"How little can the rich man know Of what the poor man feels, When Want, like some dark dæmon foe, Nearer and nearer steals! He never tramp'd the weary round, A stroke of work to gain, And sicken'd at the dreaded sound Telling him 'twas in vain. Foot-sore, heart-sore, he never came Back through the winter's wind, To a dark cellar, there no flame, No light, no food, to find. He never saw his darlings lie Shivering, the flags their bed; He never heard that maddening cry, 'Daddy, a bit of bread!'" William Gaskell (in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, 1848)
A promise of heaven is fine if you’re dead,
but we’re in the present, need food and need bread,
the Christ that we ‘worship’ to whom we might pray,
would heal in the present, feed folk in his day.
And that still has meaning where poverty kills,
where selfishness injures – that’s not what God wills.
A levelling up, to which we might aspire,
says yes to the sacrifice God would require.
To follow the Christ child from manger to cross,
involves our self-giving not counting the loss,
to take from the poor while we bolster our wealth,
confirms our hypocrisy, signs our ill-health.
The world Jesus promised in action and word
made selfishness something both cruel and absurd;
to love every neighbour of each race and creed,
gave all of God’s grace to meet all the world’s need.
Andrew Pratt; 15/7/2021
Words © 2020 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
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