futility

aggression and violence
unbridled
destroy to grab
overpower
dominate
we are enslaved
by our inability
to live
with difference
and
outlaw injustice
transform our base
nature and
drives
with goodness
and compassion
maelstrom of
raving temper
cold calculation
of status and
control
nothing is gained
everything
becomes futile
only love’s
redemption can
remain

where is it?

it is
pain and death
and loss
that
will lead us
to the source
and
power of
meaning

© Neil Thompson 2022

limen ~ the last step ...and the first

all our days lead to one
moment
when we encounter
the threshold
the mystery
the window
that opens
out from time

we change
we depart
we enter
we stop
and dissolve

unbelievably
this is becoming
the transformation
of time
and embodiment

seemingly
we become
lost
disappearing
more and more
into the
irretrievable
past

paschally
it is the springboard
of reality
of realisation
of release
the triumph
of life
over body
existence
biology

nothing is lost
if we can
but dare
to look
forward to
our end
my end
the end
of ends
and a step
over the
threshold
into inaccessible light

it’s a breath away
a lifetime away
it’s now
and
always
let
go

and look

© Neil Thompson 2022

artificial light (the penumbra of grief)

have I taken
the sunshine
for granted
the golden light
of my beloved?

bathed and warmed
caressed and cared
lavished and loved
by rays of life
abundantly
blessing
and making
sense of every
hour and day

the light has gone
the sun no longer shines
and I live only in
artificial light
seeing but not
recognising the
immediate gift
of time as present
and
infinity

yet it is still there
but the rays can
no longer fall on me
until I leave this world

what a beckoning
what a dawn

© Neil Thompson 2022

crucible

in darkness
forgiveness is
born
in pain
redemption is
borne
in loss
recovery is
drawn
in death
true hope
can dawn

when I
am nothing
God
can touch
and create

empty

the crucible
contains the
will
heated by the
light
of vision
transformed by the
ineffable

love

© Neil Thompson 2022

Ruth

Love’s new beginning born amid the corn
From loss a journey made in faith and loyalty true
A sign of hope and trust in covenant sworn
This life brings joy and gleans a treasure: heaven’s due

So many years have passed since Bible’s view
Another Ruth brought me the joy of love’s new dawn
Our souls entwined and into one we grew
Till cruel death did strike and left me all forlorn

© Neil Thompson 2022

incandescence

no trick of the
light
or the past and
present
truth burns
love irradiates
renews
but never
on my terms
the stone
I place
cannot move
lest I be
overturned
I cannot
see
only the
risen
can be
seen
there is
no sense
only
no thing
and all

© Neil Thompson 2022

on the brink

on the brink

we are always on
the brink
whether we know
it or not
there is a chasm
over which we might topple
into oblivion
or eternity
just like every
breath
of every
life
somehow it’s
not really
mine
I am always
in need
dependent

on the
brink

the unknown
unfathomable
is a friend
a voice
even a touch
others share
it
but they are
not the
One

the brink
who brings
a new dimension
and new life

© Neil Thompson 2022

howl

the smirk of pain and death
when illness becomes our life

the breaking heart of helplessness
at my beloved’s plight
felled and stricken by the
unseen destroying foe

it is only the holy heart
that makes sense of this
dissolution and departing
that cries and howls at the
powerlessness of parting

set in time and destroyed by it
it is only release that
offers hope beyond all that
crumbles and deceives with
false promises of certitude

only the heart which both fails
and survives and conquers
leads us inwards and beyond
to a union which has no words

it is the music of which our fleeting notes
sing on and play a new dimension
where we soar and are taken
by the power of which
we only can glimpse

© Neil Thompson 2022

Beached

formed in the day of a death and written in the night

The tide of my life
has gone out
never to return.

The waves that
floated my days
are no longer
crashing around
me with energy
and joy.

Instead, I list,
lop–sided
amidst the hard and sharp
ungiving shingle
of grief and the
damp sodden sands
of sorrow.

The topography of
my coast has been
eroded by loss
and the waters
have been turned
away.

Slowly, will I now
begin to change –
unknown to the
surge that brought
such delight.

O wind and weather
of life’s fortune
break into a storm
that will bring back
the magical waters
on which I bobbed
and whose surging
currents were the
grand passion of
my years!

O that they could.

