We come today to celebrate
the life that Jesus gives,
and welcome in God’s loving grace
that in the Spirit lives.
The Spirit sanctifies our lives
and helps our darkest days;
we hold each other close to You
with voices joined in praise.
We celebrate diversity,
as well as common ground,
and will continue so to do
while love and peace are found.
For Christ does not discriminate,
but welcomes one and all;
so we will seek to do the same,
responding to God’s call.
Words © Stephanie Jenner, 2013
Metre: 86.86 (Common Metre)
Suggested tune: “Amazing Grace”(StF 440)
Ideas for use
This is a hymn suitable for any service where inclusion and diversity is a key theme, such as for Transgender Remembrance (marked on 20 November each year). It would be equally helpful during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held in January each year.
Stephanie Jenner is the superintendent Methodist minister in the Bridport and Dorchester Circuit. She wrote this text for use at the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Eucharist held at the Greenbelt Festival in 2013. The overall theme for the festival (40 years old in 2013) was ‘Life Begins’. Stephanie writes:
“Many of the people who come to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Eucharist at Greenbelt are people who find themselves on the margins of their churches and communities, not just LGBT folk but others with disabilities or who feel they just don’t fit in.
“I got involved in Outerspace (a group of people from all over the country whose sole reason for being is to provide a presence at Greenbelt) when I went to Greenbelt for the first time in 2011 with our youth group, which included someone who had ‘come out’ earlier that year. We accompanied that person to several Outerspace events, including the Eucharist, which was wonderfully inclusive but short on people giving bread and wine. I offered to help and in 2012 gave a reading and helped distribute the elements, and then was asked to lead and preside in 2013.
“To make the service as inclusive as possible we used gluten and dairy free bread and grape juice and chose hymns and readings to reflect the theme, but I couldn’t find one that had words that celebrated the coming together of all sorts of people as well as celebrating God. I put pen to paper and came up with this hymn, which we sang to the tune of ‘Amazing Grace’. I ran it past colleagues in my District (West Yorkshire) and the Outerspace group and they felt it hit the right note.
“Afterwards others came up and said they had found somewhere they could be themselves and accepted, and some others from a Metropolitan Community Church who wanted to use it. We had over 250 people there, our largest ever attendance.”