Shafts of light shine through the autumn wood,
The light God made, and saw that it was good.
Above the wood, the vast encircling sky,
The roof-space made for us by God on high.
Beneath the ground, unseen by anything
Lie seeds of new life, waiting for the spring.
The sun brings new life to the wood each day,
Then sun sets, life sleeps, and day fades away
Within here animals can find a home,
And in the undergrowth can freely roam.
The song of birds brings music to the place
While echoing the wonders of God’s grace.
So men and women, walking in the wood
Gaze at the sight, and know that God is good.
ALL IS WELL
I know that I can turn to prayer
To Him who always hears my plea:
The God of love is always there.
He loves me all the time, yet where
I find that life oppresses me,
I know that I can turn to prayer.
To trust in Him, and then to bear
My cross, and set my spirit free –
The God of love is always there.
Because with Him I long to share
The life that will forever be:
I know that I can turn to prayer.
Time meanwhile to the soul prepare
Before that great reality,
The God of love is always there.
But as for now… days full of care
And pain – still, one thing comforts me:
I know that I can turn to prayer:
The God of love is always there.
JESUS, EVER BY OUR SIDE
Jesus is always with us, everyday,
Though is sometimes easy to forget;
The television news, the papers may
With horror stories worse than any yet.
Reactions are all different, and so
‘Why does God allow this?’ some might ask,
Yet God allowed his Son to suffer so,
To teach us, and to die – that was his task.
And like him we may have to suffer too,
Yet he is always with us, by our side;
Will never leave us, but will see us through
Our life, our death, all through the eventide.
Then for a time, stay with us, in the tomb,
Say farewell to all our former strife,
To suffering, and then to all that worldly gloom,
And with him rise to glory and to life.
THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY’S PRAYER
Where are you God,
Why don’t you come?
For I am here
With fife and drum.
Though I am small
I am still here,
So when, O Lord
Will you appear?
But I will wait
Until you come,
And stay just here –
Me and my drum.
The storm is over and the sky is clear,
Now birdsong breaks the silence, and it fills
The empty air, as strange notes all ring out,
Cheeps, warbles, pecking sounds, and squawks and trills.
The trickling stream, oblivious to the rain
Glides past serenely throughout all the day;
No stones or obstacles can hold it back,
But with its watery laugh goes on its way.
The woodland, shaken by the storm, survives,
And somehow seems renewed, despite the squall;
The trees are greener, fresher and take on
New life – as though the better for it all.
We too face storms – though storms of evil, yet
If we hold firm they will one day be past;
We may not cheep or warble like the birds,
But life eternal will be ours at last.
At last they reached the summit, and the place
Where Jesus wanted Peter, James and John
To see His very self, to see God’s face,
But show them first the road He must go on.
So they had climbed up to the mountain height
Not knowing why their Master led them there
So they were startled by the sudden light,
And then the voice, like thunder in the air.
Two figures beside Jesus, first they saw,
And then heard Moses and Elijah speak
To Jesus of the trials He would bear, ‘His passing’ –
What? His death? And when? Next week?
It could not be! Not crucified, but crowned,
Their Lord must be – how good that they were here –
Three tabernacles therefore they must build
To mark where God in glory did appear.
For Jesus’ clothes were shining, white as light,
Light such as they had never seen before,
Resplendent there He stood, a wondrous sight…
But no! – those were not nail-marks that He bore?
They heard the voice, which came down from a cloud,
A terror, and a sudden trembling seized
Them as they heard the words, so clear and loud:
‘This is My Son, in Whom I am well pleased.’
It was too much. To them it seemed that God
Had just confirmed their fears, declared that He
Was pleased now with the path that Jesus trod,
The path of suffering – no, it could not be!
Exhausted, they fell face down on the ground,
And there, unmoving, overcome, they lay,
Until at last they woke, and looked around,
Saw only Jesus standing there that day.
(Matthew 16:22,24; 17:1-8)
THE GOOD THIEF
“They caught me, hung me on a cross,
Yet how can I complain?
Since I am paying for my crime,
And I must bear the pain.
