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URC Daily Devotion for Low Sunday

URC Devotions - Sun, 23/04/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion for Low Sunday table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Hymn: This Joyful Eastertide   

Rejoice and Sing 248 This joyful Eastertide,
away with sin and sorrow!
Our Lord, the crucified,
has sprung to life this morrow.

Had Christ, that once was slain,
ne’er burst his three-days’ prison,
our faith had been in vain;
but now is Christ arisen, arisen, arisen, arisen.


2 My being shall rejoice,
secure within God’s keeping,
until the trumpet voice
shall wake us from our sleeping.

3 Death’s flood has lost its chill
when Jesus crossed the river.
lover of souls from ill
my passing soul deliver.
  You can listen to the hymn by clicking here   Reflection A week on from the joyous celebration of Easter. It must be all over by now. Our Easter Eggs have been eaten – or at least gone down in quantity. School holidays are coming to an end. Back to the drudgery of normal life.

But this ‘Low’ Sunday is part of the Octave – the eight days that span the festival of Easter – and so it seems more than apt to be recalling for ourselves ‘This joyful Eastertide’. While a week on, our Sunday may not have quite the lift that we had on Easter morning, it’s right that we remember the joyfulness that comes from the narrative of Easter, shared in this hymn.

While the verses give us much to ponder in terms of our understanding of the Christian narrative, a pertinent reminder of the Easter story in the community of faith is seen in the chorus. The tense used here sets up for us the question of faith itself: if Jesus hadn’t been resurrected, then our faith would be in vain; but resurrection changes all of that. It seems quite clear, both in G.R. Woodward’s words and in the popular music setting by Charles Wood, that we are taken through a journey, not of doubt and uncertainty – even if the music suggests something along those lines – but rather of clarity and certainty. This isn’t a statement of doubt, but rather of resurrection joy and the evidence we have for our faith in a God ‘who once was slain’ and ‘burst his three-day prison.’

Musically, the 17th Century melody takes us in a slowly rising questioning of the story of Jesus until, almost dishearteningly, descending to the realisation that such questioning would show our faith was in vain. But the lift of the hymn comes in the soaring final line of the chorus where Christ’s resurrection is shown not only by the assertion of being risen, but by the gradual building of the melody (ironically by an octave) followed by the lyrical climax.

To consider this Easter carol a week after Easter, reminds us of the joyfulness of the resurrection, the importance it has in our faith, and the continued place such Easter joy has in our lives. So maybe we don’t return to drudgery and normality just yet, because ‘now is Christ arisen, arisen, arisen, arisen!’ Prayer Arisen Christ,
help us to remember that your resurrection was not a one-day event
but that it fills our every moment of faith.
In your compassion,
remind us of the power of the empty tomb:
  banishing sin and sorrow;
  waking us from our eternal sleep;
  giving us hope through death;
and that your joyful Eastertide lives in us each day. Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr Matthew Prevett is the minister of St Andrew's URC, Monkseaton. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion for Saturday in Easter Week

URC Devotions - Sat, 22/04/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion for Saturday in Easter Week table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Thine Be the Glory Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
endless is the victory, thou o'er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict'ry, thou o'er death hast won.


Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

Words: Edmond Budry (1854-1932), 1884;
trans. Richard Hoyle (1875-1939), 1923;
© 1925. World Student Christian Federation.
All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Music: Maccabeus
(adapted from the oratorio by Georg Friedrich Handel, 1685-1759) Reflection St Luke 24: 1-12  

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”  Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.  But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ This hymn perfectly displays the glory and brilliance of Christ’s resurrection. The first stanza discusses the power of the resurrection.  The women must have been terrified when the two men appeared out of nowhere.  We can imagine that we may have done the same thing that the women did, especially if their clothes shone that brightly that we were dazzled! 

The second verse tells Christ’s people to shed their doubt now that Christ has conquered the grave.  Not that simple, I hear you cry!  The women were not believed immediately, not until Peter had run to the tomb and checked things out for himself.  What he found – or didn’t find – caused him much wonderment.  Would we have had to run to the tomb to check things out?  How does this make us feel?

The third verse tells us to quench our fear now that the Prince of peace reigns. It states the assertion that all doubt has now been banished and that life is infinitely richer with Christ in our lives.  Christ’s assistance is sought to overcome all our adversaries and bring us into His presence, finally.
 
The powerful lyrics and the universally-liked tune, have led to the hymns’ enormous popularity.  It is a hymn for yesterday, today and tomorrow, and will surely stand the test of time.
  Prayer Jesus,
Hope of our hope and victor over death itself;
help us to behold God’s glory
and to commit our lives to you
in the certain knowledge that we can all overcome death.  
You are our beginning and our end;
in you we have the assurance that we are God’s people.  
Suddenly, we see the resurrection-splendour.  
You touch our lives and suddenly we are transformed.  
Turned triumphantly to face your light.  
The stone rolled away……the tomb empty.  
Life ahead, beginning now.  
Lord, give me the courage to reach out and take it.

  Adapted from a prayer by Eddie Askew. Today's Writer Ann Barton is the Facilities Manager of Church House. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion for Friday in Easter Week

URC Devotions - Fri, 21/04/2017 - 06:00
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Church Hymnary 4, 430
Christ has risen while earth slumbers,
Christ has risen where hope died,
as he said and as he promised,
as we doubted and denied.
Let the moon embrace the blessing;
let the sun sustain the cheer;
let the world confirm the rumour:
Christ is risen, God is here!

Christ has risen for the people
whom he died to love and save;
Christ has risen for the women
bringing flowers to grace his grave.
Christ has risen for disciples
huddled in an upper room.
He whose word inspired creation
is not be silenced by the tomb.

Christ has risen to companion
former friends who fear the night,
sensing loss and limitation
where their faith had once burned bright.
They bemoan what is no longer,
they expect no hopeful sign
till Christ ends their conversation,
breaking bread and sharing wine.

