While copyright remains with Ron Potter these are offered free of charge for use in worship services or church publications.

JESUS LIVES IN PEOPLE
(An Australian Experience.)

Jesus strides the plainland
Akubra on his head
frowning at the carcass –
another sheep is dead.

Jesus climbs the mountain
with friends who’ve climbed before
squinting in the sunlight
high up where eagles soar.

Jesus strolls the pavement
between high concrete walls
bustled by the people
who rush between their calls.

Jesus rides the surfboard
along the curling wave
laughing at the salt spray
in his own ocean cave.

Jesus takes the dance floor
in someone else’s jeans
borrowed for the evening
for hers have parted seams.

Jesus lives in people
who are alive today,
people who are willing
to let him have his way.

Christ in The Neighbour

I cried out for a vision
of God’s bridal city
such as was given
to the Seer John,
but all I saw
was you my friend,
earthy through and through,
reflecting like a diamond
the holy light of love.

 

Claimed by Christ

When Christ said, ‘I claim you for my own’,
my heart beat wildly, and I sang lustily.
I knew that I was safe for all eternity.
But then the implication pierced me to the bone –
the personality of Christ is extending out though me.
Through me he seeks to serve the world he loves.
And he tells me to expect the treatment
which he received from those who hated him.
But I don’t like thorns that tear my skin
or tubercular red spittle on my face.
Inspect me closely and you’ll find
a pleasure-seeking zone which balks at pain.
I don’t want to ride in a tumbrel cart
even when in company with him.
So Spirit-helper calm my restive heart.
May all my other desires be curbed by this,
the desire to speak your speech,
to do your actions,
in everything to play my part.

Let Go and Let God

But what if I fell?
How far would I fall?
If only I could be sure
that you’d be there to hold me!

I’ll do more than hold you,
my dear confused friend.
I’ll lift you and guide you.
My life I will spend.

But I want to climb
high up on my own.
I have my ambition.
I make my own plans.

But where are you climbing,
my daring, brave friend?
My hope you are breaking,
the plan I intend.

Letting go isn’t easy.
My fingers are cramped.
I’ve grasped for control so long
now, how can I change?

You forget who I am
my pensive, dear  friend.
If you’d only let me,
your fingers I’d mend.

 

Beyond the Prose

Life without stories is a tree without leaves.
Imagination clothes bare bones.
Myths, legends, stories and folktales
are life-signals in any community –
think of family, school, team or nation..

Why then so intent on ringbarking religion,
demythologising in the name of relevance,
choking off vitality, denuding the landscape
of poetry, imagery, story and dreams,
transforming it into a scene of dry bones?

We are left with positivist pollution,
a world without birds, bare hillsides
where the forests used to be, animals
hunted to extinction or expelled in the
name of progress – rationalism gone mad.

A poet in a prosaic world is scorned
and despised – eventually crucified –
yet when the prose work is done
the poet’s insight come to the fore
with light and truth that was missed before.

Facts, data, measurements, dates
are like rough gemstones picked out of the dust.
Only with cutting and polishing
at the hands of myth-makers do they
take on the lustre that gives them their worth.

 

Mount Glorious

Immersed in the living stream
of a sub-tropical rainforest
I am baptised into
God’s earthy creativity –

a baptism linked
by subterranean roots
to another baptism
whereby I was plunged
into the life, death and life again
of one who never set foot
in a rainforest like this
yet who is present here today.

I do not have to hack my way
through stinging-nettle and lawyer-vine.
I follow a path that has been formed
by those who have gone before me.
Boardwalk and walking tracks
give direction to my feet.

Mystery walks with me today.
I am not alone.
Beyond

Don’t stop now. This is no time to turn back..
Let’s see what’s around the bend, over that crest,
for somewhere beyond the ordinary there lies the extraordinary,
beyond the obvious there is more to understand,
and beyond understanding a world of mystery.
Beyond the present there lies the future.
so beyond popular opinion there lies the mind of God.

 

Freedom

Freedom is a blind we like to hide behind
while we follow the conventions and the dictates of our friends.

Like democratic principles, we fix it to the glass
so strangers walking by will think we’re as free
as, deep down, we’d really like to be.

We drown reality in a glass or shoot up extra thrills.
By changing bedding partners we prove that we’ve been
freed from the tyranny of yesterday’s morality.
There is no sin so there is nothing to atone,
and yet still there’s the clang of leg-irons hitting stone.

