You will call him Immanuel

This poem is based on Isaiah 7:14.

You will call him Immanuel

This baby wrapped in swaddling cloth.

You will call him Immanuel

This pre-teen in the temple.

You will call him Immanuel

This carpenter in his workshop.

You will call him Immanuel

This miracle maker by the Galilee Sea.

You will call him Immanuel

This Saviour on a cross.

You will call him Immanuel

This life from the tomb.

You will call him Immanuel

This Light from Light.

You will call him Immanuel

This Prince of peace.

You will call him Immanuel

This Wonderful Counselor.

You will call him Immanuel

This Mighty God.

You will call him Immanuel

This Everlasting Father.

You will call him Immanuel

This King of Kings.

You will call him Immanuel

God with us and God with you.

You will call him Immanuel.

A Response

Recently I was listening to Grounded with Louis Theroux on BBC Sounds as the documentary maker spoke with actor and writer Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum, I May Destroy You).

It was a fascinating conversation that covered many topics including Michaela finding faith at 18 and then no longer being a Christian anymore and why. As a Christian I would like to respond to some of the things brought up, my response won’t be neat and perfect and I may come back to it at a later date but this is my response right now.

For the context of the blog when I refer to the Church I am not talking about a specific denomination but rather the body of Christ, the people of God, all of us who are Christians.

The first thing Michaela touches on when discussing becoming a Christian at 18 is the deep sense of community and family she experienced in the context of the Church. This should be the experience for everyone, unfortunately it’s not. For those of you who have felt hurt, unseen or unheard by the Church whether Christian or not, we are sorry. I can’t speak for individual churches but I know that most of us are trying but we are human and will get wrong. If you are reading this and you’re are not a Christian yet or maybe you’re thinking about faith a bit more, know that there is a Church for you. Not every Church will be for you and that’s ok, we worship a God who responds to us in diverse ways so the way we each respond to him will be different. That is a beautiful thing

The next thing Michaela said troubled me, she mentions things as a Christian she couldn’t do. What some people might refer us to as vices although with quite a broad definition. She talks about not going to parties and probably not having much fun. That is not my experience, yes the way we do some of these things may look different but Christianity is not about rules and regulations but a relationship that has freedom and life in it. ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’. John 10:10 In some versions of the Bible it may say life in abundance, God is not anti-fun He is a God of joy who wants to bless you with abundance.

The 3rd thing Michaela addresses is the gift of tongues, something that at times has been divisive in the Church. I have never spoken in tongues so might not be right person to talk to on this subject but I know people who have. It can be easy to dismiss tongues as silly or fake, unfortunately there are probably people who fake it, the only advice I can give is ask God to help you know what is true or speak to a Christian who has been a Christian for bit longer for advice on this subject.

Michaela refers to tongues as gobbledygook similar to exercises she did in drama school. As a former drama student myself I am familiar with these vocal exercises but they are different. Whereas the exercises were just silly and to help with your voice, tongues are an actual language the term tongues in the Bible refer to different languanges. Something that has proper vocabulary and sentence structures. It can be weird the first time you hear tongues, you’re not alone and we as the Church can and need to better at explaining tongues. First appearing in the account of Pentecost in the book of Acts, people spoke in different languages that were not their own and that they had no knowledge of, to spread the message of Jesus.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Acts 2:1‭-‬11 NIV

Tongues is one of the gifts of the spirit, not everyone will speak it as there are many different gifts of the spirit that God blesses us with. People still speak tongues today, in a language not known to them. It is an incredible thing but please be aware if someone starts starts self interpreting that is not of God. God will bless someone else with the gift of interpretation. You may be reading this with a raised eybrow whether Christian or not and that’s ok, I’m not going to convince you with words on a screen. This requires faith, but the more you step out in faith the more you may be surprised by the results.

Finally Michaela spoke about how faith can limit our understanding of things, she says she chose science over God. This is where we get it wrong as Church sometimes, we are so desperate for people to know God that we over explain, under explain or don’t explain at all. It leaves people confused and without answers, we as a Church need to sometimes reflect on the answers we give and listen more to those asking questions

I do not believe there is a conflict between God and science, in fact most Christians don’t, there are many more smarter people than myself that could answer your questions about God and the universe. My response may be simple but the more I learn about science the more is revealed to me of the glory of God. This is not a passive or inactive God but a God who is actively and intimately involved in the universe and our lives.

If you are not sure about any of this that is perfectly normal, doubt is a central part of being human, it is ok to ask questions. It says in the Bible that we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, engaging our brain in these issues is biblical and a good thing.

If your not sure about all of this, can I encourage you to pray these words: God, please reveal yourself to me Amen. The God I believe in sees you, knows you and loves you.

He walks with me in the cool of the day

This poem is loosely based on Genesis 3.

Whether I’m apprehensive or confident,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m joyful or mourning,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m angry or calm,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m content or restless,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m guilty or pure,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m ready or worn,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m broken or together,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m helpful or hurtful,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m winning or losing,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

Whether I’m lost or found,

He walks with me in the cool of the day.

