Friday 29 January 2016


"Lazarus, come forth":
The penetrating voice
Of the Son of God.

"Sweet is thy voice":
The evocative voice
Of my Beloved.

"Silence, be mute":
The omnipotent voice
Of the Creator.

"Not my will but thine be done":
The poignant voice
Of the Son of the Father.

"Father, forgive them ...":
The tender voice
Of the Saviour of the world.

"I ascend":
The triumphant voice
Of the Risen Man.

"Lo, I am with you all the days":
The faithful voice
Of Jesus.

Thursday 28 January 2016


The greater adventurer, you were a good soldier
Of Jesus Christ, striving in the good conflict,
Unentangled with the affairs of life
To be pleasing to the One who enlisted you;
Clad in the complete armour of God,
Belt, breast‑plate, helmet and sword,
Armour for advance only; standing,
Having done all things, able to say
That you had combated the good combat
‑ Example and guide for all who attempt the Way.

Strong drink brims in the vessel. It tilts,
Pluming a rich fruitful ribbon to the sand.
The aroma mulls through the mind. A purple clot
Decorates the desert. Then fades. This was the libation.

Among your frequent journeys
Why did your send your companions
By ship while going yourself on foot?
Was it to feel the land's
Tilth, the desert sand
And the rock's grain, conducive
To the spirit's soaring, the soul's
Grasping; and the silence needed
To go aside and rest a while
Close only to your Lord and Master?

Monday 25 January 2016


What did the waters you walked on feel like?
Did it ooze round your feet like mud
On which to slither? Or was it hard and slippery
Like ice? Did its waves move under your feet?
I doubt if you knew. You were used to waves
Supporting you, literally and metaphorically,
Fisherman. But your whole attention centred
Then on the Catcher of men who would make you
A catcher of men. Impetuous as the water
You were caught by the line of love.

And you were His stone. You knew Him the Cornerstone ‑
And formed yourself on His pattern; the Foundation Stone ‑
You built upon Him; the Capstone ‑ you supported Him
‑ For without that Stone you were as weak as water
But you found in Him the Petrifying spring.

Did a sense of adventure
Move you into the water?
Or into the centurion's house?
Your invasion of Gentile land
‑ First man into the breach
When the middle wall was broken ‑
Secured the bridgehead and brought
The preciousness nearer our grasp,
The glory nearer our eyes,
Once your many errors had harnessed
Your rashness into useful action.

Friday 22 January 2016


Chariots of fire were not your style ‑
You bent forward patiently with twelve
Yoke of oxen, their damp warmth
And soft breath wrapping you, though cold,
Turning tilth sucked your feet.
Your nostrils savoured fresh earth
‑ And fresh dung. But always your eyes
Aimed for their mark, engraving the fields
With straight, fertile furrows.

Effectiveness. Problems, debt, disease and death,
Barrenness of land or woman, great or small
Personages, your skill with God always answered ‑
Precursor of a Greater, you secured God's solutions.

Water was your special element
Signifying and creating
Both life and death:
To the thirsty kings coolness
But in your enemies’ eyes blood.
Knowing the bitterness you
Could cleanse the bitterness ‑
Since you had crossed Jordan
The axe swam in Jordan:
Was it because when young
You poured water on the hands
Of Elijah, the man of God?

Wednesday 20 January 2016


You had them all ‑ the ivory throne
With guardian lions; the palace of the house
Of Lebanon; vast revenues of gold;
Widespread domains and exotic embassies;
Each day's thirty oxen, its hundred sheep,
Harts and gazelles; a splendid palanquin
Enhanced by your sixty swordsman escort;
You had them all ‑ but not these only ‑
To probe a matter, the glory of kings,
One sword for wisdom and for justice,
Solutions to enigmas, three thousand proverbs,
With your own ascent to your God's house,
And desire and skill for songs and psalms ‑
All the accoutrements of monarchy.

And of these songs one only was the Song of Songs,
Depiction of love and beauty, the incomparable ode
To rapture of love, loveliness, cruel jealousy ‑
The symbols apt in their sensuousness, apt to love,
Apt in their spirituality ‑ breathed through the love of God.

Not gardens only, nor beds
Of spices, interested you ‑
You knew the value of tillage:
"He who tills will be satisfied
With bread"; "Manual labour
Will increase wealth"; "Truth
And mercy will attend those
Who plough good". These were
Your kind of adage. But,
Did you follow your own advice?

Sunday 17 January 2016


The movements of your cadences are lost from hearing;
The texture of your voice is a thralled secret.
Did regular rhythms underpin your structures;
Or were words secured by the clasps of rhyme?
The technique is beyond the scope of our imitation;
But the power of your themes excels our inspiration.
Your structure is nothing compared to your concepts,
Scorched in the forge of experience into soul.
Deep calls to deep among your swell of tides;
Light answers light above your sun-soothed lands.
Out of the shepherd, fugitive and warrior
Endurance worked the sweet psalmist of Israel.

And an Israel cored by Zion, the hill of His holiness,
Stretched by your vigour, built from the ramparts and inwards,
Struggled for from God's house outwards, founded
On the promises of God, reaching even to the Euphrates,
Each tributary nation giving gold for the house of God.

You came from the House of Bread,
The luxuriant valley, through the tent
Set for the sun to Saul's pavilion ‑
An Honoured, chilly place.
Soon the sky was your roof again,
Or the dank limestone of Adullam,
Wandering in deserts and mountains,
And in dens and caverns of the earth ‑
Mad in the Philistine's presence,
Priestly in God's tabernacle.
You found Jehovah your fortress
Even into your kingly palace.