Christ has risen and forever
lives to challenge and to change
all whose lives are stressed or damaged,
all who find religion strange.
Christ is risen. Christ is present
making us what he has been —
evidence of transformation
in which God is known and seen.
  Words by John L. Bell & Graham Maule © 1988 WGRG,
c/o Iona Community, Glasgow, Scotland.
www.wildgoose.scot

John Bell set this hymn to the tune Transformation.  It also works well to the truly foot-stomping Sacred Harp tune Holy Manna or the haunting Suo Gan Reflection We all have our own faith rituals and traditions. For me, Easter is not really Easter unless I have gathered to worship with others, at some point in the early morning, outside. On such occasions while much of the world around is still slumbering, the words of this Easter hymn hold particular resonance for me.

It speaks to me of God’s quiet work of transformation that goes on, almost unnoticed, like the bulbs silently pushing through the earth one day to burst into flower.

It speaks to me of the hope that the light of Christ brings into the world, which seemed so fragile, even extinguished on Good Friday, yet now shines brightly with the dawn of a new day.   

It speaks to me not just of an event which took place two thousand years ago when women went to the dress a grave, and former companions huddled in fear of the future, but of an event in which I share and participate every day.

‘Christ is risen, Christ is present, making us what he has been - evidence of transformation in which God is known and seen’. That gives me hope and courage in my own journey of discipleship, that others may come to know and see God through me, not because of my efforts but through the presence of the risen Christ with and within me. Prayer Risen Christ,
you are present with and within us,
filling us with your transforming power.
Make us willing partners in your work of transformation;
shedding light in places of darkness
offering hope to situations of despair
creating peace amid communities of discord
sharing love with everyone we encounter. Today's Writer The Rev'd Lindsey Sanderson is minister of the East Kilbride and Hamilton Joint pastorate in the Synod of Scotland and a tutor at the Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: Thursday in Easter Week

URC Devotions - Thu, 20/04/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: Thursday in Easter Week table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Christ is Alive, Let Christians Sing  Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
The cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
Love, drowned in death, shall never die.

Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
but saving, healing, here and now,
and touching every place and time.

Not throned afar, remotely high,
untouched, unmoved by human pains,
but daily, in the midst of life,
our Saviour in the Godhead reigns.

In every insult, rift, and war
where colour, scorn or wealth divide,
Christ suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives where even hope has died.

Christ is alive, and comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love, and praise.

Brian Wren © 1969 Reflection Despite knowing that Brian Wren wrote this hymn for Easter Sunday 1968, it is indelibly linked in my mind to the sight of the crosses on Brent Knoll every Easter week.   Brent Knoll is an outlier hill of the Mendips lying on the north side of the M5 in Somerset; the custom of placing the crosses there dates from the 1980s.

I love the unequivocal statement: “Christ is alive!” but the real attraction, to me, is the second line “The cross stands empty to the sky”.   In this country where our Christianity is so often hidden - people forbidden to wear a cross to work or mention, even in passing, faith - bold it is to climb the hill and place the crosses where they can be seen clearly silhouetted against the sky.

The Good News is contained in the simple statement “Christ is alive”.  We are reminded throughout the hymn that it is for everyone, everywhere and every when; it is always “here and now” and new life follows.  Christ, the firstborn of all creation, is not there, he is risen and alive.

Brian Wren altered the hymn several times.  Consequently, in an ecumenical setting don’t think you can hand out copies of R&S and Hymns and Psalms or Church Hymnary 4 and expect the congregation to sing the same words.   With apologies to Brian, I am rather pleased that Church Hymnary 4 retains line 2 of verse 5 as in R&S: “good news to this and every age”.   In publications later than 1988 it reads “New life in … “.  Without good news there can be no new life: if the Good News is not allowed to be proclaimed, how can it be heard and is it any wonder that we are short of good news?     Prayer Lord,
bringer of Good News,
help us to make that Good News prominent in this age
as it has been down the centuries,
through rejection and acceptance,
through prosperity and poverty,
through restriction and freedom.  
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Ruth Browning is a retired minister and member of Thornbury URC in Gloucestershire. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion for Wednesday in Easter Week

URC Devotions - Wed, 19/04/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion for Wednesday in Easter Week table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardBottomImageContent{ padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockInner{ padding-top:0 !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockOuter{ padding-top:9px !important; padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser The Day of Resurrection RS 246 The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
the Passover of gladness,
the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
from earth unto the sky,
our Christ hath brought us over,
with hymns of victory.

Our hearts be pure from evil,
that we may see aright
the Lord in rays eternal
of resurrection light;
and listening to his accents,
may hear so calm and plain
his own "All hail!" and, hearing,
may raise the victor strain.

Now let the heavens be joyful!
Let earth her song begin!
The round world keep high triumph,
and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen
their notes in gladness blend,
for Christ the Lord hath risen,
our joy that hath no end.

John of Damascus (ca. 675-749), ca. 750;
trans. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), 1853

Rejoice and Sing suggests the tune Komm, Seele for this.  You can hear this here.   However, the tune Ellacombe is also popular and makes a good alternative.  You can hear Gloucester Cathedral Choir sing the hymn to Ellacombe here. Reflection I rather like singing hymns that have stood the test of time and this one, from the 8th Century, is certainly that.  When set to the tune Ellacombe (found in Congregational Praise) one feels the joy the writer tries to convey within it.  

Its author, John of Damascus, is recognised as one of the Fathers of the Church and was one of its greatest poets.  He held an office under the Caliph and was not ordained a priest until quite late on his in his life.  The Victorian Anglican priest J M Neale translated this hymn into English as part of his ministry to bring into the life of the contemporary Church the richness of the past.

John of Damascus links the Old Testament idea of the Passover with the Resurrection.  The angel of death has not claimed us but Christ has “brought us over” into new life.  We are invited to see the Risen Lord and join our praises with that of creation as we praise the One who gave him new life.  

