Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mary

And then the angel left her. She arose
After a while, and took the broom again
And wondered, as she swept, “was it a dream?
And what are dreams and what is waking life?”

She walked in dreams. How do you reconcile
The strange transcendence of another world
With baking bread and spinning wool for cloaks?
And why should such a being greet her thus?

And then she smiles an inward-turning smile
And cups her work-rough hands across her front
Protectively, as women always have
Who carry a new life inside their flesh.
………………..

Angels, it seems, do not give detailed plans
Of how and who to tell of such strange things,
But the necessity, the child within
Loosens her awe-struck tongue – this must be told.

It seems she walks in an unsolid place
One foot on earth and one foot in the air,
And round her head the secret angels fly
And round her feet the thorns and thistles tear.

She fears the scorn in Joseph’s honest eyes:
Must this, too, be yielded as the price?
But no, this mercy given wraps her round;
He knows she is the mother of the Christ.

And then Elizabeth, the one who knows,
Whose miracle blooms like a desert rose,
Richly endowing a gaunt barren place,
And tears of wonder water both their hearts.
………………..

And then her feet are turned to Bethlehem
As some far emperor she has never seen
Moves all the pieces round upon the board
Into a shape that is the will of God.

And soon now will the angel-hosts return
To bless the turning earth with peace decreed,
The while she carries, underneath her heart

The meaning and the answer to our need.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Beast

It was born into the world back near the beginning, when the man and the woman both turned away from Life. At first it was weak and tentative; its presence remained unknown until brother envied brother, and selfish rage fuelled the hand that rose and struck down the one had done well. Then it stood revealed, and its presence was accepted as inevitable. Soon it was stretching its power, and man after man, woman after woman, sooner or later became its lawful prey. There was only one jarring exception: the man called Enoch, who walked straight past it into the presence of God, and it could not lift so much as a claw against him. That was disconcerting, and troubling, implying a weakness in its absolute tyranny, but, as time passed and humanity expanded, that one anomaly was almost forgotten. There were no other exceptions, everybody else, however strong, wealthy or good, was forced, in the end to submit to it.

The centuries passed and it grew stronger and stronger, with more to feed upon, though there was a niggling sense of weariness even in its insatiable appetite. Flexing its muscles, feeding its hunger, it developed more and more weapons to use for its purposes: violence, famine, disease, flood, fire, foolish superstitions and corrupt religion which gave it little children and men and women at their finest strength offered up in useless sacrifice. Its favourite of all was war. When clan fought against clan, or, better still, nation fought against nation, men women and children were fed to the beast in such quantities that it was left marvelling that humanity could so hate itself! Oh yes, there was the strange anomaly of Elijah, so many centuries before, managed to bypass its claims, but what was one against so very, very many?

Then came the time that changed everything. It loved the Roman armies, for they fed it well, so well that it had no particular attention to spare for one more crucifixion in a small provincial town. But on that particular day, when that particular man died, and Death, the great Beast, took Him down into its jaws, something indescribable happened. This prey did not stay lifeless and limp in its jaws. Instead the hunter became the prey, the victim became the victor. In the darkness of the tomb, beyond the reach of human sight or understanding, cosmic battle was waged on mankind’s behalf by one who was a man, yet more than a man. And Death itself was defeated, the Beast was chained, its power broken.


What were Enoch and Elijah compared to this? They may have bypassed Death for themselves, but this man, this Christ, this illegitimate shabby Jewish teacher, had destroyed death in the very act of his dying, and offered freedom from the Beast for all mankind. Oh, until the last Act of the drama was played out, men’s bodies would still endure death. But his jaws held no more terror now, his gums were toothless. The Beast was now on a chain, and one day, very soon, the chain would be pulled in and the end would come. He was the Last Enemy, but one day every enemy would be conquered. Death would die, its death sentence had already been given in the court that could not be gainsaid. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

What the World Could not Give

She stood trembling at the edge of the room, knowing that if she did not soon gather her courage together, she never would. She was still half- hidden from sight standing by a pillar, a veiled woman standing in the shadows, retreating from the judgemental sight of men. She knew who she was, better than any of them did, and she knew what she had done: the sordid couplings that chased the illusion of glamour and excitement, but always fell short of what they promised, the descent into shame, and the terrible place she had found herself in, when glamour and illusion had departed, laughing scornfully at her as they fled, and she found herself alone, used, degraded, despised, and with no way of existence that did not involve even further degradation. There was no bitter name they could have called her that she had not already called herself. Shame was like an acid that had eaten into her bones and left her weak and incapable. Any movement of her will had simply led to more grating pain. It was easier to be numb, to be hardened, to live from one spitefully given coin to the next. Oh, the stories she could tell of some of the men right here in this room! But who would ever believe her testimony anyway?

But then she had seen Him, the Nazarene preacher, the man who was different. She had hidden herself at the edges of the crowd, and listened, again and again. It had not been easy. Sometimes she had needed to walk away for a while because his words had re-opened wounds which she thought had long since died. No one had ever told her how painfully hope can come to the hopeless. But she always came back for more; it was like learning to breathe clean air or drink sweet water.


And now she had come to the Pharisee’s house, because she knew he would be there, and she wanted him to know how his words had changed her. She fixed her eyes on him, and as she did, her fear of everyone else faded away. There were banqueters, and servants and as always, a heap of beggarly onlookers. But none of them mattered. There was only herself and Jesus. He looked up, looked her straight in the eye, and, overwhelmed by what she saw there, she ran straight to his feet. She pushed her veil out of the way, and fell sobbing at his feet, overcome by wonder and gratitude. She took out the little jar of perfume, the most valuable thing she owned, broke the seal and poured it out recklessly, prodigally, all over his feet. She wiped them with her own hair. She could the gasps of shock and outrage around the room, but she no longer cared what those hypocrites thought.  She looked up into his eyes, and it was as if the love she found there created a shield to protect her from their cruel judgement. The world could only offer her condemnation, but he had given her something far more precious. He had given her forgiveness.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Lighten our Darkness

Lighten our darkness oh Lord we pray, for we who bear your name can no longer see our way.
We have eaten from what you had forbidden, and we know ourselves to be naked and ashamed.
We are exiled from the garden, and our world is full of bitter weeds.
There is tempest and storm and terror, and we feel ourselves shipwrecked and your deeps rise up against us
We have followed your command to leave the comfortable and familiar, but we cannot discern where the place of Your promise lies
You have promised us an inheritance and a future, but we ache with our barrenness
We wrestle with you, aching to be a people of integrity, but our fears are our downfall
Lighten our darkness, oh Lord!

