Those of you on social media may have noticed the proliferation of posts inviting you to name your seven favourite books, or the ten albums that have most influenced your musical tastes, or five photos of your favourite holiday destinations….the list goes on. Well as I am more than happy to shamelessly copy a good idea, I thought that this week my reflections would focus on some of my favourite hymns and worship songs, with an emphasis on how these speak into our current context.
So today I’m kicking off with “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky”. Those of you who were at my licensing nearly three years ago ( how time flies!) may recall that this was the opening hymn and I chose it because not only do I love the words and indeed the melody, but it truly reflected the call I knew that God had made on my life to come to serve this community. “Whom shall I send?” the lyrics say. Throughout my journey of discernment to ordination and onwards in ministry, these words have been on my heart as I listened carefully to whether it is in fact me that God is sending or am I actually answering the call I want to hear? How often do any of us undertake actions or say things that we convince ourselves that God is asking of us because thats what suits our purposes rather than honouring His intentions?
In this season of lockdown I know that I have struggled at times to truly hear what God is saying and to respond to that call authentically. I have convinced myself that God wants me to continue to rush around doing stuff rather than accepting through His grace that this can be a season of replenishment, of hearing afresh what God is saying to me. It has taken eight long weeks for me to even begin to open my heart to the knowledge that, for me, as for all of us, He is asking different things of me.
I know that some people have felt that their ability to serve God has been diminished because of the circumstances they find themselves in, that because they have been unable to go to the places where they normally serve God or do the things they have been doing faithfully for many years, they are in some way failing in their response. It is very easy to be disheartened, especially when the face to face fellowship and outreach into our community that we so value as the gathered church is no longer possible.
So I turn again to the words of this song. “Whom shall I send?” God still sends us, his beloved children. We may not be sent to physical places but the pastoral call to minister to others remains as strong as ever, through phone calls, text messages or even by putting pen to paper. I know how many of our congregation were thrilled to receive letters and pictures from our younger members!
“Here I am Lord” – we are still here, we are still followers of Jesus, He is still our Leader, our Saviour and our Lord.
(If you would like to have a listen and maybe sing along to this song here’s a link to one version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcxOkht8w7c )