Category Archives: Poetry

An evening of celebration, protest and solidarity on Valentine’s Day

”My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep. The more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite…”
Romeo & Juliet Act 11 scene 2

Love (c) Jessica Hische

Following our response to the bishops’ Pastoral Statement, a few members of the congregation decided to get together at church for an alternative Valentine’s evening yesterday as a symbolic protest to insist that love is far more diverse than the Church may be ready to recognise.

It was a beautiful evening: we prayed through a liturgy of celebration and blessing, we lit candles to remember a dear friend, recently lost, Kye, and to pray for the church to become more compassionate and diverse. We also shared some delicious food. Adriaan had us in stitches with food/sensuality allusions and metaphors from Song of Songs (on hearing this, you’d never look at a pomegranate the same way again!) and Nicola shared a powerful and wonderful poem, which she has just written… and left not one dry eye in the room: 

This is my church, your church and our church, 
a church of unity, sanctuary, asylum, a whole church

Those who have travelled whether willingly or not,
those white or of colour, those with all those who’ve not got

The upwardly mobile, middle roaders and oppressed,
those who’s assigned gender doesn’t meet the way they’re dressed

Those of native language, those with words that helped form it, 
those whose emotions run so deep no words we need, 
those so deeply hurt they can no longer bleed. 

Those who can sing it and shout it that Jesus died for them, 
those scared to even whisper for the weight of silencing from men

When I walk through the doors, oh hi so glad you are here,
not what do we do it’s her, you know her, the queer. 

My name resounds in joyful muse 
never feeling my sexuality, anyone does confuse, 

we are there gods people, 
God’s children worshipping in his image, 
holding up the hearts of those broken whilst they heal, 
holding those so broken they can no longer feel, 
those who had once given up on mankind. 

But here in my church, in your church, in ours, 
all hearts are thrown open and arms wrap tightly 
with the words of our beautiful all inclusive lord, 
we are but people all formed in his image 
so we go forth with strength and rise to the challenge. 

We may have less rights be frowned on by many 
but together we have faith not experienced by any, 
we are the few sent to make us the many. 

Together we grow, divided we fall, 
if you hurt one you will hurt us all, 
but we will take that pain and make it a gain 

For this church is my church is your church is ours, 
our sanctuary, our breath our infinite love divine, 
I am so proud to with these people entwine. 

My church your church ours we conquer, 
ever carried forward by the strength of our father
— Nicola Edmonds, 2020

Here too is an excerpt from the liturgy we used:

An affirmation of Faith and Hope 

O God, Giver of Life, 
Bearer of Pain, Maker of Love, 
affirming in your incarnation 
the goodness of the flesh: 
may the yearnings of our bodies 
be fulfilled in sacraments of love, 
and our earthly embracings be enjoyed 
as a foretaste of the glory to come, 
in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, 
our Companion, our Lover and our Guide. 

May the outrageous welcome of God 
accept us for who we are; 
May the incarnation of the Word 
touch and hold us close; 
May the wandering of the Spirit 
help us risk ourselves for love. 
May God drive us out with power 
to fill the world with her justice. 

“Words on Tap” poetry workshops

‘Words on Tap’ on April 5th, May 31st and June 28th – a series of 3 afternoon poetry workshops at All Hallows Church, Hyde Park, LS6 1NP run by poet Matthew Stoppard. Sessions are free and run from 3pm – 5pm and for those wish are augmented by evening sessions in the excellent Chemic Tavern just off Woodhouse Street.  See attached poster for further details.

Words on Tap Poetry Workshops

Sermon for Advent 2: “O Dayspring”

Advent 2: 9th DecO Dayspring”

Readings – Genesis 32.22-31; John 21:1-12;

On this the 2nd Sunday of Advent we continue our look at the O Antiphons’ – the names for Jesus traditionally used as the refrains to the Magnificat in the service of Evening Prayer during Advent.

This week we’re looking at the name ‘O Dayspring’… a reference to the dawn, the beginning of the day.

The traditional Advent refrain to the Magnificat at evening prayer:

O Dayspring, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness, Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death”

And the prayer used throughout the year during Morning Prayer:

The night is past and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind… As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O lord, set our hearts on fire with love for you now and for ever.

