Overwhelming waves

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Rembrandt

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Rembrandt

Rolled and rocked
With pitiless persistence,
The waves swell and roll,
A serpent’s back speeding
The crest to its rocky collision
At the border of land’s edge.
The wind effortlessly moving
From wherever it comes from
To wherever it goes (mystery),
Tearing the air with pitched howl
And rearranging things from
Quiet order to violent disorder.
The little boat offers the pretence
Of safety as it floats atop the
Moving everything, the restless flows.
“Head for shore”, comes the cry,
Barely heard as the wind steals sound,
But shore is far off,
And sharp rocks the harbour,
Foamed up and shaved by
The water’s razor’s edge.
Instinct is to turn askew
To face away from the looming
Waves, piled up to heaven,
Spreading their mantle
To hide horizon’s anchor
And narrow the perspective
Into an impending doom.
Seasoned mariners know
That the sea is queen and only
The brave and humble can
Harvest her bounty, or
Traverse her routes and courses,
But in our little boat we are
Baptised into the seafarer’s life
With no induction, no shallow entry.
We know not which way
To pitch or turn, no sail
Or mast but the taut whine
Of an outboard motor –
That has more than met its match –
Is our only hope of steering
To safety… or who knows where?
But turning aside, not facing
The waves brings a crash course
In how to handle choppy seas;
Crashing waves roll us to the limits
Of buoyancy and balance,
Pushing us way off course into
The open sea and away from
Land’s reach and firmer ground.
With naught to lose and
Challenged by fear, we turn
Our little boat face on into the
Mountainous waves.
Each wave blocks out the sky
Yet draws the bow heavenward
Until its almost standing upright,
Before the wave peak passes
And we nosedive down into
The valley beyond.
But as much as the waves
Threaten to overwhelm,
It’s only as we face them head on
That we can safely ride them,
Seeing them through,
Allowing the full wave to pass by
And under – going with the flow
And not fighting the force and power,
But trusting ourselves to the storm,
And the One who makes the wind,
And the waves and the rain.
Now set, facing forward,
A hymn rises up, and the
Voice to sing it out loud rises too,
The water’s surface amplifying
And accelerating the sound
So that even the crashing cymbals
And timpanic booms of the
Sea’s orchestra cannot drown
Out the rising chorus of
Joy unbounding, and peace
Instilling as the crescendo
Hits the climactic moment of
Rhyme and verse and then,
As suddenly as it all started,
The squall subsides and the wind rests,
And what was mayhem is now placidity
And perfect calm; the waves
Faced up to and faced down as
Our fears were too, and our little boat –
So helpless – now finds strength,
And carries us to harbour’s home.

Sabbath tomb

Why did Jesus die on the first day,
lay in the tomb on the second day,
and rise on the third day?

Why the second day?

Even in His death He remembered the sabbath to keep it holy.

As an echo of creation, where He rested on the seventh day after creation was finished, so in the tomb He rested on the sabbath because His work of the new creation was finished – “it is finished”.

Sabbath’s tomb
When you had finished
Your masterpiece of
Creation and life –
In heaven’s highest –
You rested.
When you had finished
Your masterpiece of
New creation and life –
In sabbath’s tomb –
You rested.


Saturday comes too slow
And goes too fast,
A single day
Up against six others.
But if on Saturday I go slow
Then I can rest, and pause,
And laugh, and play,
And dance, and sing,
And go here, and there,
And talk, and hear,
And learn, and share,
So the day is long,
And full, and plentiful,
And so much more
Is lived in the slow,
Than in all the other six
Fast days of work and toil.
Saturday comes too slow
And goes too fast,
But it’s the day for slow
And not going fast,
Which is why my Saturday
Will always last.

