Notes on the Notes – January 13, 2019

Baptism of Jesus

This week’s scripture readings:

Isaiah 43:1-7        Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

The first Sunday after Epiphany is when we read about 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 on account of 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:

“A Light is Gleaming” (VU #82)

“A light is gleaming, spreading its arms throughout the night, living in the light.
share its gladness, God’s radiant love is burning bright, living in the light.

When light comes pouring into the darkest place,
It hurts our eyes to see the glow.
Sometimes a word of hope reminds us of our fears,
Our memories and tears.

When night is round us and every shadow grows,bright-light
A star is there to light our way.
It tells a story of Jesus who came near to say:
“God’s light will ever stay.”

And Jesus showed us a brighter path to walk.
He showed us things we hadn’t seen.
Now we, like Jesus, can help creation shine,
And this will be a sign:

So let us live in the brightness God has giv’n,
And let us rise to see the dawn.
We trust that God is here asparkle and ablaze,
Warming all our days.”

The words of this beautiful song remind us that Jesus is the light and that, through following his way, we too can be a light in the world.  The song was first published in 1992 in Stickpeople, a collection of songs by the Canadian composer Linnea Good.

Hear the song sung in worship at:

“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 the hymn sung to slightly different words at:

Hear the hymn played on piano at:

“Listen, God is Calling” (MV #97)

“Listen, God is calling,
Through the Word inviting,
Offering forgiveness,
Comfort and joy.”

The simple chorus is translated from a traditional Tanzanian song. It was arranged for More Voices in 2007. The song centers us in preparation for hearing the scripture readings.

“When Jesus Comes to Be Baptized” (VU #100)

“When Jesus comes to be baptized, he leaves the hidden years behind,
The years of safety and of peace, to bear the sins of humankind.

The Spirit of the Lord comes down, anoints the Christ to suffering,
To preach the word, to free the bound, and to the mourner, comfort bring.

He will not quench the dying flame, and what is bruised he will not break,
But heal the wound injustice dealt, and out of death his triumph make.

O Spirit help us be like Christ: to live in love and charity,
To walk in truth and justice now, and grow in Christian dignity.

We praise you, God, source of all life,
We praise you, Christ, eternal Word,
We praise you, Spirit, gracious gift;
Your triune presence fills our world.”

The first three verses of this hymn were written by the Benedictine Nuns of Stanbrook Abbey, England.  (1974, 1995). Verses 4 and 5 came to us from Concacan Inc. (The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) in 1989. The tune is WINCHESTER NEW, which was written in 1690 and is familiar as the tune for the hymn “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry” (VU #20).

“You are Mine”

“I will come to you in the silence,
I will lift you from all your fear,
You will hear my voice, I claim you as my choice,
Be still and know I am here.

I am hope for all who are hopeless,
I am eyes for all who long to see.
In the shadows of the night, I will be your light,
Come and rest in me.

         Do not be afraid, I am with you.
        I have called you each by name.
       Come and follow me,
       I will bring you home;
       I love you and you are mine.

I am strength for all the despairing,
Healing for the ones who dwell in shame.
All the blind will see, the lame will all run free,
And all will know my name.

I am the Word that leads all to freedom,
I am the peace the world cannot give.
I will call your name, embracing all your pain,
Stand up, no walk, and live!

      Do not be afraid, I am with you.
      I have called you each by name.
     Come and follow me,
     I will bring you home;
     I love you and you are mine.”

This week’s anthem is by David Haas (1991) and connects directly to the reading from Isaiah.

“These Gifts We Bring”

“These gifts we bring with grateful hearts,
To reconcile, make new,
Gather us in grace, show us the way,
To live our lives in Truth
To You love in all we do.”

Our offering response was written by Pat Mayberry and arranged by David Kai (2016). The phrase “to reconcile and make new” is taken directly from The New Creed of the United Church of Canada.

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

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.

“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.”

“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 benediction response this week. The words were written by Ruth Duck (1991).

To ponder:

We are all children of God.  What does that mean to you?


Categories: Notes on the Notes
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