It has to be said firstly that morning can be a time when sadly on awakening we are reminded of the reality of the loss of loved people or things – but today I want to focus on the positive emotions morning can bring.

The foregoing prayers speak of the relief of the arrival of the morning after the darkness of night: light to see by; warmth after coldness; being connected after the isolation of the night; breaking the fast – re-fuelling, refreshing; washing, cleansing; colour after blackness; ‘reality’ after the night’s dreams and imaginings…


The Genesis reading concerns the night before Jacob’s return to his brother Esau. In the night he wrestles with someone (it’s not clear who this actually is) and just before daybreak, having prevailed against his opponent despite a serious wound, Jacob receives a blessing. Not in spite of his struggle in the dark, but because of it. He is left maimed but blessed.

The set reading for this week is actually Luke 3.1-6, John the Baptist’s call to people to “Prepare the way of the Lord” meaning to examine ourselves, our lives, and get ready for God to come among us – in the form of the Christ-child as we celebrate every Christmas – but also in the form of God’s Spirit entering our lives afresh with healing and mercy and generosity and peace and joy. ‘Prepare the way’ – an important message, as we start to prepare for the annual festivities, that the coming of God is there for everyone not just at Christmas but at every moment of every day of our lives.

Yet in John 21 we see an alternative way of looking at things: In the gospel the time is morning, just as day is breaking, and Jesus after the resurrection, is acting out, as it were, what he has just accomplished by his death and resurrection – turning the whole idea of religion and faith upside-down; not our dependence upon our goodness or faithfulness or hard work; not our having to clear the way for him – but God’s gift of love given in the form of Jesus Christ, clearly shown for what it is – accessible, gracious, unconditional. And now the call to ‘come and have breakfast’ – the dawn has broken and along with it the power of darkness – and now it’s time to break the fast – prepared, servant-like, for his friends, as we celebrate whenever we share the bread and wine of communion as we shall shortly be doing here.

Morning… the time when fevered minds that are clouded by doubt or disease or despair are enlightened. In David Rhodes’ book Faith in Dark Places, he writes about ‘The Great Darkness’ – those times when God seems far away and prayer of any kind is difficult and we wrestle with our fears, our problems, all those things that in the darkness seem impossible to fathom; and like Jacob at the ford of the Jabbok we may wrestle with our demons and even our God, – as the story from Genesis shows, sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference.

…and Daniel O’Leary in “Passion for the Possible” writes, “Naked trust in God alone is a rare, beautiful and final state of soul… it is promised to those who believe that in the depths of winter we finally learn that within us lies an invincible summer ”

So maybe it’s not just that summer is nice and warm and comfortable and we want to avoid, or at best just shudder through winter, making the best of a bad job. It’s in the winter that the promise becomes apparent; it’s in midwinter that we celebrate Christmas! And maybe in our imagery of dark and light, night and morning, it’s not just that dark is nasty, bad, or whatever, and light is nice and good; Meister Eckhart wrote,

In the middle of the night there was spoken to me a word, a secret word…”

Jacob at the Jabbok in the night wrestled with God and was rewarded – injured, yes, but rewarded and when the day was breaking he received the blessing – not in spite of the night but because of it.

Jesus on the beach preparing breakfast for his disciples does so not in spite of the events of Golgotha, certainly not in denial of them, but through them – because of them.

So the name of Jesus ‘O Dayspring’ is not just a happy, bright, sweet title – it’s a recognition that without the night there would be no dawn.

As the dawn brings freshness and warmth relief and enlightenment, so Jesus the Dayspring brings these things to us. The prayer, again, from Morning Prayer: ‘As we rejoice in the gift of this new day so may the light of your presence set our hearts on fire with love for you now and for ever’.

As we rejoice in Jesus the Dayspring bringing us the gifts of God’s grace, of life and light and relief… so may we be fired up with love – mercy, forgiveness of others, grace, – in other words to be like Christ – be to other people like the dawn breaking, bringing to others all the feelings that the breaking dawn brings to us.

And one final word – one of the marks of God’s Spirit is Joy. Thinking about the state of the church generally and some of the sad and tragic events in the world around us, I was reminded of a profound quote from Khalil Gibran’s book The Prophet where he talks about the universally-recognised feelings of warmth and joy that morning evokes; how we need to remember these sentiments!…

…‘In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed’.