The Lillies of the Field

Untutored by biology
the tiny bluebell rings
a tinkling kind of music
responding to the master
at the console of its soul.

Learning from the flower
a lesson in obedience
I stop my chatter and seek to feel
the tugging of the master
on the bell-rope of my soul.

 

What Can You Do?

When the prince of the universe
kneels as your feet
washing life’s grime
from your soul,
what can you do
but serve?
When the lord of the universe
throws himself down
in front of the armoured car
and is crushed,
what can you do
but give?
When the king of the universe
cries out with the voice
of the guilty and the shamed
pleading for life,
what can you do
but die?
When the master of the universe
bleeds from the stab wounds
of counterfeit friends,
betrayed and alone,
what can you do
but love?

What’s That I Hear?

I stand in a jungle of towering noise
which crashes and shrieks and roars on all sides
so that the telephone’s ring and the blaring PA
have to keep pace with this amplified sound.
Above the crashing of gears and the siren wails
of a road that’s groaning with bone-crushing load
I hear the roar of a jet in reverse power thrust
and the crack of sonic boom.
Machinery clangs and a turbine whines
at a pitch that pierces from ear through to ear.
The guns are now pounding and the bombs are exploding
and daily the thud of the mortar draws near.
There’s the napalm shriek of an innocent child
and the thunderous roar of a poverty tide.
But through all the turmoil, the hubbub and fear,
I hear a faint sound. It’s small, but it’s clear.
Can you hear what I hear? Just stand very still.
Someone is crying. I’m sure that it’s there.
It’s the faintest of noises, the gentlest of sounds:
I hear very softly the sobbing of God.

A Meditation on the Cross

Olivewood or coconut, ebony or fir,
crosses spring up everywhere
like wildflowers after rain
carrying on the strain hybridised at Calvary.

Beneath a eucalyptus cross I feel
tear drops—or is it blood? Love-sap
soaking me, as others have been soaked
in other places, other times.

But there’s another kind of cross
growing on the hillside of my soul,
and sometimes I feel its gentle stirring
prompting me to die, and dying, live.

 

The Dream Will Not Die

Where is there a leader
who can walk with integrity and justice
amid the clamour for personal power,
party privilege, and a people’s pride?

Yet the dream will not die.
Hope continues to push its way through tangled undergrowth
of cynicism and despair to proclaim yet another champion.
And the dream of the impossible leader
goes hand-in-hand with the dream
of an impossible society.

No jailer can chain the imagination
that seeks to build Utopia.
No crash of eager hopes
in the collapse of social experiment
can stop the architects
of further planning.

Fools! Are we nothing but fools?
What drives us on?

Could it be the clouded vision
of the kingdom of God?

 

 

Future Shock

On the wrong train
gathering speed,
out of control.,
I can’t find the brake!

I want to get off:
we’re going to crash.
But what can I do?
I’d get hurt if I jumped.

There’s a bend up ahead
with a high-level bridge.
Oh, please! Someone, help!
Do something! Quick!

But faster and faster
we’re speeding along.
I’ll tight shut my eyes
and think of my youth.

Now we’re over the bridge
and still running along.
A miracle happened,
and still we go on.

But how long can it last?
And where are we going?
This crazy express
still hurtles along.

Easter Sunrise Service in Marchant Park

The sun, in its cycle of death and return,
paints Dali-like figures in yellow and shade
horizontally placed on the canvass below
stretching west across parkland, the city man-made.
The gold light shining through leaves of the eucalypt
signals Christ come afresh to an Australian city,
and he seems to stand listening to the thin, early traffic,
reaching out arms of tender, warm pity.

For the cluster of disciples, the white-robed table
is their angel speaking of the Christ who is risen,
while the man down below out walking his dogs
looks up with a stare and tries hard to listen.
Does he see the angel, or only some people
sitting on the hillside in the cool of the dawn
in cramped, huddled posture, aloft and remote,
singing some hymns as they sit on the lawn?

 

A Tumble-Dryer World

As one whose heart is spinning in a tumble-dryer world
I stare in awesome wonder at anyone who walks through
life’s tunnel of churning passions resolutely moving forward,

utterly committed to the attainment of a dream, but

I cannot pace the seven-league strides. I hobble when I try.
Yet on the hills of ancient Palestine I see one who’s held erect,
not by star-picket principles, ambition or stoic resolution

but whose gyro is the love that cares and gives and dies,
and he holds me to himself so that, when I allow him,

I am held more firmly than any sailor chained to the mast
and we move together through the churning sea.

