top of page



It seemed to be a heady day
the morning was warming up
the streets already buzzing
with a million pilgrims
pushing their way into a city not built for that many
and all heading to the temple
to prepare for Passover

The disciples moved down from the Bethany hill
a tiny band against a million pilgrims
towards the city
their shouts hardly heard
their mock parade hardly noticed
against the Passover surge

And their hosannas
fell on deafened ears
casting themselves like broken palms
across a donkey’s pathway





This was the moment
you knew you were a Jew.

Walking into the temple
at Passover
with 2 million pilgrims

This was the moment
you know what it meant
to be Jewish

The Romans had taken our land;
We had to live by their laws;
Their word was our command;
They asked us to carry their bag,
and we had to ask how far;
Their presence was felt on the streets
at the market
in our homes

But not in the temple.

There we could still be Jewish
and do that very thing
we had always done
that made us Jews:
God’s bidding at Passover.

So when the noise started
and the crack of doves wings silenced the crowd
and coins irritated the hush
with a metallic dissonance
across the shouts
of stall holders
and a table being scraped and thrown
into the air
sending vortexes twisting
the blue smoke of incense
we thought we knew what it was
and our hackles rose
hands ready to pick up stones
and hurl them at the Romans
daring to trespass
our Passover
our faith
our holy ground

But in the rapid whispers
and in the fast moving rumours
that spread around us
we heard
this was no Roman infiltration

this spitting madman
was one of our own.



Taking the Road

For Two Voices

Taking the road
that wound up from Jericho
through the hills of the Judean desert…

…O how those places brought back memories  
of temptation and samaritans
and the Baptist’s shouts…

…his feet the colour of dust
the long walk and excited disciples,
the city only two miles away…

…O the experiences that came flooding back
of the sending of the 70
and shaking the dust from their feet and walking away…

…Jesus sent two of them to the village ahead
to speak of a master
who needed a donkey as yet unridden…

…O the questions that we found ourselves asking again
of what Jesus was about
and the unfolding kingdom…

…They threw their cloaks over the animal
Jesus climbed onto her back
and the pretender rode towards Jerusalem…

…O the the times we had done this before:
daring the authorities
with words and acts that incited the authorities…

…On the Mount of Olives
Jerusalem lay before them
Herod’s new temple complex being built…

…O the moments we had paused like this
our hearts beating
with the audacity of the kingdom…

…The crowds swirled round the temple gates
a thousand, thousand pilgrims
finding their Jewish pride in a country overrun by Romans…

…O the conversations they recalled
about empire and rendering to Caesar
and fish with coins in their mouths…

…A pilgrim shouted, “God bless the king!”
and others joined in
with cloaks and branches…

…O the sound of the crowd
recognising the Messiah with hosanna yes’
For this had we not hoped all along?…

…And they wound their way down the hillside
past a garden called Gethsemane,
but they did not notice Jesus crying…

…O my beloved Jerusalem
If only you knew
what makes for the way of peace…

…And the prince of peace
swallowed up by the crowd
was lost in the throng…

…O the anticlimax
around an ‘almost-kingdom’
and the temple hunched its shoulders in the heat…



Palm Sunday

                          Psalm 24

Did you really know?


Pilgrim God
did you really know
what you were coming in to…
What words might we use
to speak of you today?


They seem too grand and confident
for a messiah on a donkey
and a whole city against you.

What words shall we use
to describe you?

Even ‘Messiah’ seems out of place
so distant from our expectations
now so twisted
after this triumphal entry
that mocks all our beliefs.

What words shall we use
to speak of you…

God who walks into death
Saviour who chooses conflict
Redeemer who journeys towards a cross?

What words shall we use…?

Or shall we
with a greater honesty
hold silence
and let words
fall with the palm branches
and be broken underfoot
and simply wonder
and hold our breath
at what love has chosen


Let us finish speaking OF you
and begin to speak WITH you
O Word of life

So be it




It was in his face all along.
Why couldn’t they see it:
the fear in his eyes,
they way he cared less for laughter
and befriended silence more,
preferring the darkness
wandering off to sit alone in it
rather than the company he once enjoyed.

He was irritated
not just with us
but with everything:
with the Romans,
with the temple,
with the fig tree,
with God.

I’d never seen him like this.
He was the gentle one
who took me in just as I was
and I tried to sooth his feet again
like I did before
but he was having none of it.

He hardly slept.
He ate little.
He prayed a lot.

Jerusalem was never going to be an easy choice for him.
We all knew that.
It was filled with religious dangers.
He’d look over his shoulder at some group in conversation
as if they were talking about him.
He was on edge all the time
sensing too much of what was stirring behind the scenes
and he couldn’t control it,
or force it,
or second-guess it.

So I let him be.
I left him to his thoughts.
Goodness knows how deep they went,
right to his soul no doubt.
I still loved him
just as he was like that.

But when Judas betrayed him
Jesus seemed almost relieved.

Finally he knew:
this was the way it was going to be,
this was how it would begin.
So he took bread
and broke it between us
his body he said, torn, betrayed, divided between us
but he still loved each of us
just as we were.

Then the bitter wine,
a sign of the kingdom to come.
But what was this kingdom turning out to be
that it was to be sealed in blood?

He never said another word after that.
Not to me.
He just left
and the darkness of night surrounded him
like his new best friend.

But even like that,
a lamb among wolves,
I still loved him.



bottom of page