Out beyond our understanding – a hymn inspired by Graham Adams’ book – Holy Anarchy

Rev Dr Graham Adams, of the Luther King Centre, has written a book entitled Holy Anarchy. Graham summarises the book here. The heart of Jesus’ vision is a reality he called the kingdom of God - 'a realm in which all dynamics of domination, not least in the church, are subverted'.
So this is Holy Anarchy of which Adams writes and in this hymn/poem I have been inspired by this vision.

Out beyond our understanding

Out beyond our understanding, 
holy ‘truths’ that have us bound,  
Holy Anarchy is waiting: 
shakes, disturbing what we’ve found. 
Strands beyond our human measure 
test what’s certain, where we stand, 
draw us out beyond our treasure 
to an unknown holy land.

Far from what we thought was certain, 
bound by darkness, hid by light, 
dare we risk this strange adventure, 
dream-like drifting, endless flight? 
Might we yet glimpse sense and purpose, 
seeming distant, yet so near, 
here within our present context, 
such a love as casts out fear?

More than we at first envisaged, 
broader than our widest scope, 
challenging our firm conceptions, 
thoughts on which we’ve placed our hope:  
this will strain imagination, 
take us from our comfort zone, 
seem like some incarnate chaos, 
nothing like we’ve ever known.

Andrew Pratt
Words © 2022 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider 
and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Tune: DIM ON IESU (a Welsh tune to reflect Graham's background)
Words inspired by Holy Anarchy, SCM, Graham Adams (2022). 

An extraordinary new hymn for the Passion/Easter season by Graham Adams – The people wanted soldiers

This hymn, by Graham Adams, arose from an ‘Empire’ module at Luther King House in Manchester last week. Graham says, “feel free to use as you wish!’ It connects with the Passion/Easter season. It was particularly stimulated by a discussion around whether ‘the alternative realm’ (God’s basileia/kingdom/empire) is ‘a quaint dream’ or something more ‘threatening’ – and the destabilising language of poetry spoke to this”.

The people wanted soldiers
so hope might come as curse,
to smash the occupation – 
but change turned up as Verse:
the poetry of yeasting,
the parabolic sword,
no match for Pax Romana* 
and yet this Lamb still roared.
Although it claims possession
of mind and heart and soul,
the Empire’s grip has limits – 
it can’t control the whole:
the surplus lives as Poem
for those with ears to hear,
resisting final closure,
declaring what is near:
This dream of re-creation,
this threat of life set free,
disturbing tame religion,
confounding how we see:
it won’t succumb to cliché
where purities abound,
but glimpsed in seeds’ potential,
it ruptures solid ground.
Where empires grow by violence,
where systems blame the last
and close down other futures
by editing the past,
the Poem can’t be silenced,
though quietly it dies,
and dances through the fissures
to teach us how to rise!
Graham Adams (2021) … prompted by the conversations during the Empire module   
Potential tunes: THORNBURY, CRUGER…
*Pax Romana is ‘the peace of Rome’ secured through military violence; if it’s easier to replace this with ‘crucifixion’, the meaning still works.