Vocations Sunday hymns

It’s about to be Vocations Sunday (in the C of E, that is).  If you want a new-ish hymn for your service, how about one of these?  They’re all free to use – just help yourself (if you could attribute them to (c) Ally Barrett that would be great, but there’s nothing to pay! 🙂

This first one is about Vocation, ministry and mission, entitled
Hope of our calling

Tune: Woodlands
(it’s also in the latest version of Hymns Ancient and Modern)

Hope of our calling: hope through courage won;
By those who dared to share all Christ had done.
Saints of today, Christ’s banner now unfurled,
We bring his gospel to a waiting world.

Hope of our calling: hope with strength empowered,
Inspired by all that we have seen and heard;
This call is ours, for we are chosen too,
To live for God in all we say and do.

Hope of our calling: hope with grace outpoured,
From death’s despair the gift of life restored;
Our call to serve, to wash each others’ feet,
To bring Christ’s healing touch to all we meet.

Hope of our calling: hope by faith made bold;
To sow God’s righteousness throughout the world;
Bring peace from conflict, fruitfulness from weeds,
The kingdom’s harvest from a mustard seed.

Hope of our calling: Spirit-filled, unbound,
Old joys remembered and new purpose found,
Our call refreshed by sacrament and word,
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

This next one was written for the service in York Minster on 17th May 2014, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of women priests in the Church of England – anyone is welcome to use it, though. 
The tune is Londonderry Air.

Glory to God, the mother of creation,
in love you brought the universe to birth,
then gave your life to purchase the salvation
of all the sons and daughters of the earth.
Glory to you, for love that’s shown through history:
the warp and weft that patterns time and space.
By grace you’re known, yet known to be a mystery,
and we can touch eternity in your embrace.

Glory to you for calling us to service,
shepherds and stewards, messengers and priests,
we give ourselves in gratitude and gladness
as guests and hosts at your thanksgiving feast.
Our hearts exult in loving affirmation,
We sing with joy, your greatness we proclaim.
Your praise resounds in every generation,
Our souls with Mary magnify your holy name.

We are united, in Christ’s body dwelling,
one in the Spirit: wind and fire and dove;
one in the grace and hope of every calling,
to lift the ways of earth to heav’n above.
Through all our lives your power is ever flowing,
To show your work of love is underway;
Stir up your gift in us, your grace bestowing,
so we may speak and live your Word afresh today.

Finally, this hymn is based on the Ely Diocese Vision Statement
The tune is Guiting Power (Christ Triumphant, ever reigning).
It’s quite long, so would work as a processional/recessional/offertory

Gracious God, your love has found us,
bound us, set us free.
Take our lives, transform us into
all that we can be.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us to be Christ-revealing,
radiant with your light;
generous as a hilltop city,
visible and bright.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

 Call us all to live the kingdom,
active here and now;
Life affirming, world-renewing.
Church above, below.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us all in love discerning,
strong in word and deed;
sent, commissioned, gladly serving
all who are in need.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us as your loved disciples:
learning, growing, fed;
Send us out, as new apostles,
Leading as we’re led.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us deeply, touch our souls through
worship, prayer and word,
teach our minds to feel in echo
myst’ries yet unheard.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us, as you called creation
when the world began,
Guide our hearts’ imagination
to your loving plan.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

The call of Nathaniel

I love the story of the calling of Nathaniel. I love his sense of humour, and his honesty, wondering aloud whether anything good could ever come out of Nazareth (and we can substitute whatever place is the equivalent now!) but also his openness – he does, after all, come and see for himself.

But mostly I love the fact that Jesus picks him out, and seems to know him, perhaps even better than he knows himself.  There’s a painting of Nathaniel by a contemporary artist, in fact, which depicts Nathaniel under the fig tree  naked – a symbol that he has nothing to hide, that Jesus sees him simply for who he is, without pretense.

Undoubtedly, Nathaniel’s call by Jesus is very personal. And because being called is something that happens to us, personally, we might think of vocation as being a very personal thing in the sense of being about us as individuals, even a private matter.

But actually God doesn’t call Nathaniel in isolation.  One of the jobs I have done in the church is to be a vocations advisor – accompanying people as they reflect on their understanding of God’s purpose for them, so Nathaniel was helped by others to hear Jesus’ call.

Think for a moment about your own understanding of God’s call on your life – the purposes that he has for you. Now think about those who led you to be able to listen to what God was saying to you.  If you were Nathaniel, remember who was your Philip.  Remember those who were around you when you first heard the voice of the Lord speaking to you.  Give thanks for them, and give thanks for those who are alongside you as you hear his voice today.  Pray for them, and pray that you might be a Philip for those who have yet to hear, who have yet to follow.

This is true for us as individuals, and it’s true for us as churches.  It is when we listen together that we stand the best chance of hearing what God is calling us to do, and when we act together that we stand the most chance of being able to fulfil our vocation as God’s holy people for God’s needy world.  Often God calls us into something that we can do only when we do so together – and often that we can only work out we need to do when we do our working out together.

When churches work together (locally or nationally or internationally)  each church, through that church’s own life and witness and ministry, reveals something slightly different about what God’s mission is in this place, and how we as his churches might be part of that mission.  Just as Jesus’ disciples in their individual gifts and foibles each brought something unique to Christ’s earthly mission and ministry.

So one of the other things I love about this story of calling is the way that it (I think along with pretty much every calling story in the bible) illustrates that God calls unexpected and ordinary people – the fisherman, the tax collector…

I was once asked by someone if God called everyone, or if he only called special people.  I said, ‘God only calls special people, but everybody is special’.   There is a poem that I often use with my vocations people, which goes like this:

God sends each person into the world
With a special message to deliver,
With a special song to sing for others,
With a special act of love to bestow.
No-one else can speak my message,
Or sing my song, or offer my act of love,
For these are entrusted only to me.

If any of us fails to speak our message or sing our song or offer our act of love, then the world is a poorer place.  Each church also has its song, its message, its act of love – just as God graciously uses our uniqueness as human beings, and even our foibles and our weaknesses, as witnesses to his love and glory, so he also is willing to use the unique and special attributes of his many churches to reveal his love, if we will only let him!  Complete unity between all Christians may well be only a dream this side of heaven, but unity of purpose could be a reality, if each church is to fulfill what God is calling us to do in and for the world.

We – all of us together – are the body of Christ, and in the words of Teresa of Avila, Christ has no body on earth now but ours.  Ours are the hands by which he is to bless, ours are the feet by which he is to go about doing good, ours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on the world.

We can be those hands, those feet, those eyes, in the places where we find ourselves, and we can do it, through the grace of God, if we really are diverse in gifts, but one in purpose.  Amen.