Advent reassessed

(hyphens added to give a better idea how I read it aloud – or listen below)

I’m-not sure we’ve got Advent entirely right
In-a-culture where its meaning has slipped out of sight
If it signifies-just chocolate and calendar doors
Then it’s time to revisit it, slow down, and press pause;
We think of this season as cosy and pretty
It’s anything but, it’s surprisingly gritty
Maybe it’ll help us to view it afresh
If we see how its themes with the world are enmeshed
With-what’s going on right now, this moment, right here
A world marked by violence and anguish and fear…
Think of people who-are sinking under spiralling costs
I think of Mary and Joseph, in a census town lost
Price of living, eat or heating, the clamour and din
I picture them struggling, ‘no room at the inn’
And when I see tyrants, their bitter seed sow
I remember God’s promise to-bring the proud ones so low
The only way I can handle the horrors of war
Is remembering that the mercy and grace-of-God are sure
‘Woman, life, freedom’, when I hear that brave cry
I-think how God honoured Mary – and the humble, lifted high
Even the World Cup, stirring frail hopes and dreams
Makes me think of a hope that is greater, and streams…
Of justice, that bubble in the desert, and flow
Cos God’s longing to love us and bless us you know
So don’t imagine Advent is cosy or tame
It’s fierce and it’s fearless – it won’t leave you the same

Image by Amber Clay from Pixabay

Messiah musings

The news I heard was guaranteed
To thrill and to inspire
Bradford’s choral outfit
Singing Handel’s great ‘Messiah’

Each Wednesday night, I walked through rain
Autumnal chill and dark
To master quavers, trills and scales
And warble like a lark

Through crotchet clusters, nests of notes
I wandered like a maze
But practised hard, so by the night
I’d warble quite unfazed

I love the light and airy parts
Those trills that flutter high
‘His yoke is easy, burden light’
‘And he shall purify’

On the evening, wide the doors
Flung open, what a night
The choir rang out, the solos soared
The music bubbled bright

A choir in full and hearty voice
Is like a bird in flight;
A joy to sing a work so filled
With grace and power and light

Image: Bradford Festival Choral Society performing ‘Messiah’, 19th November 2022

Audio:

Rethinking Remembrance

We may find a multitude of ways to remember
Sacrifices made, this day each November
And whether we wear poppy red, poppy white
In the square, in a churchyard, in the soft autumn light
Or at home, or even if we don’t mark it at all
Conflicts, some present, exert still a call
On our minds and our hearts to give pause and reflection
Consider, is there some substantial connection
Between those who struggle, and our more comfortable lives
Far from child soldiers under African skies
Or those in Ukraine, or Iran, where they fight
Against varying tyrannical forms, out of sight…
When part of you hurts, the whole body feels pain
It’s how we should be, when one person is maimed
So let us be conscious, seek out and discern
Where conflict is happening, to direct our concern
And find out the cause – resources, or land –
Which ignited the flame, let it get out of hand
Put ourselves in their shoes, empathise, and yeah, pray
Take some action perhaps – and though it doesn’t go away
We can lift up the hurting, joining hands, joining hearts
And imagine a future – where war finally departs

Image by Annette Jones from Pixabay

For BBC local, and community radio

A fair COP?

It might not have slipped your attention or sight:
The COP conference – straight after Bonfire Night
The occasion of gunpowder, treason and plot
Coincides with a push – to stop Earth getting hot
The gig is in Egypt (famously dry
Like the powder lined up to blow Parliament high)
But while these events enjoy similar fame
I don’t for one moment pretend they’re the same
While Guy and his gang tried a massive explosion
The Earth’s plight is more like a drawn out implosion
And though we light fireworks to remember Guy Fawkes
It’s less likely COP will see popping of corks
Let’s hope the steps there are not sticking plaster
It’d be nice if we stave off a slow burn disaster

