poem: father, son and holy ghost

’tis a truth thy know full well,

that love’s not absent of it’s mind,

or blind, to that which poorly you disguised –

indeed pretence was spotted long ago;

 hide not from love, that loves you even so –

and knows the sacred beat of thy dear heart,

and knows it still.

 

that ill fitting mask you wear,

that oft was dropped when fear of loss

commanded you to reassure – it never hid you well;

but well i know

that half hidden meant half seen;

and oft pursued –

with hope of keeping, what anger sought to lose.

 

anger is the ice that kept him cold enough

to stay away;

you never wore ice well – feign not the bitter frost

that held him sway.

For you are not so lost, and my years will tell

of all the love you give and give again;

for those who love you now, will love you then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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poem: good friday

meditation based on psalm 23, vs 5 

 

you prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies

and i look up, from the foot of your cross

and it is my sin that put you there

too oft from a sin that i chose

and yet you anoint my head with oil

and my cup over flow’s

 

 

you anoint my head with oil

my cup overflows’

and i look up from the foot of your cross

from your head and your wounds

your blood freely flows;

how could it be that blood of lamb slain

could free me of guilt, could free me of blame?

that you feed me as enemies taunt me with death

and that my cup, with your love, over flows?

and i look up from the foot of your cross

and my love overflows

Poem: proud, prouder, proudest

 

hide not from me who saw you

however well thy thought self hid;

when you seek me be proud of you,

in all you do, have done and did;

and will do – for love’s great cause,

will never cease, will never pause.

 

the shield you thought protection

can only shut out loves proud view;

cease now love’s long detention,

’tis long enough, they know it true;

there was no shame to hide,

and in mine eyes, you saw it so.

 

Kneading, richly weaving, vibrant growing

and it grows; hide not thine eyes from seeing,

what you know your heart doth know;

and let thy footsteps quickly carry thee –

to tend our soil and watch love grow

our family.

Poem: holy imperfection

 

love like a sacrament

poured rich from the vine;

but not to be giddy, tho giddy be fine –

and tenderness plays in the incense divine

but ground me

hold firmly, sweet blood of the vine;

 

that dough that was kneaded

with prayers of great pleading;

come love give my bones

muscles not slack – oh rise, not dissemble,

 on that promise, I tremble

leave me not trembling, ’tis not faith I lack.

 

tho not wretch, but ragged

not much could I carry,

but that which I carry, I carry intact;

and paths may be varied,

with thee, they not scare me –

take I nervous breath, till they bring you back.

 

 

Poem: The Once-Me

I can still see the once-me,

at least from time to time;

the songs she used used to sing,

where voice and music rhymed –

the patterns of her movement,

the little rituals of time;

 

I want to keep that once-me

and the things that she could do;

and though she was afraid

her faith at least was always true –

she gave me that to keep,

and to share, with you.

The now-me, and the once-me

must go our separate ways;

I cannot have her back,

though my heart would have her stay –

(I confess the now-me trembles more,

than once-me would ever say)

perhaps that is a gift enough,

in its peculiar way.

 

Poem: Songs of Raggedy Praise

There are Sundays when all I can bring, God

are the cries of a broken heart

a voice that is sore from the weeping

a mind that is flying apart

 

And I wish I could give you something of value

but its all that I have to bring

these songs of raggedy praise 

for my God, who is brother and king

Some of these tears are so bitter to taste

Can I give them to you God, please

I want to give more, but please take them away

for it’s all I have and can give you today

 

Oh I wish I could give you something of value

but its all that I have to bring

these songs of raggedy praise 

for my God, who is brother and king

God takes all these tears, now not bitter to taste

and these raggedy prayers straighten seem;

and the feeling suffice, so much warmer my heart

still raw from the ice, let it not make me hard

 

How I wish I could give you something of value

but its all that I have to bring

these songs of raggedy praise 

for my God, who is brother and king

Poem: Meditation on Matthew 25: 31 – 46

Stranger, be not afraid –

come in, come in, the table is laid.

I see thee be weary, please sit yourself down

You are tired, you are thirsty  – come, see now

you can rest from your worries and

your burdens lay down.

 

Stranger be not afraid –

come in, come in the table is laid

I once too arrived here, a stranger like you

Be assured you can lay all worries down too

Find here a place where from sorrows released

Where indeed you are known, and loved – be at peace

Stranger, stranger

Why do you beg, for some crumb of food,

for these meagre dregs? Stranger, begone

for I shall not share; but in my great mercy

I will at least, leave you alone

to beg on the streets.

 

 

Those with most power are not the least

(Though they claim the title –

but God knows, and God see’s)

and though the world tells us – turn the stranger away

God calls you out now: hear God say

When you shared nought with the stranger, you shared nought with me.

