Social justice – part 2

In 2007, the General Assembly of The United Nations declared 20 February as a World Day of Social Justice to be marked annually.

See the United Nations website for further information.

Singing the Faith includes a sizeable number of hymns that reflect Methodism’s long-held tradition of promoting justice and peace and engagement with other related social issues. (See the new Joint Public Issues website.)

Below is our second selection of more recent texts included within Singing the Faith, reflecting different aspects of Christian engagement with social justice issues. For our first selection, click here.

Jesus washes the feet of his disciple Peter

Working with others / in the community / with the disadvantaged:

Beauty for brokenness (StF 693) Anyone who thinks Graham Kendrick only writes simple choruses about our personal relationship with Jesus would do well to read this song and think again. Set to an emotionally powerful melody, this is a song with equally powerful words and images.

A vision of the world as God desires it to be is broken down into self-sufficient statements, from the memorable opening phrase through the opening lines of each successive verse: “Shelter for fragile lives… Refuge from cruel wars… Rest for the ravaged earth…” Succinctly, Kendrick prays for “peace to the killing-fields, scorched earth to green” and asks that the “God of the poor, friend of the weak” will “give us compassion” and “melt our cold hearts”.

Brother, sister, let me serve you (StF 611) The New Zealand writer, Richard Gillard, unpacks the implications of being servants for each other, companions on the journey. It’s an idea that recalls Jesus’ insistence that he should act as a servant for his disciple Peter and wash his feet: [Jesus said], “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.” (See John 13:1 – 11). Richard’s words speak to how Christians need to be with those in the communities and world around them as much as to how they should be with one another.

Sacred the body God has created (StF 618) A beautiful hymn with a lovely lilting melody (the same rhythm as for Morning has broken, StF 136) that speaks of how we are all made in the image of God. The implications of this are made clear in verse 3 with statements that apply as much to nations as to individuals.

Love respects persons, bodies and boundaries.
Love does not batter, neglect, or abuse.
Love touches gently, never coercing.
Love leaves the other with power to choose.

© 2013 Photos.com, a division of Getty Images

Justice/mission hymns:

Within the Justice and Peace section of Singing the Faith, three of the newer texts offer a helpful starting place for exploring commitment to social justice.

God of justice, Saviour to all (StF 699) Tim Hughes’ tune needs a strong lead from a praise band, keyboard or singer but this is not a fast melody and isn’t as frightening as it might appear on the page!

God weeps at love withheld (StF 700) A little like Graham Kendrick’s “Beauty for brokenness” (above) but in a very different style, Shirley Erena Murray pares down her message to a series of succinct phrases. And the message is this: that God is not a distant, disinterested entity but a being who feels what we feel and who waits patiently, agonisingly, for us to heal the world in which we live.

I will speak out for those who have no voices (StF 702) Another tune that, initially, requires some strong leadership, but the syncopations are not difficult and once in the mind, the insistent, almost defiant, nature of the tune supports the words of determination and commitment well. This is also a text that works well spoken as a prayer of commitment.

See also Brian Wren’s comments about his hymn Great God, your love has called us here (StF 499).

Why not check out the Poverty and Justice Bible, published by The Bible Society and based on the Contemporary Englsh Version of the Bible. It features over 2,000 highlighted verses and a unique 32-page guide with in-depth studies.There’s also a companon volume,  Inspire Justice – 365 Day Devotional on Poverty and Justice, with each daoly study built around a “pray, read, reflect, respond” format.

Social justice – part 1

Categories: Exploring themes, Special Sundays and weeks, Worship Resources.

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