Thursday, 10 September 2020

CMM Regional Reps - September eNews

 

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Dear friends,

We believe CMM still has so much to offer in terms of products and ministry. We really want more people to know about us, including individuals, choirs, churches, schools, house-groups, etc. So we are delighted to announce the formation of CMM REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES who will be our “ears and eyes” in the local areas, putting folk in touch with CMM and us with them. You really cannot over-estimate the value of local knowledge.

This is an exciting development for us, so please have a look at the LIST OF REGIONAL REPS.

  • Do you notice a gap where CMM is not represented?
  • Do you know of someone who might be suitable for the task?

If so, please do get in touch with me so we can investigate further.  We are looking for those with a good networking instinct, comfortable with internet and media, and who share our vision for spreading the good news of Jesus.  No one is a CMM ‘expert’ as we have a wide catalogue of resources, including musicals, collections, backing-tracks, choral and instrumental arrangements, books, house-group material, etc. but promotional work is so valuable to us, and personal recommendation so effective!

Here’s a heads-up for the immediate future:

  • Late September – we publish Dave Gidney’s TORN CURTAIN BIBLE STUDIES for house-groups and individuals.  We’re thrilled with it, and it can be use in connection with my musical or as a stand-alone study.
  • Mid October – the camels are coming!  THREE WISE CAMELS – a musical for all-ages – whether we can get together to sing at Christmas or not, this will bring fun, joy and meaning to your celebrations.

More news in our next mailing.

Don’t forget to tune in to HEART & SOUL each Wednesday 6-8pm (repeats Thursday 11am-1pm) – we have some amazing guests and great music.

Keep in touch – pray for us if you can!

Roger

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

New Video Premiere from CMM

 Dear friends,

We are thrilled to announce that on Friday evening (21st August) at 8pm our latest video is going live! It features teaching on Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16), and culminates in our exciting virtual choir and orchestra performance of 'O Worship the King.'

If you are able to join us live on our YouTube channel at 8pm or by clicking the video link below (the video picture of me!), then we can watch the premiere together and you'll be able to participate in the accompanying live chat. After the video has premiered, it will be available on our YouTube channel for the foreseeable future.


The virtual choir and orchestra video of 'O Worship the King' will also be available from 9pm on Friday - do share widely and encourage folks to engage with the ministry on social media. The more you like and comment, the further afield our posts on Facebook are seen. We long to bring the light of Christ and joy to people in this difficult time.

Sheet music and recordings for 'O Worship the King' can be found in the musical Two Sisters and a Funeral or The Roger Jones Hymn Collection available from the CMM Shop. An anthem version is also available to purchase on this page at Sheet Music Plus.

In the absence of income from our events we have been so encouraged by the way God has led people to give to the ministry. If you are able to support us in this way please either see our leaflet here or visit our Virgin Money Giving page.

Finally, Heart & Soul is still going strong - don't forget to tune in at Brumside Radio or via an online radio app every Wednesday at 6pm (repeated on Thursdays at 11am). All our shows are available here on the CMM Blog.

Keep your eyes on our news for details of the new musical coming soon, and several books in the pipeline. 

God bless you all!

Roger

www.cmm.org.uk
01527 576440

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus - Devotional August Mailing

Dear Friends,

August is upon us. This would usually be a time where we travel to some of the most beautiful places in the country to lead music weeks. We are so sad not to be able to do this, and are deeply missing all of the friends we would usually see. In its place we are creating a special Music Week Evening on Friday 21st August - a video premiere to be broadcast on YouTube, which we can all join together to watch. Keep your eyes on our email mailings and social media for the final link when it has been completed.

In these days it is so important to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, so we have created a lyric video to accompany Annie's wonderful song based upon these words from the start of Hebrews 12. If you wish to purchase the recording featuring soloist Mike Stanley, it is available on our Look of Love CD, and the sheet music can be found in the Roger Jones Song Collection. Don't forget our current offer - if you purchase anything from the CMM shop you receive a free 'Biblical Snakes, Biblical Ladders' book along with your purchase.

Have a look at the video below, and then Roger has some devotional thoughts below to refresh and inspire us.

We’re to “fix our eyes upon Jesus” (Heb 12:2).  But how?  What does he look like: The grotesque shadow of the Turin Shroud? Robert Powell? Mel Gibson? Or even our own CMM soloists Mike Stanley, Gordon Lee, Simon Cooper, Devon Brown?  Is he black, white, yellow, purple?  We’re all conditioned by culture, ethnicity and education, so have our own ideas, notions and expectancy.

So how do we picture him?  For those of us who believe in him, when we see him, it will be a sight beyond our wildest imagination – a person who is pure, unconditionally accepting and loving us – the ultimate look of love!  Consider the love displayed for the beloved: “Let me see your face…” in Song of Songs (2:14).

I’ve often been helped by the idea of him being a friendly guy in a check shirt and jeans on a park bench, inviting me to come and sit, rest and chat.   We all have our own ideas and conceptions, but I’m certain he won’t be some kind of ‘Star Trek’ alien being that would frighten or threaten.  The Bible says we’re made in his image, so in some way, no matter how much that image has been tarnished, something of him remains.  He’ll be a person we recognise, who smiles and speaks, with a facial expression that says love without limit.  He’ll look like one of us, although of course, we will be incredibly changed.  Will my white hair be blonde? I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to finding out!

We’re to fix our eyes upon Jesus, but also to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  Are these irreconcilable commands?  Maybe this idea may help:

Imagine walking backwards!  What does it feel like?  Pretty scary?  We might trip up or get completely lost.  That game of falling backwards into someone’s arms has never really appealed to me: what if they drop me?  What if they’re not there?  It’s more about the strength and reliability of the one behind us as it is about our own faith.  Would you trust a stranger no matter how much they promised?  We walk by faith because we know him already, at least in a small way, and that knowledge grows as the walk progresses.

“Fix your eyes upon Jesus” begins chapter 12 of Hebrews, which (amazingly!) follows straight on from chapter 11, which is all about looking back at ordinary, very imperfect men and women who exercised faith in their ‘walk’ with God.  We learn by experience, by reading of the great cloud of witnesses, and recognising the ‘still, small voice.’ Common sense and conscience may play their part, but we can have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, and that means hearing and knowing his daily direction.

In John 10, Jesus talks of the shepherd’s relationship with his sheep: “He goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”  This gives the clue.  We walk by faith having first got to know his voice, even if in a very small way.  In one of my early radio interviews, our toddler son Tim heard me speak, and instantly responded “Daddy!”.  Above all the local radio jingle-jangle he knew it was me.

The Psalmist says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me,” which in the Hebrew suggests “chases after me”.  It’s not just that we leave a legacy of a faith-walk behind us, although Enoch’s enviable obituary “he walked with God” is what I’d like to inherit.  But he is there in our history, and we make history every second.  A voice from behind (if we’re walking backwards it comes from behind!) says “This is the way, walk in it”.  How do we know it’s him?  Because we’ve already experienced something of him.

At one point the Old Testament people of God laid an “Ebenezer” (a stone of help, not of the Scrooge variety!) to remind them of how “so far the Lord has led us”. (I Sam 7:12).  It’s not that we should live in the past, but at times when life is confusing or we feel God is far away, remembering how he spoke and acted may help us find him in the present.  Learning to hear his voice, to know what he sounds like, know how he speaks, is the walk of faith that accompanies the eye-fixing challenge of Hebrews 12. 