Lighten our darkness oh Lord we pray.
We groan under the shackles of slavery, and do not know how to protect our own from death.
We stand on holy ground, but cannot believe your calling
We see how your judgement falls, but alien gods have twisted their fingers in our souls.
You kept us dry as we walked through the terrible waters, but our hearts are still the hearts of slaves.
We have trembled before the thunder of your commands, and are afraid to come too close to you.
We would rather worship the work of our own hands.
We have stepped back at the moment when you called us forwards, because our wilderness, whilst bitter, is safe and familiar.
Lighten our darkness, oh Lord!

Lighten our darkness, oh Lord we pray!
We have seen your victory, and rejoiced, but grew weary of the battle before the job was done.
Whenever we were not inspired, we returned to the old ways and the old habits, and were helpless to defend ourselves from oppression.
We wanted to look like everyone else around us, and your kingship was too high for us, so we made ourselves subject to the rulership of men.
We judge by outward appearance, and do not look upon the heart
We can be so faith-filled one minute, and fall prey to our most egregious appetites the next, and power and privilege are so quickly our corruption
We build your temple while our hearts are wandering away
Lighten our darkness oh Lord!

Lighten our darkness oh Lord we pray!
We all claim to be yours, but so easily divide between ourselves.
We follow corrupt leadership, because they offer us an easier way.
We find ourselves in exile from your promise, and do not believe you could have let this happen.
Only your angels stand between ourselves and ravening persecution
And when we return to the place we left, it seems a poor restoration, for the place itself has been defiled and diminished.
We strive to keep your law, and harden our hearts against each other in the process
We harden our hearts against you and do not even know what we have done.
We are proud to have put away our idols, and cannot see that we worship our  own piety.
Lighten our darkness oh Lord!

Lighten our darkness oh Lord we pray!
We need your deliverance, for we cannot redeem ourselves.
Unless you take our part, unless you take our place, we will never find your peace.
We wait for your redemption, for you are our redeemer
We hunger for that city which needs neither sun nor moon, for you, yourself are its light
We hunger for you, our only hope, our only way, our only truth, our only life.

Lighten our darkness oh Lord!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Safe Haven

Pursued by both fear and failure, he climbed over the next hill (was there no end to this wilderness?), and saw, to his great relief, that there was a well up ahead. Not till this moment had he dared admit to himself just how tired and thirsty he felt. Speed had been the imperative, to get out of Egypt before Pharaoh’s soldiers caught up with him. But they wouldn’t follow him here. He was far enough from the border’s now, even by the standards of his own fear, to know that no pursuit would follow him this far. Besides, by tomorrow, someone else would have claimed the focus of Pharaoh’s anger, and he would be forgotten about unless he drew someone’s attention to his existence. He wondered how, if at all, his own family would remember him? With his privileged upbringing in the palace, he had never really been one of them. His own riches and comfort had been a source of awkwardness whenever he visited them. He had wanted so badly to prove that he was one of them, that he cared. He had wanted to use his privilege to help his own people in their terrible bondage, but all he had succeeded in was a mean little murder and his own subsequent flight. He down near the well, in what shade he could find, and surrendered to his despondency.

He was startled into awareness by the sound of some young women bringing their flocks to be watered. For a moment he thought of revealing himself to them, but he was unsure of his reception, and stayed where he was. But no sooner had they settled to their task, drawing up water for the troughs the animals drank from than another group of shepherds turned up and drove them back, pushing them out of the way so that they could go first. The empty wilderness was becoming a very busy place!

This was too much for Moses! The same sense of justice which had got him into trouble in Egypt compelled him forward in the girls’ defence. The shepherds, who had been happy to bully a group of women, subsided quickly at the sight of one angry man, and let the delighted women complete their task, with his assistance. Then, while the girls returned to their father’s house, Moses sat down again and wondered which way he should go next.


But then the girls returned to invite him back to their home. Their father welcomed him with gladness, and, in the fullness of time, gave him one of his daughters in marriage. Moses had found a safe haven, a place where he could live and raise a family, telling himself that it was foolishness to expect to be something more than other men. He did not know then that after forty years he would be summoned back from these desert places that were breaking and remaking him, to walk back into the palace of a new Pharaoh, and to be caught up in a far more glorious unfolding of his people’s liberation and redemption than any he could have imagined on his own.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recollection

I taste again my yesterdays
In the thin-lipped silence
Of the scream that dares not speak.

Is this why I so love thunder?

Yesterdays’ flavour
Was the flavour of stale crumbs,
Half-worm in the tomato,
My shriek all out of place.

True, there were dramas,
Improbable teacup storms,
And I the bridge laid down to harmony –
As if peace were my gift!

But mostly silence:
A grey, tight lid slammed down across our days,
To hide all things,
And hide them from ourselves.

When clarity came
It shattered teacups
Till the storms all drained away:
The monster in the depths laid bare

Shrinking before the light.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Seeing it differently

He had always known that his friends were wrong, but now he knew that, though his first judgement had been right, it had been right for the wrong reasons. He had been seeing the whole situation through the lens of his own righteousness, his own non-deserving of punishment. It shocked him – no, totally unmanned him – to realise that a man could be right for the exact wrong reasons, and that a man could seek God earnestly all his days, and earnestly strive to be pleasing to Him, and fulfil all His commands, and yet … and yet … totally misconstrue who God was and what it meant to serve and worship Him.
He had always been a careful man, a scrupulous man, the very definition of ‘God-fearing’. Only now could he see the irony of it all: that he had feared God in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons, precisely because he had cut his image of God from the cloth of his own being, that he, who had sought in all things to walk in excruciating humility so as to cause no affront by effrontery, had had the ridiculous arrogance to imagine that his human understanding could define all that God was!

