Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ash Wednesday ... "Remember that you are but dust"

I have been reflecting in preparation of Ash Wednesday that there are relatively few hymns that are specific to the day. It is such an important day in the liturgical life of the church that we need to have multiple ways to express its significance and deep theological meaning for us.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a journey that takes us through the wilderness to the week of passion, the cross of Good Friday to the empty tomb of Easter morning. It is a time to grow in our faith and in our commitment to God through how we live our everyday lives as followers of Jesus Christ. The discipline of Ash Wednesday and the rhythm we establish for our Lenten pilgrimage has great potential to lead us into profound spiritual growth as we acknowledge where we are on the journey and accept the grace of God's guidance and direction in terms of where we are going into the future.

Lent, although often dreary and dry by its very nature, can be a very fertile time in which to nourish the seed of faith God has planted within us. That's why taking time for spiritual reflection, prayer, reading of scripture, alms giving and fasting are built in to these 40 days ahead of us.

I always pray at the beginning of Lent that it may be a poignant journey; that I will arrive at Good Friday and ultimately Easter morning ready to enter fully into all that becomes real for me in my life and faith. These days, I hope, will be about intentionally and sincerely being attentive and recognizing the essence of all that is holy.

The words to this hymn came very naturally for me. They speak to me of all that this holy season is meant to be about. And by the end, the final verse, is the reminder and proclamation that we will be renewed and find for ourselves that God's love is indeed previewed.

The tune is one that is familiar; it is the music that goes with "There is a Green Hill Far Away". Perhaps that is not coincidental since that hymn is very much part of the experience of Holy Week and the story of our Lord Jesus' death so that we might have life.

“Remember that you are but dust”

Tune: Horsley Meter: CM

Remember that you are but dust
To dust you shall return;
A journey as we grow in trust
The peace of Christ we yearn.

We mark our foreheads with a smudge
The symbol of the cross
Reminded God holds not a grudge
Our sins are not a loss.

A journey we embark upon
From ashes to the tomb
The blessing of a holy dawn
New life to come in bloom.

And so with faith we enter in
These solemn days of lent
Aware of all that we have been
And all our faith has meant.

Guide us along the road ahead
That we may be renewed
There is no reason to feel dread
God’s love to be previewed.

Text: copyright, The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, 2018. Not to be reproduced or redistributed in any form without the express written permission of the author.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hymn Celebrating New Ministry

As I begin a new ministry in the community of Uxbridge, I am aware again that these are very holy and sacred moments of God's grace as we seek God's wisdom in discerning how we can be the church in this day and age. The only thing we can rely on is God's Spirit to guide us as we intentionally and sincerely seek out direction for the way forward.

Ministry involves how we relate to each other in the church and offer support, encouragement and opportunities to grow in our Christian faith. But the gospel calls us just as Jesus commissioned His disciples to go out into the world around us, our neighborhoods, and seek to proclaim the gospel by engaging with people and building relationships.

How we do that can be as varied as the many cities and communities where we find ourselves. Ministry, although there are some parts that apply in all places, is very contextual. What is it that would be most faithful in Uxbridge? What is God calling us as the church to do in our community? Where is God already active that we can join in what God is up to? Where is the mission field possibilities on our doorstep and along our main street?

These are questions we always need to be paying attention to. And especially at specific points along our vocational journey as the church, like the beginning of a shared ministry together.

Early in September we will have a liturgy to celebrate the covenant we are making to work together here at St. Paul's, Uxbridge. I felt moved to write a hymn that speaks of the new beginning that builds on the faithfulness of the past as we venture into the future. Our ministry together is a calling to be transformed ourselves as we seek transformation experiences of God's grace in the neighborhood where we serve. This is our mission; this is our mandate; this is the gospel lived out right here in our parish and in Uxbridge.

The words that I have written are set to one of my favorite hymn tunes, "Woodlands" with a meter 10 10 10 10.

I pray that as we sing it on the evening of September 7, that we may feel that joy which comes from a spirit filled commitment to following Jesus and living out the kingdom message in who we are and in all we do here at St. Paul's.

O God, You Call us Faithfully to Live

Tune: Woodlands
Menter: 10 10 10 10

O God, you call us faithfully to live
To be transformed by your abiding grace
We come with trust our ministry to thrive
To share the gospel hope within this place.

Abundantly, we’re blessed with gifts to serve
To minister and witness to the Word
To faithfully the hope of Christ preserve
A trusting spirit in us always stirred.

May this beginning build on faithfulness
The past foundations laid in time gone by
Accept our opportunity to bless
God’s Spirit is on whom we will rely.

The covenant we make with joy this day
To work together to discern God’s will
The future guided as we come to pray
And find delight in all that we fulfill.

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.

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

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.