How do we learn to walk in the Spirit?  By making small steps as the Spirit leads us.  How do we learn to witness?  By being a witness.  How do we learn to pray and minister in the Spirit?  By praying and ministering in the Spirit, obeying, and discovering how it works – just as the first disciples did in their response to Jesus’ direction.

But looking back involves discernment, because we all have a chequered past, “skeletons in the cupboard” of past experiences, good and bad done to us or by us.  We can’t change our history, but he can change the way it affects us, as Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Heb 13:8)  He can changes the power of past hurts, break chains that have bound us, and change the way past memories feel and taste!

The Psalmist wrote “Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Ps 119:11).  We have so often believed lies, accepted curses, and made destructive vows by believing and accepting views about God and ourselves that are simply not Biblical.  “You knew me in my mother’s womb” says the Psalmist (Ps 139:13) so no one is a mistake or unwanted, and there is no place he can’t go to put matters right.  But we do need to put more Bible into our memory-banks!

Allowing Jesus into our past, may at times require allowing others to come alongside us!  But we can look back in wonder: wonder at how he could love us so greatly despite everything and wonder at what he might show us next.

Fixing our eyes upon Jesus, turning away from that which hurts us, is not a denial of the reality of past pain.  It’s a choice we can make daily, moment by moment, letting him be the Lord and healer of our past, present, and glorious future!

Blessings,

Roger


Finally, don't forget to tune into Heart & Soul every Wednesday evening at 6pm (repeated Thursday morning at 11am) on Brumside Radio. In August we are starting a series featuring different christian Songwriters and performers, beginning with Graham Kendrick tonight!


Friday, 17 July 2020

Get involved in a CMM Project!

Dear friends,

This is a special extra mailing from Helen here at CMM because we'd love you to...

Get involved in a CMM project!

We are aware that many of you are very disappointed that our CMM Music Weeks haven't been able to go ahead as planned this year. There are also some out there who have pondered coming but never been able to make it, and still others that haven't a clue what we're talking about! Well, we have a plan to make a difference in all of those areas this August.

On the evening of Friday 21st August - which should have been the final Torn Curtain performance of our Scargill week - we hope to premiere a video on YouTube that is almost a little CMM Music Week documentary. We hope to include some worship, then some teaching from Roger including songs to sing along with, finishing with a mini-performance.

How you can get involved:

  • Singers/instrumentalists - if you would like to be involved in the mini-performance, let us know by Friday 31st July. We'll send you the backing track and music, and it'd be great if you would video yourself. Full instructions will be emailed. You'll need one device for listening to the track on headphones, and another device for videoing. If you want to be involved, email Helen on events@cmm.org.uk with your instrument or voice part. 
  • Closing date for submissions will be Friday 7th August, so if you want more time, let us know sooner. Whether or not everyone appears on the video itself will be a matter of technology, but we hope to include everyone if possible!
  • Keep your eyes on our monthly mailings and social media feeds for the link to the premiere. We can all watch together and enjoy fellowship through the comments as the video plays.
  • If you aren't free that evening, the video will remain on the CMM YouTube page indefinitely so you can watch at a later date!

 

Other exciting news:

Then finally, the CMM Trust is now signed up to Amazon Smile. If you are a regular Amazon shopper you may be aware that you can go to smile.amazon.co.uk to do your shopping, and it will give a small donation to your chosen charity. To set CMM Trust as your chosen charity, click on this link: https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/516643-0

You also can manually add the CMM Trust to your Amazon App as your chosen charity, although you may have to re-enter the Trust every few months.

Thank you all so much for your love and support!

Helen

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

When I survey - Roger's July 2020 eNews

The “wondrous cross” stands at the climax of history, as the greatest act of love and worship the universe has ever seen.  Here was God the Creator himself, taking on human form, offering himself as penalty for all the sins of the world, all we’ve ever done and ever will do.  “This is love; not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10).


Friends, the Cross was not a mistake, a failure, a bad thing happening to a good man.  From the beginning of time the Cross was meant to be.  When God created human beings in his image, to have a relationship of the choice of love and with him, he knew that at some point in history (his-story) that he would have to buy us back by paying the ultimate price.  “It is finished” was a cry of victory, where the creator of the universe, the lover of our souls, is saying: “Your life matters this much to me!  Job done!”


So, from Genesis words of him "crushing the serpents head", through Messianic Psalms including “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, and Isaiah’s suffering servant who “bore our suffering” as “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all”, we see the love-song emerging.  God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to himself, doing for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. 


Do we want to see what human sin has done to God – look at the cross!

Do we want to know how much God loves us – look at the cross!


Isaac Watt’s words “When I survey the wondrous cross” compel us to not just pass it by as another event in history.  We are to keep the message and reality of the cross before us, beside us and behind us, for without the cross there would be no Bible, no Resurrection, no Pentecost - in fact - no hope!  It’s now an empty cross, for he is risen, but the crucifix imagery reminds us of our terms of reference and acceptance with the living God and our certain hope for the future.  “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life my all.”


So, we offer you another of our “lockdown” efforts, as the CMM office staff (Amy, Annie, Helen, Mary, Tim and myself) re-produce one of my early hymn tunes.  May it bless you and draw you closer to Jesus and into his love!




Yours in Jesus,


Roger


PS.  Many thanks to those of you who were able to help us financially after receiving our previous eNews.


(The sheet music arrangement and our other recordings of “When I survey” come from “Saints Alive!” and also in the “Roger Jones Hymn Collection”.)

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Roger's June 2020 ENews

Hi there folks – greetings to all!

 

This seems such a “bitter-sweet” time.  I’m thrilled with the creativity that is emerging in so many different ways, and delighted to announce the coming of a new musical,  THE THREE WISE CAMELS.  I’m sure you can guess what it’s about!  It will be a short mini-musical (probably 8 songs) including a drama by Jane Hicks, for Christmas/Epiphany.  We are all very excited about this.  The songs are almost complete, we’re starting to get backing tracks arranged, and George Hicks is working on the cover artwork.  We hope to have it available for Christmas.

 

However, there are problems surrounding how we can complete the project:  


  • Recording voices will be difficult, although not impossible, but getting a choir or group together is problematic.
  • All our CMM events are cancelled, including the August music weeks, so sadly ministry opportunities are being missed, and we are not receiving any financial return. 
  • Orders for products have significantly declined (Mary and I are managing to fulfil these ourselves whilst Tim is working from home).  This also effects financial support for the ministry.

 

But, we believe it right to keep going, in fact we are all working from home and very busy with exciting projects.  

 

How can you help?


  • Pray for us –  This is the absolute priority.  We want to keep in line with the Holy Spirit at all times, and it’s important that things are done His way.  (Please contact us office@cmm.org.uk if you would like to become a “Prayer Warrior” for us.  This is a very special type of praying that some are call to do.)
  • Donate to CMM – Some may feel able to give or even increase giving – every little helps.  Go to this link, or contact us at CMM.  (We can remotely pay in cheques made to “CMM” or “Christian Music Ministries”.)
  • Purchase our products – we have the special offer of a Music Book and CD for any of the MUSICALS at a special price of £15, and we’re offering Peter Lawrence’s BIBLICAL SNAKES BIBLICAL LADDERS £5 post free, or free with any order.  (I’ve written 23 musicals – have you got the set?)

