Books

Lyrical Riffs: 120 Readings from Bible verses

120 readings drawing on Bible verses. Useful for church services, events, small groups or personal reflections. Each reading features a repeated line which drives the piece forward and develops the meaning as the reading progresses.

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An extract from the book

1. Flesh  
And so God became flesh  
And lived amongst us  
He became flesh  
And played in the street  
He became flesh  
And was one of many local lads called Joshua  
He became flesh  
And learnt his dad’s skills  
He became flesh  
And sweated to keep the family business going  
He became flesh  
And was taxed to the hilt by the Romans  
He became flesh  
 
Had favourite food, good friends and rings under his eyes  
And so God became flesh  
And loved telling funny stories  
He became flesh  
And was popular in the neighbourhood  
He became flesh  
And had a cousin who had gone wild  
He became flesh  
Slipped out of town one day and returned with a manifesto for life  
God became flesh  
And understands suffering, temptation, hope, despair, laughter, anguish, craving, fear, satisfaction and doubt.  
 
John 1 v 14  
 
 
2. Today  
As a man dies naked, vulnerable and rejected,  
He looks at the figure fading beside him and mutters the line  
Today you will be with me in paradise  
Then he turns to the beggar breathing his last in the gutter  
Today you will be with me in paradise  
To the drug addict who fell into addiction to escape her past  
Today you will be with me in paradise  
To the pensioner dying alone at home  
Today you will be with me in paradise  
To the husband beaten and dying outside the pub in the early hours  
Today you will be with me in paradise  
To the child whose short life has been used up by others  
Today you will be with me in paradise  
To the forgotten and the lonely, the unlovely and non-celebrities  
Today you will be with me in paradise  
To the failures and the discarded ones  
Today you will be with me in paradise  
To the frightened, the weak and the small  
Today you will be with me in paradise.  
 
Luke 23 v 43  
 
 
3. The Peoples’ Prayer  
A man on a corner lifts his head to the sky, his blank face speaking silently  
Our father, in heaven  
A teenager sucks on a cigarette and blows the smoke to the heavens  
May your name be honoured  
A worker who wouldn’t dare be too vocal about his beliefs fingers the cross in his ear  
Your kingdom come, your will be done  
A group of soldiers rebuild a school that’s been recently bombed out  
On earth as it is in heaven  
A college girl pays triple for a copy of The Big Issue  
Give us this day our daily bread  
He bites his lip and shakes his head with regret  
And forgive us for the things we do wrong  
She jabs the keys on her mobile phone, framing the apology in her mind  
As we forgive those who do wrong to us  
A bus queue of agnostics send up silent cries for help about the coming day  
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory  
She watches the clock as another difficult afternoon finally closes  
Forever and ever, Amen.  
 
Matthew 6 vv 9-13  
 
 
123. On The Beach  
When Jesus met Peter on that beach  
After Peter had denied knowing him three times  
Jesus didn’t  
Confront him and make him feel small  
Hold a grudge for years  
Ask him to grovel and plead in the sand  
Order him to work hard for his forgiveness.  
 
When Peter met Jesus on that beach  
After he had denied knowing him three times  
Jesus asked him three times  
‘Do you love me?’  
And then he gave him a new start  
A fresh beginning  
‘Come, be my disciple,’ he said, ‘follow me.’  
 
When we meet Jesus each morning  
After another yesterday of ups and downs  
Jesus doesn’t  
Confront us and make us feel small  
Hold a grudge for years  
Ask us to grovel and plead in the sand  
Order us to work hard for our forgiveness.  
 
Instead  
Jesus asks us again  
‘Do you love me?’  
Even with the little love we have  
And he offers us a new start  
A fresh beginning,  
‘Come, be my disciple,’ he says, ‘follow me.’  
 
John 21 vv 13-19  
 
 
124. There  
I was there at the start when everything began  
When the lights first came on and breath came into man.  
I was with you in the days that followed on from there  
As things began to drift, with rebellion in the air.  
 
I was there when the first brother killed the other one  
When the stain of violence soiled the world, so much good undone.  
I was there in every battle, meeting those on every side  
Befriending anyone who’d notice as I crossed the great divide.  
 
I’ve been there in the peace, in the failure and success  
In the hopes and dreams and crashes, every mire every mess.  
But I’ve never been there more than on the day of Roman death  
When they took me, beat and nailed me, and stole my final breath.  
 
And there in that garden, when the tomb was cracked in two  
When faithful women looked for me and wondered what to do.  
When life was reinvented and resurrection filled the air  
The sign that I would never leave… that I would, yes… be always there. Joshua 1 v 9, Matthew 28 v 20  
 
 
125. Gaps  
God in the gaps  
In that thin moment after breathing out  
Before breathing in  
In that whispery pause before the service  
And the shuffling lull as it comes to an end  
In the unexpected places  
The un-spiritual zones  
The surprising moments  
The disorganised moments  
The disruptive moments  
In the shadowed nooks  
In the dusty corners  
In the cluttered places  
The Monday mess  
The Tuesday chores  
The Wednesday work  
And the Thursday thankless tasks  
When everyone around is expecting something else  
God arrives  
In strange disguise  
In the gaps.  
 
1 Kings 19 vv 11-12  

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