Beyond Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Barely a breath has filled your lungs

You know nothing
and without another you cannot live

Absent from our human past
and promised death in the future

Is this hope? Is this wisdom?

Yes, for love is so simple
and truth so fragile

This is Jesus in time
Love unending in our midst

Beyond – the gift from afar

Beyond all knowledge and self
Here in this birth

© Neil Thompson 2017

Dust and Ashes

Dust.

That is what we are.
And spirit.

It is the ash that smothers and stifles
sight and sense
when we ignore the spirit.

Lent’s forty days
to see a different way
and feel a different gravity
when love and truth and pity
lighten our heavy dust–choked selves.

It is the road to Calvary
and the empty tomb.
There is no other.

Without spirit
there is only dust.

With God, Resurgam.

© Neil Thompson 2017

Metrical Psalm 98

Metre: Common Metre extendedAntioch

Sing to the Lord your heart’s new song
For all his marvels done;
His will declared through ages long –
God saves: our victory’s won,
God saves: our victory’s won,
God saves, God saves: our victory’s won!

To all the world he shows his truth
In Israel’s faith and life.
The age–worn world finds hope and youth –
His peace dispels our strife,
His peace dispels our strife,
His peace, his peace dispels our strife.

Burst out in song O fearful earth,
Make music filled with joy
With singing, harp and trumpet’s mirth
All tears and want destroy,
All tears and want destroy,
All tears, all tears and want destroy.

Clap, clap your hands, O seas and hills
For God is judge and Lord;
The earth is blessed and freed from ills
With love and truth outpoured,
With love and truth outpoured,
With love, with love and truth outpoured.

© Neil Thompson 2016

The kiss of God

Hush.

Stop. Be still.

What is it to be kissed?
Yes, think
...and then stop thinking.

The Christmas birth is the kiss of God.
God takes our humanity – and our lips
– he kisses and is kissed.
Is this real?
Is God in love with you and me?
Is he so close as to touch and kiss?

So many questions but a kiss is a kiss.
It is love and flesh combined.
It lasts yet is gone:
touched, blessed, ravished and set free.

God’s heartbeat is born:
a baby to be loved
and hidden until strong enough
to be kissed in the Garden
and abandoned to the Cross.

What is it to be kissed?
It is surrender – in the moment
and for eternity.

Did shepherds and kings kiss you
O little one of Bethlehem?
Can I?

If I can’t, can we ever be one?

You kiss me till my dying breath,
O love eternal –
use my lips to bring that truth
to life today.

© Neil Thompson 2015

Wind and Fire ~ A Sonnet for Pentecost

The power of nature flows through every day
– it lights and holds each moment’s thought and move
Yet humankind has walked illusion’s way
By making self the point of all to prove.
The winds bring change and life o’er all the earth
And fire ignites a danger rarely tamed;
For we are not the masters making worth
Creation’s life – by us forever framed.
The fiftieth day of Easter changes all
As fire and wind bring power of love by grace:
The spirit burns and blows to seek our hearts
And minds – so meaning’s purpose finds the place
In human wills inspired by nature’s arts.
We live beyond ourselves for evermore
In Spirit’s breath fulfilling every law.

© Neil Thompson 2015

Candlemas ~ A Sonnet

Two turtledoves are offered to the Lord
As firstborn son is given back by Law;
The ancient covenant brings lives outpoured
In simple gifts, the offering of the poor.
Through Temple courts the infant Jesus’ light
Is recognised by Simeon’s vigil eyes
Waiting for God to flood dark Israel’s night
With glory – and with light, the Gentiles’ prize.
Many will rise and fall in God’s new age
As Jesus, God’s anointed holy one,
Brings judgement as foretold in scripture’s page,
Salvation’s grace bestowed in Christ, the Son.
So take the flame of Jesus’ holy birth
And walk by faith God’s gift of days on earth!

© Neil Thompson 2015

A Christmas Sonnet of the Dispossessed

We know the place where Jesus Christ was born
As God took breath and laid his head on earth;
Yet power and people mixed their love with scorn –
And soon the babe takes flight from Bethlem’s birth
Escaping sword and jealous murderous fears
To find a refuge in a distant land.
We learn that joys of love are bathed in tears
As Christ our brother holds us by the hand:
The newly born becomes a man despised,
For living out the truth that conquers loss;
He wanders homeless, humbly – God–disguised –
And brought to shame and death on Calvary’s cross.
So, all displaced by war and want are one
With God – who shares all pain in Christ his Son.

© Neil Thompson 2015

A Contradiction of Sense

God’s Son is born as cattle low
and heaven’s silent trumpets blow:
the Christ arrives in darkest night
lit by love’s invisible light.

We know this story
but is it really true?
It strains our credibility –
thin on facts and
rich in poetry.

The Bethlehem scene tests us:
everything here
asks us questions
and searches us out
for the rest of time.

The smelly stable
Is now a part of heaven.
The munching beasts
and creaking beams
resound the music of the angels.
The flickering lamp
and pale moonbeams
are flooded by
celestial invisible glory.

Here, all human weakness is met;
all pain and loss is transformed:
by this collision
and these contradictions.

This baby takes us to the cross
and the grave
…but does not leave us there.

Christmas overcomes our power
and invites another.
Truth is never simpler
nor nearer:
the silent trumpets sound and
the darkest light streams in!

God’s Son is born as cattle low
and heaven’s silent trumpets blow:
the Christ arrives in darkest night
lit by love’s invisible light.

© Neil Thompson 2014

A Hymn of St Francis

Metre: 87 87 47St Helen

Saint much loved for simple living,
Born with wealth to God repay:
Heard love's call to selfless giving –
Mends God's house without delay.
Holy Francis,
Pray for us, Christ's Church today.

Poor for Christ and rich for ever,
Francis shows what all can be
When our selfish lusts we sever
In God's greater liberty.
Holy Francis,
Clothed in true humility.

Great the love he showed for Jesus –
Rich and poor alike did treat –
In the way our Saviour sees us:
Through the cross all people meet.
Holy Francis,
Marked by love in hands and feet.

Christmas crib he built for seeing
God in Jesus' humble birth;
Time and nature now agreeing
By love's gift beyond all worth.
Holy Francis,
One with God and all the earth!

© Neil Thompson 2014

A Hymn of Gathering

Metre: 76 76 D Refrain 6686 Tune: Wir Pflugen

We gather as God’s people
To be his life today;
We have to be together
To learn Christ’s saving way.
Our failings here forgiven,
New life from God outpoured;
His Church is now made holy,
By Jesus’ grace restored.

God’s love calls each person
To form Christ’s family:
We share his life, receive his food –
Transformed in unity.

We come to God in worship
To give ourselves in love.
We hear his holy Gospel –
Truth coming from above.
The story of our Saviour
Lives here in you and me
To be his love for others:
Christ sets all people free!

The mystery of Christ’s body
Gives every time and place
The promise of his presence:
Hope for the human race.
He needs us to be faithful
As Jesus’ life today;
We ask for strength and blessing
To live out what we pray.

© Neil Thompson 2014