Often in churches we are rather embarrassed to get too carried away with Easter joy - we might shy away from some hymns which are joyful as we often seem to think we have to agree with every stanza (meaning there are very few hymns which are deemed theologically correct!) instead of recognising that we can appreciate how many writers experienced, and articulated, the truth of the Gospel.  

I wonder how we would express the truth of the resurrection ourselves.  I wonder how we would express our joy at Easter.  Would we use the words of the past or maybe write our own hymns of praise - or both?  How do we express the resurrection joy in our daily lives and witness to a world which sees pleasure as being more important than joy even though it’s much more transitory.  

In these days of Easter it’s good to join our praises with those of the Church in the past and to know that generations still to come will also praise the Risen Lord in their own age - perhaps singing this ancient hymn and regarding some of our hymns as being venerable which had lasted the test of time.  Who knows, maybe The Day of Resurrection will be sung along side In Christ Alone as the United Reformed Catholic Church of the future looks to honour its ancient past,   Prayer Christ our Passover,
you have rescued and redeemed us,
brought us over into new life;
increase our joy,
that we might sing your praises
in our hearts, with our lips and through our actions,
now and evermore,
Amen. Today's Writer Andy Braunston is a minister-elect in the Glasgow Southside Cluster and the co-ordinator of the URC Daily Devotion project. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Easter Tuesday

URC Devotions - Tue, 18/04/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Easter Tuesday table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser The Strife is O’er, the Battle done 
Rejoice and Sing 250 The strife is o’er, the battle done;
now is the Victor’s triumph won;
O let the song of praise be sung:
Alleluia!

Death’s mightiest powers have done their worst,
but Christ their legions has dispersed;
let shouts of praise and joy outburst:
Alleluia!

On the third day he rose again
glorious in majesty to reign;
O let us swell the joyful strain:
Alleluia!

He broke the ancient chains of hell;
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumph tell:
Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live, and sing to thee:
Alleluia!:
  Latin, 17th cent.
trans. Francis Pott (1832-1909)

This hymn is set to Palestrina's tune Victory.  You can hear the tune here.  You can hear the Kings' College Choir sing it here to an alterntative tune, Vulpius which is suggested as an option in Rejoice and Sing and is the given tune in Church Hymnary 4. Reflection Something happened at that first Easter!  Something happened that changed everything.  

We who, in wonder and amazement, still have living within us the gift of a mustard seed of resurrection faith, gladly shout with our Christian forebears, ‘Alleluia!’.  We are the 21st century’s witnesses to the joy of Easter.  

Today’s hymn was translated into English by J M Neale for his book ‘Mediaeval Hymns’ 1851.  Later Francis Pott’s translation became more popular.  The first firm evidence for the Latin original is 1695. In Europe the 1600’s were times of great tumult, violence and struggle. This hymn uses the imagery of battle, victory and triumph.  There are also echoes of mediaeval cosmologies, as the chains of hell are broken and the gates of heaven are thrown open.

But the hymn’s fundamental theme is as contextually relevant in 2017 as it has ever been.  Liberation!  Freedom!  Mortality is no longer an oppressive burden always on our backs ready to rob our brief span on earth of its vitality, purpose and security.

Yes, we die.  Those we love die.  Humanity’s inhumanity generates extra pain and anguish.  And yet, something has happened that changes everything.  “On the third day he rose again …”

In 2015 a ministry student died unexpectedly at the United Church in Papua New Guinea’s School of Theology and Mission.  Students and staff are from many different cultural groups within this diverse nation of over 800 languages.  Each of the country’s linguistic/cultural groups has developed its own custom in regard to death.  Belief in Christ’s resurrection imbues traditional forms with hope and new meaning.  But Christ’s resurrection does not produce uniformity.  

Opinions as to how to respond appropriately to this death were varied, and strongly held. ‘We should sing and dance because Christ has overcome death’.  ‘No, we should be quiet and serious because this is a very sad loss.’  ‘We should cancel all classes until after the funeral, out of respect.’  ‘No, we can be respectful and at the same time fulfil our responsibilities to teach and learn.’  Where there was inspirational unity, however, was in the practical, emotional and spiritual support the whole community gave to the student’s widow and children.  

Maybe our understanding of what God in Christ did at Easter is partial and varied.  Just maybe!  

But the power released by Christ’s resurrection, in and through frail human beings, is real and transformational.  So “let us swell the joyful strain:  Alleluia!” Prayer Lord, by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live, and sing to thee:  Alleluia!

As your 21st century disciples,
deepen the roots of our resurrection faith;
give us confidence as we face the reality of our own mortality;
give us comfort as we experience the death of those we love.
Help us, this day, to live as your free people, full of praise.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr Gwen Collins is a retired minister and member of Avenue St Andrews URC in Southampton. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion for Easter Monday

URC Devotions - Mon, 17/04/2017 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Christ the Lord is Risen Today!  Christ the Lord is risen today; Alleluia!
Let creation join to say: Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high; Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens; thou earth, reply: Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won; Alleluia!
Lo! our sun's eclipse is o'er; Alleluia!
Lo! he sets in blood no more. Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal; Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell: Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids his rise; Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise. Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious king; Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now your sting? Alleluia
Dying once, he all doth save; Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted head; Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise; Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies: Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven! Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given: Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection Thou!  Alleluia! Charles Wesley (1707-1788) Reflection After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
  St Matthew 28:1-10
Charles Wesley was perhaps the most prolific hymn writer.  Like many of his hymns, this one was originally far longer, but has been edited to be more helpful in the contemporary context.

Inspired by Wesley’s affecting poetry, may Christ be risen in us today, and may we look for him in the world around us.

May Christ be risen in us today as we receive the challenge and inspiration to be his new creations in this world.

May Christ be risen in us today, as we no longer look for him among the dead, because he is alive.

May Christ be risen in us today, the gift of life renewed within us.