The Doctrine of Election

What do you do
when an invisible hand,
in the midst of the crowd,
taps you on the shoulder
and draws you aside?

Walk doggedly on with staring, glazed eyes?
Pretend its not there, and act out a lie.
“I might be mistaken,” when you know that you weren’t.
Give the cold shoulder; he might go away.

Shrug it off as a silly mistake?
He touched the wrong person: It couldn’t be me!
A classical case of mistaken identity;
He’ll soon find out, and his face ’ll turn red.

Perhaps I was the one who was tricked by the nudge.
It was only a casual bump in the big, jostling crowd.
Northing intentional. I should have known better
than to let my imagination think more that it should.

Turn round and fight? Give a wild, vicious glare?
“Keep your hands to yourself!” “Watch what you’re doing!”
Turn red in the face, look wildly indignant.
Swear at the miscreant who bumped your proud person.

I must be going nuts! I thought someone touched me,
but there’s nobody there. Oh, yes, there’s a crowd,
but I can see there’s no hand resting there on my arm,
yet it feels really odd. What’s going on?

Why pick on me? There are plenty of others.
What did I do to deserve this attention?
Where are to taking me? What’s it all for?
Would you please go away and let me just be.

 

A Samoan Experience

The lush growth of a tropical island surrounds me;
sensuous greens and brilliant reds
sing their greetings to the blue of the sea.
Coconut palms—that giraffe of a vegetable, RLS called them—
stretch out their long, slender necks
in graceful form and productivity.
Mountainous mango trees planted by George Brown,
happy hunting ground for squealing flying foxes
and stone-throwing children,
coloured leaves and flowering shrubs,
a legacy from other missionaries,
enfold me in their warm embrace.
A foaming line of breakers marks
the ocean’s encounter with the reef.
I hear the love-cries of the land and sea
in playful, foaming, roaring surf,
and the wonder of it all engulfs me,
washes over and all around.

And grace rushes in;
a quiet, mounting, overwhelming
realization of God’s grace.

A creaking, wobbly word—
rusted and worn out, some say;
but find another if you can.
The grace of God surrounds me,
washes over and all around.

Away from the concrete city
of harsh human judgment and self-righteous curse
where people are bludgeoned by marauders in law,
where factories clang out their bales of gossip
and children are chained to concrete blocks of parental pride
I am overwhelmed by a sense of acceptance,

and the wonder of it all engulfs me,
washes over and all around.

Footsteps on the Veranda

As if it were wired to his body
the pounding on the old front door
became a pounding on his heart.
He lay as silently as the starlight
seeping through guardian glass,
listening to the creaking
of the rough veranda boards.
Not even the mother wing of woollen blanket
pulled up around his head
calmed the prickling of his skin
as he heard the cough outside.

He’d seen it on TV, read about a farmer
whose brain had been exposed
when struck by an intruder’s axe.
Would deadlocks, guard-chains,
grilles against the windows
deter a maniac with an axe?
He heard the footsteps start again—
slow, heavy, stumbling—move back
along the creaking boards and then
down the few front steps. He’d gone!
Did the stranger come for help?
“I wonder if he’s ill.” Oh well! Too late!

The Landscape of Desire

The landscape of desire is dominated by
the mountains of hunger, security, pleasure,
acceptance, meaning, power, recognition,
achievement, sex, wealth and health.

Between them, in the valleys, lie shadows
of deprivation, frustration and despair,
while on their slopes landslides threaten
to carry climbers to their own destruction.

But towering high above them, hidden in the clouds,
there is a desire for God and for God’s realm,
the Everest from which all others gain perspective,
the keeper who holds each other on a leash.

 

 

Life is a Fancy Dress Party

 

Life is a fancy-dress party.

Whether we choose our part

or whether we are born into it

we are all players in a drama,

characters in a story.

 

And not just one story,

many stories –  the stories of family,

nation, cultural heritage, the human race,

and so on..

 

Facts are the stage props for our stories.

They only come alive when part of the drama.

Data needs to be interpreted

and the mode of interpretation is story.

 

There are scientific stories

just as there are stories of history,

but the most comprehensive,

the biggest of them all,

come in the guise of religion.

