Sunday, 18 October 2009


This morning I played the organ for one of the hymns at Nearest Church. I had help. Networking Organist handled all the complicated stuff with stops, because the organ has been undergoing repairs lately and I've lost track of which bits work and which bits don't and I'm not quick enough yet to adapt mid-phrase if I realise something is wrong.

It went well.

It's sort of preparation for a few weeks from now, when Networking Organist isn't going to be there and I'm meant to play for the entire service.

Then I went off to Leafy Suburb Church for their Harvest Evensong.

Harvest Evensong at Leafy Suburb Church last autumn was my first ever Evensong.

This evening the vicar asked if I'd like to do a reading. So I said yes, and had a look at the readings, and went for the New Testament one. The Old Testament one was a lovely bit of Deuteronomy but the bit about the strong hand and the outstretched arm always makes me think of Pesach and it was a bit dissonant somehow. So I read Philippians 4:4-9.

A year ago you would not have convinced me that I would be reading bits of the New Testament aloud to other people in the context of a church service.

I am very, very tired. And I have that not-sure-if-I'm-flying-or-falling feeling again, but it feels okay because I also feel very much held in the palm of God's hand. There's a lightness, a freedom to it, a sort of ticklish feeling.

Some of the words keep coming back.

Let your gentleness be known to everyone.

This is what I referred to yesterday in proclaiming the Gospel by deed and word. I'm not not NOT one for in-your-face pushy evangelism. Partly that's because I have such an uneasy relationship with scripture myself. Partly that's because I don't think it's necessary.

I do think it's possible to make the Gospel known by our words, without going all Bible-quoting at people. If I had to distill my understanding of the Gospel I'd whittle it down to "God loves everyone." And I think making that known through our words means speaking with love and care, even when we have to address hard truths. I have in mind a friend who I think manages to do this better than most, so that I think she must have spent quite some time learning it. It seems to me that she is always ready to point out something good in a situation, always looking for that which can be encouraged and expanded upon. She does not make pointless platitudes; she does not shy away from difficult questions for herself or others and yet she never seems to be attacking. I don't know if this is because of her commitment to truth or her commitment to kindness but I admire it greatly.

Making the Gospel known by our deeds, I'm sure I've discussed before, but I'll have another crack at it. If the Really Short Version is "God loves everyone" then the way to make that known is to treat people with love.

That is a very tall order. It is a very serious invitation.

I have to stop and sleep soon. But it seems to me that to treat people with love is a whole lot easier if you actually feel love for them. And how do you learn to feel love for people you might dislike, might feel threatened by?

I fail at this every day. But when I do manage it, it's because I remember that God created everything, and start looking for what is good r Godly in a person. I might only get as far as 'this is a human being created by God and so deserves my respect and care'. I might not get as far as that.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

That does seem to help. Apparently the "think about" is translation from Greek which could also be "take account of". Take account of what is true, honourable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy. Count your blessings, in other words.

Not bad advice.

I like that St Paul in his letters addresses people as "beloved" (or this translation uses that term). I love sitting in church and being addressed as "beloved" -- once or twice it has been a very stark reminder that I needed to hear. I discovered, today, that I also love reading that, speaking aloud to everyone there and realising that I am reading to people I love, on some level. Leafy Suburb Church is maybe a very easy place for that to happen because I do care very much for some of the people there, but it felt bigger than that. In English culture we don't like to use these terms of endearment, of familiarity, or admit that we might love anyone. There's this stiff upper lip to maintain, you know. But within the liturgy it is sort of okay... I like that.

I am wittering. It is time to sleep.

Goodnight, beloved.


Ernest said...


A very thoughtful and 'loving' post.

I actually think that on reflection that Paul's words:

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things".

Might well be applied to you - your posts display so much of these words.



Song in my Heart said...

Thank you Ernest!

Kathryn said...

I do so hope that one day I'll be among those who lay hands on you...your priesthood in the world is becoming more evident with every day, and it would be good if in the fulness of time it could also be exercised in the church.
Love and blessings as always

Song in my Heart said...

As previously noted, I'm not at all convinced that I have any vocation to ordained ministry, as opposed to the general being-a-light-unto-the-nations to which I think all of us are invited. At this point I'd be inclined to say that if I do have a specific role to play within the church it probably has more to do with music than priesthood.

But I've been wrong about where I think I should be before, so I'm just going to wait and see what happens.