Which are your favourite songs? This morning I was thinking again about Desert Island Discs, and specifically about the famous opera singer who chose seven recordings of herself singing, out of the eight she was allowed. In fact, the eighth piece of music was from a recording of an opera that she was in as well; she just didn’t happen to be singing on that one.
Most of us wouldn’t only choose songs like this, I hope. Perhaps we might choose someone else singing? What would our favourite songs say about us, and the things we find important?
A favourite song of mine (which you can listen to at the bottom) begins
The sun comes up, there’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing your song again
One of the reasons I am particularly thinking of this song as I write is that we have just had a glorious, sunny week, and it feels like spring is on the way. Of course by the time you read this, we will be a year on from when we were in the vicelike grip of the Beast from the East, so I shouldn’t be hasty. But the sun coming up prompts me to be thankful to God for the gift of every new day. Every day is worth singing about.
And every day is worth singing God’s song about, too. There are days when we really feel like singing, and others when we just don’t. Maybe we just got out of the wrong side of bed this morning, but perhaps life is really, really difficult for all sorts of reasons. The song recognises this, because it continues
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
We all have things happen to us which we might not want, and none of us knows, at least for this life, what the future holds. But because of everything that God has done for us, the singing is to continue all the same. In fact, it is to continue even in the toughest times of life:
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
We are always called to sing God’s song. I am so convinced about this, and I like this song so much, that I have attempted to learn it on the piano, which I can’t really play at all. It doesn’t sound all that great, and certainly not the equal of the Grammy-winning original. Yes, it won a Grammy! It also doesn’t match a world-famous opera singer. But when I do it, because I’m not brilliant, I am not delighting in the sound of my own voice. I am singing God’s song.
A couple of years ago now, I was watching BBC News and they were talking about a student who was having one of these wide awake brain operations that you may have seen on the TV. In fact, I am sure I have met someone around the villages who has had one themselves. The medics needed to get the patient to sing to test what they were doing to his brain. And I watched, captivated, as his croaky voice broke into the chorus of this same song:
Bless the Lord, o my Soul, o my Soul,
Worship His holy Name
Sing like never before, o my Soul,
I’ll worship his holy Name
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before us, we can always sing God’s song.
Please pray for God’s calling of a new Diocesan Bishop
Here is a message being sent around the whole Diocese ahead of a really important meeting tomorrow in the process of choosing the next Bishop of Norwich. Please do use the excellent prayer at the bottom over the months to come, but especially in the next few days and around 11th and 12th March:
The Crown Nominations Commission meet tomorrow (Tuesday 22 January) and on 11 & 12 March to discern who will be our new Diocesan Bishop.
They will be considering the comments, views and suggestions that have been submitted during the consultation process, and make the appointment if a suitable candidate is found.
The Vacancy in See Committee ask for the prayers of the diocese for all those involved in the process, and especially for the Crown Nominations Commission and its members.
Below is a form of words that we hope will be helpful:
Eternal God, our shepherd and guide, in your mercy give your Church in this Diocese a shepherd after your own heart who will walk in your ways, and with loving care watch over your people. Give us a leader of vision and a teacher of truth. So may your Church grow and be built up, and by your grace accomplish more than we can imagine, for the glory of your name, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Facebook tells us that last year's Christmas stones were everyone's favourite thing in 2017. Maybe this year's will be too! They are inviting you to #followthestar to come along to the Crib Service and find Jesus this Christmas, and they are going out around the village today. Will you find one? Don't forget to post a picture of your stones below!
Did you know that researchers have got really interested in the ‘Like’ button on Facebook? In case you are one of the lucky people who doesn’t know what I am talking about, it is a button you can click on if you ‘like’ what someone has posted. People have been doing some research about it, and have found that not only did Facebook spend ages working out which word they should use to make it most popular for people, but unsurprisingly that we are getting addicted to that nice warm feeling we get when someone clicks to say they like our message. When lots of people click to say they like our message.
There is another button you get on Facebook and Twitter (and others I am sure) which interests me even more. It is called ‘Follow’. I don’t know quite why you think they chose the word ‘Follow’, but it is important to me. It is the word that best describes the way I think God calls me to relate to Jesus. When Jesus chose his first disciples, of course they physically followed him from place to place, but they also followed his teaching, and tried to live according to it. They followed what he was doing, and tried to copy it. They followed him to the cross, and the empty tomb, and understood that that was to be the pattern for their lives. Following Jesus was, and is, an exciting and dynamic and lifechanging thing.
And that brings us to this Christmas, and the Christmas card you will have received with this magazine, inviting you to ‘Follow the Star’. Like churches all over the country, we are using this phrase to prompt you to think about what following the star to Jesus means. For many of you, that will mean joining us at one of the wonderful Christmas events you can read about in this magazine, in the card, or on our website, but the invitation goes further than that too. This Christmas you might want to do what the first disciples did, and think about what it means to follow and believe in Jesus’s teaching; to see what he is doing and try to copy it; to follow him through this life and into the next.
Every Christmas we have so many good things happening around the churches, and there is so much to enjoy and to like. You might even find yourself reflecting that you really like a certain event that we put on. It is easy enough to click on the ‘Like’ button when you see it advertised on our Facebook page, and you’ll make all of us at the churches feel very happy when you do. (And Facebook will notice you doing it, and keep sending you more of our stuff – hooray!) But for some of you this Christmas God is calling you into a deeper and more meaningful relationship than that. He’s pointing out that other button. That rather more challenging one. The one that says, ‘Follow.’
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