the pregnant pause | a Christmas poem

25 12 2016

The Christmas story always appears to me to have two distinct sides
that we emphasise differently depending on what we are looking for
On the one side there’s the wondrously mystical-sounding story
of wonder and excitement and angels singing about glory in the highest
on a hillside to fluffy white sheep
waking up the good-natured shepherds from their sleep
while a magical star lights the sky for exotic camel-riding astrologers
who’ve been crossing borders
for months or maybe years to see this stable tableau
bathed in subtle angel glow

the word became flesh
the divine enmeshed
he who created light in the beginning
is spinning a new kind of story
of darkness overcome
and they have come
to be among
the birth of the divine son

this almost magical tale suits best this candlelight
of Christmas night
a beautiful ethereal sight
in softer sight

but there is a flip-side

like a kite string that prevents this simple story from drifting off
becoming disconnected
alienated
separated
from what it is really all about
these simple words that put the mythological-story brakes on
There was a man sent from God.
He was called John.

Suddenly our story is about a person, not an idea
It’s about a real family being terrified and escaping to Egypt in fear
It’s not about the eternal cosmic battle between darkness and light
Well – it is, but rooted in history
with dates, places
real times and real faces
And you know as well as I do the centre of the story isn’t John
but that’s where the story starts from
in the gospel of John
anchoring the ethereal mystical word
preventing it from drifting off into the absurd
because the word was God
but the word became flesh
the divine intertwined
into the mess of us
in the body of a baby called Jesus

two sides to a story
light versus darkness
taxation and a census
angels and dreams
newborn baby screams
stars leading astronomers
God becoming one of us
Herod’s indignation
a refugee migration
innkeepers, animals, strangers with gifts
you can’t pin down this story it constantly resists
being claimed, held down, owned
controlled

this is a truly beautiful night
an amazing night
beautiful with candles and songs
but not because of candles and songs
they are just handles to open the door
to a humbling, life-changing
transforming birth of a King
not born on cushions of velvet and set on a gold-plated throne
not in a self-named luxury hotel with a lift made of gold
but born among the poor
born for the forlorn
the care-worn
set only on straw

So join with me in celebrating with awe
this story
of glory and wonder
and rooting it firmly in the fact
that god slipped under the radar
in so much more than a fairytale fable
but got itchy in a stable
to enable
the untenable
the indefensible
us
to be holy with him
to be holy as this holy night
that we might have eternal life.

And that is the third of the two sides sides of this transforming
heartwarming this-night-dawning
don’t let me catch you yawning
absolutely never boring tale of Jesus born in
a stable with donkey’s ee-or-ing
because the character
you may have never before seen
in that nativity scene is you
this is a story that you’re in

Come, kneel in this story with me
Come, join the wealthy travellers and shepherds fighting off poverty
Come and see Joseph so weary and Mary,
Come sit with Mary
Come, gaze upon this child
come and sit in this pregnant pause
for all that Jesus came to be and to do
all his inheritance as creator, King and son
can be yours

so much more than a fairytale fable
he was born to enable
the untenable
the indefensible
us
to be holy with him
so be holy as this holy night
for he was born that we might have life.

Happy Christmas


This was my spoken word for the Midnight Communion 2016. It works better when real aloud!

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blindspots and horizons

21 09 2015

One of my roles is a Trustee/Director of Sutton Schoolswork, our excellent local Christian schoolswork organisation. This is a spoken word vision of the future I wrote for and delivered at our annual Thanksgiving Service, for which I thought I’d get thrown out, but instead have been asked for copies. Who knew. Maybe it wasn’t provocative enough after all.


blindspots and horizons

we the church suffer from an honesty crisis
and I guess it shouldn’t surprise us
when you think about the average ages
in our congregations
which isn’t something to beat ourselves up about
except to say that if we put as much effort into schoolswork
as we do coffee mornings and playgroups
there’d be more schoolswork

we the church suffer from an honesty crisis
and actually it should surprise us
when you think about all the time spent
in our buildings
compared with time spent at work and in school
by me or you
that we focus so much on what happens in church
when most of us are mostly everywhere else

it’s a blindspot
a dark patch
the part we can’t see
when we plan all our outreach
and where to plant seeds
we think we’ve got kids sorted
because of kids church and the youth group…
yes youth work is exciting because the kids come to us
and they’re ours, our little flowers
it’s not that we’re selfish it’s just
that they’re important
an investment
the future of us
well – the present don’t forget
to be theologically correct
so yes big shout out to kids workers and youth workers
and to old sofas and hoodies