 

Stories come with nuances,

mood and atmosphere.

They are more than the recital of bare facts,

they are alive with feeling and emotion.

 

No one can appreciate Anzac Day

without entering into the story

with all its emotion, symbolism,

memory, hopes, characters and plot.

 

Far from trying to denude religion of its myths,

it is through mythology that life takes on its shape.

One has to live the story to get its feel.

Spectators miss the point.

 

Whether we play a Christian part, Moslem,

Buddhist, Atheist, Hindu, Humanist or other,

we live within a setting that defines us.

We live by metaphor and simile,

poetry and symbol, within the arc

we call our world.

 

 

The Approaching Storm

 

Dark clouds brood above the hills.

A drum roll evokes the cry,

“Better get the washing in.” And then,

“Tell the children to come home.”

 

We interrupt this program to broadcast a message from the weather bureau.

A severe storm with gale-force winds and hail is expected to reach

The Sunshine Coast Hinterland within the next half-hour. We repeat,

a severe storm warning is issued for the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Expect gale-force winds and hail within the next half-hour.

 

Angry clouds do a threatening war-dance

while the mortar bombardment gathers pace

on the south-western front

and the dog cringes underneath the stairs.

“You’d better close the windows.”

 

Bright sunlight banished,

the world turns ashen grey,

then bilious yellow,

before an eerie green takes over.

“Turn the computer off.”

“Unplug the stereo.”

 

A naked blade of raw electricity

stabs the earth with blinding ferocity.

“Put your car under the awning.”

“Bring that bucket inside.”

 

The smell of storm-breath is in the air.

Tree leaves are already trembling

and the boughs are bending as

the first water-pellets strike the earth.

“Get the gas stove and the light out.

You never know we might need them.”

 

The Plunge into Mystery

 

Standing on the brink I marvel

at the play of sunlight on its surface,

the comforting sound of life in motion,

the growth that is sustained along its banks.

 

Sometimes I see only the reflection of dark clouds,

the whirling eddies, the threatening rapids, the turbulence of life

and hear the cry of many who have drowned.

 

But when I plunge into the mystery of the Altogether Other,

the nameless One that everyone tries to name,

I am washed, refreshed, buoyed up and carried along to a waiting sea.

 

Let Me Grow Up Into Childhood

 

Let me grow up into childhood

that, Lord, is my prayer.

When I puff myself up (like a toad)

I feel big, really big,

but when I’m crushed beneath the load

I feel small, really small.

 

Let me grow up into childhood –

that, Lord, is my prayer.

Away from childish petulance

or stupid temper tantrums,

into a childlike, trusting faith

that revels in the security of your love.

 

Let me grow up into childhood –

that, Lord, is my prayer,

the childhood of simplicity,

the childhood of  joyous love,

the childhood of  humility,

the childhood  of awe and wonder.

 

So help me grow.

 

 

What A Difference A Baby Makes!

 

What a difference a baby makes!

Patterns shattered.

Demands made.

Tenderness evoked.

 

Behind the tea-towelled seven-year-old,

cardboard crook in hand;

and a big, bluff, hearty, Ho! Ho! Ho!

there lies one who

shatters all accepted patterns,

makes urgent and compelling demands,

and evokes the tenderness of love.

 

While the world was pounding on the big, front door,

clamouring for attention,

God came running from around the back

eyes twinkling with delight

at the prospect of having his children home.

 

While the world was biting the breast that fed it,

kicking, screaming, punching,

she picked her children up, eyes wet with tears,

holding them close in the tenderness of love.

 

While the world was leading God on a leash

to exhibitions, competitions and prize-givings,

God broke the leash and ran freely

offering freedom to all who’d dare to follow.

 

Identity
Name:…………………………..
The electoral roll
lists thousands of names.
Why add another to the pile?

Foraging fingers lift me up,
dust me down, blow away the chaff.
Tossed aside or pocketed
I am then somebody.  Noticed.

Ground into gravel by twisting heel
I die. Singled out for life
I whimper and expire.
The night sky hails down chunks of gloom.

But love’s fingers linger
along my awkward lines
moulding a face from lithoid lump
that is now breathing, talking,
singing.  I HAVE A NAME.

 

Who Am I?

