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. 

Continue reading Living with conflict: A duologue between Samuel and Jesus
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
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)
Picture looking up at the statue Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, against an azure sky with a single white puffy cloud in the sky. Words: Divine comedy (a poem reflecting on Jesus's ascension) Faith in Grey Places

Divine comedy (a poem reflecting on Jesus’s ascension)

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)
Picture of an empty stone coffin with a marble plaque above it quoting words from Mark 16 where the angels say Jesus is risen. Text over the top: The strangest part (a poem celebrating the resurrection stories of Jesus) Faith in Grey Places

The strangest part (a poem celebrating the resurrection stories of Jesus)

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)
Small section of the baptismal stained glass window at Coventry Cathedral with the words: Looking back from Emmaus (a poem about how we make sense of our experiences) Faith in Grey Places

Looking back from Emmaus (a poem about how we make sense of our experiences)

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)
Picture looking out to the sea from the edge of the shore with yellow and pink sky. Word: The morning after (a poem for when your faith has been rocked) Faith in Grey Places

Loneliness in the morning after (a poem for when your faith has been rocked)

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)

Christmas 2020: Week 1, Day 1: Tears

This is a story that begins with tears.

Well, that’s where many biblical authors chose to start when they told their stories. And I am glad. 2020 has been a year of tears for many people. Christmas needs to meet us in our tears. It has to understand lament. Otherwise, how can it speak about hope? How can it offer comfort?

All that said, I found something else very uncomfortable about the Christmas story: it also ends with tears. 

Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 1, Day 1: Tears

Skandalon: Mary teaches the boy Jesus

This is a short story / sketch based on the events recorded in Luke 2:41-50. It is told from Mary’s point of view.


We went to Jerusalem again this year to celebrate Passover. It was the third time we’ve been able to do so since Joseph and I returned to Galilee, but still it conjured so many emotions for me.

On the one hand it was good to be amongst family and friends, walking with them and seeing the children play together. On the other hand it reminded me of all that I missed during the years we were in Egypt. I heard the young mothers asking questions of the older women, receiving good advice and homely encouragement. It stung to be reminded how I didn’t have that community and I tried so hard not to begrudge them.

The children were a handful, as ever.

Continue reading Skandalon: Mary teaches the boy Jesus