Wren   (Together in Song 262, various)

How long?   –  short lament response by me.  Link here to download page  (scroll down to Holy Communion settings)

Lord have mercy  – short sung response by me.  Link here to download page

For you, deep stillness  –  Julie Perrin/Robin Mann       (All Together Whatever 494, various)  Beautiful, gentle imagery – appropriate for a blessing song

 

For more bushfire info/pictures/video – go to this link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/bushfires    It’s worth checking out.   The ABC is our equivalent (sort of) of your PBS.


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