The Anarchic Grace of Christ

The Anarchic Grace of Christ

[Based on Luke 15 vv 11-32 – the parable of the Prodigal Son]

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It isn’t fair, we all must pay our dues,
And each must play their part!
It’s not for us to pick and choose
From our obligations to depart

That’s the only way the world can work
Each one of us prepared to strive
No room for those who’d rather shirk
All together, that’s how we can survive

Of course there are always those who won’t conform
Like the younger son, they break away
Don’t tie him down, just let him roam
From hearth and home that lad would stray

And in many days of feasting he did joyously revel
Kept by his goodly share of the paternal inheritance
Courting with the pleasures of the flesh and of the devil
Offering no apology, no excuse, and no defence

But in due time that decadent life began to pall
His funds diminished, his joy somewhat less intense
And then his former settled life he fondly did recall
Thoughts turned to home, and comfort it seemed to make such sense

And yet he knew he had no right forgiveness to expect
His father and his brother in duty still steadfast
He deserved so very little and him they should reject
Why wipe away the sinfulness of those wayward years now past?

But on arriving near his home to his very great surprise
The dissident young brother saw his father open-armed
To welcome back that younger son as if he’d won a prize
But elder son, resentful, was anything but charmed

We all know this story of the prodigal who once was lost in vice
And making sense of such free pardon is somewhat problematic
How to explain this forgiveness but for the anarchic grace of Christ
An unmerited gift so full, so free, and so dramatic

When in our resentment we ask whither ethics or the law?
Surely love alone too simple to salve our every woe?
Our inward eye might open, and discern not one without a flaw
By God’s good grace, forgiveness He doth on each bestow

Ken Fisher

[This poem was read at the morning service at Hillhead Baptist Church
at the Hilton Grosvenor Glasgow on Sunday 23 July 2017]

 

Chutzpah

Chutzpah

 

Chutzpah is a word sometimes used today
Which can mean impudence, even audacity
It seems to have a long Jewish pedigree
Yiddish or Hebrew we are led to believe

You may have encountered it in the press
Used for exuberance in excess
I suppose we might simply call it cheek
Which quickly removes any mystique

It depends whether you wish to give offence
Or test your companion’s tolerance
In this light chutzpah is really effrontery
You cannot describe it any other way

But if the user wishes to compliment
And to offer  praise is your real intent
Then chutzpah is thought to be fearlessness
Heroic and daring showing real gutsiness

So it seems that you need to give it some thought
For the use of chutzpah is quite easily fraught
And it rests on the context or what we intend
As to whether we praise or perhaps deeply offend

Ken Fisher

For Father’s Day

For Father’s Day

Father’s day has come round once more
The shops are filled with cards galore
It’s time to think of poor old dad
An occasion when we should be glad

‘Cause Dads don’t always get best press
And maybe they fail, we must confess
But most Dads do their very best
When often they are quite hard pressed

Sometimes these days it’s sad to say
The Dad has had to be away
Family problems causing separation
And Dad might well feel desperation

Thank goodness many Dads are still around
Shared parenting can still be found
And along with Mum they are a team
Ensuring for all a great regime

But what e’r may be the situation
Let us today make affirmation
That Dads do matter, we believe
Give thanks for all that they achieve

So let’s ensure this Father’s Day
We take some time to loudly say
We love you Dad, we won’t be shy
To tell you, you’re a real great guy!

Ken Fisher

 

Momentary Thoughts

Momentary Thoughts

Momentary thoughts that enter my head
A flash in the mind, then quickly gone
An angry reaction that made me see red
Or some sadness turning me all forlorn

Pleasant thoughts of happy days past
Joyous memories of times of emotion
Recalling events that left me aghast
Crowded hours amidst untold commotion

Thoughts in my head as I anticipated
Pleasures to come in communing with others
Annoyance when hoped for joys are frustrated
Or by fearful notions my plans are smothered

Momentary thoughts are a two edged sword
At once they bring memories of times of elation
But equally recall feelings of fear or discord
Can even provoke a mood of depression

So the best response to the momentary thought
Is to simply let it pass without any reaction
That pleasure or pain, whether happy or fraught
From our peace of mind will afford no distraction

But this aversion to short lived reflection
Should not all gentle reminiscence deny
For who would turn from that introspection
Which prompts an inward smile, a tear or a sigh

Ken Fisher

Leaders’ Debates

Leaders’ Debates

 

Why have I developed such revulsion to the Leaders’ debates?
Perhaps it is because at present their rhetoric so dominates
I should appreciate that all this is intended to educate and inform
By why must their tempers so quickly rise like a gathering storm

Wouldn’t it be nice if each of these earnest protagonists
Could approach the others as friends not antagonists
Why could they not address their rivals with a wide open smile
Rather than a verbal onslaught, completely hostile?

