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Over at King's English Michael Mates has written a wonderful sonnet in response to this post.

 

Son of mud
And other crud
Lift up your eyes
For you shall rise.

Conceived in dirt,
Be bold to flirt
With Light who woos
What once was ooze.

Man of dust,
It’s time to trust
Your Maker’s thumb
And, soft, succumb.

Let Him weep for you today,
For wetted dust is yielding clay.

 

Thank you Michael!

If Jonny Cash and the Violent Femmes collaborated on a Christmas song for kids about OT hope with reference to Genesis 3:15 (and they'd been listening to a lot of 'House of the Rising Sun')...

The song only really gets going when it becomes a round (about 4mins in), but our church enjoyed singing it this morning.  So I can vouch that it actually 'works.'

I particularly enjoy singing:

Gonna crush that snake
Gonna stomp his head
Though he strike my heel
Gonna kill him dead

Words and chords below...

...continue reading "How Long O LORD Till Christmas"

if i were a fish
i'd wish
to swish and slither
near and thither
round coral candy
brightly lit.
my silver belly
slimed and smelly
would rough and tickle
the pebbled gritties.

through defracted wobbles
i'd gaze and appraise
that other galaxy
with the air
and televisions and the kitties -
their paws thud thudding
in vacant despair.

i'd decide to glide
in nonchalant cool
past claws that kill
at will
how my fishy heart would thrill!

they could not express, my leaden eyes,
such highs
as send a pescatorial chill
that is, until-
those kitties invent a gill.
i wonder if still
i'd wish
to be that fish.

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...The younger brother came to himself and said, 'My dad's an old softy.  I reckon if I returned looking all dirty and sorrowful he'd bail me out.  Worth a try anyway.' he reasoned.

And so he rose and made the journey back to his father rehearsing his sorry-speech along the way.

'Father, my father.  I know I messed up.  I know I don't deserve anything from you.  You'd be well within your rights to shun me forever.  But, father, my father,  I'm throwing myself on your mercy, a poor stinking wretch.  But I know you're a good dad - will you help me out?'

By the time he got to his father's house his speech was pitch-perfect.  He rang the door-bell and waited.

Eventually he heard his father's shuffling steps, then the locks turning in the door, one after the other - four in all.  At last it creaked open a crack and the old man squinted up at his son.

Ahem.  'Father, my father.  I know I messed up.  I know I don't deserve anything...' began the prodigal.

The father's look began to thaw.  From frowning, to shocked recognition and then he softened.  The speech was good.  Perhaps the best yet.  By the end the old man couldn't help but blurt out,

'Ah my son!  You certainly know how to tug at my heart strings.  What can I do for you?'

The son took a moment to congratulate himself on another triumph.

'Well, father,' he said, clapping his hands together and rubbing them. 'Wild living ain't cheap!  And Lord knows how I'm going to afford my ticket back to the far country...'

'Back?  You want to go back?' asked the father, his face falling.

'Well just for now.  Unfinished business you see.  But I'm definitely planning on returning...'

'...Because, son, you know there's always room for you here...'

'Yes, sure. Absolutely dad.  And I'll definitely be returning.  Probably quite often.  But there's things I need to do and, well, I need your help.'

'How much?'

The prodigal couldn't suppress a guilty smile.  He'd been found out.

'Well dad, there's the ticket.  Then I need the deposit on a new place.  I've found the perfect pad - downtown, the ladies love it.  But that's another thing,' he said chuckling, 'they sure are expensive those women!'

'How much?' he asked again.

'It's hard to put a figure you know dad, it could be anything.'

They looked at each other for a full minute.  The father broke the silence.

'Blank cheque then?'

'Blank cheque would be great!  Yeah thanks.  Phew.  You're a real life-saver dad.  Wow.  I'd hug you, but I'm a bit smelly from the pigs.  Speaking of which, do you have any food?  Ham sandwich maybe?'

'Ham sandwich??  Look, come inside.  I'll kill the fattened calf.  Tonight we'll feast!'

'Gosh, dad.  That's sweet but I really don't have time.  Listen, I'll just grab something from drive thru.  The cheque's fine.  And, now that I think of it, don't make it out to the family name.  I've changed it.  Yeah, too many people were associating me with you and... well.  You know...'