It was strange though, wasn’t it, that he could see the ridiculous flaws in the understanding of those friends who had sought so hard to correct his theology and show him the error of his thinking, yet could not see the inadequacy of his own thinking. The same moral fearfulness that had always made him so conscientious had served as his defence against their accusations – had he not always searched his heart and life for hidden sin, had he not always made pre-emptive sacrifices against any possible sin of his children? And now, in his hour of tragedy, when they could find no better comfort to bring him than their blazing certainty that he must have committed some grave sin for God to punish him so severely, he knew they must be wrong. But their questions only added to his torment, and his abiding sense of injustice.

Then the Lord came, fierce and terrible in the mighty storm, and spoke the words that shattered, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Have you given orders to the morning? Have the gates of death been shown to you? What is the way to the abode of light?” On and on the relentless questions came, until he no longer sought to protect himself from them, but instead was lifted into the grand vision, the vast glory of God’s purpose and design. How had he ever imagined that his words were enough? It was not that they were wrong, it was that they were so woefully inadequate, because his concept of God, a rumour and a theory, was so much less than even the edge of the wonderful reality.


There was only one possible, trembling reply, “I had heard of you with the hearing of my ears, but now my eyes see you, and I repent in dust and ashes.”

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Scapegoat

The living breath is ragged in his throat,
His legs are tense, not knowing where to run,
Or which way fear will come. His strength is spent
And yet his walking death is scarce begun.

Driven away from safe familiar fields
Driven away from any shepherd’s care
No more sweet grass is offered to his lips
He must find food where all is scant and bare.

This is the realm of jackal and of owl
The haunting absences, the empty sere,
A desolation fully destitute
Where every stone and rock will whisper “fear…”

Driven, unshriven, under a fierce sky,
Lost in a land that breathes no kindliness,
How can he know – poor, dumb and suffering beast –

That God’s own self shall walk this wilderness?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Matter of Principle

The corner of Simon’s lip twitched, betraying his satisfaction as derision and delight melded together in a perfect moment. All his long-held suspicions had been justified! This outlandish Galilean, not trained in the proper rabbinical schools or accredited by due, recognised process, was a total fraud! He spoke so eloquently – yes, Simon was a fair-minded man, he could concede that this Jesus was eloquent – yes (he lost his train of thought for a moment and quickly recovered it), he was certainly eloquent enough, talking about God and holiness and the nature of true righteousness as if he had the last word to say on the subject. And he spoke as if he knew better than the Pharisees, the true guardians and protectors of the Law of Israel, as if he, this nobody from Nazareth (Nazareth? Seriously? Could anything good come from there?) … he caught his train of thought again … this upstart Nazarene really believed he knew more about holiness than those who had dedicated their whole lives to studying, and scrupulously obeying, all the minutiae of the Law. And, unfortunately, the common people, with the itching ears of those who found the Law a burden rather than a privilege, would rather run after this Jesus and listen to him and ignore the careful wisdom of the Pharisees

Yet now he was caught out on the most elementary principle of all. All serious students of the Law knew that a man who sought holiness should have nothing to do with women (except his own wife, who should know her place). Women were a snare and a temptation, unholy daughters of Eve the original temptress. No man who was serious about God would allow a strange woman to come physically close to him, let alone touch him. It was a matter of principle. Hadn’t he read the passages in Proverbs about the dangers of the Adulteress? And how could a man make any claim to be a prophet of God, and not immediately see that this was a sinful woman, a woman whose moral failings made her unfit for decent company? Yet here was Jesus, quite unperturbed, while this wicked woman wept all over his feet, wiped them with her hair and then poured perfume all over them! What was he thinking? Surely her hair flowing loose in public was enough to show her indecency? Yet as Simon watched closely, there was not the slightest hint of disdain on Jesus’ face. Instead, he seemed to look at her as if she were wonderfully precious.

Then Jesus raised his eyes from the woman and looked straight at Simon. Suddenly Simon felt a bit less sure. But then Jesus started telling a story about 2 men who owed different amounts of money, and both had their debts cancelled. What did that have to do with anything? He seemed to think it was all about love. Next he was reproaching Simon about a lack of the finer courtesies owing to a guest – did Jesus seriously imagine that a man such as Simon would stoop to wash the feet and anoint the head of someone like himself?  Protecting one’s status was also a matter of principle. Somehow, in Jesus’ eyes this wicked woman had given him the very courtesies that Simon had denied him.


Then, to complete the outrage, Jesus turned and said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Who did he think he was? Only God could forgive sins: that, too, was a matter of principle.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rain (a poem)

Let me unfurl, receive
Blessing beyond belief:
Life where the drought has been
Fatness for tight and lean.

Let these hands opened wide
Accept what You provide;
Kneeling amidst the mud,
Owning Your gift is good.

Let each uncurling flower
Speak Your redemptive power
Green rising through the ground
Where only dust was found.

And through each season’s turn
Yours be the love I yearn:
You make what could not be

Blossomed reality.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

INFP (a poem)

I am the sum of my parts, yet not part of the sums,
The stiff arithmetic of commerce
Bores me with its pedantry;
I cry out “why?”, but no one hears.

Enter the butterfly.
Oh coruscating wings,
Oh love, oh wonder!
Why do they talk in grey while my heart leaps rainbows?
I sing, wing, fling in silence,
Wondering how

To bless the dark-grey thinkers with its beauty.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Patriot

It would have been so much easier to pretend that she knew nothing, that she cared nothing, to sink into the life of a pampered princess, enjoy all the privileges of being Queen of Persia, and let her heart and soul wither and wilt. After all, what could she do? She was a young woman in a world of warriors and intricate power politics and her position and safety were totally dependent on the whims of a king who had already shown himself to be very quick to discard a queen who failed to gratify his every whim with blind subservience. She was, in her own way, despite the silks and golden dishes, the perfumed gardens, and the servants trained to fetch whatever she should desire, more trapped than the poorest free citizen of the empire. Life i8 the harem was a life of cushioned slavery.

But her cousin’s words haunted her. Partly it was the warning: her safety was not guaranteed. If the King, under Haman’s evil influence, had issued a decree (the unalterable law of the Medes and Persians) that all Jews in the realm were to be destroyed on a certain day, then surely some enemy would betray her (and a palace was full of enemies, whether one was aware of them or not). All men live under the shadow of death, all our safety is but a temporary respite from the inevitable. She was more deeply affected by his assurance that God would raise up a Deliverer; from the cradle her uncle had taught her the history of her people: the history of sin, fall, and deliverance played out over and over again. The promises to Abraham still stood; his seed would not be obliterated from the earth.  All of that was truest truth.

