Connecting Beyond the Walls

Today’s word of hope comes to us from our own Jake Hill, Music Associate / Organist

 As we journey through this Holy Week before Easter, we are led to examine different elements of the body each day. If you read and listened with us last Wednesday, you’ll recall a concentration on hands- specifically, God’s hands- being reassured of their wide-reaching and ever-present touch by two world-class singers. Today, we continue that awareness as we plunge deeper into the invitation extended to us by those same, holy hands.

 Holy week is a time in which we reflect on God’s greatest sacrifice to us and follow Jesus’ journey towards the cross. This particular journey is one that defines a great Christian belief- that God so loved this world that he gave his only son, Jesus, for our sins, and not for our sins alone, but for the sins of the whole world; that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

 How appropriate that we should consider the image of hands this day; God’s sacrifice is one that portrays the greatest gesture of outstretched hands, inviting us all, sins aside, to find grace and mercy in His redemptive power. In scriptural ways, we see that same grace and mercy extended through Jesus countless times as he cures and heals a myriad of people throughout the Gospels, as he humbly stretches out his own hands to wash the feet of his disciples, and as those same hands bear the callus of the cross. The redundancy is overwhelmingly evident: God’s grace and mercy is for us all, and he is always waiting to welcome us with outstretched hands. 

That invitation, those outstretched hands that welcome us, bid us each to put aside those worldly things that distract us, to lay down the sins that weigh heavy on us, and to focus on the grace and mercy God has for us.  

 Renowned composer Bob Chilcott masterfully captured the Passion according to St. John in a multi-movement choral work composed for the choir of Wells Cathedral which they premiered on Palm Sunday, 24 March, 2013. While I commend the entire performance to you (a link will be provided at the end of this post), I invite you to listen to and let the words of movement 11, “Away vain world” be your prayer this day:



St. John Passion, Part II
 11. “Away vain world”

Away vain world, bewitcher of my heart!
My sorrow shows, my sin makes me to smart!
Yet will I not despair
But to my God repair,
He has mercy ay,
Therefore will I pray.
He has mercy ay and loves me
Though by his humbling hand he proves me. 

Once more away, shows loth the world to leave,
Bids oft adieu with it that holds me slave.
Loth am I to forgo
This sweet alluring foe.
Since thy ways are vain,
Shall I thee retain?
Since thy ways are vain, I quite thee.
Thy pleasures shall no more delight me.

 What shall I say? Are all my pleasures past?
Shall worldly joys now take their leave at last?
Yea, Christ, these earthly toys
Shall turn in heavenly joys.
Let the world be gone, I love Christ alone.
Let the world be gone, I care not.
Christ is my love alone, I fear not.

* Some of the text in this piece comes from the middle English period. “Loth is middle English for ‘loath’ – meaning reluctant or unwilling. Likewise, “Quite” is a middle English variant for ‘quit’. 

A link to the entire work, St. John Passion by Bob Chilcott: 







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