 

We are maintaining our weekly HEART & SOUL broadcasts (Wed 6-8pm;  repeated Thurs 11am-1pm on www.brumsideradio.com ) and we’ve presented some great interviews, testimonies and music.  It is encouraging to be able to continue this ministry despite the restrictions.

 

If you missed our  Annual Supporters Evening video you can watch it below, or find it on the Christian Music Ministries Youtube channel here.


 

 


One last appeal!

We’d love to re-issue the original JERUSALEM JOY recording, with Chris Bowater and the choir of Aston Manor School.  But we can’t trace the master tapes, and cassettes usually aren’t good enough.  Has anyone access to a good record player (vinyl) that can be connected to a digital recorder of some sort?  We have the records, but not the equipment  - Any offers welcome!  Please let us know (office@cmm.org.uk).

 

Bless you all!

 

Roger

Monday, 8 June 2020

Heart & Soul

If you want to listen back to the Heart and Soul back catalogue, look no further.  Here are some Mixcloud links.

Roger is thrilled to be involved in a local internet radio station.  The station isn't limited to the Birmingham area though - it is an internet radio so you can listen in anywhere!  Roger, along with Debra Mayo, Dave Stansbie and Graeme Russell host the Heart & Soul show on Wednesdays from 6-8pm (repeated Thursdays 11am-1pm).  The first half of the show is usually a pre-recorded interview with all kinds of interesting people such as Jonathan Viera and Bishop Graham Dow.  The second half is live in the studio with the team chatting to a variety of local guests.  All of the chat is interspersed with a variety of Christian music.  Do tune in if you get chance, and follow the programme on Facebook.

The last few shows are up on Mixcloud, so if you want to listen again, you can do so here:

12th September features an interview with Dave Fellingham, and then the team welcome childrens and families worker Trish Nesbett.

19th September - Roger interviews Alison Fuggle, poet and lyricist about her life and her new Christmas book 'With all the Trimmings'.  In the second hour Roger and Debs share more music and chat.

25th September - Roger shares his interview with hymnwriter Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith.  In the second hour Simon and Roger chat to four girls about to go to Peru with BMS.

3rd October - Roger interviews the wonderful Emily Owen about her experiences becoming deaf as a teenager and about her work as an author.  Then in the second half of the programme the team talk to Nicole Robinson-Edwards about her work with Kids Klub Kampala.

10th October - Roger interviews soprano Anne Linstrum for the first hour, and then in the second week the focus is on Baby Loss Awareness week with moving interviews and conversation.

17th October - Roger interviews Jon Pocock and then the team talk about dementia with Sue Hallcroft.

24th October - a moving interview with Ruth Aylward and her mother Sally Rhodes about worship and mental health, followed by in-studio chat with Dick Rogers - clergyman, GP and parliamentary candidate.

31st October - Roger interviews Gordon Bailey about his life as entertainer, and then Roger and Debra chat about Halloween and how we should respond to it as Christians.

7th November - Roger interviews guitarist Paul Poulton about his life and ministry, and then for the second half of the show the team chat to Nick Jones, Methodist Minister in South Birmingham.

14th November - Roger chats to Steve and Velveta Thompson - Steve is Graham Kendrick's keyboard player.  Then more fun in the studio with Simon and Debs.

21st November - Emma Sargeant talks about her work as Youth Project Manager for the Church of England in Birmingham.  Then for the second hour 4 young people from 'Fast Forward' - the youth group at Holy Trinity Lickey come in.

28th November - In the first hour Roger travels to Sussex and interviews cast members from JAIL BREAK, who performed in the local prison.  The second hour sees Revs Glyn & Maureen Dew in the studio asking what do vicars do when the retire?

5th December - Roger chats to folks at Longbridge Retirement Village, and then Sheri, Dave and Rachel Gidney return to the studio to tell everyone how they got on in Kenya.

12th December - a wonderful interview with Chris Eaton, songwriter for Cliff Richard and more, followed by a chat in the studio with Richard Pidgley.

19th December - the first hour features Roger's Christmas musical, The Inn Crowd, and for the second hour Debs shares her own special Christmas music.

26th December - Roger presents Lessons and Carols - traditional and contemporary seasonal music with readings by David Suchet.  Then Simon, with Roger, presents his own varied selection of Christmas songs and carols.

2nd January - Roger presents Simeon, a Christmas musical featuring Beresford King-Smith as Simeon, with Simon Gudger as Joseph, Katie Leaver as Mary, and Gloria Close as Anna, the prophetess.  Then Rev Simon Gudger and Roger Jones present Top of the Praise Pops. Find out which songs have been most sung during 2018. There will be some surprises!

16th January - Roger Jones interviews well-known CMM singer, Ann Steer about her life and music.  Then Simon Gudger and Roger Jones welcome Andrew Haynes the racing preacher to chat about his unique ministry.

23rd January - Roger interviews New Wine author, theologian, songwriter and worship leader Neil Bennetts.  Then Debs shares thoughts, plays worship songs, and talks with local musician Helen Whitten about local churches plans to present the Christian musical "Wildfire".

30th January - Roger interviews author Deborah Armin about how she has come through and survived horrendous times of abuse and rejection, as shared in her book "On my Way Home".  Then we welcome "Story Behind the Hymn" Dave Stansbie and we find out how certain hymns have made such an impact on his life.

6th February - Following Roger's visit last week to Abu Dhabi (UAE), he interviews Rev Andrew Thompson, author and senior Chaplin of St Andrew's Abu Dhabi, who shares about his work in the UAE and his engagement with the Islamic world.  Then Debra Mayo brings an hour of inspiring music and chat to lift your heart and bless your soul.

13th February - Roger interviews Abby Eaton about her work with the Mariposa Trust that supports those who have been affected by the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy. Then Chris Roe, a local Christian and church warden, comes into the studio to talk about a new outreach in Walsall and surrounding areas.

20th February - Roger talks to Adrian Plass about his life and ministry - a full length interview that is moving, informative and at times hilarious!  Then for the second hour Simon and Roger welcome Andy Hancock and members of the Life Central youth group from Halesowen.

27th February - Roger talks to Rev John Mosey, who lost his daughter when a PanAm flight exploded over Lockerbie. 30 years later he reflects upon his and his family's faith journey, etc - a very moving and challenging interview.  Then Debs and Roger welcome Rev Heather Flack, former local vicar who has now become an author.

6th March - Roger talks to Rev Jo Honour, Managing Chaplain at Her Majesty's Prison Stafford. She reflects upon her role as a prison chaplain and her own faith journey.  Then Dave Stansbie and Roger welcome Graeme Russell, Community Missioner from Redditch.

13th March - A repeat of Roger's interview with Rt Rev Graham Dow - former bishop of Carlisle - a very informative interview with plenty of encouragement and challenge for today's church.  In the second hour Debs and Simon welcome a team from "Healing on the Streets", and talk about their exciting work of sharing the love and power of Jesus outside the church walls.

20th March - Roger talks to Alison Nicholas MBE, famous golfer who leapt to fame when she won the Ladies' British Open and then the US Open. Alison shares about her life in golf and her journey into faith in Jesus.  Then in the second hour Simon and Roger welcome Wesley Erpen of Birmingham City Mission. He shares about the work of BCM and also about his own personal faith.

