The last step on this musical journey is a song that I didn’t know at all until I came to the parish – “Holy Overshadowing” by Graham Kendrick. Now I will confess that whenever I hear the name Graham Kendrick I immediately think of Shine Jesus Shine and , while I’m in the mood for confessing, I will also admit that this particular song is never going to make it into my top 10, or even my top 50! I know – shocking!
However as far as Holy Overshadowing is concerned I literally can’t get enough of it and in this season it has become an even greater source of comfort.
The image of protection and safety is one that speaks into so many hearts as we all do our best to protect not just ourselves, but our families, friends and wider communities.
The lyrics of the song conjure up a picture of a dove, wings outspread, sheltering it’s young as they snuggle into the soft feathers that surround them.
In one of the prayers that I use at funerals there is a line that asks God to hide the deceased “under the shadow of your wings”, keeping them safe until they can be reunited with their loved ones. It is a line that often catches in my throat as I pray for God’s protection not just over the person who has died but also for all those who mourn their loss.
Those words are taken from Psalm 91 : 4 “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge” and the themes of this Psalm are very much present throughout Holy Overshadowing as it speaks of God as our shield, an image which also appears in Psalm 3:3 “But you Lord are a shield around me, the glory, the One who lifts my head high”
The lyrics are also a reminder of Jesus’s words in Matthew’s Gospel: 11 28-30 “ Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest . Take my yoke upon you and learn from me , for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”
All of these verses are ones that so many of us may find ourselves turning to as we seek to understand what God is saying to each of us in these uncertain times. They are verses that provide comfort and reassurance that God has the whole world in His sights, that He will protect us spiritually if we turn to Him and allow Him to carry our burdens.
I am sure we have all had the experience of those we know who don’t share our faith questioning how we can continue to believe in a God who has “allowed” this pandemic to decimate our world. Why doesn’t God protect His people from this deadly virus? After all many who have died have been Christians. When confronted by these arguments I am alway reminded of those who mocked Jesus as He hung on the Cross, calling out that surely if He was the Messiah he could save Himself from such a cruel death. But of course Jesus had to die in order to rise again, He had to suffer that we might live.
Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that this pandemic is part of God’s plan for the world, that He could put a stop to it if He wanted. That’s not how God works. That’s not the point of faith. Being a Christian isn’t a magic bullet that saves us all from the bad stuff.
But being a Christian, having faith in a loving God, does help us to bear the bad stuff, it strengthens us and enables us to have hope, to look for the light which is surely there however dim and far off it may seem.
As my reflections on music come to an end I’d like a share a prayer written by Rev Barbara Glasson, who is the President of the Methodist Conference, the words of which echo the themes of protection and safety that run throughout Holy Overshasdowing
“We are not people of fear:
We are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety;
we are people who pretor our neighbours safety.
We are not people of greed:
We are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us. Amen”