Wednesday 26 November 2008


Counting my blessings

I begin with this small one:

That I can count!

See 22 November 2007

Tuesday 25 November 2008


Our God and Father, it has been Thy pleasure
To hear us own the greatness of the Son
As witnessed in the work that He has done
To lead us here as Thy peculiar treasure.

How great the majesty of the Creator!
How great the Personage that fills Thy heart!
How great the grace that led Him to impart
The truth that through love's counsels Thou are greater.

How great Thy thought that we from our estrangement
From divine life should now be brought to share
A place of nearness where we can declare
Thine own supremacy in love's arrangement!

Father, we worship as Thy love ensconces
Our hearts in the indomitable power
Of its embraces, during this great hour,
Enjoying Thy delight in our responses.

Monday 24 November 2008


Into the night
‑ Men blundering in darkness ‑ came
The Light.

Among absurd
Bubbles of futile noise came
The Word.

Where men, astray,
Wandered in pathless deserts came
The Way.

As men's uncouth
Hubbub of lies resounded came
The Truth.

While sturt and strife
Gave death fearful dominion came
The Life.

Amid the shock,
Breakers disrupting flotsam, came
The Rock.

Just where I am
Needing His loving‑kindness came
The Lamb.

Sunday 23 November 2008


Thinking of God, and noticing His ways,
As shown to me by Jesus, His own Son,
My soul has been not only moved to praise,

That I should know the ways of such a One,
But moved to love, considering the heart
(Filled with desire that when these ways were done

I, as myself a son, should have a part
In His eternal presence, being too
Integral in Christ's glorious counterpart ‑

The splendid bride, joined to the Bridegroom who
Gave all for her) which, from profound affection,
Conceived and used these ways to carry through

Those whom He loved into complete perfection,
Washed from their sins, cleared from the power of sin,
Knowing His love, in Christ, the Resurrection

And in the arms of God, who drew them in
To His own countenance. No other mind
Could, straining to its greatest heights, begin

To think of such a plan as this, designed
By such a God; no other heart required
Such a conception for its unconfined

Expanse of love; no other love inspired
Such love as that by which God's sons are fired.

Saturday 22 November 2008


Not words only; for his Master's spirit imbued
Him, a man in the twentieth century since Christ
With the same Spirit; his hands consecrated, filled.
As a member of Christ's body it seemed
He was a hand: a giver, a helper, a blesser.

Not words only: last gestures,
Last images fix in the mind.
A Man, in flesh and bone, risen
Out of Death's harsh manacles,
Stood, surrounded by admirers;
Expressing a dispensation
His final action, even ascending,
He blessed, He lifted His hands.

Friday 21 November 2008


Last words are often famous ‑
The ruling trait being prominent
At the time of death. "Father,
Forgive them" epitomises
The spirit of the Lord Jesus:
"It is finished" obedience
Of all that His hands had done.
But I cannot consider last words
Without remembering my father's:
"Jesus Christ is the Same, yesterday
And today, and to the ages to come."

Thursday 20 November 2008


His hands were nailed to the cross
Though He used them only to bless
Those in sickness, need and distress
Whom the Pharisees reckoned as dross.

Did they play at pitch and toss
To gamble over His dress?
His hands were nailed to the cross
Though He used them only to bless.

He bore the deepest loss
As He hung for me, I confess;
For He suffered there to express
Greatest love where sin was most gross:
His hands were nailed to the cross.

Wednesday 19 November 2008


But the women cared:
His mother
Wrapped round Him the swaddling bands prepared
Because of her affection
For Him, more than other,
Lying in infant perfection.

Martha also served
All the good things that she had conserved
For Him alone ‑ though her care
Distracted her from repairing
To the rest that He wished she would share.

Her sister, Mary,
The One whose love will never vary,
Raised her eager hand to break
Her flask of nard ‑ quickly pouring
An outflow of love for His sake.

Tuesday 18 November 2008


Fisting their swords, ravaged
Herod's murderous soldiers.

The Nazarenes could not grasp
His time had not yet come.

Nor could the Pharisees handle
Stones to hurl while He stayed.

A more potent weapon
Judas clung to, the bag.

What use were the swords and torches
They gripped as they came to take Him?

Yet they wounded with buffets His face,
More marred than any man's.

As they plaited His crown of thorns
They would watch lest they pierced
Their own hands.

Monday 17 November 2008


Until one Man, at the fulcrum of history,
Lifted His words in obedience to God ‑
Not words only: His hands operated
Diligently in healing ‑ as commanded to heal;
Blessing ‑ as commanded by God to bless;
Breaking the bread ‑ at His Father's word.
And His hands will never let slip
The entrusted sheep; while the Father's hand
Clasps them too. Even the disciples' feet
Were washed by these dutiful hands
And dried with the linen towel ‑ for refreshment
And for comfort. Such was the Father's delight
He gave all things to be in those hands.

Saturday 15 November 2008


Since Adam lifted his sinless hand to steal
All men have used their hands as tools of ill:
Adam began to use his for deceit,
Sewing a flimsy cover because of sin.
And Cain continued to plunge to greater evil,
Staining his hands with Abel's righteous blood:
Building a city to house the unbelieving,
Making the origin of our warped world.
Jubal was father of those who use the harp,
Whose hands are skilled to charm our thoughts from God;
Tubal‑Cain first forged tools of iron and brass ‑
Technology for lawlessness and war.
Against the love of God and His commands,
From then till now Man lifts his words and hands.

