God is our help (Psalm 46)

For some years now I’ve taken part in various editions of the 12-song challenge, a songwriting initiative hosted by resoundworship.org. The challenges and the supportive songwriting community have kept me writing at least one song a month. even during busy and trying times like vacancies and the pandemic.

This month the assignment was to write Assembly Bangers:

assembly – gathered, collective worship in schools, supposed to be daily and of a broadly Christian character. Though not so common throughout the school experience as it once was, it remains a staple of many children’s experience in primary school (ages 4 to 11)

bangers – a British colloquial terms for great song that make you want to get up and dance

songs that:
– are repetitive and hooky
– have a simple structure
– are easy to play and lead on piano (or guitar)
– have an accessible vocal range
– have words that children can read/memorise/understand

To start with I revamped an existing song called “God is my refuge”, also based on Psalm 46. Slowly but surely the revamp evolved into a song in its own right, including a new verse that references war and peace and a bridge based on “Be still, and know that I am God” (v.10).

I don’t know if I hit the brief exactly. Perhaps the song is too confessional and belongs in the church, more than the school assembly. Time will tell.


God is our help in times of distress
God is our refuge and strength
God is with us always
No need feel afraid
for God will keep us safe.

Even if the earth starts to tremble
and mountains start to slip and slide
even if the waves start to roar like lions
God is by our side


One day God will stop all the fighting
All weapons will be scrapped and burnt
One day God will reign over all the nations
Peace will come on earth


Be still and know God is on the throne
Be still and know, God is in control.


From the blog
Big strong tree
Prayer poem: Not forsaken
Circle me, Lord


Our theme for January is HELP.

By way of introduction, a brief comment on the gutsy word “help” in the English language.

English has a rich vocabulary, due – in part – to the so-called Latin borrowings, introducing Latin-based alternatives for common English words. “Aid” as a posh alternative for the Old English word, “help”, for example.

In a real-life crisis all that posh language goes out the window, though. “Aid! Aid me!” somehow doesn’t have the same sense of urgency as “Help! Help me!”.

Fortunately God hears and understands us, however we express our distress.


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.


A prayer

I call upon your Name,
      for You are with me.
I am never alone,
      never without help,
      never without a friend,
      for I dwell in You and You in me!
‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil;
      for You are with me.’

by David Adam
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #122

King of saints

“Light in the darkness” Advent 2022 banner, Scots International Church Rotterdam, designed and made by members of the congregation


Great and marvelous are your deeds,
      Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
      King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
      and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
      and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.

I was working on some lyrics based on this passage from Revelation 15:3-4 when I discovered something curious.

The phrase “King of the nations” in verse 3 is sometimes translated as “King of the ages” or alternatively as “King of saints”.

As we cross the threshold of another year, what a comfort to know God is King – of the nations, of the ages, of the saints.


A prayer

Lift up our hearts, O Christ,
above the false shows of things,
above laziness and fear,
above selfishness and covetousness,
above whim and fashion,
up to the everlasting Truth that you are;
that we may life joyfully and freely,
in the faith that you are our King and our Saviour,
our Example and our Judge,
and so long as we are loyal to you,
all will ultimately be well.

by Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #136

From the blog
3 Prayers for endings and beginnings
On the threshold of tomorrow
On writing prayer poems

God’s glory revealed


And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
      and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.



My local congregation in Rotterdam has adopted the theme, “Light in the darkness”, for Advent 2022. In addition to Sunday morning services, there are Bible study materials, a team working on a cloth banner in stages with the design fully realized by week 4, and evening services where we can further explore the theme, also with candles.

A busy season for me, no doubt for you too. Hopefully, through it all, we will grow closer to God and to one another, as we look forward to celebrating the birth of “the true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9) and seek to live more faithfully in the light of his coming again.


Advent Prayer: Maranatha

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon.

The glory of God shall be revealed
and all flesh shall see it together

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon!

Sing aloud, waste places of Jerusalem!
Sing to the God who gives courage and strength.

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon!

You who are unsure of what you believe,
or whether you believe at all: listen!

You who are weighed down by thoughts of failure,
or feelings of grief: listen!

You whose hearts are heavy,
whose problems seem insurmountable: listen!

Soon God’s salvation will come;
God’s deliverance will be revealed.

For a woman shall conceive and bear a son
and shall call his name Emmanuel: God with us

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon!

From re:worship

From the blog
3 Prayers for Advent
In the darkness
On the threshold of tomorrow

3 Prayers to our Father

Golden hour

Our Father … yours is the …. glory …
Yes. Yes. Yes.


This is Eugene Peterson’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, from The Message:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
      as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
      Yes. Yes. Yes.


