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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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. 

Continue reading This is my body: a poem for Eastertide
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
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. 

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White wooden dove decoration on a wooden surface

Isaiah 11:1–9: The King of Peace (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 Isaiah 11:1–3a;4a;6–9.

When I looked at this passage, the thing that stayed with me most was the concept of a hendiadys. Literally meaning “one from two,” a hendiadys is where a single thought is expressed in two words joined with “and”. 

Continue reading Isaiah 11:1–9: The King of Peace (a poem)
Crescent of the sun coming out from a solar eclipse, lighting up the clouds around a browny-orange. Text: Who walks when you walk in darkness? (a poem inspired by Isaiah 9:2,6–7) Faith in Grey Places

Isaiah 9:2,6–7: Who walks when you walk in darkness? (a poem)

Continuing the series of poems drawing on the scripture readings in a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

OK we’re getting into very famous territory with today’s reading. It’s all about God’s promise to raise up a righteous leader, like David was, who will lead the Israelites out of darkness. 

Continue reading Isaiah 9:2,6–7: Who walks when you walk in darkness? (a poem)
Smoking flames of a small camp fire in the daytime. Text over the top: The Day to Live (a poem inspired by Genesis 22:15-18). Faith in Grey Places

Genesis 22:15–18: The Day to Live (a poem)

Continuing the series of poems drawing on the scripture readings in a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Genesis 22 is all about the time that God tested Abraham, who prepared to sacrifice Isaac — even though Isaac was the only son he had by that time. I wrote more about that story (and the theological debates that surround it) in my letter to Abraham as part of the previous series.

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String of white paper hearts against a black background with the words: Songs of the Spirit: love

Songs of the Spirit: love (a poem)

Today is the last in my series on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. It’s on love.

As a neurodiverse person, I’ve had a somewhat reluctant relationship with the word “love.” Growing up, people usually described it in terms of emotions that I either didn’t experience, or didn’t experience in the ways that everyone else did. 

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Photo of a bride's face in a mirror. She wears a pearl pendant and looks to the side with a small smile on her face. Words over the top: Songs of the Spirit: joy. Faith in Grey Places

Songs of the Spirit: joy (a poem)

This is part of a series of poems on the virtues described as the fruit the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Honestly, I didn’t know where I was going to begin with today’s poem. 

I’d been told plenty of times before that joy is not the same as happiness and that you can have joy even when you’re not happy. As I wrestled to make sense of this, I concluded that joy must be like a sense of inner security that one carries in all circumstances. But isn’t that what peace is about?

I think joy is much more about delight and appreciation.

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Close up of a white lily flower opening above water with the sun reflecting off the water and leaves. Text: Songs of the Spirit: peace. Faith in Grey Places

Songs of the Spirit: peace (a poem)

This is part of a series of poems on the virtues described as the fruit the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Today’s word is peace. 

I’m almost embarrassed to write about peace, given that I can be anxious so often. I don’t want to write something that feels disconnected from our present reality, and yet I believe most surely that God’s peace has a completeness and depth that will surpasses everything we could hope for. 

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Close up for an hourglass standing on pebbles titled slightly; the hourglass has a dark wooden frame with blue sand flowing through it. Words over the top: Songs of the Spirit: patience. Faith in Grey Places

Songs of the Spirit: patience (a poem)

This is part of a series of poems on the virtues described as the fruit the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Once again, I’ve taken out my concordance and found out some surprising facts about the New Testament Greek. 

I like to think of patience as “love waiting”, as something that exists in its own right separate from any sense of sin or fallenness. But it’s still true that most of the uses of “patience” in the Bible are linked to the world not (yet) being as it should be.

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A cluster of shelled hazelnuts on a white surface. Text: Songs of the Spirit: kindness. Faith in Grey Places

Songs of the Spirit: kindness (a poem)

This is part of a series of poems on the virtues described as the fruit the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. There is nothing like kindness to cement a friendship. 

It’s that feeling of “you didn’t have to do this” that makes it so memorable. The kindness might be a gift in a moment of need, a gentle steer away from a pitfall you didn’t know was there, or someone accommodating you when you make a mistake. 

Continue reading Songs of the Spirit: kindness (a poem)
Close up image of a fresh fig cut in half on a wooden chopping board with walnut pieces. Words over the top: Songs of the Spirit: goodness, Faith in Grey Places

Songs of the Spirit: goodness (a poem)

This is part of a series of poems on the virtues described as the fruit the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Once again, I’m struck by how much I discover when I get out my concordance and start looking at the Greek words. 

Take, for example, Jesus’s words in Matthew 7:17 where he says that every “good” tree bears “good” fruit. These are two different words in the Greek, but many English translations render both words as “good”. 

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Close up inside the curl of a large crashing wave, with a smooth surface, lit by the sun. Words on top: Songs of the Spirit: Faithfulness, Faith in Grey Places

Songs of the Spirit: faithfulness (a poem)

This is part of a series of poems on the virtues described as the fruit the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Faithfulness is such a big word. I think if there’s one thing, just one thing that God wants us to know about him, it’s that he is someone who fulfils his good promises. And of course, faithfulness is a huge part of that. 

As I sat and considered the word in more detail, five words came to me:

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Close up of an elephant touching its tusk with the tip of its trunk. Words: Songs of the Spirit: gentleness. Faith in Grey Places

Songs of the Spirit: gentleness (a poem)

For the next few weeks, I’m writing a series of poems on the virtues described as the fruit the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. I started with self-control last week, and this week is gentleness.

I found out some interesting things about the Greek word translated as “gentleness”. The word is πραύτης meaning “meekness”, “gentleness” or “humility” and it’s the same word used in the beatitudes in Matthew 5:5 (“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”). 

Continue reading Songs of the Spirit: gentleness (a poem)