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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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”)
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)
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
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)