May Christ be risen in us today, increasing his new life in our minds and hearts, and helping us to grow as his people, towards the fullness of eternal life.
    Prayer Risen Lord,
our strength and our redeemer,
the vacant cross and the empty tomb
vindicate your claim that the love which suffers
is the love which saves.  
So fill your people with joy,
and your Church with celebration,
that the world may know that your holy son Jesus
is not a dead hero we commemorate,
but the living Lord we worship.  
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Michael Hopkins is the minister of Farnham & Elstead URCs in Surrey and Clerk of General Assembly. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion for Easter Sunday

URC Devotions - Sun, 16/04/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion for Easter Sunday table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser St Mark 16:1-8 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.  And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.   They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?"  When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.   But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.   But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you."   So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Reflection “The greatest day in history, death is beaten, You have rescued me.  Sing it out, Jesus is alive…” So, Tim Hughes’ contemporary worship song.  Our (Western) calendar hinges on the birth of Jesus: the move from BC to AD, or BCE to CE for academics and secularists is centred on that event, even though we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born.

But the Resurrection surely ought to be far more important and the subject of much greater rejoicing.  In raising Jesus from the Tomb, our Heavenly Father declared that our last enemy, death, has been destroyed (see 1 Corinthians 15:26).  In the events of Easter, God redefined what it means to be fully human.  We need have no fear of death.

What a very different experience for the two Marys and Salome, though!  Read verse 8 again.  There is nothing of the joyous celebration that I trust you will share in today.  Their emotions must already have been in a whirl, just as we experience when someone close to us dies.  To find the tomb opened must have further distressed them.  Then to be confronted with this “young man, dressed in a white robe” who told them that Jesus was actually alive now – after they had seen the horror of the manner of His death…well, I can begin to imagine the utter confusion and panic they started to feel.

Have we made, through familiarity, the Easter story too tame?  I’m sure that’s what we’ve done with Good Friday.  But how much do we connect with the story of that first Easter?  What happened was so amazing, so revolutionary, that life will never be the same again.  Our life should never be the same again.  Allow God to speak to you afresh this year, to show you the magnitude of the change brought about as the means to our eternal life was provided.  And rejoice that God loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son, so that all who believe in Him may not perish but have everlasting life.   Prayer Life-giving, transforming God,
shake us awake this Easter Day.
Help us to see afresh through Your eyes
the huge price that You have paid for our sake,
to change us, to bring us a life truly worth living.
By Your Holy Spirit,
make us the people we need to be.
Teach us to be always thankful,
and help us put that lesson into action.
Transform us from the timid, the confused, the frightened,
into a Church renewed
and ever ready to be Your witnesses to the ends of the earth –
even in our own homes and communities.
Make us bold in sharing this amazing Good News of Christ crucified AND risen.
We ask this for the sake of Your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus,
who reigns with You, Father, and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever, to whom be all glory and praise.  Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Steve Faber  is the Moderator of the West Midlands Synod. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion for Holy Saturday

URC Devotions - Sat, 15/04/2017 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser St Mark 15:42-47      When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,  Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time.  When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.   Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.   Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.   Reflection

William Blake [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"Christ in the Sepulchre Guarded by Angels’ is a rather wonderful picture by William Blake, painted in sepia tones about 1805. In it Christ is laid out much in the manner of the 19 h Century, with a cloth tied around his head and jaw, on a long stone bed that takes up the whole of the bottom edge of the picture; the cloth and his shroud are dull white. The hems of the two angels’ robes touch the head and foot of the stone, and the angels rise, bending forward, hands together in prayer, their wings coming together to a point at the top of the picture so that Jesus and the two angels, form a tall triangle. The angels are white, and behind their heads and hands are, a brighter white glow emanates over the sombre background, their faces focussed upon Jesus.

What is special to me is the sense of peace that pervades the whole; the faces and posture of the angels gently make you pause.

This is Easter Eve, the day between the anguish of betrayal, trial and crucifixion and the joy of Easter Sunday; sometimes it seems as if we are like children on Christmas Eve, just wanting to get the day over to get to the happy part. However, I believe that we lose out if we don’t give this day the dignity it deserves. It is a day that states unequivocally that Jesus did die; he died, and was laid in a tomb with reverence by Joseph of Arimathea. It was real death; the Gospel is at pains that we understand this, for how can we enter into the wonder of the Resurrection without acknowledging the agony of loss? It is also a day of quietness; think about Joseph of Arimathea; the two Marys, the disciples, stunned, perhaps remembering together what was, as we all do after a death, and it’s maybe this that makes us uneasy about this day. In our present society in general, we avoid thinking deeply about death, or we are perhaps carrying the pain of a bereavement in our own lives.

This is a day when we can reflect safely upon the mystery of death, and discover the peace that Christ can bring even in our deepest sorrow.  Yet we make this day one of busyness – come on, the shops shut tomorrow! It’s a space to Get Things Done.

Well, work has to be done, but somewhere in the day, can you find some moments, no matter how brief, to reflect?  Perhaps go back to the passage above and try to enter into the feelings of Joseph, or reflect on the picture, if you are a visual person, and just look at it; there is so much within. Time enough to leap with joy; today, with Jesus, with the angels, find quietness and peace.   Prayer Loving Lord God,
in the quiet of this moment
we seek your peace
for those who, today, mourn;
for those who, today, are disturbed by injustice done to others;
for those who, today, long for joy and hope to fill their lives.
Help us all to live this day fully in your peace.
In Jesus’ name we ask it, Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Ruth Crofton is a retired minister and member of Waddington Street URC, Durham. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion Good Friday

URC Devotions - Fri, 14/04/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion Good Friday table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser St Mark 15:33-41 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’

There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. Reflection There is intense heartbreak in this passage and I fear that we simply don’t hear it or we try to explain it away.  We are becoming ever more desensitised to the cries of the desperate and dying because we see them all around us in films, on the news, in our gaming, and all over charity ads.  In the case of Scripture, we have, perhaps, made it all too ‘holy’ or have read it time and time again.

Whatever it may be that has lead us to this place of not hearing – stop and listen.

‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

This is the human cry that breaks open our mouths in a shout to heaven; when we have no strength or hope left, when there is nothing else to be said, when the Psalmist’s ‘valley of the shadow of death’ has given way under us and we feel completely alone.

