#SongInMyHeart · Amy Grant · Bible Study · Church of England · Felixstowe · Franciscan · Growing in God · Lent · poem · Prayer

With a Song in my Heart – Day 10

With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs

Day 10 – Saturday after 1st Sunday of Lent

 

To Listen:           And Can It Be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mISbGETVr84

And can it be that I should gain
an int’rest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain?
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
 

‘Tis myst’ry all! th’Immortal dies:
who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine!
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
let angel minds inquire no more.

He left his Father’s throne above so free,
so infinite his grace;
emptied himself of abut love,
and bled for Adam’s helpless race;
’tis mercy all, immense and free;
for, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine!
Alive in him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,
bold I approach the eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

From the Scriptures:

 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 31 They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 

(Acts 16v25-32)

To Reflect:

my chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

Yes, yes, yes!

Returning to Cape Town from Windhoek I knew that, as my beloved Amy Grant sings, Love Had a Hold on Me, and I was going to try my hardest to not let go of that grip on my life.

I found a new church community in which to grow.  God’s wonderful sense of humour led me to Christchurch Kenilworth.  A community that used to be part of the Church of England in South Africa but was being welcomed into the Church of the Province of Southern Africa so I could no longer argue about going to the ‘wrong’Christchurch Kenilworth church!  I just had to get on with it and start trying to grow as a adult Christian.  It was a church that had a large number of undergraduates from the University of Cape Town, a growing orchestra, solid exegetical preaching (everyone in the congregation bought copies of the Bible Speaks Today Commentaries to go with series of sermons), and all immersing worship that, even before I had heard about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, led me to occasionally raise a hand during hymns of praise such as today’s choices.

But it was not just about Sunday.  Living further down the Cape Peninsula, I often travelled into Cape Town Centre on a Saturday to volunteer in a Church run coffee shop, spend the night as a guest in a convent in Christchurch Parish (and there learn the joy of keeping a rhythm of prayer) then spend the whole of Sunday at church in the morning, shared lunch, Senior Youth Group, and then evening worship before finally going home to Vishoek.  I gorged myself on the Body of Christ and found myself growing deeper instead of just fatter.

It was a glorious time when I thought I was finding God when in fact God found me.

Hand raised in praiseGod found me in the gentle welcome of nuns who opened their home to someone who needed a bed.

God found me in giving me a group of friends to form a Bible Study group that led to a drama group that led to (I know it is very 1980s) Liturgical Dance.

God found me in giving me yet another vicar who went so far as to giving me a car for three weeks whilst mine was being repaired.

God found me out, and like Elijah on Mount Horeb, kept on asking, ‘Andrew, what are you doing here?’

I felt liberated and set free.

Set free from what?  That was easy. The picture I had grown up of the One Who Loves us Best as a God who was ‘out to get me’.

Set free for what?  This was not so easy.  A new career was going well.  My family was pleased with my achievements but, as David Watson famously said (one of the authors we studied at Christchurch) I knew that ‘The Best was yet to be!’

I learnt from the community at Christchurch the importance of being part of the Body of Christ. Much as faith may be attempted solo I have come to learn that Christian is a plural noun.  To be Christian means not just about having a personal relationship with God but having a living relationship with those around you in church, those at work, the creation, and even those who are your enemies.  We cannot walk this path alone.

dont go to church for othersMuch later as my journey embraced a vocation to following the footsteps of St Francis I stumbled across one of his sayings. 

‘It pleased the Lord to give me brothers’

Francis, God’s clown that he was, would have gone on and tried to live out the Gospel life by himself but God sent others to journey with him – Leo, Clare, Bernard – and generations of others.

We can sing the Lord’s song as a solo but it sounds much more beautiful when sung in a four-part harmony – preferably with a loud organ and orchestra thrown in.

To Pray:  

Free us from our sins, O God,
and may our sacrifices be of praise
to the glory of your Son,
our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

(Psalm 40)

 

To Do:

1)  Sing the hymns loudly the next time you are in Church

2)  Look around your fellow Christians, find the one from whom you are most distant and spend the rest of this Lent working to be closer to them.

 

Reprise:              O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

This hymn was also a favourite at Christchurch Kenilworth.  It is precious to me as it gave me the Name that I find most precious to use when speaking with our Beloved. ‘My dear Redeemer’, the One who is there to catch me when I fall, who calls me when I turn away, and who meets me in the darkest parts of my life and gently carries me back home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-dEfvz6Vms

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my dear Redeemer’s praise,
my dear Redeemer’s praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace,
the triumphs of his grace,
the triumphs of his grace!

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease,
that bids our sorrows cease;
’tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’tis life and health and peace. (x3)

He breaks the pow’r of cancelled sin,
he sets the pris’ner free,
he sets the pris’ner free;
his blood can make the foulest dean;
his blood availed for me. (x3)

He speaks; and, list’ning to his voice,
new life the dead receive,
new life the dead receive;
the mournful broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe. (x3)

Hear him, ye deaf; his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your Saviour come;
and leap, ye lame, for joy! (x3)

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
assist me to proclaim
and spread through all the earth abroad
the honours of thy name. (x3)

(Charles Wesley – 1707-1788)

Please Note:  These reflections are also published on my blog: suffolkvicarhomes.com on Twitter as @SuffolkVicar, and on my public Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin

If you would like them as a daily email please send a request to vicar@felixparish.com

  

Acknowledgements:

Prayers are adapted from the Psalm Prayers in the Common Worship Psalter. material from which is included here, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005

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, ‘With a Song in my Heart’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2022

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