Sunday, 1 October 2017

Who Else?

This poem was written as a response to National Poetry Day and the Feast of St Michael (Michaelmas). It's also a delayed follow-up to my Michaelmas sermon from two years ago. I wished to explore some of the things I brought up in that sermon a bit deeper; specifically the elusive nature of Michael's name - it translates as 'Who is like God', and could be interpreted as a question, or a statement. It was read as a sermon at our Evensong service on Sunday 1st October 2017.

(Interestingly, I could have simply repeated that sermon word for word - this year, like two years ago, we've recently returned from Menorca, and have also visited the zoo there with Isaac! It's obviously one of our preparations for St Michael's feast...)

Anyway... I hope you enjoy, and get something out of reading this (be kind,'s my first attempt at religious poetry. I hope it's neither glurge, nor doggerel!)

You placed a hand upon my shoulder.
“Who is like God?”, you asked.

“Who else has laid the earth’s foundations; a footstool for the heavenly throne?
Who else has built the building blocks of Earth, and life and space,
and laid the very corner-stone?
Who else created stars that sang at the first dawning of the heavens?
Who else has measured, and set limits for seas and skies, for dark and light,
for time, and for life’s very essence?
Who else created life, and everything that will be, and is, and was, from naught?
Who else was, before the universe itself was wrought?
Who else loved and lived and danced before all that e’er began begun?”

“Who else?”, I answered, fallen on my knees, 
“Sir, surely, prayerfully, there is none.”

You placed your hands upon my head.
 “Who is like God?”, you asked.

“Who else has eyes of burning flame and speaks with the voice of a multitude?
Who else is heaven-born and yet in human form is viewed?
Who else has fought the serpent, and triumphant, threw him down?
Who else has worth, through Heav’n and Earth,
to wear the commander’s victory crown?
Who else is a heavenly, warrior prince, protector of God’s chosen nation?
Who else guards and defends the Church, a sentry standing at his station?
Who else will meet you at your last, and lift you up to life anew?”

“Who else?”, I answered, as you stood me up, 
“Sir, surely, prayerfully, it is you.”

You placed your hand upon my heart.
“Who is like God?”, you asked.

“Who else gave up all their power, taking on meek and weak and childish form?
Who else, given infinite infant choice, would choose to be so lowly born?
Who else let blind folk see, let oppressed go free, gave prisoners
their cell-door key? Who else has healed and resurrected?
 Who else, despite all he taught, and gave, and loved,
was so thoroughly by the world rejected?
Who else, once upon that tree, opened wide his arms and died?
Who else was pierced by thorns and nails and by a spear thrust in his side?
Who else, through all of this, has beaten death with one perfect sacrifice?”

“Who else?”, I answered in breaking voice, 
“Sir, surely, prayerfully, it is Christ.”

You placed a coal upon my lips.
“Who is like God?”, you asked.

“Who else will go out into the world,
 and spread this news of peace and amazing grace?
Who else will stand fast ‘gainst fear and hate, and though all around may fall,
stay stood in place?
Who else will cry aloud for justice, until there are no more tears or words?
Who else will fashion pruning shears and ploughs
from poisoned spears and bloody swords?
Who else will be God’s voice, God’s hands, God’s feet upon the mountain-tops?
Who else will forgive, and care, and love, until the whole world’s spinning stops?
Who else will scream that Black Lives Matter?
Who else will bend and take the knee?”
“Who else?”,  I trembled, rising up, 
“Sir, surely, prayerfully, it is I. Send me.”

St Michael, as seen in the window above our altar


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