Sometimes they begin in a reasonable manner
But that never lasts long as they raise their own banner
And claim for their party the monopoly of good
And all counterclaims are simply falsehood

Politics has been called ‘the art of the possible’
But some politicians assert they can do the impossible
Whereas it is really about what you can actually get done
And that seems about true for MP’s as for anyone

Manifestos seem to promise the kingdom of heaven
And pledges made or broken are MP’s obsession
I wish for a while they would be more realistic
And state the hard facts and not contorted statistics

Above all I wish they would stop shouting over each other
If they heard a replay they would quite soon discover
That only one at a time can really be heard
And calm, cool, presentation would be much preferred

However, I doubt if my pleadings will change their approach
Despite any prior efforts from a slick media coach
Perhaps it would be better if, like wrestlers, they were put in a ring
And at least they might then stop feuding when they hear the bell ring!

……………………………..


And now we have the contest of the heavy weights
The most elevated level of these current debates
Where the champion of each party faction
Had to spar with the formidable Jeremy Paxman
Winners or losers were hard to detect
But Paxman makes me feel I would like to defect
From the political broadcasts so much over-heated
Where only the viewers seem somewhat defeated

Ken Fisher

Sweat!

Sweat! [Posted on really hot day in May 2017!]

‘Men perspire while women really do just glow, claim scientists after discovering
that the fairer sex needs to work much harder to build up a sweat.’
Quote from an article in Daily Telegraph

‘Blood, sweat and tears’- the fruits of strenuous effort
‘Sweated labour’ – the regime to suffer when working in a sweatshop
‘By the sweat of your brow’ – the Genesis punishment of mankind
‘His sweat became like drops of blood’ – Jesus at the Mount of Olives

Sweat, that flows from fear, or anguish, exhaustion or terror
Sweat, we try to disguise when in public performance
Sweat, that in lighter vein, we generate in cathartic exercise
Sweat, exuded when we lie to conceal the truth, known to us alone

Sweat, that fluid mixed with such heightened emotion
Sweat, that telltale signal of stress we would deny
Sweat, triumphant when we complete that marathon
Sweat, in that catastrophic second before the crash

Somehow the word ‘sweat’ is rarely neutral or dispassionate
We try to work up a sweat, or break out into a sweat, even sweat blood
We might find ourselves in a sweat about a girl/boy, and just have to sweat it out
We can wear sweat’s clothes – sweat sock, sweat suit, sweater

Finally we note the claim above that it is men who sweat
[Usually like a pig – do pigs actually sweat?]
But no such indignity for the women
All that effort or emotion merely makes them glow!

Ken Fisher

Events

Events

Politicians use this expression as a lame excuse
Hoping it’s sufficient to get them off the hook
When unforeseen events pop up in the frame
They hope that you will realize they cannot take the blame

Events are things that happen, mostly commonplace
The everyday occurrences that inflict the human race
But sometimes an event can be on a grander scale
Men landing on the moon, or the beaching of a whale

Throughout our lives events come on as we progress
From the cradle, thorough all the years, eventually to death
But most of us expect that in between these important dates
A mixture of joy and sadness is bound to be our fate

Some people might view their life as a sporting competition
Each new event a trial or test, all jockeying for position
So all goes well if eventually they come out as the victor
But if that is so, then the rest of us might never be a winner

Whatever happens as we continue on the road of life
In days of lucky happenstance or even times of strife
Events, by definition, are bound to come along
They exist in every moment and through all life long

It is better to welcome than from events to turn away
And as they arrive simply try some good cheer to display
And thus you will appreciate that regardless of their nature
Events, what e’er they be, are all our past and future

Ken Fisher

Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem

The phrase carpe diem comes from the Roman poet Horace
Who encourages us ‘to seize the day’, trusting little to the future
Whether this is a wise prescription or not I am not sure
But I suppose the only time that is real, is this present day

