• Mike Plant

God's blessing in listening to his people's praise

Dear Friends,

God’s blessing in listening to his people’s praise

One of the things I have had to do over the lockdown period is to find hymns/songs which are suitable and helpful. Normally of course I choose them and leave the rest to those who play the piano to sort out. Occasionally I might indicate the tune I appreciate for a hymn but that is the extent of my involvement. Currently I’ve been listening to countless YouTube and Bing Videos to find what is best for our service.

I now need to find appropriate hymns and songs which are appropriately presented. I try not

to choose what I would call performance music which is recorded in concert or a similar

setting. To my surprise I have often found that congregational singing is not ideal – there is a

tendency for the words to be unclear because they are overwhelmed by the music (be it the

music organ or guitar it is an equal danger). Some congregations are obviously well trained

musically and they, and choirs like the Swansea Male Voice Choir, are probably the ideal to

use in our worship service. Sometimes a musician singing to record rather than perform can

be very helpful with the words clearly and thoughtfully sung.

An unanticipated blessing has been that I have often been confronted with new songs which

have blessed me greatly. One song is ‘His mercy is more’ which is available in several

versions on YouTube. Keith and Kristyn Getty have the Official Lyric Video and there are also

versions by Matt Boswell and the Boyce College Choir and my favourite is an unaccompanied version by Praise and Harmony. There are words in the song that keep coming back to me and thrilling my soul: ‘OUR SINS THEY ARE MANY, HIS MERCY IS MORE’. What a beautiful reassurance of God’s love in the gospel that is and I treasure it. Another joy has been the rediscovering of old songs which I had almost forgotten. One example of this: ‘What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.’ It is really refreshing going back to simple and clear statements of the gospel and hearing an old hymn well sung.

Loving our neighbour as ourselves

One of the reasons it was right for churches to go along with the lockdown was the simple duty to love our neighbour as ourselves. This was I am sure a right decision and necessary as a witness to others. If the church is seen as putting people at risk it simply undermines our credibility. What we need to think about is whether love for neighbour requires more than the negative act of ceasing public meetings? In each individual’s circumstance that may of course vary but we need to be alert to discern (Ephesians 2: 10), the ‘good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.’ If we are willing to serve we need never doubt God will enable ways for us to do so.

One obvious way in which we can do this is through contributing to THE HONITON FOOD

BANK. This is organised by the Community Church, who normally meet at the Beehive. It is

funded entirely from local churches and charitable donations and is made available to those

in ‘food crisis’ = they have no food nor money with which to buy food. Currently the

organisers are managing the logistics enforced by the lockdown situation and are now

delivering food rather than arranging for it to be collected. The changed situation has

however led to a situation where the demand for food is greater than the supply – so they

would be grateful if people were prepared to contribute.

FOOD BANK NEEDS : Fruit Juice, Fruit Squash, UHT Milk, Sugar, Coffee, Tea Bags, Pasta, Rice, Noodles, Savoury Rice, Pasta Sauce, Cereals, Cereal Bars, Biscuits, Soup and TINS OF Fish, Spaghetti, Potatoes, Meat or Meat Meals, Fruit, Carrots, Peas, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Custard, Sponge Pudding, Toilet Rolls, Feminine Hygiene Products, Washing Powder/Tablets.

I think it is items like this rather than the list being limited strictly to only these things.

If you are mobile we can give you places where you can drop food off or we can arrange with

you to collect it. Let us know if we can help you in this way.

Face Masks Available

Two examples of loving our neighbour come from Tricia Lewis and

Rachel Potts. Both have been making scrubs for the hospital and Tricia has a number of face-masks which she is happy to make available to those who would like one. We’ve already got ours and I have tried mine out but only within the house.

Our neighbour has a soul as well as a body

I agree that if your neighbour is hungry it is right to feed him as well as tell him God loves him. For this reason we have got a supply of a tract from Roger Carswell: ‘Hope Beyond Coronavirus’ which we can make available to you. We are not suggesting that we undertake a major distribution of the tract – if we were to do this it is currently likely to worry people as a possible source of infection. However we can give it to individuals appropriately and we are happy to make available to any of you. If you would like copies to look at, and then to hand out as appropriate, please get in touch with us. It may be that the current situation will give opportunities for thoughtful witness in a way which doesn’t often present itself.

Looking ahead

We would anticipate, assuming the government’s schedule isn’t disrupted by a second wave of coronavirus, that we will be able to resume meeting in July. Obviously we would expect to be drawing up plans for this bearing in mind continued fears about the coronavirus and the need to safeguard people through social distancing. If you have concerns or suggestions then please feel free to contact me or one of the church officers nearer the time. We would expect to draw up plans and circulate them before July.

Can you also be praying for the plans for 2021 and the church’s 250th Anniversary? We are

obviously disrupted by the lockdown and organising ahead has not been straightforward.

Regarding the church building, we will be seeking to get some essential and potentially

disruptive jobs done – hopefully during lockdown – please prayer for wisdom and for God’s

providential provision to enable us to take this forward.

Hymns for Sunday

I forgot to put the last Sunday’s hymns in last week’s letter – probably as well as I changed two of them on the Saturday. Currently, I expect the hymns to be: ‘Be Thou My Vision’, ‘I Saw a New Vision of Jesus’, ‘His Mercy is More’, and ‘I will offer up my life’. Don’t be disappointed if something changes before Sunday.

Yours in the Lord,

Mike Plant 15 th May 2020

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