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  • Ash Wednesday - and a Poem

    I did a web search using 'ash wednesday poem' and basically up popped T S Elliott's long and complicated work.  So I tried again with 'lent poetry' and that was more successful.  Here is one that seemed quite fitting for the start of Lent, that challenges the white-washed tombs nature of strict outward obervance and inner corruption...




    Robert Herrick


    Is this a Fast, to keep
    the larder leane?
    and deane
    from fat of Veales and Sheep?

    Is it to quit the dish
    of Flesh, yet still
    to fill
    the platter high with fish?

    Is it to fast an houre
    or rag’d go,
    or show
    a down cast look, and sour?

    No: ‘tis a fast, to dole
    thy sheaf of wheat
    and meat
    unto the hungry soule.

    It is to fast from strife,
    from old debate
    and hate:
    to circumcise thy life.

    To shew a heart grief-rent;
    to starve thy sin,
    not Bin
    and that’s to keep thy Lent.


    What does the LORD require of thee, this only this: to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.

    When you fast.... wash your face, comb your hair.... and smile (CG paraphrase of JC!)

  • Lent

    It feels like I blinked and missed February (two weeks away but the way the dates landed left me with little or nothing of the month) and now it is Shrove Tuesday and no Lenten blogging plan even considered.  Should I do the lectionary readings or Christian Aid's blessing count, each of which has been my focus in past years?  Or should I parallel the people who so piously purport to abstain from social media for Lent and leave this space silent?  Or something else?  The last of these I think!

    As so often in the past, I have bought the Archbishop of Canterbury's 'Lent Book', and to ensure I do actually read it I'll undertake to blog a response to each chapter.  The book is 'Looking Through the Cross' by Graham Tomlin, and there are nine chapters so that doesn't neatly divide between six weeks, but I'll make sure that I get through it in the time allocated and share some thoughts.

    The poem a day for Advent seemed to be appreciated by those who read them - I have no neat source to plagiarise, but I'll undertake to post a poem a week for this Lent.  Probably it makes sense to do this on the same day of the week.  So I'll choose Wednesdays for no better reaoson than none.

    I have to confess to having got out of the habit of reading most of the blogs I used to follow (some have stopped being wirtten, some I just forgot to read anymore!), so I will make a more conscious effort to read them and to share one post of interest each week.

    Beyond that, people seem to like odd bits of prayer or liturgy that I share, and it's always nice to see some photos that carry a sense of 'hope' so I'll aim for some of those too...

    So, I think what I'm saying is that each week there will be:

    • A response to one or two chapters of the archbish's book choice
    • A poem that somehow relates to the season (Wednesdays)
    • A signpost to a blog of interest
    • A photo that suggests 'hope'
    • A prayer, meditation or bit of liturgy by me, appropriate to the season

    That means five posts a week (sustainable) and five different approaches, so hopefully something will appeal to most readers... and hopefully I won't run out of steam in week five!

  • Juxtapositioned

    I happened to be in Auckland when two major public festivals were taking place - the celebration of the Chinese New Year and Auckland Pride.  The two seemed to coexist quite happily, with their major events on different days.

    Whatever anyone may think about human sexuality and the rights or wrongs of its expression among people who profess Christian faith, it was interesting and challenging (in a good way) to see the sign outside the church opposite my hotel and the photo of some members of one of the churches I visited.

    I leave it to you to ponder them and see where your ponderings take you...

    NZ 123.JPG

    ponsonby pride.jpg

    First picture taken outside St Matthew in the City, Auckland (just along from Auckland City Mission - roots of course in GCM)

    Second picture courtesy of Ponsonby Baptist Church, Auckland.