I Am the Light of the World

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
When sages and the shepherds have found their way home,
the work of Christmas is begun.

I am the light of the world!
You people come and follow me!
If you follow and love, you’ll learn the mystery
of what you were meant to do and be.

To find the lost and lonely one,
to heal the broken soul with love,
To feed the hungry children with warmth and good food,
To feel the earth below, the sky above!

I am the light of the world!
You people come and follow me!
If you follow and love, you’ll learn the mystery
of what you were meant to do and be.

To free the prisoner from all chains,
to make the powerful care,
To rebuild the nations with strength of good will,
to see all God’s children everywhere!

I am the light of the world!
You people come and follow me!
If you follow and love, you’ll learn the mystery
of what you were meant to do and be.

To bring hope to every task you do,
to dance at a baby’s new birth,
To make music in an old person’s heart,
and sing to the colors of the earth!

I am the light of the world!
You people come and follow me!
If you follow and love, you’ll learn the mystery
of what you were meant to do and be.

– The text is based on the famous Christmas poem by Howard Thurman.
The hymn was written by Jim Strathdee in 1969, rev. 1981

Scottish Blessing

Be ye our angel unawares
If after Kirk ye bide a wee,
There’s some would like to speak to ye,
If after Kirk ye rise and flee
We’ all seem cauld and still to ye.
The one that’s in the seat with ye
Is stranger here than ye, maybe.
All here have got their fears and cares,
Add ye your soul unto our prayers,
Be ye our angel unawares.

– Scottish Blessing

Soup

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”
Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

(Untitled)

South African Blessing

Walk tall, walk well, walk safe, walk free
And may harm never come to thee.

Walk wise, walk good, walk proud, walk true
And may the sun always smile on you.

Walk prayer, walk hope, walk faith, walk light
And may peace always guide you right.

Walk joy, walk brave, walk love, walk strong
And may life always give you song.

The Alto’s Lament

The Alto’s Lament
——————————————————————————–

It’s tough to be an alto when you’re singing in the choir,
The Sopranos get the twiddly bits that people all admire,
The basses boom like loud trombones, the tenors shout with glee,
But the alto part is on two notes, (or if you’re lucky, three).

And when we sing an anthem and we lift our hearts in praises
The men get all the juicy bits and telling little phrases.
Of course, the trebles sing the tune – they always come off best;
While altos only get three notes and twenty-two bars rest.

We practice very hard each from hymnbook and the psalter,
But when the conductor looks at us our voices start to falter;
“Too high! Too low! Too fast! Too slow! – You held that note too long!”
It doesn’t matter what we do – It’s certain to be wrong.

Oh! shed a tear for altos, they’re the Martyrs and they know
In the ranks of choral singers they’re considered very low.
They are so very ‘umble that a lot of folk forget ’em;
How they’d love to be sopranos, but their vocal chords won’t let ’em.

And when the final trumpet sounds and we are wafted higher,
Sopranos, basses, tenors – they’ll be in the Heavenly Choir.
While they sing “Alleluia” to celestial flats and sharps,
The altos will be occupied with polishing the harps.

– Original Author thought to be Bob the Organist of Sutton Coldfield.

Commitment

Peanuts, the celebrated cartoon strip penned for so many years by Charles Schulz, had an episode that featured Lucy and Linus.
They were talking about a baby called Sally.

She is pictured crawling slowly round the room and Lucy, frustrated at the baby’s lack of progress, asks ‘When will Sally start walking?

Linus replies,‘Let her crawl;
once you’ve started walking
you’re committed for a lifetime.’

There are not many things that people will commit to for a lifetime now.
We might give a year or two to this hobby or that job,
we may devote time to living in a certain city
or even to a particular religion,
but so much these days seems subject to the
possibility of moving on to something else.

We are often reluctant to dedicate ourselves like this because we fear if we do so
then we might be losing out on something else, maybe something better.

But this is exactly what is needed if we are to make a difference in the world …
if we are to see any real change in ourselves.

Many people liked Jesus when it was easy and exciting, but he needed disciples who would still be loyal when things got tough. When a would-be disciple asked to go and say good-bye to his family before signing up for good, Jesus told him straight: No-one who starts following me and then looks back is ready for where I am going.

Tough words, I know, But in a world of seemingly infinite choices, we need the courage to make tough decisions and know that we will remain steadfast for a life time.

Dear God, all of us are tempted to look over our shoulder
To wonder with regret at what might have been
Give us the courage today
To start walking towards the future you have prepared for us
Help us to be faithful for the life-time of that journey. Amen.

– Posted by Craig Gardiner at Gathered and Scattered

Planting a Seed

One person plants a seed in the soil. Another waters it. We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. What we do may be incomplete, but is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

– Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador martyred in 1980

From Thomas Merton

The world and time are the dance of the Lord
in emptiness.
The silence of the spheres in the music of
a wedding feast.

The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena
of life,
the more we analyze them out into strange finalities
and complex purposes of our own,
the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and
despair.

But it does not matter much,
because no despair or ours can alter the
reality of things,
or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always
there.

Indeed we are in the midst of it,
and it is in the midst of us,
for it beats in our very blood, whether we
want it to or not.

Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget
ourselves on purpose,
cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the
general dance.

– Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours

Following A Rumor

What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge?

– Following a Rumor by Soren Kierkegaard

Service in Christ

We who have grown so filled with privilege and American overplenty, are called out of our big but weak lives into something more for the Kingdom. And it’s not a guilt trip, but a journey toward service in Christ.

As I understand it, too, there’s only one exercise that will transform ourselves, souls and bodies into Christly people. That excercise is the picking up of our cross.

This year, here are five ways to carry the cross and grow stronger in faith:

1. Forgive someone, even if they don’t deserve it.
2. Make a sacrificial gift for the work of the Kingdom.
3. Volunteer in the name of God somewhere.
4. Read a bit of the Gospel everyday.
5. Take on daily prayer for self, neighbor and world.

We are all awfully big not to be strong. But the strong one on the cross will help us change.

– The Rev. Samuel Gregory Jones (‘Greg’) is rector of St. Michael’s in Raleigh, N.C. and the bass player in indie-rock band The Balsa Gliders.