This is our Good Friday ending before we can consider the light at the end of the tomb.

We must dwell here in the heartbreak.
We must remember the moments in our own lives that have led us to cry out to God.
We must take a moment to hear Jesus cry out again and again in the drowning migrant and war battered mother.
We must ask His question “why have you forsaken me?”

And yet. Yet.
Even in this moment of death when Jesus is at his physical, emotional and spiritual end, there are moments of compassion and love that speak of God’s presence.
Moments that say “Jesus you are not forsaken”.
Sour wine reached up on a stick.
The women watching on in pain and prayer.

Hopefully we have known those moments to.

Perhaps, as it is thought, Jesus quotes Psalm 22:2 as he cries out.
And just perhaps, in his mind as his voice fails him, he continues to recite that psalm.
And perhaps, hopefully, as he feels the last touch of human life, he will have known the words:
“To Him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before Him shall all bow down who go down to the dust.”

This could have been where I ended – but I fear I have done exactly what I shouldn’t have.
I have tried to find hope and love and compassion rather than to stop and live with the heartbreak.
I have made it holy.
I have done everything other than let Jesus death break my heart as it broke his.

There is no more that I should have said but this: ‘Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last…’   Prayer O God,
Sit with us in the darkness we pray
And grant us peace.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Martin Knight is the minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 13th April

URC Devotions - Thu, 13/04/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser St Mark 15:21-32 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry Jesus' cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus  to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.   And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.  It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.   The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”   And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.   Those who passed by derided  him, shaking their heads and come down from the cross!”  In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.  Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. Reflection St Ignatius practiced the reading of scripture prayerfully, dwelling on each word and phrase and simply sitting with it for a while before reading it again; allowing the Holy Spirit to prompt and reveal new appreciation of the words and phrases for all.

It wasn’t until reading this passage for today in this way that I was struck by people. People passing by, people bringing Jesus, people casting lots, people alongside, people in official positions. We often see the crucifixion visually expressed as three solitary crosses “on a green hill far away”. But there were people and lots of them. I wonder about them. Those who were active in moving the action along; manhandling Jesus and his possessions, carrying out familiar orders at the bidding of others.

I wonder about those people simply passing by; passing in their everyday life like such a horrific scene was normal, usual and maybe even acceptable. I wonder about those in authority; ridding themselves of a threat, a nuisance and a risk.

As we turn the corner towards the Cross, sharing in the final days of Jesus I hope and pray that we might find that people committing acts of horror in our world may be awakened to injustice and suffering one pair of hands at a time.

As we who are free from persecution, and blessed by so much, consider the scene and the people, may we not be people who pass by. Used to the horror we see on screens and in papers and blind to the ways we can make a difference one pair of hands at a time.

As we face the darkness of that day let us join as one voice in prayer for those whose authority today brings darkness to others this day.

We know with hindsight that a joyous time will come for Jesus and his followers but for today there is no final hymn of praise to send us out simply a call to consider, reflect and remember the people.  Let us be God’s people together.   Prayer Lord, we are your people.
Challenged to follow your instructions
to love neighbour as self and you
with all our passion, prayer and intellect.
May we find space in today,
on our journey to the cross,
to consider how we are your people in the world.
Prompt us, inspire us and guide us
to appreciate the uncertainty and bleakness of today.
Do so that we may reach those around us
who face bleak times.
But Lord, instil deep within us
that eternal hope you bring for we are your people
this day and everyday.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Carol Marsden is a URC minister in the South Lakes. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions in Eastertide

URC Devotions - Wed, 12/04/2017 - 11:00
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Dear <<First Name>>

I hope you continue to find the Daily Devotions a useful resource in your every day journey of discipleship.

As you know we have just returned to Mark's account of the Passion having looked at some hymns used at this time of the year.  Next week we will look at a range of Eastertide hymns and then we will look at Paul's views on resurrection as articulated in 1 Corinthians.  In May we will work through the Epistle of James and then we will look at 1 and 2 Timothy until Pentecost.  

I am often asked for information to put in church magazines in order to encourage people to sign up for the devotions.  I am grateful to the Rev'd Fiona Bennett, from Augustine United Church in central Edinburgh, who has designed a poster to promote the Devotions.  It can be downloaded and printed for your noticeboards, or turned into flyers to be given out in church.  The poster, or the text, could be inserted into a magazine.  You can download it by clicking here.  

I hope that, as we journey through Holy Week together, you find time to reflect on how God turns injustice, terror, pain and grief into joy, wonder, hope, and new life.

with every good wish


Andy


Andy Braunston
URC Daily Devotion Project Coordinator.

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URC Daily Devotion 12th April

URC Devotions - Wed, 12/04/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser St Mark 15:16-20 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort.  And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him.  And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’  They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him.  After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. Reflection The torture and mocking of Jesus is completely unnecessary.  He is a man condemned to die, and yet the soldiers in the governor’s palace can’t seem to help themselves.  They display all of the brutality and violence that the Roman Empire was famed for.  Empire can stand no rivals.  It depends on men like these to enforce compliance, even against a powerless man.

This torture and humiliation takes place in the courtyard of the palace.  We read nothing of a crowd, just a group of soldiers who gather their unit together and mock Jesus, already a dead man walking.  There is no compassion.  This Jesus has dared to challenge the Empire and people will see what happens to anyone who dares to do that.

These men are not us.  They are from a different time and place.  And yet we know that this behaviour is never far from the surface of humanity.  We know that left to our own devices and given the right conditions it doesn’t take much for us to become the people who mock and spit and even resort to violence.  Waterboarding.  Rendition.  Solitary confinement.  Refugee detention centres.  They say a society can be judged on how it treats its prisoners. Prayer God,
You show us the way of peace
And yet we are quick to violence.
You show us humility
And yet we are quick to lord it over others.
You show us compassion
And yet we are quick to punish.