but let’s lift our eyes from the blindspot of inside
to the horizon that is outside
because I’ve seen the future and it’s much more exciting
let the workers out into schools it’s not that frightening

on the horizon I can see churches passionate for schools
so they’re equipping their youthworkers with all the tools
needed for assemblies about Jesus and forgiveness and hope
and lessons about Easter and resurrection and more hope

in the future we all know what prayer spaces are
And RE days and CUs and recognise the far far
reaching nature of teaching about Jesus
from someone who believes it

in the future the PCCs and deacons meetings and leadership teams
are sharing in the excitement of realising the dream
and releasing the potential we like to keep neat and tidy and clean, inside,
for our kids

in the future the numbers become even more astounding
than the fact that we reach nearly all the 35,000
children and young people in the borough of Sutton
which kind of puts into perspective how many people we’re normally preaching too,
doesn’t it

there’s all these kids sitting ready to listen in classes
meanwhile we spend all our time sitting on our…. vases
as most churches spend more on flowers than they do to schools work

now I will confess to you I’ve got a vested interest in sutton schoolswork
and it’s not because i’m a director
it’s not because i’m a dad
it’s not because I do schoolswork and would be glad
of some help
I’ve got a vested interest because I follow jesus
and I know how little kids know about Jesus
or the world beyond their own noses

I see the future when we’ve raised our eyes from the blindspot
to the horizon
when every school and every child hears the message of Jesus
form someone who truly believes it
where we can do more than skim the surface
with a fleeting assembly
but go deeper, and further – that’s the future:
can you see it? will you make it happen?
Will you walk with us from the blindspot
to the horizon?


Photo courtesy of @WarnerPidgeon


Sutton Schoolswork are in our 20th year, and are celebrating this with an exciting plan for growth, which includes the appointment of a brand-new post of Schoolswork Director. See the website for more details, and to find out how you could get involved in supporting us as we aim to increase the knowledge and understanding of the Christian Faith and support students in their spiritual, social and moral development.





the light that shines in our eyes

21 12 2014

In the beginning when it seemed that the darkness was winning
and all was chaos and swirls and water and mud
and you couldn’t tell the earth from the flood
God spoke
God spoke and the world came into being
God spoke and breathed life and the chaos became living
and breathing
and his breath was sustaining
God spoke in the beginning

God spoke to the prophets
God spoke to the kings
God spoke to the prostitutes
who no-one else sees
God spoke to the farmers
And when nobody heard
God spoke and kept speaking
And called himself The Word

God spoke but way back like that can seem distant
and sometimes God can seem almost non-existent
so John in his book when he’s telling the story
of Jesus arrival doesn’t have angels in glory
but he reminds us that God spoke the world into being
by starting his gospel where God began
in the beginning

But god didn’t stay in the beginning you see
That wouldn’t make a very good story in which to be
But God is always moving like life I guess
In this part of the story God became flesh
God took his place and he tented among us
So close we could touch him and know how he loves us
Adores us
Sits with us
Not bored by us
Not abhors us
But adores us so much that

God spoke to Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah
God spoke to the shepherds and wise men who admired
the way God spoke through stars and through dreams
and through angels and visions and for Joseph more and more dreams

When you speak to someone you acknowledge their presence
you know we’ve all done that thing when we ignore someone
pretend they are absent
like a shepherd maybe or injured man on the road to Jericho
keep our heads down don’t look them in the eye
they won’t notice as we walk by

But God holds our eye contact and embraces our presence
His isn’t someone far away, a distant existence
This is one of those things that we see at Christmas
That he is close, he is here, emmanuel, God with us

2014.12.21 Carols by Candlelight.001

In the beginning God spoke and the world came into being
In the present God speaks and he will keep on speaking
Through hell and high-water through birth and bereavement
Through abuse and abusing through failure and achievement
to the hopeful and the hopeless
in the fruitful and the fruitless
the joyful and the joyless
God spoke
and God speaks

Could it be true that if we listen
truly listen
through the melee of life
and work and family
and if we put our expectations aside
and maybe our pride
could we hear The Word say a word
feel the breath of God give us life

Could it be that God with us he still dwells
and that we need him if our life is going well
or if it feels like every day is another hell
could it be that he is still emmanuel
god with us
god for us
god in us

It is true that he spoke and it is true that he speaks
The Word who is Jesus not mild or meek
but a powerful force who changes our lives
if we let him, if we let go, and allow his light
to light up the world
to light up our lives
to be the light that shines in our eyes

Yes he will challenge us and we have all been changed
Who have been embraced by him none are the same
He will help us let go of the things that enslave us
he will break the chains that hold us and hate us
I won’t lie to you, it’s not always an easy life
Submitting to living for the one who is Life
Not for Mary or Joseph or for all who follow today
But there’s no better life, there’s no better way

God spoke God is speaking
To all of us as well
God is here he is with us emmanuel
God spoke, God is speaking
May we hear him well
God is here, he is with us, emmanuel.

