Ceasefire for the Sexes

I hate what we have become

Us siblings

Pitted against each other from puberty

Either divided and ruling

Or divisive and ruled.

Missing out on mutual flourishing

A destructive relationship

if ever there was one.

.

Men have blamed women always –

it was Adam’s second sin in the garden –

And then women were cursed to desire and resent them.

But we were (re)born to go beyond our ancestors

and to trust and understand what once they feared.

.

And we can fear to love because we think that love is unclean.

Yet surely it cannot be purity

When we distance those who give us life.

It insults the very Gospel

of the Son of Man who spent time with women

and looked to their souls not their sex.

.

I know of these things only partly

And often through a screen darkly, but

The way I’ve come to think is that

Sex should not be a battleground.

We are more united and

diversity is in high demand.

I don’t want to fight or fear my brothers

and we shouldn’t need to fear all attraction.

Honestly.

How I wish that sex would once again just mean

intercourse

and not war.

Advertisements

All I want

Oh Church
I don’t want your marketing
Your flyers, photos and statements
Your slick design packages and logos
I want raw, jagged edges
Ugly tears and desperate sobs
Shuddering shoulders and tensing muscles
Gritted teeth and screwed up grimaces.

Oh Church
I don’t want your corporate colours
Your famous role models
Your easy, three-point sermons
And chortling middle class anecdotes.
I want your righteous anger
Your deepest longings
Your daily struggles
Your secret weaknesses.

I want
to know
what gives
you hope.

And

I want
to see
that you care
about me.

I want you to be

my family.

Found in Translation/Wycliffe*’s Plea

For the artists, the liturgists and pioneers who keep the Good News fresh and don’t just parrot the wisdom: you will always be the true evangelists.

Lost for new words

We recycle the old ones

Not fathoming their subtle implications

As if their very antiquity suffices for intelligibility;

As if permanence were a virtue.

Well, not in linguistics

And that is hardly prophecy.

Sure, the well-worn is beautiful as poetry

But if lex orandi is lex credendi*

then new metaphors will come in handy

when translating the ancient

into postmodern.

After all, the Word became flesh and made his home among us

So we need to give Jesus the local lingo:

To keep translating him into our vernacular

and re-interpreting him with our lives.

_

*John Wycliffe (1320-1384) was an English priest who was an early translator of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate version into vernacular English, so that all English people could access the Scriptures in their own languages.

**Lex orandi, lex credendi (Latin loosely translated as “the law of praying [is] the law of believing”) is a motto which means that it is prayer which leads to belief, or that it is liturgy which leads to theology.

Gloria in Infernos

This poem was specially written for a modern-day adaptation of the Nativity story at Holy Trinity church in Clapham, South West London, on 10th Dec 2016. In it, the shepherds to whom the Angel appears are translated into door supervisors aka bouncers, who, like the shepherds outside Bethlehem, work night shifts and would not expect to be the first to be officially told about the birth of royalty. Infernos is a nightclub on Clapham High Street (which lies within Lambeth Borough).

*

While bouncers watched the club by night,
all standing round the door
An Angel of the Lord came down
And they fell to the floor.

‘Chill out’ he said, for mighty dread
Had struck them dumb as well
He said ‘It’s fine, I’ve got good news
And you’re who we want to tell!’

“This evening Lambeth borough here
Has had a royal birth!
He’ll change the lives of you and them
And everyone on Earth.

The kid’s been born just up the road
Behind a B&B
It’s fully booked, but round the back
A garage nursery!”

That’s what he said – God’s honest truth –
And then they start to sing!
This massive choir – from the sky!
About this baby King.

So off they go to take a look
And sure enough he’s there.
Just humbly wrapped in Primark sheets
No cot from Mothercare.

So praise our God who loves his flock
And give peace to our town
That bouncers were the first to know
When God himself came down.

Small voice

Why is it not the noisy ones

The ones who get the most press

Who are speaking out for the poor?

Or is it the other way round –

Why is it not the ones who are poor

who get the airtime?

For

God is not always in the thunder

of the amps and the guitars

the clean shaven white boys and drummers in cages.

He is in the cold, draughty barns

with the old ladies and the disabled

Huddling to cling in worship

To their hope in a God who hears.

He doesn’t need to be heard by the loud ones;

They have enough warmth and comfort on their own.

Away! away with the noise of your guitars

This is true religion;

Orphans and women

Not cool; but kind.

Listen, Church; listen.

God’s not yelling,

he’s whispering.

Every.

Single.

Day.

 

 

In a mirror dimly, or The Church Reflective

(The )Church at its worst can be a critical changing room mirror, unkindly unflattering and increasing our shame and dysmorphia.

At its utter worst, it can be a terrifying House of Mirrors, increasing shadows and distorting God’s image (and that of ourselves) into a horror movie monster.

(The )Church at its best reflects God’s image purely, accurately and favourably, refracting and transmitting the Godhead’s loving radiance like a lighthouse beacon.

At its utter best, it can show us in a light so generous, making the most of our hitherto hidden potential, that it can only be reflecting mercy.

Are we helping to bless and keep people? Are we helping God’s face shine upon them and being gracious to them?*

If not, why are we saying we want that to happen to them?

If not, are we then lying to ourselves?

We can mirror God to the world.

What are we reflecting?

*Numbers 6 v 24-26, words used as a traditional Christian blessing (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Num.6.24-Num.6.26)

Amos goes to the evening service

Where is this worship that you speak of?
I only see formulae

Carefully constructed sets
To lull us into peace
But I have developed resistance
To this musical Calpol.

Away with the sound of your feasts
What does the Lord require of you?
Justice. Mercy. Humility.
Give him more than three chords.

Do your duty beyond the sanctuary:
At the food bank box and the bank,
In the office on Monday morning.
Give him the first fruits of your labour
And your last thought at night.

Lift your voice to the Lord
Not just when there is a screen
But when there is sinister silence
Surrounding the needs of the hurting.

This is your spiritual act of worship;

Sacrifice.