Reflective Acrostics

 

This section contains acrostics on a range of themes, often written for our church magazine. I hope they offer a new and reflective insight into familiar topics. There are a couple here which don’t rhyme and, curiously, they have proved amongst the most popular.

Objects of God’s Love – God’s love is unconditional. Is ours?

Disciple – an acrostic written for our church’s year of discipleship

Thin Places – are there places where we feel especially close to God?

Songs of Praise – more than just a good sing!

Prayer – prayers don’t have to be long and complicated

Prophets – sometimes they’re ordinary people…

Rainbow – a colourful reminder of God’s promises

Remembrance – an acrostic written for Remembrance Sunday

Saints – sometimes these are ordinary people too…

A Blessing – the Celtic Christian tradition is especially good at pronouncing a blessing…

Year of Young People – an acrostic specially written for the Church of Scotland’s ‘Year of Young People’ (2018) but it still continues to apply

Creation – an acrostic written for the World Day of Prayer 2018, whose theme was ‘All God’s Creation is Very Good’

Victory – an acrostic written for anyone who finds that ‘victorious living’ isn’t always easy on a day to day basis

Administration – an under-estimated gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:28), written when our new church administrator was appointed

Pilgrim – we’re on a lifelong pilgrimage, alone and together

Psalm – whether you feel like rejoicing, crying or venting your anger, the psalmists have already been there before you

Treasure – an acrostic I wrote on the publication of The Kilfinan Treasure

Widow’s Mite – Jesus chose marginal people to take their place in history

Cana – written at the same time as the above, when one wedding in particular was on our mind

New Every Morning – an acrostic based on Lamentations 3:22-23

Angels – whatever view we have on angels, there’s an awful lot of them in the Bible

Shepherd – Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

Cornerstone – The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

Impossible – “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:24-43), and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Selah – We don’t truly know what Selah means in the Psalms, but we surmise it was a musical instruction to pause and reflect. You have been praying and praising: don’t be too quick to disturb the silence, to rush from God’s presence.

Wild Goose – In the Celtic church the wild goose – An Geadh-Glas – was a synonym for the Holy Spirit. Not only did the wild goose move in ways which (at that time) were a mystery, it also ‘disturbed and disrupted’.

Body of Christ – we are the body of Christ. If one part suffers, we all suffer.

Most Excellent Way – “And now I will show you the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31)

Sparrow – don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29,31)

Anchor – We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll

Suffering – Christians are not spared heartache and difficult times, but we have a God who shared (and still shares) directly in human suffering

Wisdom – a short reflection based on Job Chapter 28

Rejoice – smile, God loves you!

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Objects of God’s Love

Orrible ’ooligans
Bad boys wiv bovver boots
Junkies, users, boozers
Ells Angel ’eadcases
Chancers, shirkers
Trailer trash
Sex workers

Ooray ’Enrys
Feral youth

Gamblers, wide boys
Outcasts, outsiders
Dossers, down-and-outs
Smackheads, layabouts

Losers, loners, winos
Oddballs, weirdos
Vagrants, hoboes
Everyone, in fact

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Disciple

Dare we risk opening up, sharing,
Intent on being mutually caring
Sisters and brothers – not fairweather
Christians, but friends growing together?
Inquiring, going deeper, seeking God’s will,
Praying, listening, then going deeper still
Learning what it means to be salt and leaven
Engaging with Jesus twentyfour-seven.

 

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Thin Places

Time pauses and
Heaven touches earth
In special places where
Nearness to God suddenly happens.

Present meets eternity,
Light dazzles
And we encounter the living God.
City or country, garden or wildness:
Everyone finds their oasis, a
Still point of calm and sanctuary.

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Songs of Praise

Soprano, alto, tenor, bass
Offer thanks to the God of Grace
New hymns, old hymns, anthems raise
Gospel songs and ancient lays –
Sing a sacrifice of praise.

Organs, praise bands, harmonise;
Fanfares echo to the skies!

Powers of darkness: feel despair,
Recoil as worship fills the air! –
Aware that Heaven’s victorious King
Inhabits the very words we sing.
So saints on earth lift up your voice,
Even the hills and trees rejoice!

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Prayer

Perhaps, more often, we should just listen and be still
Receiving God’s guidance, expecting to be blessed
Accepting that God knows our needs, and is eager to fulfil.
Yet when we do speak, God heeds even the simplest request
Each childlike prayer is heard: for the prayer warrior’s skill
Rests in honest everyday words, not just our Sunday best.

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Prophets

Prophets are messengers who
Respond to God’s warning word,
Old or in their youth.
Prophets bid their comfort zone farewell,
Holding fast to what they heard
Even if they must tell
The most inconvenient truth.
Sometimes it has to be you!

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Rainbow

Recalling an eternal promise, a covenant sign
Arched over the earth, God’s valentine
Ineffable light made visible in refraction
Noah discerned that it meant ‘God in action’
Being ever alongside us, the Ancient of Days
Occupying our hearts, inhabiting praise
Wavelengths of God illuming our ways.

