Praise to the God Who Clears the Way (C) The Rev’d Dr Jan Berry
Praise to the God who clears the way preparing room and space; for power and pride will lose their sway as peace comes in their place.
Praise to the God who comes to judge the truth of word and deed, who calls our minds and wills to change, rebuking wealth and greed.
Praise to the God who waits with us for hope and joy to reign, who shares our suffering and our loss, embodied in our pain.
Praise to the God who comes to bring comfort to all who mourn. The whole creation ‘Glory’ sings as Christ the light is born.
Jan Berry is a retired United Reformed Church Minister who lectured, for many years at our Northern College in Manchester.
This hymn is published in Singing the Faith at 183 and, there, is set to the tune Creator God by the Anglican priest Norman Warren. The tune can also be found in Church Hymnary 4 at 55. You can hear the tune here. An alternative is to double up the verses and sing the hymn, as a two verse hymn, to the tune Kingsfold which can he heard here.
St Mark 1: 1 – 8
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Recuperation has afforded me the time to watch daytime TV, which I can assure you is no particular pleasure! There is, however, a good deal of interest for anyone who enjoys people-watching.
‘Britain’s worst hoarders’ was clearly designed to leave me open-mouthed at the shocking amount of mess that some people can gather and live with. I fear the producers also intended me to laugh at the stupidity of others, but they failed in this case. More than anything I have been left with questions. Is there some part of each of us that hoards the unnecessary, even if not visibly in our homes in the form of junk-mail, odd bits of wood, or old toasters (“which might be useful one day”)? What needless clutter do we store within us or more widely as the world?
Jan Berry’s wonderful hymn (vs.1) reminded me that God is not simply hoovering a new path through all the hoarded stuff of our lives, covering the smell with Shake-n-Vac. As in Mark, we are introduced to the idea that God is clearing out, ready for a new way of life to be built in place of the old. ‘Making way’ for God’s realm requires more than piling the clutter into ever taller heaps, it involves the hiring of a skip (or even better a recycling machine!)
As many hoarders will attest, getting rid of all that we have so carefully gathered up can be an arduous and heart-wrenching process, especially when complicated psychological processes have led us to collect it all in the first place.
Over how many years have we stockpiled our ‘need’ for weapons or accumulated profits ahead of people?
How much unrecognised guilt and grief is locked in your attic? Clearing these things from our lives requires more than a gentle tickle with a duster!
Thank God that no stone, no stack of 1987’s Reform or that ‘useful’ pack of 50 blank cassette tapes, no inner pain and damage no social ill or global suffering is left unturned, as space is prepared for God’s new Kingdom.
Great God, we bring our praise and thanks that you fully clear the way for the living of your Kingdom this Wednesday and every day. Amen
The Rev’d Martin Knight is Minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon
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