New hymn: you made a universe so full of wonder

Really delighted to have two hymns in the new collection from Jubilate, ‘Hymns for our contemporary world’, which aims to resource churches in responding to some urgent and critical themes in contemporary life but which are not widely addressed in traditional hymnody. The first one has just been released, and explores environmental themes from a political, social and economic perspective. It can be sung to ‘Finlandia’ but has also had a beautiful new tune written especially for it by Peter Burton.
You can watch the lyric video, download the words and sheet music on the Jubilate website.

You made a universe so full of wonder, 
gave us a world to cherish and to hold.
But we have treated it as ours to plunder:
what you gave freely, we have bought and sold.
What you made perfect, we have torn asunder:
do not, O Lord, your healing power withhold.

In generous love, the pattern of your caring,   
we have been blessed with more than we could need.
But we have hoarded what was meant for sharing,
corrupting what you gave as fruitful seed;
and still it is your poorest children bearing
the cost of all our selfishness and greed.

We hear the voice that calls our generation,
the urgent cry of beauty scarred by pain.
Our lives must change in this and every nation
so prayer and action shall not be in vain;
we pledge to live in ways of restoration
until your earth is whole and good again.

Copyright (c) Ally Barrett/Jubilate
(as with all my Jubilate hymns, this is covered by CCLI so will need to go on your annual return).

“Safeguarding the integrity of creation” in children’s ministry

I’m hosting #Churchkidchat this week and, inspired by a great question from Sarah Green about how we might use less plastic in children’s ministry, I thought we’d focus our chat on the general area of making children’s ministry more environmentally friendly. There are a few directions this could go – here are some of them, to get us all thinking:

THE THEMATIC CONTENT of our children’s ministry might be focused on care for creation, sustainability, stewardship of the earth, delight in God’s world, which is identified as an essential aspect of Christian idenity and living in the Five Marks of Mission.

THE PLACE where we do children’s ministry might give us opportunities to engage with the created world in new ways, for example by holding sessions outdoors.  We might go a step further and reframe children’s ministry along the lines of wildchurch or forestchurch, intentionally inhabiting the place so that it is formative of our thinking and praying and action.

THE TIME when we undertake children’s ministry may also be an interesting thing to reflect on – we may or may not have the chance to explore ministry with children at a variety of times and days, but it the changes of the seasons and the relationship between dark and light, growth and decay, warmth and cold can still be explored if our children’s mininstry is taken out of a controlled environment and allowed to be shaped by the natural environment. There may be ideas we can encourage our church families to use at home, for those times when having group sessions isn’t practical.

THE MATERIALS we use can reflect our care for the environment in a number of ways: at a basic level it might mean involving fewer single-use items, less plastic, etc, but taking it on a stage we can also activitly encourage engagement with creation, whether or not the thematic content is specifically to do with the environment.  Just as using colouring pens to make art doesn’t mean our session is actually about the pens, we can also use natural objects (stones, sticks, leaves etc) as the materials for a session that is not explicitly about the materials we use. We may find, however, that using such materials helps us and our children to think and reflect and pray in different ways from when they are given pens to use.

Here are some of the ideas, questions, and resources that we talked about, captured from the twitter feed and put together into a pdf.

CHURCHKIDCHAT eco stuff twitter feed



Love life live Lent – Tuesday 11th March – care for the world

When we forget to switch off a light as we leave a room, sometimes it’s simply because the light itself seems so harmless.  The damage being done to the environment isn’t being done right there in my living room, it was done  somewhere far away as the coal burned to generate the electricity, and then further way still as that coal was mined from the ground.  We’re often better with our care for the environment when we can see the cause and effect together, but with so many of the problems of climate change and energy resources for the planet, the product that we have to treat more carefully is far removed from the process that brought it to us, and the environmental cost of producing it.

Someone said to me a while ago that if we really do end up, through economic and environmental disaster, with a new Dark Age, this time there will be no coming back from it.  If we reach a point when our post-industrial-revolution life is no longer possible (rather than just no longer sustainable) then there can be no easy industrial revolution to enable us to begin again, because all the coal that was easily reachable by pre-industrial means has already been mined.  The question was put to me, “Do we yet understand enough about how to generate power, and live more simply, so that we could begin again, but this time not destroy the earth in the process?”

Turning off a few lights may not, in itself, make the difference between the planet healing or the planet dying, but it’s a really good start, and more than that, it’s a way for us to get realistic about the connectedness between the lifestyle comforts that we enjoy and the cost of having them. It may make us value those comforts more, but also value more the raw materials involved in producing them and the planet that provided it all.