God and money

Christ tells us that we cannot serve
both God and money too.
It’s time to choose which side we’re on;
account for what we do.

While some folk lack  enough to thrive
and some have wealth to spare,
Christ sits beside the least of these
and calls us all to care.

For all that we will spend or save,
invest or give away,
is held in trust to be a means
to follow in Christ’s way.                           

When quests for wealth destroy our world
and tides and rivers rise,
the poorest countries suffer most:
take notice of their cries.

To banks and all with money’s power,
the prophets’ voices call:
“Repent of all that harms the earth,
work for the good of all.”

Across the seas, may we reach out
with trade that’s just and fair.
Creation’s riches are for all,
Christ’s common wealth to share.

Words © Liz Delafield

Metre: CM (86.86.)

Suggested tunes: Written with St Columba (Erin) in mind, StF 155i. Also consider Jerusalem (Grosvenor), StF 436ii.

Ideas for Use

This is a text that challenges us to address issues of wealth, balance of power, and the use of money. Taken together with John Wesley’s sermon On the Use of Money (see below) and many of Jesus’ utterances about money in the gospels, we have the starting point for a service focusing on stewardship, for example. Liz’s hymn also lends itself to the marking of Fairtrade fortnight each February.

More information

Liz Delafield describes herself as a writer and local preacher, a primary school teacher and a mum. She offered Singing the Faith Plus a text about the use and distribution of money, observing that “it seems to me this is an important subject in scripture, with little in the way of hymnody”.

Famously, John Wesley encouraged Methodists to “gain [or “earn”] all you can, save all you can, give all you can”. These were the three key points of his sermon On the Use of Money (available to read here). One calculation argues that 16 of the 38 parables told by Jesus are about money or possessions, and that one in every ten verses in the gospels is about money. These may be debatable statistics; but Liz is right to say that the consideration given to our use of money by Jesus is not matched, generally speaking, either by our regular conversation in church around the topic or by its appearance in our hymns.

In Singing the Faith we have Marjorie Dobson’s hymn about “our care of money”, A rich young man came seeking (StF 243). See also our response to a question about the story of the widow and her mite (Mark 12: 41-44) – which gave rise to a number of other hymn suggestions on this topic.

However, Liz’s hymn is unusual in addressing head-on the “quests for wealth [that] destroy our world” – the need to get the balance right in our economies and communities, globally and locally. She alludes both to the cries of the Hebrew prophets (v.5) and to the modern Fairtrade movement (v.6), reminding us that the relationship between our faith and our use of wealth has always been at the heart of God’s prophetic vision.