Tuesday, April 29, 2008

teenage song

Came across this on the Pumphouse in my Good Blog Almighty list. Loving it!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Day of celebrating

Yesterday was a day of celebrations.

in the morning i led a service for the Boys' Brigade here. Each year the local battalion gathers at one of the churches to join in a service, and to be together for a time of sung worship and celebration. The nearby URC church hosted us, and 130+ people from the Brigade joined with the usual congregation of 25 or so - it looked like a coup!

We had a fun hour together, reflecting a little on how God has been using the Brigade as a tool for discipleship in the lives of young men, before considering what we might all do as we wait for the appearance of Christ again (this being the time between Easter and Ascension, then Pentecost - a great season to think about waiting).

I had fun, folks enjoyed it, and people went away thinking about how they might grasp God's passion for them and the world, God's power to live in a way that is distinctively that of a Christ-follower, and to know and be God's presence in thier own homes, workplaces, schools, colleges and neighbourhoods.

In the afternoon the celebratins intensified. As little while ago we had a number of offers of organisations wanting to come and do something with us, it reminded me a lot of the Festival of the Nations I'd organised during the Baptist World Alliance centenary congress in Birmingham. So we invited them all to come on the same afternoon / evening in order for us to celebrate the (limited-but-there) diversity in our church family.

We began with a performance from the African KidZing Choir Project from South Africa. A vibrant, moving, humbling and joyful explosion of colour, song, movement and life.

We had a good crowd of all ages (from 11 weeks old to very senior citizens) who seemed to enjoy themselves, and they also enjoyed the tasy international snacks we were generously given by folk from Friends International. I particularly enjoyed the tilapi fish, cooked to an african recipe, a reminder of good times eating together in Mount Pleasant.

After a chance to sample some wonderful fruit drinks from Fruto del Espiritu we settled down to hear from the wonderful singer-songwriter Gareth Davies-Jones.

In between the two sets, which were drawn largely from Gareth's latest CD Water & Light, we heard about the vision and purpose behind Fruto del Espiritu. I commend them to you, and urge you to consider how you might partner with them in helping columbian farmers out of the trap of growing coca leaves for the drugs lords and into growing healthy produce all year round that would provide them a better life.

A long day, but one that left a good taste in the mouth in more ways than one!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Remembering Dr King

Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Revd Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, and this is the last in a short series of posts that have sought to share something of his message, in places particularly timely for the situation we find ourselves in.

In meditating on his words these past days I’ve been acutely aware that often the words we read about and the descriptions of Dr King come from others. So today I share with you a quotation from “The Drum Major’s Instinct”; a sermon King preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia on the 4th February 1968, just two months before he was killed. Here we see how King understood himself, his faith, and his position as one seeking to see the kingdom of God - a kingdom of justice and love - established, strengthened and extended.

From “The Drum Major’s Instinct”,

Every now and then I guess we all think realistically (Yes, sir) about that day when we will be victimized with what is life's final common denominator—that something that we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don't think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, "What is it that I would want said?" And I leave the word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)

I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that's all I want to say.

If I can help somebody as I pass along,

If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,

If I can show somebody he's traveling wrong,

Then my living will not be in vain.

If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,

If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought,

If I can spread the message as the master taught,

Then my living will not be in vain.

Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, (Yes) not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Remembering King, part 5

This is part five of a series of postings reflecting on the life and message of Revd Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, in the days leading up to the 40th anniversary of his assassination on 4th April 1968.
Today I post two quotations from his final speech, the world famous “I have been to the Mountaintop” speech, giving us insight into the mind and faith of King as he reflects on the struggle for freedom, and as he is painfully aware of the threats against his health and security. These words were spoken on 3rd April 1968, the eve of His death.

Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee -- the cry is always the same: "We want to be

And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I'm happy that He's allowed me to be in Memphis.

Dr King’s final message ended thus:

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Remembering King, part 4

This is number four in a series marking the martyrdom of Revd Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, the 40th anniversary of which falls this coming Friday, April 4th.

The struggle for equality in Alabama continued and on March 25th 1965 a great march from Selma to Montgomery was organised.

Speaking to the crowd at the end of the march King addresses the question of “How long?” that hung in the air. Today’s quotation comes from that speech, and as I read it I have in mind the struggle to end extreme poverty, as well as injustices like Darfur, Palestine, Guantanamo Bay and some of our own detention policies.

I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth pressed to earth will rise again.

How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.
How long? Not long, because you still reap what you sow.
How long? Not long, because the arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

How long? Not long, because mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpets that shall never call retreat. He is lifting up the hearts of men before His judgement seat. Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him. Be jubilant, my feet. Our God is marching on.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Remembering King, part 3

This is part 3 of a special series this week, in memory of Revd Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, who was killed by men of hate forty years ago this Friday.

I guess the most well known of Dr King’s teachings come from three places, the I have a dream speech, the Mountain Top message and the Letter from Birmingham Jail. It would be incomplete to have this series without some of those great inspiring words, so today’s quotation comes from part of the Letter from Birmingham Jail.

On April 12th 1963 – Good Friday that year - King and some colleagues were arrested for staging protest marches in Birmingham, Alabama.

That same morning, several white ministers had written an open letter to King that had been printed in the local newspaper, calling on him to end the protests, and labelling him an anarchist, an extremist and a lawbreaker.

King's reply, a few days later on the 16th April 1963, from his cell in Birmingham Jail, was to pen the now-famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

It is a calm and measured response, that speaks highly of King’s humility, dignity and love. Instead of unleashing a torrent of justified rage and anger at the lack of support from the white churches, he issues a plea for understanding, fellowship and support.

In the middle of the letter he writes,

In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the Church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the Church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, grandson, and great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the Church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful – in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians of being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven”, called to obey God rather than man. Small in number they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary Church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church’s silent – and often even vocal – sanction of things as they are