Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Take me ..

Take me today ..

My restless heart
Stilled on Your illimitable peace

My tired hands
Held fast and close by Yours

My hidden anger
Resting on Your everlasting justice

Blanketed by mercy

My defensive tongue
Made vulnerable in praise

My downcast eyes
Raised up to look in Yours

Love ...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Heavenly rewards?

Was discussing with a friend today the issue of rewards in heaven, or as he put it, will there be different classes of people there?

I told him my (very hypothetical) theory.

I believe that the real "reward" God has to give us is Himself -- true relationship, true fellowship. isn't that the best "thing" there is in the universe? I believe that heaven is a place where our deepest needs are satisfied, that each of us is filled to overflowing with Him. what is there left to vary? Surely only how big a capacity we have to fill? So perhaps the variance is on how much, in this present world, we have emptied us of ourselves, and put on christ instead? this would determine our capacity for Him in the world to come. Does that make sense? As someone, somewhere said, "if not this, something better will be."

Of course, the poet Robert Southwell, in his poem "the Nativity of Christ" expressed part of this idea much better than I ever will:

Gift better than himself God doth not know;
Gift better than his God no man can see.
This gift doth here the giver given bestow;
Gift to this gift let each receiver be.
God is my gift, himself he freely gave me;
God's gift am I, and none but God shall have me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Feast

When I was dealing with the worst of my abuse issues, I had a recurrent mental image of a room, warm and bright, where Jesus sat at the head of the table, feasting His friends. I stood outside in the dark and the rain. Over time I came to see myself entering the room, but standing like a wallflower, not having a place at the table. I will never forget the first time i ever heard Michael card's "Come to the Table". At the words

come to the table and sit down beside Him
The saviour who wants you to join in the feast

I had a vision of Iesus Himself getting up from the table, and coming over to me and drawing me to sit right next to Him!!

Anyway, at some time during all of that I wrote this poem:

Love is their feast, they drink its deep delight
From the jewelled goblets filled by Christ’s own hand,
And they rejoice before my longing sight,
While my own hunger seeks to understand.

Theirs is the open trust that takes a seat
At Jesus’ table, where He bids them be.
And, at His bidding, they shall taste and eat.
Are there no crumbs He has assigned for me?

All of my longing rises in my breast:
Oh that He would receive me, take me in!
Let me be server there, that would be best.
I must have been excluded for my sin.

Blinded by tears, I turn my head away,
And, in my eyeless folly, fail to see
The miracle my God has wrought today:
There is a seat, a place set there for me!

Prayer points

# for the bushfires in the Blue mountains
#for my daughter in London -- for safety and a time of wonder
# for a friend with a suicidal son who refuses help
# for another friend, just diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy
# for my sermon, Sunday week, on Habakkuk

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy

Monday, November 20, 2006

Timeless prayer

I have joined another blog, called Timeless prayer
Codepoke initiated it, and it is to be a group blog, rewriting the Psalms as prayers in the light of Jesus.
Worth a visit, these guys write great stuff!

Response to an abuser

I will not wear this pain, this guilt
That you would thrust on me
I will not clothe myself in it’s stinking tatters
Or wrap myself in shame.
I have taken off my sin, shall I put on another’s?

I cannot make up an offering, even for love’s sake
It must be the acceptable sacrifice, or none.

I may be my brother’s keeper
But none may redeem the life of another
And my tears will never wash you clean
Will never wash me clean
Will never be clean.

Blood shed before the foundation of the world
Is my only garment
Self-righteousness will never fit under it or over it
Yet the stream itself fits all
It is easy clothing
Chafing nothing but detachable pride

Friday, November 17, 2006


“…the Christmas story is death to every heroic culture, every form of machismo, which depends on the belief that man can save himself, often without women, or that man’s role is to shake his fist at the heavens. As (Karl) Barth makes clear, Christmas, and hence the gospel, stand utterly opposed to every hint of male bravado and pride. Had the church thoroughly grasped, taught, and lived this, would feminism have ever been necessary?”

--- Leithart

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Prayer of the Koala

I have been reading de Gasztold's "Prayers from the Ark" and have been very moved by them. There is no way I could emulate what she has done, but I thought from time to time I might attempt to write prayers for a few other animals. today, the koala:

Lord I must cling
Here is life
here is food
the only food I can stomach.

It is too much
to do any more than this
I am tired,
so tired,
and I sleep more than I wake
and life passes like a dream ..

I hardly know thirst
it is enough to feed
in the place where I have wedged
this uncertain self
treed here
to willingly cling
day by day
to Your mercy
Forever renewed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The danger of causes ..

I am reading the novel Gilead at the moment, and there is a scene where an otherwise fine and humane man does something very inhumane for the sake of a just cause (talking of the Abolitionist cause in the South before the American civil war). it made me think about the danger of causes, and how easily even a good cause can consume us to the point where it leads us into evil. For example, anti-abortionists who commit murder, or, on a lesser scale, feminists who disparage men. One that springs to mind, because one encounters it so often in the blog world (as if real life wasn't enough)is that of people who are so eager to defend a particular theological truth that they become rude rude and disparaging to their opponents. now, of course there are causes worth fighting for -- but how are we to fight? What "weapons" can we legitimately use? dare we forget, in our zeal, that the ends do not justify the means? They never have, and they never will. We must walk with humility and painstaking care in the tension between standing up for what is right and maintaining grace towards opponents. We dare never forget that the greatest command is to love God with everything we have, and our neighbours as ourselves, and, conversely, the deepest sin is pride.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Botticelli's venus

I've always loved art, and a cheap print of Botticelli's venus used to hang in one of our classrooms way back in High School. (Thank heavens I grew up in a world where no one ever suggested such pictures were inappropriate) It has always stood, in my mind, for some male ideal of the female loveliness, and otherness that captures, not just their sexuality, but their hearts:

Thinking about her one day, I wrote this poem, bearing with the myth long enough to wonder what would have happened if she had never landed somewhere so welcoming:


What if another wind had sung your waves
To bear you to a far more alien shore,
And the soft foam had lashed to hurricane --
Would you bear the same beauty as before?

If the seas lapped to silk that kissed your limbs
And lifted you towards the waiting sand
Had scorned your spell in saline disbelief
And, cold, abducted to another land;

What if, upon some cruel volcanic lump
Pungent with seabirds, crowned with bitter grass
The careless waves had cast your flailing flesh
Far from men’s eyes in some blaspheming farce?

How would you fare? No, rather, how would we,
Robbed of that tenderness that makes men mad,
Lust’s formalwear of flowing poesy
Which veils the brain and leaves desire unclad?

Saturday, November 04, 2006


This says it all:

The nails pounded through the paper into the wood of the church door at Wittenberg were important, but not as important as the nails driven through the flesh of Jesus into the wood of the Cross at Calvary. -Rev. James Douthwaite