Within five minutes the younger son was heading back down the drive.  He spotted his brother in the field and, holding the cheque aloft, called out.  "Ciao bro'!  Enjoy the slaving!"

.

Together with this hymn, this is what really depresses me about the manner and method of today's 'conservative evangelical' preaching.  As for the content... that's what the rest of the blog is about...

.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture,” He loudly proclaims
“Our rule and our guide, Our fount and our frame.
We stand on the bible, for better, for worse
But let me give vent to my own bluster first.”

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, so let me digress –
To warn you of others who do not confess
Our creed guaranteed to produce a revival:
We are the ones who honour the bible.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, though some shun our scheme
Daring to preach on one verse, or a theme!
I really must warn you about all our rivals,
And then I will ask you to take up your bibles.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, and so I rehearse
Our constant insistence on verse by verse.
Methodical, logical, slowly proceeding,
This is our system, now, what was our reading?

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, but don’t be naive,
The troubles with preaching you would not believe.
We must invest time in Corinthian Gnostics,
The value of genre and Hebrew acrostics.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, a difficult book,
But do not despair, to me you can look.
The dirty great chasm between then and now
Is bridg’d by my painstaking, expert know-how.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, The clock is against us!
I fear that I shan’t do this passage its justice.
We’ve only got time for a bare bible dip,
Yet before we explore – a joke and a quip.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, but first let me quote
From Shakespeare and Churchill, a drole anecdote,
My children’s exploits and the signs of the times,
The state of the church, and, my, how time flies!

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, just time for essentials,
But, wait, have I listed my many credentials?
My friends in high places, the people I meet,
The man I converted in the aeroplane seat?

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, although it’s a drag
I’ll lighten the tone with a mother-in-law gag.
And stories I’ve stolen from preachers at will.
Consider it sugar to sweeten the pill.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, though sixty six books –
This story of glory’s more plain than it looks.
Distilling its filling through splendid oration,
You’ll see it boils down to this fine illustration.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, the detail’s not vital,
I’ve spent all my time on a memorable title
And quaint turns of phrase that will please only me,
And predictable points beginning with ‘P’.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, my time is now through,
My pithy summation will just have to do.
You guessed it the moment my sermon began:
God is the Boss, submit to His plan.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, And now let us pray,
‘I thank You my Father You made me this way,
Not like all those others about which we’ve heard
For I am the preacher who honours Your word.’”

.

10

Together with this hymn, this is what really depresses me about the manner and method of today's 'conservative evangelical' preaching.  As for the content... that's what the rest of the blog is about...

.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture,” he loudly proclaims
“Our rule and our guide, Our fount and our frame.
We stand on the bible, for better, for worse
But let me give vent to my own bluster first.”

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, so let me digress –
To warn you of others who do not confess
Our creed guaranteed to produce a revival:
We are the ones who honour the bible.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, though some shun our scheme
Daring to preach on one verse, or a theme!
I really must warn you about all our rivals,
And then I will ask you to take up your bibles.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, and so I rehearse
Our constant insistence on verse by verse.
Methodical, logical, slowly proceeding,
This is our system, now, what was our reading?

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, but don’t be naive,
The troubles with preaching you would not believe.
We must invest time in Corinthian Gnostics,
The value of genre and Hebrew acrostics.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, a difficult book,
But do not despair, to me you can look.
The dirty great chasm between then and now
Is bridg’d by my painstaking, expert know-how.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, The clock is against us!
I fear that I shan’t do this passage its justice.
We’ve only got time for a mere  bible dip,
Yet before we explore – a joke and a quip.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, but first let me quote
From Shakespeare and Churchill, a drole anecdote,
My children’s exploits and the signs of the times,
The state of the church, and, my, how time flies!

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, just time for essentials,
But, wait, have I listed my many credentials?
My friends in high places, the people I meet,
The man I converted in the aeroplane seat?