Colours of Love

Colours of Love
© by John Jenkins

The day was getting ready to settle down for the night, and the night moved over to make room for him.

Day said, “Would you like a cuddle?”

“You know I always like a cuddle”, Night replied. “That’s my speciality!”

So cuddle they did.

Day caressed Night from head to toe, making her glow with a firey orange hue. Thanking her lucky stars for such a lover, Night responded by opening her dusky portals.

Day sank down into Night’s warm embrace, sending shafts of crimson fire deep into her thighs, lighting her skies with shimmering sheets of coloured magic.

The day shift over Night went to work, paving the way for lovers to play, and painting the town red.

While Day slept Night kept her watchful eye on forrest and city, owl and cat, postal train and criminal gang.

Reluctantly Day awoke as Night climbed back into bed. “Wakey wakey, sleepy head!” she said.

Mounting him she stirred his ardour. Grasping him between her thighs, she caused him to rise. Birds sang loudly in response to their cries.

Once again the power of their passion set the heavens ablaze, illuminating elysian with the colours of love.

Written by a member of the congregation of All Hallows.


Poem: Home

© John Jenkins

Home is where the heart is…
But what if your heart’s not at home?
What if your heart’s a long way away
And makes you want to rome?

What if you’re feeling down at heel
And simply want to cry? What if your mind goes round and round
Asking the question, “Why?”

Your home maybe a place of peace,
It may be a place of war,
It may be a place you long to be
On a lovely foreign shore.

“Home is where I hang my hat,”
The restless wanderer said.
They found him lying on the beach.
Asleep? Oh no, he’s dead.

For some a home’s a luxury;
The child put out for care;
The vagabond who’s never clean;
The murderer in his lair.

For some their home’s a cardboard box
Flimsy and cold without pity;
For some it’s bric-a-brac and tat
In flood drains under a city.

For most of us it’s a fortress,
A place where we feel safe,
A place where we can rest, relax;
Not so the homeless waif.

For him life’s just a piece of shite,
A battle every day,
He may survive, or he may not,
Who gives a dam anyway?

God gives a dam, I’m sure of that,
His home’s not far away,
And angels sweep his mansion clean,
Where he will rest, one day.

But what about the comfy ones,
Who live life without care
For those who know no rest down here;
Have they a home up there?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

And they will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did (or did not do) for one of the least of these, you did (or did not do) not do for me.’

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Written by a member of the congregation of All Hallows.

Poem: Comfortable

© John Jenkins

“Please help me Sir”, the lady said
“I’ve got nowhere to sleep.
It’s cold outside and if I die
There’s nowt who’ll know or weep.
My bones are getting aweful sore,
It’s hard there, on the street.”

I said to her, “I’m comfortable.
Don’t rock my little boat.
I’ve got enough of what I need,
And occasionally I vote
To elect a party that props me up.
So don’t try cross my moat.”

She walked away, and I could see
That pain was in her eyes.
Her shabby clothes and unkempt hair
Could not disguise the lies
I knew she spoke, when she said, “I’m OK”
Each time I bought her fries.

I moved along, my day of work
Consumed my every thought,
And by the time I passed that place
I felt slightly distraught
When I didn’t see her flowery dress,
So I ate the chips I’d bought.

I stopped and pondered on the bridge,
Then leaned over the ledge.
The water billowed the flowery dress,
Her bags lay by a hedge.
The chips I’d bought felt poisonous
And set my teeth on edge.

The world’s OK, for folks like me,
And maybe folks like you.
As long as we don’t think too much
We’re bound to make it through,
And heaven’s gates will open wide
For her…. and me? and you?

Written by a member of the congregation of All Hallows.

Other Roads

Other Roads

God takes us out
Of comfortable places
And easy situations
He takes away the ease
That we may know the unease
We have to go on different roads
Paths we don’t want to go
But if we don’t go
How will we gain knowledge?
It is hard in the wilderness
Of the unknown
I am in the wilderness
And you know me
We’ll walk together
Take each step at a time
Day by day
Till we reach that comfortable
Place again

Written by a member of the congregation of All Hallows