With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs
Day 28 – Saturday after 4th Sunday of Lent
To Listen: Knowing You
All I once held dear, built my life upon,
all this world reveres, and wars to own,
all I once thought gain I have counted loss;
spent and worthless now, compared to this.
Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you,
there is no greater thing.
You’re my all, you’re the best,
you’re my joy, my righteousness,
and I love you, Lord.
Now my heart’s desire is to know you more,
to be found in you and known as yours.
To possess by faith what I could not earn,
all-surpassing gift of righteousness.
Oh, to know the pow’r of your risen life,
and to know you in your sufferings.
To become like you in your death, my Lord,
so with you to live and never die.
Graham Kendrick (b. 1950), based on Philippians 3:8-12
From the Scriptures:
…I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Some people, whom I consider fortunate and blessed by luck as well as grace, are able to spend their whole lives in one place and just seem to grow deeper and deeper in their faith journey. Storms, both physical and spiritual, may come their way but life seems charmed and all that adversity does is bind them closer to where they are rooted from whence they are able to bear much good fruit.
Others, and with this I put both my hands in the air, seem to be tossed to and fro like flotsam and jetsam on account of world and local events, accidents of life, and (if I’m really honest) our own sin and that of others. I don’t think each of the times I have moved homes (33 at the last count) has been because of my own fault in getting something wrong but I do know that I am not a saint and occasionally I say and do things that I shouldn’t have. Whatever the reason, there may come times in our pilgrimage of faith when we need to move to a different place if ever we, or the people we serve, are to grow in Christ.
It is a charism desirous in all ministers to work out, as Jesus did in Nazareth, when you can do no more work where you are, realising that to remain stubbornly in the same place is not godly and prevents anyone from growing. This is hard for ministers and their families but it is part and parcel of the call to follow. In some church traditions terms of office are strictly kept and families are uprooted every five, seven, or ten years. Even in those were this is not the case the practice of a sabbatical is encouraged to reflect on the years past and the future call. Many of my friends have returned from a sabbatical with a renewed sense of vocation and, soon afterwards, it comes with little surprise they move to minister in a different place.
How do we cope with this constant moving around? It is not a phenomenon unique to clergy families, very few people remain in the same employment and live in the same place all of their adult lives. Many of us will know the feeling of realising that ‘What we once thought gain we now count as loss’, and have to leave behind precious places of worship, friends, fellowship and (as happens with refugees all over the world) even possessions and livelihood. When all that we have held dear has been taken away what do we hold on to?
Both of today’s hymns (and the extra song) remind us that faith is not about holding on to things but instead realising that we are held. Our Beloved’s love for us is so high and deep and broad and wide that nothing that the world, the flesh, the devil, or we can do will lead to our separation from God.
Yes, we will rail at God for not intervening in times of war, famine and flood.
Yes, we will curse those whose evil schemes bring pain and suffering.
Yes, (if we are honest with ourselves) we will confess that our own wilfulness and sin causes pain and separation.
And Yes, regardless of why we find ourselves ‘on the road again’ we will discover that, like the distraught and grieving disciples on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus walks alongside us, reminds us of our call, and breathes new life into us.
Lord, you hide your face
when we trust in ourselves;
strip us of false security
and re-clothe us in your praise,
that we may know you
as the one who raises us from death,
as you raised your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Sometimes things are ‘taken away’ from us because they are not healthy for our bodies or our souls. It is not too late into Lent to give up on something, a behaviour, an attitude, an addiction, and cling more closely to the One Who Knows us best.
After all Ash Wednesday is not just for the beginning of Lent….
Reprise: Great is Thy Faithfulness
This hymn is a more traditional version of Graham Kendrick’s ‘Knowing You’. A reminder from our forebears that God walks with us wherever we are and however we got there. Aren’t we the most fortunate of people to know this love and be given the opportunity to share God’s ever faithful love with others?
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassion, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou for ever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided,
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960)
No Lent words from me would be complete unless I referred to at least one song by Amy Grant. So Glad was her song that has kept me going forward every time things have not gone according to my plan. Thank heavens God is not bound by our poor navigational skills on the journey homeward
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
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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