Reflection preached at grAcce grouping Songs of Praise Service, Sunday 25th June 2017

It’s great to sing, and today we are enjoying singing some old favourites. It’s a ‘sacrifice of praise’ as one of the old hymns puts it. And I want to suggest, using Paul’s words to the Romans as our Bible text, that our song of praise is something we offer not only with our lips, but with our lives:

My life flows on in endless song

Above earth’s lamentation:

I catch the sweet though far-off hymn

That hails a new creation.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart

A fountain ever springing.

All things are mine since I am his!

How can I keep from singing?

What if we imagine our ordinary lives as are our song of praise?

In Eugene Peterson’s Message version Paul writes ‘Take your everyday ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to work and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering.’

We are very comfortable with the idea of worship being what we do in church …what we are perhaps less aware of us the idea that everything we do, everything we say is a sign of who are and how we put our faith into practice. ‘Don’t be so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.’ Roman culture had its many gods, its extremes of wealth and poverty, its casual brutality, its celebration of Roman citizenship and subjugation of everyone else. And this brutality is at enough of a distance for us to find it easy to see how a Christian, believing in One God, trusting in the lordship of Christ and not Caesar, sharing of goods in common as we see in the 2nd chapter of Acts and living by Christ’s  rule of love, including forgiveness and hospitality stands out as different from the Roman crowd. It is less easy to see that in our own culture there are also many false gods, extremes of wealth and poverty, reliance on things to give ourselves status and neglect of those Christ called the least of my brothers and sisters.

It is not easy to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land, but is it even harder in a familiar land? Paul reassures his readers that maturity in faith is not something we do by our own efforts. God brings it to us and does it for us, by the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Its not our song God brings us the tune and the words and the companions to sing with.

Our whole life is a song of praise, and we do not sing alone.

A few months ago, along with my sister Libby, I took part in a massive one off choir event with about 900 other people. We were singing Mozart’s requiem from scratch. We rehearsed all day and performed about 7 o’clock. There were some great singers there, who knew the piece really well, but even so the joy of adding my small voice to the great song is almost indescribable.

Just as there are different parts to sing to make a glorious harmony in a choir, in the church there are different roles as part of the body of Christ. ‘Each of us finds our meaning and functions as part of Christ’s body. As Paul does in the letter to the Corinthians he spells out some of the roles played by the different parts of Christ’s body: preaching, helping, teaching, leading, first aiding, working with the poor and loving. Above all loving.

Our daily life is a song of praise, our gathering together is to encourage and support and pray and envision, to work together to be the hands and feet and heart bringing God’s kingdom here and now.

Last Monday we held our first Come and Sing café in Ruchazie Church. We’re hoping this is something that will be offered by the grAcce grouping to the wider community as a place where carers can find a touching place with their loved one, a place of enjoying and sharing memories when memory is not working. One of the mysteries of the brain is that song lyrics or the words of hymns can still be found even when common everyday speech has become difficult. Our next café is on Monday 3rd July at 1.30pm, and if you have a neighbour or friend who might enjoy it please tell them about it. The Come and Sing Café, along with many of the inventive ways congregations are finding to relate to their communities is a form of hospitality.

Each of the congregations in the grouping is different, with different skills, gifts and experience. Our life together is a song, as is the life of each congregation and each individual within each congregation. Paul’s words of encouragement and provocation are to each and all. Full of grace let us love from the centre of who we are and let us encourage one another to persevere as alert servants of the Master: cheerfully waiting, not quitting in hard times, praying. Helping those in need; finding inventive ways to show hospitality. Let this be our song. Amen.

My life flows on in endless song

Above earth’s lamentation:

I catch the sweet though far-off hymn

That hails a new creation.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart

A fountain ever springing.

All things are mine since I am his!

How can I keep from singing?

Let us pray:

We sing when we are glad, when life is good and there are things to celebrate

And we give you praise Loving God, for all your gifts.

We sing when we are sad and grieving, when words comfort and friends stand together

And we thank you, Loving God, for your promise to be always with us.

We sing when we are angry at injustice, our voices rising to protest there is a better way

And we thank you Lord for the prophets who envision Your Kingdom way.

We sing when we remember, and the old songs connect us to those saints now with you

And we thank you for your promises of future and fulfilment.

We sing when we are alone and when we are together: you have given us a song to sing.

Help us to sing a new song, to be open to your leading and filled with your Spirit.

Let our lives flow on in endless song; let those who know us and meet us

Experience your grace through us

And all for Love’s sake. Amen. 
 

Contact us
The minister, Rev Muriel Pearson can be contacted by email:

Or 0141 770 6873

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Scottish Charity Number SC009874