We bring today’s reflection as a video that you can follow along and join in with, and in written form below the video.
We are grateful to Revd Dr Carla Grosch-Miller and the Cooke family for their contributions to the video.
Call to Worship
Response: Come, Holy Spirit!
Just as the first disciples gathered in an upper room to pray and to wait, so too we gather expectantly and turn our eyes heavenward: Come, Holy Spirit!
Just as the crowds gathered as tongues of flames leapt, eager to hear the word of God in their own language, so too we gather hungry for the word of life: Come, Holy Spirit!
Just as Jesus promised, Friend and Teacher, Advocate and Comforter, the Spirit of Christ comes when least expected and most needed: Come, Holy Spirit!
Eternal love, unstoppable power, breath of life, mother of courage, the Spirit blows where it will and we gladly unfurl our sails to catch her strength and let it lead us on: Come, Holy Spirit!
On the day of Pentecost, tongues as if of flame descended and people’s ears opened as the Spirit swooped through a gathered crowd, inaugurating a new day and the birth of the Christian church. To celebrate I’ve collected lines from all who were willing, responding to a starting line: In the world I want to live in…. A recorded version of this is available above and direct on our YouTube channel with the Virtual Church Choir singing Beauty for brokenness, alongside a choral reading of the Pentecost story by the Cookes and another performance piece with Lucy Cooke singing Enemy of Apathy.
In the world I want to live in…
A crowd-sourced poem by St Andrews URC, Monkseaton
A world of care and kindness, with loneliness no more,
and hands raise up in greeting and stretch to open doors.
The bonds between us grow strong; a smile, a wave, a call
and all we’ve learned in lockdown will help in the long haul.
No virus keeps us distant or fearful of all touch;
We greet our friends and families with hugs, kisses and such.
We move about so freely, inviting friends to dine.
We cuddle our grandchildren. Oh that will be so fine!
In the world I want to live in, our bounties are all shared,
and there is no more poverty, no want, no hunger bared.
For hardship has become hope, each stranger now a friend.
Oh how I want to live there, with love that knows no end.
In the world I want to live in every person is God-giv’n –
a unique wondrous creation, first crafted in God’s heav’n.
We are curious and accepting, quick to welcome, slow to judge.
Race, colour, creed don’t matter; opinions don’t begrudge.
The vulnerable are cherished, disabled’s not a word.
The name of all “beloved”. All hope is undeterred.
Possibility is endless; each person is a gift.
No one is e’er neglected; a helping hand is swift.
The pay of those who keep us well, and fed and clothed and cared for
reflects the loving care they give; they really do deserve more.
The endless hours of labour, and work and toil and sweat,
must be well rewarded, for we are in their debt.
The world I want to live in is made for peace, not war.
One’s home is safe and secure, and violence is no more.
And fear has done a runner, danger has left the land.
The wounds of war have healed up, the broken now can stand.
When tears fall in the land I love, they’re met with tender care,
and belly laughs and giggles are the kinds of things we share.
We hum along with birdsong, and stop to catch our breath,
delight in God’s creation, and new life out of death.
The oceans roll in waves of blue, the seagulls swoop in joy.
Clear streams run through pastures green, nature her songs employ.
No turtles choke on plastic, no fish from mercury die.
Fresh breezes caress softly, no poison in the sky.
We think before we act: how will grandchildren live?
The seventh generation will have much to forgive
if we do not count the cost of greedy, selfish ways.
The world I want to live in wants to last for endless days.
Imaginations run wild, creative juices flow.
Instead of bleak conformity, children truly will grow
and sing the songs of their own souls, a tune we love to hear,
one we ne’er grow tired of, and God bends down an ear.
With leaders of integrity, the truth will have its way.
And people live in harmony, grateful for the new day.
Respect, connection, hand in hand, we live the way we’re meant.
All voices heard, all cherished, under God’s enormous tent.
Rainbows pierce right through the clouds, the earth in balance sings.
Neighbourliness rules the day, the night its peace will bring.
Hope lights our lives and brightens the dullest, darkest days,
and hearts sing hallelujah, the soul lifts up in praise.