But what stirred her very soul, and demolished the illusion of peace she had tried to find rest in were the final words of his message: “who knows but that you have come to royal position for a time such as this?” Her elevation had always seemed the most extraordinary thing to her, despite her cousin’s confidence. She was not the only pretty girl in the world. But what if he were right? What if God had given her this privilege and status just so that she could intervene at this crucial moment (which only God had known would take place) to protect her people, God’s people? What if it was not about an easy life for Esther, but about preserving the race through whom salvation would one day come? What if????


There was only one way to find out, she would have to put the King’s favour to the test. If she approached him and he did not extend his sceptre, it was death, but death was only a heartbeat away anyway. And if he extended his sceptre and gave favour to her plans, then she would have the opportunity, in the right time and place, to make her plea, and the lives of many of her own people could be saved. Put that way, the choice was no choice at all. Tremblingly, prayerfully, she prepared herself to face the king.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Wonder (noli me tangere)

You cannot hold fast to beauty.
It trickles like fine dust between your fingers,
Leaving a sparkle behind.
Like water
Over, into, through us …
We thirst again, but ah! we have been washed.

You might as well catch moonbeams,
Or ride the moment’s breeze into eternity,
Or hold one sweetness lasting on your tongue ..
So we mourn mortality.

We have lived enough to see things fade and falter,
To see bright sunrise dim to plodding day,
To know that tears will dry and laughter fail,
To know so much is fleeting, swift and gone!
To know no hands can hold or flesh contain.
To mourn our weakness.

Yet there is place beyond our hemmed in sky
Where all things lovely rest, and do not die.

And there is grace, and there is place enough –
Oh touch it not! Our clinging hands destroy.
It must ascend and to our Father go
While we sip glory’s drops and wait below.

We wait.

On stiffened knees we wait below. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Betrayal

During her empty, tear-washed days the small betrayals tormented her mind the most, wriggling through her waking thoughts like worms piercing tunnels through the soil. She felt as if everyone around her had let her down, and her father most of all. How could he fail to protect her? How could he fail to bring down the full weight of justice and its consequences on the man who had violated her? As King, should he not uphold the law of God against a man who raped a virgin daughter of Israel? As a father, should he not support and love his ravaged daughter, giving her back the worth that had so wickedly been stolen from her? She could only conclude that a son was w9orth so much more to him than a daughter; that he saw her as being as worthless as Amnon had made her feel. Oh yes, reports said that David was very angry when he heard what her brother had done to her, but since he did nothing about it she wasn’t sure what his anger was about, or who he was really angry with, and her wretchedness increased. If her own father would not speak healing into her life, or defend her honour as his own, then desolation was all that she had.

It was when she lay on her bed at night, and tossed and turned, longing for the respite of sleep, yet fearing the terrors that returned in her dreams, that the huge betrayal came back to overwhelm her, so that she struggled to breathe as if his hand was still weighing down upon her face to stifle her screams, and her body spasmed in pain as if his violation tore her all over again. The whole bitter sequence of his deception, mindless lust and then furious rejection of her played itself out over and over in her mind. In what way had he not harmed and dishonoured her? In what way had he not treated her, a princess of Israel, his own half-sister, more despicably than the Law allowed him to treat the meanest slave girl? He had gone to so much trouble to gain access to her – feigning illness, demanding that she cook for him, and that nothing less than food from her own hands would cure him (and she blamed herself bitterly for not being suspicious at this point – but did her na├»ve pleasure in his attention really make her deserving of what he did?), demanding that all others leve the room and she feed him alone in his own bedroom (why, oh why didn’t she, or someone else say that this was ridiculous and unnecessary? Was everyone afraid to say ‘no’ to a prince who had been denied nothing all his born days? But then, why should anyone expect such actions from a man who seemed so ill?) and then, despite her vehement protestations, the rape that would haunt her dreams as long as she drew breath. Then came the final, most cutting, humiliation of all: having desired her so fervently, against all reason, decency or sense, once he had sated his lust he now despised her as passionately as he had wanted her, and had her flung from rooms in disgusted repudiation.


She had been betrayed, her very identity as a princess of Israel had been stolen from her, forever. Tamar sat alone and wept, and no one offered her consolation. No one stood by her to tell her that the God of Israel was a Father who would never fail her, that the Redeemer of Israel cared so much that He would one day come and be broken Himself so that Life and justice could be restored.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Inheritance

It was time. God had spoken and the hour had finally come when they would start walking into their inheritance. Yes, they would have to fight for it, but what should that matter if the Lord Himself was fighting for them? Victory was as certain as the rising and the setting of the sun each day, for, after all, it was the One who had set the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night, who had set the stars in their places and appointed times and seasons, it was this same God who had spoken to him and told him that he would lead these people to inherit the land. When god spoke, the world came into being; when God spoke the descendants of Abraham would inherit the land.

But tonight was a night for memories, for he knew that what he was about to do was part of a story that had started long before he was born and that would continue long after he was gone, which would include his children’s childrens’ children for untold generations. It had started when God had called out childless Father Abraham from the land of the pagans, called him out to be the father of a great nation (though his wife was barren) and to inherit a land which he had never seen. Eventually he had a child, Isaac, but the only portion of the land which he ever owned was the grave plot of his wife. Isaac, and, after him, his son Jacob, and then Jacob’s twelve sons had been sojourners in the land, until the famine had led to their relocation to Egypt, where Jacob’s son Joseph had been sent by God before them to prepare the way. And there the descendants of Abraham had flourished until Pharaoh grew so afraid of their numbers that he enslaved them, until the cries of their oppression went up to God, and in the fullness of time He sent them Moses, the Deliverer.

And this was where Joshua’s own story had begun. He had been one of that nation of liberated slaves who had followed Moses after the fatal night of the Passover, and experienced the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, and stood at the foot of Sinai, where God called them to be a nation set apart, holy to Himself. He knew that God was the Almighty Redeemer of His people. So he had been thrilled when he was chosen as one of the twelve spies to go and find out about the land they had been promised.