The past has gone and cannot be re-written,
The future remains ahead and somewhat unpredictable
Of course we may try to make amends for the past
Anticipate the future and plan for eventualities

And yet I wonder how often our lives are constrained
By worrying over past actions, past words, past failures
And our outlook on the future diminished by fear of the unknown
Thus the present is overshadowed by past regrets and future forebodings

So the wisest approach might well be to live in the NOW
Even although our NOW is largely the outcome of our past
And our view of the future will no doubt colour the NOW
But NOW is still NOW – let’s live it in ‘real time’

Ken Fisher

Iconic

Iconic

You must have noticed how the word ‘icon’ is now much overplayed
In ordinary conversation we seem to hear it almost every day
Historically the word was used to describe a religious work of art
Nowadays applied to distinguish some object thus setting it apart

In the digital age icons are used to represent a useful ‘application’
Click on the app’s icon and its faculties leap into action
So in this case the icon is a symbol representing a function
The graphic and the routine working in conjunction

Now we seem to have decided that anything exceptional is ‘iconic’
From a well recognized brand name to a modern health tonic
Thus everyday symbols like those for Apple, Coke or Dyson
Stimulate in our minds a sort of anticipatory frisson

All this is good for the salesmen and marketing gurus
But I wonder if the term ‘iconic’ they have patently abused
Indeed we seem to hear that label used so often in these days
It has long ago begun to sound like an inconsequential phrase

So perhaps we should resolve to give the word ‘iconic’ a well earned rest
As a description of anything that we extol as being the very best
And find some other words to refer to artifacts exceptional
And avoid hinting at ideas that are really undeliverable

Ken Fisher

The Foolishness of the Cross

The Foolishness of the Cross

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.”   1 Corinthians 1:18  

Good Friday – a day filled with poignant meaning for believers
Just the start of the Easter holiday weekend for the rest
Who can unravel the mystery of Christ on the Cross?
God’s Son dying to save us from our sins!

Those who surrounded the cross of Calvary
Gazed with a mixture of sadness and wonder
Some hurled insults, others wept in desolation
Today we don’t even swing by to take a peep

But perhaps we may pause just for a moment
Because after Calvary came the empty tomb
The unexplained conquering of death itself
Death still the taboo subject of our modern life

I wonder if this weekend we will question why and what we do?
Indulgence in  Hot Cross buns and Easter eggs might prompt a thought?
What is this all about? Services and ceremonies simply ancient ritual?
What is this foolishness? God’s lightning rod of love

Ken Fisher

 

The Rule of Law

The Rule of Law

Who needs lawyers? You may well ask
To give an answer, quite a task
The law seems a profession quite lucrative
Its rewards are clearly remunerative

But the Rule of Law is much more than lawyers’ pay
About precepts that control our every day
Our freedom, our rights and our obligations
Legal rules forming society’s foundation

If people wish to live together in community
In ordered peace, and with impunity
From the imposition of others’ aggression
Their rights protected from transgression

They therefore need rules imposed by state
Which in disputes will arbitrate
So when crime is committed or contract broken
Justice will not simply be forsaken

Through history, law has come from many sources
The Common Law and Equity, followed by the Statutes
Rules made by Parliament to govern our affairs
Intended to ensure that common life is fair

Judges too have played their part
As legal interpretation turned to art
Laying down new precedents
With which lower courts must be content

Some European laws are imposed on our nation
These are Directives and Regulations
And all this may change in two years time
As Brexit becomes the new paradigm

Then there are local rules and even byelaws
Devolved legislation for simple causes
Thus we are enmeshed on every side
We must conform or woe betides!

The Rule of Law requires the Courts
Wherein the lawyers do besport
Judges and juries all required
That true justice ne’er be denied

And then we have our worthy police
Maintaining order, even peace
The Rule of Law they will enforce
That’s what their duties will endorse

Thus a whole apparatus is put in place
That the Rule of Law might be manifest
But above all the population must agree
That justice is what they want to see

Equality under the law is fundamental
Exceptions would be detrimental
To its strictures we must all comply
Even sometimes with a sigh

International law seeks to see fair play
Holding nations in its sway
Maintaining law where’er it can
Seeking justice for every land

In the end we have to have the Rule of Law
Or nature prevails, raw in tooth and claw
And to obey the law is surely wise
To sustain a world more civilised

Ken Fisher