27th March - Roger interviews Jo Boyce of CJM Music. She used to work alongside Mike Stanley, who took the part of Jesus in Angel Voices as well as singing on numerous other CMM recordings.  The second hour of the show features Marcus Pagnam, worship leader at St John's Harborne, a large Anglican church in Birmingham.

3rd April - Roger talks to Gornal-based worship leader DAVE POPE about his life and ministry in mission and music.  In the second hour Simon and Roger welcome Rev Tim Ferguson, minister at Olton Baptist, Solihull, to talk about his work in ministry, and also about his own faith journey.

10th April - Roger talks to Dave Gidney and Michael Mwanikha about the work of Children Worldwide, and then in the studio Debs and Roger chat to Trevor Gay who runs an Alpha Course from a pub, and 90 year-old Gladys Clifton who became a Christian through it!

17th April - the first hour features the whole of Roger's musical Jerusalem Joy, with Devon Brown as Jesus and narrated by Michele Guinness.  Then for the second hour Debs and Simon chat welcome back Andy Hancock with his youth group from Life Central Church, Halesowen.

24th April - a special Easter show beginning with an hour-long documentary on the life and ministry of Billy Graham.  In the second hour Debra Mayo brings her own Easter reflections, with great thoughts and fabulous songs.

1st May - for the first hour Roger talks to worship leader and children's song-writer Ian Smale (Ishmael).  Then for the second hour Simon talks to Keith and Jackie Medler who head up Catshill Baptist Foodbank.

8th May - For the first hour, Roger talks to Nigel Swinford about his life and ministry with the New English Orchestra. Then after 7pm Roger and Debs are chat to Janet and Bryan Hewett from Christians in Sport, and Philip J Nott, the chaplain at Aston Villa.

15th May - An interview with Ann Widdecombe.  Then for the second hour Dave and Roger chat to Alan Walker, a football ref and insurance loss adjuster.

22nd May - Roger interviews Emma Buchan, co-ordinator for the 'Thy Kingdom Come' prayer project.  In the second hour Roger, Dave and Simon chat to Alan Holdsworth and Kathryn Alvis from Unity Prayer in East Birmingham.

29th May - the first hour feature's Carol and Jimmy Owens' wonderful musical The Witness.  Then the second hour Mark & Trish Fox talk about their new book on Healing and John's Gospel.

5th June - Roger talks to CMM Soloist Simon Cooper about his life and ministry with Refreshment UK in Blackpool.  Then it's a 'chilled hour' with Debs.

12th June - A moving and wonderful interview with singer-songwriter Paul Field fills the first hour, and then the second hour features John Cooper, recently appointed director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

19th June - Roger chats to singer-songwriter Joe King about music and depression for the first hour, and then in the second hour Rev Nigel Hand comes to the studio.  He is the canon missioner for the Birmingham Anglican Diocese.

26th June - Roger interviews staff and students from London School of Theology, then Debs and Dave welcome Ruben King and Adrian Grey to talk about their Templesound Worship Music.

3rd July - Roger speaks to author and speaker Eric Delve about his life and ministry.  During the second hour Rev Francis Williamson from Kings Norton Baptist Church will be in the studio.

10th July - Roger interviews Clair Rogoff  - singer, songwriter and teacher.  Then Dave chats to Christian bookshop managers Warwick Goulding and Tim McCloud.

17th July - features Roger's musical 'Wildfire' for the first hour, and then a studio chat with Colin Tamplin, former pastor at Monyhull Church.
24th July - Roger interviews Roger Mayor, composer, arranger and pianist.  Then Dave and Debs chat to Steve Chedgzoy from Operation Mobilisation.

From 31st July - 28th August the Heart & Soul team are taking a well-earned rest, and each show will comprise two hours of non-stop worship music.  If you want to listen to any of these shows, you'll find our playlist here.

4th September - the team return to Heart & Soul with a moving interview with Chris Bowater, followed by chat with Roger and Debs in the studio.

11th September - Roger interviews singer, song-writer, worship leader Sue Rinaldi who shares about her life and ministry featuring several songs from her latest album "Stranger". The second hour is 'live' with the studio visit of Rev Jill MacDonald, local lay-reader, church minister and recent recipient of Alphege Award by the Archbishop of Canterbury for exceptional contribution to community building.

18th September - Roger's feature interview is with Methodist minister and author Andrew Roberts about his book "Holy Habits", which has become a nationwide for churches and is still growing!  Then Roger and Dave welcome Tom, a Birmingham policeman, former Royal Marine, who shares how he came to faith and how Jesus makes a difference to his daily life on the streets of the second city.

25th September - Roger interviews singer, song-writer, worship leader Lou Fellingham about her life and ministry, with songs from Lou's latest album.  Then live in the studio Morgan Robinson shares about her work as a vet, her passion for leading worship and her faith journey.

2nd October - Roger features Christian opera singer Jonathan Veira and talks to his fans and supporters before and after his appearance at Spring Harvest.  Then we welcome Rev Jo Musson, a "wing-walking" vicar from Worcester!

9th October - We revisit Roger's interview with Abby Eaton as part of our special evening for Baby Loss Awareness Week.  In the second hour Roger and Debs are joined by Roger's CMM colleague Helen Pollard as she shares about miscarriage and emotional healing.

16th October - There was a slight issue with the recording for the first hour so the Mercy Ships interview was repeated the following week.  The second hour features Chris Milton, chaplain to Cadbury College.

23rd October - We hear from Darren Richards about the amazing work of Mercy Ships, which brings medical care and attention to 1000s of folk each year.  Then Debs and Dave welcome Grace Beecher - Singer/Songwriter from Temple Sound based at Harvest Temple Church - Wolverhampton.

30th October - Roger talks to Val Ralston about the amazing schools work of "Open the Book". Then for the second hour Debs and Roger Garth Nathaniel, Rector at Ipsley, in another of our "Meet the Minister" series.

6th November - Roger talks to Peter Moger and his wife Heather Moger about their love for worship and music. Until recently Peter was Precentor at York Minster, and Heather, a professional musician and teacher has produced great material to help under-5s develop and make music. At 7-8pm Dave Stansbie and Roger present an hour of chat and worship music.

13th November - Roger Jones talks to composer, arranger, pianist Roger Mayor about his life, music and ministry. Then Dave and Debra welcome dynamic Anglican vicar and author Andy Delmege.

20 November - an interview and music from CMM's own Ann Steer for the first hour. For the second hour Dave and Graeme chat to David King from Temple Harvest Church in Wolverhampton about his singles ministry.


27 November - Roger chats to Linda Ngamlana, principal of the Amasongo School in Grahamstown, South Africa, alongside supporter Kate Mier, a vicar in Studley. Then for the second hour, Stuart and Vicky Kettell, wedding photographers with a difference are going to be chatting in the studio.

4th December - Roger talks to Chantal Mason, a member of the Lee Abbey community who tells of her own faith journey and also of the work and ministry of the wonderful North Devon community.  Then Dave and Debs welcome the dynamic "Racing Reverend" Colin Mcllwaine.