That was when he discovered that most of his fellow spies (in fact all of them except faithful, courageous Caleb) still had the hearts of slaves. Their bodies may have been rescued from Egypt, but they still carried the oppressor’s yoke in their hearts, believing themselves helpless and refusing to take hold of the freedom God had given them. Where he and Caleb saw amazing richness, a land flowing with milk and honey, they saw only insurmountable difficulties. They were too afraid to take hold of the inheritance God was giving them.


And so the Lord waited forty years for a new generation to arise, a generation born in freedom and dependent on their God. These were the people Joshua was about to lead into the Promised Land, so that they might claim their inheritance at last.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Learning love

As the thirsty ground lies open to the rain,
So I stand, unclosed,
Vulnerable and willing
Offering my heart.

As I stretch my too-tight body
Against the cramps of life
So I relax into love
And the knotted places smooth.

As I sing to myself in the daily tasks of life
So may we sing together
Not harmony,
But counterpoint.

As my breath catches
At the world’s sharp beauty,
So I see your glory,
Amazed into gratitude.

As I learn to pray,
Halting between dust and wonder,
So I hold you fast

In the breathing of my soul.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Reflections on Luke: 1:1 - 4

This is the first post of a long-term project: I want to work my way through the whole of Luke's gospel, passage by passage, as a set of reflective poems -- not a theological commentary, per se, but as a set of personal responses. Some will be direct reflections on the text, others will be my own reactions to the text. Anyway, I will doubtless refine the project further in the writing of it!

So here is the first, based on the first 4 verses:

1: 1 - 4

Most excellent Theophilus, I write
A full account, most structured and most sound,
Of a particular man, a known place,
In a particular world, the world you know,
And it shall blow that world to smithereens.

You wanted facts? Dear Sir, I give you facts:
Of miracles, of wonder and of awe.
The lame that walk, the blind receive their sight,
The deaf now hear, the very lepers cleansed,
The broken and forgotten are set free,
And death, yes death itself, is overcome!

Is that enough? Then Sir, I give you more,
(And all checked out most very carefully):
And I will talk of angels and of songs,
And wisdom that did not come from this world,
And teaching that would melt a heart of stone,
If stones had ears, and, through these careful words,
A scholar’s words, the facts, Sir, just the facts,
I pray that you will see the face of God.

I pray that you will see what I have seen,
That you will see the glory that I know,
And taste, with tears, the wonder and the joy,
The mercy and the promise and the love:
See God Himself come down as mortal man
And make a way for man to come to God.

My dear Theophilus, meet Jesus Christ!


Monday, August 04, 2014

A Time to Die

He climbed slowly up the mountain, knowing it was the last mountain he would ever climb. And there had been so many, so much climbing. Long ago there had been the slight hills of Egypt, where one had stood to watch the slaves labouring away on Pharaoh’s latest crazy building project. There had been the steep places he had crossed when he fled Egypt, and the hill he had just come over when he saw, ahead of him, the bush that burned but was not consumed. He often pondered that bush, seeking to understand the mind of God through the symbols He used to communicate. Only now did he wonder if perhaps he himself was perhaps that bush – inhabited by the very glory of God, and driven by Him to actions he himself would never have imagined, nor thought himself able to accomplish, and yet, never eaten away by that inhabiting glory. He remained himself, whatever mighty wind the Lord breathed through him, and that, in itself was a marvel, utterly different from man-made explanations of the way gods worked.

There was the hill, too, where he had stood above the battle against the Amalekites with his hands raised in prayer, until he grew so weary that Aaron and Hur had to hold his hands up for him. And the Israelites, led by Joshua, had prevailed, because his prayers had prevailed. And now he felt the weariness of his approaching end, and with it a great peace. There would be no more battles, and no more mountains, it was Joshua’s turn now to lead the free children of slaves into the glory of the promise, to fight against all kinds of evil and teach them to follow the God who called them home. Once it had hurt him terribly to know that, by his presumption, he had forfeited his own right to enter the Promised Land, but now he no longer minded.  He had done his part, and it was enough, and now, once more, he could be alone with the God who had called him. The Promised Land was precious, but he had met with the One who gave the Promise, who was, in Himself, the fulfilment and meaning of every good promise that had ever been made. It was time to move from the symbols and the tokens into the True Reality, and, step by step, as he climbed, he felt as i9f his heart was making its own pilgrimage back home. It was time to be done with the busyness and clamour.


And he thought then, of the greatest mountain he had climbed, more times than he could now remember, Sinai, where, while the people below him trembled in terror, he had walked up into the very presence of God. Even now he had no words for that encounter, only a memory of such glory that all his tears were turned to rainbows, the sign of God’s mercy to man. He had walked with God, and in the tent of meeting he had talked with God face to face, as a man talks to his friend. And now there was no terror in the approach of death, it was no harder than walking to a friend’s house and accepting their hospitality contented gratitude. God would take care of the rest 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Something Missing

He didn’t need to recount them. There were only 99, and he only had to quickly scan back over them to know which one wasn’t there. He knew each one by name and he held each one in his heart, far more precious to him than any market value a stranger would assign. And it was the little one who had gone astray the jaunty, skittish one with one black leg and a black patch on his face that always gave him a cock-eyed look. The shepherd’s heart ached for his missing lamb. He knew just how much trouble waited out there for someone so small and defenceless: wild beasts that would lust for the taste of his flesh, treacherous paths where small feet could slip and stray in the uncertain moonlight, the perils of fear and loneliness pressing in upon him and overwhelming him with terror. There were steep hillsides and strongly flowing streams and an all-devouring wilderness to swallow up the tiny bleating of his despair.

Steeling himself to go out and face the bitter night that was fast closing in, and gazing anxiously at the storm clouds that were gathering even faster, the shepherd made his preparations. He made sure that the rest of the flock were secure, huddled together, wool against wool for warmth, with a strong stout fence around them that no predator could breach, then he left the ninety nine safely penned against his return, girded his loins, took up his crook, tightly fastened his cloak, and went forth into the darkness.

It was a terrible night. Humanly he thought of the warmth of a fire, and the comfort of having other men nearby. He knew how they would laugh at him, their scorn blunted only by a hint of awe at his stubbornness. None of them would do this. Why would a man who had 99 others put his life on the line for a mere sheep? It made no sense, it wore no logic; for love will always transcend logic, and make chaos of the heart’s account books. It is such a debt that the whole world’s wealth counts as nothing in the balance; and no hireling shepherd could ever understand. And holding such love up before him, like a lantern to mark his path, he turned away from all the temptations of warmth and laughter, and set his face towards the icy wind that raked its talons across him.


