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March 2012

THE BEATITUDE POEMS

(here are three poems that made up the middle section of our Fitzroy morning service... we were looking at the Beatitudes so we started by reading them from TNIV and ended by reading them in the Message. In between we had Lucinda Williams song Blessed, my poem Blessed Are The Arrogant and two poems written especially by Fitzers Chris Hunter and Scott Jamison)

CROWNED by Chris Hunter

God's are the barren
For theirs is virgin land
 
Crowned are the broken
For they will be mended
 
Blessed are the malleable
For they will fashion a new kingdom
 
God's are those who delay
For in fasting they will feast
 
Crowned are the light bearers
They will see truth
 
Undamned are the soulclean
For they have room for God
 
Blessed are they who sabbath
For they will reside in God
 
God's are the ruptured right
For theirs is a place for everyone

BLESSED ARE THE ARROGANT by Steve Stockman

On these charred streets of Belfast

There are scars on minds and hearts

The only thing we together

Is to rip one another apart

It’s hard to find the chinks of light

In this God forsaken place

If he doesn’t bring his judgement down

It’s an even more amazing grace.

         

And cursed are the peacemakers

For they might compromise

Cursed are those who mourn

For they might apologise

Cursed are the poor in spirit

For they might confess and regret

And cursed are the merciful

For they might forgive and forget

And cursed are the meek

For they won’t ride their high horse

But blessed are the arrogant

For they will maintain this curse.

 

On these broken hearts of Belfast

There are spoken open lies

No matter what your fancy dress

The truth can’t be disguised

We belligerently spit in the face of God

This miraculous peace time space

If God don’t bring his judgement down

It’s an even more amazing grace.

LISTEN by Scott Jamison

This is how it’s going to be

Broken hearts will be held together

Grief will be out of a job for good

Pride will know the cold side of the door

What is right will be devoured

Bread will be broken with mercy

Purity will be the porchlight

And peace will be its moth and those

Who have known the back of hands

Will know every lifeline of my palm

This was how I had always planned.

 

 


Lyric For The Day 24.3.12 from Blessed by Lucinda Williams

Blessed 3

“We were blessed by the homeless man
Who showed us the way home
We were blessed by the hungry man
Who filled us with love
By the little innocent baby
Who taught us the truth
We were blessed by the forlorn
Forsaken and abused
We were blessed”

-      From Blessed by Lucinda Williams

The title track of Lucinda Williams’ most recent album could be seen as her version of Jesus Beatitudes, his prophetic, provocative and poetic introduction to his Counter Culture Manifesto in the Sermon On The Mount. Williams does the same as Jesus by turning on their head our ideas of how the world is into how the world could be. The ultimate challenge is that a world transformed to look like this would bring blessedness to everyone. The last verse, above, is the one that has most images that could be described as Christian. Jesus was a homeless man, love is the greatest of all values, the children are what the Kingdom of God looks like and the forsaken and abused could be the mpourning , meek or poor  in spirit of Jesus original poem.  


BELFAST POEMS 3 - Celebrate Or Mourn

Belfast, I’m descending

Coming home to you

Travelling through the darkness

And mesmerised by the view

Underneath your fairy lights

The look so sweet

There’s hatred in your children’s hearts

And violence on your streets

My fears and tears are cascading

On this city that I love

Welcoming others and killing ourselves

What were we thinking of

Some things you did have hurt me

But I guess I’ve hurt you too

Sentences passed on what we presume

No  jury to say what was true

And if I was born down your road

Under a flag of a different kind

Then that would have painted my bigotry

To a different colour of blind

And no one is blinder

Than those who don’t look beyond

The world confined to their prejudice

That’s what war is built upon

Now yesterday has been buried

And today is for being born

Tomorrow it still has life and breath

Celebrate or mourn.


