Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Last Word of Jesus

"The Words of Jesus from His Cross"

The world today echoes the last words of Jesus from His cross. There are so many relevant and current examples where people are crying the same thing in the world around us. The need for forgiveness and reconciliation; the desire for the peace of the New Jerusalem; the need for community support and encouragement; the feeling of being defeated and alone in the midst of stress and struggle; the lack of fresh water to drink; the desire to finish and accomplish what needs to be done; and the final surrender when there's nothing else left to do.

I felt moved to write a reflection for this year's Good Friday liturgy, based on the last words of Jesus from the cross, that reflected the contemporary injustices and experiences of pain, grief, hurt and distress. Injured voices need to be heard through the words from the cross; our hurting creation needs to be heard in a world where many are thirsty.

As I wrote the reflection, I wanted to have a hymn that spoke to each of the words from the cross, as well as the overarching theme that they are spoken today and in all time, from generation to generation. These words came to me as a renewed call to hear the voices of Jesus today crying and pleading for all of God's creation, including you and me. Through them, those cries aren't silenced or dismissed, but validated so we can hear them, and respond to them out our faithfulness as disciples of Jesus Christ.

It is set to the tune Melcombe with the meter LM.

If you would like to receive the reflections that go with it, please e-mail me at mark.kinghan@gmail.com

These Words of Jesus from His Cross

Tune: Melcombe
Meter: LM

Jesus the gospels each record                                     
Profound and holy every word
The sayings of your final hour;
As ages pass lose not their pow’r.

Father forgive what they have done
Impending death of your own Son
They do not know the part they play
Unjust and yet so true today.

In paradise you’ll be with me
A life I promise will be free
Lose not your faith, your trust and hope;
As with each death you learn to cope.

Woman, to you I give a son
Who’ll care for you as I have done.
Relationship of trust and grace
I call you each to now embrace.

My God you have forsaken me
Hanging upon this ghastly tree
I’m all alone as death comes near
The crowds, they mock me as they cheer.

I’m thirsty as my mouth feels dry
In these last moments as I die
I’m parched as water is denied
Throughout the ages I have cried.

All is accomplished, it is done
Good news proclaimed for everyone
My sacred calling is complete
From age to age most bittersweet.

There is no more for me to do
My spirit now I give to you;
These words are spoken ev’ry day
By people caught up in the fray.

The words of Jesus from His cross
Are cried today with so much loss
Reality lived age to age
All the injustice we engage.

Text: copyright, The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, 2017. Not to be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express written permission of the author.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Retreat inspired Hymn ...

"Create a Time Away"

We live tremendously busy lives with hectic schedules that often result in our not taking much time to be renewed and restored. However, those very lives and schedules drain us and sometimes leave us with little reserves. And yet the demands of home, work and life in general keep making requests upon us.

It is a good thing to deliberately stop; to intentionally take time to think, reflect and yes, pray too. Our spirituality can easily be taxed when we don't pay it the attention that it needs and deserves. That very center of our faith which comes as a gift from God can be and is so inspiring when things are stressful and feeling out of control. However, if we don't nurture it through the gift of sabbath time apart, whatever that time may look like, and however long it may last, then we will find ourselves stretched spiritually as well as emotionally and physically by the demands and expectations placed upon us, and that we place upon ourselves.

I want to dedicate this hymn to the brothers of the Order of the Holy Cross in West Park, New York. I have spent this week here and have received hospitality and generosity that has been overwhelming and very inspiring for me. This was the place I needed to be right now! And I am grateful for what God has given me through your ministry in this place. These words written here come out of my experience and will always remind me of the holiness I experienced during this time with you.

The tune is a familiar tune, "This is My Father's World". It's very movement from one note to another speaks to me of a spirit that is alive and engaging, especially when we take the time to be present through a sacred encounter with God through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Create a Time Away

Tune: St. Catherine

Create a time to pray,
Prepare a new way;
God’s hope for us, God’s greatest joy
Our senses each employ.
Simplicity is grace
To give ourselves the space;
To grow in God’s abundant hope
Expand our breadth of scope.

