#SongInMyHeart · Bible Study · Church of England · Felixstowe · Growing in God · Lent · Prayer

With a Song in my Heart – Day 22

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

Day 22 – Saturday after 3rd Sunday of Lent

To Listen:                    Brother, Sister, Let me Serve you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQaOErUUjm8

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant, too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
fellow trav’llers on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christlight for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant, too.

 (Richard Gillard)

From the Scriptures:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion –
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

         (Isaiah 61v1-4)

To Reflect:

Whenever I hear this song I think about my friend Derrick Malele.  Now a retired priest.  When Derrick and I first met he was the gardener of one of our parishioners at St John the Divine, Belgravia and lived in the small outhouse that all suburban homes in White South Africa had for the ‘Boy – gardener’ or the ‘girl – maid’ to live in.  Derrick is a gentle giant and he cared deeply for his employer whilst at the same time helping to lead the worship for our ‘afternoon’ congregation (a euphemism for non-English speaking mostly Black parishioners).  He taught me much about leading worship in languages not my own and I was able to encourage him to realise his vocation to the priesthood.

dan soup belgravia soup kitchenApart from leading worship Derrick’s other passion was St John’s Ambulance.  He was a well-trained First Aider and led our team of people ministering to those living on the streets of Eastern Johannesburg feeding the hungry and binding up the wounded.  Every weeknight the vicarmobile, a clapped-out Ford Escort, was hitched up to a small trailer in which were four 25 litre cooler boxes full of steaming hot soup, 100 reject yoghurt cups that I had acquired from a printer I used to work with, and over 100 peanut butter sandwiches that Simon Nugubane our church caretaker, Rose Maseko, and occasionally our youngest son Daniel, had made during the day.

Before Belgravia gangrene was something I had only heard of in war stories and then only the First World War.  On the streets of Egoli, in the shadow of Ellis Park where Rugby was worshipped, we fed the homeless hungry soup and bread and Derrick tenderly dressed the sores on their feet and legs, all the while praying with them and encouraging them to visit the hospital before an amputation was needed.  Sadly this advice was too often ignored…

In his training to be a priest Derrick struggled to complete his preaching assignments as, in the morning congregation he needed to preach in English and, being of a Shangaan heritage, his home language was Tsonga.  In the end we gave up with formal sermon assessments and I simply asked Derrick to tell the parish about the wounds he had tended on the streets of the City of Gold in the preceding days.  His heart-felt testimonies meant he soon passed the ‘preaching’ module of a Diploma in Theology and went on to be Rector of his own parish in the eastern part of Mpumalanga Province where he was born.

Throughout history people involved in work, especially physical labour, have sung as they worked.  Often this is to provide a rhythm to their efforts, sometimes to teach us of how to execute tasks, and occasionally to remind us why they we are doing what we are doing.

fresh bread

In the journey of faith, especially in Africa, the work of God requires the song of the Angels.  Faith can be a long and hard journey and singing together helps us when the flesh is weak and our spirits are flagging.  Today’s song is one that I will sing out loud all by myself on the evenings in St John’s, Felixstowe when I arrange food for the guests who come to our Parish Pantry.  Singing praises to God does indeed, as an older hymn reminds us, ‘make drudgery divine’.

  

To Pray:

Compassionate God,
as you know each star you have created,
so you know the secrets of every heart;
in your loving mercy bring to your table
all who are fearful and broken,
all who are wounded and needy,
that our hungers may be satisfied
in the city of your peace;
through Christ who is our peace.

(Psalm 147)

To Do:

1)  Choose a ‘work song’  (or two or three) to sing when you are out and about helping the children of God.

2)  Before the year is over offer to help assist or support a charity working amongst the homeless.

 

Reprise:              Bind us together, Lord,

For the whole of my life in Holy Orders going back to my Diaconal year, my faith has been enriched by the love, care and generosity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christians.  Sadly, in many churches, they are still homeless outcasts.  The Gay Christian Community used to meet in Hillbrow (Johannesburg’s Red-Light District) and there supported each other in the faith and against the prejudice of others.  At the end of every service we stood, held hands as we formed a great big circle inside the church and sung of God’s love for all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHJJzD46-qU

Bind us together, Lord,
bind us together with cords
that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
bind us together, Lord,
bind us together in love

There is only one God,
there is only one King.
There is only one Body,
that is why we sing:

Fit for the glory of God,
purchased by his precious Blood,
born with the right to be free:
Jesus the vict’ry has won.

We are the family of God,
we are his promise divine,
we are his chosen desire,
we are the glorious new wine.

(Bob Gillman)

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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