But Jesus, You are here as well,
Why are You crucified?
Why do you suffer like me, Lord,
Yet You are by my side.
And though You had brought joy to lives,
And hope, where all else failed,
Yet You were made to bear a cross,
And to it you were nailed.
And You, so I can be redeemed
Remain upon the cross,
You have restored to me once more
All I had counted loss.
You show the way to paradise,
Reversing my despair,
Speak to me of a life to come
While You are hanging there.
Now all I have to do is stay
Upon the cross, with You;
To dwell with You in paradise,
And always be with You.”
THE EASTER VIGIL
No sound is heard, and all has stopped within
The silent church, for in there it is night.
As if surrounded by the dark of sin
The people stand, all waiting for the light.
And now it comes, but no more than a glow,
Enough to light up all those standing near,
The Easter fire slowly starts to grow
And soon all see a tiny flame appear.
And, still in silence, from this holy flame
Is lit the Easter candle which will burn,
To be a sign of life in Jesus’ Name,
Then from this candle other ones in turn
Are lit, so that all can new life expect,
And faces now begin to glow as they,
Their candles now aflame, that life reflect,
As dark to light, and sin to grace, gives way.
‘GOING FROM CHRIST TO CHRIST’
We travel somewhere, hope to spend
A few days, and we go away –
It may be just a long weekend,
But going somewhere nice to stay.
And so we go abroad, and just
Look at the shops and see the sights,
Do all the guidebook says we must –
For we are only here two nights.
On Sunday, though, we go to Mass –
In French – we could not understand,
We felt left out, and second class,
For this we had not really planned.
At least though some things were the same,
Communion, the music there,
The altar and the candle flame,
With incense floating in the air.
Soon we return, and greet old friends,
And any others that we meet;
But now we know what we will say:
“We feel our holiday’s complete.”
When our first parents lived in Paradise,
God filled their hearts with grace, and made them wise –
Until the devil, Satan, tempted them
Then took that grace, and filled their hearts with lies.
So through those forbears we have come from God,
And God is our inheritance from them;
But as they sinned, and turned their backs on God,
Therefore that sin did also us condemn.
God loved the world, and set out to redeem
All those He had created, and all those
Who were far off, trapped by their sin, and now
Cried out to Him, oppressed by all their foes.
And so it was that God then sent His Son,
And Jesus came down to us from above;
Though we had sinned and wandered far away,
Yet still our God would save us with His love.
But even though He knew there was a price,
He wanted to restore what Satan stole,
And knew how much He had to sacrifice,
Yet love still drove Him onwards to His goal.
And many followed Him, for He was here
On earth so He could then reach out to all,
To rescue everyone from all their fear,
To bring new hope to those who heard His call.
And though His love then led Him to the Cross,
And though He loved us with His dying breath,
That self-same love redeemed us from our loss,
And conquered Satan, Evil, Sin, and Death,
Because love could not die – and so He rose
For God is Love, and God is also Life,
If we love God, then like Him, we shall live,
And leave behind our sin and all our strife.
She watched, as from their camels they now all
Alighted. Mary gazed then at each one:
Saw each one pause, look at the manger and then fall
Upon his knees, to worship Christ, her Son.
They came with gifts – why gifts? – yet these they brought,
Sweet frankincense, and myrrh, and gifts of gold,
As if it were a king whom they had sought.
But had they carried these throughout the cold,
Dark desert nights, across the windswept plain,
While resting only in the noonday heat,
At least, their journey had not been in vain
Who were they though, and then how should she greet
These men who came here – and how had they found
This place? Had they looked everywhere on earth?
Why did they all bow low down to the ground,
Almost as though they knew of Jesus’ birth?
But more than this, as they stayed deep in prayer,
She wondered at the silence and the peace;
The joy they showed to see the infant there,
A joy she shared, and wished would never cease.
Though what had moved them so to travel here?
What certainty had made them all decide
To leave their homes? And why did they appear
So glad, content and joyful? Mary tried
To think why Jesus touched their hearts this way,
What was it prompted them to lay before
Him all their gifts? Why was it? Could she say?