God wants us to be one
A mystery begun;
With opened eyes and ears and hearts,
Find joy in time apart.
The birds, they sing and praise
The sun’s bright, beaming rays.
God’s sacrament of light and peace
Are sure to bring release.

God’s wholeness and embrace
Come with a healthy pace.
The Spirit’s breath always guides us
to risks adventurous.
Cool breezes blow our way
And call us out to play
With childlike laughter we embrace
The beauty of this place.

Enlightened, souls aflame,
Sun rays call us to claim;
Accept the joy of ev’ry day,
escape our busy fray.
God grants us energy
Our life a liturgy.
Be blessed by God who is always near
the holy will appear.

Text: copyright, The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, 2016. Not to be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express written permission of the author.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hymn for General Synod 2016

"We Listen for God's Truth"

Often as part of my own personal spiritual rhythm, God speaks to me through music and hymns. A piece of that for me is the opportunity to be creative in writing words that are set to traditional hymn tunes.

Last night, I was pondering the conversation within our Anglican Church of Canada around changing the marriage canon to allow for same gender couples to be included. This is a complex conversation influenced by different perspectives, beliefs and interpretations. However, if we are to be faithful to God, we must keep ourselves spiritually attuned and engaged with what the Holy Spirit is doing among us and through us.

The words to this hymn reflect my prayer that we as faithful followers of Christ and as children of God will walk the pilgrim road before us attentive and aware that God is walking it with us. God's truth inspires us; God's Spirit speaks to us; and we are called to join in building and promoting the reign of God that is both here now and yet to come.

I pray that this hymn may invite us to be intentional about making sure that our spirituality and following the leading of the Holy Spirit is at the center of all we do; the conversations we have; and the decisions we make.

It is set to a tune which is a personal favorite of mine, best known for it's use in Holy Week and on Good Friday.

Please pray it with me ... and may God's Spirit be what guides us as we faithfully discern and live out our call to "seek and serve Christ in all people loving our neighbors as ourselves" and to " work for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being."

We Listen for God’s Truth

Tune: Locw Unknown
Meter: 66 66 44 44

We listen for God’s truth
O Spirit speak your Word;
The gospel calls each one,
our open hearts to stir.
We long to see the way ahead
A people God has called and led.

We need your guidance God
To live our faith each day
Our human lives are flawed,
we come to you to pray.
Grant us discernment by your grace
And see you in this holy space.  

We walk a pilgrim road
Attentive and aware
Your blessings are bestowed
We’re called to thank you and share.
A way of life we walk each day
Assist us not to go astray.

Speak through each thought and prayer
Your will be our desire
To love and always care
A faithful life inspire.
We’re called to follow Jesus’ way
God’s reign rejoicing to display. 

Text: copyright, The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, 2016. Not to be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express written permission of the author.

Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 Good Friday Hymn

"A Holy Day!"

Good Friday is such a holy and sacred day in our church year. There are so many themes we are invited to enter into as we become part of the story and recount all that God accomplished.

For me, the image of anyone taking their last breath is such a poignant moment. Imagine Jesus taking his final breath; did anyone notice? I wonder. I suspect that his mother and some of the other women at the tomb did. What does Jesus last breath mean for us today? 

Through the brokenness of Jesus on the cross, we are made 100% whole. What a healing gift through such a selfless act of sacrifice. Unjust to be sure; but necessary none the less. This was part of God's story of redemption for all God's people and all of creation.

At the heart of the Good Friday message is the promise of forgiveness, even and especially when it is not deserved. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they have done!" What a profound witness to God's love and mercy, that even those who executed Jesus would be forgiven through the unconditional gift of grace. 

Through all that happened on that first Good Friday, and through all the subsequent Good Friday's that have happened and still happen today, we know God's faithfulness. Let us pray that we may always claim for ourselves, with boldness and conviction, with excitement and passion, the awesomeness of God who always loves us and redeems, even when it meant the death of his Son on a cross.

