Mercy & Grace – 40 Days with the Music of Amy Grant
Day 14 – Thursday after 2nd Sunday of Lent
These Reflections which take the music of Amy Grant as their theme, were originally published in Lent 2015. They are being republished during the Covid19 pandemic which is affecting the whole world
From the Scriptures:
…while Jesus was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. (Luke 9.29-33)
From Amy Grant: “Mountain Top”
I love to sing and I love to pray
Worship the Lord most everyday
I go to the temple, and I just want to stay
To hide from the hustle of the world and its ways
And I’d love to live on a mountain top
Fellowshipping with the Lord
I’d love to stand on a mountain top
‘Cause I love to feel my spirit soar
But I’ve got to come down from the mountain top
To the people in the valley below
Or they’ll never know that they can go
To the mountain of the Lord
Now, praising the Father is a good thing to do
To worship the Trinity in spirit and truth
But if we worshipped all of the time
There would be no one to lead the blind
But I’d love to live on a mountain top…
Now, I am not saying that worship is wrong
But worship is more than just singing some songs
It’s all that we say, and everything that we do
It’s letting God’s Spirit live through you
Still I’d love to live on a mountain top…
‘So heavenly minded as to be of no earthly use!’ Do you know anyone such as this? Precious people, who have a clear vision of God and God’s love for them but never seem to be able to move on from enjoying ‘righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 14.17) into active service for God.
I remember two people in particular. One who gave all his possessions away to follow a ‘genuine’ Franciscan lifestyle and then spent several years depending on the generosity of Christian friends so that he could live a strict life of devotion (!). Also a recovering alcoholic who went on a marathon walk around the country to raise funds for a homeless charity but made no profit at all instead leaning on the generosity of a series of my friends who gave him free board on his journey. Good people but perhaps a little too much on the ‘mountain top’ of Christianity forgetting about those ‘in the valley below’.
Mind you they were in good company, even the Apostle Peter wanted to stay on the mount of Transfiguration forgetting that the mission of Jesus lay on a more shadowy hill outside Jerusalem and that there was a worried father and his sick son at the foot of the mountain who needed to be healed (Luke 9.37f).
This evening at our Lent Study Course we were listening to Loretta Minghella (the Chief Executive of Christian Aid) speak about how the God is worshipped by physical acts of service as much as by church attendance – the tin of baked beans given to the food bank is as much a prayer as the most joyful ‘Songs of Praise’.
It is a ‘both, and’ moment isn’t it? Physical service of the poor can, without prayer, easily become soulless self-satisfaction. But also spiritual worship without active service can be irrelevant. We must plan to have both as part of our journey home.
I enjoy times of close fellowship with God in places of solitude (especially Holy Island) where I can shut out the noise of the world and listen to the words of God’s beloved Son (Luke 9.35). But I also find him whispering to me in the hustle and bustle of the world – out on the streets of Ipswich with the Suffolk Police Night Time Economy Team – as I meet Him in the hands of those who I have the privilege to help (Matthew 25.40).
Love the Mountain Top, where it is easy to see Him, but also love the dark valleys of the world where His light shines the brightest.
Christian Aid has a saying ‘We believe in life before death’. Plan to give a little extra to a food bank this week, but as you hand over your produce remember that it is as holy to God as is the bread and wine you will eat for communion.
Hold the things of this world in such a way that you are not held by them.
Earthly goods must be possessed: do not let them possess you.
The things that you own must be under the control of your mind.
Otherwise if your mind is dominated by the love of earthly things,
you will become possessed by your own possessions.
Let temporal possessions be what we use,
eternal things what we desire.
Let temporal good be for use on the way,
eternal goods be desired for when we arrive at our journey’s end.
Gregory the Great in Pilgrim
To read more about the work of Christian Aid and why they have ‘we believe in life before death’ as a strapline go to this weblink.
All of the music on the video clips from YouTube is © Amy Grant. If you enjoy listening to her songs please consider buying her recordings. A full discography and other information about Amy can be found on her website http://www.amygrant.com
Scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America
Prayers from Pilgrim are copyright © 2015 Stephen Cottrell, Steven Croft, Robert Atwell and Paula Gooder.