Friday 15 January 2016


Muscle was needed. The throb of thighs,
Shift of feet on the mountainside. Strain
Of gaining the crags of Sinai's summit,
The gentler tops of Horeb, or the heights
Of Pisgah. This was your route of approach
To the nearness marked in advance for you ‑
And the friendship. So that rest, peaceful security,
Was something valuable as you were with Jehovah
Since you arrived through harsh experience
But softened since experience with Him, His eagle
Winging to Himself to be through long tramping
More than any other "among His priests".

And only through such experience could you be His people's shepherd,
Leashing their waywardness, cajoling, using your rod ‑
Mindful always that it could become a serpent but using it
More as provider of water ‑ till their princes could dig with their staves.

But the desert was not all harshness
Since from its drought songs echoed
As splendid punctuation. While dearth
Parched tongues and the sultriness
Enervated your doctrine bathed
Like the rain, your speech flowed,
A refreshing dew. A gentle smirr
Sprouted the tender herbs,
To make the grasses pullulate
Lush strands skyward ‑
Patience, with God, made song.

"Smirr" is a good Scots word for a certain kind of fine constant rain.  Its a subject on which we are experts.

Wednesday 13 January 2016


You had felt the land's tilth
Ooze lushly, the land's desert
Sand your feet, its barren rocks
Graze and bruise. You tent's pegs
Had beaten into arid and arable
Ground of your promised land. Never
Had your share dug deep. Although
All was your own your only possession
A grave plot. But there was the possession
Gained from earth, dust and stone
On the hardened feet of you, the wanderer.

And possession of faith. Not human hope against hope
Nor the dull grasping of the disturbed thought through the crust
Of scepticism. But the certainty of trust in the Lord Almighty
‑ The admirable demonstration of bold credulity.
You, like God, saw the things that are not as existing.

Nomadic, but still a builder,
You cast earth, heaped rocks,
Not forms of grand appearance
But created from the textures you knew ‑
Altars. Rough but vital
They stand as milestones on your pilgrimage
Marking, guiding, smoking:
Each altar drew you nearer,
Higher, to become friend of God,
Ready approacher ‑ a priest's service.

Monday 11 January 2016


He could have been the Healer of His saints
And that relationship would have been fine
When they found grace and power that were divine
Removed their ills and answered their complaints;
He could have been the One who cleansed the taints
Of sin, and used His chastening to refine
Reluctant souls; holding them to His line
He could have been One binding by constraints.

And He is all of these; and many more
Relationships of blessing or of claim
Direct our hearts to worship and adore,
Conscious of His transcendent, holy Name;
Yet how much grander that He chose to gather
Us as His sons, and took the place of Father.

Saturday 9 January 2016


Amid the wilderness
And my own fruitlessness
I find in Christ the apple tree
Whose fruit refreshes me.

The Christian finds it fine
To gaze upon the Vine;
He sees it perfectly grow up
To give wine for God's cup.

Not only that, but God
Brings life to Aaron's rod:
The almond buds, bears blooms, then fruit
From this resurgent Shoot.

The Tree of Life will bear
Fresh fruit for men to share:
Its monthly produce will suffice
To flavour paradise!

Thursday 7 January 2016

Tuesday 5 January 2016


Like someone who has fought and won
So that peace reigns for all his own
Christ, with His work for sinners done,
Sits now upon the Father’s throne.

As the sun’s warmth and vigour beam
From its pavilion in the sky
The Father had the Spirit stream
From Christ as glorified on high.

As Israelites could hear the bells
On Aaron in the holiest place
So, as the Holy Spirit tells,
We know Christ acts as Priest through grace.

As a rich king delights to give
Favour and grace where he resides
The Lord is glad that we should live
In blessings from where He abides.

Here on the earth from which His life
Was taken, and men thought Him dead,
The Lord now has His faithful wife
Linked to Him as her heavenly Head.

The Bridegroom waits to take His Bride
Who with the Spirit lifts her voice,
“Lord Jesus, come”; and at His side
In love’s delight they will rejoice.

He will come out as Conqueror
With all His saints, establish peace,
Heal nations, and abolish war,
Giving this groaning earth release.

Sunday 3 January 2016


It is encouraging as we pursue
Our way through scenes of death to know
God has another world of life in view.
Mid this world’s hunger I have amplitude
Of sustenance as under God’s command
To go to Jesus for my seed and food.
There is defence from all that would defraud
God of response and me of joy and peace
Because my life is hid with Christ in God.
There is a flock and, in such company,
The Shepherd leads us to abundant life
Within the pastures of His liberty.
Lifted outwith this piteous world’s malaise
We know affection which surpasses thought
And lift to God a song of gladsome praise.

Saturday 2 January 2016


A new year has begun: soon catkins' tails
Will swing on leafless twigs; then pink and white
Mayflowers will dust the hedgerows; then the trails
Of Traveller's Joy will drink the summer's light:
But as the autumn comes we will be cheered
By hazel nuts and shiny crimson haws;
Eventually silk fluff called Old Man's Beard
Will wait to grace the cheeks of Santa Claus!

And you will change as well from day to day:
New growth, new dreams, new life, new things to know
Till in a year's time, in God's will, you say
It's been a happy year in which to grow.

Our work will all have been a good pursuit
If from the year Christ gains from us some fruit.

Written for Rosalie a few years ago now!