Food for Thought-Saturday Afternoon in Strabane

Sky Above Strabane, May 2014

Sky Above Strabane, May 2014

Saturday Afternoon in Strabane

Ruby’s sick, whatever will we do?
Go to the vet later this afternoon.
The place to be on Saturday between two and three,
dogs with cancer, cats with stitches, and rats with fleas.
Eamon with the Alsatian didn’t see me by the desk,
from one look at his dog’s bloody fur I chose not to protest.
Cassie the Collie was fifteen last week,
with three legs and cancer, she made me weep.
In my sorrow I appeared too distraught,
for a crazy man named Owen thought I must be taught,
about a secret cat fighting ring deep in Donegal.
It was at this time I had reached my level all.
When I heard the veterinarian say,
“How do I know which Seamus O’Grady
has the sick cow on back side of Clady Road?”
“Ask the other Seamus O’Grady down the far end,
for you he’ll be glad to show.”

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Anti-Authoritarian Emotionally Charged Proletarian Blues

Anti-Authoritarian Emotionally Charged Proletarian Blues

He’s got dirty feet and a red mind,
because Jesus’ been charged with state crimes
his spiritual hard drive was found to contain,
to much information, to many names,
of things the men in robes and scarves wanted to hide,
how the path of least resistance was better to glide,
to make decisions for who’s in and who’s out,
or what should be said from the preacher’s mouth.
I wonder what mediocrity they’re planning now.
What farmer are they robbing for their next sacred cow?
They’ll find a way to tell us we’re wrong,
All will be great ’cause they’ll do it through song.
Everything goes better with a worship chorus,
there is no one to be bored among most of us,
lulled by the intoxicating spiritual novocaine,
to lift our hands and forget the pain,
of our lives and the shadow of a dying church,
neglecting the needs of a place that hurts.
Day after day, we lecture ourselves,
certain the real world will pull from the shelves,
the minutes of conference and read our debates,
and care about pensions and missions, it’s a mistake.
If you believe the future can’t be solved by break-outs,
seminars, and listening to what others tout,
and hold the will to carry out the simple task,
of relational love and dropping the old mask,
of we’ve always done it this way,
find me, I’ll be the one not having a good day.
Behind the MacBooks, iPads, and electronic aromas,
I’ll be sitting in the back with my Smith-Corona.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Sermon.Homily, Reflection on Ephesians 1:15-23 Easter 7 A

peter-and-paul

 

Paul is one of the most practical pastor- theologians to have ever lived. Unlike many in the modern world who would have us believe that there are codes embedded behind every piece of scripture, Paul had no problem coming right out and saying what was on his mind. Paul was never part of a Gnostic conspiracy to hide a semi-ancient truth or a nefarious plan to subvert the church.  Sorry Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and most documentaries I’ve seen in the past ten years.

His ideas were always there, hiding in plain sight. If anything, they were so bold, so black and white, that people often blew right by the simpler portions to the meatier “intellectual” arguments not realizing that the best stuff was the simple stuff. It’s those things he said clearly, at the most unexpected places, that really gives you insight into how Paul lives and who he is which can teach us so much about how we should live as Christians. We rarely realize that Paul is giving us his key, a personal look into his spiritual carry-on bag. In the opening to the book of Ephesians, 7 verses, normally called a greeting that people glaze over on the way to the more “important” stuff, Paul is telling you things about himself, that you can use for yourself, that if you do these same things in your own life, it will change your life forever. For Paul, the moment the quill hits the parchment, he wants you to know what his habits are, his 7 habits of highly effective Christians.

This is important stuff. How people use their time, energy, and efforts to become better at what they do; because we can always use that help, especially in a faith sense. You might not have seen it on first read, but it is there. Paul says, I’ve found what works and now let me share it with you. So let’s read through it again and look at his list.

Ephesians 1:15-23

1. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing-What is the Business About, Faith in Jesus or Something Else (Lots of Competition of the Something Else Slot)
2. Love Each Other (This one comes straight from Jesus personally, remember
3. Constant Thankfulness (Could this one be the hardest one of all?)
4. Focus Directed Prayer Life (Perhaps the 2nd hardest or first, depending on how thankful you are.)
5. Seek and Practice a Spirit of Wisdom (Perspective, Compassion, walking a mile in your neighbors shoes, or go barefoot in their life) This one is also about being less judgmental.
6. Live in hope. (This is one is hard but crucial)
7. Begin with the end in mind. What you do is not through you, but through God’s work that has enabled your actions to occur. Recognize the source of our strength and where it’s all going to flow back to. Christians are people who know the finished product, however far down the line matters a great deal.

