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Open Space

August 11, 2018

‘My heart is an open space’ ~ Housefires

In many ways, August feels like an open space – a time to tie up loose ends, to type up thoughts, to tiptoe into new possibilities…

As we take the time to reflect on rest and refreshment, creation and creativity, seasons and Sabbath, here are a few resources which do just that: re-source, turning and returning our attention to the Source of Love and Life.

  • A verse from Scripture: ‘He brought me out into a spacious place;
        he rescued me because he delighted in me’ (Psalm 18).
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Sunburst

August 9, 2018
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The sun bursting with joy through the clouds
Shouts the glory of God out loud
The rays like hands lifted in praise
To the Ancient of Days

(Sunburst © RV, 06/08/2018)

Sunburst2

‘The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.’

(Psalm 19)

Join in the Joy

July 4, 2018
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Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of night
Oh, with You by my side, I’m stepping into the light
I choose joy

‘…for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8).

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, Leon 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 arrived on 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 can continue to shine in those who follow him, and anyone can join in the joy.

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/.