Forgive us.
Transform us.
Renew us in your image.
Amen Today's Writer Stewart Cutler is the minister elect of Stonehouse Church - a Church of Scotland and URC Local Ecumenical Partnership. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 11th April

URC Devotions - Tue, 11/04/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser We return to St Mark's account of the Passion.
St Mark 15:1-15  As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.  Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’  But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked.  Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection.  So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’  For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over.  But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead.  Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’  They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’  Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Reflection About 20 years ago I sat on a jury.  This wasn’t a particularly nice thing to do as you do feel a responsibility as the future of these individuals lies in your hands.

Our passage today is split in two - interrogation followed by condemnation.  I always find it staggering that Jesus said so little during his trial.  Although a person of few words myself, I think if I was on trial for my life, I would have plenty to say.  But Jesus doesn’t – why?  Did he think that by saying nothing he would be let off the hook?  Did he think his words and actions previously had said all he needed to say, so words were now superfluous?  Or was this an enigmatic silence, one which led Pilate to be ‘amazed’ and would leave those in hearing distance to fill in the blanks for themselves?

Who knows?  What we do know though is that those present had already made up their minds – there was only one outcome they wanted from this trial and that was guilty.

And after the guilty verdict they wanted to see Pilate don the black cap.

How easily we humans become swayed by those around us.  The crowd are encouraged to have an insurgent and murderer released.  Did they even know who this Barabbas was, or were they just swept along with the hysteria of the moment?  Pilate reluctantly does the crowds bidding, not wanting a riot on his hands.

Today, we live in similar times, 2016 saw the rise in the acceptance of hate speech and an increase in hate crimes.  Sections of the media can easily whip up their readers into a frenzy of blame and rage.  As followers of Jesus we are called to speak for those with no voice, to pray above the hate and to stay silent when there are no words.   Prayer ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you,
   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer’.
God of wisdom, give us the courage to speak out when needed; to stay silent when words are not helpful and the sense to know the difference.  Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Branwen Rees is the minister of Port Glasgow & Greenock East URCs.. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 10th April

URC Devotions - Mon, 10/04/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser At the Cross her Station Keeping At the cross, her station keeping,
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Where He hung, the dying Lord;
For her soul of joy bereavèd,
Bowed with anguish, deeply grievèd,
Felt the sharp and piercing sword.

Oh, how sad and sore distressèd
Now was she, that mother blessèd
Of the sole begotten One;
Deep the woe of her affliction,
When she saw the crucifixion
Of her ever glorious Son.

Who, on Christ’s dear mother gazing
Pierced by anguish so amazing
Born of woman, would not weep?
Who, on Christ’s dear mother thinking
Such a cup of sorrow drinking
Would not share her sorrows deep?

For His people’s sins chastisèd,
She beheld her Son despisèd,
Scourged, and crowned with thorns entwined;
Saw Him then from judgment taken,
And in death by all forsaken,
Till His Spirit He resigned.

Jesu, may her deep devotion
Stir in me the same emotion,
Fount of love, Redeemer kind,
That my heart fresh ardor gaining,
And a purer love attaining,
May with Thee acceptance find.

Words: Latin, thirteenth century;

You can here the tune here  or you might prefer Karl Jenkin's stunning And the Mother Did Weep from his Album Stabat Mater here. Reflection This beautiful, touching, hymn – also known as Stabat Mater – is used as part of the “Stations of the Cross” liturgy and tries to put into words the stark horror Mary must have felt watching her son being put to death. Well-chosen words put to music stir our emotions in a way nothing else can and this hymn brings into sharp focus Mary’s heartbreak.  I have long thought that no words of mine could adequately describe what Mary must have been feeling that day. When Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart too – did she ever in her worst nightmares think that it would end like this? Her beautiful boy, her baby that the angel told her would be very special, this child she had carried as they fled to Egypt, the one she had nursed through childhood ailments – suffering such agony now, and Mary could do nothing. Standing helplessly watching – was she aware of anything other than the scream of her heart?
Which of us hasn’t held our children when they were suffering pain and prayed to be somehow allowed to suffer in their stead? And Mary – who showed such courage when she was asked to give birth to this child, her courage tested now to it’s very limit – waiting, watching, waiting - to be allowed to hold her son once more, to be allowed to take his body and prepare it for the tomb – to do this last thing for him, to in some way bring salve to her breaking heart.   Prayer Loving God,
you know us in our weaknesses,
forgive us when we are tempted to run from the difficult times,
when we turn from you in our distress,
we pray for courage to turn and face another day.
Amen Today's Writer Ann Honey is a Church Related Community Worker serving at Robert Stewart Memorial Church in Fenham. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 9th April

URC Devotions - Sun, 09/04/2017 - 06:00
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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser All Glory Laud & Honour
All glory, laud and honour
To thee, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring!   

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David's royal Son,
Who in the Lord's name comest,
The King and Blessèd One.

The company of angels
Are praising thee on high,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before thee went;
Our praise and prayer and anthems
Before thee we present.

To thee before thy Passion
They sang their hymns of praise;
To thee now high exalted
Our melody we raise.
    
Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.

All glory, laud and honour
To thee, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring!

Gloria, laus et honor, Theodulf of Orleans (c.750-821)
translated by John M Neale (1818-1866)
Rejoice and Sing Number
2018 Reflection As a young child, my family had the New Educational Press ‘Bible in Pictures’ book. It was not easily accessible for me to read, but it did have the most beautiful paintings in them, and I used to look stare at the faces of the people some jeering and sad, others laughing and joyful. The picture that reminds me of this hymn, ‘All Glory laud and honour’ takes me back to my childhood, when I turned the page and saw Jesus riding on a white donkey and the people, men, women and children were joyful and waving palm branches.

This Palm Sunday hymn will be familiar for many people throughout the Christian world and will  probably sing this hymn on Palm Sunday. The writer of this ancient hymn, Theodulf of Orleans, approx 820 AD, based the hymn on Matthew 21:1-11 and the occasion of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Theodulf had been arrested and was in prison when he wrote this Hymn of Praise, and then Louis the Pious, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire at the time, heard him singing this hymn in the midst of his imprisonment and was so moved that he released him, and proclaimed that the hymn should be sung every Palm Sunday.  