God, Creator, Friend,
floundering in the churning waters of existence
I sometimes wonder who I am.
Not content with the identity given me by others
I try to fabricate an image.
Even in my relationship with you
I falsify the books.
How stupid I have been!
Help me to be true to my real self,
to know my strengths and weaknesses.
to be in touch with the feelings deep inside.
to accept myself with the grace
that accepts me every day.
May my sense of identity be shaped
by my relationship with you.
In Christ I pray.  Amen.

If God Has His Way

If God has his way
there’d be no schoolyard bullies
who pull at plaited hair
or throw dust into other children’s eyes,

there’d be no hungry people
or children crying
in the bombed-out ruins
of what used to be their homes.

If God had his way
there’d be no stuck-up noses,
no sneering at the struggles
of someone trying hard to please,

there’d be no angry parents
who strike their little children
just because they can’t get
out the way when grown-ups quarrel.

If God had his way
there’d be no policemen with long whips,
no fear of guns or bomb,
no children crying for their father
when the secret police had gone.

If God has his way
how different things would be!
Isn’t it really time
we let him have his way?

 

In a Tumble-Dryer World
(John 10:11-18)

As one whose heart is spinning in a tumble-dryer world
I stare in awesome wonder, admiration, at anyone
who walks through life’s tunnel of churning passions
resolutely moving forward, steady, utterly committed
to the attainment of a dream.  I cannot pace
the seven league strides. I hobble when I try. I stumble
over corpses, litter on the trail of grim determination.
Then I cry. But on the hills of Palestine I see a man
who’s held erect, not by star-picket principles, ambition,
but whose gyro is the love that cares and gives and dies,
and then I’m chained, like sailor to the mast
in a heaving, mountainous sea, to that same stalwart traveller
who’s not been blown off-course and whose love is clear to me,
but as I cling I feel the reinforcement of a reflected love
that holds me like stout stanchions in a storm, and I know
he remains in solidarity with all who love him still.

In Partnership With God
(God invites us to be part of a partnership,
a partnership in which we work along with God,
in creation, in salvation and in service to others.
May be sung to the tune St Columba)

Come, work with me, the Father says,
with accent on creation.
Creatively we’ll work and play
in partnership with God then.

And Christ, our Saviour, claims us too
as agents of his healing.
So we will give ourselves to work
in partnership with God then.

The Holy Spirit moves within
empow’ring us for service.
Responsively we’ll praise and serve
in partnership with God then.
Break Through My Hardness

 

The Haunted House
(Luke 24:35-49)

Here in my haunted house
I tremble, cold and clammy,
listening to the creaking laws,
moral masterpieces that make
a hard, metallic sound
like that of bloodied axe
striking through the vertebrae
to hit cold stone.

I shiver with the cold.
Is this the nuclear winter?
Yet anger rages like a fire,
fire in the rafters
throwing smoke into
my wondering eyes
so that, blinded, I feel
the onset of red panic.

Yet I quiver with excitement
as someone, something quite substantial
taps me on the shoulder
whispering, ‘Peace be with you.’
Do not ask me to parse the phrasing.
Mysterious words from mystery speaking
come reassuringly to me.
I know I’ll see it through the night.

 

Called to Serve
With my own nuance, history and derivation
I live in a village of words.
This is my sentence.
Wrench me from my context and I gasp –
a confused Jonah figure.

This isolation ward, needed in a hospital,
has no place on the street,
for God who wrote me in this paragraph
assigned to me my task. Apart from that
I am a nonsense sign.

 

ONLY ONE WAY
(Based on John 3:1-3 )

Only one way, Jesus said,
lies before you if you’d see
God as monarch ruling here;
`tis the Spirit gives the key.

Cleanse my life and turn me round,
clear my eyes now dulled with sin.
Unseen power of God, come in.
Come and change me deep within.

That’s the new birth that you give
to your people out of love.
Help me live my life for you.
Rule in me, Lord God above

 

 

WE WORSHIP A MYSTERY

We worship a mystery.
Creative silence
that speaks through soil and stars,
events that happen,
imprints on the heart and mind.

Out of the mist there comes
one who shares our flesh and blood
declaring that we are loved –
healed, restored, forgiven.

Out of the unknown blows a breeze
which turns the page before our eyes
so that we read a different story.
Now we have a different friend.

Speaking from our cloud of unknowing
we dare to say, ‘I know’.
The stranger walks our shore
arm around our shoulders
showing us where to climb,
what to do, who we are,
and moving us to worship
a mystery revealed.
Disclosed, but hidden still.