Everything happens for a reason

1. Everything, Lord,
Happens for a reason,
Although I cannot guess
What it might be.

2. Everything, Lord,
Happens for a reason,
So I’m content:
You know what’s best for me.

3. Everything, Lord,
Happens for a reason,
And I trust that from bad
Good things can come.

4. Everything, Lord,
Happens for a reason,
So I can say, with Christ:
Your will be done.

References

1. How great is God – beyond our understanding! (Job 36:26; NIV).

2. “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11; NLT).

3. We know that in all things God works for good of those who love him (Romans 8:28; NIV).

4. Your will be done (Matthew 6:10; NLT).

Follow Christ

1. Lord,
Give us love for everyone,
And patience, each new day,
And faithfulness, so we may follow Christ,
Who is the Way.

2. Lord,
Give us joy, whatever comes,
And kindness, from our youth,
And gentleness, so we may follow Christ,
Who is the Truth.

3. Lord,
Give us peace within our hearts,
And goodness, free from strife,
And self-control, so we may follow Christ,
Who is the Life.

4. Lord,
Pour your Spirit on us all,
So we bear fruit, like Christ,
For then we will grow more like him,
The perfect sacrifice.

References

1. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12.9; NLT).

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NLT).

Follow me and be my disciple (Matthew 9:9; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).

4. I will pour out my Spirit upon all people (Joel 2:28; NLT).

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

By the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:14; NLT).

Ash Wednesday 2019

On Ash Wednesday 2019, I had a very unusual experience. I’d been unwell with a virus for several days, although I had still been able to potter around the house.

At about 9.30 in the morning that day, I was suddenly overtaken by a sharp, stabbing pain in my right side, just below the ribcage. It came again and again, with growing intensity, until, within a minute or two, it was continuous, and I couldn’t speak or move. My breathing became very shallow, and my lips, face, hands and arms began to tingle.

My husband immediately phoned for an ambulance, whilst I wailed and panted like an animal. I wasn’t afraid, just utterly overwhelmed by the intensity of the pain. I was sitting down, bent over the kitchen table, with my head turned to one side, so I could see the shopping bag he put beside me, into which he was quickly throwing everything I might need in hospital. I was fully aware that I could be dying, and saw how my soul would simply slip away, leaving behind the bag, my husband, the room, and everything I had ever imagined would make me happy.

The ambulance arrived quickly, and the staff were wonderful. They helped me to slow my breathing, and ran through various tests. All my vital signs were completely normal, although my pulse and respiration rates had been very high when they first arrived.

Gradually, the pain retreated, and I could speak again. They said it was a panic attack, but this didn’t ring true for me at all, as I have had countless panic attacks, and none of them in any way resembled what happened that day. After some discussion, we all agreed I could stay at home, as long as I saw my doctor in the afternoon.

The GP diagnosed an acute attack of pleurodynia (also known as Bornholm Syndrome, or Devil’s Grip), a chronic condition I have had for the last 25 years. Acute attacks are generally triggered by respiratory infections. However, even at its very worst, it has never remotely resembled what happened that morning. A second doctor thought it sounded more like a pleural rub, highly characteristic of pleurisy.

After two weeks of rest, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and steroids, I’m slowly starting to resume my normal activities. However, a troubling question persists at the back of my mind, though I hardly dare express it. The strange attack, which lasted three hours, felt exactly as if I were experiencing the moment when the spear pierced Christ’s side to ensure he was dead. So, was it a symptom of a physical illness, a spiritual experience, or perhaps a combination of both?

References

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out (John 19:32-4; NLT).

If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).

Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often (Luke 2:19; NLT).

Mystery

1. Thank you for the mystery
At the heart, Lord,
Of our faith –

2. That you sent Christ,
Your only Son,
So we can see your face

3. In bread and wine –
Communion,
Eternally with him,

4. Through whom we share
Your Spirit, Lord,
Who comes to dwell within.

References

1. This is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body (1 Timothy 3:16; NLT).

2. God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; NLT).

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9; NLT).

3. He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body” (Luke 22:19; NIV).

He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood” (Mark 14:23-4; NLT).

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, it it not the communion of the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16; NKJV).

4. We have all been baptised into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; NLT).

You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you (1 John 2:27; NLT).

We have the power

Lord,
We have the power
To establish peace on earth;
But we prefer to hurt and shun,
Forgetting your Son’s birth.

Lord,
We have the power
To abolish war and strife;
But we prefer to fight and win,
Forgetting your Son’s life.

Lord,
We have the power
To protect all who have breath;
But we prefer to dominate,
Forgetting your Son’s death.

Lord,
We have the power
To forgive, and make love reign;
But we prefer to hate,
Forgetting Christ will come again.

Lord,
We have the power
To let go of every grudge;
But we prefer to scorn,
Forgetting Christ will be our judge.

Lord,
We have the power
To perceive his time is near;
So why can’t we accept his call,
And build your kingdom here?

References

He will return from heaven (Acts 1:11; NLT).

The Son of Man will come […] and will judge all people according to their deeds (Matthew 16:27; NLT).

When you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door (Matthew 24:33; NLT).

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

The Kingdom of God is already among you [or is within you; or is within your grasp] (Luke 17:21; NLT).

When we leave your side

1. Father, when we leave your side
And come to live on earth,
We enter time, and space, and mass,
Through pain and blood, in birth.

2. Here, we must face change and growth
Through suffering and loss;
Here, we strive to follow Christ,
By taking up our cross.

3. Here, we long to find again
The bliss we knew above;
Here, we struggle to forgive,
And slowly learn to love.

4. Help us, Lord, in our short lives,
To serve in all we do;
For then, in death, eternally,
Our souls will rest in you.

References

1. Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble (Job 14:1; NIV).

2. If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

3. I long for you, O God (Psalm 42:1; NLT).

4. My soul rests in God alone (Psalm 62:1; HNV).

When we’re engulfed by fear

Lord,
When we’re engulfed by fear,
Remind us you are always near.

Lord,
When we are put to shame,
Remind us of your holy Name.

Lord,
When we are full of care,
Remind us of the thorns you wear.

Lord,
When we are hurt and bruised,
Remind us how you were abused.

Lord,
When we are racked with pain,
Remind us all how you were slain.

Lord,
When we think life’s unfair,
Remind us of the wounds you bear.

Lord,
When death is close at hand,
Remind us of God’s angel band.

Lord,
We share one flesh and blood:
Remind us of our Father’s love.

References

Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44; NIV).

Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus (Luke 23:11; NLT).

The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head (John 19:2; NLT).

They spat on him and took the staff and struck him repeatedly on the head (Matthew 27:30; NET).

Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross (Mark 15:24; NLT).

Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side (John 20:27; NLT).

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mark 15:34; NLT).

When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; NLT).

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; NLT).