Friday, 27 December 2013


Little Emmanuel, a prophet wrote
Of one who would become a Prince of Peace,
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
A righteous king whose reign would never cease,
Of such wisdom and understanding
It would be as if God with us did dwell,
So that this Great One, born a babe like you,
Is described by the name you bear, Emmanuel.

Long after those prophecies, Jesus was born,
Lay in His cradle, needed His mother’s care,
Grew to be a child, developed a mind
And character so unsurpassably fair
That when He spoke it seemed like God’s own words.
The outcasts and needy were healed and blessed,
And His power, words and deeds declared
He was the Great Emmanuel, “God with us”.

Millennia later, little Emmanuel,
Needing your parents’ nurture and care,
You, dependent too, in your cradle lie,
Daily growing more contented and fair.
I wish for you not ease, wealth or fame
But that, Emmanuel, you so grow in mind
That in judgment you will be wise and just
And in disposition gentle and kind.

Emmanuel, grab hold of this miracle, life.
Grow, be happy, a sweet and lovely boy,
Dispensing sunshine all around,
Touching everyone you love with joy;
And when the great Emmanuel returns,
A bright light claiming His rightful throne,
Ruling with justice and equity for all,
May he see in you one of His very own.

Sunday, 22 December 2013


From stones thrown into the pond
Ripples inevitably abound
And if the stones are cruel or hurtful,
Damaging ripples spread around.

Once the stone has left the arm
The ripples can in no way stay.
They will travel where they will
Carrying sorrow and dismay.

Who knows where the ripples reach?
Who knows with what pain and woe?
This relentless and strange tide
Washes alike over friend and foe.

So stay the arm, drop the stone,
From the heart let good things flow.
In casting them upon the tide
Beautiful ripples wash and glow.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Betrayal of the King.

3. Betrayal.

You ask about the night they took Him?
It was terrible. Far beyond terrible,
Despair so utterly bleak
That it seemed the end of everything.
What was left but a pathetic scramble for survival?
And guilt of course. Overwhelming, suffocating guilt.

We’d all betrayed Him. Well, everyone
Except John and a little group of women.
For all the rest of us it was betrayal.
Let me list the whole sorry lot.
There was Pilate with his “washing of hands”;
Herod’s shallow pantomime, dressing Him in purple;
The High Priest’s cynical expediency;
The murderous hypocrisy of the Sanhedrin;
The Pharisees’ pious pretence;
The ungrateful mob’s “Crucify him!”;
Treacherous Judas’s love of money.
All this was betrayal and worse. It led to the murder
Of a man whose “crime” was that He was too good;
That His light exposed dark hearts;
A man who had helped, healed, taught, brought hope,
Who showed us what we could aspire to be;
Who only desired to set people free and heal the broken hearted.

They were the betrayers and murderers.
But what of us, His chosen companions?
We were not murderers, but we were betrayers.
Was our betrayal cowardice or disbelief?
Superficially, it was cowardice.
Peter denied Him three times, swearing and cursing,
His last “I don’t know Him!” just as they were bringing Him,
Exhausted, beaten and bruised, into the courtyard.
Of course He heard it and Peter fled, weeping bitterly.
The rest of us? It too, superficially, was cowardice.
We fled when He was taken. We hid behind locked doors.
We trembled and jumped at shadows,
Scared they’d soon be coming and we’d be next.

But our failure to believe was a deeper betrayal.
He’d spoken many times about His death and His resurrection.
We couldn’t accept it. Our minds were set on Kingdom.
We thought that He would soon establish it.
We thought that soon He’d be reigning in power.
We even squabbled about who would be greatest.
The idea that He would die was incomprehensible.
Equally incomprehensible was His resurrection.
It was completely beyond our understanding.
We, His closest companions, were the most unwilling of witnesses.

So I come to the events of the third day.
In the very early morning in rushed Mary Magdalene,
Declaring she’d seen, spoken, even touched Him.
Why didn’t we believe her? You have to remember
That Mary had once been very mentally unwell.
We thought that her grief had unbalanced her.
Later Peter declared that he’d seen Him.
Peter was a practical sort of man, so that excited us,
But we still couldn’t accept it. It just wasn’t possible.
Then that night we were gathered together, Peter included,
And two of our friends burst in, declaring “Peter is right”,
Said they’d walked, talked, even eaten with Him.
We didn’t know what to think. Could it be possible?
Then suddenly, He was there in the room.
The wounds were visible in His hands, feet and side.
He ate with us. Later, when He left,
The signs were there in the remains of the food.
Then Thomas came in and, just like us,
Refused to believe unless he thrust his fingers
Into the nail holes and fist into the spear wound.
Suddenly He was there.
“Reach your finger here”, He said, “And touch My hands.
Put your hand here into My side.
Do not be unbelieving, but be believing.”

Then we, betrayers all, believed.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The King Receives the Holy Spirit.

2. Filled with the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus emerged from the river Jordan
A great voice sounded from heaven above,
And He was filled with the Spirit’s power
Which descended upon Him like a dove.

Immediately the Spirit drove Him
Into an arid, lonely wilderness,
Where, for forty arduous days and nights
He suffered hardships and was put to test.

“I hunger”, he thought, and had the power
To make from stones sweet bread spring forth;
Saw too all kingdoms in a moment of time;
Knew He had power to conquer the earth.

The trial was great but He found the answer.
This power was not for personal use.
 He would depend entirely upon God.
To use Spirit for self would be an abuse.

Angels then came and ministered to him
And full of spirit he went to Galilee,
Where He many miracles performed
On mountain, on plain and by the sea.

By His voice He raised a widow’s son.
He healed the lepers, the deaf, dumb and blind.
By touch He brought a dead girl to life.
He cured scores afflicted by unsound mind.

By the Spirit withered hands became whole,
A man suffering palsy returned to health,
Much healing which left Him tired and spent
But never did He use the Spirit for self.

To the very end He continued to give
From the deep well He held within,
Right to those last words, “It is finished”,
When He was released from suffering.

Who can comprehend this kind of love?
Who could think of a life so completely good?
Who could imagine a servant this great?
Who else could He be but the Son of God?