© Neil Thompson 2022

The Choice ~ a question of faith

It could be just my opinion
My point of view
My prejudice

So dare I choose?
And will my choice be binding?
What if I get it wrong?

The whole of life can be frittered
Away
By worry
By fear of getting it wrong

If I choose life
If I choose love
Do I lose out on my freedom
On me?

The answer is hard
Love and life cost everything
There is a ‘me’ beyond price
And that is all that remains

It is a ‘me’ that is lost in us
In you
In eternity

If I risk this
I can have everything
But it may well look like nothing

That is where the truth lies
It is the future
And the meaning of both
The present and the past

Not choosing is no choice
Yet a choice as well
It goes nowhere but
Back on myself
Who has no lasting future
And a past and a present
That is already fading

Choose
And live without
Counting the cost

I dare
We dare
Love is all that matters

© Neil Thompson 2021

Christmas Carol 2021

Metre: 76 76 676Es ist ein' Ros' entsprungen

A simple truth lies near us
As Jesus Christ is born –
He lies in cattle manger
To bring salvation’s dawn.
God’s love in Jesus’ birth
Brings hope to every people:
Renews our fragile earth!

The poor and meek and lowly
Are blessed and raised in power
By that same love who made us,
The Word who fills each hour.

The world is changed for ever
By gentle rule of love:
To live for one another
And seek the truth above.

This baby boy must change us
Today and every day;
Each life, our world, is holy –
For Jesu’s grace we pray.

So let us sing our praises
To God for Christmas joy –
Who loves us as the Father,
Who meets us as a boy.
God’s love in Jesus’ birth
Brings hope to every people:
Renews our fragile earth!

© Neil Thompson 2021

Human Weather

Bethlehem is cut off
angels shepherds and
wise men
may get there
but can the
rest of us

Bethlehem is cut off
being born isn’t enough
being reached
believed
is so hard when
the climate is
so harsh

Bethlehem is cut off
the snow drifts
formed by
habit familiarity
and prejudice
banked high by the
winds of fear insecurity
and rivalry

Bethlehem is cut off
what can we do
about the weather
our climate is
formed by our choices
choose love
let in the light
of faith
be formed
by hope

Bethlehem was cut off
the clouds of self
blew away
to reveal God’s world
in which we have
our place
and who embraces us in
the infant arms that
will span the cross
and bring us home
God’s son shines

© Neil Thompson 2021

Love's Depths ~ a villanelle of water and life

God stills the storms of waters’ might:
The spirit moves to set us free.
No sea can quench love’s fire and light.

Creation brings our day and night –
From chaos deep we’re brought to be.
God stills the storms of waters’ might.

Our hearts and minds beset by fright –
From war and want we’re never free.
No sea can quench love’s fire and light

Christ comes to save us from our plight,
His grace is our salvation’s key.
God stills the storms of waters’ might.

From depths of death to heaven’s height;
God’s life is nailed to hatred’s tree.
No sea can quench love’s fire and light

The dead are raised by Jesus’ right:
Call on his name – on bended knee.
God stills the storms of waters’ might:
No sea can quench love’s fire and light.

For Peter Futcher

© Neil Thompson 2021

Inside the silence

Music sweeps through us
And over us
Soaking our senses
Overwhelming reason
With the notated
Desire of the Spirit

But there is
Another music
Inside the silence
Behind the pulse
Of realisation
And performance

It has no beginning
Or end
Is always there
Within and outside
Everyone
Everything

All verities are silenced
By this beauty
And difference
Which reaches
Out to us
But can never
Be possessed

Enchanting
Transforming
Redeeming
And challenging
Demanding
Destroying
The certitude and gravity
Of self

Is this peace
Eternity
Love?

It calls through
The staves of
Every year
To sing our names
Take us
To Your heart

© Neil Thompson 2021

It won't add up

our sums don’t add up
when it comes to mystery
so when infinity leaps
into human years
the material world
uninformed by the spiritual
can’t cope

yet the Bethlehem birth
contracts everything
into the love and promise
of a baby
and expands our horizons
and possibilities
beyond all reckoning
and imagining

but it doesn’t stop there

it subverts all power
and every human choice
and value

seeing the same world
changing and growing
by love and purpose
means yielding and
dying
to belong to the realm
of which we are
neither creator nor controller
only inheritor

the Bethlehem gift
just doesn’t figure
for the powerful and mighty
for if we receive it
we find our world
invaded, taxed and
displaced from home
there is nowhere to stay
and we will have to flee
and innocents will die

you can’t make this up
when love is a brother
and dies before you
and for you
to take us all where
nothing figures
but truth and peace
and justice
and joy and love
his hand reaches out:
take it

