We live in times of crime and violence, aka – We live in sharp infested waters

We live in times of crime and violence
where guns and knives would seem to rule;
incarceration offers respite,
is prison now the only school?

We learn so slowly in this era,
how we should nurture love and care.
For still we model cold derision,
with disrespect, derisive stare.

Our politicians rage and stumble,
as racists bawl across the street,
then disagreements twist and tangle,
with language coarse and indiscreet.

God give us grace and apt discretion,
the skill of choosing words that skirt
around each tempting confrontation,
give words that calm instead of hurt.

Words (including alternatives below) © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Tune: ST CLEMENT (Scholefield)
Metre 9.8.9.8

The original first verse of this text is as follows and can be used if wished:

We live in sharp infested waters,
the law of Cain would seem to rule,
incarceration offers respite,
is prison now the only school?

In the second stanza, first line ‘era’ can be replaced with ‘country’.

At a time when knife and gun crime are rife this text may be seen to be pertinent either as a poem or a hymn.

Our borders, our walls mock the faith that we own -Hymn/Poem

Our borders, our walls mock the faith that we own,
denying the Christ that we claim to enthrone,
for Christ is our neigbour to love or reject,
for us to disdain, or to treat with respect.

The justice of God is as real as our flesh,
as real as each life that we drown or refresh;
as active as righteousness seen in the cross,
where love met with hatred while bearing the loss.

And now, in this moment, we need to decide,
our crisis of conscience to love or deride:
to claim that some small print lets us off the hook,
or answer, with courage, Christ’s challenging look?

Andrew Pratt 14/7/2019
Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Tune: ST DEINIO

A feather of grace

After a quote drawn to my attention by John Kleinheksel –

‘Michael Gerson beautifully describes at the end of his article,
At its best, faith is the overflow of gratitude, the attempt to live as if we are loved, the fragile hope for something better on the other side of pain and death. And this feather of grace weighs more in the balance than any political gain…’

A feather of grace that puts love in the balance,
no ransom, but freedom, the smallest of gifts.
The healing of people, redemption of nations,
a singular action sealed once with a kiss.

An act of betrayal, a voice at the crossroads,
a choice of direction: to love or destroy.
Significant action, divine contradiction,
judicious inaction, was their’s to deploy.

Then Christ was abandoned, his Judas hung dying,
while Pilate is washing his hands in disgust,
for power is corrupting through pride or indifference,
while love will lie bleeding, let down in distrust.
(c) Andrew Pratt 13/6/2019
After a quote drawn to my attention by John Kleinheksel –
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/04/the-last-temptation/554066/ accessed 31/7/2019
Michael Gerson beautifully describes at the end of his article,
At its best, faith is the overflow of gratitude, the attempt to live as if we are loved, the fragile hope for something better on the other side of pain and death. And this feather of grace weighs more in the balance than any political gain.

A Cosy Armageddon

When arguments are brewing we don’t notice,
it seems that tension builds with every word,
we say things while not hearing one another,
like children in a playground, quite absurd!

It could have been a cosy Armageddon,
the words had seemed innocuous and bland,
yet hidden in each phrase, each idle sentence
were thoughts designed to undermine each stand.

If we could simply seek a gracious outcome
when others hurt and harass, fault or harm,
a look inspired by love could turn the tables,
could echo hidden need, befriend, disarm.

© Andrew Pratt 3/5/2019

Notre Dame on Fire – hymn

A sad conflagration, now Paris is grieving,
the fire crews have struggled to dowse and control,
so much has been ruined, yet memory still rises,
God’s grace will enliven rebuilding its soul.

For hundreds of years generations have worshipped,
the river has flowed near where people have prayed.
Now voices are silent, the hearts of the people
are rending at loss where the flames leapt and played.

So now we stand silent as God’s congregation.
Where once saints had sung timbers smoulder and crash.
Your Church, God, is human, but buildings have purpose,
may witness and faith rise again from this ash.

Andrew Pratt 15/4/2019
Notre Dame on fire this evening.
Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Maundy Thursday – Good Friday – Pilate

God or self? the timeless question,
greeting all of humankind.
When we meet Christ in our neighbour
God and self should be aligned.

Will we wash our hands of duty
when decisions must be made,
simply standing at on the sidelines
when the action could be played?

Will we emphasise compassion,
or the greed of our desire,
light the lamp of love among us
or extinguish hidden fire?

Will we build up walls of hatred
shielding us from human need,
or reach out with loving kindness
to the ones we ought to feed?

When we meet Christ in our neighbour
God and self should be aligned.
God or self? the timeless question,
greeting all of humankind.
Andrew Pratt 14/4/2019 After a sermon by Tim Simms
Tune: ALL FOR JESUS
Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Good Friday

There is no glory in this cross,
nor in a crown of thorn,
just hard derision, fearful hate
and rising human scorn.

There is no joy to see a son,
his tendons taut and strained,
he hangs, discarded garbage now,
his life blood dried, or drained.

How dare we alleluia praise,
or thank God for a gift
This heinous, human victory sees
humanity adrift.

We cannot cope with such a love,
it almost seems insane,
a counterpoint to what we seek.
We question it again.

And so we stand, if we will dare,
in shadow in this place,
and contemplate another time
Love’s dying, mortal grace.

Andrew Pratt 3/4/2019
Tune: ST FULBERT
For ‘Good Friday’.
Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.