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  • Friday Afternoon...

    ... and I am researching stuff around urban hymnody.  So, using my trusty HymnQuest, I did some keyword searches on









    Only the last of these failed to turn up any results!  it has to be said, that the ones with 'urban' and 'urbanised' were undoubtedly very worthy but not very singable in my view.


    But here is you little challenge...


    HymnQuest says it has 40,981 texts, so of these how many contain the follow words:





    Then, out of the following hymnals in use in and around my 'patch' which have the highest number of items with references to city/ies or town/s...

    Baptist Praise and Worship

    Common Ground

    Church Hymnary fourth ed.

    Mission Praise (complete extra fat edition)

    Songs of Fellowship (Books 1 - 4; bk 5 not yet in HymnQuest)


    Recognising that SOF and MP are substantially larger collections than the others, how significant is the numerical difference?  (That's largely rhetorical btw).


    If you have any of these books, and means of searching them electronically, now go and see just how these references play out and what they might say to town and city dwellers....


    Interesting stuff!


    I also came across a teeny work called 'Hymns of the City' which contains just 32 items... published by the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield.

  • Urban Spirituality

    Well, a week on Sunday I start my three week evening series on 'sprituality in the city', so I guess I'd better start reading the books I picked up on the topic!

    Today there is little in the diary, worship prep for Sunday as just about there, so I am planning to sit quietly and read a collection of essays called Spirituality in the City (ed. Andrew Walker, London, SPCK, 2005).

    My three week series is...

    An urban spirituality?

    Urban hymnody and liturgy

    Praying our patch (an urban prayer walk)


    Should be fun. 

    If anyone wants to suggest any resources please feel free (I have Crumbs of Hope, Clare McBeath and Tim Presswood).

  • Gye Nyame - Except (for) God

    One of the lovely things about our church community is its racial and cultural diversity.  This is reflected in some lovely African cloth used week by week in Sunday worship, by a wooden celtic cross, by the engraved 'white metal' communion chalices, and so on.  In my office I have one or two little objects brought back as gifts by overseas students.  Recently one of our students returned from a trip to Ghana and Nigeria with a lovely carved wooden symbol mounted in colourful cloth and bearing the words Gye Nyame - Except God.  Here is what the symbol looks like (photo from web):


    The beautiful, handcrafted banner is now hanging on the wall of the Gathering Place (and I am desperately hoping no-one nicks it!).  It seems to me a fantastic example of inculturation, a profound Christian truth expressed in a traditional Ghanaian carving - the supremity and sovereignty of God.


    As you view the symbol, I wonder what you see and how you react.  I am just thrilled to enjoy it, and hope others will too.

  • Defining a 'Good Day'

    Today has been a good day.

    Firstly, I managed to clear quite a bit of admin stuff

    Then we had fascinating and wide ranging conversations at Coffee Club

    Then I got so engrossed in my service prep it was gone six o'clock when I knocked off for the day

    Each of these is good, but it was the last that delighted me... it's been a long time since this happened; maybe my brain is finally returning to the levels I was used to.  Well I can hope.

    The icing on the cake... a gorgeous golden sun in the evening sky and the lightest, brightest evening for a long time.

    All in all a good day.

  • Cop Out Theology?

    Yesterday's PAYG centred on some words of Jesus including the famous saying “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt 9:37-38).

    This little saying has puzzled me on and off for as long as I've known of it - rather than getting on and doing the work themselves, the disciples are to pray for other people to do the work.  That, in and of itself is fine.  The disciples already have a task to do, as they learn from Jesus.  It is also fine in so far as it is far too great a task (even within the relatively tiny confines of first century Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, never mind the 'rest of the world').  Where it is not fine, and never has been, at least in my opinion, is when it becomes a formulaic response to every issue, ill or opportunity... 'please God will you raise up people with gift/skill X to do job Y...' which can leave me/us feeling very self-righteous whilst actually doing nothing.  It's the old 'here I am, Lord, send her'.


    In my late teens we used to sing this worship song with all earnest zeal of youth, whilst secretly hoping God would pick someone else to be the answer to our prayers:


    Here I am, wholly available;

    As for me, I will serve the Lord.

    Here I am, wholly available;

    As for me, I will serve the Lord.


    The fields are white unto harvest,

    But O, the labourers are so few;

    So Lord, I give myself to help the reaping,

    To gather precious souls unto You.


    The time is right in the nation

    For works of power and authority;

    God’s looking for a people who are willing

    To be counted in His glorious victory.


    As salt are we ready to savour?

    In darkness are we ready to be light?

    God’s seeking out a very special people

    To manifest His truth and His might.

    Chris Bowater (c) Sovereign Lifestyle Music


    To pray the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers, more missionaries, more evangelists, more aid workers, more "Christian teachers/police officers/lawyers/engineers/doctors" is a cop out, a biblically legitimated cop out, but a cop out nonetheless.  To pray, as we once sang 'here I am Lord, wholly available..." is theologically risky, because God might just say 'great, OK then...'


    I wonder, do we take the holy cop out, or do we pray the risky prayer?  God is seeking a very special people, willing to manifest (i.e. incarnate) truth and light... Whom shall God send, and who will go...?