11 December - Roger chats to Helen Sworn and Amanda Daly about the work of "Chab Dai", an organisation based in Cambodia that helps to combat the awful impact of human trafficking. Then Debs and Dave welcome Rev Claire Turner, vicar of St Chad's Rubery, in our series of "Meet the Minister".

18 December - Roger Jones talks to international singer songwriter Chris Eaton about his songs on last year's Cliff Richard album. Listen to how Chris got the ideas for songs and how Sir Cliff is doing.  Then Debra hosts an hour of traditional and modern Christmas music.

25 December - Roger shares his musical 'Simeon' and then Dave brings some Christmas carols and songs.

1 January - Roger presents his musical 'The Inn Crowd' and then Dave brings more wonderful carols and songs.

8 January - a wonderful show featuring Roger's interview with Fiona Castle, as well as a chat in the studio with Joy Doal, CEO of Anawim.

15 January - Roger interviews Bishop Anne Hollinghurst, Bishop of Aston in Birmingham.  The for the second hour Debs and Roger welcome Canon David Swarbrick, vicar of All Saints Kings Heath.

4 March - Roger interviews Gordon Lee, soloist in both Mary Magdalene and From Pharaoh to Freedom before starting his own ministry.  Then for the second hour enjoy chat with the whole team in the studio.

11 March - Roger interviews songwriter and worship leader Dave Haddon about his life and ministry.  For the second hour Graeme and Debs chat to Guy Donegan-Cross, the Birmingham Diocesan leader for Growing Disciples.

18 March - Roger interviews dancer Lily Brito during his visit to Abu Dhabi about her amazing story. Then Graeme and Debra chat to Rev Guy Donegan-Cross about Growing Disciples.

22 March - a special Mothering Sunday service from Catshill Baptist led by Rev Simon Gudger.

25 March - Roger chats to Rev Sue Field, Archdeacon Pastor of Coventry.  She has long been connected with CMM.  Then Dave presents an hour of music and chat.

29 March - morning worship from Simon Gudger at Catshill Baptist Church

01 April - Roger and Graeme interview boxer Andy Flute about his interesting life and faith journey.  Then Graeme presents reflections on how Spring Harvest had been been a blessing to him.

05 April - morning worship from Simon Gudger at Catshill Baptist Church

08 April - the first hour is Roger's Easter musical, Jerusalem Joy.  Then Debs brings an hour of chilled music and reflection for the week before the cross.

10th April - a service for Good Friday from Rev Simon Gudger

12th April - Easter Sunday morning worship from Rev Simon Gudger

15th April - a special 2nd birthday edition featuring Roger's musical Mary Magdalene narrated by Annie Routley.  Then for the second hour Dave shares Easter music and reflection.

19th April - Sunday morning worship from Simon Gudger at Catshill Baptist Church

22nd April - a rerun of Roger's interview with Fiona Castle, followed by an hour of music and chat from Debs.

25th April - Sunday morning worship from Simon Gudger at Catshill Baptist Church

29th April - Roger talks to Jonathan Veira about his latest album and shares some wonderful tracks, and then Graeme shares a 'Lockdown Reflection'.

3rd May - Sunday morning worship from Simon Gudger at Catshill Baptist Church

6th May - Roger talks to Spring Harvest speaker Steve Legg about his international ministry, particularly in reaching men for Jesus.  Then Dave reveals the 'pick of the worship pops'.

10th May - Sunday morning worship from Simon Gudger at Catshill Baptist Church

13th May - Roger talks to local GP and Anglican Lay Reader Ian Morrey.  Then Debs presents an hour of reflection, prayer and praise.

17th May - Sunday morning worship from Simon Gudger at Catshill Baptist Church































Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Supporters Evening Special ENews

Hi folks

I’m delighted to announce that we are to hold our ANNUAL SUPPORTERS EVENING tomorrow night (Thursday 21st) at 8.15pm, and YOU are invited!  It will include:

  • A review the past year
  • Plans for the future – we really need  your prayers for this!
  • I share something of the vision that I believe the Lord has laid upon my heart 
  • A new song, written during the “lockdown”, that we pray will bring comfort and hope
The supporters evening will take the form of a youtube premiere beginning at 8:15pm at this link. We will all watch together from our various different homes and there will be opportunities to comment and share thoughts, prayers, etc.  We really hope you can join us! 


Here’s a reminder of ongoing CMM offers and activities:

  • Peter Lawrence’s classic book: BIBLICAL SNAKES, BIBLICAL LADDERS. Buy the book online for £5 and we'll send it to you with free postage.
  • Order anything else from the CMM SHOP and we'll include Peter's book as a gift (I'll even sign things if you ask!).
  • SPECIAL OFFER - a Music Book & CD any of my MUSICALS at a special price of £15 (plus postage)
  • HEART & SOUL, continues each Wednesday at 6-8pm on www.brumsideradio.com (repeated each Thursday 11am-1pm). Each Sunday morning at 11am we join Rev Simon Gudger at Catshill Baptist Church.
  • See our CMM Diary – we don’t know how things will work out, but the Lord does!

We really could not do all this without you.  You are so special and important to us, so please do keep in touch!

Glorify the Lord with me: let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)

 

Bless you!

Roger

Friday, 15 May 2020

Life is like a Zoom Call

A blog post today by our wonderful Amy, CMM associate and Roger's PA:

By now, many of you will be used to doing life electronically, having meetings on zoom or skype and seeing loved ones through a variety of video calls, picture messages and cards and because of this digital world we have been thrust into, life for me seems busier than ever – and that’s before I throw my very active 20 month old into the equation! But as I reflect on things now, I’ve realised that our lives have not only changed, but altered in such a way that God can come and use the ‘slower pace’ of life to show us many things.

Life before 'lockdown' was often busy and full of many problems and challenges but there was a joy in the freedom we had. Outside of the vast array of activities we could do, it was also our choice as to who our friends and our neighbours were, who we confided in and who we chose to be in close relation with. And for me, this brought great comfort as I knew who I could share my joys as well as my sorrows with and knew that if I was having a particularly hard day, I could look forward to seeing those I love or chatting through things over a nice drink in a café somewhere.

And in many ways I would say that ‘lockdown’ has taken all of that away. I feel perhaps more distant than ever to my friends, even my family. People are struggling under the weight of looking after children, juggling work, home and even church commitments. Pain, loneliness, resentment, frustration and grief are all given the opportunity to grow and take root because the world has slowed down enough to allow them in, and lets face it, no amount of video calling can ever replace the human need for physical company, comfort and touch. 

But in this period of difficulty and at times, great hardship, God has showed me that this season can also be like a ‘zoom’ or video call. Where we would once meet with someone and see only that which they allowed you to see, now with God’s help, we are able to see more than just the person. When we video call someone, we of course see them, but we also see the physical place that they are in. For me this is usually the sofa or in our bedroom when I'm needing some peace and quiet. But in this period of change and slowing of pace for the world, we are challenged to follow suit, allowing God to dwell within in us and allow us to be able to spend time not only looking at the person, but to consider their surroundings as well; their hopes and fears, their greatest joys or their deepest longings. In the book of Acts it says to "pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which He obtained with His blood (Acts 20:28)."

