Walking in the Ways of God (lyrics)

Walking in the Ways of God (Lyrics of a Song)
Epiphany 6; Matthew 5: 21-48
1.When you’re angry, find some space;
(walking in the ways of God)
breathe and seek a healing place.
(talking in the ways of God)
Don’t insult or call them names!
Leave their tit-for-tatting games!
(walking in the ways of God;
talking in the ways of God.)

2. If they claim your word offends,
(walking in the ways of God)
be the one to make amends.
(talking in the ways of God)
Anger at the wrongs you see
can inspire a fervent plea.
(walking in the ways of God;
talking in the ways of God.)

3. When relationships grow sour,
(walking in the ways of God)
try to change abuse of power.
(talking in the ways of God.)
Women, children, in harm’s way -
turn the cheek does not mean stay.
(walking in the ways of God;
talking in the ways of God.)

4. Help the ones who spoil your day;
(walking in the ways of God)
love your enemies and pray.
(talking in the ways of God)
God gives love, like rain and sun,
judgement free for everyone.
(walking in the ways of God;
talking in the ways of God.)
	Barbara Messner 3/02/2023

Click to access walking-in-the-ways-of-god.pdf

Image address: https://scripturemuse.files.wordpress.com/2023/02/pexels-photo-9614062.jpeg?w=1024

Salt of the Earth, Light of the World

Salt of the earth, light of the world

Epiphany 5; Matthew 5:13-20
If we, like salt, bring savour, and conserve
the earth, can we retain that quality?
Will words that sparkle on the tongue preserve
creation’s rights, and battle entropy?
If we are light that’s set upon a hill,
can we remain connected to a power
that through all blackouts keeps light burning still,
a glow of promise in the darkest hour?
If God’s commandments are our salt and light
to share with others in our dubious world,
how might we read that compass in the night,
and in the tempest, hold that map unfurled,
until like prisms, hearts share rainbow light,
while fields of salt beneath the sun flare white.
Barbara Messner February 2020

Blessed are Those, but What about Me?

Blessed are those, but what about me?
Epiphany 4; Matthew 5:1-12
Ah! the Beatitudes!
Why do I read them with unease?
Do I flinch from the suffering,
dare not claim the virtues?
Can I see them as be-attitudes,
sometimes experienced, often not,
seldom attained by will and effort,
their blessings paradoxical?

Consider my poverty of spirit.
It’s not a chosen humility,
but an unstable mix of insecure self-blame
and acceptance of my gifts and confidence.
Chaotic emotions have always been 
close to my surface, soon exposed
when problems multiply.
Then I teeter on the edge of darkness
with tears slippery underfoot.
Perhaps it is the kingdom of heaven
that baptizes me with weeping
and sets me upright again.

Of course I mourn, who does not?
Life brings losses, deaths and failure.
I seek the illusion of comfort
in distraction, though I know
only sitting with grief and sharing it
bring the blessing of real comfort.

Meekness is not a state I trust.
I have been mild too often
when I wanted to stand up and speak out.
Then perhaps I might have been blessed 
with hunger and thirst for righteousness
which earn the right to be filled.

Mercy I desire but don’t often dispense:
annual donations, some time as a chaplain,
this ongoing domestic caring,
minor but sometimes onerous.

Perhaps there are patches of pure heartedness,
or at least a grateful awareness
where I do see God in a bird
and a tree, a word and worship.

I want to be a peacemaker,
but more often I’m an accommodator
who longs to avoid conflict.
God still loves that child in me.

As for being reviled and persecuted,
given the world’s history of cruelty,
what’s the small suffering of being bullied,
receiving criticism, being pressured to conform?
I acknowledge the pettiness of such pain,
but don’t manage to rejoice.
Though I try to write honestly
when prophetic words come,
I don’t relish a prophet’s fate.

Yet blessings have come to me
through grief and struggle,
humiliation and failure,
and my all too human vulnerability.
Like Job hearing God in the whirlwind,
I have received the blessing
of God’s bracing presence.
	Barbara Messner 24/01/2023

Out of the Blue

1. Lord, yes, I know the call goes on
past these arrivals and beyond
all that I know of who I am:
I shall keep striving to respond.
Here I am claimed,
wrestled and named.
Dark turns to light;
grant me the sight.

2. Nothing as simple as one “yes”
answers the urging that I hear.
Nevertheless I celebrate 
all the assents despite the fear.
How I am wooed,
tracked and pursued.
Losing I find
me in your mind.

