The Reflection for today – and through the month of August, Blessings, has been contributed by Trevor Thorne. The readings are from Numbers 6 and Acts 2 and the music is the Arab World Blessing; Stuart Morris has provided the poetry.
The Vicar has sent this message too:
“We’ve been producing these daily reflections since 20th April and I hope that you’ve found them nourishing and encouraging. We are taking a break in August, but plan to return for the month of September. We have enjoyed producing this material for you and hope you’ve enjoyed it too!
It’s been a joy to discover the writing gifts revealed during the months of lockdown! I am so grateful for the wonderful people – Team Reflectors – who have consistently provided stimulating and inspiring material; I was particularly encouraged by the diverse perspectives on the biblical texts and the distinct voices that spoke to us during that time. I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the following people who faithfully provided the reflections:
Katy Astley, Chris Barter, Sue Butler, Chris Campbell, Janet Glover, Kirsty Morris, Jane Oakes, Pam Thorn, Trevor Thorn
Your feedback is very welcome: how the reflections have encouraged you, views on the format, frequency, other material you’d like to have – or anything else! (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Grace and peace, Paul”
Our readings from Numbers and the Acts of the Apostles
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
27 So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
A Reflection, Blessings from ‘Blessings’
Have you encountered the YouTube video described as The UK Blessing which Paul mentioned in his Reflection on 4th May? If you haven’t, I would urge you watch it. It may not be your kind of music but do try and listen to it all the way through, so you catch the gathering excitement of the song. It has, in my opinion, been a marvel of the lockdown.
As far as I can tell the song was launched just ahead of the lockdown. In early March a video called ‘The Blessing’ appeared on YouTube by Kari Jobe & Cody Carnes of Elevation Worship, Ballantyne (which I take to be Ballantyne in North Carolina). By the time of writing this (21st July), that video had attracted more than 21 million viewings. And more than that, it had given rise to an amazing number of ‘split screen’ performances of the song where singers recorded from their own homes or in a remote location of their choice and the individual singers’ and musicians’ offerings were cleverly spliced together to make impressive complete videos.
The UK version involves more than 60 churches in the UK. A write up about it says, ‘If you’re looking for something to lift your spirits, look no further…’ You can find it at
If you do decide to listen, I hope it will, indeed lift your spirits – but there’s much more. A collaboration between 60 churches is impressive but other versions, mentioned below, involve even more churches of a wide range of persuasions, far beyond any inter-church co-operative initiative I have ever been aware of.
Once you have watched the UK version, YouTube will very probably direct you to another version and there are lots of them. There are at least the following: Australia (336,000 views), South Africa, Canada, Channel Islands, Qatar, Mauritius, The Arab World (106,000), Egypt and all nations, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia, Passion City Atlanta, Sweden, Latin America, Ireland, Bolivia, Brazil: there are versions in Dutch (150,000), French (231,000), Spanish, Hebrew. And by the time you read this, there will, I imagine be several more.
Whilst having many similarities, every version is distinctive in its presentation: The Singaporean version has some spectacular views of the City: the Malaysian version has a number of singers in what I take to be exquisite contemporary versions of national costumes: the Zimbabwean version shows an aspect of that country which I could never have imagined. There are now Spanish, French, and Swedish language versions among several others, effectively showing the international breadth of Christianity.
As you can see, a number of these are in major languages and several of the other versions incorporate lesser known languages spoken within the ‘host’ country. Quite amazing! I’ve really enjoyed watching many of these, reflecting again on the story of Pentecost (Acts 2. 4) when the Apostles spoke in tongues which were understandable to everyone present. In our contemporary setting, the multiplicity of the languages used feels an amazing testimony to the global reach of the Gospel message.
As I have watched these various videos, they have provoked yet more ideas and thoughts.
- Every one of them is full of joy and energy and harmony (both literally and metaphorically).
- All of them feature a majority of young people, which is not a pattern in many of our more traditional ‘mainstream’ churches: so, perhaps those who think of church as only for the older or the more staid, might hopefully be encouraged by these initiatives of the younger generations.
- Also, they demonstrate to the world that there are large numbers of churches which are ‘IT savvy’ and able to build rapidly on the amazing opportunities that arise from that awareness. In business, I think this would be approvingly called, ‘being fleet of foot’
For these reasons, they are, in my view, initiatives that demonstrate an amazingly positive display of world-wide Christian endeavour – and for this reason I have felt confident to suggest to some of our friends and family they might also like to watch. There are opportunities to guide them to a version that is in some way particularly relevant to them. An early conversation was with an Irish friend who was thrilled by the Irish version, said it had given her ‘goosebumps’ and had also moved her daughter.
Within a very short time, one of our next generation relatives had responded using exactly the same expression. As this has for me, maybe also for you it could, offer a gentle form of outreach to someone you have found it hard to talk of the Good News we share. I’m sure the inventive minds of many writers could find links between at least one of the countries represented and their friends or family members.
So, finally, very many thanks to Elevation Worship.
Trevor Thorn, 31st July 2020
Today’s music ….
Poetry, Let me tell you a story
Are born. Princesses – one
with strange powers. Parents die; she takes the throne
but gripped by fear, brings icy winter. Flees, chased by her sister, an ice merchant
and a talking snowman.
The sister sacrifices herself to save her sibling;
All ends well;
Love conquers fear;
We should just
Let it go?
Shut your ears?
Sing it out?
Let me tell you
Rich white men sailed to foreign lands, enslaved
die working for no pay; or as good as.
making nations great.
We all need the cash. But people get hurt?
Hundreds of years of oppression;
I sit, typing – new laptop, nice house, fresh coffee, favourite jumper (can’t remember it was made) – doing nothing.
Shut your ears?
Sing it out?
Let me tell you
A child, born
to an unmarried couple.
Grew up; said confusing things; befriended dubious folk; did things you would not believe.
Died hanging from a tree before he reached his mid 30s – people didn’t get it.
Jewish people, including his friends, thought he would save them from their Roman rulers.
You are loved;
Death is finished.
He has set you free from it all:
You, and every child, woman and man can live in relationship with your creator, and have life in all its fullness.
God is King.