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Remembrance

Recall, O Israel, your deliverance
Escaping Pharaoh’s army, brought safe to shore;
Moses’ song of triumph, Miriam’s victory dance.
Each day a fiery pillar going before
Multitudes wandering in Sinai’s harsh expanse,
Becoming a special people united by perfect law.
Remember’ cries the psalmist, ‘and cast a sidelong glance
At how God has saved us in times of peace and war’.
Nations delivered from direst circumstance,
Captive souls plucked from Sheol’s jaw,
El Shaddai, God of victory, God of the second chance.

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Saints

Sometimes ordinary people do
Absolutely extraordinary things;
It’s quite possible the person in the pew
Nearby will suddenly soar on eagle’s wings
Taking God’s calling to pastures new,
Surpassing their wildest imaginings.

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Blessing

Before you rise from this place
Let a blessing rest on you and yours
Everywhere you go may you encounter grace,
Safe in the promise that aye endures;
So may the ground rise to meet your feet
Insecurities and worries cease
New friends be amongst the people you meet
Go in joy, go in love, go in peace

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Year of Young People

Yes! to the hopes and fears,
Energy, vision, fresh ideas,
Actions, dreams, decisions,
Radical views and visions

Of the under-25s –
Faith-inspired, vibrant lives.

Yes! to the music and songs
Of a thousand youthful tongues
Uniting us as we seek and search
New paths to revival in our church –
Generation “Z” has some really cool

Prayers and prophecies for renewal!
Everybody, play your part,
Old and young and young-at-heart:
Pick up the baton, pass it on
Let’s seize the moment before it’s gone
Every child, every teen, everyone.

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Creation

Cosmos called out of infinite dark,
Restless void roused by wisdom’s spark
Emergent shapes formed in deepest night
A piercing voice summoned primal light
The sun and moon obeyed its command
Infinite life teemed through water and land
On ground that was once mere dust, Adam stood.
Now, for a time, all was very good.

 

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Victory

Victory doesn’t mean a bed of roses every day
It’s more likely that we’ll carry on facing the flak
Cherished by God, yet still wandering astray
Taking two steps forward and one step back.
Often victories happen when we share, we pray,
Reaching out to each other when things look black,
You and I walking alongside on the pilgrim way.

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Administration

All spiritual gifts work in common accord,
Different types of service all come from one Lord:
Miracle workers may only rarely be found,
Inspirational apostles may be thin on the ground,
Not every member can be a prophet or teacher,
Interpretation of tongues requires a very rare creature,
Spirit-given messages are revealed to but a few –
Thankfully, most of us are given lesser tasks to do!
Routine gifts of the Spirit may not set hearts aflame,
Administration in particular receives scant acclaim
Though rotas, forms and spreadsheets don’t populate themselves.
If you find a church with orderly pigeon-holes and shelves,
Operating smoothly like a finely tuned machine
No doubt a gifted administrator toils away unseen.

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Pilgrim

Pathways trodden together kindle trust
In pilgrims, as we share one another’s load;
Life’s journey requires – as well as wanderlust –
Guardian angels to guide us on the road.
Refreshment happens when a kindred friend
Inspires us on to Zion if our pace has slowed,
Making sure, together, we reach our journey’s end.

 

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Psalm

Praising, sing out when you’ve blessings to spare;
Sorrowing, cry out from the depths of despair;
Angry, storm Heaven when nothing seems fair;
Life can be carefree, or too much to bear;
Mourning or laughing, the psalmist voices your prayer.

 

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Treasure

The Kingdom of Heaven is like
Rare treasure hidden in a field:
Even if it costs everything, you may strike
A vein where pure gold is concealed.
Seek treasure that is safe from moth and rust
Ultimately, it is worth the endeavour.
Riches and wealth will end up as dust
Easter’s ransom holds its value forever.

 

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Widow’s Mite

Why do we remember her, this solitary figure?
Is it because we see her as part of something bigger?
Destitute and stooped, at the margins of society,
Overshadowed by powerbrokers’ fake shows of piety,
Waiting on God, she unburdened her cares,
She had no need of fine robes or long prayers.

Many are the accolades the rich receive on earth –
In cash and possessions we calculate their worth.
The marginalised, the displaced, the humble, the least,
End up as honoured guests at Heaven’s feast.

 

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Cana

Curb your celebrations, for the master looks downcast
Anxiously he sees the wedding flagons dwindle fast,
New wine will soon be ready, with a bouquet unsurpassed –
Attentive servants see that Jesus saves the best till last.

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New Every Morning

Night falls. For some, it’s very dark.
Evening’s stars hunker down behind cloud;
Where lamps glowed, now there’s barely a spark.

Empty hearts break, black-dog heads are bowed.
Very faintly on the breeze someone chants a prayer,
Echoing its hope somebody lights a candle –
Risible weapons against a world’s despair
Yet still too hot for Hell’s hordes to handle.

Moonlight still dances behind its shroud
Oceans still yield their gentle luminescence
Rims of silver trim each nimbus cloud –
Nocturnal sentinels of a numinous presence.
In a few short hours the boundless day will dawn
New promises will comfort those who mourn
God’s mercies are, with each fresh sun, re-born.

