A hymn about safeguarding, of all things
I wrote this for someone who was planning a service to pray for all those who work as safeguarding officers. One sets out to write a hymn about this subject with a certain degree of fear and trembling. But here it is. As always, it’s free for anyone to use – you don’t have to ask. Feedback is always welcome, too.
The tune is Corvedale (that’s the triple time tune that’s often used for There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy).
May this place be one of nurture
where we all may come to know
how your endless love sustains us
as we live and move and grow.
May we work to build your kingdom
full of truth and light and grace,
living life in all its fullness
held in one divine embrace.
For our negligence and failures
you have called us to repent,
drawing energy for action
from the voices of lament.
As the secret hurts long hidden
may at last be brought to light,
may the truth unlock the freedom
that is every person’s right.
When the smallest child is valued,
and the strong empower the weak,
and each human life is hallowed
and the unheard voices speak:
then your justice stands like mountains
and your mercy falls like rain,
and you hold the brokenhearted
till they learn to live again.
So in gratitude we praise you,
and we lift to you in prayer,
all the people you are calling
to this ministry of care.
Give us wisdom, grace and courage,
holding fast to all that’s good,
seeing Christ in one another
we will love and serve our Lord.
St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
You can read a brief biography of St Vincent de Paul and the readings set for today (27th September), when we remember his life and ministry, here.
If there was ever a saint who matched their set gospel reading, it is Vincent de Paul: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
Vincent de Paul and his gospel reading invite us to look at others and see Christ, and not only to see Christ but to serve Christ – ‘just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ It is in so doing that we become more like Christ. The subjects take on the character of their king.
This means, though, that we must also look at others and see ourselves – this is something that I became real for me on a prison placement while I was an ordinand. It is in seeing the Christ in those in need or in those who we find difficult or strange or disturbing that we start to be able to see the Christ in ourselves, not only out of empathy (note the similarity between the gospel reading’s ‘I was hungry, I was thirsty’ and the #Iam solidarity hashtags that have been around since the Charlie Hebdo massacre) but out of an awareness of our common humanity, our common belovedness in the sight of God . We might think of the great commandments: ‘love God and love your neighbour as yourself’ for it is in love of neighbour that we understand what it is to be loved, and to see ourselves and our neighbour alike truly as beloved of God.
Meanwhile, if we, like Vincent de Paul, were to live out this gospel fully it explodes beyond the individual, and becomes a way for us to participate in the building of the kingdom of God, in which the chasms that are so often fixed in this world between the privileged and the not-priveleged might start to be broken down in preparation for the radical equality of the kingdom of God. What we do right now to join in with this work both brings earth nearer heaven, and prepares us for it.
This is how Vincent de Paul lived, and these are the kingdom values which we are invited, or rather commanded, to live out here in Westcott, in this city of Cambridge, and beyond.
Thoughts towards a homily on Luke 14.25-33
“Being with the Master is recognising that who you are is finally going to be determined by your relationship with him. If other relationships seek to define you in a way that distorts this basic relationship, you lose something vital for your own well-being and that of all around you too. You lose the possibility of a love more than you could have planned or realised for yourself. Love God less and you love everyone and everything less.”
To love God is to realise that you are held in the hands of God, along with everyone and everything else. That tends to put things in perspective.
Hymn about giving / money etc
That reading about paying tax to the Emperor sort of felt like it needed a new hymn (at least, someone suggested it did). So here is one, to the tune Bunessan (Morning has broken).
Here we are giving,
out of our plenty
fruit of thanksgiving,
tribute of love.
cannot stand empty,
grace from above.
Gathered as one, and
all that we are, and
all that we do.
Serving and caring,
praying and singing,
building and sharing,
offered to you.
Love beyond measure,
We are your treasure:
Made in your likeness,
imaged and fashioned,
life that is priceless,
valued in heaven.