© Neil Thompson 2021

Embedded God

out of sight
and deep within
the Word is formed
in flesh

like you and me
bathed in the waters
of the womb
the union grows
as life forms and
shapes a future
that comes from before
the beginning

ignored and irrelevant
to the consuming
pleasures of selfish flesh
it is the only flesh
that is formed from
and destined for
glory

the unlived living
the hidden glory
the unseen truth –
the growing saviour
is always present

beyond our understanding
yet deep within us
the advent of our God
is set in our unformed
strength and
blind dependency

he comes
to breathe our air and
cry our tears
into the courts of heaven

stop

stop and feel this heartbeat of love
– if you dare!

© Neil Thompson 2021

A Hymn for the Feast of SS Peter and Paul

Metre: 87 87 47Cwm Rhondda

Saints of God in heaven dwelling
Sing and pray in holy light;
Through their lives all ages telling
Of Christ’s love which brings us sight.
Paul and Peter,
Pray and put our fear to flight.

Jesus, walking on the seashore:
Simon, come and follow me –
Leaving nets and fishing no more,
Save for souls to set them free.
You are Peter,
Holding heavenly kingdom’s key

Peter’s faith both strong and fearful
Fails his Lord, though called the rock,
Once forgiven, sad and tearful:
Charged to care for Jesus’ flock.
Faithful Peter:
Pray for us in death’s dread shock.

Caring, leading, learning new ways,
Peter’s life takes him to Rome –
Cross inverted giving God praise,
Dying, enters heavenly home.
Holy Peter,
Feed Christ’s sheep where’er we roam.

Saul of Tarsus set on ending
Those belonging to the Way.
Felled and stunned by God’s light, sending
Blindness – halting zealot's fray.
Saul of Tarsus,
Met by Jesus, for us pray.

Paul has heard the Christ of glory:
Now his strength and sight restored,
Healed to share salvation’s story,
Owning Jesus as his Lord.
Paul, apostle,
Holding book and martyr’s sword!

May the light of prayer and caring,
Lived by saints in Jesu’s way,
Fill your Church with holy daring:
Speaking truth to power today!
Paul and Peter,
Give us strength and for us pray!

Commissioned by William McVicker for SS Peter and Paul, Bromley

© Neil Thompson 2021

A Hymn of our Passing Age

Metre: 87 87 DBlaenwern

Through the ages God is present
In the world that he has made.
Yet today so many doubt Him,
Lured by self, by ego swayed.
Self–sufficient, world relying,
Blind to Spirit, mystery’s call:
Come, O Lord of love and reason,
Speak afresh through us to all!

Through the ages love is present,
Care and mercy heal our pain.
Jesus’ life fills every moment,
Saving all that death has slain.
Help us see His life in others,
Those we find so hard to like.
Where our difference leads to hatred,
May His love with mercy strike.

Through the ages truth is present,
Leading us from dark to light.
Knowledge, justice, honour, reason
Help us see and share what’s right.
Heavenly truth brings wisdom’s insights –
Spirit speaks and moves today,
In the issues of our future:
God is there to point the way.

Through the ages Christ is present
In our faith and love and need:
Read in Scripture, seen in Jesus,
Honours those of other creed.
Bless your world that bleeds and falters –
Give us hope to guide our ways;
Bring your justice to all people:
Change our lives for future days!

© Neil Thompson 2021

A Hymn of Simple Living

Metre: 66 66St Cecilia

Tread softly on this Earth
For it is holy ground:
It’s lent to us from birth –
A home where love is found.

The world that forms our lives
And holds us all as one –
Where caring service thrives:
God’s holy will is done.

The kingdoms of our day
Are but a passing power;
Look out beyond their sway
To see God’s purpose flower.

Live simply in your heart;
May others fill our mind,
That we may play our part
In serving humankind.

The land where Jesus trod
Has never known his peace.
We fail to honour God
Until our hatreds cease.

To share and learn and grow
Is future’s hope today:
The seeds of change to sow,
To follow in Christ’s way.

