A woman's bare feet standing on bronze coloured sand with words over the top: "The God who stands (a poem)" Faith in Grey Places

The God who stands (a poem)

I’m back from my break and starting a new series!

Partly inspired by my Hebrew studies, I’m going to write 12 poems inspired by 12 Hebrew verbs. 

The first one I’m looking at is עמד a.mad (all the ‘a’ vowels are long). It means ‘to stand’ but can also mean ‘to endure’ and has strong connotations with service and ministry. Essentially, ‘to stand before’ or ‘to stand in the presence of’ was an idiom meaning ‘to serve.’

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Scene 6: Samuel talks with Jesus. Living with conflict theatre series. Faith in Grey Places.

Living with conflict: A duologue between Samuel and Jesus

For lent and Easter 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The prophet Samuel, now deceased, converses with a series of guests in paradise, reflecting on their past experiences and what it was to live with conflict. All posts in the series are listed here.

In this, the sixth and final scene, he finds himself standing with Jesus outside the Philistine city of Beth-Shan, after Saul and his sons were defeated in battle. They talk about Saul’s life, the silence of death and the dead. 

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Living with conflict: A duologue between Samuel and Jonathan

For lent and Easter 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The prophet Samuel, now deceased, converses with a series of guests in paradise, reflecting on their past experiences and what it was to live with conflict. All posts in the series are listed here.

In this, the fifth scene, he meets Jonathan amongst a colonnade of marble pillars. Jonathan shares how Michelangelo’s David prompted him explore stories from other traditions and see echoes of his life in them.

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Text on dark blue background: Scene 4: Samuel talks with Peter's wife. Living with conflict theatre series. Faith in Grey Places.

Living with conflict: A duologue between Samuel and Peter’s wife

For lent and Easter 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The prophet Samuel, now deceased, converses with a series of guests in paradise, reflecting on their past experiences and what it was to live with conflict. All posts in the series are listed here.

In this, the fourth scene, he meets Peter’s wife, Abigail, inside a heavenly version of St Peter’s Basilica. They discuss the hazards of fame and the role of art in helping people approach God.

I thought this duologue would be with Paul. Last week I realised Peter was a better candidate. Then this week, I saw a chance to introduce another female voice by bringing Samuel to meet with Peter’s wife instead. 

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Scene 3: Samuel talks with John the Baptist. Living with conflict theatre series. Faith in Grey Places

Living with conflict: A duologue between Samuel and John the Baptist

For lent and Easter 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The prophet Samuel, now deceased, converses with a series of guests in paradise, reflecting on their past experiences and what it was to live with conflict. All posts in the series are listed here.

In this, the third scene, he goes to visit John the Baptist, whose ministry of repentance helped people prepare for the coming of Jesus. 

Samuel discovers that John has chosen to make his dwelling a flat expanse of desert. John wryly recounts the things people say to him when they interrupt his solitude. 

Continue reading Living with conflict: A duologue between Samuel and John the Baptist
The word “Easter” in rounded letters against a pale blue background with words over the top: This is my body (a poem for Eastertide) Faith in Grey Places

This is my body: a poem for Eastertide

For lent 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The duologues are taking longer than I’d hoped to write, so this week I offer a poem instead.

Last week, I wrote a new poem, “This is my tent.” This week, I’ve written another “This is my body.” It’s a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. 

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Black and white photo of a church where the ceiling has fallen in. The photo shows the broken pieces of the ceiling and the top of the high altar where a cross with INRI over the top is placed.

This is my tent: a poem for passion week

For lent 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The duologues are taking longer than I’d hoped to write, so this week I offer a poem instead.

It’s no secret that on Good Friday, Jesus suffered a long and agonising death. I have long struggled with Christian imagery and literature on the passion of Christ. On the one hand it shouldn’t be sanitised, but on the other it’s almost too much to bear thinking about. I’ve also struggled with depictions of Jesus’ suffering that seem to revel in the pain; it makes me wonder whether the artists in question have any comprehension of what torture is like. 

And then of course, I come back to the fact that I barely know myself. 

