“Imagining What’s Possible” New Hymn

New hymn based on themes from 2011 national meeting of the United Church of Christ (General Synod).

“Imagining What’s Possible” Hymn

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“Send Me God” Synod Photo Journal

Reflection and poems on attending the national meeting of the United Church of Christ (General Synod), summer 2011.

“Send Me God” Photo Journal

Each odd-numbered year, usually around the fourth of July, members of the United Church of Christ gather for a nationwide gathering to celebrate, plan and live out the gospel-life that binds us together in Christ. I have been to General Synod three times over the years, once as a seminary student, at which meeting I served as a technical assistant for a committee, and twice as an official delegate, first in 2003 (in Minneapolis) and again in 2011 (Tampa, Florida).

For the latter meeting, I posted a brief poem from the New York Conference delegation once a day for each of the five days of Synod. On returning, I added a summary of highlights and photos from the week to make a photo-journal as a report on the trip. The pdf here thus provides a window onto one pastor’s experience of attending the national meeting of our church. Quite an experience! (The theme of the week, “Imagine What’s Possible,” also inspired a new hymn, which opened the Fall 2011 Assembly of the Genesee Valley Association – see next posting.)

“Seek Not Light, But Water”

It seemed a title so compelling — “”Do not Seek Light my Heart, but Water” — and a prayer fit to make for life’s deep. So I came to adapt Miguel de Unamuno’s poem as a hymn, drawing on his imagery (from Spanish original) as closely as I could.

“Seek Not Light, But Water” Hymn

Set to the tune Coventry Carol, it may be used in seasons of waiting (Advent), of hope (Lent), of renewal (Earth Day).  It was set to slides in the attachment here for use at a United Church of Christ association meeting focused on faith and the environment (Spring, 2010).

Sacred Exchange (Franciscan Poems)

Sacred Exchange
Franciscan Poems and Prayers (pdf)

by William B. Jones

From the first Franciscan brother I met, doing AIDS ministry,
to Sabbath taken at St Bonaventure University in western NY,
to “pastoring peace” (& encouraging others) on war’s pursuit,
to arguing Francis’ & accepting Catherine’s counsel en route;
this is part of the “sacred exchange” Francis & I have made.

–William B. Jones, 2012

“God Believes in You”

“God Believes in You!”

When singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis made his debut performance in a nearby coffee house recently, I was delighted to be in attendance. A writer friend notified me of his plans to be in the area, but other than the fact that gospel singer Susan Ashton had covered a song of his, “You Move Me” (which, it turns out, Garth Brooks also recorded — shifting Pierce from “paying rent to paying a mortgage,” as he wryly noted in concert), I didn’t really know his work. So I turned to his website and found a discography with the lyrics of several of this guitarist/composer’s songs, including one entitled “God Believes in You.”

It’s a clever twist on the age-old question, “does God exist?” Beginning instead with “when you start to doubt if you exist,” his refrain reassures the questioner, that’s o.k: for “God believes in you!”

“Confounded by the evidence?

God believes in you.

When your chances seem so slim,
when your light burns so dim
and you swear you don’t believe in him,

God believes in you.”

 

(lyrics copyright Pierce Pettis)

 

I’ll let you go on to sleuth-out the rest of the lyrics and, go ahead, spend a whole $0.99 to download the song itself. I think you will find yourself drawn to yet more music by a person of faith who is, like most of us, drawn to the beauty of life lived in this world and yet painfully aware of its complexities too. In a world of broken debtors and freed prisoners, forgotten promises and unforgotten loves, oversized egos and under-committed Christians-in-the-mirror — “God [still] believes in you.”

 

There is more at play here than just a clever play on words, of course. Think what it would mean to hear these words spoken in refrain to you, when you need a word of hope, of encouragement, of reminder that you matter. “God believes in you.” To pick up, dust off, raise up another, even, with “God believes in you.”

 

It’s a pretty basic statement of faith. And maybe one we don’t hear or say enough of, even in church. Certainly not in the world.

 

Maybe we can make a morning reminder prayer of it’s basic refrain:

God believes in you
And breathes me into life today.

God believes in you
And gathers us as Jesus’ friends.

God believes in you
And leads in love to show the way.

God believes in you.
And gifts the world his grace again.

(words in italics added, Bill Jones, June, 2010)

mercy

mercy

“While I was in sin it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord brought me among them, and I showed them mercy. And when I left them, what had seemed to me bitter was turned into sweetness in soul and body.”

— Testament of Francis

Francis climbing down the fountain,
scattering birds, offering seed,
daring huddle lepers hidden
under centuries of need

here to find you wasting, spending
what in any case is lost;
all we have and have been given
to embrace within the cross.

“people living with AIDS” we say,
as if somewhere there were not
bleeding hands and souls and faces;
didn’t Jesus die the cost?

one day God let Francis down,
slip the bird-bath into free,
join fools enough to carry
brother, sister death to ease.

–William B. Jones

fidelity

fidelity

what is this water walking, Jesus,
blue-brushed sky lowering toward

squint to cross the deepening—
God, you have for us something more?

thought at last the dream to sleep;
light receding, gone the shore

when you sudden wake the storm;
stirring, pulling into more!

urging us step clear the net,
risking life your waves to trace,

promise should we falter reach us;
turn your gale-blown night embrace.

 

 

 

 

 

–William B. Jones, on Matthew 14:23-33
(from “Before the Amen)

 

 

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