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Light Relief

June 10, 2018
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‘To go in the dark with a light is to know the light’ ~ Wendell Berry

We will have to turn (or return) to poetry, but for now, more song (and dance). As we’ve been seeing and hearing, 2018 is a great year for new albums: George Ezra, Liam Bridges, Ben Howard, Tom Read, Roo Panes, and – I discovered recently – Ray LaMontagne.

I’ve done some research – by that I mean I’ve listened and re-listened to all of Ray LaMontagne’s albums to date from ground-breaking Trouble in 2004 to sky-soaring Part of the Light in 2018 (plus I’ve read a few articles, none of which blew me away like his music does, although I was delighted to discover in one of them that Ray Lamontagne is married to a poet) – and I have come to the conclusion I had already made: Ray LaMontagne is a musical genius and, for all his mellow musings, a ray of sunshine.

The title of his new album intrigued me. Now we only see part of the light. Rays of sunshine. No Answer Arrives.

‘Where is the light?’ It’s a good question, but it might not be the right one to ask. ‘Who is the light?’ might be a step closer to the truth. When he walked the earth, Jesus made a lot of claims, including this one: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12).

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are in need of rescuing – from the darkness within and the darkness without. In one of his letters, Paul, a follower of Jesus, writes:

‘He [God] has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’ (Colossians 1:13-14).

The lyrics of Ray LaMontagne’s title track can be read as a kind of prayer, responding to the call out of darkness into the light of life through following Jesus, who is the light of the world:

I want to be part of the light. Please let me be part of the light. I choose to be part of the light.

Elsewhere, Paul writes:

‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

This light that used to shine when Jesus walked the earth shines on in those who follow him, and anyone can join in the joy.

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From Eden to Paradise

May 22, 2018
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George Ezra has a new album out and it sounds like summer! The lyrics are sun-filled too, and got me thinking as well as singing along. In The Beautiful Dream, he asks, ‘Is the grass of Eden overrated?’ and in Paradise, he sings, ‘If it feels like paradise running through your bloody veins/ You know it’s love heading your way’. But one song in particular drew my attention – “Saviour” – which asks the penetrating question, ‘Being your own saviour/ Is it saving you?’ It reminded me of Kings of Convenience’s song I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From.

Being your own saviour, being someone else’s, is it saving you, is it saving them? Let’s be honest – we can’t save ourselves, let alone each other – ‘What I’ve got to give is not enough/ It’s a dark night’. Jesus says, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). Speaking of Jesus and imprisoned for his faith, Peter proclaims, ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). For more on this, see Too good to save it for later.

Sweet Refuge

May 15, 2018

Roo Panes has a new album coming out on 15 June (see http://www.roopanes.co.uk). Here is a sweet taster:

‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Wholeness

May 14, 2018
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This week is Mental Health Awareness week. At the weekend, I went to a conference on wholeness, which centred around God as healer (now and not yet) and the gospel of wholeness (shalom): ‘the good news of peace through Jesus Christ’ (Acts 10:36). The church is intended to be a community of mutual support, encouragement, and hope, both self-aware and altruistic, inspired by the gospel of peace.

‘He restores my soul’ (Psalm 23:3). Recommended: http://emmascrivener.net/category/blog/.

i am a little church

May 5, 2018

i am a little church(no great cathedral) – i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving (finding and losing and laughing and crying)children whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope, and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature – i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring, i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence (welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

e. e. cummings

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‘a perfect patience of mountains’, Slovenia, May 2018

 

For:giving

May 4, 2018

Leon Bridges has a new album out and it’s like summer came early! One song in particular speaks to the soul: Forgive You:

“After all we’ve been through it still hurts […]
I forgive you though my friends tell me not to
I forgive you even when it’s so hard to
Maybe we can get together someday
But I want you to know we’re okay, we’re okay
But I want you to know we’re okay, we’re okay.”

Forgiving is not the same as excusing; it starts with recognition that someone has hurt you and it is a decision to not hold that against them, to say not “that’s ok” but “we’re okay.”

What is so amazing about the Gospel is that God offers us the gift of forgiveness, and then gives us the “ministry of reconciliation”, freeing us to forgive others, including ourselves. Whether you believe this to be true or not, I’d really recommend this four-part podcast series on forgiveness:

1. The Forgiveness of God

2. Forgiving Ourselves

3. Forgiving Others – Why Should I?

4. Forgiving Others – How can I?

‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’ (Ephesians 4:32).

May Morning Has Broken

May 1, 2018
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May Morning.jpg_large

And lo, the young Month comes, all smiling, up this way!

(From “May Morning on Magdalen Tower” by J. Burgon)

Today is May Day Morning in Oxford, when Hymnus Eucharisticus is sung from the top of Magdalen Tower:

O Thee, O GOD the FATHER–Thee,
All worship, praise, and glory be!
Thy hand bestows our daily bread,
And that wherewith our souls are fed.

To Thee, O JESU–Thee, the SON–
To Thee, alone-begotten One,
Who for our sakes didst not abhor
The Virgin’s womb–our hearts we pour.

When Thou upon Thy Cross wast laid,
To GOD a willing offering made,
The hope of life first dawned below–
Our joy, our only Saviour, Thou!

To Thee, O HOLY GHOST–by whom
The Babe was born of Mary’s womb,
Both GOD and Man–to Thee we raise
The hymn of everlasting praise.

O THREE IN ONE, Who didst devise
Such pathway back to Paradise;
This mystery of Love be sung
In every age by every tongue!