Tag Archives: crisis

Renewing Love Through Crisis: a Response to Psalm 30

Psalm 30 is one of those psalms that seem to spring to new life and speak to us directly as we read and pray it through during this Covid crisis. It is a psalm of recovery, certainly, but of a chastened recovery, a recovery that  hi-lights our utter dependence on God’s unfailing Love, rather than our own achievements or prosperity.

Everybody knows and loves verse 5 of this psalm:

For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in his pleasure is life: heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

We rightly take comfort in that verse, but the key verses, for understanding this psalm are the three that follow:

And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be removed: thou, Lord, of thy goodness hast made my hill so strong.

Thou didst turn thy face from me: and I was troubled.

Then cried I unto thee, O Lord: and gat me to my Lord right humbly.

It is only after that humble return that the psalmist can finally say:

Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.

So in responding to this psalm I felt that I could very much make its phrases my own and turn it into a prayer for our time.

As usual you can hear me read the poem by pressing the ‘play’ button if it appears, or else by clicking on the title. For the other poems in my psalm series type the word ‘psalm’ into the search box on the right.

XXX Exaltabo te, Domine

He gives us too, a voice to sing his praises,

So much the more because we were brought low

That we might know we have a God who raises

 

Up the lowly. Our old riches made us slow

To love you, slow to turn to you in praise

But sudden loss and crisis made us know

 

Our true dependence on your love. Our days

Of false security are gone, we fell

Into a pit of our own making. Raise

 

Us up again, each out of our own hell

And give us oil for ashes, joy for mourning

Restore us in your love and we will tell

 

Of how through our long night we heard your warning

And heeded you, and found your love again

How night withdrew and joy came in the morning.

 

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Filed under christianity, Poems

For the Feast of Christ The King

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We come now to a feast of Ends and Beginnings! This Sunday is the last Sunday in the cycle of the Christian year, which ends with the feast of Christ the King, and next Sunday we begin our journey through time to eternity once more, with the first Sunday of Advent. We might expect the Feast of Christ the King to end the year with climactic images of Christ enthroned in Glory, seated high above all rule and authority, one before whom every knee shall bow, and of course those are powerful and important images, images of our humanity brought by him to the throne of the Heavens. But alongside such images we must also set the passage in Matthew (25:31-46) in which Christ reveals that even as He is enthroned in Glory, the King who comes to judge at the end of the ages, he is also the hidden King, hidden beneath the rags and even in the flesh of his poor here on earth.

This passage in Matthew is especially challenging to us now in the midst of a major refugee crisis triggered by the dreadful violence in Syria and Iraq. We can and should make a compassionate response, even though that response is shadowed by our fears of terrorist infiltration. It should be possible to be alert to and vet those malicious persons who might try to infiltrate themselves amongst genuine refugees. But it is clear that the huge numbers of widows and children in desperate need are no threat to anyone, but rather themselves threatened by the terrorists whom we oppose. There is no reason for a proper caution about infiltration to inhibit a genuine and generous response to crisis.I wrote this sonnet some years before the present Crisis, but Christ’s words, on which this poem reflects, seem more vital and more needed than ever.

Here is a sonnet written in response to the gospel reading for the feast of Christ the King.

This sonnet comes at the end of my sequence ‘Sounding the Seasons’ published by Canterbury Press.

The book is available in North america from Steve Bell here, or Amazon here

You can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears, or by clicking on the title.

Christ The King

Mathew 25: 31-46

Our King is calling from the hungry furrows
Whilst we are cruising through the aisles of plenty,
Our hoardings screen us from the man of sorrows,
Our soundtracks drown his murmur: ‘I am thirsty’.
He stands in line to sign in as a stranger
And seek a welcome from the world he made,
We see him only as a threat, a danger,
He asks for clothes, we strip-search him instead.
And if he should fall sick then we take care
That he does not infect our private health,
We lock him in the prisons of our fear
Lest he unlock the prison of our wealth.
But still on Sunday we shall stand and sing
The praises of our hidden Lord and King.

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Filed under imagination, Poems