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, although it’s a drag
I’ll lighten the tone with a mother-in-law gag.
And stories I’ve stolen from preachers at will.
Consider it sugar to sweeten the pill.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, though sixty six books –
This story of glory’s more plain than it looks.
Distilling its filling through splendid oration,
You’ll see it boils down to this fine illustration.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, the detail’s not vital,
I’ve spent all my time on a memorable title
And quaint turns of phrase that will please only me,
And predictable points beginning with ‘P’.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, my time is now through,
My pithy summation will just have to do.
You guessed it the moment my sermon began:
The Lord is the Boss, now submit to His plan.

“Tis Scripture, Tis Scripture, And now let us pray,
‘I thank You my Father You made me this way,
Not like all those others about which we’ve heard
For I am the preacher who honours Your word.’”

.

A re-post of a hymn that fits with any common metre tune

.

The glory of the bloodied God
His fruitfulness in shame
Stooped lower than all men have trod
In torment in the flame

The writhing worm, disjointed dry
Rejected from His birth
Thrust groaning into Satan's sky
Accursed by heaven and earth

Hell's blackest cloak enfolds with death
From Pinnacle to pit
To choke the Source of Living Breath
Extinguish all that's lit

The Mighty Man at war cries out
It echoes ‘gainst the sky
Resounding as a futile shout
Within a victory cry

Creation torn from Head to toe
His body out of joint
The Rock that splits is split in two
Creation to anoint

Our Jonah hurled as recompense
Into abysmal depths
The beast that swallows Innocence
Is swallowed by His death

Divine appeasing blood poured out
Divinely pleasing scent
While man appraises with his snout
Declares it death's descent

Crowned in curse, enthroned on wood
My God nailed to the tree
The reigning blood, that cleansing flood
Is opened up for me.

.

All but cursed, the men of dust,
From garden’d bliss dejected thrust.
Cast down to blood and tangling thorn,
Flat-faced in mud, bereft, forlorn.

Unmoved as ages droned along,
Resigned to sighing sorrow’s song.
To mouth their sadness with each breath,
In love with self and sin and death.

Then glancing back, a glimmering sight,
Through gnarling weeds, a shaft of light.
The tree untouched, of matchless type,
Engorged with life, effulgent, ripe.

It lay beyond the thorny wall,
A tantalizing siren’s call.
All wrong reversed, all tears made good,
All hunger filled with holy food.

New drive possessed the men of dust,
They set to work with primal thrust.
To have the fruit at any cost,
If failing this then all is lost.

And so they pressed against the wall
Of thorn and blade and jagged sprawl.
Their eyes aglow with mad intent,
Their bodies pierced and torn and rent.

Their flesh sliced through by razor wire,
Could not abate their one desire.
No hurt could halt their desperate zeal.
“Once through, the tree alone will heal!”

Their bodies strewn along the route,
Their hands outstretched to reach the fruit.
Yet none would cross this death-divide,
Their hope lay on the thorny side.

Behind them in the other way,
Another tree for sinners lay.
It stood apart and unacquired,
Gnarled and grim and undesired.

It did not catch the eye of men,
Who sought a ripeness there and then.
Yet this one pledged a golden yield,
A crop of Life in death concealed.

For hanging lone across its form,
The Lord, disowned, enthroned in scorn,
Was off’ring all a bloodied balm,
With up-raised voice and out-stretched arm.

Thus from the midst of curse and death,
Is raised His call with rasping breath.
“Come every man, leave off your quest
Find life within my wounded breast.”

“He lies!” they shriek through raging tears,
They scoff and mock with angry jeers.
"What life could this cadaver give?
What guarantee that we shall live?”

“Just this” He says with pity’s call,
“I’ve come direct from o’er the wall.
All bliss that moves your frenzied glee,
Such fountains first begin in Me.”

At once they splutter daft disdain,
“No wounded Man or tree of pain,
Will be our well or way of life.
We’re free! You pledge us only strife!”

“Dear friends!” He pleas, “regard your plight,“
Your freedom bonds you, blinds your sight.
Your wounds for self, for self are loss,
Come lose them in my wounded cross.

“Your life is death, My death is gain,
Now trust in me, for you I'm slain,
Come hide in Me through darkest night,
Soon heaven’s dawn shines fresh delight.”

Just so His promise stands above
All men, inquiring which they love:
To seek the fruit and Him defy,
Or heed Life’s call to “Come and die!”

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