The hymn I chose for today from Sing Praise was “Word of God, renew your people” by the American composer Bernadette Farrell. The term ‘Word of God’ is used in three ways in Christian thought – in the most general sense referring to communication between God and creation, the Creator ‘speaking’ his intentions into being. It is also understood as referring to words in the more literal sense of the Bible, whether you understand the inspiration of the Bible in a literal sense of God speaking exact words to be written down or more vaguely as inspiring people who then put the revelation in their own words. And finally it can refer to Jesus Christ himself, as in the well known beginning of John’s Gospel “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
The Word here is described as the Word of hope, of healing, of peace and of justice. This points more towards the last of those understandings – Jesus, who as God in man brought hope and healing to individual lives and who by his risen power we believe will one day bring peace and justice to the world (verse 4 – “God alone, the power we trust in”).
Interestingly, although the first line of each verse is different, the remaining three lines are unvarying, so they are sung four or five times depending on whether the final verse (for a baptism service) is included. “Make us now your living sign. Recreate us for your purpose in this place and in this time”. There is, as Ecclesiastes wrote, a time for everything, and maybe the time is right now for each of us to be a ‘living sign’ for others that the Word of God is still alive and active today.