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Mercy & Grace – Day 31

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

Day 31 – Wednesday after 5th 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:

30 The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34 Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ 35 The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.    (Luke 1.30-35)

 

From Amy Grant:               “Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song)”

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father you have come
And chosen me now
To carry your son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now

Breath of heaven, Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven, Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan

Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

Breath of heaven…

 

To Listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWo3qlqyW1c

 

To Reflect:

A Christmas song in the back end of Lent?  How come Andrew?  Well, some of Amy’s best music is Christmas music and it would be sad to not include any of it in our ‘playlist’ but also, coincidentally (I had not looked at the lectionary when I arranged the order of the songs) today is the Feast of the Annunciation.  It wants nine months exactly until Christmas and today I will join Mothers’ Union members from across Suffolk to celebrate Lady Day and Mary’s “Yes” that calls each of us to proclaim hope in dark places.

Amy’s words speak to a larger audience than frightened teenage mums-to-be; they are for all those who are shouldering heavy burdens.  How many people do you know for whom these three short lines are their daily, perhaps only, prayer?

Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

…or even how many times have words such as these been the only litany you yourself have used?  I know I can name more than a few times of utter desperation and desolation.

Doubt-and-Faith-–-The-Believe-Series-–-Pocket-Fuel-on-Frederick-BuechnerThey are odd words to put in the mouth of the one who was to be Theotokos, the God-bearer.  Surely she should be overflowing with hope and joy?  These hesitant words that Amy sings bring me closer to The One Who Loves us Best than any Magnificat re-worked into a Gospel story by a First Century liturgist (with apologies to St. Luke).  For in this uncertainty, this frightened lonely darkness, I see God being able to work anywhere.  And if God can work here perhaps God can even work in me.

In the book ‘Uncommon Gratitude’, Rowan Williams and Joan Chittister speak of ‘Doubt as the beginning of faith.’  Perhaps this is why this song speaks so deeply to me.  It is almost as if God sees my incapacity, my unsuitability, and even my sin as the foundation for a future faith.  Some days it is very difficult to say “Yes” to God because we know that He asks more of us than we can perform.  Those are the days when it is important to learn to give up on our “cant’s” and allow God to replace them with a “can”.  In fact this is essential – or else our faith becomes hubris and we forget that God tends to work His best miracles in earthen vessels such as you and me.  Praise be!

To Do:

Try to find a place today where there is a breeze and, sitting in it, consciously ask God’s breath to surround you and turn one particular area of your life where you “can’t” into a “can”.

To Pray:

The Holy Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console.  The Spirit comes to enlighten the minds of those who are open to receive him; and then, through them, the minds of others too.    (Cyril of Jerusalem 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.

EXTRA READING:

Something I wrote a long time ago that may still speak to some today…

 

How Can this Be?

(A Reflection on The Annunciation)

Such familiar words.

Fear not!

Greetings, favoured one.

Nothing will be impossible with God.

and

Let it be with me according to your word.

For a virgin girl child

In the footsteps of a barren old woman

Nothing is impossible with God.

To the hearts of young virgins and the hopes of old crones

The angel’s voice rings bright and clear

and life begins

and hope is born

and there is peace on earth.

But what of me?

Can life be born in a life worn out by life?

Can eternity dwell in a soul sold to sin?

Can this defiled womb be home to heaven?

How can this be, since I, am not a virgin?

In Nazareth a maiden’s heart jumps

and the unborn leap at the Seraph’s call

and I, hearing God’s words do not always sing,

but only sigh and weep in the silence of self-love.

How can this be, since I, am not a virgin?

How can this be for those worn by sin and over full with holy words

How can this be for those replete

with Shepherds and Magi,

Angels and Manger

Hearing the story year by year yet no longer listening.

How can this be, since I, am not a virgin?

Shepherds, poor and in need, run to find hope.

The wise, wealthy and all knowing, bow low in adoration.

And angels dance, and praise, and shine!

But I, over-used to the messenger of God,

Ponder and weep that this child will not be born in me today.

How can this be, since I, am not a virgin?

Can this ever be?

Gabriel stands again a greeting to impart.

This year can this be me?

Surely no!

I am no child full of life and innocence and hope.

Drinking deeply at the well of this world

I am found thirsty and empty,

childless and alone.

How can this be, since I, am not a virgin?

Yet still you knock at heart’s door and greet us all by name

Yet still you proclaim it is for us you came

Yet still you wait for our reply

A simple ‘yes’ that your work may begin.

It may not be with Shepherd’s glee

It cannot be with Angels’ trump

Yet here am I, virgin no more,

Broken and sorrowful, tired and torn.

Still, please,

let it be with me, according to your word.

© Andrew Dotchin 2005

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