Yet they would be remembered evermore.
Could she have seen what the soldiers saw,
As she drew near the tomb?
For they stood by the stone that sealed the door,
And guarded it in the gloom.
She walked to the tomb with others that day,
To anoint the One who died
But she said “Will the guards, though, bar our way
Or move the stone aside?”
Could she have heard what the soldiers heard,
A rumbling, grinding sound?
For all was silent and nothing stirred,
Or moved upon the ground.
Could she have known what the guards had known,
As they, in dread and fear
Watched angels rolling back the stone,
And saw the Christ appear?
When, coming from the entrance they
Saw that first ray of light,
And as the stone was rolled away,
Witnessed the wondrous sight?
Yet she only saw two angels where
Two guards had stood that morning,
And then – who else could she see there?
It was dark… but the day was dawning.
A JAR OF OINTMENT
He was a Pharisee, and was well-known,
Tonight, though, Jesus was to be his guest,
And, Simon planned, in private and alone
To question Him, and put Him to the test.
Why had this sinful woman too, come here?
And Simon wondered just where had she found
This jar – why did she suddenly appear?
And without speaking fall upon the ground?
He watched the tears she wept, the way she dried
The feet of Jesus with her long dark hair,
Would he have done that, or would he have tried,
Or thought such actions could become a prayer?
And now he saw the contents of the jar
Which she broke open, and began to pour
On Jesus’ feet. That perfume from afar,
The precious nard, whose rich aroma soared
And filled the room. With kisses she caressed
Those feet. Did she see Jesus as her king?
Her Lord? Her God? If so, was God his guest?
Was He her Saviour, did she worship bring?
He listened to the Master’s words and thought –
“She has shown love” – was that what Jesus said?
Such love as hers, though, many had once sought.
Yet as she knelt, and as she bowed her head
It seemed her love was channelled in one place.
And all that love was poured out, from her heart,
So, had she recognised the source of grace,
Repented, and had Jesus played a part?
But could he, Simon, could he do the same?
Fall on his knees, just like this woman here?
Should he now learn from her? From her, whose name
He had despised and scorned? All soon came clear:
He had a reputation to uphold,
And yet could see just where the truth did lie,
And he must change, before he grew too old,
Before that time when he must surely die.
But while perhaps he had to be…..discreet,
His former arrogance he would discard;
He watched, as she anointed Jesus’ feet,
Breathed in the fulsome fragrance of the nard.
So, all she did reflected what she held
Within her heart, the mercy she implored,
The sorrow for her sins, the tears which welled,
Up in her eyes, those tears which now were poured
On Jesus’ feet. Yes, thanks to her who brought
A jar of ointment, he could now receive
The words of Jesus, for in him they wrought
A change of heart – at last, he could believe.
(Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8)
GOD IS WITH US
They said he was too late, the man had died,
Heard not the words of comfort that He brought
But mourned their brother’s loss, and wept and cried
Since all their hope in life had come to nought;
“He would have lived, Lord, if You had been here.”
And so amid the sorrow, tears, and strife,
His words they did not understand, nor hear
“I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
They said He was asleep, saw not the squall,
The sinking boat, the waves, the wind that blew
“Do You not care what happens to us all?”
They cried – not trusting Him – although He knew
How He would save them – yet still they should know
All was not lost, on God they could depend
Not ask, seeing they had failed, “Why is this so?”,
For He was with them, always, and their Friend
And He would never leave them, even though
They thought the death they faced would mean their end.
They said “He cannot help us, let us go,
His enemies have nailed Him to a cross
Our own foes He was meant to overthrow,
Yet He, whom we believed, has been the loss
Of all our hopes.” They left Him, for they saw
Him dying there, and what else could they say?
For He had let them down, and was no more.
Yet later on, a woman came their way,
“His tomb is empty”, that was what she said,
Joy filled they hearts – they saw that it was true
That Jesus lived, had risen from the dead,
That God, who saved His Son, would save them too.
John 11:17-44; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 24:13-35