He never told the story of that night’s suffering: the stones that bruised his feet, the steep paths that mocked his exhaustion, the sharp coldness of the rising streams he crossed. Nor did he speak of the haunting fear that he might already be too late, or that even his keen hearing might miss the sound of cries while the storm beat its fury down upon him. But as the storms eventually blew over, and the first paleness before dawn touched the sky, he found his missing lamb, caught in a thornbush that leant over a terrible chasm. With infinite gentleness he soothed its struggles, for how do you explain to a feckless lamb that the very thorns that are hurting it are its only protection from a dreadful fall? There was blood on his hands and feet, and a gash upon his side by the time his lamb was safe. But there was no pain in his eyes as he lifted it tenderly to his shoulders, only a joy too bright too look upon, for the lost had been found, and his own was restored to him. And none who saw the gladness on his face as he returned had any need to ask if it was worth what it had cost. They only marvelled at his love!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Time to Dance

In the beginning they danced for the wonder and the joy of it all. The morning stars sang together, and the greater light and the lesser light danced in their orbits of wonder. Creation was wonderfully fair, and the love of the Creator shone out through every grass blade and blossoming twig. The waters danced in the streams and the rivers, and the great waters moved in harmony. The mighty beasts and the tiny ones woke into gladness. And it was very, very good.

But sorrow came with sin, and there was grief and pain and horror, and Death, who immobilises all dancing, made his terrible presence felt. Ruin and decay appeared, step by grief-filled step, and all things under the sun fell away from glory. And the deepest ruin was in the heart of man, where Death had set up his throne, and ruled all things towards a grim and bitter misery. And dancing was rare, except for the frantic gyrations with which the flesh would try to forget, for a few moments, its grinding mortality. But here and there, where the hints of a better Springtime broke through, where the smile of the Father, who had not forgotten his world, was still reflected in the sunshine and the blessed rain, and the soft light of the stars in the evening, hearts would lift in praise, and, for a faltering footstep or two, they would stumble in and out of the everlasting dance.

And the ages passed, and the hearts of men grew weary, and death had dominion. But in the darkest shadows a promise danced, and the time came for the promise to be fulfilled. And so he came down from heaven, God himself, and his love danced through every word and action, power and redemption and mercy dancing out a story so glorious that those who had eyes to see were overcome with wonder. And he danced, with feet weighed down with every dreadful burden of our mortality, into confrontation with Death. And Death, who not abide the dance or the promise, pinned him down with dreadful nails, to finish the dance and silence the music of heaven once and for all.

But it could not be. For Life broke Death, sin was accounted for, and, on that glorious Resurrection morning, he danced out of the tomb, bringing glory and fulfilment with him, and invited all of humanity to join in the new dance with him. And they danced their way through hardship and persecution, through discouragement and loss, and the world was not worthy of them. And still they dance to the music of heaven, the love-song of the Father, though they stumble and falter in their human clumsiness, for they have seen the beauty of their Christ, and they would seek to dance his steps all the days of their lives.


And they dance in hope, for they know that one day all things will be restored, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth fresh from the hand of the Creator. And the morning stars will sing again, and there will be no need of sun and moon, for God himself will be their light, and by that light, enthralled by the revelation of his beauty, they shall dance out his praise for all eternity.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A time to mourn

They expected him to be glad, because they hadn’t understood. Wasn’t it in the nature of things for a man to rejoice when his enemy was cast down? Didn’t a man lift up his heart at the destruction of one who had harassed him for years, and pursued him with a personal malice that went far beyond the limits of sanity, a malice that harried him into the desert wastelands, threw spears at him, took away his wife, and did everything that the king of a small country could possibly do to get rid of him? Everyone knew that it was only by some miracle of divine preservation that David was still alive. Saul had used every last, stretched atom of his bitter, twisted powers to destroy him, surely it was only normal that David would be glad to hear that he was gone?

The man who brought the news certainly thought so. Worn with the effort of trying to be the first with the news, fully expecting to be rewarded, he arrived torn and dishevelled, and prostrated himself at David’s feet, eager to honour the apparent new king. At David’s urging he repeated his story in full, telling how Jonathan and his brothers had been killed by the Philistines, and how, in the face of total defeat, Saul had despaired of his own life and looked for death. Then, eager to ingratiate himself with the new king, he embroidered the story of Saul’s final moments, claiming that he, himself, at Saul’s urging, had struck the fatal blow!

It was a fatal mistake. David was outraged at his temerity, that he, an Amalekite, an outsider, a member of an accursed race, had dared to strike down the king Israel, the anointed of God! Saul, in his torment and confusion had been a bitter enemy, but that was not how David perceived him. To David, Saul was the chosen of God, the first King of Israel, anointed and uniquely set apart. If his end had been ignominious, his beginning had been glorious: he had led Israel to victory and had sought to follow the Lord, even when he had totally misunderstood what God required. He had never renounced the Lord, or fallen into the desperate idolatry that was the besetting sin of his countrymen. And he had been the father of David’s dearest friend. There was no way he could allow the self-confessed murderer of Saul to survive.


Instead, mourning deeply, David wrote a lament for the fallen king. “Your glory, Oh Israel, lies slain on the heights. How the mighty have fallen!” He could not despise his enemy or rejoice over his defeat. Although Saul had made his life so difficult, he did not see this as a reason to despise or fear him; why should he when he had already had the Lord’s sure promise that one day he would be king in Saul’s place? The kingship was a gift and honour given by God, a sacred thing which no one should lay rough hands upon. Had they not seen, had they not known, that even when Saul was in his power, David would not raise his hand against him? The death of Saul was not a time of rejoicing, but a time to mourn.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Love Story


By the first time she saw then handsome stranger, he was already in love with her younger sister, and her heart ached with the twisting bitterness of her own inferiority, as once again, seemingly without any effort, Rachel gained the prize, simply because she was born beautiful. Why would any man give a passing glance at herself when Rachel was there? And yet she loved him too, for not only was he very attractive, he was kind and thoughtful, and she sensed that there was a deep hunger in his heart for God, that strange dissatisfaction which she recognised so well, because her whole life was a desperate prayer for blessing. But within a month he was betrothed to her sister, and her father had wrung from the besotted man an agreement to work seven years for Rachel’s bride price. Only for Rachel would a man pay so much!

