With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs
Day 35 – Monday in Holy Week
To Listen: The Servant King
From heav’n you came, helpless babe,
entered our world, your glory veiled;
not to be served but to serve,
and give your life that we might live.
This is our God, the Servant King,
he calls us now to follow him,
to bring our lives as a daily offering
of worship to the Servant King
There in the garden of tears,
my heavy load he chose to bear;
his heart with sorrow was torn.
`Yet not my will but yours,’ he said.
Come see his hands and his feet,
the scars that speak of sacrifice,
hands that flung stars into space,
to cruel nails surrendered.
So let us learn how to serve,
and in our lives enthrone him;
each other’s needs to prefer,
for it is Christ we’re serving.
(Graham Kendrick – b. 1950)
From the Scriptures:
…James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to [Jesus]. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with,40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
If there is one problem that bedevils (and I sometimes think it is literally of the devil) the church and damages it’s witness it is that too many Christians, and especially Christian ministers are more like James and John than they would own up to be and nowhere near enough like Jesus.
It seems, and I speak out of my own failings, that it is all too easy to be concerned with status, rank, and privilege (being Rulers) and far too difficult to let go of the trappings of worldly success and give others the first place (being servants). To follow a ‘Servant King’ is the oxymoron at the centre of our faith and is also the task I fail at most frequently. I am not sure what it is that drives me (us?) to live contrary to the example of the One Who Loves us Best but getting servanthood wrong too often seems to be one of my key competencies!
In our patriarchal society I have found myself sucked into playing Alpha Male games and give in to my ego all too readily. I first read Eric Berne’s ‘The Games People Play’ in the 1980s, have read it several times since, and have yet to put all (or even most) of its lessons into practice. Over the past few years though I have learnt, and have the bruises to prove it, one truth that I have resolved to put before me each time I am tempted into playing ‘Bad Games’ and it is simply this;
In a battle of egos the loser wins.
This saying has liberated me from wasting time in many a pointless ‘game’ that generates more heat than light and gives a poor witness to the Gospel of God’s unconditional love. I have also seen that, as Screwtape notes in one of his letters, that the humility that comes from walking away can turn to pride and my ego runs rampant again. In church circles I describe this as ‘Little Jack Horner’ Theology. To help us out of this mess of our own making comes the sinner-loving, foot-washing, betrayer-kissing, denier-restoring, Servant King who turns our games on their head.
‘Do you want to be great?’ He questions the ever-eager Sons of Thunder, ‘You betcha!’ I can hear them reply. ‘Then remember this, true greatness consists in serving, for even the Son of Man came not…’
Dear beloved Redeemer, as we walk alongside you yet again in this holiest of holy times keep us close. Cover us with the tattered remnants of your robe and remind us that every wound carried, every insult borne, every last place taken, brings us closer to you as you draw close to us. Lord this week remind us as the hymn does, to put ‘self on the cross and Christ upon the throne.’ and walk humbly with you as you climb the hill of Calvary.
Sovereign God, enthroned in the heavens,
look upon us with your eyes of mercy,
as we look on you with humility and love,
and fill our souls with your peace
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1) Aim to ‘bite your tongue’ once a day this Holy Week. If you don’t manage to so try to make amends quickly for your words
2) The next time you are in the queue at a shop give up your place to someone else.
Reprise: You Satisfy the Hungry Heart
Writing these emails every day during Lent has meant listening to far more than the hymns and songs I have included in them. Every so often doing this I have come across a special song that I had forgotten. This is one of them.
As a priest I have the privilege of presiding at the Eucharist to bless bread and share wine. Over the last two years that privilege has been hindered due to the restrictions brought on the whole world by Covid-19. As we begin to find our feet again and communion returns to what it always was I look back and realise that even in the days when there was just bread to share, when only the priest was allowed to taste the wine on behalf of the congregation, when there was no communion at all, the Lord still satisfied our hunger. The Bread and Wine at the Eucharist help remind us of God’s nurturing us but, even with no physical sacrament, we still find our thirst slaked and our hunger satisfied.
You satisfy the Hungry Heart
with Gift of Finest Wheat,
come give to us O Saving Lord,
the Bread of Life to eat.
As when the shepherd calls his sheep,
they know and heed his voice;
so when You call Your family Lord,
we follow and rejoice.
With joyful lips we sing to You,
Our praise and gratitude,
that You should count us worthy Lord,
to share this heavenly food.
Is not the cup we bless and share,
the blood of Christ outpoured?
Do not one cup, one loaf declare
Our oneness in the Lord?
The mystery of Your presence Lord,
no mortal tongue can tell;
whom all the world cannot contain
comes in our hearts to dwell.
(Robert E Kreutz)
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