The kingdom of the Lord
Brings change and justice brave –
More than we dare afford
Is Jesus’ call to save!

© Neil Thompson 2021

A Hymn of Loss and Recovery (after the Covid–19 pandemic)

Metre: 87 87 DCorvedale or Blaenwern

Unseen foes fragment our living
Bringing fear and loss and death;
Fragile lives brought down, each giving
Epidemic's threat to breath.
Lord, our world is ever learning
Life and change are ever one:
Heal us, help us in discerning
Faith that leads till days are done.

Every people, every nation –
Illness strikes at all, bar none.
God is here in his creation
Sharing life in Christ, his Son.
With the poorest and the weakest
Brings his love to share our wealth –
Reaching those whose lot is bleakest,
Healing, caring, bringing health.

In our caring, love remakes us,
Helps us see the world afresh.
Different values redefine us
In our power and fragile flesh.
Service marks our needs in others,
Sacrifice brings life for all –
As we journey, sisters, brothers,
On the road – so none shall fall.

Science, art and recreation
Blessed by God, creation’s fount,
Offer hope to every nation
So that every life can count.
Take our lives, O God of healing,
Change our lands with daring love:
Self–denying, truth revealing,
Set our hearts on heaven above!

All the loss and dislocation,
All the grief and broken hearts
Are restored in God’s salvation –
Risen life where death departs:
Future joys beyond all telling
Won by Jesus Christ the Lord,
Formed by Spirit’s love indwelling
As we live with one accord!

© Neil Thompson 2021

Christmas Carol 2020

Metre: 446 446 + RefrainCoventry Carol

Jesus is born in stable dark and bare:
God saves our human race!
In stable dark and bare:
God saves our human race!

Love’s simple birth
Brings God to earth
In distant time and place.
He lives today,
Raised mortal clay:
God saves our human race!

Can I believe?
This gift receive:
Incarnate love and grace.
Mystery deep
Lies there asleep:
God saves our human race!

There is no fear,
No pain or tear
Alone we have to face.
A future clear
In Christ draws near:
God saves our human race!

Jesus is born in stable dark and bare:
God saves our human race!
In stable dark and bare:
God saves our human race!

© Neil Thompson 2020

Waiting Room

Advent is a waiting room
in a world where there is
so little room for waiting.

disconnection
on hold
adrift
passive
done unto
…everything that is contrary
to the zeitgeist of
our egocentric gravity

Ignore the diversions of triviality
Listen
Be still

Love and truth and hope speak out
in the mists of prophets
discounted and marginalised – voices
that cut to the bone
of our fragile, arrogant flesh.

We miss the glory,
enchanted by the mirror
of importance and pleasure.

There is a greater joy and purer light
that lies in a different reflection:
we look but we do not see,
we hear but never resonate
with heaven’s promise and
simple treasure.

God is coming – and has come – in
fragility and vulnerability:
it is only in waiting,
in making room –
disarming the defences
of our ambient power –
that we can be free and be found
by the future
born in
Bethlehem.

Veni, veni Emmanuel.

© Neil Thompson 2020

Beyond comprehension

Below the lights and tinsel
lies another world
which we are keen to deny
and smother in any way we can.
Snow does it, our hearts and minds
long to…
Forget – as much as you can –
pretend, cover up and escape –
if only for a day or two.

The manger is rough and splintered,
the stable cold and bare,
the parents displaced
and far away from home.

The Christ comes to our dis–ease,
our pain and insecurity;
he is born amongst strangers
in a land invaded by a distant power.

Our hearts and minds are no different.

Yet love fills the vacuum of the interim
barrenness of meaninglessness, despair
and abandonment.

Fear is the fuel of our needy coldness
and there in its terrifying grip –
God is born
– to journey to your grave and mine.
Hope reaches out from tomorrow
and eternity.

This story is not to be understood
but to overcome every other
thought and certainty.
A distant birth is a present friend
– there is no moment or place but this one
which takes us beyond all that is
to all that shall be.

There is but one change, one response:
believe and trust – risk
that life is more than this
because love is born in the darkness.

And the darkness comprehends it not.