If I am ever upset, my husband always seems to ask me if I am OK. Of course I am not OK as I would not be crying otherwise, and the fact that he asks this question only seems to make me more upset. Whilst his question is his way of coming close and trying to help, it often feels like he is just not looking or paying attention. Thankfully, my husband is amazing and now knows to come and see what I need, whether that be a hug, some space or even a cup of tea. But in this 'lockdown' period, which is full of many ups and downs, God continues to call us to ‘pay careful attention’ not only to ourselves, but to each other; to look not only at the person we are communicating with, but to consider all that can be seen. And though we may not have full insight or a way of helping them, we know that the Lord will never leave them nor forsake them and thankfully, does not need to apply social distancing either! He can meet us all right here, right now.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Some thoughts and news from Roger

Hi folks

As a child I remember, when on holiday with my parents, how things changed when away from home and in different surroundings. On our walks we greeted passers-by as friends, even though we didn’t actually know them, and we took time to appreciate things otherwise taken for granted. We’d take time to look at the animals in the fields, my architect dad would point out interesting things about buildings, including the guttering and the drains!

Maybe some of us have had occasion for a longer look at things that really matter. As ‘lockdown’ has continued we will all have had times of challenge, sadness, and just maybe, some joys in discovering new abilities, unearthing gifts long since abandoned, inventing strategies, and coping with the enormous change to our daily, weekly and now, monthly lives.

Like most organisations, we’ve been hit hard. Our own events have been cancelled, as have presentations of musicals and use of our products by others. But we are keeping going. Amy, Annie, Helen and Tim are working from home, maintaining activities and developing new ideas. Mary and I are now dealing ourselves with new orders, although they are reduced in volume, reminding us of how things started, way back in the late 1970’s. (‘Jerusalem Joy’ is now 47 years old!).

We are also able to continue HEART & SOUL, with me, Debra Mayo, Graeme Russell, Dave Stansbie broadcasting each Wednesday at 6-8pm on www.brumsideradio.com (repeated each Thursday 11am-1pm). We are also delighted to broadcast, each Sunday morning, a service from Catshill Baptist Church lead by Rev Simon Gudger. Catch up with the back catalogue here.

A lot of new things are emerging:
  • A new-look CMM website is on its way
  • Musicals, books and vocal arrangements increasingly available as downloads, on international sites like “Kindle”, “Sheet Music Plus” and “JW Pepper”
  • New music – I’m in an incredibly creative stage, with new songs and new projects on the go.
We plan to make further announcements later this month.

Thursday 14 May should have been our Annual Supporters Evening, but we are delaying it one week and going “live” online somehow on the evening of Thursday 21 May - further details in due course!

But CMM sales has significantly declined, alongside ministry gifts from events, affecting our ability to develop and maintain the ministry. So, how can you help?
  • Pray for us – this is always the greatest priority
  • Tell others about us – you are our best ambassadors
  • Buy from us – our online shop has every one of my 23 musicals, collections, books, etc, and so much more!
Mary and I were doing some sorting, and we discovered some BIBLICAL SNAKES, BIBLICAL LADDERS books in good condition. This book was written back in the 90s by my dear friend and vicar Peter Lawrence to explain much of the Bible teaching that went into the musical 'Snakes and Ladders'. I must say, it is a really great book. "A cheerful introduction to God, his people and the Bible - from Genesis to Revelation."

We would like to make two very special offers:
  • Buy the book online for £5 and we'll send it to you post-free
  • Order anything at all from the CMM SHOP and we'll include Peter's book as a gift (I'll even sign things if you ask!).
I guess all this shows we really want to keep in touch, and we’re excited about the future. As Christians we have a living hope, and it is that which matters most!

May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope. (Rom 15:13 – JB Phillips)

Bless you all,

Roger



Friday, 17 April 2020

Thoughts for this time from Roger

I must admit that on entering the corona virus lockdown I was very apprehensive.  I became extremely aware, even anxious, of how much buzz and inspiration I get from relating to people and occasions, and how much I miss being with friends and family.  I’ve never been an 'ivory tower' composer who writes for the sake of writing, I’ve always had an end-user in mind.  I started writing for my own school choir, with their gifts, abilities, and an eventual performance in my sights.  This continued into full-time music ministry with our area choirs, soloists, etc, all of whom I envisaged when creating.  Like composing a sermon, you do it with the main aim of connecting with and involving your listeners.

So, how am I coping with isolation? Honestly, there are times when it seemed quite hard, especially at the beginning, but other outlets have appeared, and I am so grateful for technology that allows us to 'Zoom' and 'Skype' around the world!  In this way we’ve spent good times with our loved ones, really appreciating the communication, and especially being able to see them.  In some ways I’m quite enjoying it, although I know there are many others who don’t have such outlets and connections.

Domestically, the lawn is looking better than ever, jobs around the house are getting done, and Mary and I enjoy our daily walk to the park.  Poppy is delighted!  A dear squirrel has eaten its way into my garden shed, set up a nest and caused the shed to lean awkwardly.  I don’t yet know how I’m going to deal with that!

It’s been thrilling to see the explosion of Christian worship, services and events filling the social media. Huge creativity has been released as Christians begin to occupy the internet.  The church is far from being in lockdown, almost too much to take in.  But that’s how I feel each year at SPRING HARVEST - you just take in what you can – but just don’t waste the opportunity!  (I do recommend the YouTube sessions – especially Bishop Jill Duff’s opening address, which sums up all that CMM is about!)

HEART & SOUL continues every Wednesday at 6-8pm on www.brumsideradio.com, each show created remotely.  I volunteered the station a “Thought for the Day” during Holy Week (8 Talks!) and what a tall order that was – every day having to write out my thoughts before recording!  But that got me into creative mode which has included prose and music.  It’s been a long time since I spent so much time writing.  I don’t think I’m expecting a musical to appear, although I am in the process of writing four songs: two for Easter, a healing song and a Christmas carol, so we’ll see where all that leads!

Annie Routley recorded a specially edited version of our musical MARY MAGDALENE that was broadcast this week.  You can catch-up on https://www.mixcloud.com/BrumsideRadio/heart-soul-15-april-2020/.  We’ve made a special offer of this musical:  Music Book & CD for £15 (+ p&p).  Oh, and Mary and I are fulfilling orders ourselves, another extra job!  (Amy, Annie, Helen and Tim are working from home - when they can!)

Life is precious, our relationships are precious, and it’s all so very fragile - each conversation and interaction something to cherish.  I’m sure we all know of someone who has died during this time, some close to us, and that really brings it home.  But amidst all the sadness and disruption, we have that something extra, something that makes the biggest difference in life: we do know where it is all going to conclude.  Read the end of the New Testament - it’s so exciting!  All will be well!  Meanwhile we have this marvellous hope:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

Keep in touch, we love to hear from you.  Keep safe, and most of all, keep close to him!
Roger

Friday, 3 April 2020

Man of Sorrows - an email from CMM

Hi Folks

This April eNews comes out at the start of Holy Week, and as Christians we know there is great hope and a life beyond all things happening around us. With Jesus we have a story to share and a presence to know.

None of us are unaffected by the present crisis, though some much more seriously than others. We must not underestimate the pain and devastation that so many are experiencing, and things may well be harder over the next weeks. Be assured of our love and prayers, and please do keep in touch!

At CMM we are all self-isolating - I myself am finding the absence of person-to-person contact particularly difficult. I miss you all! However, we maintain a “window” with the world.

