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]

 

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Say What You Mean and Mean What you Say

 

I wonder how often you use an expression
With words which merely give an impression
Of what you really intended to say
And thus the whole truth it will often betray

In order to soften the harsh words we intended
Of some painful truth that would leave you offended
We find an alternative choice of words
As we are so scared of inflicting such hurt?

Politicians and lawyers are adept at this ruse
Although quite often it will their hearers confuse
So if asked when to a problem they will they find a solution
Their response seems impenetrable circumlocution

If they see themselves drawn into a limited space
By a challenge which might force them to lose face
They will blur the issue by the use of ‘soft focus’
Avoiding the truth, hoping you will not notice

Metaphor and simile are two of their friends
Thus they define things with a ‘distorting lens’
Nothing is described in the true light of day
And your misunderstanding can be washed away

In the modern world I have detected a trend
To use technical jargon most can’t comprehend
And thus all the world’s problems still lack a solution
Secreted behind all this verbose confusion

And of course it is not just our words’ intention
It’s to our actions also we must give full attention
For if what we say has to have any clout
Surely it’s those very deeds that we must carry out

So would it not be better if we simply say what we mean
Hiding nothing behind a loquacious smokescreen
And at the same time we should mean what we say
Thus our intended message we would clearly convey

Ken Fisher

The Queen’s Speech

The Queen’s Speech

 

This time the Queen’s speech was somewhat truncated
Which may have left some of us feeling frustrated
But nonetheless our parliament will be put through its paces
Despite the Queen having to dash off to the races

Some raised an eyebrow about the lack of a Crown
Her headgear may make the traditionalists frown
But apparently to some the hat’s colour seemed bizarre
Giving more than a hint of the European flag’s stars

But I am sure the Queen stays aloof from all politics
No matter Government’s volt- faces and very strange antics
The original manifesto seems to have been whittled down
Ensuring nothing will result in an opponents’ showdown

So it would appear that for at least two more years
Brexit will obsess all the MPs and Peers
Anything else will be considered peripheral
To be squeezed into any convenient interval

So the business of Parliament is expressly defined
The way ahead has been clearly outlined
Let’s hope they get on with the job without any distraction
And pray that we avoid yet another election!

Ken Fisher

The Aftermath

The Aftermath
[The day after the General Election 8 May 2017]

Well it’s all over now
Ballot boxes unlocked, their contents strewn
Eager hands have sifted and sieved, unfolded the leaves
Attentive eyes scanned, sorted and stacked these expressions
of the democratic will.   As each separate pile is then
aggregated for the various candidates. Height of bundles
a barometer of popular support for each protagonist

As the feverish activity reaches a climax checks
and even double checks will be made, a recount may be demanded
The final summation then reported to
The Returning Officer, whose fiefdom for the night
Is the Counting Station for that Parliamentary constituency

When all doubts are resolved the Officer will
Call for silence and then, arraigned with all
the aspiring candidates, a pregnant calm will descend
And with due solemnity, the result will be announced
Amidst cries of triumph and groans of dismay
The winner will receive the congratulations
Of losers who will shake hands, with rictus smiles
Ill disguising their disappointment – at least
If they had believed victory had been possible

The winner, as if at the Oscars, will pronounce a long
litany of thanks to everyone – from the dutiful spouse
to the intern who made the tea at the Party Office
Of course, not forgetting, you the voters!

And so off they go into the dawning light
Some to party as they celebrate success
Others, whose expectations have been dashed,
Or even as unseated MP’s to an obscure uncertain future
And what of us the voters? We have done our duty
Do we believe that the new incumbent will fulfill
Their promise of being the Member for all their people?

But none might easily have predicted the actual outcomes
Only the Exit Polls were able to alert us to the likely totals
And as the night wore on the correlation between these indicators
and the eventual reality became quite stark for all to see
Some famous familiar faces suddenly stripped of power
Years of thankless service gives no immunity
Other aspirants thrown into the limelight
Even some actors who had been hiding in the wings recalled
to play their part

Thus a new political landscape took shape in which
we discovered that the people had made choices
which our politicians had not expected or not desired
And once again the shape of the future even  more uncertain
But that’s democracy – we must live with it!

