Notes on the Notes – February 25, 2018
Theme: To be Washed Clean!/Baptism
John 13:1-17 Psalm 51:7-12
The readings this week both make reference to becoming clean. In the psalm, the writer is asking God to once again give them a “clean heart” so that they can serve God more fully. In the gospel reading, we hear how Jesus washes the disciples feet. This week’s music centers around these two themes. We are also celebrating the sacrament of baptism, another symbolic use of water in the faith journey.
“God, Help Us to Treasure” (MV #147)
God, help us to honour your presence among us
in newborn, in elder, in fam’ly in need.
By sharing with others we soon will discover
your kindness and loving in generous deeds.
God, help us to value each moment of wonder
when peace shall o’er-shadow our sorrow and pain.
In times shared at Table with all who are kindred,
may we find the healing to sing Love’s refrain.”
John Oldham wrote the text of this hymn in 1998. It was set to music by Lori Erhardt in 1998 and arranged by Bruce Harding in 2006. Oldham addresses the presence of God in and for all people and encourages us to be mindful of the presence of God in our lives. Each verse also ends with some action on our part: we become agents of love, joy and blessing, and we share with others to find kindness, loving and healing.
“Just as I Am” (VU #508)
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in thee I find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
Although disabled at the age of thirty, Charlotte Elliott continued a long career of writing and editing. This text was published in her Invalid’s Hymn Book (1836). After her death, a file was found containing a thousand letters of thanks for this hymn. Her brother, Henry Venn Elliott, later commented that she had ministered to more people through this hymn than he had in the entire course of his ministry. The tune, WOODWORTH, was originally set to another hymn, but was subsequently printed with “Just as I am” in 1860. The hymn resonates as we come before God in all of our imperfections, trusting in God’s love and ability to once again give us a “clean heart.”
Hear the hymn at: https://youtu.be/w2VrRk4pZHY
“Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive” (VU #364)
How can your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart
that broods on wrongs, and will not let old bitterness depart?
In blazing light your cross reveals the truth we dimly knew:
What trivial debts are owed to us, how great our debt to you!
O cleanse the depths within our souls and bid resentment cease;
Then, bound to all in bonds of love, our lives will spread your peace.”
Rosamond Herklot’s text (1966) is based on two New Testament sources – the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12) and Colossians 3:13. The tune may be familiar as the tune for the hymn “There is a Green Hill Far Away” (VU #152). This confessional nature of the hymn again makes reference to cleaning our souls so that we can be forgiving and loving, as Jesus has taught us.
“Heart of Stone”
“We’ve gathered in this upper room to spend some time with you;
The meal we share, a sacred sign of what you soon will do.
So much of what you’ve said I’m still not sure I understand;
And now you want to wash my feet, this was not in my plan.
Put down the basin, drop the towel,
Lord, where is your pride?
You must not do a servant’s work,
It is not dignified!
Of course, I want to follow you;
I’ll do what you command.
If you must, wash all of me,
My feet, my head, my hands.
You see the pride within my heart; Lord, cleanse me from my sin.
And please forgive my stubborn will as I learn how to bend.
I want to follow where you lead and be your very own.
O Master, bathe me in your love and melt my heart of stone.
Put down the basin…
O Master, bathe me in your love and melt my heart of stone.”
This week’s anthem was written by Lloyd Larson in 2003. It is a retelling of the Gospel story from the perspective of one of the disciples. Imagine the confusion, as, thinking that Jesus will triumph over the power’s of Rome by might, Jesus wants the disciples to follow his example of being a servant! Over the course of the song, the disciple realizes that Jesus is demonstrating the greatest love by becoming a servant and that to truly follow, their “heart of stone” must be opened to the needs of others.
“Lord, Let My Heart be Good Soil”
“Lord, let my heart be good soil, open to the seed of your Word.
Lord, let my heart be good soil, where love can grow and peace is understood.
When my heart is hard, break the stone away.
When my heart is cold, warm it with the day.
When my heart is lost, lead me on your way.
Lord, let my heart be good soil.”
Our closing hymn is by Handt Hanson. It is a prayer for our hearts to be open to God’s Word, so that we can go out into the world as God’s loving people. In what current situations do our hardened hearts need to be softened so that the seeds of the Word of God can grow?