 

50 Pastors, Roy Moore and Matthew 5:29

 

I have never in my life so far, or even once since becoming a Christian, advocated, believed in or approved of anything that looks like the authoritarian practice of ‘shunning’ or disfellowshipping, as it is practiced in various Christian traditions. It’s not an Anglican practice, and my understanding of it is very much in the context of it being practiced abusively by those who have more power, over those who have less. I have witnessed it toxic effects up close, and I do not believe it is healthy practice.

And then I saw that more than 50 Christian pastors had publicly given their support to Roy Moore.

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Christians have never been the most cohesive group of people. Even in the very earliest days of the church, Apostle’s quarrelled amongst themselves, and barely had Jesus ascended from Bethany before the church started writing women out of its formation, leadership and history. Arguably, you cannot trace the evolution of Christian tradition without acknowledging the fundamental role that it’s many splits played, not only in its differing theologies, but in the way that it sees itself, and how it portrays itself to ‘the World’.

Many of those splits could be considered a moral necessity, yet we must also remember the fullness of context: for example whilst Martin Luther was anti-semite,  a legacy that the Protestant church has yet to truly and properly acknowledge, Bonhoeffer’s split with the German Lutheran church helped grow a legacy of theology as resistance, as well as liberation.

Neither is the Anglican and Anglo-Catholic wing of the church without considerable failing – the role the Anglican Church played the treatment of Native peoples at the hands of her missionaries, for example, rightly remains an issue of contention with Indigenous people today .

But the Church is not without a model for corporate repentance, for there are moments in history when the body of Christ must reflect on its corporate sins and repent – as the Church of England did 10 years ago, when reflected on how it backed the slave trade, something which it acknowledged and apologised for. Dr Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, said this:

“The body of Christ is not just a body that exists at any one time, it exists across history and we therefore share the shame and the sinfulness of our predecessors and part of what we can do, with them and for them in the body of Christ, is prayer for acknowledgement of the failure that is part of us not just of some distant ‘them’.”

The corporate Church across all of its traditions, however, is yet to truly repent for its systemic failure to address its sexual sins: long before those 50 pastors decided to support a man whose personal morality is at the very (very) least questionable, the Catholic Church and Protestants both have come under scrutiny with regard to the abuse of children by its priests and pastors. So the response from  some wings of the Church to the accusations against Roy Moore, whilst immensely disheartening, was sadly unsurprising. Only a day or so before the open letter of support was published by the Alabama Pastors, Franklin Graham Jnr, had tweeted his own support for Roy Moore.

Those 50 pastors represent a small-ish but hardcore group of Christians who assume that a powerful, influential man is more likely to be the victim in the situation than a child; who are so in thrall to a phoney gospel that they will leave the widow and the orphan, and the violated child, out in the cold. It does not matter that I am from a different Christian tradition – it matters only that the body of Christ “..exists across history and we therefore share the shame and the sinfulness of our predecessors..” – and, indeed, our peers.

Children, in this instance young girls, were used and abused yet these 50 pastors hear those cries and they react first with paranoia, and suspicion. If we will know them by their fruits, and their fruits are as rank, as bitter and as spiritless as this – what place exactly do they have in the Body of Christ?  If abusers are welcome at the table but victims are not, when is it time to cut out the eye that causes us to stumble? Had we already gone past that point when the Church gave slave traders a theology to justify their trade?

I don’t have answers: I do have anger, and hurt and frustration both as a victim, a woman, a survivor and a Christian.Was Jesus not explicit enough when he warned us not to make these little ones stumble? Was he not severe enough we he said it would be better to drown, than to cause such stumbling to a child?

Or will centuries have to pass before we take responsibility, before we humble ourselves again before God, before we say sorry and repent, before the victims receive the justice, and the peace, to which we were called to live out in the first place? And is it time to gouge out the eye, if it means we will see more clearly?

Poem: The Evidence of My Eyes

Above the raucous, above the clashing

crashing, ever raging din

there is a softer

quieter song

that yet does soar

– i hear it sing

it will be well, it will be well

it will be well, let faith come in

 

And though the claws that rip me,

do not concede, do not desist,

that song so sweetly

calls me up

i could climb up

– I could insist

it will be well, it will be well

let hope like smoke, inhaled, be well

 

Song, sung high and sweet

above the woes

and cares beneath

that lifts me up

i will climb up

– high above, and clear, complete

it will be well, it will be well

and I will tell of all love speaks.

 

 

Poem: I Dare

 

When I dare believe that love

Can also be received – or

daring more, can be held and without chains

will not let go;

Or when that reassurance

That with patience doth restore us,

Tender reaches with swift might,

Then all is right, I do not doubt;

And feel do I your arms around me,

once again – and love that binds me

grows the limbs that guard

this sacred, solid ground.

For though so often I am lost

More often still that I am found,

And cherished more for having lost

Yet never losing loves sweet sound.