Ken Fisher

Election Time Yet Again

Election Time Yet Again
[The moment of decision is upon us]

 

Time has arrived when voters must make their choice
All sides in the debate near exhausted by the fray
Arguments finely honed and rehearsed so many times
So that, if prompted, even we might quote their party lines

This time around, some major themes have emerged
Brexit and its potential effects have dominated
And if only we can assure ‘Strong and Stable Leadership’
‘For the Many not the Few’ we can assure ‘A Brighter Future’
[Please don’t mention IndyRef2]

But all debate has been hi-jacked by the tragedies
With which terrorists have caught us unaware

Perhaps it is therefore all the more essential
That we do not allow the democratic process
To be sidelined, despite the ideological mayhem
Thrusting the crime scene into our cityscape

Politicians seeking comfort from the pollsters
Turn to the pronouncements of psepholigists
[Modern custodians of the Holy Grail]
But interpretation of results they reserve as their own

Although it is probably true to say that like the jilted bride
Political parties have lost their trust in these predictive gurus
As past experience has shown the pollsters’ crystal ball
Proved somewhat cloudy to say the least

The journalists like ‘war’ correspondents
Have not been afraid to enter in the fray
They have even been the cause of skirmishes
If seen to favour one party o’er the others

So TV political anchors readily bare their fangs
Determined to prove they show no bias, and give no quarter
They attack with unbridled vigour, candidates of every hue
Their confrontations show no favours, make no concessions

But the TV broadcasts of the leaders’ debates have often palled
As participants talk across each other, stifling free speech
Nipping their opponents like ferrets fighting in a sack
Each must display the dominant voice no matter what

And this time we have been subjected to a sort of Star Chamber
Grilling by audience, then broadcasting anchors, of those
Who would seek the highest offices when the ballot is over
And the final verdict has been pronounced

So here we are, it is ‘Make Your Mind Up Time’
As the quizmaster used to say on TV audience participation shows
You’ve heard all the arguments, been given all the promises
Now you must be the judge, let’s hope you are still awake!

Alas all that each of us must do now
Is exercise our hard-fought right at the polls
Enjoy the excitement of the night
And accept the result (and the consequences) with equanimity!

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

Summer Moon

Summer Moon

Summer moon hanging lofty in the sky
Its dappled face almost asking why?
Seeming so near and yet so far
Neither quite a planet nor a star

Constant companion of her mother earth
From whom she may have received her birth
Waxing and waning as the light reflects
But ne’er revealing her dark obverse

On summer days she emits a discreet glow
An unobtrusive presence to us below
At night her modesty is cast aside
As she besports herself with pride

We gaze with wonder at this mysterious sphere
Her facial features to our distant eyes made clear
We marvel at the enormity of endless space
And man’s insignificance in that vast place

Ken Fisher

 

See also:  https://thebardofkelvindale.com/2017/01/17/moon

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

Voting Day

Voting Day – Thursday 4th May 2017

[This is NOT the actual voting paper]

Once again here is your chance to exercise your choice
As citizens and electors you can express your voice
Despite the inconvenience of having to go along to vote
Or perhaps you have already done so, sending in that postal note

The candidates in these local elections are all so keen to serve
And I hope that all this waiting doesn’t make them lose their nerve
Each party sent out their leaflets making their intentions manifest
Promising to all of us to do their very best

It is a wonder that every party promises their own unique solution
To all that ails us from road traffic, poor schools, even pollution
All that we must do is cast our vote for their fine candidate
And joy for e’er thereafter is bound to be our fate

So whatever your views might be on local politics
And your doubts and fears that they really can things fix
It is better that you cast your vote in the democratic way
And thus, at least, you somehow contrive to have your say

One problem this time that may cause some confusion
Is the fact that we might be under some delusion
That these local votes are about issues far more national
Let’s hope this fact does not result in choices quite irrational

Nonetheless it is up to us, all those who cast their vote
To believe choosing is worthwhile, so let us not lose hope
In the power of the people to influence the future
It is the body politic which we must always nurture

 

Ken Fisher

See also: Election Time

and also: Pop Up Election

 

Discernment

Discernment

Cleopas and the other disciple meet the 
risen Lord on the Emmaus Road
[Luke Ch 24 : v 13 -35]

How might we discern the meaning of events?
Sight alone will not provide the answer
The inward eye is needed to reveal the truth
Insight slowly gained to travellers on the Emmaus Road

Intuitive sight awakened when bread was blessed and broken
Realization dawned on their benighted hearts
The gloom and despondency uplifted
Joy returned and faltering faith restored

Just as in times of old we too must seek perception
That moves away the clouds of doubt and disbelief
And life’s experience is seen in clear significance
The purposes of the providence of our God

Grant that we might discern the meaning of events
The little incidental chips that form the overall mosaic
Thus trusting despite our  opaque vision
That God’s overarching purpose will not fail

Ken Fisher

Pop-Up Election

Pop-Up Election

Yet another election is about to pop up
On the exercise of democracy we never let up
Apparently about seven ballots in the last three years
We have to be consulted or so it appears

I suppose we really ought not to complain
Although having to choose is sometimes a pain
Mind you it gives work for the pundits and psephologists
Although it might send us all to our psychiatrists

Democracy is certainly a wonderful thing
And many blessings to us it can bring
But is it possible to have too much consultation
Resulting in considerable public frustration?

However, I suppose once again we must do the right thing
And demonstrate, like the customer, the voter is king
As it is the electors who in the end will decide
And with the result we must then abide

Ken Fisher