If we can integrate these 7 habits into our lives we will begin to build a foundation of daily Christian experience that is rooted in the fundamentals of prayer, community, thankfulness, hope, and Christ-centeredness. Paul has identified the most basic elements for any Christian or Christian community (in these seven verses near the beginning of the book of Ephesians) that have been consistently shown to work across national borders, cultural barriers, time, languages, church sizes, and through various forms of oppression. If we can lock on to these 7 simple practices to which Paul has isolated, even within the chaos and confusion of our world, we are honoring our past but we are also preparing for our future in the most practical way possible. I can just hear the people at Ephesus when they received this letter. Does he really pray for us every day? Does he do all this stuff? He says he is thankful all the time? He doesn’t expect us to sign up for this, does he? I think he does. I think it’s our time, our turn.

–Richard

Food for Thought-An Ode to Uncertainty

An Ode to Uncertainty

I sing of uncertainty,
of constant questioning,
the physical embrace of doubt,
a rejection of surety,
and to condemn the fools who’ve figured life out.

I sing not of walking in my shoes,
but going barefoot each day, I choose,
life without knowing the certain place,
from where might arrive my saving grace,
will there be money for water or coal to burn?
Who could help you in the economic downturn?

Each day on the telly, I’m told things are better,
but up to now, I have yet to receive my upturn letter.
Am I blind and dumb to the world’s unfolding collage,
the shuttered textile factory next door is surely a mirage.

For nothing is as it seems, in the land of the Queen,
Cameron, and Coronation Street in the year 2014.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-An Epic Opening, of Sorts

An Epic Opening, of Sorts

How shall I sing the praises,
of this green and noble land?
With song and lyre or
word and rhyme?
Have I the day
to quickly tell
of noble deeds
and passions quelled,
by gallant lords,
on valiant steeds,
who rode across flowing streams,
through verdant hills,
whose deeds of bravery,
have never been,
seen by those,
who live under,
cloud, rock, or star.
No one knows,
how this begun,
before the dawn,
of recorded time,
what we call the sun,
refused to shine,
these brave men,
fought the war,
of light against dark
forevermore,
splitting life in three pieces,
the present, future, and forever past,
an evil place where time would always last,
an eternal prison without memories or grace.
The cunning evils I am sent to face,
are but bitter succour while I wait,
to redeem those trapped in this
frozen void of emotionless bliss.

-Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Too Close to Home (A Poem)

A bomb exploded at a large hotel about one mile from one of my churches last night.

Too Close to Home

There was a bomb near home last night,
the explosion caused a powerful fright,
the hooded man carried a bag,
burdened with death into the crag.

The stony front desk at the Hotel Everglades,
to which he announced I am from the IRA,
if you are not gone from here in 45 minutes,
that time from now with be your death sentence.

As he disappears, what do you do?
Frozen with fear or call others too?
Lives matter in these recent days,
with Feinian boys games aren’t played.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-From Act II Scene III of My Irish Opera, the Potato Pirate

Off stage, Liam and Seamus watch the lovely Philomena preparing a meal in the local pub. Liam, a one handed pirate who is afraid to show his affections for the beautiful Philomena in this time of famine and plague, is attempting to convince his manservant Seamus, to disguise himself (as Liam), so he might know his true feelings for her…

Introductory Aria, (Philomena sings quietly to herself.)

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Ask this maiden fair,
doth she truly care,
for my soul tis ripped,
and torn apart,
the famine has gathered
and shipped from emerald shores,
Many men beyond the sea.
seek her now,
will Philomena have,
my one good hand,
in matrimony?

Food for Thought-The Mad Preacher Food Bank Manifesto

The Mad Preacher Food Bank Manifesto

You ask me if I still care,
and my emphatic answer is why,
is it that I continue to bare
the burdens of the many lies
told by the corporate mares.

Pigs and horses in capitalist barns,
forcing me to lead guided tours of scorn,
here are the places the hungry stay,
but don’t ask questions until the end of the day.

For we all know they chose to be this way,
it’s best to let them live on what we pay.
You should not ask for extra donations or cash,
for it’s a sin to enable them to enlarge their stash.

We all know and have heard their stories,
but I cannot help those who fall short of their judgmental glory.
Check me out and set me free,
apart of this system, I no longer choose to be.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Another Bardic Encounter

 

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Once you start down that iambic road, it’s hard to stop…

A Sonnet of Sorts

What would you have me do, deny my own,
then forswear him before the Gods alone,
can you not see this tumult lacks reason,
the sacred streams of this teeming season,
have but to remind that we fight in vain,
against each other we find only pain,
let us look to the deep beyond our realm,
where waters chide our spirits and cast spells,
here is where good men’s virtue comes to die,
hoodwinked and bound by subservient pride,
afeard am I that we may never keep,
if this wanton strife befall our land sweet,
the time descends to hasten my release,
may prudence prevail so there may be peace.

–Richard Bryant