Looking at our world today, millions of people are imprisoned and live with chains of different forms, chains of abuse, addiction, oppression, persecution and injustice. We may think that this ancient hymn is out of place in a world that seems far removed from its original context, but is it really?

Reflecting on the picture I saw as I child, I want to look at it again
Was Jesus focussing on the agony that was surely to come or on the laughter and joy on their faces?

Was he full of anxiety or love and concern for the people?
Did he hear the cheers, or did he hear the quiet Spirit praising God within him.    

Quite rightly we need to balance our Praise with a mirror up to the world, or as Karl Barth writes ‘Take your Bible and take your newspaper, read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible’
Hope is the key to singing this hymn, we know the end story of Jesus fateful week, but in the midst of hopelessness, a clear voice of hope was to be heard.

It is
  • Hope which makes our faith real,
  • Hope that God will equip us with gifts to help others in their desperate times.
  • Hope that one day the Kingdom of God will be seen in all its fullness
So yes, praise God not just on the mountain top, but in the dark valleys, for there we see the Risen Christ.   Prayer Lord
Be with me, as I praise your name in the midst of pain;
Be with me, as I praise your name in the midst of abuse;
Be with me, as I praise your name in the midst of injustice;
Be with me, as I praise your name in the midst of fear;
Be with me, as I praise your name in the midst of confusion;
Be with me, as I praise your name in the midst of death;
Be with me as I praise your name…. for ever and ever;
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Ruth Dillon is the minister of Fleet  and Beacon Hill, Hindhead, URCs in Hampshire. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 8th April

URC Devotions - Sat, 08/04/2017 - 06:00
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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser My Song is Love Unknown

My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend,
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need
His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!”
is all their breath,
And for His death
they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries!
Yet they at these
Themselves displease,
and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He
to suffering goes,
That He His foes
from thence might free.

In life no house, no home,
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb,
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say?
Heav'n was his home;
But mine the tomb
Wherein he lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend,
in Whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.

 

Reflection I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.  You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.  I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.   St John 15: 15-17
  This Passiontide hymn has been described as ‘almost painful in its emotional intimacy and humanity.’ Written in 1664 by Samuel Crossman, the telling of Christ’s story and ours reads fresh from the page, resounding with truth.

‘Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be’ God’s love has flowed into our hearts so that we might be inwardly changed to be more like Jesus. This is the hope into which we have been born – that the fickleness of the human heart is countered by the faithfulness of God.

This exquisite hymn with natural simplicity then claims Christ as friend. With my friend, I can be myself without defences; with my friend, I understand that I am a gift. Most of all with my friend, I see Jesus in warm companionship, and with the hymn writer I testify:

This is my friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend Prayer Lord Jesus,
On this eve of your triumphal entry
Deliver us from short lived alleluias.
Help us to ponder further, all that your love has accomplished,
Inspire us to call you friend – forever,
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Richard Church is is part of the ministry team at Islington URC and Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship). Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 7th April

URC Devotions - Fri, 07/04/2017 - 06:00
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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser When I Survey the Wondrous Cross When I survey the wondrous cross,
on which the prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down;
did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
spreads o'er his body on the tree;
then I am dead to all the globe,
and all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
  Isaac Watts (1674-1748) Reflection
May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14
  Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. Philippians 3:7
This might be Isaac Watts’s best known hymn – it certainly gives Our God Our Help In Ages Past a run for its money.  Isaac Watts might the best known hymn writer of our tradition.  It might be the hymn which the greatest number of our church members know by heart.  It might be indissolubly linked to the tune Rockingham in many minds (although those who were known as Primitive Methodists on Wearside sang it to the tune Job which you can hear here).  But what might it mean for us in 2017?

When I survey the wondrous cross, may I find the power of the cross to save me.  May I find the victor and the victim, who showed the extent of divine love, offered freely and without limit.

When I survey the wondrous cross, may I find both wondrous grace and mercy.  Not a license to do what I want, but freedom to do what I ought.  

When I survey the wondrous cross, may I find that divine love which is and will always be sufficient.  May I find eternal life: abundant, full, and free.   Prayer Lord,
your cross is open to the whole world:
it plunges to our depths,
and lifts us to your heights;
it reaches out to embrace all humanity.  
May we not set limits where you have set none;
may we not imprison your love in our narrowness of doctrine;
may your Church embody your love in its life,
and not lock it up within its walls.  
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Michael Hopkins is minister of Farnham & Elstead URCs and Clerk of General Assembly. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 6th April

URC Devotions - Thu, 06/04/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser We Turn to God We turn to God when we are sorely pressed;
We pray for help, and ask for peace and bread;
We seek release from illness, guilt and death:
All people do, in faith or unbelief.

We turn to God when he is sorely pressed,
And find him poor, scorned, without roof and bread,
Bowed under weight of weakness, sin and death:
Faith stands by God in his dark hour of grief.

God turns to us when we are sorely pressed,
And feeds our souls and bodies with his bread;
for one and all Christ give himself in death:
Through his forgiveness sin will find relief.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
(Tune  - Eventide)
Reflection In three days it will be the 72nd anniversary of the death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and theologian who has become for many a Twentieth Century Saint.

“It is not the religious act which makes the Christian, but the participation in the suffering of God in the world”. Bonhoeffer wrote both the poem, and those comments on its meaning, from prison in July 1944. 9 months later he was dead: hanged in Flossenburg prison just a few days before the Allied forces reached the town. His crime was complicity in the plot to assassinate Hitler. He wrote all his poetry from a prison cell, trying to make sense of a world in which the suffering of God, in the person of Christ, was the source of the forgiveness without which there is no peace.

