Poetry Mondays: A Good Book

Last week has been full of Bible storytelling, which has included reading, writing, performing and watching some really creative takes on Bible stories.  On Saturday 7th, I was in London for an ACW event, hearing Glen Scrivener talking about telling God’s story; yesterday I had another opportunity to watch the great Bob Hartman at work; in between, I met up with other creatives working on retellings and resources for the lectionary in Area 52.  That’s why this poem has come to the front of my mind.  It’s a performance poem I often use at the end of a training event, just to remind everyone how full of great stories the Bible really is.  See how many stories you can count and recognise!

A Good Book

What other book has
Wise men, starlight,
Sheep, a baby,
A cruel king, a great escape?
Some books, maybe.

What other book has
A donkey’s jawbone
A cockerel’s crow
A lions’ den, and two she-bears?
No book I know.

What other book has
A finger writing,
Dry bones walking,
Bushes burning,
A donkey talking,
A cloudy pillar,
A river of blood,
A wrestling angel,
An epic flood,
A still, small voice,
A beauty queen
And – toilet humour?
No book I’ve seen.

What other book has
God among us
Death and sadness
Resurrection
Joy and gladness
A heavenly Father,
Risen glory,
Life for ever​​
All a true story?

It doesn’t matter how far you look –
There’s only one.
Now that’s a Good Book.

Poetry Mondays: The Kingdom’s Down Here

 

I wrote this – what is it? A performance poem, doggerel, a rant? – a few weeks after Brexit, and I think that in the light of the American election it may be worth sharing it again.  Some people might find it useful for Advent and Christmas, too, as it explores ideas about the kingdom of God, the incarnation and Mary’s song.

It really works better read out loud, because as with most of my ‘performance’ poetry, the scansion isn’t obvious.  I initially posted it on Facebook as a video, but that makes it harder for others to make use of it, so this is the full text.  If you think of it as being loosely in anapaests, you’ll find the scansion easier to pick up!  The style is inspired by the things Glen Scrivener writes, so if you want to see this kind of thing being done really well, have a look at his videos.  I wish I had his filming and editing expertise.

 

The Kingdom’s Down Here

 

I write at the end of a fortnight of news

That has left many hurting, divided and bruised.

I don’t think I’m alone here. The world’s a disaster.

And we Christians pray, ‘Let God’s kingdom come faster!’

But the kingdom’s down here, if you have eyes to see:

Like when God picks an unmarried teen refugee

To be pregnant, alone, with no family supporting,

Gets dumped by her bloke, and instead of aborting,

She sings! She rejoices! She calls herself blessed,

Says God scatters the proud, raises up the oppressed,

Knocks the powerful down, fills the hungry with food,

Sends the rich home with nothing. She says God is good

And remembers his mercy. And all of her hoping

Is how she is living, not just how she’s coping.

She’s seeing the world in this radical light;

In the Light of the World. It’s because, not despite

The way that things are, that the kingdom shines through.

In the light of the world we can glimpse what is true.

So where is this hope? When the mighty are strong,

When the hungry are starved, have we cause for a song?

Yes! The song of the kingdom’s the song of the blessed.

It goes: blessed are the losers. Blessed the distressed.

Blessed are the poor, the downtrodden, the slow,

The refugees running with nowhere to go,

They’re all blessed. The grieving are blessed, and the weak,

The bullied, the broken, the unspoken meek,

Blessed are the victims. Blessed the oppressed,

Blessed are the stressed, blessed the depressed.

And blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed beyond measure

The pure-hearted ones who discover this treasure,

This parallel kingdom, invisible, true,

And bring it to blessing. And they could be you.

The kingdom’s down here, if you have eyes to see,

With the hungry and poor, and in you, and in me.

For the kingdom is doing its mustard seed thing

Where a gaggle of losers who loved a dead king

Start to meet; washing feet; sacrificing their lives

Every day, like their king, always dying to rise.

Because here in this kingdom, it’s all upside down.

The humblest are highest, the poor get the crown

And the winners who sprinted to be in first place

Are arriving to find that they lost the whole race

To the stragglers and limpers who loped at the back

And the ones who served drinks at the side of the track.

So don’t worry. The kingdom is here. It’s not gone.

It’s existing in us. Love has already won.