Lyric For The Day from Shipwrecked At The Stable Door by Bruce Cockburn

BC Shipwrecked

“Blessed are the poor in spirit -
Blessed are the meek
For theirs shall be the kingdom
That the power mongers seek
Blessed are the dead for love
And those who cry for peace
And those who love the gift of earth -
May their gene pool increase

Left like a shadow on the step
Where the body was before -
Shipwrecked at the stable door”

-      From Shipwrecked At The Stable Door by Bruce Cockburn

 

Canadian singer, songwriter, guitar wizard, poet and mystic takes the Beatitudes via his reading of Brennan Manning and opens it up in this rousing Poguesish foot tapping song of deep spirituality. Cockburn has obviously been reading Manning’s The Lion and The Lamb where the writer speaks of us all being lost like those in a shipwreck seeking ground with a more sure footing. For Manning this is found at the door to the stable where Jesus was born, the place the shipwrecked in soul find belonging and salvation.

Manning writes:

 

“The shipwrecked at the stable are the poor in spirit who feel lost in the cosmos, adrift on an open sea, clinging with a life-and-death desperation to the one solitary plank. Finally they are washed ashore and make their way to the stable, stripped of the old spirit of possessiveness in regard to anything. The shipwrecked find it not only tacky utterly absurd to be caught up either in tinsel trees or in religious experiences – “Doesn’t going to church on Christmas make you feel good?” They are not concerned with their own emotional security or any of the trinkets of creation. They have been saved, rescued, delivered from the waters of death, set free for a new shot at life. At the stable in a blinding moment of truth, they make the stunning discovery that Jesus is the plank of salvation they have been clinging to without knowing it!

All the time they are battered by wind and rain, buffeted by raging seas, they are being held even when they didn’t know who was holding them. Their exposure to spiritual, emotional and physical deprivation has weaned them from themselves and made them re-examine all they once thought was important. The shipwrecked come to the stable seeking not to possess but to be possessed, wanting not peace or a religious high, but Jesus Christ.”

 

“The shadow on the step where the body was...” takes us of course to the other great Christian season of Easter and nods at Jesus Resurrection though Cockburn also says he was thinking of what happened in Hiroshima in 1945 when the white hot bomb blast left people's shadow's imprinted on concrete.” (Cockburn Project).

 

Cockburn also called it a religious rant and it is in the most celebratory ways musically, most articulate ways in songwriting and most erudite ways theologically!


Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball song by song - Wrecking Ball

Bruce Bring On Your Wrecking Ball

This is where the record reaches as far into the deep and thorny thickets of the dark before the turn towards some light and hope. The America that doesn’t care and the fat bankers who have left the workers poor and the towns desolate are asked to being on their wrecking balls because the ordinary man and woman are made of stronger stuff. Wrecking Ball is a defiant look into the eye of his hometown coming down and saying, ”bring it on, knock it down and see if you can take away my soul.” Though strong in attitude there is not the glimpses of hope we found in previous songs to help stand up to it but stand up we will nonetheless!

In the middle of the dark some wisdom is discovered...

“Yeah, we know that come tomorrow, none of this will be here
So hold tight on your anger, you hold tight on your anger
Hold tight to your anger, don't fall to your fears
Now when all this steel and these stories, they drift away to rust
And all our youth and beauty, it's been given to the dust
When the game has been decided and we're burning down the clock
And all our little victories and glories have turned into parking lots
When your best hopes and desires are scattered through the wind
And hard times come, and hard times go”

This is the same wisdom as U2 filtered in Walk On when they realised you had to leave all the material worldly things we make and do behind as they headed for a place that needed to be “believed to be seen”. It is the message of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes which tells that all that we do under the sun makes no sense unless we have a perspective from above the sun (thank you Charles Swindoll); the momentary under the spotlight of the eternal. It is a wake-up call to what we are investing are lives in.


Lyric For The Day 21.3.12 from V.I.P. by Sinead O'Connor

Sinead

“Who's really really real real VIP
The one that telling the most conquering king
Who looks around at everything
And sees exactly what we've been
His is the face that never was nor will be kissed
Do we think we will be down on his guest list
When we standing at the gates
After being fashionably late
There'll be no make-up and there'll be no [?]
No Vuitton bags and no Manolo shoes
When he's presiding over you
Asking you did you love only you?
Or did you stand for something else?
Besides the hankering for fame and fame itself
The one who always was and always is
Will show you what a real VIP is”

This is Sinead’s parable of the sheep and the goats that Jesus told about who would be in the kingdom and who wouldn’t. Well, it is probably a whole lot more besides. The judgement, the marginalized and those who did nothing for the marginalized are present in both song and parable but Sinead is scanning across all of the Gospels and indeed the entire Bible to declare who the VIPs are in God’s eyes. She then crashes God’s vision with that of a modern culture that deals out VIP passes for those with fame, fashion labels and fullness of self! The day is coming, says Sinead, when God will let you know who the important people to Him were and how we should have acted towards them! Preach it Sinead!