3. Here I have come to be your priest:
here is my future for your own.
Holding your life within my hands,
let me embrace the grace I’m shown.
Here I am heard,
speaking your word, 
lifted above
self in your love.
	Barbara Messner 2000

Click to access out-of-the-blue.pdf

The Question of Call

The Question of Call
Epiphany 3; Matthew 4:12-25
This inner urge, this outer nudge called “call”
is hard to quantify or demonstrate,
and having once said “yes”, that’s far from all.
At times I do resist or remonstrate,
pressed out and cut like pasta on a board,
or wound around with tangled skeins of thread
supposed to mark the way to this heart’s hoard
within the labyrinth of paths my feet might tread.
“Just call, I’ll follow,” I naively said,
but he sets out on ways obscure and dark,
and sometimes I am blundering with dread,
not trusting in his words to find their mark.
It’s hard to leave your nets upon the shore,
let go of all the goals you had before.
	Barbara Messner written? altered 26/11/2022

Poet’s Dilemma

Poet’s Dilemma
I try to draw the searching word in sight
to speak a truth I hardly know is there,
or name a feeling that disturbs my night,
or bring a smothered fear into the air.

Sometimes I wake as words begin to cling –
it’s best to get a pen and let them out,
or they may circle ‘til I let them sing.
If I ignore them, they may leave, or shout!

I make a web of rhythm and of rhyme:
sometimes the strands will capture what I need,
or if I let the words, unbidden, climb
to fall in random heaps, what might I read?

Sometimes I wonder if too neat a verse
is just a box to keep truth in control
lest it affect my life. I am perverse
resisting what I guess might heal my soul.

Revealing truth in word’s a two-edged sword,
and Jesus must have known that as God’s Word.
There’s only so much truth we can afford.
God’s word still speaks. Can my words make it heard?
	Barbara Messner 12/01/2023

What Are You Looking For?

What are you looking for?
Epiphany 2; John 1:29-42
When Jesus saw me following,
he said, “What are you looking for?”
I walked on slowly, pondering,
and tried to reach for meaning’s core.

“You are a chord to which I sing,
a resonance most rich and true.
You give imagination wing,
show colours fresh with morning dew.

You seem to wake the best of me,
the gifts I had not learnt to trust,
a wider, finer way to be,
more caring, understanding, just.

So teacher, let me stay a while
wherever you have found to rest.
He answered me with warmth and smile,
“Yes, come and see and be my guest.”
	Barbara Messner 26/11/2022

Jesus’ Baptism

Jesus’ Baptism
The Baptism of our Lord; Matthew 3:13-17
Just as he chose the waters of the womb,
immersed himself in fragile life on earth,
was formed in Mary’s body, cramped for room,
then cried for air in dark and cold of birth,
so now he answers to the Baptist’s call:
the Jordan does not part, but takes him down,
kneeling in mud, he feels his body crawl
with need for air and fear that he might drown.
Three times he sets himself the ritual test, 
letting the waters close above his head,
foretaste of death. He surfaces distressed, 
gulping at air before the water’s shed.
Open to heaven, he feels the Spirit dart,
and words of love expand and brand his heart.
          Barbara Messner January 2017

Girl on the Trampoline

Girl on the Trampoline
The girl on the trampoline next door
bounced up above the shielding fence
that makes good neighbours scarcely known.
She bounded up and into sight,
yelled, “Hey, old lady!” Who was that?

At first, I thought it wasn’t me,
but there was no-one else to see.
I heard her laugh in boasting glee
with some less vocal, hidden friend,
then, “Hey, old lady!” – one more shout
this time struck home and left me mute.

Some snarly, childish part of me
would like to voice a harsh rebuke.
How did that impulse bounce in sight
above the fences I thought high?

I know I’m seventy – that’s old,
but still I baulk – that isn’t me,
and “lady” I think might imply
attachment to some dignity.
To status I do not aspire –
a woman, earthy, unaligned
to powers that be (or wish they were).

Yet indignation reared its head,
and wanted to use adult power
to quell the boldness of this child.
Thank God I held my traitor tongue,
and questioned what rose up in me,
set it once more behind my fence;
but there I had to look at me,
and try to live the grace of old,
seek Wisdom Woman, elder soul.
	Barbara Messner 6/01/2023

Song for Epiphany

Song for Epiphany
Matthew 2:1-12 (written to fit the Irish traditional tune Columcille, as arranged by John Bell, Iona Community, for his song No wind at the window, Together in Song 287)
What star can I follow
to kneel in that place?
How far will I journey?
What doubts dare erase?
And if I can find him
what vision might glow?
What fulfilment? What belonging?
To be known and to know?

Though traps of the powerful
might lure me astray,
the star at my heart’s core
will show me the way.
My arrival is joyful,
my homage sincere.
Are there gifts for me to offer?
I have little, I fear.

But giving that little,
I find there is more:
all learnt from the past now
becomes a fresh store.
What I thought was failure
is now a resource.
There is nothing that is wasted
when renewed at the source.

Returning, I follow
a dream-guided way,
and see the familiar
become a new day.
Though far I have travelled,
I know he is near,
and my gifts and search for wisdom
will in him become clear.
	Barbara Messner 5/01/2022