Monthly Archives: November 2013

Advent Poem No.3 (2013) Startling News

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

Just imagine,
the miracle of birth
a father.
The ridicule,
sniggers, gossip
and righteous anger.

But the holder
of the truth
the reality,
the promise,
the eternity in her womb.

This truth
makes all
acid scorn
pale and fade
as the joy
is held.

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Reprising Some Christmas Poems

I thought that while I was thinking of poems for this Advent I would also reprise some of my favourite poems from past years. This one comes from the perspective of the Bethlehem innkeeper about whom, really, we know nothing.

The Innkeeper – Correcting the record

I’ve been given a bum wrap.
On the night in question
I’d gone to bed early.
The place was full
‘coz of this census thing.
I’ d been busy all day
fetchin’ this and 
and sortin’ that.
And I turned in.
I was bushed.
Now I find I am blamed
for leaving the Messiah
out in the cold.
How was I to know!
It’s not my fault!
The girl at the desk
(a bird brain!)
Never told me.
She told the pregnant lady
and her husband
to use the back shed.
I woulda had more
respect than that.
Years later 
people still blame me.
Matthew doesn’t mention me.
Neither does Luke.
But people
once again
jump to 
the wrong conclusions,
like they do so often.
It coulda been done better.
But still,
how many people can say
the Saviour was born
behind their pub!
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Advent Poem No. 2 (2013)

I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.’

Gen 12:2&3

Abram was blessed to be a blessing,
but he is not alone.
You and I too,
can be blessed
to be a blessing.

One from Abram’s family
would come to be
Christmas –
the incarnation –
the promised Messiah

mary crop

A primitive mural painting of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the Keldby Church on the island of Mon, Denmark.

You and I
can live in that promise
Then we too,
can herald his coming,
his return.

Then we too
have been blessed
to be a blessing.

Categories: Advent, Bible, christian, Christianity, Poem, poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

My Unwanted Constant Companion

I reflected the other day that all through my life I have had a constant companion. My parents were there for a long time but they have both died. There have been friends and relatives but they too, came or left at particular times. My wife and I have been together for nearly 4o years but even that doesn’t cover my whole life. Some of you may be thinking, ok he is thinking about God and the Holy Spirit. It is true that God has been constantly with me from before my birth, but on this occasion I am thinking of another presence: Satan.

Satan, the Devil the ‘evil one’, however you refer to him has also never been far away.

St Michael defeating the devil on the front of Coventry Cathedral

St Michael defeating the devil on the front of Coventry Cathedral

We can all recall the cartoons where the angel and devil sit on each shoulder of the character, pulling and enticing backwards and forwards. This caricature is in fact a good image of the reality that each of us face. We do live in this tension between living a good life and being tempted; doing right and wrong. For a long time I thought that as I became older it would easier; I would be in greater control.

However, I have found that not to be the case. In fact, the temptations and influence of my constant companion become more subtle and tenacious. I find that those conversations that I have in my mind can easily become ‘justifications’ for an attitude or a decision. The prophet Jeremiah declares to Judah on God’s behalf, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

To put it simply, the older I have become the more I have come to realise how deeply ingrained sinfulness is. It is beyond mere actions, or thoughts and permeates our very character. It’s roots drive down into the core of our being. No human effort will eradicate this.

So what is the solution? An awareness of the both the depth of sin and our our own inability is a start. That points us to our two part remedy. First, in the words of Paul, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Christian has been objectively justified in Christ. Through faith we are delivered from eternal death. But that still leaves us with a daily reality.

The second part of the remedy is the daily tough medicine. In the words of Paul again, in the power of the Holy Spirit,  “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

20130118-175507.jpgDaily, we need to be vulnerable  and open to God so that we don’t become victims of the other. There is a discipline and intentionality required to grow in Christlikeness much like the way we train for a sport. When reading Philippians I am struck by how much Paul’s discipline to live the Christian life stems from “knowing Christ Jesus Lord.” Christ is both his means and motivation as well as his goal.

So, as far as my unwanted companion is concerned, he will be there daily, but the more I look to Christ the less his influence will be.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Advent poem No.1 (2013)

And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.’

Gen 3:15


The first morning glimmer
of light
tells us the sun is coming:
A new day
A new hope
And eternal possibilities.

The dawn light
is a daily
covenant promise
that the son is coming:
who with a bruised heel
would crush
the enemy’s head

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The Ages Of Hope

Youthful hope dreams
and imagines,
worlds and possibilities,
countries and kingdoms.

Middle aged hope
Is rare.
Boundaries shrink.
Reality bites
Mortgage, kids, debts
and left over
scattered dreams.

Then comes the time to
dream again.
Hope again!
And cast our imaginations …
Into an everlasting

Categories: Poem, poetry | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

House Painting and Memories

I was painting the side of the house yesterday. This was a much delayed job but finally I took a deep breath and did it. Painting is at the top of my “most hated jobs” list. Working with silicon sealer and anything mechanical are two more detestable practices. However, painting has one good aspect, it allows the mind to wander. The greatest sermons since Pentecost and the most brilliant poetry since Shakespeare and Donne have been composed in my mind while whisking a brush back and forth or plying a roller. The downside being that I can’t write them down because the hands are otherwise occupied. That is why the world has missed out on these precious gems. They never seem to come when sitting behind a desk with pen or keyboard. Funny that!

DSC_0006Yesterday the mind went on one of those “one thought leads to another” meanderings as I was painting white on white. It started when I reflected on the time I first painted a house. I was a poor theological student (is there ever a rich one?) and being desperate for money I agreed to paint someone’s home. These wonderful people were bookish. Housework and tidiness came a distant last to reading and discussing fascinating topics. Looking back I now realise that the lady of the house was one before her time.

Years before Howard Gardiner’s theory of multiple intelligences became popular she was already teaching with this understanding. They were concerned about stewardship and “green” issues before most of us woke up to the havoc we are wreaking on the environment. This family went camping in national parks only using their wits while the rest of us went to proper camping places.

The most powerful facet of this family’s influence was that they lived this way as Christians while most of us lived a stereotypical middle class, materialistic church attending life style.

As I was slopping paint about I reflected that these people had influenced my life. They were one of the many “tug boats” that God sent over time to nudge, steer and challenge the direction my life has taken. They had broadened my mind and forced me to modify my thinking.

So yesterday as I was painting I was also able to send up a prayer of thanks for these people who, many years ago, affected my life. My hands kept on painting but my heart was giving thanks to God. I didn’t need a keyboard or a pen.

Categories: Christianity, Church, people i admire, Reflections | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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