With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs
Day 33 – Friday after 5th Sunday of Lent
To Listen: The Web of Love
(Please note: I cannot find a recording of the ‘correct tune’ to today’s hymn but this tune is the same metre. Please sing the words yourself as you listen to the tune)
Of all that we enjoy
in harmony with heaven,
of all our hearts desire,
of all received and given,
we cherish most the web God wove
of costly and inclusive love.
Such diverse threads combine
in woman and in man:
Ruth pledged to Naomi,
David to Jonathan;
John laid his head on Jesus’ breast
whose feet a woman’s tears caressed.
And Paul, with special care,
chose poetry over prose
to celebrate how love affirms,
endures and grows,
believes the best, embraces pain,
survives through death to rise again.
God, make all Christians bold
to live and love by grace,
and nurture deep affection
in this holy place.
Help all believers to be true
to how you made them and to you.
From the Scriptures:
And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax-collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. 16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 17 When Jesus heard this, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
It was November 2019 when I visited London to go to worship in a Baptist Church. As Baptist Churches go Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church is a little bit of a game changer. It has been an inclusive community for many many years and hosts the Two:23 Network, a group of wonderfully gentle and inclusive LGBTQIA+ Christians where even Stale Pale Male vicars such as I find a welcome. Diverse Church Parents, a group I belong to meets beforehand and on occasion I have wept my way through the hymns, overwhelmed by the love shared amongst those whom many in the church condemn.
At this meeting John Bell from the Iona Community led one of his wonderful acapella song workshops and today’s hymn (If you know the correct tune please let me know) broke my heart. John also gave his testimony of ‘Coming Out’ which he did in response to the suicide of Lizzie Lowe (It is included in my blog here) and called the Church to stop bullying LGBTQIA+ Christians into silence and suicide and instead start welcoming faithful people who are in loving exclusive intimate relationships.
This was a costly thing for John to do and he follows in the footsteps of others such as Colin Coward, Jayne Ozanne, and Paul Bayes (former Bishop of Liverpool) whom parts of the church have declared to be anathema because they have publicly said that Love is Love.
I seem to have spent much of my life since ordination, like these good godly friends, sticking my head above the parapet to be shot at by people whose faith seems to be fuelled by fear, ignorance, and even bald hatred. It is not a comfortable place to live made even worse when Jesus says, ‘Come stand with me’. Then I remember that much of Jesus’ ministry happened on the borders of acceptable society. Both socially (he eats with sinners and tax collectors) and physically as he ministered in the region between Judea and Samaria (Luke 17v11). ‘On the edge of the inside’ as Franciscan Richard Rohr says, is not a comfortable place to be but it is were prophetic voices are heard most clearly and it is there were those who have been excluded will find that ‘All are Welcome’ in this in-between place.
Borderlands are not an easy place to thrive and flourish and so I pray for the day when the Church will be a place that can take as its motto the one we use in the Parish of Felixstowe ‘Open to God, Open to All’ and every rainbow child of God may find that when they enter a church building they are coming home.
In the face of Jesus Christ
your light and glory have blazed forth,
O God of all the nations;
with all your people,
may we make known your grace
and walk in the ways of peace;
for your name’s sake.
1) If your church does not already do so, suggest they join a group such as Inclusive Church.
2) Wear something with a Rainbow for all those included in God’s love but left out of the Church’s care.
Reprise: All are Welcome
This song has become an anthem of hope for those parts of the Church that seek full inclusion of all. Sometimes it is sung with joy, too often it is sung with tears, but it is also sung with hope for the dawn of the day when the Church finally realises that Jesus does indeed love ALL the children of the world.
Let us build a house where love can dwell
And all can safely live
A place where Saints and children tell
How hearts learn to forgive
Built of hopes and dreams and visions
Rock of faith and vault of grace
Here the love of Christ shall end divisions
All are welcome, all are welcome
All are welcome in this place
Let us build a house where prophets speak
And words are strong and true
Where all God’s children dare to seek
To dream God’s reign anew
Here the cross shall stand as witness
And a symbol of God’s grace
Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus
Let us build a house where love is found
In water, wine and wheat
A banquet hall on holy ground
Where peace and justice meet
Here the love of God, through Jesus
Is revealed in time and space
As we share in Christ the feast that frees us
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