A spoke in the wheel* – after Dietrich Bonhoeffer – for today…?

Not re-invention, something new.
A rim of steel bound to a wooden hoop.
Stressed by spokes from a hub.
The whole could revolve.
An axle between, harnessed these in pairs.
A frame, a chassis, could bear the weight.
A load could be carried, easily.

Food was transported.
Building materials shifted from place to place.
Loads became heavier, more extreme.
Rolling helped.
Not all things could be hefted.
Shoulder to the wheel lads.

They pushed.

Up the hill and down again.
Down again…they could not hold.
The runaway cart they could not watch.
A hundred metres, fifty, twenty.
Nearer the children till they heard the screams.

Fear.

One person.
That’s all it took.
Spoke in the wheel.

Rumbling.
Clattering.
Shattering.
Splinters

Carnage – averted.

When will they ever learn?

Combustion.
In a chamber.
Piston reciprocating.
A turbine…
Progress? Bigger. Better?
Heftier loads.

Hurdling hedges,
winged now, cloud high.

Is it the mist blinds them?
That turns this glistering gold to dust;
that brings a different cargo now,
tossed over the side to make smithereens of all below?

A spanner in the works would save a life,
ten thousand maybe?

When will they ever learn?

But experience civilised us.
Language helps negotiation.
Jaw jaw, not war war.

The wheels of government turn, unseen.
Not covered by spats like 1930’s sports cars.
Doors close on the truth,
untruth behind the blinds…aptly named.

And rust grows, still the rust gnaws,
the squeals heard
are not really the cries of hungry children.
There is no hunger, do look the other way.

You cannot see the greed and want of power.
We have no intention to dominate and crush.
We must use your gifts carefully
sure not to share with those who might misuse or waste.

Not corruption, this is care,
We must not perpetuate old ills of profligacy.

And out of sight,
Beyond check or balance,
the wheels turn,
and who will break the spokes today?

Who will spoke the wheel…now?
Spin spanners in the works?

Who will scatter now the proud in the imagination of their hearts?

Well who?

Just who?

When will WE ever learn?

© Andrew Pratt 28/1/2020

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and pastor who resisted his government when he recognized, very early and very clearly, the dangers of Hitler’s regime. His first warning about the dangers of a leader who makes an idol of himself came in a radio address delivered in February 1933, just two days after Hitler took office.

In an essay written in that same year, Bonhoeffer stated that the church has the right and responsibility to ask whether the state is fulfilling its duty to preserve justice and order. He wrote that the church has the right and responsibility to aid victims of the state, even if they are not Christians. And that the church has the right and responsibility to jam the spokes of the wheel of the state if it is creating too much or too little law. Jamming the spokes, he wrote, “is not just to bind up the wounds of the victims beneath the wheel but to seize the wheel itself. (Bonhoeffer on Resistance: The Word Against the Wheel, Michael P. DeJonge Oxford, 2018,  P58)

Holocaust Memorial hymn – In these days as we remember

In these days as we remember
torture, holocaust and fear,
hear our prayer, our supplication,
wrung from hearts, soaked by each tear.
Tears have flooded through our nations,
pain has racked and broken lives,
now we vow to show through action
our compassion still survives.

If the voice of God is silent,
if disciples cease to speak,
then the voiceless and rejected
know the way ahead is bleak.
Let our faith be known in action,
in our depth of love and care,
in our choice identifying
with our neighbours in despair.

When the strength of our resistance
to the evil that we see
shows itself in selfless giving
of our lives then we are free,
free of cant and self-deception,
of hypocrisy and pride,
for we greet as sisters, brothers,
those that others would deride.

Andrew Pratt 22/1/2020
Words © 2020 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: CALON LAN; ST WINIFRED

 

Christ’s body has been broken – and sometimes by political choice…

Christ’s body has been broken,
not bread but human lives,
each family has scattered,
just memory survives;
the parents cry in anguish,
the children cry in fear,
we label them as migrant,
not wanted over here.

These are our human neighbours,
relations from our birth,
each sister, child or brother,
as one on this wide earth.
If we claim God as parent,
‘our Father’ as we say,
when will we own the the meaning
of empty words we pray?

God, help us welcome others,
God break the barriers down,
that tears may turn to laughter,
and smiles displace each frown;
then may we live together,
forgiven by your grace,
the Pentecostal promise,
one Godly human race!

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2018 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.
Metre: 7 6 7 6 D

No insurance – for Australia

These crazy flames lick and lap at all that ranges round us,
the trappings of our wealth,
experience and existence.
At birth we can’t anticipate our existential ending,
the length of life not ours to count or measure.
But then we face eternity,
or nothingness,
depending on belief.
Like night’s thief, flames hotter than hell’s painting are not some distant image,
but sharpened fronds dissembling each dwelling.
And if we leave reality says,
‘there is no return’.
Can faith uphold us through this conflagration?
Survival walks naked of all that we have known,
valued or possessed.
That is the option open to us.
Our Hobson has no choice.
So if we die we will know what rests beyond this life.
Remaining so much is loss or lost.
Whichever path we walk pray this,
pray only this,
that now and on beyond this moment
the love a letter writer once described
will hold,
enfold
and keep us still through all that is to come.
And no insurance…just the faith…

Words © Andrew Pratt 4/1/2019

Mouldy old log at the turning of the year…

Log 2

Mouldy old log at the turning of the year,
once green,
now dead,
lacking sap.

Sad year passing,
gone,
dead.

DSCF6429

Watch the turning,
burning of the season,
till white ash snow,
melting brings life,
again.

DSCF0193

Not immortality
for that mouldy old log at the turning of the year
is dead,
but new life springs fresh
forcing through cracked,
raw, hardened earth,
starting again,

IMG_0834

and that is what we, also,
should do…on and on…season after season…starting anew.

© Andrew Pratt 31/12/2019

Three men by a manger – Epiphany

Three men by a manger, the camels are spitting;
the inn keeper proffers a flagon of ale.
The strangers are weary, the passage was dreary,
this ship of the desert, has furled up its sail.

The stars had moved slowly, they’d hoped to be early,
our Christmas had placed them right there at the birth,
but Herod had waited, his anger not sated,
two years rambled slowly till wrath seared the earth.

It all seems a muddle, and yet we will huddle,
repeating the story from long, long ago;
what matters the timing when love sets bells chiming,
and just for this season our time can run slow.
Andrew Pratt 22/12/2019
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.

Poem for Holy Innocents – 28th December

Already reaping expectations of the choices we have made,
children wait in sundry mangers.

Families continue into exile unwelcome still at England’s door.

And does Herod wait, disguised in the pretence of wishing to join the celebration?
To usher in a new era?

Magi wait in the wings of an infant’s play bearing false gifts,
guilt covered cardboard boxes,
rich perfume to mask stale corruption.

Yet, out of this pantomime may yet emerge a deeper understanding…

Will today’s innocents survive the devastations of power, politics and greed?

Go home by another way?

Copyright Andrew Pratt 2019