Image by David Garry from Pixabay

Guy Fawkes and grace

On a leaf-golden evening in early November
We take up the call to ‘remember, remember’
Trio of gunpowder, treason and plot
(If you’re worried I’ll say the whole poem, worry not)
Still, it’s amazing how we annually show up
To remember a man who tried parliament – to blow up
With twelve other plotters, Guy Fawkes was in league
‘Twas a veritable hotbed of vice and intrigue
Makes sense to be thankful their bad scheme was foiled
(If nowt else it meant Bonfire night isn’t spoiled)
Two short reflections, this happening ignites
A duo of thoughts from this noisiest of nights
The first: far from harming folk who get in your way
I’m reminded of Jesus’ words: ‘for your enemies, pray’
There are sackfuls of peace, and a decrease in stress
When those who ill-treat us – we promise to bless
Second, in the fireworks that light up the sky
I see something of the beauty of God, by and by
As across inky black, phoenix patterns they trace
In my mind’s eye they mirror the beauties of grace
And like a love message, in letters of fire
Their shapes in the darkness astound and inspire

Audio poem for BBC local, Premier Christian and community radio

Image by free stock photos from www.picjumbo.com from Pixabay

Harvest ‘homily’

Do you ever give much thought about Harvest, that fulsome and foodie time of year
It sounds quite old-fashioned I grant you, and not often talked about, I fear
You may have your own particular memories, going to church, wondering, why all this food?
Seeing piles of pineapples, truckloads of tins, and something the dog maybe chewed
We live very differently from how our ancestors did, frugal and close to the land
When they sowed their own seed, and milked their own cows, and picked their own apples by hand
Now we get our food internet-ordered, packaged and boxed up and sealed,
Today’s kids, like us, are less connected to farming, some are lucky if they’ve ever seen a field
I wonder if there’s something we’ve lost in all this, (feel free to differ of course)
I wonder if we’ve lost a kind of sense of the big picture, creation, what’s behind it, the Source
I’m out on a limb here, freewheeling I know, so forgive me if this idea tanks
But I wonder if we’ve lost the old ‘attitude of gratitude’, the God-given desire to give thanks
So my challenge today is, look closer at your food shop, spend quality time with a pear!
And think about what and who grew it, I promise you’ll find something to give thanks for right there.

Best listened to! For BBC local radio & beyond…

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Haven-seeking

Something strange has happened, something unforetold
Now the tide of grief withdraws, time the thing enfolds
Though our lives move briskly on, and memories fade away
Still I wonder, what of worth, in hearts and minds will stay?

Something deep in us was tapped, an inner wall was breached
Feelings hard to plumb were stirred, often out of reach
Dark and hidden reservoirs, deep within us welled
Grief for passing permanence, bubbled, rose and swelled.

For many in these isles, a rock was lost, that felt secure
In a changing world, for some, their footing feels less sure
Spirit of a nation feels, abruptly, more alone
Now those restless feelings, must find another home.

In a life so dedicated, might we find a clue
A hint to guide, a glint of light, to show us what to do?
In a hurting world, where hearts, like bobbing boats adrift
Seek safe haven, is there something here, which hearts may lift?

In these strange and shifting times, mournful tears have welled
Might it be a time to weigh afresh the hope she held?
Ponder where was rooted, that servant spirit poor
Humbly think again, upon that beckoning, welcome shore?

Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay

Audio. For BBC local & other radio stations

Putin poem

Putin you seem rattled, Putin you seem mad
Do you feel this gig has, on reflection, turned out bad?
Putin did you bite off, more than you could chew
When you thought “I want that country; think I’ll have it too”.

Had a big backyard already, should have made you proud
Spoke of it in glowing terms, in speeches long and loud
When you hatched your mayhem, with your cronies few
Did it cross your mind Ukraine might be a proud place too?

When you thought “not big enough, I need a bit more land”
Did you for a moment think, things might get out of hand?
When you sent your tanks to put a country on the wrack
Did you think, that country might just want its country back?

Mister Putin, though you huff and puff and stare and pout
Mister Putin I’m not sure you’ve got this thing worked out
But before you hit the buffers, and you lose the plot
Stop and think, “you know what, I’ve already got a lot.”

Come on Mister Putin, it’s time to cut your losses
Face it Mister Putin, you’ve not been the best of bosses
We’ll all feel much happier, if you stop seeing red
That would help us all sleep much more peaceful in our beds.

Image by Дмитрий Осипенко from Pixabay