Catechism 45

Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?
No, only the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit can cleanse us from sin.
(New City Catechism)

    God, no water is enough.
Stains worsen when washed deeper in;
this is the deepest, from Adam to now.
       Only blood
    can wash away blood;
      only pure Breath can restore breath.
Nothing giving; the remedy hurts worse than the ill.
    Yet grace gives us this:
       gentle water as symbol,
    another’s death as the price,  impossible signed
    in this simplest plunge,
       the stain
   taken right back to the source.

Masaccio, "Baptism of Neophytes", Wikimedia Commons

Catechism 41


What is the Lord’s Prayer?

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

(New City Catechism)


Hands upraised,        hands open
        imploring              yet worshipping
receiving              yet giving
        asking                 yet content
forgiven               and forgiving
        on earth,              as it is in heaven;
now                    forever
        delivered             yet
              daily caught in moments’ fear…

Our Father     here    and Heaven’s king:
            teach us how to pray.

Confessional Hymn, After Gavin Bryars’ “Cadman Requiem” (Cornucopia of Heaven)



Confessional Hymn

After Gavin Bryars, “Cadman Requiem”


We were not there when stars were flung
           wide, wide,     across the vast expanse.
We were not there when hearts were knit,
            when breath was breathed inside.

We were not there when plans were made,
            when laws      in hearts were broken.
Yet we were there to feel death’s sting
            and feel          the plan’s undoing.

We were there when sparks flew up
            and fire scorned        the fickle ground,
when sound was lost and wings spun out
            and everything          was falling.

Ours were hearts un-tuned to sounds
            of life             and perfect leading.
Ours were rebel schemes which blew
            the hope         out of the sky.

Though stars may fail and hearts implode:
            still, still          Creator God, uphold.
        O kyrie  eleison,                Christ –

            have mercy    on us all.

Catechism 25

Does Christ’s death mean all our sins can be forgiven?
Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.
(New City Catechism)

It seems a dream
which never human mind could fathom.
No, I must repay the debt!
the striving self says in the face
of grace too grand, too reckless.

Yet all.
No helpless soul
could fiction up such headlines, nor
could guilt conceive such answer.
All: eternity before and after
sings redemption’s senseless song.

And all
the righteousness
bought on the tree, all glory, reward,
all ledgered out in our false names.
The beggar sits in fortune’s seat;
the Father sprints, arms open.

From Ashes: Sonnet

Though fearfully and wonderfully made,

There are abscesses where my dirt is stored:

See here, the time I learnt to cry, to wade

In mud and mire, and hurt of my own accord.

Though Grace has breathed its breath in me, I still

Retain the sick fruit of Adam’s broken soil;

In pain, in guilt, in deeds of death I till

What many days will buckle at my toil.

Distorted are the instincts of my breath;

Upended are the ways I read my years.

Reorder, Grace, and open up what death

Has stultified, now brackish from these tears.

Take heart, poor soul; the future comes in flood,

Revivifies the past with mercy’s blood.

Catechism 19

Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio, "Madonna dei Palafrenieri"
Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio, “Madonna dei Palafrenieri”

Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favour?

Yes, to satisfy his justice, God himself, out of mere mercy, reconciles us to himself and delivers us from sin and from the punishment for sin, by a Redeemer.

(New City Catechism)


Eve’s offspring – like a shoot
            from dead stump –
            will come
and crush the serpent’s
                        head, although
            his heel the snake shall bite.


bitter and long the pain
            and anguish,
            though deep
the venom’s journey,
                        though deadly,
            death shall not rule the day.


our curse, laid upon him
            shall crush and
            kill, he
shall look upon us,
                        his offspring,
            and his days shall be glad.


you broken: humbled, hope.
            Every creeping
            thing, rejoice!
The earth shall yield
                        its harvest
            and favour ever shine.

Lent 39: Saturday of Fifth Week

Sit with Him; eat with Him;

dip the bread, by His side –

Surely Lord not I?


Walk with Him through olive trees;

fall asleep and fail to pray;

watch as one of you betrays –

Surely Lord not I?


Warm yourself by cosy fires;

answer truth with spitting lies;

listen as the cock crows; Thrice

you will deny me. Adamant:

Surely Lord not I?


Watch as thorns are made His crown;

see the dice cast for His clothes;

see them spit and mock and dance;

see them cast their king aside;

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely Lord, not I?


See Him breathe with aching breath;

see Him lift Himself and gasp;

see Him turn His gaze to sky;

see Him ask in agony:

Forgive them, Father, they know not

what they do. See; watch and weep:

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely, Lord, not I?


See Him cast death, weak, aside;

see Him take on life and rise.

See Him lift the cursed ones too

and take them through His life and death;

see Him give His death to them

and give His life and give His pain

and give His life to live again.

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely, Lord, not I?