© Kevin Lewis 2014

….

This is a spoken word piece I wrote for our carols by candlelight service. It works better spoken out loud, but I thought i’d share it anyway! 





saying goodbye

4 05 2013

One of the most poignant things that I do is take the funerals of those who have lost children, especially those they have never held alive. This is a time to be with people in grief, where there are no easy answers, no memories to treasure, no life to recall. Just silence. 

It so happened the day I got the call this week, I came across this spoken word piece from the excellent Dai Woolridge, written for the charity Saying Goodbye, who provide support for those who grieve the loss of children. 

I thoroughly recommend it. 

If he seems familiar, I featured Dai’s spoken word Christmas Chord before, and we used it in our Carol Service. 





the postman

24 12 2012

At our Carols by Candlelight last night I didn’t do a preach but told a lyrical story. First we watched this fantastic video called the Christmas Chord, so to understand you’ll need to watch it too…

…what I did afterwards was a bit like The Christmas Cord Pt II, only it’s called The Postman. It’s a bit long for a blog, so here’s the second half… but first, the context: 

A postman was doing his round, and met an ordinary person driving a Ford Mondeo who turned out to be the angel Gabriel. Gabriel gave him a box, and inside was a cord (like in the Christmas Cord, see what I did there…) and the postman wasn’t pleased. Gabriel wants him to pass it on. Anyway, read and enjoy. A bit like a rebellious repenting, it needs to be read out loud! 

I don’t understand and I don’t like the sound
Of your words now Gabriel you’re freaking me out
As if it’s not weird enough that your bringing me boxes
In an old ford Mondeo – I am going to stop this
And I threw it away the box and the string
But the string
had a cling
though I tried to fling it

Far it stayed with me

There’s no connection, I said, between the birth of your Jesus
And me; thousands of years that have passed in-between us
I’m just an ordinary person and I don’t understand
Whatever this God of yours thinks he’s got planned
It’s not real; it’s not true, it’s just a story or a crutch 
I’m not interested anymore and I’ll tell you this much 

But Gabriel stopped me with the gentlest of touches 
And he said Jesus is alive and he’s speaking to others
This cord represents the links down the centuries 
Of people who have met him and ingrained on their memories

The reality of God born through Jesus the baby
The reality of God who jumped in incarnationally 
The reality of God who meets with us relationally 
The Way in Manger – but he didn’t stay there, not stationary

But he’s moved right through history from the beginning of time
And he’s moving right now if you’ll open your eyes
The world might be broken but this cord never breaks
The world might feel heavy and sometimes faith shakes
But this cord is the link that binds, ties, or connects
And it’s a musical note that harmoniously blends 

It’s the cord that binds us together “Bind us together” no not like the song
But like The Way in a Manger when God’s plan looks all wrong
Like the shepherds and the wise men and so many others
You’ve been chosen to deliver the message that God isn’t above us
But he’s alive and he’s here and he wants to change the world
You’re a postman, so deliver it, like a banner unfurled  

Why would you give me such a message to share?
I’m just a postman delivering letters no-one notices I’m there
And Gabriel said 
remember the shepherds before
The first who saw
And came to adore
The new-born baby
Joseph and his lady
Can you see just maybe
That God is a bit crazy

It’s always ordinary people who God speaks to and chooses
If we let him, and trust him, he will not abuse this
So come on have a think because you’ve got to choose this
Who will you choose to tell about Jesus 
When you’ve made your decision put the cord back inside
And then you’ll be ready to make the delivery of your life

So, I saw an angel in a Ford Mondeo 
And he asked me to choose someone so here we go
I’m choosing the people I most want to see glow
With the life and the light of the Jesus I now know
Maybe you’ve figured it out, you know what I’ll do
Like Jesus himself, right now I choose you.

Merry Christmas to all my readers, occasional, regular and first-timers. 








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