Posts Tagged 'love'

take my life & let it be (2020 rewrite)

Hi. Amongst my all time favourite hymns is 19th century writer Francis Ridley Havergal’s Take My Life and Let It Be.

I love the holistic aspiration in that hymn … and offering of everything to God; back to God 24/7. It’s not just about money, not just about this, about that.

So, aware that my church here in Brisbane, Australia is having a stewardship focus these three coming Sundays … with a particular focus (though thankfully not exclusively) on financial giving, I was reminded of this great hymn, as I mused on some options for congregational song.

I mused, how would it be if I

  • changed the time signature from 3/4 to 4/4
  • Employed a gentle reggae rhythm (yes, you read this correctly)
  • Updated where appropriate the Thy, Thee, Thou, Thine wording
  • made the whole thing a bit more upbeat. Why, 2 Corinthians 9 does remind us that God loves a “cheerful giver” (cf. a gloomy one)!

Take My Life And Let It Be (based on tune: Nottingham)

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated Lord to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Your love
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice and let me sing
Always only for my King
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee

Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use
Ev’ry power as You will choose

Take my will and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine
Take my heart it is Your own
It shall be Your royal throne

Take my love my Lord I pour
At Your feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be
Ever only all for Thee

updated words & melody David MacGregor © 2020 – Willow Publishing

Frances Ridley Havergal
© Words: Public Domain. Music: Public Domain

gathering stones together

As a child of the 60s and especially 70s, songs like Pete Seeger’s Turn, Turn, Turn and particularly the Byrds’ classic interpretation of it are indelibly etched deep in the memory banks. Based closely on verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 in the Bible, they speak to the times, that everything has a season.

Of course I type this during an ever-lingering pandemic season. Victoria has just recorded a record 725 COVID-19 cases, Queensland is about to close its borders to New South Wales and the ACT. What “under heaven” is this world coming to?

More than once during this season I’ve mused how this is a God-given time in birthing a new normal; to come together across the political, cultural, racial, religious and philosophical or religious divides. Yes, come together.

So many of my songs somehow use that word – together. No apologies … when I read St Paul writing in 2 Corinthians 5 of the call to be reconcilers with one another, thanks to Christ making that possible … I just can’t escape that word: together. We simply mustn’t.

Today I was musing about all of this; the song of course, but particularly that line for Ecclesiastes 3: a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together.

That really struck me. Humanly speaking, that’s what the world needs. We need to be on about gathering stones together … building on … building up each other. My stone touching yours and yours mine. No time for throwing stones or prejudice or exclusion or oppressive practices or just plain ignorance at another.

So Gathering Stones Together was birthed. I’ve stayed close to the Biblical text, rearranging text here and there for purposes of rhyme and emphasis … all the way reiterating that it’s surely time in this new world, this new, strange season to gather stones … stones smooth, rough big, small, bright, dark together.

The Kingdom of God and the love Jesus offers all and calls from us all demands nothing less.

mp3 backing

Time for everything
Time for everything
Time for everything under heaven
Time for birth, for dying
Time for laughing, crying
Time for gathering stones together
Wo-oh-oh
Time for gathering stones together

Time for love’s embrace
Time for love’s embrace
Time for everything under heaven
Time for breaking down
Time for building up,
Time for gathering stones together
Wo-oh-oh
Time for gathering stones together

Time to plant, to reap
To discard, to keep
Time for everything under heaven
Time to tear, to sow
Time to gather, throw
Time for gathering stones together
Wo-oh-oh
Time for gathering stones together

Bridge 
Time to come together, wo-oh-oh (x3)
Time for gathering stones together …

Time for war, for peace
Time to dance, to weep
Time for everything under heaven
Time to lose, to seek
Time for silence, speak.
Time for gathering stones together
Wo-oh-oh
Time for gathering stones together
Wo-oh-oh
Time for gathering stones together.

     David MacGregor
     © 2020 Willow Publishing
     from Ecclesiastes 3

Shalom,
David

 

God, how we thank you … surprise: another praise song!

Hi. I can only put it down to being a “God thing” but here I am, mid 60’s, less than eight months to retirement, have written 400+ songs in my lifetime … and I’m suddenly writing praise songs. 99% of that 400+ have not been praise songs. My previous song a month ago: Make it Joyful! was a praise song too.  What’s happening here?!  Why’s it taken so long.  Has the pandemic journey I’ve been on (i.e. we’ve all been on) drawn something new out of me, alongside affecting me deeply.  I guess it’s a bit of both.  So here’s a new song: God, How We Thank You

leadsheet mp3 backing

In the last week or so I’ve been reminded again and again about not only the place but the necessity of gratitude – showing our thanks, showing how are grateful we are for all that’s good, fruitful, refreshing, life giving for us.

This COVID-19 season has had its moments for all of us … I’m no exception. I’ve found myself melancholic again and again these past months. Yes,I’ve had my up times, let’s be clear, but  I’ve had my share of down times … my well-being and most likely yours has been impacted.

Quite unexpectedly, the songwriter in me has found myself journalling through this crazy season … not so much in words but in one short instrumental piece after another. They’re on YouTube if you’re interested. Occasionally a piece with both tune and words. Probably their short titles say it all: FALL, SACRIFICE, CRAZY, RESTLESS, THE LONG ROAD, RESILIENCE …

Then God’s Spirit prompted me recently about gratitude.

  • When I sat in my front lawn under a sunny blue winter sky, freshly brewed coffee in my hand, I found myself so grateful – thank you God.
  • When I walked through that national park, heard the sounds of bush, air and ocean … I found myself so grateful – thank you God.
  • When I found myself playing that Indigo Girls song with its exquisite harmonies over and over again … I found myself so grateful – thank you God.
  • When Dale and I shared four lovely days with special friends from Cairns … I found myself so grateful – thank you God.
  • When I found myself in stitches such was the banter in a recent church ministry team meeting … I found myself so grateful – thank you God.
  • When I was reminded of God’s amazing, faithful, never-ending love for me in Jesus … I found myself so grateful – thank you God.

In the Bible we find verse after verse about gratitude… about thanksgiving …

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. God’s love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens , keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.   1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

One catalyst for gratitude for me was a blogpost from noted Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, called

Give Us This Day Our Daily Gratitude

God was able to use that blog for God’s purposes!
Nadia Bolz-Weber writes …

I swear to God, exercise and gratitude are like, God’s own anti-depressants. In this time of loss and suffering and turmoil, when not one of us is spared of sorrow, this morning I made myself list some things I am genuinely grateful for right now, today, in this very moment. And it made me feel better.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Gratitude

So, the song, based closely on scripture has these lyrics:

God, how we thank You
God, how we thank You
Your mercy, compassion
it never ends
We sing out our praises
Your grace beyond gracious
God, how we thank you
your boundless love

Love ever steadfast
Mercy unending
New every morning
Your way of love
Love ever faithful
calls from me, “grateful”
Lord, be our worship
You are our love

God, how we thank You
God, how we thank You …

David MacGregor © 2020 Willow Publishing

Shalom,
David

image of LOVE

Hi.
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 vocalhttps://dmacgreg1.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/image-of-love-vocal-g.mp3

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

(Hummed)
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

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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