Modern Psalms and Poems
These Modern Psalms and Poems are part of "Work in Worship," a collection of material for work-themed services compiled by David Welbourn. For more prayers, songs, readings and sermons, click on the table of contents to the right.
The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush;
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
He provides me with images of stillness
Which restore my serenity.
He leads me in the way of efficiency,
Through calmness of mind: and his guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day
I will not fret, for his presence is here.
His timelessness, his all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
In the midst of activity.
By anointing my mind with the oils of tranquility,
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
Shall be the fruits of my hours,
For I will walk in the pace of the Lord.
Claimant: Look, all I want is some money so I can buy the kids some food for the week-end.
Officer: I'm sorry, I can't authorise it. There's some problem with your file.
SAVE ME O GOD!
FOR THE WATERS HAVE COME UP TO MY NECK.
Claimant: I haven't got any money. I need some money so I can feed the kids.
Officer: Are you claiming under Regulation 4(1) of the supplementary benefits requirements regulations 1983, No 1399; or for an Urgent Needs Payment under Regulation 21, (Urgent Cases) regulations, No 1529?
I SINK IN THE DEEP MIRE
WHERE THERE IS NO FOOTHOLD;
Claimant: I don't bloody know!
Officer: You do know, though, that if you make a false claim you render yourself liable for prosecution, don't you?
I HAVE COME INTO DEEP WATERS,
AND THE FLOOD SWEEPS OVER ME.
Claimant: Look, I don't care what you call it. I haven't eaten for two days. I just want something so that I can feed the kids.
I AM WEARY WITH MY CRYING;
MY THROAT IS PARCHED.
Officer: Just wait here one moment, I'll go and fetch the supervisor.
MY EYES GROW DIM WITH WAITING FOR MY GOD.
Claimant: I've been here five hours already!
Supervisor: Ah, Mr Scrounger, we were wondering when you'd come in.
MORE IN NUMBER THAN THE HAIRS OF MY HEAD
ARE THOSE WHO HATE ME WITHOUT CAUSE;
Claimant: I was just saying to the other bloke that all I want is some money to feed the kids for the weekend.
Supervisor: Your benefit has been stopped, Mr Scrounger. We've reason to believe you've been working while claiming.
MIGHTY ARE THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY ME;
THOSE WHO ATTACK ME WITH LIES.
Claimant: That's a bloody lie!
Supervisor: I'm sorry, your benefit has been suspended until the matter can be properly investigated. We may find that you owe us some money!
WHAT I DID NOT STEAL MUST I NOW RESTORE?
Claimant: It's a lie, it's a bloody lie!
Supervisor: Mr Scrounger, acting on an anonymous phone call, we had our fraud people watch your movements. Last Monday morning you looked after a neighbour's children. We have reason to believe you were paid cash in hand.
O GOD, THOU KNOWEST MY FOLLY;
THE WRONGS I HAVE DONE ARE NOT HIDDEN FROM THEE.
Claimant: I can't believe this. You just can't be real!
Supervisor: Good day, Mr Scrounger. We will be writing to you about the matter in due time. Now, if you wouldn't mind leaving, I don't think there's anything else to keep you here...
Claimant: But I haven't got any money! What are the kids going to eat?
BUT I AM AFFLICTED AND IN PAIN;
LET THY SALVATION, O GOD, SET ME ON HIGH!
Claimant: What about the kids?
I WILL PRAISE THE NAME OF GOD WITH A SONG;
I WILL MAGNIFY HIM WITH THANKSGIVING.
Government spokesman: The Department of Social Security administers the income support system. This is a "safety net" scheme to ensure that no-one in our society ever need go hungry.
THIS WILL PLEASE THE LORD MORE THAN AN OX,
OR A BULL WITH HORNS AND HOOFS.
Spokesman: But sadly there always will be fraud, and we have a duty to our taxpayers to ensure the minimum of abuse of the system.
LET THE OPPRESSED SEE IT AND BE GLAD;
YOU WHO SEEK GOD, LET YOUR HEARTS REVIVE.
