The Nets             (Based on Matthew 4. 18-22)

my mother sent me to the foreshore
the fishermen were spreading the nets over the sand
checking for breaks and snatches
they will sometimes throw a denarius my way
if I crawl to the centre
and stitch together the holes where rocks have caught
when I arrived they were busy
and those who recognised me told me to wait
until they had done the heavy work
I walked to the water's edge
and sat in the bow of the boat
imagining the day I was the owner of such a vessel
the sun was warm and I felt the heaviness in my eyes
and I must have fallen asleep
and how long I slept - I do not know
but I awoke to the sound of voices
not raised - but excited
and lifted myself to see what was going on
the fishermen were there
and were talking to a man
I had never seen before
there was much waving of arms
but the man at the centre seemed
to have a peace and tranquillity about him
they talked for a while
and then two of the fishermen embraced
and put down the ropes they were holding
they turned
and as they did I saw a look on their faces
that I had never seen on an adult before
a look of excitement mixed with terror
of trepidation and joy
of a knowing at finding a meaning
before they left they beckoned to me and I ran to them
they told me to take care of the boat
and to use it well
I could not believe what they were saying
and I looked at what was spread out
and words would not come
and then I looked at the man
and he stepped forward
and placed a hand on my head
and I didn't want the boat anymore
I wanted to leave everything behind
and follow where he would lead me


Turned Back                 (Based on John 6. 56-69)

These are complex words

they are not the words we expected from a Messiah

We thought that we would be able to understand

and be able to follow ...

... without having to think too much

because we believed that all

of the thinking and analysing was done


We thought that he would come and lead us

be a king in a golden chariot

sweeping the unclean and the heathen

before him

but ... he doesn't do that

Instead ... he speaks ... and he teaches

and we gave him the benefit of the doubt

.... and we listened

.... but these are complex words

these are difficult ideologies


He said that the words

are spirit and life

And I don't understand

what that means

because ... I have had my fill

of symbols and meaningless

trite speeches

I want someone to lead with a shout ...

Loud words that I can make sense of .....

..... because these words are complex


I just want to follow a Messiah

who everyone can see ... is the Messiah

I want to be a part of a movement

of thousands

not tagged on to a travelling raggedy bunch

of a dozen or so misfits ....

.... fishermen ....  prostitutes  ....  tax collectors

... all listening to every word

of a jumped-up carpenter


Did I really get it so wrong?


Seven?   (Based on Matthew 18. 21-35)

I listen to conversations
I like to hear what people say
because you can sometimes exploit that
ask for more when you are begging
pretend to have the same disease that their mother died of
or just threaten them if they sound weak
These two men weren't weak!
I listened to the numbers jumbled in with their words
I know how many denarii it takes to feed my family
but I'm not really so good at counting
I know the laws though and that I'm supposed to forgive three times
so when I heard him say seven
I reeled - that seemed like a lot of forgiveness
but it was the other one who took my breath away
seventy times seven!
I bet you could forgive every day for a whole year
and still have more to go
doesn't that mean that you just go on forgiving
whatever it is
time and again?
But you know
I keep going to the temple
ask God to forgive me - my choice of career
I say sorry each time I steal
but then go and do it again and again
and I've done it more often
than seventy times seven
Maybe it is time to find a different way
to put the food on the table


The Slave                (Based on Mark 10.42-45)

They wake me before the sun comes up
but they do not feed me then
I go to the water skin and drink before the work starts
The work is sometimes very hard
sometimes we are beaten
to make us faster
but  pain does not make us work harder or faster
it makes tears
and it makes blood
and those two
are not good bedfellows
Most days I work in the fields
and the work changes with the seasons
When we  plough - it is hard
but the day when we sow
is a day that feels like a new promise
I like it after the harvest
on a windy day when we
thresh and winnow
and the husks swirl and fly
One of the other slaves
who is from the mountains
said that it reminds him of a snow storm
but I have never seen snow
maybe in the future
maybe when I have my freedom
One of the house slaves
went with the master two days ago
went to listen to someone
who preaches and gathers great crowds
I asked what he preached about
- if it was like the temple men
who come and shout at us sometimes
who tell us how wicked we have been
and how we deserve no other life than this
One of the others shouted back once
but only once
he was beaten
and he still winces at the pain
in the cold days of winter
But the slave said that this one was different
how he talked about love
and how he said that he would be a servant
and a slave
how he came to serve
Maybe I could meet him 
maybe be I could tell him
not to wish this life on himself
maybe I could say
If you can walk away
            ..... then walk away
because some of us are born to this life
we serve
and then we die
       Maybe I could tell him this