Bible references for this poem: Matthew 28:16–20, Acts 1:1–11.
When I was still at school, perhaps still at primary school, a friend asked me why Jesus couldn’t have stuck around. Immediately, I piped up about the Holy Spirit and Jesus’s Spirit can be with everyone, everywhere, simultaneously in a way that an embodied, physical Jesus couldn’t.
As I look back at my younger self, I’m a little surprised at how bold I was – but in a good way. The Holy Spirit is just as much a person of the Trinity as Jesus is.
Continue reading Divine comedy (a poem reflecting on Jesus’s ascension)
Bible references for this poem: Matthew 27:5–54, Matthew 28:1–8, Mark 15:37–39, Mark 16:1–7, Luke 24:1–43, John 20.
Also: 2 Corinthians 3, Hebrews 10:19–25.
I get the impression the resurrected Jesus had a lot more fun than the pre-resurrected Jesus.
During his ministry, Jesus frequently retreated to secluded areas in order to pray. He was pulled into wearying disputes, by his disciples and the crowds. Also, by and large, he kept himself within the laws of physics – the notable exception being when he walked on water.
And the whole time he was walking a fine line between concealing and revealing who he was.
Continue reading The strangest part (a poem celebrating the resurrection stories of Jesus)
Bible references for this poem: Luke 24:13–35.
As if the title didn’t give it away, today’s poem draws on the story of when Jesus walked with two disciples along the road to Emmaus on Easter Sunday. The account is in Luke 24:13–35. They were downcast and somewhat astonished that Jesus didn’t seem to know about the crucifixion, but then Luke says they were prevented from recognising him.
Whilst they walk, Jesus is described as ‘opening’ the scriptures to them so that they could understand that the Messiah ‘had to’ suffer and die. It’s only when they reach Emmaus that they invite Jesus in to stay with them and, over a meal, recognise him for who he is.
Continue reading Looking back from Emmaus (a poem about how we make sense of our experiences)
Bible references for this poem: John 21:15–19.
Also: Matthew 26:69–75, Mark 14:66–72, Luke 22:54–62, John 18:15–27.
Today’s poem draws on the story of Jesus reinstating Peter in John 21:15-19. I always found this a strange story growing up, but struggled to put my finger on why. It seemed odd that Jesus would distress Peter by asking him the same question three times, or indeed respond to that distress by telling Peter that Peter would die for him.
There was also the question of the Greek and what that meant. The first two times Jesus asks if Peter loves him, he uses the Greek agape for love, but the third time, he uses philia which doesn’t have such a rich meaning. I was sure there had to be deep significance in all this but I couldn’t see what it was. (Peter responds with philia each time.)
Continue reading Son of Jonah (a poem reflecting on when Jesus reinstated Peter)
Bible and other references for this poem: John 21:1–14.
Also: Matthew 26:56, Mark 14:50, Mark 16:14–18, Luke 10:1–20, and the poem ‘Footprints’ by an anonymous author.
Today’s poem draws on the time after Jesus’s resurrection when he had breakfast with seven of the disciples (John 21:1–14). The disciples had been fishing all night and caught nothing, but when Jesus tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat, they catch a large number (of large fish).
There are various ways to take this story. You could say the disciples were returning to what was familiar to them, though I’m more inclined to think they were doing it to relax as much as anything else. I also think the large catch was an affirmation of what they were doing.
Continue reading Loneliness in the morning after (a poem for when your faith has been rocked)
Bible references for this poem: John 20:19–31.
Also: Psalm 23:5, Psalm 42:1, Psalm 139:1–2, Matthew 16:8–10.
The lectionary readings this week include the story of Thomas recorded within John 20:19-31. When Jesus appeared to his disciples, he wasn’t there, and then he wouldn’t believe them until he saw Jesus for himself.
He said he would need to see the marks in Jesus’s hands and side before he believed. What I find remarkable is that when Jesus does appear to Thomas, he offers Thomas his hands and side. Almost as if he wants Thomas to believe.
Continue reading A sonnet from a modern Thomas (reflecting on what it takes to share our faith)
Bible references for this poem: Matthew 28:1–15, Mark 16, Luke 24:1–49, John 20:1– 23.
Jesus’s resurrection is the best surprise ending ever. It’s so good, so fitting, so unexpected, so inevitable, so awe-inspiring, so triumphant, so impossible to make up.
The accounts of the resurrection are in Matthew 28:1–15, Mark 16, Luke 24:1–49 and John 20:1–23.
As I read through them this week I was struck by the number of questions that Jesus and the angels ask Jesus’s followers. The most famous is “Woman, why are you weeping?” when Jesus meets Mary Magdalene but she doesn’t recognise him. But there are several others.
