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Notes on the Notes – January 12, 2020

Baptism of Jesus

Living in God’s Light

This week’s scripture readings:

Isaiah 42:1-9                     Matthew 3:13-17

On the first Sunday after Epiphany, we focus on the Baptism of Jesus. This event marks the start of Jesus’ public ministry – His emergence from a life of seeming obscurity into a life of growing popularity due to His preaching, miracles, healings and proclamation of mercy and forgiveness. Jesus steps into the Jordan River and into His mission of redemption through this public religious act. The descent of the dove symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus receives as the Christ, Greek for “the Anointed One.”

This week’s music:

“Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart” (VU #378)

“Spirit of God, descend upon my heart:
Wean it from earth, thro’ all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, strength to me impart,
And make me love you as I ought to love…dove

Teach me to love you as your angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame,
The baptism of the heaven-descended dove,
My heart an altar and your love the flame.

Have you not bid me love you, God and King;
All, all your own, soul, heart, and strength and mind?
I see your cross: there teach my heart to cling.
O let me seek you and O let me find!

Teach me to love you as your angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame,
The baptism of the heaven-descended dove,
My heart an altar and your love the flame.”

George Croly, an Anglican minister from Dublin, went to London as a young man to serve a small congregation.  After serving there for twenty-five years, he was asked to re-open Saint Stephens Church in one of London’s worst slums.  He did so, and soon began attracting large crowds.  He had a powerful ministry in the slums for more than two decades.  While working there, Croly wrote the hymn, “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.”  The hymn is a prayer for God to change us — to change us from the inside out — to teach us how to love God as we ought to love – to allow us to seek God and to find him — and to teach us to love as the angels love. During the twenty years that he served in the heart of the slums, Croly saw many lives redeemed.  This hymn reflects his conviction that redemption is an inside job — that it begins not when our surroundings change but when God changes our heart.

Hear Sue Nixon sing the hymn at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeZcdxKKzOU

Hear the hymn played on piano at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIOwwihkVSQ

“I Have Called You By Your Name” (MV #161)

“I have called you by your name, you are mine;
I have gifted you and ask you now to shine.
I will not abandon you; all my promises are true.
You are gifted, called, and chosen; you are mine.

I will help you learn my name as you go;
Read it written in my people, help them grow.
Pour the water in my name, speak the word your soul can claim,
Offer Jesus’ body given long ago.

I know you will need my touch as you go;
Feel it pulsing in creation’s ebb and flow.
Like the woman reaching out, choosing faith in spite of doubt,
Hold the hem of Jesus’ robe, then let it go.

I have given you a name, it is mine;
I have given you my Spirit as a sign.
With my wonder in your soul, make my wounded children whole;
Go and tell my precious people they are mine.”

The lyrics of this hymn by Daniel Charles Damon have their root in Isaiah 43:1.  This hymn is written from God’s perspective, saying “I have called you by your name, you are mine” and goes on to speak of God’s hope for us.   It commissions us to have the courage to follow where God leads and reminds us of everyone’s innate value in God’s eyes.

“Bathe Me in Your Light” (MV #82)

“Bathe me in your light, O God of All, Creator;
Let it shine upon my soul with healing and with grace.
Be to me a beacon bright through shadows of life’s wounding,
Showing me the way to live in faith, in your embrace.Bright light

Bathe me in your love, O Source of Awe and Wonder;
Help me walk the sacred path of harmony and peace.
May I be attentive to the musings of your presence,
Drinking from the well of hope that brings the heart release.

Bathe me in your grace, O One of Spirit’s longing;
Teach me of your gentle ways that fill the soul with strength.
Guide me on the pilgrimage that leads to truth and wholeness.
Fill me with your promise of a love that knows no length.”

The text of this new hymn was written by John Oldham in 2002.  John served as a United Church minister for many years in Manitoba, including 14 years at Donnelly United Church in Winnipeg.  As we enter into worship, we ask that we be bathed in light, love and grace, that we may live in God’s way.

The music is by Canadian composer Ron Klusmeier.  Ron lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He composes, arranges, and edits new music for worship and serves as a resource consultant for churches throughout Canada and the U.S.

Hear the music played on piano at:  http://musiklus.com/anthology/item/1294/bathe-me-in-your-light

“Longing for Light”

“Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
Light for the world to see.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.Christ be our light
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has power to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
Shared until all are fed.

Many the gifts, many the people,
Many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
Making your kingdom come.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.”

This week’s anthem was written by Bernadette Farrell in 1993.  ‘Longing for light’ is one of a number of songs by Bernadette Farrell that express a hope (underlying or overt) for peace and justice in God’s world.  Each verse of this hymn follows a similar pattern, moving from a statement of what many long for yet don’t have – basic human rights and the fundamentals everyday living – to our commitment to share what we do have and respond to the needs of others. In this way, we may be a ‘light for the world to see, servants endeavouring to make Christ’s kingdom visible on earth.

“Your Glory Shone at Jordan’s Stream” (VU #84 v. 3)

“Your glory shone at Jordan’s stream,
The font where we were born anew.
Attune your church to know you near;
Illumine all we say and do.”

We will be using the third verse of the hymn “O Radiant Christ, Incarnate Word” as our offering response this week. The words were written by Ruth Duck (1991).

“I Am the Light of the World” (VU #87)

“I am the light of the world! You people come and follow me!”
If you follow and love you’ll learn the mystery of what you were meant to do and be.

light-of-the-worldWhen the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the shepherds have found their way home, the work of Christmas is begun…

To find the lost and lonely one,
To heal the broken soul with love,

To feed the hungry children with warmth and good food,
To feel the earth below, the sky above!…

To free the prisoner from all chains, to make the powerful care,
To rebuild the nations with strength of good will, to see God’s children everywhere!…

To bring hope to every task you do, to dance at a baby’s new birth,
To make music in an old person’s heart, and sing to the colours of the earth!…”

Jim Strathdee wrote this popular hymn in 1967. The text of this song is based on a Christmas poem by Howard Thurman, a prolific 20th-century writer, theologian, and teacher.  The words remind us of the statement in John 8:12 that Jesus is the Light of the world.  Our response is to follow and live lives of love and action in the world.

See Jim and Jean Strathdee sing the song at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgCYgHZfN-E

“Go Now in Peace, Guided by the Light” (MV #211)

This commissioning and prayer for guidance was originally written in Spanish (“Vayan en paz”) by Pedro Rubalcava in 2002.  It was arranged by Peter Kolar, also in 2002.

“Go now in peace, guided by the light of Christ,
So you may be nourished by the Word of Life.”

To ponder –

  How do we live out our baptism in the 21st century?


Categories: Notes on the Notes