Singing the Faith plus

The Methodist Church

February 2021

 
Singing the Faith Plus

I write on Ash Wednesday and with my thoughts already turning to this coming Sunday’s Gospel reading. It includes Mark’s strikingly pared down account of Jesus tempted by Satan in the wilderness. “. . . he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.”

 

There’s a sense here of physical and mental challenge, to which God’s representatives respond with care that is unquestioning and immediate. That’s one theme that runs through Lent (see more about our Lent resources below); and the image may have added resonance for many as our Lenten reflections are informed, for the second year running, by worldwide experiences of pandemic.

 

For some, Lent will be a time to follow Jesus’s wilderness example and think hard about personal vocation (#lovethiscalling). Vocations can take so many forms, and you may discover one creative opportunity helping to develop the work of Singing the Faith itself.

Help shape Methodist worship life

     

We are looking for a new Chair and new passionate members for the Singing the Faith Plus Reference Group. Could this be an opportunity to pursue your vocation? (See more about vocations below.)

 

The Reference Group seeks to support existing patterns of worship, promote new ideas, and collaborate with other significant partners in the Church to ensure worship is embedded in all aspects of our life as Methodist people.

 

The appointments are to volunteer positions and new members will represent the breadth and diversity of the Methodist Church. Find out more by downloading the role descriptions and expression of interest forms on our volunteer jobs page. Closing date for applications: 22 March, 2021 at noon.

#LoveThisCalling

                 

Have you checked out the Connexional Vocations team campaign, #LoveThisCalling? Developed in collaboration with The Vine, The Vine at Home, and Singing the Faith Plus, a range of resources is being added to the Vocations page of the Methodist website, including an introduction to the campaign by Alison Ransome, the Connexional Vocations Advisor.

 

On our StF's #LoveThisCalling page, each week we’re adding a reading and hymn suggestion to support our thinking about a different kind of vocation. All this is leading towards a celebration of vocations on Sunday 2 May, when worship materials will be produced by The Vine.

Music resources for online worship

     

Two particular websites offering music for worship have been on our radar in recent weeks.

 

Resound Worship provides a wide range of contemporary songs, including many produced with video. Songs are searchable by biblical reading and, in their most recent newsletter, a selection of songs was offered for different parts of a worship service (e.g. Confession, Word, Sending Out). Resound says that “all our video or audio files come with the additional permissions required to include them in your online services under the CCLI or OneLicense streaming licences, on whatever platform.”

 

For those looking for hymn accompaniments only, now or in the future, we have of course our own Singing the Faith piano accompaniment CDs. (Details are now easier to find via the drop-down menu for “The hymn book” on our StF+ home page.

 

However, if it’s an organ sound that you’re looking for, Hymns Without Words is a free resource for churches and congregations providing downloads of well-known hymns and carols for use in services, including live streams from Zoom, YouTube etc. The excellent quality performances are by Richard Irwin. You can find out more about Richard’s background and credentials on Richard's own website.

Journeying through Lent

                

March draws us far into the journey of Lent, with Jesus’ fateful entry into Jerusalem marked on Palm Sunday, 28 March.

 

On our Lent and Easter page, there is much to support your worship and reflection during this period, including a large selection of Lent courses from the Methodist Church.

 

For Holy week itself, the Revd Ken Howcroft, a former President of the Methodist Conference, has written a series of reflections based on this year’s lectionary readings: Journeying through Holy Week to Easter with Mark’s Gospel. (It’s an account of the week that Anne Sardeson also draws from in her song, This week the cry goes "Hosanna" then "die", StF+ only.)

 

Also available are a number of resources produced in 2020 with home worship and personal reflection in mind. Journey through Holy Week is a series of short worship services based on the seven final statements attributed to Jesus during his final hours on earth.

 

Further at-home services for Holy Week include a service of Light and Darkness – a simple service with suggested use of candles, to reflect on the account of Jesus’ passion. Look out, too, for specially commissioned reflections from the President and Vice President of Conference for each day in Holy Week.

Different kinds of mothering

 

The StF+ suggestions and reflections for Mothering Sunday (14 March) are among our most consistently well used resources. They include a feature that focuses on those for whom this can be a difficult day. It highlights three hymns that may help us respond to needs and feelings of loss in this particular context. Indeed, when different experiences of loss are very much to the fore, both publicly and privately, these hymns are worth exploring for what they say to, and for, all of us. As Fred Pratt Green writes:

 

If we’ve no breath for praise,

no thoughts to frame a prayer,

we know you need no words of ours

to prompt your care.    

(Lord, in our lonely hours, StF 616)

 

During this Lenten journey all of us involved with Singing the Faith offer you are our own thoughts of care as we follow in the steps of Jesus and draw inspiration from his words and actions.

 

Laurence

             

             

Laurence Wareing @ stfplus@methodistchurch.org.uk.

             

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