 

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Angels

Announcing glad tidings to God’s chosen heirs
Never ceasing their praises, Heaven’s glories are theirs
Guarding us, ministering, hearing our prayers
Emissaries of God in our worldly affairs
Leading us through life’s darkest thoroughfares
Sometimes we entertain them unawares.

 

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Shepherd

Sheep are wayward creatures, always wandering astray
Humankind is much the same, it’s in our DNA;
Ever envying, ever hankering after greener
Pastures – discontent is part of our demeanour.
Hirelings cannot save us, they’ll quickly run amok
Every time a ravening wolf threatens the flock.
Remember Jesus is The Gate, for both Gentile and Jew:
Didn’t he leave the ninety-nine, just to search for you?

 

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Cornerstone

Come all of you who set your trust
On treasure corrupted by moth and rust,
Reckoning your value by what you possess,
Needing ever more stuff as your key to success.
Examine yourself, ask what you are worth,
Riches don’t lie in the mines of the earth.
Sands may shift, but one anchor holds tight –
The lamb of God, the world’s one true light
Our rock of ages, our secure foundation
Name above all names from the dawn of creation
Emmanuel, the firm hope of every nation.

 

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Impossible

In this world, some things cannot possibly be.
Moses couldn’t possibly have parted the Red Sea,
Peter could never have preached with authority
Or walked upon the Lake of Galilee,
Slaves to sin could not possibly be set free,
Sarah couldn’t have experienced maternity,
Israel couldn’t be redeemed from captivity,
Bartimaeus couldn’t possibly ever see,
Love couldn’t have changed the course of history.
Everything, with Jesus, is a possibility.

 

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Selah

Still yourself: can you hear the beating of God’s heart?
Even Jesus cherished time to be apart;
Learning to press life’s pause button is a vital art,
As when Martha’s sister chose the better part.
Heaven’s symphonies are pianissimo when they start.

 

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Wild Goose

Whither does the Holy Spirit blow?
It listeth wherever God pleases.
Loosen your moorings and let yourself go,
Dare trim your sail to Heaven’s breezes.

Give up control, risk setting a course
Over unknown seas, tracking wild geese –
Or else stay safe in port and gaze in remorse.
Spirit-led lives know both tempest and peace
Ever venturing, ever returning to source.

 

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Body of Christ

Bones, flesh, lifeblood, sinews combine,
Organs, hormones obey God’s design,
Dispute no more about which part is best.
Young, give freely of ideals and zest

Old, your experience and wisdom share
Feast upon testimonies seasoned with prayer.

Consider you are wonderfully and fearfully made
Healed in the heart now sin’s price has been paid
Rise above doctrine, banish division
Inspire each member to strive for one vision
Suffer together, together rejoice
Tongues of prophecy tell out as one voice.

 

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Most Excellent Way

Maturity of faith demands love that is tough
Once I thought as a child, but now that’s not enough,
Songs of praise and speaking in tongues
Turn sour if I keep records of wrongs,

Each boast and reproach is best left unsaid.
X is a cross where love suffered and bled:
Covenant love longs to reconcile
Ever willing to go the extra mile.
Love never fails, it trusts, perseveres,
Lights up the darkness, wipes away tears,
Enables the broken to revive and cope.
Now, three gifts remain – faith, hope,
Then, conquering everything, love.

Wrongs are forgotten when we rise above
Anger and envy, and let grace hold sway.
Yes – there is a most excellent way.

 

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Sparrow

Scratching amongst stubble after the gleaning
Provisioned by God, the sparrow finds grain,
Anxious for nothing, it’s pecking and preening,
Roosting and resting, then fluttering again.
Restless people, when God’s intervening
Open your heart, offload your pain –
Wealthy is the life to which Jesus gives meaning.

 

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Anchor

Adrift, aimless, without compass or chart,
No balm for the soul, no hope in the heart.
Christ alone guarantees us safe haven,
His Father, alone, has on his hands graven
Our names – a steadfast, firm, secure,
Redemptive love bringing us safe ashore.

 

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Suffering

Say it! Rant at God. Tell Him you’re mad.
Unleash the anger you didn’t know you had.
Faith should help, but now it’s hanging by a thread;
Friends speak clumsy words that are easier left unsaid.
Empty. Bereft. Scared by a diagnosis.
Raw emotion lets guilt seep in by osmosis.
In a heartbeat, your known world turns to dross.
No-one feels your pain or comprehends your loss.
God only knows! He went through it on the cross.

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Wisdom

Where are wisdom and understanding to be found?
In the ocean’s depths or far underground?
Sapphires and gold may have their brief worth;
Deep wisdom, though, lies not buried in the earth.
Often the richest vein is in the mine least explored:
Mortals strike wisdom when they discover the Lord.

 

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Rejoice

Relish every action which seems wise and fair
Enjoy each blessing, and each blessing share
Jot down details of every answered prayer
Observe God’s handiwork always, everywhere.
Incline your ear to the Spirit’s voice,
Counselled and comforted in every choice –
Even in the dark times, yet you may rejoice.

 

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