Category Archives: poetry

Fire in the woods

War! War! (a poem)

A poem from the ever-lyrical Jon Jon Hilton. It’s an old un’ and a good un’.

Still we love to call ‘passion,’
What produces nothing lasting.
Only short-term feel good now transactions.
And the enemy was laughing.
Because no investments were happening.
Just good clean, fun, Middle-class distractions.
But who will sever their attachments
To the thrills they hold so dear?
Find on earth no satisfaction
Unfilled by her affairs?
For it seems, only a fraction,
Flee ambition’s subtle snare.
And it seems only a fraction
Put a sword to their careers.
– “Peace! Peace!” You hear them cry,
(When peace, of course, was nowhere near).
“Don’t sing your songs of revolution!
Don’t sing of war and violence here!
Just lift your hands and close your eyes,
And dance your dance and love your lives,
Let gentle breeze and compromise
Replace the need for sacrifice.”
-But “War! War!” Is passion’s cry
When fire burns up every fear,
We sing the song of sacrifice,
We sing of death to old life here.

“Chill, Chill,”
The cowards cry,
(At threat of battle, soldiers ran)
The rest amused themselves to death
On DVD’s and Christian bands.
Where are the youth with martyr spirits,
Who bid their God to ruin plans?
Who scorn the good to gain what’s higher,
With broken wills and emptied hands,
Who stand against their own desires,
And do not dream the dreams of man,
Who put an end to their agendas
At the sound of His command.
When there’s no call to kneel and pray allured
by sweet and gentle song,
No friendly arm to soothe and sway
They still maintain the fear of God.
And ruthless love for Jesus’ Cause
Makes passion real and wild and deep.
Each to his sword, to put to death
All inward rivals that compete.
Because ….you are what you eat.
And you become what you feed.
So brethren, learn to shut doors,
Endure and, learn to delete
Those numbers from your phone
Because he’d love to keep you home,
In silence and in comfort
At ease and alone
But “War! War!” Our passion’s cry,
Let fire burn up every fear
We lay our lives down for tomorrow,
At the cost of all that’s dear.

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Augustine On The Beauty of The Incarnation

Man’s maker was made man,
That He, Ruler of the stars,
Might nurse at His mother’s breast;
That the Bread might hunger,
The Fountain thirst,
The Light sleep,
The Way be tired on its journey;
That the Truth might be accused of false witness,
The Teacher be beaten with whips,
The Foundation be suspended on wood;
That Strength might grow weak;
That the Healer might be wounded;
That Life might die.
– Augustine

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Let us, therefore, mirror Augustine’s beautiful reflections:

…That the hungry may have bread,
The thirsty a fountain,
Those asleep, a light;
That the lost may find The Way,
The false may live in Truth,
The fools may astound the wise,
The worthless may find their worth;
That the weak may be strong;
That the wounded may be healed;
That the dead may live again.

Poems of the Last Few Years

I thought I’d introduce you to eight of my poems, all written over the last few years.

 

Jesu’ calls

Simon the nationalist bigot : April 2010

This one was inspired by a single line from the Jesus Army blog:

Jesus’ original followers were a ragged crowd – illiterate bumpkins mainly. Life’s rejects; the wrong sort of people.

I chose to write to several of the ‘rejects’ in this ‘ragged crowd’, narrating their responses to Jesus’ call to them and how they variously responded.

And me? How should I respond?

 

Jesus Ran Away

Jesus is in the ghetto : May 2010

I was captured by the power of Jesus’ metaphor (Matthew 25) when he said that whatever we do (good or ill) for people in need is done for him. I imagined Jesus already working today in the mess of this spuffed-up world through his Spirit, calling his people into the dark places to meet him there in them and join him in his work.

 

Thank God; they nearly died

A poem about a couple of friends : June 2010

Shock. Do you know the feeling? The cold shiver down the spine when you hear the sudden bad news. The best poetry comes from the heart and is about things that matter.

 

I Refuse

Life is staggering : July 2010

 

Lucky Are The Unlucky

Blesséd you who can’t pay the rent : September 2010

Philip Yancey in his book The Jesus I Never Knew talks about the staggeringly revolutionary and counter-intuitive paradoxes that Jesus came out with. A lot of these are in sound-bite form in the beatitudes, which Yancey says seem to pretty much say “lucky are the unlucky and unlucky are the lucky”.

 

Maranatha

A glimpse of real life on the other side of death, on the New Earth : August 2012

This poem was inspired by a Jesus Army track called Flowers Fade.

Oddly I very rarely consider a poem to be finished. I think this is my most ‘incomplete’ poem though, as I decided to not put any more work in to it as it’s incompleteness spoke to me; it’s impossible for any expression of the other side of glory to come anywhere near that great reality, it all falls short of the sombre brazen joy to come.

 

Not Poor Enough

May I be rich enough to know my poverty : January 2013

One of those poems that says a lot with little.

 

We are too safe

Dreams… January 2013

The poem We Are Too Safe was the first fiery burden, the first thread of a wider envisioned tapestry, the start of a conviction that grew and continues to grow. I wrote it in several sittings, each time having to overcome a reluctance and a lump in my throat. What I wrote scared me. Sorry to sound arrogant, but if it doesn’t scare you you probably haven’t read it properly. Read it again and consider its implications.

