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A Song for Lent – Day 16 – Don’t just believe, act!

To Read: Click on song title to watch a video

Show Me

from My Fair Lady

Don’t talk of stars, burning above
If you’re in love, show me
Tell me not dreams, filled with desire
If you’re on fire, show me

Never do I ever want to hear another word
There isn’t one, I haven’t heard
Here we are together in what ought to be a dream
Say one more word and I’ll scream

Sing me no song, read me no rhyme
Don’t waste my time, show me
Please don’t implore, beg on the seats
Don’t make all the speech, show me

Here we are together in the middle of the night
Don’t talk of spring, just hold me tight
Anyone who’s ever been in love’ll tell you that
This is no time for a chat

Haven’t your arms, hungered for mine?
Please don’t explain, show me, show me
And don’t wait until wrinkles and lines
Pop out all over my brow, show me now

Never do I ever want to hear another word
There isn’t one, I haven’t heard
Here we are together in what ought to be a dream
Say one more word and I’ll scream

Haven’t your lips longed for my touch?
Don’t say how much, show me, show me
Don’t wait until wrinkles and lines
Pop out all over my brow, show me now

 

From the Scriptures:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

James 2.14-17

 

To Reflect: (Sloth)

The reflections this week are about some of the classic ‘deadly sins’ of the faith.  How we can fall into them and ways to avoid them.

 

Poor old Freddy Eynsford-Hill!  Love-struck he has been pacing up an down outside Professor Higgins house on the street where you live when Eliza miraculously appears fresh from a row with her mentor.  Now is his chance!  Entranced by her before she was ‘educated’ and was still was selling bunches of violets underneath the arches of Covent Garden surely he can finally plight his troth and find happiness?

Sadly no. In ‘Show Me’ Eliza seems to finally agree to go along with him My Fair Ladyonly to find by the end of the story she has returned to her teacher, who has had a little bit of a ‘talking to’ by both his best friend and his mother.  To this day their remains nothing like tea with mother to put the upper-class English gentleman in his place…

Eliza, tired of words and desperate for deeds, mirrors the frustration of the Apostle James with the early church.  In a text that bears out the truth of Jesus’ words – apposite in snowbound Britain today – that ‘you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish’ (Mark 14.7), James demands ‘deeds not words’.

One would have thought it obvious that there’s no sense ‘talking the talk without walking the walk’ but it seems to be a trap into which not only devout people fall.  The response ‘thoughts and prayers’ to recent school massacres in the USA is perhaps a 21st Century version of, Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’. 

I do not know many Christians, though sadly I do know some, who seeing someone in need does not feel sympathy and want to help.

It is heartening to see more and more Christians active in helping those in all kinds of need but not all those who feel sympathy for those in need end up act.

Yet, still too often, the comment ‘somebody should do something about this’ is followed by a passing by on the other side.

To manufacture an oxymoron this is ‘Sloth in Action’. We know we should do something, God gives us the ability and the resources to help others, and yet we are often tempted to do little or even nothing at all.

In my experience those who give most, who are the least enthralled by the sin of sloth, are those who have the least.  Perversely these are the same people who are often pilloried as being ‘work-shy benefit scrounging shirkers’ in a sick attempt to justify, like Cain, our denial that we are part of one and the same family.

The wise beyond her years Anne Frank shows us a way out of the pit of People who give will never be poorsloth.  Her words ‘People who give will never be poor’ remind us of the joy that lies before us if we decide to ‘walk the walk’ instead of settling for ‘talk the talk’.

In 30 years of ministry I have seen God’s people at work in over 30 different churches and it has always been a revelation to see how people are enriched as they learn to give as well as receive.  I have met some stiff opposition down the years and have had parishioners frequently walk out during worship, only to find the Holy Spirit gently calling them back to a life of words and deeds, faith made visible by action.

Go on, turn words into deeds and see how wealthy you become.

 

To Pray:

O God Our Father,
l thank you for giving me health and strength
to come to this Holy Communion service
l pray for the strengthening and refreshing of my soul
by the Body and Blood of Christ
as my body would be by bread and wine.
Help me to follow the example of your dear Son,
by trying to help others at all times.
Show me the Opportunities as they present themselves
and give me the courage to act upon them.

Margaret Pollock, Ireland

 

To Do:

1)  Next time you think, or hear someone say ‘Something should be done about this’ ask yourself what prevents you from being the ‘someone’.

2)  Action is not the sole proof of faith; which is why Luther named the Letter of James as an ‘Epistle of Straw’. If it were so we could indeed be saved by ‘works not faith’. If you find yourself in a position whereby circumstance or physical condition prevent you putting your faith into obvious deeds become a cheerleader for those who can.

Encore: Click on song title to watch a video

At the end of My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins gives in to love and sings I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face. Just as he learnt that he can’t live without Eliza so, if we choose ‘action over deeds’ instead of sloth we find that we become accustomed to giving ourselves away to others and find true love in the care of God’s poor.

 

Acknowledgements:

Prayers are from ‘Prayers Encircling the World’ and are copyright © SPCK: 1998.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘A Song for Lent – 40 Days in the West End’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2018

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