And church, well church, has leaked out, its walls no more confine,
the hope, love, joy and peace that God gives as a lifeline.
The Word so full of meaning, its mysteries to unfold;
the love of God in Jesus, the story that is told.
Fruits of the Spirit flourish, music’s beauty fills the land.
Songs old and new will nourish a love so very grand
that it is too big to capture, too immense to understand.
Faith, hope and trust our bywords; compassion is our brand.
This world I want to live in, this hope our hearts behold
is nearer than we think it is, if we dare to be so bold.
It’s called the reign of heav’n on earth, a place where none are lost
and we can live there right now if we’re willing to pay the cost.
For love is hard and love is strong and love will costly be.
It asks so very much of us; Christ showed us on the tree.
And yet it is the only way: our truth, our life, our best.
The love of God poured in our hearts makes possible the rest.
This Pentecost we dream of the world as it should be.
And cast our fate with Jesus, who came to set us free
from fear and short-sightedness, he lifts our heads to see
the beautiful possibilities of what our world can be.
We’ll join with all our neighbours, with strangers and with friends,
to fashion a new world where love truly never ends.
We’ll lift our voice in praises; we raise our hands in prayer.
We’ll offer our thanksgiving; our joy will fill the air.
God’s commonwealth our vision; Christ’s passion is our way.
Together we will welcome the brand new day.
Joy Abbott, Susan Anderson, Sue Ames, Joan Blanchfield, Joy Campbell, Susan Clark, Tim, Lucy and Sophie Cooke, Julie Edwardson, Catriona Fenwick, Rita Grimshaw, David Grosch-Miller, Kath and Chris Hales, Hazel Hall, Paul Hartley, Gillian Heads, Jenny Hooper, Bill Hopper, Una Ketteridge, Rhoda Lee, Carole Mallett, Iain Ord, Dorothy Postle, Celia Purves, Ann Sinclair, Ann and Derek Stembridge, Valerie Taylor, Rachel Ward and Margaret Varley, Pat Wardle, Barbara Watson, Maurice Wilson-Voke and Joan Yarrow
How this poem was made
Thank you to everyone who sent me a line or more responding to the statement In the world I want to live in. I read and inwardly digested all the comments, noted common themes (there were a lot of them) and lovely turns of phrase, and then started writing. I don’t normally write in rhyme so I apologise to those of you more accomplished in that form for the amateurish outcome. Hopefully each contributor will recognise their ideas and maybe even their turn of phrase. The only contribution I didn’t know what to do with was Bill Hopper’s perfectly formed poem, which reflects how much many of us would like to get back to church:
In the world I want to live in…
I would sit in church before the service in quiet contemplation
I would read the order of worship with genuine anticipation
I would then drift into a happy world of hazy meditation
But jolt back to reality with the Elder’s annunciation!!!
Hymn Beauty for brokenness
Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair,
Lord, in the suffering this is our prayer.
Bread for the children, justice, joy, peace,
sunrise to sunset your kingdom increase.
Shelter for fragile lives, cures for their ills,
work for the craftsmen, trade for their skills.
Land for the dispossessed, rights for the weak,
voices to plead the cause of those who can’t speak.
God of the poor, friend of the weak,
give us compassion, we pray,
melt our cold hearts, let tears fall like rain.
Come, change our love from a spark to a flame.
Refuge from cruel wars, havens from fear,
cities for sanctuary, freedoms to share.
Peace to the killing fields, scorched earth to green.
Christ for the bitterness, his cross for the pain.
Rest for the ravaged earth, oceans and streams,
plundered and poisoned, our future, our dreams.
Lord, end our madness, carelessness, greed;
make us content with the things that we need.
Lighten our darkness, breathe on this flame,
until your justice burns brightly again;
until the nations learn of your ways,
seek your salvation and bring you their praise
May the Spirit of the living God burn in our lives, blow the cobwebs from our minds, warm us with courage and joy, and keep us in the mystery of God’s love. And out of our hearts may there flow rivers of living water all our days. Amen.