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)
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.
Continue reading Songs of the Spirit: love (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.
Continue reading 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. 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.
Continue reading 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. 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.
Continue reading 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. 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)
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”.
Continue reading 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. 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:
Continue reading Songs of the Spirit: faithfulness (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)
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’m starting with self-control.
So often, I hear self-control described in terms of hemming ourselves in, or resisting ungodly tendencies. Yet these descriptions feel lacking to me, as they can only have meaning in the context of sin. The other eight virtues all stand in their own right as expressions that will have a place in God’s kingdom when all sin is done away with.
I did, however, find one notable exception to the rule.
Continue reading Songs of the Spirit: self-control (a poem)
Pentecost is often celebrated as the birthday of the church. We remember how the Holy Spirit came in power upon the apostles, how they preached in Jerusalem and how everyone heard them praising God in their mother-tongue. The story is recorded in Acts 2.
Pentecost, if you didn’t know, is so named because it’s the fiftieth day after Passover; it marks the festival of first fruits in the Jewish calendar (Deuteronomy 16:9-12), which is why there were so many Jews in Jerusalem.
For myself, I think one of the most important things about the Holy Spirit that I’ve come to reckon with, is that the Holy Spirit is a person.
Continue reading Air, fire, water, clay (a poem celebrating the Holy Spirit)
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)
The twelfth day of Christmas, Epiphany, was yesterday. We have officially moved beyond the Christmas season. And this devotional series ends today. It is, after all, day 40.
I’m not sure I quite knew what I was biting off when I planned this series. It’s definitely been a stretch assignment, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and the skills I’ve learned.
If this series has encouraged you, refreshed you in your faith, or given you new insights, I would simply love to hear. Please use the contact form or message me via Twitter or Facebook.
Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 6, Day 5: Revelation
Today I want to share two images: one of water and one of fire. But they’re both from the same film. And the plot needs some explaining.
This is your spoiler warning.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is a children’s fantasy-adventure 3D animated film. It was made in 2010, directed by Zac Snyder, based on a series of books by Kathryn Lasky.
Condensing several books, the film has pacing and tone issues. But it is the most visually beautiful film I have ever seen. So much so, it often took me a while to put my finger on what was resonating with me.
Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 6, Day 4: Fire
People say that shame is the feeling you have when you believe something is inherently wrong with who you are. Guilt, on the other hand, is feeling there’s something wrong with your actions.
But actually, shame stems from a fear of exclusion. It’s not just about how you relate to yourself, but how you relate to other people.
I learned about this when I read a definition from a 2003 paper by Thomas Scheff. He wrote that shame is:
“the large family of emotions that includes many cognates and variants most notably embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, and related feelings of shyness that originate in threats to social bond. This definition integrates self (emotional reactions) and society (the social bond).”Scheff, Thomas J. “Shame in Self and Society.” Symbolic Interaction, vol. 26, no. 2, 2003, pp. 239–262. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/si.2003.26.2.239. Accessed 23 Dec. 2020
Suddenly a whole heap of experiences made sense to me. Including those times when I haven’t felt shame.
You see, when I felt no shame, it’s because I had no fear of exclusion – even if I was aware that something I had done wasn’t fabulous.
Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 6, Day 2: Growth
I was tasked with writing a prayer of adoration for Pentecost – and came up with these ways of describing the Holy Spirit. For a while afterwards I wanted to put them to a picture, though it’s hard to find images for the Holy Spirit that do justice to this wonderful person of the Trinity. Imagine my delight then, when I was able to photograph a lectern hanging, whilst visiting a small village Methodist church.
Continue reading Prayer of welcome for the Holy Spirit