Sunday, 31 May 2009

SPEAKING

The dumb ass spoke
Under divine power:
Lord, at least,
Make such use of me.

Abner, general
Of those against God’s king
Could speak truth: allow truth
To come even from me.

Necho, King of Egypt,
could convey to Josiah
The word of God: let thy word
Issue by me.

But much more, make me
A suitable instrument,
A vessel consistent
With the message.

Let the trumpet tone
Be true; the string, tautened
By Thee, be undiscordant; the bell
Chime clear!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

BRIDE

It was not good that Thou
Shouldst be alone;
Out of Thy death Thou dost receive
What God provides Thee now,
Derived from Thee, to be Thine own ‑
Thine Eve!

None but Thyself could tell
Of all the charms
Of her who now is by Thy side,
The one who will excel
As cherished in Thine arms ‑
Thy bride.

And only she describes
Thy loveliness
Which she can fully apprehend
As near Thee she imbibes
The grace and love Thou dost express,
Her Friend.

Friday, 29 May 2009

CHAINS

I loved my father's story
Of the skilled locksmith
Who, enchained, looked at each link
And declared:
"I cannot escape from these ‑
I made them myself"

But not the interpretation,
Apt though it was,
That the links were habits,
Binding irretrievably.

Lord, teach me the skill
To forge for myself chains,
That I may inescapably be made
A prisoner of Jesus Christ,
A willing bondman.

For it was love which bonded
Christ to the servant's path, linked
Christ to the cross, held
Christ in the grave.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

THE OPERATIONS OF GOD

All this world's vigour is dismayed,
All this world's wisdom is denied;
Fresh power and wisdom is displayed
In Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Secured at infinite expense
Many, deriving from that One
Share ‑ while He has pre‑eminence -
The place, and Spirit of God's Son.

Esteeming the descending mind
Which moved Christ Jesus as He came
From glory to the depths we find
Our minds conforming to the same.

In the affectionate control
Of Him, who fills the Father's heart,
With grateful voices we extol
The God whose work sets us apart.

Chosen before time had begun,
Redeemed, forgiven, given grace
In Christ, in God's Beloved One,
We bless God for our favoured place.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A PAIR OF ASSES

(for Rosie)

Appropriately
We can see ourselves as
A pair of asses

‑ For each, like an ass, has been
Redeemed
By a perfect Lamb.

A pair ‑
Not ploughing with
An ox and an ass together.

And like Balaam's
Ready to speak well ‑
If by a miracle!

Alert for the time
When, specially,
The Lord has need of us;

But bearing, daily,
As we find grace,
Abigail to her Husband.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

JOHN: ABIDING

Another thing with which John was delighted
Was what was known and spoken about abiding.
On Christ abode the Spirit, undivided,
And the disciples began with the enquiry
Where He abode, wishing to be beside Him.
Christ's desire was that those who were enlightened
Abide in His own word without repining;
Unless each one, regarded as a vine‑branch,
Abides in Him no fruit will be provided
And there is promised a place of God's designing
‑ An area of joy without confinement ‑
Within the Father's house, assured by Christ's place.

Monday, 25 May 2009

JOHN

John, the beloved, delights in mulling over
The Son of God in all His matchless glory,
Who has distinctions beyond the creatorial.
He was before all and He Himself disposed it
But as a Man, appearing as the Logos,
He has this glory ‑ a father's son, his only;
In contemplation His lovers could behold it.
Embodying more than was framed by Moses,
Both grace and truth appear for us who know Him.
Some recognized He came from God, as holy,
And as they learned Him rejoiced and were adoring:
Yet saw Him wash their feet, stooped down before them.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

LUKE: DAUGHTERS

Luke also writes about the many daughters
And only in his word are some recorded.
Elizabeth whose lineage was Aaronic
Or aged Anna who was sublimely godly.
Against this background others were soon responding:
In power of faith relieved of her disorder
One testified when her Redeemer called her;
One was released whom Satan had contorted;
While several bowed with the greatest sorrow
Heard the Lord's word as He approached the horror ‑
He gave them sympathy despite the ordeal
That shortly on the cross He would bear for them.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

LUKE

The Son of Man ‑ that is Luke's presentation:
He came on man's behalf preaching salvation
And as our Model in everything was faithful,
Touching men's needs and always being gracious.
We see the Man as a dependent prayer
Within the confines of what was His creation;
We see Him magnify God's glorious greatness
Bringing God's power to meet man's deprivation;
Bringing God's grace to meet man's degradation.
And as a Gentile Luke loves anticipating
Grace opening to all us of the nations:
Not one excluded; each one can claim their Saviour.