Friday 14 November 2008


Not words only: come, He used His hands
To convey compassion and power. Lepers
He handled ‑ though no leper could emerge from
His touch. Jairus's daughter awoke to feel
Her cold hand in a warm strong one. Mud
He fingered, and the dull eyes soon to begin
To see. The softness of the children's hair
His palms sensed as He blessed them; for how often
Were those hands God prepared lifted blessing?
Yet the hands that healed even His captor
Were restrained by His enemies bonds.

Thursday 13 November 2008


Not words only ‑ He used His hand
For laying earth's foundations, spreading
The heavens. In its hollow He measured
The oceans; He balanced the mountains,
Grasped the world's dust. His span
Meted out the constellations, fixing
For each its own trajectory. Man
Issues from His hand, potter's clay,
Supple, with no right to demand,
"What makest Thou?"
And towards Man
All the day He has stretched out both
His hands; to a rebellious people.

Monday 10 November 2008


He Who held all the waters in His hand
And meted out the heavens with His span
Came near in grace no man can understand
To touch the children and the leprous man.

He who the heaven of heavens cannot contain
Who said that He would dwell in hidden gloom
Came down in light and love, and being slain,
Was laid within the compass of a tomb.

He who in mercy took the sinner's place,
Descending to the greatest depths for me,
Has now ascended to the throne of grace
And at His Name all men shall bow the knee.

Sunday 9 November 2008



"I was founded in Edinburgh
In 1612,
By the care of William Blackwood,
Bailie of Dunblane,
And stayed so in my exercise
Till 1657,
When I was broken by
The unskilful direction and handling
Of some men;
And by the care and expense
Of Henri Blackwood, son of William,
I am found again at Brimin,

(Inscription on a bell in Dunblane Cathedral.)

Saturday 8 November 2008


The Lord is glad to see His people gather
Emerging from their homes to come within
His own guest chamber, showing they choose rather
The suffering pathway than the way of sin;
In their desire to please Him they are led
To pay allegiance to their absent Head.

And they, assembled, see in one another
The Spirit's work, which cannot be denied,
Esteeming well each sister and each brother
As one for whom their Lord and Saviour died;
While they appreciate that every one
Is given by the Father to the Son.

They own Christ's claim acknowledging that whether
In life or death they are the Lord's; for He
To whom they raise their heart and voice together
Has operated that they might be free;
Since His great love had bound Him to fulfil,
Despite the depths of sorrow, all God's will.

Friday 7 November 2008


When Christ came in each problem was resolved ‑
When he touched Simon's distraught mother‑in‑law
The fever left and she could serve the Lord;
When at the feast the hosts were at a loss
With circumstances becoming untoward
The Lord instructed to fill the water pots:
Immediately best wine brimmed to the top.
Or, when He went into the house of God
And saw the merchandise that filled its halls,
He carefully prepared a scourge of cords
And angrily drove out each sheep and ox
In righteous fury with men, who warped God's laws.

Thursday 6 November 2008


In every step His love to man was proved;
Each action showed compassion for the poor
While every case caused mercy to exude:
His active grace left man without excuse
When in each problem God's love was introduced.
Lepers whom men were anxious to exclude
His mercy touched and quickly they were cured;
The blind were given sight, the bound were loosed,
Limbs that were maimed regained their proper use.
In every circumstance there was the proof
Of mighty power ‑ but still His heart was moved.
His spirit bore all that His power removed.

Wednesday 5 November 2008


Under the tutelage of John the Baptist
The first two came by influence and attraction.
Simon was next, found by his brother Andrew,
Following Christ and owning Him as "Rabbi".
But soon they came because of His commandment
Acknowledging He was their Lord and Master:
Upon His call they left their ships and tackle,
With James and John called even from their father.
Without regret they left abundant catches
To be with Christ and learn of greater matters.
As firstfruits of the precious seed He scattered
They quickly found to be with Him was grandeur.

Tuesday 4 November 2008


Luke loves to note the details of that day:
The town of Nazareth to which He came,
His holy custom and the devoted ways
In which He stood or sat or found the place.
He passed the verses that spoke of Him as great
And ones that told of all He was to bear
But stopped before the treading of the grapes.
He chose the words which demonstrated grace,
Which He could say were all fulfilled "today".
But when He spoke of Gentiles who were saved
All in the synagogue were filled with rage:
Through murderous attempts He went His way.

Monday 3 November 2008


He went the way in which the Spirit led,
Although Mark writes, stressing His holiness,
"The Spirit drives Him ...into the wilderness."
There He endured not only heat and dearth
But Satan's vain essays to try and test.
These bitter trials allowed Him to express
Perfect dependence ‑ not speaking from Himself:
"By God's word men shall live, not just by bread".
Despite His might He owned He would not tempt
The Lord His God, nor worship someone else:
Against such worth, Satan, defeated, fled ‑
The strong man bound, the Stronger raids his wealth.

Sunday 2 November 2008


The Baptist preached of Him that was to come
Acknowledging the Christ's superior worth;
"Repent! Repent!" he vehemently urged,
Striving to smooth the places that were rough.
John owned the Lamb by whom all would be done
To take away the evil of the world;
He learned the grace of the incarnate Word
Who saw baptism as not superfluous
Identifying with those in whom God worked.
And John beheld the Spirit, as a dove,
Gladly descend upon the holy One
Whom God extolled as His beloved Son.

Saturday 1 November 2008


We have few glimpses of the ensuing time
In what evangelists were moved to write:
We see the day when as the holy Child
Within the temple Jesus was proved to find
His Father's business the motive of His life;
We know His growth was normal, yet sublime;
We know His deeds were normal, yet divine;
The prophet shows He learned to choose the right
While in obedience spurning the vile.
God loved to see a manhood undefiled
And loved to feel His perfect ways entice
The open heavens to tell of God's delight.