A Good Friday Hymn: "A Holy Day!"

Tune: O Waly Waly

A holy day through pain and death;
the sacrifice in your last breath;
You gave your all and in your loss
We are made whole upon your cross

They nailed you to the cross of shame
They cried insults and placed the blame.
A crown of thorns upon your brow
Unjust the crime they would allow!

Lord you forgave the wrongs they’d done
You understood the victry won;
This had to be in God’s great scheme
Your hands and feet nailed to the beam.

A sacred story so divine
God’s glory now will always shine
For us to know God’s faithfulness
And claim with faith God’s awesomeness!

Text: copyright, The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, 2016. Not to be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express written permission of the author.

Monday, June 29, 2015

“Who Can Ascend the Hill of God?”

In Psalm 24, the psalmist asks, "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?" In other words, who can stand in the presence of God; who can experience the holiest of holy; who can enter into the most sacred encounters with God? Remember, the psalm was likely used as a liturgical procession for those climbing the mountain to the temple in Jerusalem. It was a fitting question to ask as the people of Israel made their way into that most holy and sacred sanctuary in that holy and sacred city. 

Immediately, the psalmist responds to his own question, "Those who have clean hands and pure hearts." Of course the psalmist is talking figuratively about a spiritual truth and approach to a faithful life as a child of God. As such, the psalmist is referring to an attitude of hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, joy, compassion, faithfulness and any other discipline God would hope his children would embody in all of their lives and relationships with other people. 

The truth is that we are invited today to ascend the hill of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart. However, we know that we can't attain that spiritual depth on our own. Clean hands and a pure heart ultimately come out of a relationship with God who blesses us with the spiritual gifts to be hopeful, merciful, forgiving, loving, full of joy and compassion, and ultimately to live lives of faithfulness. These are the very gifts God offers to us as we grow in our relationships with Him. 

This hymn speaks in such simplicity the truth of what it means to be invited into the sacred and holy of an encounter with God. And, that we need to rely on God's grace through Jesus Christ to make us pure and clean. And ultimately, this calling from God is to take our part in the building of God's kingdom as we are the hands, feet and heart of God.

“Who Can Ascend the Hill of God?”

Tune: Ye Banks & Braes
Meter: LMD

Who can ascend the hill of God
And stand on holy, sacred ground
The loved by God, as we are flawed
God’s grace and mercy are profound
Those with clean hands, whose hearts are pure
Have all we need to make our way
With faith restored, we will endure
As to our God we come to pray.

Not on our own are we made clean
we can’t be pure just as we are
we need God’s grace as we have seen
in Jesus Christ, we’re made aware.
God grant us courage on our way
To be your hands, your feet, your heart
To climb the hill we greet each day
And in your kingdom take our part.

Text: copyright, The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, 2015. Not to be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express written permission of the author.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

"An Idle Tale" ... Easter Hymn

According to Luke, when the women went to the tomb and encountered the angel, they heard the message, and were sent on their way. They went to to find the disciples and to share what they had been told. The disciples' response, "these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them." Who can blame them for this response out of a human understanding, using their finite human minds?

I recently heard another translation of this passage which makes complete sense and magnifies what the disciples were saying. "It's bulls**t!!"  Not a bad descriptive and makes the point pretty clearly what the disciples were thinking and saying in response to this story the women were telling them. What are other descriptive we could use ... rubbish, crap, gibberish, malarkey, hooey!! All equally through provoking. To them is could only be fabricated and nonsense!

How many today have the same response? As human beings, if we can't understand, explain or prove something like the resurrection of Jesus, then how can we possibly believe it.

Our resurrection faith, though, isn't about knowledge or scientific proof. It is about faith and trust. And, our Easter belief comes from experiencing the power of the risen Christ in our own experiences of life and death when we have nothing else to hold on to that will get us through.

