With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs
Day 17 – Monday after 3rd Sunday of Lent
To Listen: There is a Redeemer
There is a Redeemer,
Jesus, God’s own Son,
precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Thank you, O my Father,
for giving us your Son,
and leaving your Spirit
till the work on earth is done.
Jesus, my Redeemer,
name above all names,
precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
O for sinners slain.
When I stand in glory,
I will see his face,
and there I’ll serve my King for ever,
in that holy place.
From the Scriptures:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying
‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’
5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6 Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
There is in contemporary Christian worship a genre of song that is personal, intimate and deeply moving that is called by those who should know better ‘Jesus is my Boyfriend’ music. This response to the worship of God by those who aim to live a life of faith saddens me. Over the weeks of Lent I hope my words and choices will show that there is, and there can never be, a hierarchy in the worship of the One Who Loves us Best. We should challenge any temptation to compare different forms and ways of worship. Worshipping God is not a competition!
This intimate form of song is not new.. Today’s song choices go back way before the Charismatic revival, though they were made popular by it. They are an outpouring of devotion that refuses to see Jesus just ‘descending on the clouds in glory’ but remembers that Jesus walks alongside us, has daily conversations with us, and (even though I find this sometimes very difficult to own) tells us of His tender love for us even, perhaps especially, in our darkest times.
These are songs sung by one lover to another. Bridal songs if you will. Over the years (perhaps because as a priest I am used to wearing a ‘dress’ to work) I have become more and more comfortable with the idea that I am part of the Bride of Christ. In my more fey moments I imagine standing before our Beloved at the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb wating for the first dance. He looks at me with love, draws me towards Him in an embrace, lifts the veil away from my face (I blush) and we kiss before we dance…
Is that too much? Is that ‘over the top’? Or is it just that we (I) struggle to find the best words to describe ‘Such Love’?
The language we use to describe God says much about the state of our relationship with God. In my younger years God was very, very distant yet threateningly all powerful and intimate moments were few and far between. Later, perhaps due to my naval background I was a ‘soldier of Christ’ and then a ‘fellow pilgrim’. Now I find formal titles don’t help – too often our language for God has reflected our fallen society rather than helped us be transformed. This has been particularly so when it comes to gender and using not only patriarchal but kyriarchal words for the One Who Loves us Best. So though I may find myself singing loudly ‘Jesus is Lord’ in my quieter moments I talk to the Beloved knowing He i does not want to ‘Lord it over others’ but instead wants to woo me and bring me closer, tying me to Himself with tender bonds of love.
For the moment the word Redeemer fits more comfortably than most as it allows me to nestle into the arms of the Beloved to find forgiveness and comfort, strength and guidance. We are allowed to have intimate moments with God. We are allowed to be soppy about our devotion. We are allowed to imagine ourselves being held in the Everlasting Arms just as a mother holds her baby. We are even allowed to say with humility and awe that ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’,
Who Do You Say I Am?
(after Mark 8v29
Father, Guide, Rock and Support.
Brother, Lover, all yet a part.
Mighty Wind and Powerful Storm,
Gentle Breeze and Warming Sun.
Death to Death and self and enemies.
Life to all, firm Friend to me.
Touch, Caress, and Steady Hand,
All the ground on which I stand.
All these things, yet more are You.
All I am not; I am in You.
(Andrew Dotchin – 29.iii.1990)
Lord our God,
bring your bride, your holy Church,
with joy to the marriage feast of heaven,
and unite us with your anointed Son,
Jesus Christ our Redeemer.
1) Sing a love song to God
2) Write down all the names you use to describe God and see if there are any you should add (or take away) to the list.
Reprise: Fairest Lord Jesus
Fairest Lord Jesus,
ruler of all nature,
Son of God and Son of man,
Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I honour,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.
Fair are the meadows,
fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine,
fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.
Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honour,
now and forevermore be thine.
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 to receive them as a daily email please send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.