Continue reading A question, not a criticism (a poem reflecting on the resurrection accounts)
Bible references for these poems: Luke 23:33–35.
Also: John 14:25–31, John 16:5–15.
Two short poems this week, both reflecting on a prayer Jesus made whilst he was on the cross on Good Friday: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
It’s recorded in Luke 23:33–35, though some manuscripts don’t include it. Curiously, the NET footnotes say that “even those who regard the verse as inauthentic literarily often consider it to be authentic historically.”
Continue reading Father, forgive (two poems inspired by Jesus’s words on the cross)
Bible and other references for this poem: Matthew 27:11–26, Mark 15:1–15, Luke 23:1–25, John 18:28–19:16.
Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’: Act One, Scene V; Act One, Scene VII; Act Two, Scene II; Act Five, Scene I.
Also: Matthew 23:27, Daniel 7:28.
Last week I wrote that I’ve written these poems starting from a blank slate, meaning the end result often surprises me. Again, this one surprised me.
Also, I hope you like Shakespeare.
I wanted to reflect on Pilate’s agency, especially how on Good Friday he tried to wash his hands in public and absolve himself from the guilt of Jesus’s death. The account is in Matthew 27:11-26, Mark 15:1-15, Luke 23:1-25 and John 18:28-19:16.
Continue reading His blood and his body (a poem reflecting on when Pilate washed his hands)
Bible and other references for this poem: Matthew 26:36–46, Mark 14:32–42. Luke 22:39–46.
Also: Genesis 22:15–19, John 1:1–3, John 11:42, John 17:1–5, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.
I’ve written these poems starting from a blank slate, meaning the end result often surprises me. This one… this one really surprised me. In short, I started out wanting to write about Maundy Thursday, but ended up writing something peaceful set on Holy Saturday. I also cried a lot while I was writing it (but in a good way, I think?)
I wanted to reflect on Jesus’s agency and will, when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, the night before his crucifixion. He was so overwhelmed with sorrow, knowing what was about to happen, that he asked God (the Father) if it was possible for him not to suffer. But, having prayed this, also prayed that the Father’s will be done, not his own.
The account is in Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42 and Luke 22:39-46.
Continue reading The Longest Sabbath (a poem reflecting on Jesus’s prayer: “Not my will but yours”)
Bible references for this poem:
Matthew 21:23–29, Mark 11:27–33, Luke 20:1–8. (Jesus’ authority is questioned.)
Matthew 12:38–42, Mark 8:11–13, Luke 11:29–32, John 2:18–22. (Jesus is asked for a sign.)
Matthew 22:15–23:36, Mark 12:13–40, Luke 20:20– 47. (Jesus is asked about paying taxes.)
Also: Matthew 9:9–17, Mark 2:13–28, Luke 5:33–39. (Jesus eats with ‘sinners’.)
Also: Matthew 15:1–20, Matthew 19:1–10, Mark 7:1– 23, Mark 10:1–12, Luke 7:36–50, Luke 10:25–37, Luke 13:1, Luke 15:1–7, John 7:10–24.
This week I wanted to explore the idea of holding your own in a debate intended to undermine you. I’m looking at it in the context in the week before Jesus’s crucifixion, when he was questioned in the temple. In particular, when he was asked by what authority he said and did the things he did.
Continue reading Don’t ask (a poem about the debates Jesus had)
Bible and other references for this poem: Matthew 21:1–10, Mark 11:1–11, Luke 19:28–40, John 12:12–19.
Also: Zechariah 9:9–10, Isaiah 11:3, Exodus 20:15–16, Deuteronomy 6:5, ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ by John Whittier.
In this poem I wanted explore the idea of following orders in the context of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a week before his crucifixion.
When systemic injustice is uncovered, you often hear this point raised: can the rank and file be blamed for complying with unethical instructions from their commanding officers?
Continue reading My neighbour’s colt – a poem inspired by Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem
Bible references: Matthew 26:6–13, Mark 14:3–9, John 12:1–11.
For lent and Easter 2021, I’m writing a series of poems, each exploring the theme of agency through the lens of stories from Jesus’s passion. This first one is inspired by Mary of Bethany when she poured a pint of spikenard over Jesus’s head.
Actually, the gospel accounts vary.
Continue reading Neutral choice (a poem inspired by Mary of Bethany when she anointed Jesus with spikenard)
Note: While the word ‘cadence’ has a number of meanings, this poem uses it primarily in the sense of a sequence of notes or chords that bring a musical phrase to a close.
Where has the cadence gone?
Continue reading Where has the cadence gone? A lament during times without structure.
The sentence-ending fitting word,
The coda of a rhythmic song?
When inhale, exhale linger – but not too long.