On Sunday morning at 6.50 a.m. today (so you’ve missed it) I was on BBC Radio Berkshire. I am on a rota for the ‘What I Have Learned This Week’ feature, but this week I am doing the ‘My Favourite Hymn/Faith Song’ slot. I found it hard to think of a favourite hymn/faith song. Do we ever just have one favourite or many? Our choice depends so much, I think, on how we’re feeling, our mood, what’s going on in our heads, and our circumstances.
The song I chose is one that has kept coming to me this week, in the midst of all the confusion of the lockdown and the uncertainty around the easing of restrictions, is ‘Jesus, be the centre’ by Michael Frye. I have always liked it and included it as part of my Induction Service at Abbey in November 2018. It has got a lovely, soft Celtic vibe to it and sums up what our focus should be during this difficult period… and beyond!
We have started to think, during our Deacons Chats on Zoom each week, about the question: ‘If we were starting from scratch, what would we want to keep the same in our church and what would we want to change?’ A challenging exercise and no doubt an ongoing discussion! In church life, as in our own personal lives, it is extremely easy to accumulate a lot of unnecessary clutter, to overburden ourselves with stuff that weighs us down, to get trapped by the past and outdated and outmoded ways of being. The church has currently been forced out of buildings and is now liberated to perhaps be a bit more like church should be … people living their lives like Jesus out there in the world. This song helps us to concentrate on Jesus, the true centre of our faith and to re-align our lives towards him and not on the add-ons, the unnecessary and distracting clutter of church and the peripheries of the faith.
Pete Greig of 24/7 Prayer fame sums it up well in his book Dirty Glory: ‘The vision is Jesus. Not Christianity. Not prayer, mission, and justice. Not worship-leading or church-planting or evangelism. If you love Jesus you’ll do that stuff – but in doing those things, don’t lose the why’… It might be healthier if we stopped being Christians for a bit…a week, a month or even a year. We’re just too good at it. It has become habitual. We’ve been operating out of religious muscle memory for so long we’ve got spiritual RSI.’
Are we suffering from spiritual RSI? Do we need to release our religious muscle memory? Have we lost sight of ‘the why?’ The ‘why’ is of course Jesus. The vision is Jesus. The basis of our existence and the foundation of our lives is Jesus. It is all about him. We set our hearts and minds on him (Colossians 3:1,2), we seek to know him better (Philippians 3:10) and give him first place in our lives (Revelation 2:4). The risen Christ asked Peter three times – ‘do you love me’ (John 21:15-17) – am I the centre of your life? Jesus comes to us and asks us the exact same question. May this song be our response… ‘Jesus, be the centre, be my source, be my light… be my vision, Jesus.’
Take time for meditation and reflection
Jesus, be the centre,
Be my source, be my light, Jesus.
Jesus, be the centre,
be my hope, be my song, Jesus.
Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in these sails
Be the reason that I live
Jesus, be my vision,
be my path, be my guide, Jesus.
Be the fire in my heart…
Michael Frye © 1999 Vineyard Songs UK/ Song Solutions CopyCare
~ Julia Binney