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Mercy & Grace – Day 15

Better Halleljuah words

Mercy & Grace – 40 Days with the Music of Amy Grant

Day 15 – Friday 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

 

To Read:  

From the Scriptures:

You know how troubled I am;
you have kept a record of my tears.
Aren’t they listed in your book?
The day I call to you,
my enemies will be turned back.
I know this: God is on my side—
10 the Lord, whose promises I praise.
11 In him I trust, and I will not be afraid.
What can a mere human being do to me?   (Psalm 56.8-11)

 

From Amy Grant:                      “Better Than A Hallelujah”

God loves a lullaby
In a mother’s tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

God loves the drunkard’s cry
The soldier’s plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what’s been done
The silence when the words won’t come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries…

Better than a church bell ringing
Better than a choir singing out, singing out

We pour out our miseries… (repeats)

 

To Listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5kx3xqmg0

To Reflect:

When we come down from the Mountain Top we don’t stop praying; in fact living ‘in the valley below’ often provokes even more prayer.  But the prayer takes a different, difficult, and often questioning shape.  This is not the jubilant praise of the clear unclouded vision of the Transfigured Christ but the strangled whisper of the tortured soul whose heart repeats over and over again to a seemingly deaf God, ‘Why?’

If, as Julian of Norwich reminds us ‘All things shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’ why can’t things ‘be well’ sooner?  We pray daily ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done’ so why is it taking so long?  It is easy to understand the desertion of this deaf and callous God by people such as Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins when faced with such stony silence from a Deity who presumes omni-competence.

But, and I do not blame Messrs. Fry and Dawkins for their questioning, this view is the product of a schoolboy faith which sees God as some kind of über Headmaster waiting in his study eager to dish out a good caning to a recalcitrant creation.  A Mountain Top God who remains distant and refuses to ‘go down to the valley below’.

But wait; remember it is Jesus who calls the disciples away from the glory of the mountain to the grime of everyday life.  God does not remain remote from a broken world pontificating perfection to us but instead leads the way into the dark places of the world and participates in our powerlessness.

So it makes sense when Amy sings of this God, who loves so much that He joins in the mess we have made of His world. A God, who listens deeply to the tears of a mother, the cry of a drunk, and the plea of a frightened soldier more readily than the chanting of Cathedral choirs, sometimes.

Of course this is an easy counsel to give when your heart is not breaking with grief, fear, or shame – and some of us are fortunate enough to have been protected by accidents of birth and circumstance from the hard dark comers of life.  How do people cope when they are overburdened with things about which it is very difficult to sing a love song or pour forth a paean of praise?

Peanutd and soulful prayer

Some years ago a colleague and I helped to lead a series of funerals for people who were just too young to die.  In four weeks we had taken three funerals of people under thirty and then along came the tragic funeral of a six-year-old darling loving little girl.  As we solemnly led her coffin into church struggling with our own tears, we talked quietly as to how things do not get any easier but, and this is the hope in the darkness, they do get deeper.  And it is in the depths of despair that we find the greatest love. It is as if on those occasions when our cry is the weakest that God listens the closest.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness;   for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.  (Romans 8.26)

Words sometimes don’t work.  The One who Loves us Best (whom we name ‘The Word’) knows this and instead of speaking listens; to our tears, to our despair, and to the quivering of our frightened hearts. Then, wonderfully heals our hurt and turns the cacophony of our pain into the melody of heaven.

 

To Do:

The next time you cry, are despairing or frightened try to remember that God is always listening and, though it may be hard, open your trembling hands towards heaven and allow your pain to be joined to the angels’ song.

 

To Pray:

Christ is with me, whom then shall I fear?
Let the waves rise up against me,
the seas, the wrath of rulers:
These things to me are mere cobwebs.
I always say, ‘Lord, your will be done’;
Not what this person or that person wishes.
This is my fortress,
This is my immovable rock,
This is my firm staff.           (John Chrysostom in Pilgrim)

 

Acknowledgements:

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.

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