  • Amy, Annie, Helen and Tim are working from home, but use phone calls, social media and shared drives to keep in touch as much as we can.
  • Mary and I, (helped by Poppy!) have CMM and the house to ourselves but do our best to co-ordinate things and fulfil the occasional mail-order. Sales are significantly reduced.
  • I’ve written three songs so far, so am getting into creative mode! I just don’t know where it will lead!
  • Despite many postponements, the CMM Diary is starting to grow into 2021.

CMM PRODUCTS – musicals, recordings, collections, etc

Why not increase your repertoire with more of our songs and albums? Many have Easter themes e.g. Jerusalem Joy, Saints Alive, Mary Magdalene, Pharisee, Snakes & Ladders, Two Sisters, Rock etc
  • Order from us (we’ll get them to you asap)
  • Listen on Spotify etc
  • Download recordings from iTunes, Amazon - books from Kindle, etc
  • Much of our sheet music is available from Sheet Music Plus
  • NB. Every digital order helps – listening to CMM material online brings a small revenue!

HEART & SOUL

We are running the show remotely
  • Every Wednesday 6-8pm (repeated Thu 11am-1pm) www.brumsideradio.com
  • Each Sunday at 11am we cover the morning service from Catshill Baptist, with Rev Simon Gudger
  • I’ll be doing a “Thought for the Day”, based on a “Jerusalem Joy” song each day from this Sat 04 April right through to Easter Day.  This will be broadcast on the radio, but I hope to also publish a text version on our Facebook page.
  • You can catch up of most past shows of Heart & Soul - there is a catalogue here on the CMM Blog

FINANCIAL SITUATION

Like so many organisations, we are being tightly squeezed. We have recently released a new information leaflet showing how you can support and be part of the CMM ministry.

So, in whatever your situation, problems and opportunities, I pray the blessing of the Lord himself:

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Num 6:23-25)

Here’s one of our best-loved tracks: Man of sorrows


Dear friends, be blessed, be safe, and stay close to him. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Roger Jones

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Worship - connecting us to the river of life

On Saturday Roger, Helen and a team from CMM led a Worship Works day at Lickey Parish Church.  This will have been our last event for a while in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, so we thought it would be good to share with you the text of Helen's opening talk.

This week I spotted an article on the BBC called ‘Routine Hacks from successful people’. It features ‘high-achieving people’ and what their daily routine looks like. There was Cathryn Lavery, co-founder of 'BestSelf' - a personal development company to make your life more productive and successful. Her daily schedule is to wake at 06:30, meditate for 10 minutes, read for 20, exercise and drink a glass of water before sitting down to plan how she will “win the day”. And there was tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson. For him it is all about the sleep and focused meals. Breakfast is between 07:00 and 08:00, dinner at noon, followed by no more meals – roughly a 19 hour fast and bed at 19:45 in a blacked-out room with carefully moderated temperature. 

So the question is not whether any of these ideas are good or bad, but why did I click on that article at all? Why did the BBC think this was something people would be interested in? 

Modern life can be dry and barren. As Bilbo Baggins puts it, we feel like "butter spread over too much bread."  The culture around us is to strive to produce more, and to make things as efficient as possible. But when we save time by making things more efficient, we fill the time we have saved with yet more productivity. We expect our primary school age children to do hours of homework rather than to play. And all the time our phones and televisions scream for our attention – our greater connectivity to the world around us, or even the world-not-around-us through the internet brings anxiety, stress and emotional fatigue. 

We feel busier than ever, and we rush from one thing to the next without caring about the assault on our hearts and souls. In my life, I sometimes go from a phone call with a struggling friend to a surreal conversation with our toddler, to making work decisions without pausing for breath or to allow for transitions. Peace eludes us. 

The things that we enjoy, that bring us life, seem to be permanently off the menu; things like music, enjoying a good book, spending time in the garden other than to mow the lawn because the grass is up to your elbows. Or when did you last spend time enjoying cooking a special meal, then lingering over that meal with loved ones? This is something we have to diarise nowadays – it has become a special event! Instead of these healthy things God has given that bring life, we seek short-term comfort in other places. Binge-watching television, comfort-eating chocolate, takeaways, or scrolling endlessly and blindly through social media on our phones. 

Right now it is a brutal time to be a human being, and even more to be a Christian. We are hard-pressed on every side. The world we live in is rapidly becoming a desert, a wilderness. The nature of modern technology means we are more easily distracted, and our concentration spans are shorter – making prayer and intimacy with God a struggle. Our perceived busyness makes us withdraw from friends and family who can bring us life. We are too busy, anxious or depressed to care for our hearts properly. And the battle with the enemy is tougher than ever – many churches don’t teach at all on spiritual warfare, leaving us ill-equipped. The free-for-all of social media, even if you do not regularly use it, has had a huge impact on society. Everyone is able to share and say whatever they want. There is much good, but there is also a massive amount of hatred and unhelpful opinions, readily-available lies that ‘say what our itching ears want to hear’ and creep their way into our hearts.  And in the midst of it all, God is calling to us: seek my face. God is looking for sons and daughters who are actively seeking him; people who are thirsty for the water of life. 

Jesus lived life at a slower pace than us. In the passage we’re going to focus on this morning from John 4, he is on his way to Galilee from Jerusalem. On foot. At least three days of walking, thinking, talking with his disciples. Evenings round the campfire. The journey involved a decision – to travel the road past Jericho that involved a long detour, a physical wilderness and potential bandits, or to walk through the spiritual wilderness which was Samaria. The people who lived there were distant relatives of the Jews, possibly from the northern kingdom of Israel that broke away after Solomon’s rule, or at least the people that came to live in the land when its inhabitants were exiled. They had come up with their own way of worshipping God, and the Jews did not like them at all – they were unclean impostors. But it is here that Jesus has one of the most illuminating and fascinating conversations in all of scripture, and not just with a Samaritan, but shockingly, a Samaritan woman. 

Reading – John 4:1-26 

Living Water 

The first thing I want to pick out is the conversation about water – about living water. Jesus tells the woman that if she were to drink the water he provides, she would never thirst again. The water would become like a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Why is Jesus saying this? He is a rabbi, and knows the scriptures inside out. And the river, particularly the river of life is a hugely important recurring theme. 

There are many I could pull out, but here’s just a few. 

In Psalm 1 we are told that in order to be blessed we need to meditate on the law of the Lord. If we do this, we will be like a tree planted beside the river. Not just a wild tree that grew wherever the seed fell, but a tree deliberately planted by the water. If we don’t, we become like chaff that is blown away by the wind. 

Then the book of Isaiah is filled with references to water. It begins with the water being removed from Israel and them becoming like a garden with no water, but then later on when Isaiah is speaking directly into the exile-wilderness years of the people, there are many references to water returning to the land: 

Isaiah 44 – I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 

Isaiah 55 – [later quoted by Jesus] Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; 

Ezekiel 47 – I think this is the passage Jesus had in the front of his mind. From the very heart of the temple, the Most Holy Place – the place of worship and intimacy with God – from there flows a river.  And this river, getting ever deeper, supports life. It makes the salt water of the Dead Sea fresh, and there are trees planted by the river whose leaves bring healing to the nations. 

This same theme is echoed in Revelation 22 where the river flows from the very throne of God and the Lamb, also supporting trees that bear fruit and leaves for the healing of the nations. 

