Sunday, July 07, 2024

Trinity 6 Evensong, for the end of Choir Year

:‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

   and every tongue shall give praise to God.’

So then, each of us will be accountable to God 

I hope, on this last Sunday of the cathedral choir’s year, that the rest of the congregation will forgive me if I literally Preach to the Choir.

You see, week by week, service by service – they preach to us.

Their tongues, their voices give praise to God and encourage the rest of us to do the same, whether we arrive as fervent believers or curious spectators. That’s the power of music in worship. It takes us up, even despite ourselves ,and transports us to places we cannot reach in other ways. 

Sometimes it catches us unawares and while it may be the tune that we take away in our conscious thoughts, often that tune carries with it words that lodge in our hearts, shaping us against our expectations.

You see, I’m pretty confident that, regardless of your feel8mgs about God, you cannot sing as you without having a keen sense of beauty...and beauty rests in something that is beyond the strictly rational. I know that those in the choir will be all too familiar with my describing music as something that can open windows on to heaven. I really do believe it. It is, I guess, pretty much why I am a Precentor...because I believe in the power of words and music together to effect what they describe.

But I wonder, oh my loved and lovely choristers, if you had ever noticed that you are potentially enticing a riot whenever you sing the Magnificat. 

Listen to yourselves

He has put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away

If that’s not revolution I’m not sure what is. 

That’s the world turned upside down even more assuredly than our own UK political landscape in the small hours of Friday morning.

And you, as you sing the Song of Mary with so much beauty and skill, are reminding us that this – THIS – is what God has done, and what God will always do...Challenging injustice, unseating oppressive power, lifting up the lowly.

And God invites us into living in that world of Magnificat right here and now...We are to be part of building it.

 It is here that our accountability lies.

What does that mean for us?

Sometimes we seem to put our own gloss on it. We choose to assert that, as God's kingdom is not of this world, so we can live our daily lives according to the rule of our own wills. We leave God to one side in some kind of remote insubstantial spiritual realm which doesn't impact on our actual behaviour at all, and seek to build a kingdom based on our own desires.

That’s NOT being accountable to God by any stretch of the imagination. Remember, this is the God who is SO involved in human kind that He opts to join in with our life in all its mess and muddle, frustration and disappointment.

He's invested in us, all right.

Interested whenever his children cry out for justice...whenever they long for bread but are given stones....whenever we exclude or deny or try to limit His life-giving, transforming Grace.

Christ's Kingdom may not be FROM this world but it is most emphatically FOR this world...For those taking up new roles in government, assuming weighty responsibilities that might just reshape our national life for the better...and for those who are having to rethink their lives in the light of electoral defeat….

For those who now dare to believe that they may have a voice in the conversation and a place at the table, and those who are anxious that at a time of new beginnings they might be discarded, excluded while the world oves on.

For the General Synod of the Church of England in all its current pain and division and, for the people of this city, - baffled, apathetic, distressed...f

In all these structures, and in every aspect of our lives, we are to be accountable to God as together we look for the signs of God’s Kingdom,  founded on love that gives without reserve, that befriends with ceaseless generosity, that values everyone, regardless of gender or opinion, as someone made in God's image, someone for whom Christ was pleased to die…

So as we sing of a world transformed and renewed, we can begin to LIVE the Magnificat. Let the music effect what it describes in your hearts and in your lives...and let is song continue in your soul through these holiday weeks when we may not worship together...because the Magnificat is for life and not just for Choral is a rallying cry which calls the world together to magnify the Lord, to sing God’s praise and with our lives as with our voices.

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