Here are three more prayers to “Our Father”, directly inspired by the prayer Jesus taught his disciples.



Father in heaven,
in your goodness
you pour out on your people all that they need,
and satisfy those who persist in prayer.
Make us bold in asking,
thankful in receiving,
tireless in seeking,
and joyful in finding,
that we may always proclaim your coming kingdom
and do your will on earth as in heaven.

~ from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers


Our father who dwells in the heavens and on the earth, you are holy.

May heaven be a greater present reality here on earth, and may we choose to join you in making that happen.

Provide us today with the things that you think we need, and may we not take for granted that which you have already provided.

Forgive us when we don’t live as you intend, and may we be ready to forgive others when they don’t live as we intend.

Guide us in your wisdom away from the things that would distort us, and restore the parts in us that are already distorted.

You are goodness, beauty and truth.
May your love always rule. 

~ written by Rebekah Long, sourced from re:worship


Abba, our God, whom the heavens disclose,
may your name be held holy,
your authority come.
May your longing be fulfilled as in heaven,
so on earth.
Give us today the bread of tomorrow,
and cancel our debts
as we have already forgiven our debtors.
Do not draw us in to sinful enticement,
but set us free from the grip of evil;
for authority and power and glory
are yours alone, forever.

~ from the Alternative Service Book (1980), Church of England,
sourced from re:worship.


From the blog
Check the index for more prayers in the “3 Prayers” series, and much more besides.

Come together

Have a seat.  Spotted in Budapest during our Presbytery weekend


For wherever two or three people come together in my name, I am there, right among you!
(Matt 18:20, J.B. Phillips New Testament)

The Presbytery of International Charges of the Church of Scotland gathered in Budapest this past weekend, hosted by the congregation there. I testify that Jesus was with us – in our worship, in our meetings and in the informal gatherings, as we strengthened our bounds and offered one another support and encouragement.

It is my prayer that our respective congregations will benefit too, as we return with wisdom, inspiration and hope for the months and years ahead.

Closing commission

We have sung, we have prayed,
we have worshiped together.
Now we go back out into the world.
We came together to build relationships,
relationships with each other,
and our relationship with Jesus.

We go out as people who are strengthened by our connections,
ready to love and to serve;
ready to carry God’s love to the world.

As you journey through the ups and the downs of the coming week,
let us remember that God,
who has invited us into relationship,
is always with us.

Go with God, as the people of God.
So be it! Amen

~ posted by Rev Gord on worshipofferings.blogspot.com,
sourced from re:worship

Maker of heaven and earth

Hopscotch between heaven and earth (hemel en aarde)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
      where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
      the Maker of heaven and earth.

(Psalm 121:1-2)
A big thank you to the Scots Kirk Lausanne who summoned me to the mountains last weekend to conduct a workshop on the Psalms: Prayer book, Songbook and God’s Word, with a special focus on Psalm 121.
Wherever you are – whether there are mountains in sight or not – may you experience the Lord’s nearness; know that “the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore”. (Psalm 121:8)

Prayer: Thanks Be to the Lord

(inspired by Psalm 121)

For those who have watched over me,
for those that have protected me,
for those that have shielded me,
thanks be to the Lord,
maker of heaven and earth.

For the roof that shades me from the sun,
for the walls that shield me from the storm,
for the bed that warms me in the night,
thanks be to the Lord,
maker of heaven and earth.

To the one who keeps me from evil,
to the one who preserves my life,
to the one who watches over my coming and going,
thanks be to the Lord,
maker of heaven and earth.

~ originally from the Christian Aid website, sourced from re:worship

What we know


We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)


Intergenerational Call to Worship

(based on Psalm 13)

We’ve come to worship,
to sing and pray and hear God’s Word, because:
God’s love lasts forever!

Even when God seems far away, we know:
God’s love lasts forever!

Even when nothing is going right,
and we’re ready to give up, we know:
God’s love lasts forever!

When people treat us badly, we know:
God’s love lasts forever!

When we’re all alone,
and we feel like no one loves us, we know:
God’s love lasts forever!

Let’s worship God together!

~ Christine Longhurst, re:Worship

We know … we know not …


Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
Psalm 139:14, The Voice


Call to Worship

(based on Psalm 126)

Let us begin this day by rejoicing!
The Lord has done such wonderful things for us.
Let us be glad!
The day before us is uncertain.
We know not what we will encounter on our way.
Wherever we go, we go forth as people of the living God,
and we go forth to touch the lives of all with his healing touch.
Let us begin this day with rejoicing!
and return to our homes with gladness!

~ from re:worship

From the blog
Yield as sacrifice
In the school of prayer with Ann Lewin