© Neil Thompson 2020

Easter +50

The inner and the outer worlds
blend and fuse and liberate
taking us beyond in the here
and into eternity in the now

Barriers fall and
we live in our limits
yet on the other side of
mortality and self

A new language never of
our own making possesses
and burns uniting us in a
meaning of mystery and many
when we know only because
we are fully known

Energy bursts and explodes
from the smallest thought or thing
and simultaneously there is an
inner calm and creative turmoil
beyond our understanding

This is a way of being alive
that is always new
but has existed for ever –
it comes as a gift and
costs everything and nothing

It is born in love
and borne on love:
it is never mine yet
always possessing –
holy, spirit, wisdom, life –
contradiction of reason and
paradox of possibilities

Breath that we draw
into the inner world
and fire that is exhaled
from the soul

Fusion of all fragments
fall flame flow
into the moment
and enter –
veni

© Neil Thompson 2020

Thy Kingdom Come

Metre: 10 10 10 10Woodlands

Thy Kingdom Come – Lord teach us how to pray
For others that they might find faith in you
And know your friendship each and every day:
Jesus the way and life for ever true!

Thy Kingdom Come – Christ’s prayer that love will take
Our human lives and make us all as one;
To live for God and one another’s sake
By Jesus’ life and grace: ‘thy will be done’.

Thy Kingdom Come – we pray for those we know
To find Christ’s peace and joy in all we do;
For by the Spirit’s truth all life will grow:
Our tired and broken lives by love made new.

Thy Kingdom Come – a brighter light will shine
Throughout the world where prayer lets Spirit free
Our selfish lives to be a daring sign
Of Jesus’ risen life: God’s liberty!

Thy Kingdom Come – transform our human ways:
A common life of mercy, truth and care,
Nations renewed, as giving thanks and praise
To God in Jesus: here we make our prayer.

For Canon Jean Kerr who commissioned this hymn, and the global wave of prayer: Thy Kingdom Come

© Neil Thompson 2020

Harvest thanks

Metre: 9 8 9 8 9 8 10 7 Autumn Leaves

We give God thanks for harvest seasons;
We give God thanks for daily food;
All life is held by nature’s gifts:
The love of God, his world renewed.

Hunger’s pangs are rid by generous heart:
We all must share and play our part.
Let us do this – feed the world, the hungry –
Our harvest thanks we give to God.

 

(for Mary Jeffreys who commissioned this setting)

© Neil Thompson 2020

A Carol of the Night

Metre: 10 10 11 11

Wise men from the East look up to the sky:
See promise and hope in God drawing nigh.
The heavens reveal that love’s mystery is born
To the west – for the world a new light will dawn.

Our strengths and our world are formed by the day:
The road can be seen as we trust in our way.
To follow the star, we must travel by night –
God’s sign of his birth leads from darkness to light!

The journey is long, the road far from clear –
The light of the star is stronger than fear;
Dark doubts and all hardships are met in hope’s trust
That God in his truth shares our pain and frail dust.

In Zion they stop and seek for the king
New–born as the one to rule everything.
But he will be born in small Bethlehem town
And poverty’s thorns form the gold of his crown.

The prophet foretold the one who will reign
As shepherd to Israel: everyone’s gain!
So onward they go to the place of the birth:
Where Mary brings Jesus, our Saviour, to earth.

They enter and kneel, adoring God’s Son –
The babe in the straw is love’s holy One!
The gifts that they offer in bare stable room
Reveal God’s great glory in power, prayer and tomb.

© Neil Thompson 2020

Joy beyond words

Metre: 11 12 11 12 + RefrainTune: Jesus is Lord

(for the Parish of Rochester & Mary Jeffreys who commissioned this hymn)

Joy beyond words breaks with the dawn of Easter,
crucified lord, side pierced by sword, raised from the grave!
Death rules no more for Jesus Christ is risen –
Sing praise and thanks to heaven for God’s saving love!
Alleluia! alleluia!
Choose life earth’s sons and daughters, sing Alleluia!

Doubt and belief fill life in equal measure –
both bear a truth, there is no proof: we can’t know all.
Jesus is Lord in gift of Easter’s triumph:
minds lit by mystery’s presence in faith, hope and love.
Alleluia! alleluia!
Choose life earth’s sons and daughters, sing Alleluia!

Live God’s great truth in Easter’s risen saviour!
Now all can see love sets us free from fear and death.
Each life is blessed by hope and history meeting
as God in Jesus Christ conquers pain, sin and loss!
Alleluia! alleluia!
Choose life earth’s sons and daughters, sing Alleluia!

© Neil Thompson 2019