The Summons–John Bell

The Summons is about the calling of all people to follow God’s call to become themselves more fully. To “care for cruel and kind” and to “never be the same.” In this song the call to service is one that is transformational–when we accept Christ’s calling to come and be where God is already, our lives are shaped by the experience. The last line of each verse also echoes the mutual nature of how God works in us and through us and through God we find our living, our moving, and our being.

The lyrics for this song come out of the Iona Community in Scotland where writer and musician John Bell lives and works. The music is from a traditional Scottish tune called “Kelvingrove.” Written in 1987, The Summons can be found in the United Methodist hymnal addition called “The Faith We Sing” number 2130.

the guitar chords:

E    Bsus C#m    A2    Bsus
E    Bsus C#m    A2 Bsus E
F#m    C#m    A2    Bsus
E    Bsus    C#m    A2 Bsus E

God of this City–by Bluetree

This is another example of a modern song that is born out of the difference between the classic “now and not yet”–the idea that things of the world now are not as they should be.

This song is written by Aaron Boyd of the band Bluetree from Belfast, Ireland. It has been made popular by Chris Tomlin and other worship leaders, but knowing the song’s context for me gives more meaning (see below for link). I prefer the stripped down, simpler version of this song for worship settings. (My general preference is for simple, congregationally driven worship songs/hymns.)

For me, the “city” in this song is more than just a single city, locality, or nation–it is the City of God that St. Augustine wrote about in the 5th century–it is a city of God’s people doing God’s will. That is what the kingdom of God looks like and that is what Jesus’ ministry began: the coming of God’s Kingdom. As Christians, we work together with all of God’s people to bring about the Kingdom of God– a place where broken people are made whole, hope is given to the hopeless, and God’s grace abounds.

This song reminds us that there is much to be done and greater things have yet to come. Jesus said this in John 1 to his disciples and we believe it still today: Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done to reconcile us to ourselves, us to each other, us to the created order, and us to God.

The story (& a much better recording) of the song is here.

Everlasting God–cover

If you take a moment to think about where and how you have experienced God–in a moment, a place, or an action–you may discover a touchstone or ordinance (religious rite) that helps keep you in love of God and neighbor.

This is a song by Brenton Brown/Ken Riley written using Isaiah 40’s words that those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and rise up on the wings of eagles.

The song also embraces the prophet’s (and God’s) desire for justice for those in need–the weak and poor. For me, these needy and weak persons can be both us who sing these songs in worship and those who are poor in other ways. In either case our salvation is tied up together–in helping save others lives (not simply ‘souls’ but a more holistic salvation) through mission and service and evangelism–we also receive God’s salvation.

This subject of “waiting” is a popular one in the prophetic literature and in the Psalms. But, this type of waiting is (in my opinion) not what some would call christian “quietism” in the sense of passive waiting upon God to act or speak. This was a popular doctrine in catholic and protestant circles in the 17th century.

John Wesley, the Anglican priest and father of Methodism, said that christians must “attend to the ordinances of God.” That is that people striving to follow the ways of Jesus should actively wait upon God by going where God is conveyed. (And yes God is everywhere, but the argument can be made that God is better revealed and made known to us in certain places, spaces, and actions. In this is we who need a change of venue or pace in order to recognize the God that is ever-present.)

If you take a moment to think about where and how you have experienced God–in a moment, a place, or an action–you may discover a touchstone or ordinance (religious rite) that helps keep you in love of God and neighbor. How do you keep that ordinance or touchstone in your daily life now?

As one of my favorite seminary professors Rex Matthews has said of our participation in God’s work–if you want to catch the bus, you go to a bus stop…if you want to hear from/experience God, go to where God is.

Many experience this place/space at church in worship, communion, singing, praying, in conversation with friends and family, or in other ways. Whatever/where-ever it is, find it and go to it often. This is what John Wesley was talking about–where and how do you find/connect to God and what God is doing in, through, with and, even, in spite of you?

It is in our “active waiting in that place/space/event that we find strength to live and move and act in the world in ways that express the Love of Jesus Christ God.

chords and words for Everlasting God

Video/music: “I Will Go” (cover)

After having several (ongoing) conversations with many people who tend think that all modern christian music has bad theology, and is all fist-pumping, empty rhetoric (although some of it is)–I’ve decided to start posting up some music (some of my own acoustic versions) I’ve come across. I hope that these songs/hymns will be helpful to christians who are searching for songs and hymns that have deep meaning, good theology, and good musicality for various types of worship.

The first of these is “I Will Go” by Jon and Tim Neufield–two brothers in a Canadian band called Starfield. This song addresses the need for christians to understand and heed God’s call to minister with the poor, the oppressed, and the broken–“the ones the world has cast aside.” My favorite lines (perhaps one I most identify with) come in the second verse: “Let me not be blind with privilege/ give me eyes to see the pain/ Let the blessing you’ve poured out on me/ not be spent on me in vain/ let this life be used for change.”

This is an answer to the ever-present question of “what do you do with privilege?” In recognizing and using one’s privilege to help those who have none is what God calls us to do. God calls us to go and join the effort that God is already making in places of need and hurt. As Starfield articulates on their website:

“We are so privileged, yet we’re so dissatisfied with our lives no matter how well we’re doing”, lead singer Tim Neufeld says. “There’s always this underlying pressure to be doing better, when the exact opposite should be the case. The pressure and call on our lives should be to live with less and give away more.”

May we live our lives in ways that allow others to fully live.

I will go – Chord Chart