Land trespassers are given fines,
but also might get harmed or hurt
– for dangers lurk beyond the signs
– pollution, pits, fierce creatures, dirt.
Encouraged morally to roam,
experimentally tasting all
like Eve – forbidden pleasures known,
soon poisoning like bitter gall.
If boundaries are scorned, transgressed
such trespassing will sadness bring;
new life delights in (and is blessed)
in keeping from the fields of sin.
(Jonah chapter 1)
The sailors, frightened in the storm,
found idol-gods dead, deaf to cries.
The real, true God they had not known,
and guilty Jonah sleeping lies.
What God d’you worship? – Jonah speak!
– his God, he told them was not weak.
His God, he said, had made the sea,
the land, the sky, and taught his Word,
but disobedient Jonah, he
his God’s chastisement had incurred.
They from the storm would be set free
by throwing Jonah in the sea.
A God who speaks? A powerful God?
who teaches, judges, rules the waves?
Must they throw Jonah overboard?
– surprising will of One who saves.
They had to trust he would not blame,
and great their reverence for his name.
Their boat to land they’d tried to bring,
but could not, for the storm increased.
So now they called, and sought this King
to be from any guilt released.
At once the raging sea was calm,
and God saved Jonah too from harm.
Tune: 88 88 88 eg Melita by J B Dykes (tune of ‘Eternal Father, strong to save’)
of Savina by (tune of ‘And can it be that I should gain’)
Placed in a manger
come to be Saviour.
soon in great danger:
Herod would kill.
God sent a warning
– take them to Egypt,
don’t wait ’til morning,
stay there until …
of Herod’s death told,
‘you can return now’,
(frankincense, myrrh, gold
Watched Jesus growing
safe now in Nazareth,
Mary was knowing
one day he’d reign.
Tune: 554D eg Bunessan (Gaeilic melody) tune of ‘Child in the Manger’
“Come , all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?”
Pleasures and philosophies,
cannot last or deeply please.
Life is dark, a desert drought
– Christ brings hope – the light shines out.
Come for water, come for life,
easing conscience, help in strife,
adequate for all your need,
for God’s friendship cleansed and freed.
Come, your poverty admit,
don’t pretend that you are fit
to receive this grace immense,
all his free beneficence.
Come– available milk, wine
– full abundance can be mine –
children coming to his throne,
every day his grace is known.
If you’re thirsty, come and drink
from the Source no longer shrink.
Come and ask and trust his Word
– offer free of Christ, the Lord.
Tune: 77 77
No babe in Bethlem,
the manger’s bare,
the cross is empty –
he is not there:
he’s gone to heaven
from where he sees
and hears and guides us,
and holds death’s keys.
So call out to him
that he prepare
a home there for you,
but meet you here,
send down his Spirit
to grace impart,
and be your Guest now
within your heart.
Tune: 54 54D eg ‘Have thine own way, Lord’
God made a special star one day,
and wise men came from far away.
They understood a wonderful thing –
a baby had been born our King,
Sing, sing of him the wonderful King,
our love and honour to him bring.
An angel told the shepherds, ‘Go!,
God’s love and joy and peace to know;
In Bethlehem the baby boy
is King to bring you peace and joy.’
At Christmas time we have a lot
of presents, fun, but we must not
forget that Jesus is the best –
by him we can be loved and blessed.
‘On Christmas night all Christians sing’
Not just a jolly image
who’s bringing gifts galore
(guffaws that shake his rib-cage
ring out around the store),
but one who is a Father
all year to give what‘s good
– not toys but help to better
live now the way we should:
A Father for all seasons,
knows all we’ve ever done,
does not excuse our treasons,
but beckons us to come
confess, receive forgiveness
for Jesus forged the Way,
his Father’s grace be given us
for deeds and words each day.
Tune: 76 76 D eg Nettleton (American Folk Tune) (also used for 87 87 D eg ‘Come Thou Fount of every Blessing’)
While men invade, and loot, oppress,
there will be times of war,
but then in war’s confusing mess,
misjudgments, hate occur.
And often wars become log-jammed,
and none can see a way
to bring back justice to the land,
– some turn to God and pray
an overruling providence,
to somehow turn the tide,
and heal the hatred by his grace
that peace once more abide.
As we remember lives so brave,
the sacrifice and pain,
we praise God for the times he’s saved,
and answered prayers again.
We pray for those so hurt by hate,
need help to cope, live on,
and pray he will men’s schemes frustrate,
when evil is begun.
The young, the old, cash-strapped, work-stressed:
all everywhere aware
of void within, a cry, a quest
for God who is somewhere.
All see the beauty and design
in flower, bird-song, love,
and some reach out for help divine,
revering One above.
And when they hear the simple tale
of him who taught on earth
and showed his power, and helped the frail,
and clearly conquered death
they find he offers wonder gift
for each who struggle now
of pardon, strength, a real life-lift,
and purpose sure to know.
Tune: CMD eg Forest Green or Christmas Carol, tunes of ‘O little town of Bethlehem’
Seeking grace half-heartedly?
Value it appropriately,
appropriate it urgently:
famished, dying, parched.
None like that are turned away,
only those who want to, stay,
none but desperate people pray
– earnest, forceful, cling.
He will listen if you throw
questions hard and want to know –
grasp, and do not let him go
he will not reject.