A modest, scholarly, and largely pacifist Christian, he found out the hard way that there was no escape from the grim realities of the Third Reich, and trod the path of resistance with a heavy heart: violence was not in his nature. He was a reluctant saint and his poems and letters tell of his inner struggle to make sense of his troubled times and his place in them. “Who am I?” he asked, in another of his poems. The outward calm and compassion which impressed even his captors, hiding the inner turmoil as he pondered his fate and imprisonment and his determination to be a good pastor and Christian in a world gone mad.

His was a life which mirrored the suffering of his master, a life which gives strength to all of us in our times of fear and doubt. The best we can do in our own uncertainties and sorrows is  to share his prayer:   Prayer “Who am I?
Lonely questions mock me.
Who I really am,
you know me,
I am thine, O God! Today's Writer The Rev'd Peter Moth is a retired minister and member of Kenton URC in Newcastle upon Tyne. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 5th April

URC Devotions - Wed, 05/04/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle Sing my tongue the glorious battle                             
Sing the ending of the fray.                                         
Now above the cross, the trophy,                               
Sound the loud triumphant lay:                                  
Tell how Christ the world’s redeemer,                       
As a victim won the day.                                             

Tell how, when at length the fullness                          
Of the appointed time was come                               
He, the Word was born of woman,                           
Left for us His Father’s home,                                    
Blazed the path of true obedience,                             
Shone as light amidst the gloom.                               

Thus, with thirty years accomplished,                       
He went forth from Nazareth,                                     
Destined, dedicated, willing,                                       
Did his work, and met His death;                               
Like a lamb he humbly yielded                                  
On the cross His dying breath.                                 

Faithful cross, true sign of triumph,                           
Be for all the noblest tree;                                         
None in foliage, none in blossom,                              
None in fruit thine equal be;                                       
Symbol of the world’s redemption,                            
For the weight that hung on thee!                              

Unto God be praise and glory:                                   
To the Father and the Son,                                       
To the eternal Spirit honour                                       
Now and evermore be done;                                     
Praise and glory, in the highest,                                
While the timeless ages run.                                   

Venantius Fortunatus (c.530-609)                            
tr. john Mason Neale (1818-1866)  
                         Here proclaim the glorious battle
and the deadly conflict fought;
celebrate the cross, the glory,
and the noble triumph wrought,
as the world’s redeemer conquered
through the sacrifice he brought.

Since the work of our salvation
made for this necessity
that the manifold deceiver
be destroyed on Calvary,
so, from wounds the foe inflicted,
flows the certain remedy.

Cross of faith, among all others
none so noble, none so great;
not another in the forest
bears such leaves, or flowers, or fruit;
wood and nails become so precious,
bearing such a precious weight.

Towering Tree, now bend your branches,
let compassion, reaching wide,
soften all your normal hardness
as your nature is belied;
holding there the King of heaven,
gently tend him, crucified.

Praise to the eternal Father,
raise to the eternal Son,
praise to the eternal Spirit,
honour to the Three in One;
praise the love that has redeemed us;
publish all God’s grace has done.

Venantius Fortunatus (c.530-609)
tr. Alan Gaunt (1935-   )     Reflection Describing Christ’s mission as a battle has fallen out of favour with modern hymn writers. Previous generations had little hesitation in using military images when depicting Christ’s life and work, and the pilgrimage of the Christian. I suppose the use of such imagery was inspired by Scripture’s use of military terminology to describe God in action, as well as the apostle Paul’s analogies. The fact remains, however, that battle images in modern hymns are sparingly used.

The Passiontide hymn ‘Sing my tongue’ is a product of 6th century devotion, written (disputedly) by Venantius Honorius Fortunatus, sometime Bishop of Poitiers. Rhymed, translated and paraphrased many times over, generations have appreciated its bold imagination of the power of the cross. Surviving many cuts and amendments to suit theological objections, it has also been extensively abbreviated.- the ‘original’ Latin text had 10 stanzas. Of special note, and not just to the URC, the Alan Gaunt translation given in ‘Rejoice and Sing’ (see above) gives his selection of verses which breathe fresh insight.

Verse 1 starts triumphantly, urging Christians to extol Christ’s final victory over death and the cross; the victim turned victor, and ‘the world’s redeemer’. If this triumphalism seems out of place at sombre Passiontide ‘a striking dissonance’, it points to the forthcoming transformation of the cross as a symbol of shame and death, to one of glory. This hymn exerted such powerful influence on 13th century Thomas Aquinas that he used it as a basis for his Corpus Christi hymn ‘Now my tongue the mystery telling’.

The Neale translation selects verses which take us from our Lord’s birth to his crucifixion; his resurrection is implied rather than stated. Thus this Passiontide hymn might also be sung into the season of Easter. The 4th verse extols the life of the tree from which the wooden cross was fashioned - an unusual metaphor for 21st century minds. In bearing Christ’s body, the life of the tree is imbued with human senses, and becomes the tree of life for us. Those wanting to explore this metaphor further might consult the ‘Companion to Rejoice and Sing’.

The Gaunt translation (with his selection of verses) pursues the tree metaphor further in verse 4, appealing to the tree’s compassion, so that the naturally hard wood may hold the crucified Christ gently. Though this may be thought fanciful, it can exert a considerable emotional  pull on the reader (or singer). Both translations end the hymn with a Doxology.

Two tunes are often associated with this hymn: ‘Pange lingua’, based on a plainsong chant; and the equally haunting ‘Picardy’, based on a French carol melody. ‘Picardy’ is probably the better known of the two, but the effort of learning ‘Pange lingua’ richly rewards singers.   Prayer Gracious God
let your Spirit speak to us today
in the words and music of this ancient hymn.
May it encourage us to speak boldly of our faith
when it is required of us.
When we learn that our nature
and our environment are not separate,
but one in your redeeming work,
help us to accept the breadth of your love
towards us and your world.
Thus may all come to cry ‘glory’
and worship you as we ought. Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd John Young is a retired minister in the Synod of Scotland and member of Giffnock URC. The Rev'd John Young is a retired minister in the Synod of Scotland and member of Giffnock URC. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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