For some reason I don’t consider the poem finished. Maybe it needs an older brother or sister to write the old patriarch’s response? All submissions welcome.

Accidental Poetry – Party Like a Christian

Sometimes accomplished orators accidently speak poetry. Or maybe poets just write the same music that orators speak.

Whatever. Anyway, below is a snippet of a message by Michael Frost about Missional Church, given Norway in 2011.

The whole extroardinary message is essential listening for anyone wrestling with working out the mission of Jesus and missional stuff. It’s in three parts but if you want a taste of the best bit jump to 28 minitues in to his first session on Missional Church to hear the story of Abraham, the “dude in the back row”.

I believe
A day is coming
When we will live in perfect harmony with each other.

Do you agree?

Where there will be no unbelief
Because every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.

I believe a day is coming
When we will work in the most satisfying fashion
Sleep in the deepest slumber.
A day is coming
When we will produce the most astonishing music
The most extroardinary art
The most fabulous films.

I believe a day is coming when we will party every night
And there’ll be no such thing as a hangover.

I believe a day is coming
When there shall be no poverty,
No loneliness,
No fear.
When a person who’s a hundred years old will be considered to be a young man.
When no babies will die in childbirth.
When you will build your house and no one will take it from you.
You’ll plant your crops and eat of the fruit of your vine.

Sometimes I desire this so much I almost can’t bear it,
But in this epoch of history
The closest we get to it until Christ returns
Is the fashioning of foretastes of exactly that.

So you party better than anybody else in this town.
You love more than anybody else in this town.
You announce the reign of God more clearly than anybody else in this town.
Because that’s the mission to which you’ve been called.

We are too safe

“Young man…” croaked the old man, pausing for breath.

“I have dreamed my dreams.” I leaned closer to hear my old patriarch’s rasp. “I have finished the race, I have fought the fight.”

“What are your dreams?” He closed his eyes.

“I long…” I began. I stopped.

“We are too safe.”

I long to live life with no idea what the next six months will bring.
I long to belong to a church where I don’t know everybody.
A church built by a vision of what could be, not a blueprint assuming that what has been-
Is what should be.
A church that considers ‘foundations’ as defining but not definitive.
Set but not complete.
A church with a future assured but not paved, paid for in full by those who are walking the path as well as those who’ve passed.
But we are too safe.

I long to see second mile servants, not lenders of bicycles.
Grace’s disciples.
Lovers of other lives, haters of self sufficiency.
I long for a church so in love with it’s neighbours it’s control systems break.
Poverty born of generosity.
All at once a sound sanctuary and a bustling humanity, a lounge around the holy altar.
A church where Jesus is,
A church on fire.
But oh, we are too safe.

We don’t need fire.
We are rich, or so we say.
Mothers, brothers, sisters
Houses, lands, plans
Left for the hundredfold
Sold to buy a pearl that we planted in our foundation,
Then forgot.
Taught and treasured in mind, heart and hand.
But not handed on.
Loyal stewards of luxury,
Lulled to sleep by Laodicean laziness.
And I am guilty.

A son of my generation I have become.
Born into unbelief.
Born out of the bloom of our forefather’s fire,
Those faithful to the wire
Those risk taking rebels
Revolutionary in zeal
They lived a love painfully hot,
And painfully real.

But now?
They say yesterday’s revolutionaries are today’s Pharisees
And have I become one?
More concerned with behavioural dictum than fruitful outcome
We become undone
Not so much in our words but more in our actions-
Saying “It’s what’s outside that matters, son.”
While inside we’ve grown cold
More willing to mold others to our own image
Than let our hearts melt in the painful warmth of His.
So God help us.

His thoughts are not our thoughts
His ways are higher than ours.
So Lord, mold me.

Here I AM! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Whoever has ears, let them hear. Revelation 3

Not Poor Enough


When I am safe
I am the sleeping neighbour of need
So I am the one in need

When I am rich
I have everything to lose
Therefore I am poor

When I am poor
I have nothing to lose
So I am truly rich.

When I meet crisis
Crisis insists
I awake

When my crisis meets your crisis
May I be rich enough
To know my own need
To make you truly rich

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
Jesus Christ

“I started out with nothin and I still got most of it left”
Seasick Steve 

Maranatha

A paltry glimpse of real life, on the other side of death, on the New Earth.

 

Two hearts beating, God and humanity
The cacophony becomes a harmony
06f4f-maranatha-grass3Joined in the blood of God-as-a-man

It is finished
Life has been lived
Life is ready to be lived
There’s work to be done, my son
Swords beaten into ploughshares
These are all harvest years
Perfect in ability
Restful in activity
Rich
This love shares
A world full of care without any cares
No host for hostility,
Only hope. This universal community
Works as one and sings our only song
Always nuanced always new

God smiles.
Reconciled, man smiles.
Each one exclusively included
Naked without care
No awkwardness here
Rivers of joy
Running through your hair
Touch, feel, drink
Let’s go discover
Wild adventure
The Kingdom is here
Eternity