Friday, 22 May 2009

MARK: FEELING

Mark also shows Christ as a Man of feeling
Who perfectly knew all emotions deeply:
He looked with anger on those who hindered healing,
Distressed to find men hard and unbelieving;
He was indignant when children were mistreated;
He groaned to see amid effects of evil
The piteous man who was deprived of hearing
And spoke the word emotionally in Hebrew.
Till in the garden oppressed and sorely grieving
His spirit bore what He would soon bear really;
While His disciples could not refrain from sleeping
The Lord endured, advancing undefeated.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

MARK

And Mark presents Christ in obedient service
Who came from God conveying God's own message,
Good news for men, salvation and repentance.
He healed the sick, preached to the poor and fed them;
Immediately blessed one and then the next one
Although denied even the merest leisure.
Then He inducted the twelve to serve and sent them
To preach the kingdom and magnify the blessing.
The word was good; He spoke it in perfection:
Yet by this world the favour was rejected
To demonstrate the depths of man's perversion
In turning from the Christ, God's ideal servant.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

MATTHEW: THE CHILDREN

Yet children also are prominent in Matthew
And even Jesus is mentioned in that fashion;
Only he mentions results from Herod's anger:
The tiny infants the wanton soldiers martyred;
Christ noticed children while they played in the markets
And took one to Him to serve as an example;
When some were treated as if they did not matter
Jesus was gentle and glad to see them gather ‑
Replete with blessing He touched them in compassion.
Till from their praises He had the perfect answer
To all the sorrows that met Him in His pathway:
Within the temple the children cried "Hosanna".

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

MATTHEW

Matthew presents the glory of His kingship:
As Son of David Christ came to take His kingdom,
Bringing the words of prophets to fulfilment.
His people chose to greet Him with derision
And to prefer the pathway of perdition.
As He announced the good they were dismissing
And preached the kingdom foretold in many scriptures
His patient grace was never intermitted.
He showed the glory He rightly should be given,
Proclaimed repentance that they might be forgiven
But in the end proved that which had been written:
The sheep were scattered: the Shepherd must be smitten.

Monday, 18 May 2009

MY FATHER

IV

Perfection was His aim: in every day
The work of God progressed towards its end.
Natural aptitudes had lessened sway
In Father's trade; instead he could perpend ‑
And grow in ‑ thoughts of Jesus. God had pleasure
Seeing a soul advancing towards His aim,
Until He added to perfect this treasure
The final thought of "Jesus Christ, the Same".

If Father loved to see a plump and fresh
Haddock or sole come cleanly from the bone
Through skill achieved by careful toil alone
So that no trace of worthlessness was left
His Saviour's stroke which soothed him from the flesh
Was infinitely swifter and more deft.

27/12/90

Written about 10 years after the Lord took my father.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

MY FATHER

III

Gentleness, humour, generosity:
He never spanked me once ‑ in case he hurt;
And I recall one over‑boisterous day
When deeds more vigorous and words more curt
Would have more aptly answered my attack.
When he told jokes you'd lose the point till after
But not feel any sorrier for the lack:
He'd spoil the tale, yet cheer you, with his laughter.

As for his generosity, that theme
Is subject of abundant evidence;
He worked long hours for substance to dispense
And used his time for visits to deliver
His many gifts ‑ because of the esteem
Of Him he knew as the transcendent Giver.

26/12/90

Saturday, 16 May 2009

MY FATHER

II

Perfection was the aim: even his writing
Was evidence of reaching for perfection,
Unlike my own crabbed hand. His mind delighting
In flawlessness could show a predilection
For no‑one of my kind; his approbation
Seemed to evade me ‑ rightly I confess.
Yet graciousness that salved our situation
Was further evidence of saintliness.

Those who each day saw him about his trade
Found no more apt description of him than,
In all their market, "the last gentleman".
They could not fathom that in all these days
Another Man was more and more displayed:
The Perfect Man, through faith, engaged his gaze.

(25/12/90)

Friday, 15 May 2009

MY FATHER

I

To most it simply is their livelihood
To change the live silver until it's dead
And filthy clanging silver and they could
Just as well pass their days in making bread
Or, if they had the brains, transcripts of Greek.
Day clashing after day of scratching knives
Strung into week following tedious week
Grind out their tepid, barely half‑lived lives.

He's not like this. To him the lithe white flakes
Of muscle and the delicate web of bones
Constitute his material ‑ when he hones
His knife and soothes the flesh and bones apart
It is his magnum opus which he makes
For every fillet is a work of art.

(c1978)

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Monday, 11 May 2009

GRAVE

If in the Adam
The paths of glory
Lead but to the grave,
In the Christ
The paths to the grave
Lead to the glory.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

RESPONSES

We praise Thee, glorious Lord, when we behold
Thy victory
Since Thy sublime accomplishments unfold
Thy splendid way
To open all God's wonders, and impart
Thy love and blessedness to every heart.

We honour Thee, our Lord, because we know
As born anew
The glorious worthiness which Thou dost show
To fill our view
In Thee all excellences are secure ‑
True, amiable, noble, just and pure.

We worship Thee, in blessed consciousness
That Thou art God
Although in sorrow, pain and humbleness
Thy path was trod;
Thou, by Thy word, didst uphold in Thy power
The whole creation in Thy weakest hour.

We love Thee, Jesus, Lord, since we are brought
By Thee alone
As purposed for us in the Father's thought
To be Thine own
Having a dignity which God equips
To share with Thee in love's relationships.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Friday, 8 May 2009

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Monday, 4 May 2009

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Saturday, 2 May 2009

18/08/04

Words, rhythm, tropes, rhyme,
The glue to fix them - this is
The most mixed blessing!

Friday, 1 May 2009

LOVE'S DESIGNS

As beneficiaries of grace
Enrolled in the illustrious ranks
Of those who come before Thy face,
Our Father, we give thanks.

Initiates of love's designs,
Acted upon in love's great ways,
Robed and secured in love divine,
Father, we give Thee praise.

As welcomed to Thy residence
And liberated to explore
The splendours of its ambience,
Our Father, we adore.