So she tucked her dreams away, like so many lesser dreams before, and got on with the chores of everyday. And if sometimes she was a bit harsher than she should be? Well, it’s hard to keep all that disappointment buried inside.

But she had reckoned without her father. He had another plan, not out of any consideration for Leah, but because he was consumed by the irresistible desire to drive an even better bargain, and rid himself of the encumbrance of an unmarriageable daughter at the same time. So there she was, heavily veiled, standing by Jacob’s side as they were married, and she had never been so terrified as she was then, marrying the man of her dreams, her heart’s desire, and wondering just how angry he would be when he woke up in the morning and found he had been cheated.

And Jacob was angry, but not with her. He knew that her father was responsible, but her father wasn’t concerned. He had planned it out already, and at the end of Leah’s marriage week Jacob married Rachel, in return for another seven years labour. And it was Rachel that he loved.

But Leah discovered, to her own astonishment, that she had one gift that Rachel lacked – fertility, and she bore Jacob fine sons. But the rivalry between the sisters continued for many years, competition so fierce that they even had their maidservants bear Jacob’s children, as they tried to keep score between themselves. And still, despite all, Jacob loved Rachel best.


Finally, Rachel died in childbirth, and the years of their painful rivalry were over. But Jacob loved Rachel’s sons better than Leah’s, for they were all he had left of the woman he had adored. But Leah no longer ached and strained. She had as much of Jacob as he was able to give her, and now that was enough, for through the bitter years she had learned that though her father treated her as valueless trade goods, and her husband saw her as his second best wife, she had found that God loved her, and in Him there was no second best. And somewhere in those final years the Spirit of God had whispered a truth into her heart that made her breath stop and her eyes overflow. It was not from Rachel’s sons, fine men that they were, that redemption was to come, but from the line of her own son, Judah. It was Leah, despised, overlooked Leah, who would be a foremother of the King that God had promised.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Silence of God

It should have felt triumphant. I had stood there in the power and authority of the Lord, and seen the fire fall from heaven at my word! For a moment I had felt all-powerful, as though I walked above the earth as angels walk (though frightened also by the power of such fire as could burn the very water in the trenches). At my command the awed people had taken and slaughtered every last one of those pagan priests and prophets, and I felt the exaltation of victory. I saw the rains come to relieve the great drought, and, caught up in the exultant power of the Lord, I had run back, as fast as any horse, all the way to Jezreel.

But I was still flesh and blood, and as that extraordinary empowering withdrew from me, I was lost, feeble and alone. Only now, looking back, do I realise the depths of the temptation to power and glory, the temptation to demand the right to be something more than a humble and obedient servant of the Most High. Very quickly I learned that the power, courage and authority with which I had challenged, and defeated, the idolaters was not my own. When Jezebel responded to her defeat with threats against my own life, the only strength I found was the strength to run away as far as possible. Without the spectacular intervention of God, I was as weak and frail as the most vulnerable person in Israel. And so I fled.

I fled to Horeb. This was the place where God had constituted Israel, this was the place where Moses was confirmed in his leadership by some vision of the Lord Himself, the Lord whose face cannot be seen by any living man. Maybe history would repeat itself and I could become another Moses? After all, there had never been leaders of Israel who were more unfit than Ahab and Jezebel! But I was exhausted, drained and faint, and the fear of death had clouded my mind. Only the gift of food from an angel sustained me on that terrible journey. For forty days and forty nights I ran, into the heart of the wilderness, into the wilderness of my own pride and fear and desperate longings. And for forty days and forty nights, God was silent, and in that echoing silence I heard my own half-formed thoughts grow uncomfortably loud.


It was only when I came to the mountain that the Lord spoke, and asked me what I did there. Out of my mouth it poured, all my frustration with recalcitrant Israel (as if God had not been bearing with them far, far longer than I had!) God’s answer was strange. He bid me stand upon the mountain in His presence (as Moses did? I wondered. And my terror was magnified, for he unleashed before me all the powers of earth: wind, earthquake and fire (like the fire upon Mount Carmel). And in all that power and terror, again God was silent, and I knew then that these things of great power were not where the Lord reveals His presence, for after these things of terror had passed by, in the absolute quietness that followed, was the tiniest thread of a voice, the faintest whisper. And in that silence, that weakness and stillness, I knew the presence of the Lord of Lords and King of kings, and I trembled and covered my head. For He who is mightiest can empty Himself to nothing, and in that silent place is a mystery far more deep and wonderful than the power I had foolishly desired.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter at the Salt Marsh

A poem inspired by a walk

Here the dry stillness lies, waiting the surge
Of strong, salt water, bringing in the flood,
In known season. Here the plovers stalk.
Here, behind barrenness, is life in bud.

Here, in this quietness under vivid sky,
I feel again the stirring of that song
That transcends mortal sorrow. In this breath,
I know I am not flotsam, but belong.

Death, life, the big things, meet in minute span,
Here, where I can encompass with one eye,
This space, this place, this challenge, sere and bare,
Asks if the flesh still fears to fade and die.

Flesh versus faith. Caught on the pin of time
We wriggle but remain. We sing, we weep,
And own our courage just for one more step.
We still have foothold though the way is steep.

He is my courage. He, and He alone,
Can carry me the way that He has trod.
For He, Himself has made Himself the way,

He is my Resurrection. He is God.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lent 40: Psalm 114

“Tremble O earth at the presence of the Lord”

This vigil is the slack point of the tide.
All is withdrawn, an emptiness profound
Waits for its filling. All creation hangs
Waiting, and utters still its groaning sound.

Earths dreadful grief packed tight into one place,
Earth’s dreadful longing caught up in His cry.
Now, all is silence, yet, the echo hangs,
Tight in the void, awaiting God’s reply.

Surely He comes! The mighty Lord of Hosts
In His almighty mercy bends to save,
Taking upon Himself our sin, our pain,
Bearing it all, then ripping up the grave.

These are death’s death-throes in this slack-tide hour,
Waiting God’s coming, for He will, He will!
Tremble indeed before Love absolute,

For He is near, His promise to fulfill!

