Life Acrostics

A collection of acrostics looking at some of the ups and downs of Christian life. Several of them were written intially for our church magazine as a response to questions, conversations, sermons and events. I hope they offer a new and reflective insight into familiar topics. They all rhyme apart from the second, which has nonetheless proved one of the most popular.

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

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

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

Prophets – placed in this section rather than ‘Faith Acrostics’ because sometimes ordinary Christians have to speak out prophetically…

Year of Young People – an acrostic specially written for the Church of Scotland’s ‘Year of Young People’ (2018) but I’ve kept it here because faith communities need to be inter-generational

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 – in the New Testament, some people have to sell/ give up everything they have to find treasure

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

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. If you have been praying and praising: don’t be too quick to disturb the silence.

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)

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

A Time to Embrace – written during the Covid pandemic, once it had been brought sufficiently under control to allow us to hug again

Philadelphia – a reflection on a sermon series about the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2:1-3:22), written whilst the Church of Scotland is consulting on radical pruning of its local presence

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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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Prayer

Perhaps, more often, we should just listen, 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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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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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 cache holds its value forever.

 

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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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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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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 flying 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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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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A Time To Embrace, inspired by Ecclesiastes 3:5

At first we thought it would not last very long,

This ‘new normal’ of elbow bumps – we were wrong.
It became a time for us to refrain from embracing,
Mouthing our kisses from a two-metre spacing.
Encountering friends, we stopped short and withdrew,

Touching became a luxury, hugs became taboo.
Old folk close to death could not understand

Eye-moist loved ones who would not hold their hand,
Masks covered lips that craved a final kiss –
Bidding last farewells was never meant to be like this.
Relatives and friends severed by borders and oceans
Awaited a chance to share long-suppressed emotions.
Covid’s grip is loosening: soon we’ll re-discover touch,
Embracing friends and family we’ve missed so very much.

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Philadelphia.

Post-pandemic, we must ascend a new learning curve
Heeding the Holy Spirit about fresh ways to serve
In the midst of change and closures, sowing new seeds
Learning from past experience, yet meeting future needs
Asia’s seven churches send us lessons from the past
Despite their trials, one – Philadelphia – held fast
Enduring patiently, lovingly, they had no time for rifts
Limited in strength, yet rich in faith and gifts
Protected by God’s love, no-one could bring them down
Holding on to what they had, none could steal their crown
Illuminating our path, Philadelphia shines out from history
Allaying anxieties when God’s way seems a mystery.

 

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