STOCKI'S U.S. MIDWEST TOUR - MI,OH & IN - March 27 - 31

STOCKI WEB 2

Next week I will be speaking in various Colleges across the American Midwest. If you are anywhere near these locations and fancy dropping in, please do!

TUESDAY 27th CALVIN COLLEGE, GRAND RAPIDS, MI

Pop Culture Lecture Series: Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music

7pm, Commons Lecture Hall  FREE!

WEDNESDAY 28th OHIO WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY, DELAWARE, OH

Songs Worth Singing, an evening with Steve Stockman (Public Event for OWU Faith and Justice)

8pm - Beehive Books, 25 North Sandusky Street, Delaware, OH 43061

THURSDAY 29th TAYLOR UNIVERSITY, IN

"U2... "CLAIMING THE VICTORY JESUS WON"... for Peace In Ireland"

7pm - Recital Hall

SATURDAY 31st TAYLOR UNIVERSITY, IN – HONORS CONFERENCE

The Northern Ireland Troubles: Too Many Protestants and Catholics but Not Enough Christians (with Ed Peterson)

2.15 – 3.15 - Rediger Auditorium


Bruce Springsteen' Wrecking Ball song by song - This Depression

 

Wrecking Ball 2
A love song in the middle of all this dense and, for the first two thirds, dark piece of writing is almost a welcome break. But it isn’t an ordinary love song. This is a love song where love is the resource that sees the protagonist through this depression. It is a bluesy kind of love song laced once again with the guitar of Tom Morello who plays a blinder. There is a Darkness On The Edge Of Town kind of intensity of mood. This is a blues song where love is not lost but is actually the salvation of the singer. The blues comes from the context the love is living in; a vibrant love that can see them through. Like on the rest of the record, faith is never far away. Prayers don’t seem to be being heard but, “I’ve had my faith shaken/But never hopeless,” being hung on to.


THE CHRISTY MOORE PRAYER

(this is the prayer I wrote for the end of The Gospel According To... Christy Moore, read by myself and Fr. Martin Magill, as featured on this morning's Sunday Sequence on BBC Radio Ulster.)

Lord, teach us to listen

To Listen to you

To listen to each other

To listen for the way forward for our country

Help us Lord, to get over our fears

To grow in understanding

And to learn to love one another without reason to surrender

Lord give us courage to stand for justice in Lenadoon

In Belfast, in Ireland and to the ends of the earth

God we pray that your kingdom would come and your will would be done

Here in Belfast as it is in heaven

God may we ride on into a shared future

May we ride on into a better day for our children

It is the least we can do

May we ride on after you... Father, Son and Holy Spirit

AMEN


Song For A Healthy Soul - Victor Jara by Christy Moore

Victorjararm4

Christy Moore is an Irish singer who sings of Irish ways and Irish issues but he does not limit himself to songs of oppression at home. He has collected, performed and recorded songs about various freedom fighters across the world. Biko Drum about Steve Biko and a nod to Mandela in South Africa, The Disappeared mentions the martyred Catholic Bishop Oscar Romero and this song that seems to be a live favourite of Moore’s Victor Jara. Jara was a Chilean singer songwriter like Moore. He used his art to speak out for the socialist leader Salvador Allende who won the Chilean elections in 1970. A coup set up by right wing dictator Pinochet with the help of America overthrew Allende in 1973. Allende featured with Jara in a Moving Hearts song Allende. Many of Allende’s supporters including Jara was taken to the Chilean national stadium  where they broke the bones in Jara’s hands so he couldn’t play guitar and asked him to sing, similar cruel fun poking humiliation that Christ experienced at his cross. Jara sang We Will Win and they beat him some more before riddling his body with 44 bullets and dumping his body in the streets. In 2003 the stadium was renamed Victor Jara Stadium. Christy Moore’s sings it with a beautiful defiance full of dignity and inspiration.