Spokesman: Of course, the country would be a lot better off if real wages were lower; people are just pricing themselves out of the market.
FOR THE LORD HEARS THE NEEDY,
AND DOES NOT DESPISE HIS OWN THAT ARE IN BONDS.
Spokesman: And also, as you know, part of the problem is that benefits are too high; it's often not worth people's while to get a job.
LET HEAVEN AND EARTH PRAISE HIM,
THE SEA AND EVERYTHING THAT MOVES THEREIN.
Spokesman: You know, we really are a caring Government.
FOR GOD WILL SAVE ZION AND REBUILD THE CITIES OF JUDAH;
AND HIS SERVANTS SHALL DWELL THERE AND POSSESS IT;
THE CHILDREN OF HIS SERVANTS WILL INHERIT IT,
AND THOSE WHO LOVE HIS NAME SHALL DWELL IN IT.
Claimant: I just want some money to feed the children over the weekend.
Officer: It's alright, I've checked.Your giro's in the post.
(Christians' Unemployment Group 'An Unemployment Worship Book' [c.] )
Sunday by Sunday
the church gathers
Women and men meet
to withdraw from the world?
or to bring the world
their living with them?
Women and men
living with tensions
struggling with dilemmas
challenged by change
oppressed by changes that are too rapid.
Is this the place
is it together
that they can affirm
this is where life
is given meaning?
Or do they sing uneasily
because here is the place
where no meaning is given
to the context and the content
of their daily lives?
Can I bring my anger with me
Or must it be quelled before I enter?
Can I bring my confusion
Or should I simply pretend there is none?
What do I do with my contradictions
of loving my family
yet rarely seeing them?
or with the pressure to raise
without the tempering of justice
What do I do with the painful knowledge
of failing to touch with understanding
the urgent needs
of my fellow human beings?
Soothing will not ease my burdens.
Where do I find the courage
to confront my problems? ...
let there be light
to remind us that darkness has been conquered
and love has filled the universe
in the face of Jesus Christ.
Let there be sky
to draw our gaze in fear and wonder
displaying in cloud and thunder, rainbow and rain
our dependence upon your overarching care.
Let there be sun, moon and stars
to give us an appetite for eternity
and to warn us of the limits of our knowledge and pride.
Let there be earth
for us to respect and love
as we seek to conserve its energy and resources
for children yet to come.
Let there be fish and animals
to be partners with us on the earth
sharing our land, sea and air.
Let there be people
who as your creatures
have not lost their sense of dependence
and who are creators and responsible protectors of life.
Let there be rest
offering us the opportunity
for reflection and worship, recreation and refreshment
with time to remember
that a new creation has been forgivingly provided
in Jesus Christ.
(URC 1986 Prayer Handbook [c.] )
Go tell the earth to shake
And tell the thunder
To wake the sky
And tear the clouds apart.
Tell my people to come out
Where the old world is gone,
For a new world is born,
And all my people
Shall be one.
So tell the earth to shake.
With marching feet
Of messengers of peace,
Proclaim my law of love
To every nation,
For the old wrongs are over,
The old days are done;
A new world is rising
Where my people shall be one.
For the old world is ended,
The old sky is torn
Apart. A new day is born:
They hate no more,
They do not go to war any more.
My people shall be one.
The old wrongs are over,
The old ways are done;
There shall be no more hate
And no oppression.
The old wrongs are gone,
My people shall be one.
(Thomas Merton, based on Isaiah 52)
1. The flavour has gone out of our world:
our childlike wonder has flown away.
2. God, it's your presence we miss:
your aren't at the centre of our concerns.
3. The secular realm is all we can sense:
our experience limited by material things.
4. Help us to relish true knowledge of you:
so we can become ourselves again.
5. Our recognition of you has been stunted:
we need salt to bring out the taste afresh.
6. "You are salt to the world" you said:
so that is our task and vocation -
7. To bring back the taste of you to our world:
to keep people consciously open to you.