Continue reading This is my tent: a poem for passion week
Text on black background with a thorn motif in the corner: Scene 2: Samuel talks with Ezekiel. Living with conflict theatre series. Faith in Grey Places

Living with conflict: A duologue between Samuel and Ezekiel

For lent 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict.

The prophet Samuel, now deceased, converses with a series of guests in paradise, reflecting on their past experiences and what it was to live with conflict. In this, the second scene, he meets Ezekiel, the would-be priest who was exiled to Babylon, where he saw some pretty indescribable visions of God and wrote them down in a book of prophecy.

Samuel asks Ezekiel whether he’d rather be a prophet or a priest. Ezekiel answers that he’d be a mathematician.

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Text on black background with a thorn motif in the corner: Scene 1: Samuel talks with the 'young girl from Israel' Living with conflict theatre series. Faith in Grey Places

Living with conflict and 2 Kings 5: A duologue between Samuel and the ‘young girl from Israel’

For lent 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The prophet Samuel, now deceased, converses with a series of guests in paradise, reflecting on their past experiences and what it was to live with conflict. 

In this, the first scene, he meets Ronit who (when she was alive) prompted Naaman, commander of an enemy army, to seek healing from the prophet Elisha. The story is recorded in 2 Kings 5. 

Continue reading Living with conflict and 2 Kings 5: A duologue between Samuel and the ‘young girl from Israel’
Purple stencil graffiti of Princess Leia from Star Wars on a white wall with the text underneath 'FIGHT like a girl'. Text on top: The reward of victory: a letter to Barak and Deborah. Faith in Grey Places.

The reward of victory: a letter to Barak and Deborah

As I mentioned last week, the list in Hebrews 11 of the cloud of witnesses is not in chronological order. So even though I wrote to Gideon last week, this week’s letter is to Barak and Deborah – who came before Gideon. Their story is in Judges 4 and Deborah’s victory song is in Judges 5. 

Fair warning, both chapters are a bit gory—and I do discuss war crimes in this post. 

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Close up of small clay jars. Text over the top: Jars of clay: a letter to Gideon. Faith in Grey Places

Jars of clay: a letter to Gideon

I’m returning to my series of letters to people listed in Hebrews 11 as the “cloud of witnesses” who went before us. Last year I got to Rahab, and this year I’m finishing by writing to those the author of Hebrews didn’t have time to cover: Gideon, Barak (and Deborah), Samson, Jephthah (and his daughter), David and Samuel. 

The topic of warfare is common to all of them, and some of these men made disastrous decisions. Even so, I’m looking forward to discovering more about each of them as I write to them. 

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Close up of shepherds in a nativity scene with lambs. Text over the top: Shepherd, leave your watch and field (a poem inspired by Luke 2:8-16) Faith in Grey Places

Luke 2:8–16: Shepherd, leave your flock and fold (a poem)

‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’  

Micah 5:2 (NIVUK)

Today’s reading is Luke 2:8–16, the story about the shepherds coming to visit Jesus. 

Continue reading Luke 2:8–16: Shepherd, leave your flock and fold (a poem)
Close up of a Christmas decoration where Mary holds a baby Jesus. Text over the top: The Prince of Prayer (a poem inspired by Luke 2:1–7) Faith in Grey Places

Luke 2:1–7: The Prince of Prayer (a poem)

Today’s reading is Luke 2:1,3–7. It’s  the story of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem. There, Mary gives birth and famously places Jesus in a manger because there was no room in the ‘inn.’ (My post from Christmas Eve last year has some useful notes on this word.)

Continue reading Luke 2:1–7: The Prince of Prayer (a poem)
White feathers on a large wing. Text over the top: The Weight of Wings (a poem inspired by Luke 1:26–38) Faith in Grey Places

Luke 1:26–38: The Weight of Wings (a poem)

Continuing the series of poems drawing on the scripture readings in a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. Strictly speaking, the reading for today is Luke 1:26–35,38.

This is one of those passages that’s so famous, it’s hard to know what more can be said about it. 

Continue reading Luke 1:26–38: The Weight of Wings (a poem)