Advent 2017 - Week Three

This week’s Advent reflection is by Christian musician John Froud, founder member of the Zephaniah Trust and a member of Shipley Baptist Church.

John writes:

john froud“It’s almost 24 years since we founded the Zephaniah Trust* (registered charity 1038478) so that I could leave teaching and work in schools and other places who couldn’t afford to pay a realistic fee. I wear many hats over the course of a week, but music is my voice.

"In this order, as that’s how people see me: first, a children’s musician. School assemblies are spread across the day in different schools so three or four sessions a day is not impossible if the mileage is manageable.

“I will usually sing quietly to them as they process in (the standard three-minute song is not always long enough) then we’ll sing something fun together, often with signing (actions are for children, signing is inclusive — Chris Bowater), then a story, then a prayer and another song to reinforce the message before we close and they go back to their hard sums.

john froud 2A worship leader. When I’m invited, I’ll lead worship and share the Word on a Sunday morning - often after a Saturday night concert in faraway places like Bury, Birmingham, Ipswich or Eastleigh. I’ve been writing songs to help Christians talk with God for 30 years or so now. The words are important to me and I’m aware that congregations can sing uncritically what’s in front of them. I try not to settle into a particular style and I try not to pastiche a culture I don’t understand. No-one is without musical influences, but I try to be honest. I do have a beard and a guitar - still problems for some.

“In concert. As a singer-songwriter, this is how I share my faith to those who have been dragged out by their Christian friends to hear me. As in the other two fields of ministry I use a lot of my own songs as well as covering some others from artists like Dylan, Cohen and the unknown writers of the great spirituals.


“I find both inspiration and challenge from characters in the Bible. Elijah is one I go back to again and again. When Jezebel is after him he runs away. Better a live than a dead prophet…He is hiding in a cave when God comes looking for him. He is aware of hurricane, earthquake and fire, but it is only when he steps out of the cave that God gives him his new commission. The scripture doesn’t say he overcame his fear, but he had to get out there to receive from God.

4 candles“One of my favourite Advent characters is Mary. When the angel tells Mary the news of her pregnancy, she just accepts the situation, “Let it be.”

After he’s gone, she doesn’t hunker down and fret, she bursts into a song of praise to God. She steps out in joyful praise. Shocked and probably fearful – natural reactions – her instinct is to sing to God her Saviour.

“I have a Magnificat in my repertoire. It’s not like it’s Bach or Rutter but it’s what I can offer. F. S. Pierpoint wrote in 1864 of a “sacrifice of praise.” We may have to join in a style that is not familiar or comfortable to us, played on instruments that we wouldn’t necessarily choose, but it is when we step out in worship, despite our preferences, despite our situation, that God blesses us with joy.”

Click here to read more about the work of The Zephaniah Trust and how you can support them prayerfully.


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