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)

The powerless whisper in the void

The powerless whisper in the void,
the powerful take the stage.
God give us courage and the voice
to share and speak our rage.
Then may that rage, inspired by grace,
mould, challenge and persuade,
until decision makers hear
and love those they betrayed.

When wealth is allied to the cause
of politics or class,
God give insightful empathy
to clear the misted glass,
to help us see with clearer sight,
the way another lives,
to recognise that we can change
the fate that hist’ry gives.

Give credence to the claim we make:
we share a common birth,
that all are equal under God
upon this ravaged earth.
Let actions magnify the words,
the arguments we make,
until decision makers feel
their old assumptions quake.

Andrew Pratt 1/11/2019
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: SOLL’S SEIN; KINGSFOLD
Metre: CMD

Love matters for our future https://bramhallmethodists.org.uk/scienceandprayer/

Love matters for our future,
love founded in our past;
love woven through the present,
in hope that love will last.
This love is simply, human,
profoundly, love divine;
yet love can change another,
change lives like yours and mine

While we prefer the comfort
of minds akin to ours,
the gentle reassurance
of quiet refreshing hours;
in hell and not in heaven is
where the Christ is found,
the rough and trammeled pathway,
the trampled, bloodied ground.

But can we love another
and freely offer grace,
regardless of the neighbour
within our human race?
To always be uplifting,
to love and not condemn,
will model every person
as us and not as them.

Andrew Pratt 28/9/2019 – Science and the Language of Prayer. Written in response to Ruth Armstrong’s lecture. Seminar 1. Criminology.
Tune:AURELIA
Metre: 7.6.7.6D
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.

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.

Nothing can tear us from the love – hymn – Romans 8

Nothing can tear us from the love
that breathed creation into birth,
that nurtured, mothered what we are
and placed us on this fragile earth.

We walk through chaos, fraught with fear,
where death distils its dark demands,
as tragedy pulls curtains down
and care is shattered, no more stands.

In all this stuff that forms our lives,
each place where hope seemed flawed or veiled,
in spite of all, through shadowed times,
a shimmering shard of light prevailed.

And nothing now in all the world,
it seems, can rip me from the grace,
that grace that holds me still in love,
in this and every future place.

Andrew Pratt 21/3/2019

Tune: O WALY WALY

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.

Written for David Hamflett

Persephone – winter solstice – turn of the year

Persephone, they said, delved deep through winter’s scold.
The leaves of autumn fell, condemned to mould,
a burial deep, seemed permanent and cold.

And so it was till snow had fallen,
frosted soil had hardened into stone,
a frozen, hurtful bed,
where all seemed dark and dead.

Incomprehensibly, some life still lurked within this frigid earth,
and, hidden still, green shoots would come to birth.

And so, they said, reflecting, Persephone would rise,
beneath the early skies of lengthening days.
Experience led this hope,
but other days would sound a different song.

Divine interpretation sees, in nature, re-creation,
an annual resurrection,
a seasonal response to winter’s dereliction.

And as the seasons turn a spirit still may burn,
and breath may move and breathe,
a song may ring where cold and void and chaos rules,
to usher in God’s Spring.
© Andrew Pratt 2/6/2017