So here we have Jesus with the Samaritan woman, telling her that this water – this living water from the throne of God himself, can well up inside to eternal life. Paul was later to say (1 Corinthians 6) that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and if the water flows from the place of intimacy in the temple, then the living water Jesus speaks of can indeed flow from the place of intimacy with God in our own hearts. And when you think about this some more, it becomes so exciting, as the river of life supports trees that bear leaves for the healing of the nations. If the river of life flows through our being we can find healing, and bring healing to others. 

Do you want this water? Do you want to be planted by the river of life? Even better, do you want the river to be flowing through you and impacting those around you? I do. I’m desperate for it. Life has made me so thirsty that I need this connection in order to function at all. 

God has been challenging me in recent months with a steady stream of events for which I needed to be close to him. I have needed to take deliberate steps to make sure my life is full of things that bring me closer to God, rather than things that numb me or create a foggy haze. I needed to be able to hear his voice and move in the gifts of the Spirit. To be able to survive I have had to cut the distractions and the false comforts, and make sure I include in my day things that bring me life. I have needed to actively choose to spend time with my journal, or to make music, or to spend time with life-giving friends. 

But of all of these things, the biggest life-giver for me has been worship. Sometimes in the past I have sung worship songs and played piano or guitar, but it has been a musical exercise – practice, if you like. But recently God has been teaching me to drink deeply from his life-giving stream, to move it from a mind exercise to a heart activity. 

Interestingly, Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman turns to worship. At first glance, it seems as if this turn is unconnected. But I would like to put to you that worship is the means by which we reach the water – and particularly worship that is filled with the Spirit and steeped in the truth of Scripture. If the living water flowing in our hearts flows from a place of intimacy, from the Holy of Holies, from the throne of God and the Lamb itself, then this river of life is all about encounter with God himself. 

How, then, does worship open us up to the living water, and overcome the modern desert we find ourselves in? 


It changes our perspective 

Very near here is a special tree. It isn’t by a river though, unless you mean a river of mud, which is partly why I haven’t visited it recently. This time last year I applied for a job as worship pastor at a church, to sit alongside my work here at CMM. I loved the church, and really felt that the gifts I had to offer fitted in perfectly with the vision of the people and leadership. The interview went really well, and I was invited to lead worship one Sunday morning as the final stage of the discernment process. As far as I knew, it went well. But then I heard nothing. It was weird, because I was 99% certain I was the only candidate left. But then on the Friday morning after the Sunday I had a call from the curate. While I had been waiting, the church had been thrown into confusion and turmoil by the sudden announcement of the departure of the vicar, so they were now not able to employ anyone. I was bitterly disappointed and angry – the vicar knew it was coming but still made me go through with the interview process. 

I remember parking the car and walking in the woods to clear my head and wrestle it out with God a bit. And then I came to it – the tree. It was enormous, far bigger than any of the others around it, yet was tucked away on the edge of the wood near the road and in some way was kind of unassuming. I remember, in my grief, standing at the bottom of the tree and staring into its branches. And as I looked in amazement at its size and shape, I sensed the Holy Spirit whispering to me. This tree just is.  All it does is grow. And through it, God is glorified. My heart rose in worship, and my perspective was changed. Yes, something I hoped for had been taken away, but God is always faithful. All I need to do is drink deeply from him, and grow. 


It brings about personal transformation 

I love these famous words from Romans 12: 

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

In these verses I love how worship is both cerebral and physical. All is done ‘in view of God’s mercy’ – we remind ourselves of his mercy, and that’s where music in worship is so good. It’s far easier to memorise words when they are accompanied by music than just words on the page. And we can sing of all he has done for us, to remind ourselves of God’s mercy. And then worship is physical. Singing and playing is physical. Kneeling is physical. Partaking in bread and wine is physical. Giving is physical. Flower-arranging is physical. Dancing is physical. 

You know, I’m not someone who dances really. I was part of a dance group when I was growing up at one of the churches my dad was minister at. I get the impression I wasn’t very good. But there have been a couple of occasions in my life where I felt God wanted me to express my worship to him through dance. I had to go and find somewhere where no one I knew could see me, but there was something special about making movements with my whole body to declare and adore that profoundly affected me. And there was also something important about obeying that nudge from God. It brought about a kind of freedom – a sort of giving over responsibility to him. Choosing to worship, rather than just carrying on with what the world sees as life, is initially a sacrifice. But with it comes the renewing of your mind. He reveals his mercies to us, and we respond in worship. And as we respond he reveals yet more; as we drink the living water he comes, increasing our understanding, our peace, our security in him, our love, our life. We are transformed. 

And on the theme of dancing, while we were praying for today, I was reminded of an old song – when the Spirit of the Lord is within my heart I will dance as David danced. I feel the Lord wants to bring new freedom in worship to some people today – to dance, sing and clap as he leads. 


Praise overcomes strongholds 

We live in a world at war. From out and out horror and violence, to insidious lies, Satan and his demons rampage their way across the world. And we are called to stand firm. There’s loads more on this is Spirit works, and chapter 14 of worship works. 

Worship, as seen in Psalm 8:2 can establish a stronghold for us: “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” – by speaking out truth about God even children and infants can claim the ground for him in the face of the enemy onslaught. 

But we can also tear down enemy strongholds. In 2 Corinthians 10:4, Paul says that “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish stongholds.” And then in Ephesians 6 there is one weapon listed among the armour – “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Spirit and Truth. And true worshippers worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. 

I’ve been to a number of conferences where lots of time is given to sung worship. And to my shame, in the past it has sometimes taken me a couple of days to get ‘into it’. But as I sing out truth and gradually become saturated with the praises of God, the strongholds of pride or selfishness that had been developing in my heart are gradually broken down. 

And I remember once when we were touring with the musical Wildfire, we had a wonderful prayer warrior with us, Viv. Her job was to pray around the theatres before we went on stage, and in one place she was really struggling with the evil that was present in that place that she gathered our whole team, and we worshipped together. As we worshipped the feeling in the place changed, and Viv said she saw flames of fire dancing around the room. 


It ushers us into the presence of God 

This is last on the list, but most important. 

One of the Hebrew words that is translated as praise is ‘Tehillah’. There is a sense to this word of God inhabiting, or dwelling in our praises. One translation of Psalm 22:3 is “You are enthroned on the praises of Israel.” Of course, God is always present, but there is something about worship that makes it tangible to us, that opens our eyes to it, that brings us before his throne. I’ve sometimes felt as though the Spirit was dancing during our worship, or had a sense of the glory of God filling a place. 

At CMM we have recently reissued the musical ‘Torn Curtain’, and been specifically thinking about how worship – thanksgiving, praise, and then the blood of Jesus enables us to come into the Holy of Holies itself – into an encounter with God. And in that encounter we meet the one who wants to bring healing and life, to bring light in the darkness, to calm our fears and comfort our sorrows. 

And this is why worship, and being a worshipper is so important. 


One final thought to finish with. Here there are a mixture of people. Some stand at the front each Sunday, and others sit in the congregation. But regardless of where we sit or stand, we are all worship leaders. How do we make a person hungry? We eat in front of them. How do we make a person thirsty for the living water? We drink in front of them. 

Let’s be thirsty for him, and let’s come to him, the source, so that our hearts can well up to eternal life.