Maybe it's an illness we've been diagnosed with; the death of a loved one; losing a job because of the economy; struggling with an addiction; living with mental health disease; a relationship that has dissolved whether with a spouse, a child, a sibling or a long time friend. Often, through the gift of time and people who support us along the way, we come face to face with the resurrected Christ who inspires, heals, upholds, strengthens and offers us peace.

What a profound gift. And when we've experienced it, we know it is no idle tale. It is the truth that sees us through which we rejoice in and give thanks for.

We are an Easter people; we are a resurrection people with a resurrection faith!

This hymn is written to express our faith in what many see and hear as an idle tale. It is sung to a favorite hymn tune, Woodlands, with the meter 10 10 10 10.

My prayer is that each of us may know and believe the promise of God, that our Easter faith is no idle tail, not rubbish, crap, gibberish, malarkey, hooey or bulls**t. It is the core of what we believe and who we are as a people of the resurrection. Thanks be to God!! Alleluia!!

"An Idle Tale"
tune: Woodlands
meter: 10 10 10 10

An idle tale, it never could be true
That Christ was risen and was dead no more
The women witness to a new world view
Good news of hope, an answer to their prayer.

God’s message clear, though challenged human thought
No explanation could replace the doubt.
Death was the end, no matter what he taught
This is what life on earth is all about.

We live, we die, and that’s what they believed
But God would open up another way
All grief, all death and sin would be relieved
Good news of promise greet this glorious day.

Christ is alive, he’s risen from the dead
No idle tale! Alleluia!
New days of promise wait the way ahead
The tomb is empty, Alleluia!

Text: copyright, The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, 2015. Not to be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express written permission of the author.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Nails So Sacred, So Divine" ... hymn for Good Friday

Nails are such a vivid part of the story of Good Friday ... the passion and death of Christ. And yet I had a difficult time finding a hymn with "Nails" as a theme.

Such a brutal death; being nailed to a cross. The nail piercing through Jesus' hands and feet are such a profound image of pain and suffering that he bore on our behalf. That's what makes the nail sacred and holy; that for me is also sacramental in the image of the nails, especially as I hold one in my hand as a means of meditation and reflection. The nails represent all the indifference, arrogance, pride, discrimination, hatred, hypocrisy and negligence that make up our corporate and individual sin. And by God's grace, those sins are defeated forever. What a gift!

The sadness of course, is that Jesus continues to be nailed to the cross throughout all time, including our own. And, if we are honest, we know we are at times complicit; we contribute to the wrongs and injustices of others. 

And yet, God on Good Friday makes it all right; through the nails of cross, God gives hope and promise that we grasp on to with faith and hope. Our anxieties are calmed; and all by God's love and through God's mercy. What a gift; a profound gift!

The words to this hymn reflect the theology of Nails and all that happened on Good Friday. It lifts up the painful truth that it was all for us and our forgiveness and reconciliation with God. What a profound truth that is at the center of our faith as we wait with hope and anticipation for the rest of the story, the hope and promise of new life on Easter morning. The last verse leaves us with a sense of hope and a reminder of the good news of what this day is about. 

The tune I chose is one that is used for a Lenten hymn, "Song 13". The tone and rhythm are somber enough to be appropriately Good Friday. And yet, the tune can be uplifting too by the last verse. 

I hope you enter into a reflection on what the nails of Good Friday mean for you; your theology of the nails hammered and what they represent for you.

"Nails So Sacred, So Divine"

Tune: Song 13
Meter: 7777

Nails so sacred, so divine
Piercing flesh and heart and soul
Hammered as a holy sign
God’s intent to make us whole.

Nails profound with mystery
Piercing Jesus’ hands and feet
Death no more, God’s victory
Sins forever to defeat.

First the nail of arrogance
Then a spike for all our pride
Followed on by negligence
As the Saviour hung and cried.

Nails are fastened day by day
Though the years and ages pass
Victims still become the prey
Wrongs, injustice still amass.

Holy nails within our palm
Sacramental sign of grace
Our anxiety to calm
Love’s great story to embrace.

Text: copyright, The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, 2015. Not to be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express written permission of the author.