Clothes not mine

Before the Righteous Judge I stand,
Guilty, dirty, surely damned,
He holds my life against His law,
Exposing every sin and flaw,
Then comes forth His just decree,
That I am not condemned, but free,
I have paid the tariff for my crime,
Not me, I’m dressed in clothes not mine,
And yet I will not die but live,
Because Jesus chose His life to give,
To quell the wrath and prove the law,
Then stand there with an open door,
To live with God in persons three,
From now until eternity.

“For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ.”
Galatians 3:27


The bread,
The wine,
The congregated
Body of believers,
Who meet to share
His body, in body,
And drink His blood
In place of ours, not shed,
In gathering symphony
And rising chorus
As one, comes forth,
Prophetic proclamation –
“Precious death,
Your life You gave,
So that death might die,
Its grip released,
And though its barb
Will prick us all,
The sting is gone,
Forever swallowed up
In Your body,
In Your death,
The empty tomb
Is death’s reward
For trying to hold
The Son of God
And Author of life.”

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
1 Corinthians 11:26


In simple bread,
Is life and meat,
Grain once dry
And safe in husk,
Swelled and burst
In dark earth’s womb,
And quickened forth
The meal hence ground
To mix with water,
Glueing life with life.
In dark separation
And sustained high heat,
What went into the oven
Never comes out the same,
Baked for a time
In quiet stillness,
Observably waiting,
Visibly poised,
Until the sudden rise;
The metamorphosis
From soft dough
To life-giving bread,
From pale distaste
To golden appetite,
When substance remains, still,
Yet substantially changed,
From mix and contents
Into form and presence.
For now is the bread
Where before it was not,
And only in the breaking,
And taking and eating
Is the bread for life,
And the power
To release life given.
Only in the fulfilment
Of its purpose does
The bread exist as bread;
Only in the invitation
And the offer
Is the simple bread
Life and meat.

“Take, eat; this is my body.”
Matthew 26:26


I strive,
Ever stretching,
Fingers extended
Until the knuckles
Glow white
And the tendons
Ache, and tremor.
My arm draining
Out the last reserves
Of blood flow,
Losing strength,
And height,
Slowly descending
To the ground,
Hopelessly resisting
Until it lands
In perfect alignment with
My face-in-the-dirt body,
Legs long since
Given up now
Pretending to be
An anchor for the
Rest of me.
Neck craning,
Waning, losing
The fight between
Its pitiful stamina and
Gravity’s couldn’t-care-less,
Relentless pull,
Hindered by all
The seemingly
Colossal weight
Of my falling head,
Until with sudden
Jerk it gives,
And unites my face
To the dust from
Which I once came.
I thought I could
Reach, but
I have fallen
So, so short,
And with every
Fibre of me,
And all the willpower
That seemed so
God-like, I find
Myself prostrate
Across my kingdom
Of dirt; the ants
Like disloyal subjects
Marching out of step
And all over me
Hail their king not.
In the harsh
Exposure of my
Adequate inadequacy,
The sun unwilling
To shift its spotlight
Burns the shadow
Of my fallenness
Into the place where
I reached the end
Of me, where I realised
Just how much I had
Fallen short.
And then, by means
And power not mine,
And surely divine,
The respite of a cool
Shadow from a man
Stands over me.
Whoever He is,
Wherever He’s from,
He has the power
And the will
To help me and
Save me from
This desert hell.
He lifts me up,
Dusts me down,
Squares my shoulders,
And eye-to-eye says,
“Let’s go home.”

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 3:23


Deep within,
A thought,
Or event,
Like a poker
Stirs up
The Glowing
The long
Of unresolved
Things past
Like tinder
And fuels
The flames,
The heat
And fire.
Each breath
Fresh oxygen
To increase
The burn
And heat
And fire,
Then propels
The words
Flying out
Like fiery
Seeking to
The fire,
And the heart,
In an uncontrolled
Chain reaction
Of heat
Upon heat,
Upon fire.
When the
Finally passes
The fire
Dies down
To a smoulder,
The next time
A thought,
Or event,
Like a poker
Stirs up
The Glowing