The Women in the Shadows

We were there on that black and dreadful day. The word had spread quickly that he had been arrested, so we came, waiting in the shadows as women do. Nobody notices or cares about the women in the shadows; we are so unimportant that nobody notices or cares. Except him, of course. That was part of the wonder and the marvel, he always saw us, and honoured us by his seeing. We were not invisible creatures of the night to him – he saw us, he named us, he knew us. That was why we loved him so very much, because he gave us back our reality. With him we felt whole, and strong and valuable; to the rest of the world we were only shadows.

And so we followed him, painfully, on that last dreadful journey through Jerusalem, the journey to his death. It was agony to see his agony, his body already slashed and torn by the dreadful Roman whip, those terrible thorns causing blood to trickle down his face and into his eyes, his whole body stooped and struggling beneath the burden of his cross. Watching his pain was like being confronted with an obscenity so extreme it was almost beyond our ability to take in, numbing us with horror. So we followed in the shadows, as women do.

We stood there, on that anxious, dread-filled hill, wanting to be with him in his suffering. We could not take one iota of his pain away, but at least we could be there with him. It is what women do. We have no power to take the suffering from the world, but we stand with those who suffer: the crying child, the dying man, the woman racked in the hour of birth. We are there. We are there for the bereaved and the broken – when you live in the shadows you notice the pain of the world which the strong and the mighty overlook. So we stayed there, at the foot of the cross, and we wept for the pity and the horror of it until our eyes burned dry and we could cry no more. And the Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders ignored us; we were just women weeping in the shadows, and that’s what women do.

And we stayed there watching him die, and our shadows seemed a darkness so vast that the whole world was swallowed up in grief. And all through the next day we lived out the most bitter Sabbath of our lives – so bitter that, in comparison, dust and ashes would be sweet as honey. And we huddled in the shadows and we mourned, on that grey, grey day when there was nothing left to do but feel the enormity of our loss. We had forgotten that it was when darkness covered the face of the deep that God said, “Let there be light!”


The whole world knows the story now, the story of that still-dark shadowed morning when we went to anoint his body as our final gesture of love, and found instead an empty tomb and a risen Lord. But it was our story, we were there, and we drink its gladness and wonder all our days. We were there when the morning broke and the shadows fled away, when our tears were turned to laughter and our sorrow into joy. We did not need our shadows any more.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lent 39: Isaiah 53

Silence before the Lamb,
The broken Lamb of God!
Silence before His pain:
The whip, the nails, the blood!

Silence before such hell
No words of ours express!
Silence before the love,
That bore it all for us!

Silence to know that He,
In weakness was despised.
Silence to own that we
Rejected God’s own Christ.

Silence, for here all words
Fall short and fall away.
His light our darkness bears,
And darkness blots out day.

Silence to see such love
That would the stoniest break
For all that He endured,
He suffered for our sake.

Speak then, shout out His love,
Whose depth cannot be said;
For Christ was crucified,
Now death itself is dead!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lent 38: Colossians 2: 8-15

We stand between truth and falsehood,
At the junction of the way,
And remember You are the way.
The rules of man lead only to the end of man:
An end called death.
And the screeching sound of our own confusion
Is the screeching brakes 9of those who turn around.

Do not embrace the lie.

He is not the whispered story
That the wind blows to oblivion;
He is not an archaic system
That our wisdom has outgrown;
He is not the foolish credulity
Of the ones afraid to say no!

He is more real than the sun that burns you,
The earth that upholds you,
The sea that encircles you,
The atoms and the cells.

His life is no illusion.

He will cut away from you,
With surgery most crystal and precise,
All things that are not life.
You will become scarecrow:
Ragged, mocked, alone:
In the field, hanging in the rain,
Wondering and afraid.
And it will be for gladness,
Such gladness as the morning stars
Sang together to proclaim:

A masterpiece of glory.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lent 37: Hebrews 12: 1-3

Let us fix our eyes

They have gone before and they show the way
Making a trodden track through world’s dark woods
Showing how it is done by mortal men.

Suffer us to walk on as they have walked
Suffer us to accept this other path
Suffer us to embrace the faith-found way.

Let us be shining-sure, the while we walk
Through doubt-tossed valleys, scrambling broken rock,
When all else falls away, He still is there,
Author and finisher of this strange path,
He will perfect this flawed fragmented faith
Into a beauty that will sing of Him.

Let us then toss aside what weighs too much,
For this strait journey: petty rules of men,
Fears of the flesh, the cravings of our pride,
The dragging burden of entitlement
That pulls us backward from love’s dizzy path,
And trust instead the Spirit and the Word.


Suffer us to keep eyes fast-fixed on Him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lent 36: John 12; 20 - 36

Except a grain of wheat …

This is a strange, strange road to glory.

Not here a trumpet, nor the sweet applause
Of angels rank on rank in dear acclaim,
Nor victor’s sword, nor crowds that seethe and roar
For joy, nor here the high and golden throne.

Here is the bitter moment closing in.
Here is the crowd that does not understand,
The futile crowd that scorns a path so dark,
And will choose bread and circuses instead.

Here is the forerunner walking the way
Called cruciform. Here is the life laid down.
Planting must come before the harvest rich
And here the seed is sown into death.

And He who would to depths of darkness go,
Down to the uttermost of death’s despair
Tastes here, before that day, the agony,
And bids us all walk forward by His light.

He tastes before Him, in His shuddering flesh,
The nails, the whip, the tortured crown of thorns,
And chooses still, and chooses us as His
And chooses thus to draw us into life.


This is a strange, strange path to glory.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lent 35: Exodus 10: 21 - 11: 10

The final plague

God so much greater than all Egypt’s might,
God of the desert stars and desert sand,
God who has called Your people to be Yours,
Under the lamb’s shed blood we take our stand.

God who has watched the nations rise and fall,
God who is ruler over history,
God who has heard our slavery’s harsh cry,
You have called out Your people to be free.

God who has loved us since before all time,
God, calling us to know You as our Lord,
God, who brings justice like the rolling sea,
And judgement sharper than the sharpest sword.

God, You, Yourself, our sole deliverance,
God of all righteousness, and of all grace,
God, You, Yourself, our stricken, dying lamb,
God who will bear all judgement in our place.

God of our exodus from death to life,
God, whose sure word is our amen, and yes,
God of the Resurrection and the Life,

God who has lavished us with love’s largesse.