This week’s theme:
Power and Voice!
This week’s scripture reading:
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22
This week’s music:
“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.
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
“Creator God You Gave Us Life” (MV #27)
“Creator God you gave us life, your image formed within our souls,
Yet through the mist of time and space, we search for that which makes us whole.
In every flower and every tree, we see your great diversity,
Yet greater still we see your love, expressed in our humanity.
When with our hearts, our hands, our minds, we share our gifts with all the world,
Our spirits soar beyond the veil, to touch the very face of God.
Through hands that paint majestic skies, and voices chanting melody,
With words that reach beyond the page, we comprehend your mystery.”
Both the tune and text of this hymn were written by Judith Snowdon in 2004. Judith Snowdon was born in England but completed her formal music education in Canada at Canadian Mennonite University and the University of Winnipeg. The lyrics are a reminder that when we open ourselves to truly look at the many facets of Creation, we are able to see God’s touch everywhere and in everyone.
“For Everyone Born”
“For everyone born, a place at the table,
For everyone born, clean water and bread,
A shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
For everyone born, a star overhead.
For woman and man, a place at the table,
Revising the roles, deciding the share,
With wisdom and grace, dividing the power,
For woman and man, a system that’s fair.
For young and for old, a place at the table,
A voice to be heard, a part in the song,
The hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled,
For you and for old, the right to belong.
For just and unjust, a place at the table,
Abuser, abused, with need to forgive,
In anger, in hurt, a mindset of mercy,
For just and unjust, a new way to live.
For everyone born, a place at the table,
To live without fear, and simply to be,
To work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
For everyone born, the right to be free,
And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy,
compassion and peace;
Yes, God will delight when we are creators of justice, justice and joy.”
This song, with words by Shirley Erena Murray (New Zealand) and music by Joy F. Paterson, was published in 2000. On this Orange Shirt Day, I would invite you to look through the lens of the history of Settler and Indigenous Peoples in Canada as you hear the lyrics.
The words in stanza one reflect the table on which we break bread. Everyone, regardless of their stature, deserves “clean water and bread” and a “safe place” to live. It also alludes to the star that shone the night Christ was born. This could mean that all people, who are created in God’s image, deserve a birth that is celebrated and wanted.
Stanza two reflects a table of equality. Too often, women have been deemed second-class citizens in the home, church, and society at large. Murray’s words mean that someone should not be regulated to certain tasks or roles because of their gender or gender identity. The roles must be divided fairly with no single person possessing all of the power. It is through the “wisdom and grace” that only comes from God that there can be “a system that’s fair” for all people.
A table of acceptance is the theme in stanza three. It is a place where no matter the age, people’s voices will be heard. Young and old will have “a part in the song.” This table reflects a place where the old and the young walk hand-in-hand and support each other no matter the circumstances. It is a place where everyone belongs.
A table of reconciliation is prevalent in the fourth stanza. However, it is a stanza that is not without controversy because it is a radical idea. This is the table where the “just and unjust” and the “abuser [and] abused” come together. A table where those who have hurt and those who hurt are sitting together is difficult to accept, but it is what we should and must strive for. It is a table where the anger and hurt can be let out in a safe place and where mercy and grace can help begin the healing process that brings about “a new way to live.”
The final stanza is a table of dignity. It is a place where people can safely “live without fear, and simply to be.” This table is a space for people “to work, to speak out, to witness and worship.” People can freely work, speak their minds, and worship in the ways they have been called to do so. It is a place where everyone has “the right to be free.”
Murray’s hymn not only reflects human concerns, but it demonstrates God’s care and concern for humankind, hence the refrain, in which God delights in those who create “justice, joy, compassion, and peace.” God is concerned about humanity’s well-being, is active in our lives, and uses people to make creation a better place for everyone and everything that dwells in it. (Source: umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-for-everyone-born-by-shirley-erena-murray)
“Wake Up, Church, Wake Up!” – This week’s anthem was composed by Pepper Choplin in 2003. It was commissioned in loving memory of Delores Price Griffith by the Order of Deacons in the Western Pennsylania Conference of The United Methodist Church. It is a lively reminder of our call to take our faith into service outside of the church walls.
“Wake up, church, wake up! The Lord is calling you.
Wake up, church, wake up!
There is kingdom work to do and so arise and shine.
Now tell the world your light is come.
Wake up, church, wake up! There’ll be plenty time to rest when life is done…”
“My Soul Cries Out (Canticle of the Turning)” (MV #120)
“My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight, and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest. Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn!
Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame, and to those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.
From the halls of power to the fortress tower, not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears ev’ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn.
Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard is the promise which holds us bound,
‘Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.”
This hymn by Rory Cooney was written in 1990. The words are a paraphrase of the Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55, but also bring to mind the new world prophesied by Isaiah. Throughout the course of history, people have been working toward a more just and healing society, where equality and justice and peace become the norm rather than the exception. The melody is the traditional Irish tune, STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN (KINGSFOLD), arranged by Rory Cooney.
Hear a choral version of this song at: http://vimeo.com/30873346
“Ancient words ever true
Changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.”
Our benediction response this week will be the chorus of the Michael W. Smith worship song “Ancient Words.”
To ponder: How does God want you to use your voice to speak for those who have no voice?
To learn more about Orange Shirt Day go to: http://www.windsorparkunitedchurch.com/orange-shirt-day/