He walks with you in the cool of the day.

I am the God who makes you holy

Based on Leviticus 20

You come to me broken, crushed and in bits,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me defeated, overpowered and overwhelmed,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me demoralised, dispirited and ruined,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me unsettled, troubled and incomplete,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me hesitating, disjointed and imperfect,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me arrogant, boastful and complacent,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me snobbish, scornful and pretentious,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me angry, indignant and aggrieved,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me outraged, bad-tempered and hostile,

I am the God who makes you holy.

You come to me tears and laughter, joys and heartaches,

I am the God who makes you holy.

I am the God who makes you holy.

I will respond

This poem is loosely based on/inspired by Hosea 2.


I will respond,
though they turn from my ways.

I will respond,
though they ridicule my name.

I will respond,
though they delight in bloodshed.

I will respond,
though they live by greed.

I will respond,
though they insult my power.

I will respond,
though they try to kill me.

I will respond,
I will provide new wine.

I will respond,
I will provide a feast.

I will respond,
I will show my love to the one I called “Not my loved one”.

I will respond,
I will say to those called  “Not my people”, “You are my people”.

I will respond,
They will say “You are my God”.

I will respond.

In peace I will lie down and sleep

This poem is based on Psalms 4:8.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

though the storm rages round me and winds batter at my window.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

though the darkness uses its might to try and break the doors.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

though the wreckage increases and the pains appear.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

though I walk in that deserted desert place.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

Here’s a message that goes beyond Christmas.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

It’s not a sweet message emblazoned on a Hallmark card or a Mills and Boon novel seductively sitting on a dusty shelf.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

It’s not roses are red and violets are blue or strawberry centres encased in a chocolate heart.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

It’s not declarations of affection in the rain or finding common ground without saying a word.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

It’s not soundtracked by Elton John or performed in a Richard Curtis film.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story was born into the grime and dust of a small town.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story was raised in a world of hate and violence.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story was full of peace and joy for all people.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story was not welcomed by the world.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story was betrayed by a friend’s kiss.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story was bruised and beaten.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story hung on a cross.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story bled and died for me and you.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story lasts for more than a moment.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story continues eternally.

This is a love story but not as you know it.

This love story is written for you.

Nations will come to your light

This poem is based on Isaiah 60:3.

They throw insults and bombs at each other, but one day,

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

They profit from poverty and build their riches from lies, but one day,

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

They fill their buildings with backstabbing and greed, but one day,

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

They blind themselves to injustice and love to divide, but one day,

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

They rejoice in conflict and welcome hate, but one day,

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

They seek out war and call violence a friend, but one day,

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Offspring of a Vicar(living life inside the fishbowl)

I am the son of a Vicar,I was recently asked how being a Vicar’s child affected my faith, the positive and the negative.

I can’t say I have ever given it much thought, I’m not the reflective type usually. For the most part I have had a very good experience, as I have got to witness and experience authentic behind closed doors faith in all its glory and joy, struggles and tears.

I often describe living life related to a Vicar as being like living in a fishbowl with murky water in, everyone thinks they can see straight in but most people have no idea what’s going on under the surface.

This is something that has taken me a bit of time to get used to especially when it comes to worship, how do you worship authentically when lots of eyes are on you?

It can be hard to raise your hand in worship or sit down and pray during the singing when you are aware that people are watching you, because you have an association with the Vicar.

It can also be difficult when you’re not feeling your most cheery and just want a bit of time to be sad, you are aware that everything in the fishbowl can be magnified.

My advice, don’t become too self-involved, whether you are a Vicar’s child or not it sometimes can feel like people are being nosey, some are but most come with their own issues,insecurities,good and bad weeks, so be sensitive to others when you can be and do what you can to help if the situation requires it.

You are worshipping for an audience of one, the God who created you and loves you just as you are loves when we worship with honesty and block out what’s happening around us to tune into His heart.

If people are watching, let them watch, maybe the way you worship can teach, challenge and inspire others to invest more deeply with God when they worship.

If the songs have gone on for a bit too long and your leg is hurting, Sit Down!

Worship does not have to be perfect just genuine. Don’t feel guilty for being you in worship.

I am a work in progress and don’t always get it right when it comes to worship. I still struggle with being in the eyes of the congregation from time to time,but if you fix your eyes on the glory of the Kingdom,the earthly worries tend to fade at, least for a moment.

One last thing, if you ever introduce me or introduce another Vicar’s child to someone, don’t introduce us as ‘This is the Vicar’s son/daughter’, we have names, please use them.

Wordless Groan

Based on Romans 8:26.

There’s this wordless groan,

when you’re tongue tied and words just won’t form.

There’s this wordless groan,

when exhaustion is all you exhale.

There’s this wordless groan,

when you have no more tears left to cry.

There’s this wordless groan,

when your prayers just don’t cover it.

There’s this wordless groan,

that the Spirit interprets for us.

There’s this wordless groan,

that echoes in Heaven.

There’s this wordless groan,

that the Father responds to.