Tearfund Worship and justice - March 07
It’s 200 years since a church-based movement helped end the transatlantic slave trade. Rebecca Taylor looks at a new worship resource; the result of Tim Hughes, Al Gordon and Tearfund finding that worship and justice for the poor are intrinsically linked
I’ve noticed that something new is happening in worship – before it was all about you and me and Jesus. Now the tide of worship is changing. There is a growing number of new songs about God’s heart for justice and desire to lift communities out of the slavery of their poverty.
Justice and worship make natural bedfellows. It’s this belief which has led Tim Hughes, international worship leader and songwriter, to team up with Tearfund – because worship, he believes, isn't worship, if a passion for justice isn't present.
Recorded, written and produced by Al Gordon (fellow worship leader and songwriter at Holy Trinity Brompton, London), both Tim and Al have joined forces with Tearfund to help churches find their inspiration for justice by recording a new, passionate worship song. Entitled How Long, it features Tim Hughes, Mark Beswick and Natalie Philips and is part of the Freedom Day Pack; designed to help churches do something about injustice.
“If we want to glorify God in all we do, then issues of justice and poor people need to be at the core of who we are as worshippers,” says Tim Hughes, worship leader and writer of songs such as Here I Am To Worship.
Grasping God’s vision
Last month I wrote in Inspire about the dark world of trafficking in Cambodia. Children reduced to being sold as a commodity; forced to do so because of their poverty. The Freedom Day pack will inspire Christians to take action on behalf of those around the world entrapped in these and the many other forms of modern slavery that exist. The worship section looks at how we grasp God’s vision and get his inspiration to do that.
Listening to the powerful lyrics of How Long inspires you to explore biblical teachings on poverty and injustice. And dare I say it; cry out to him. What does he think about poor communities? How long will it be until we see justice on the earth? When will there be freedom for those enslaved to poverty? What does he want us to do?
Fighting injustice through worship and the word
“Find out what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:10
“In our times of worship, if we have nothing to say about justice then something is clearly wrong,” says Tim in the pack. And guess what – if you ripped out all references to poverty, justice or wealth from your Bible, you would have a very thin book.
It’s God’s heart; it’s his passion.
And it runs right through the Bible, which talks about us providing justice, generosity, blessing and care to the poor in one in every 10 verses in the synoptic gospels. It’s also the second biggest theme in the whole of the Old Testament. Justice is what God wants – and he wants us to ask him for it.
The heart of injustice and the end result of it – whether it is deliberate abuse or subtle oppression through world markets benefiting the rich – means that right now 600 million children live in absolute poverty.
In whatever form injustice takes, it’s deadly – and it leaves people bound to poverty.
The way I see it, there are 50,000 people dying of poverty every day who need the Church to be inspired to do something.
Worship with weight
The worship pack will help your church look at how worship and justice are connected, how poverty is part of injustice, what a worship leader is in this context and the connections between worship and culture. It also includes a free CD of How Long, together with the lyrics and music to help you start.
Nearly two billion people are enslaved by global poverty and injustice, facing an everyday fight for survival. Tearfund's vision is to empower churches around the world to set people free. It’s part of our worship to God. Tim Hughes sums it up perfectly in the pack:
“We have a responsibility as worship leaders. In many ways it’s the songs we sing that mould and shape people’s theology. Let’s find songs that speak about these themes. Let’s be a people who remember poor communities, who sing about God’s heart for the widow and the orphan and send us out to be good news to marginalised people.”
What you can do
- See www.tearfund.org/freedom or 0845 355 8355 (ROI) 00 44 845 355 8355 to help put an end to injustice
- You’ll receive a free Freedom Day Pack including the full worship pack notes for speakers, session plans for small groups, children’s groups and youth groups