Poetry Competition Winner - News - Bible Society

Poetry Competition Winner

We asked you to submit your biblically-inspired poems on the theme of freedom to celebrate National Poetry Day. We enjoyed reading all competition entries and are pleased to announce that the winner is Andy Campbell.

Winning entry

We loved Andy's sensitive retelling of John 8 from the perspective of the woman caught in adultery, subtly potraying the freedom gained by a woman who faced death. 

Dragged from a lover's embrace I was
and into the bitter fury of the mob –
they who hoped my sin would mask their own,
their eyes full of jealous zeal,
with hearts broken like my own, if only they would admit so.

My nakedness shamed me more
than the stones of shouted accusation thrown –
my skin still warm from his greedy touch,
my lips still tasting his kiss,
yet do I catch glimpse of his form in the crowd now?

Propelled through walls of angry flesh
until I collapsed at His feet –
too tired now, too disorientated
to fully realise where, or whom I now was,
Straining with the crowd to hear His thoughts proclaimed.

The Law declared, justice demanded,
yet he stoops to the ground, and –
our eyes locked on each other,
he sketches awhile in the sand,
and then calmly asks them to begin.

But a caveat offered, a challenge laid,
"he without sin" invited to take pride of place –
the men, some ashamed, some confused,
wrestle with their inner demons,
until I am left, still crumpled into myself, alone.

Forgiven, and given, and given...
I understand now, the depth of this act –
A cloak is found for my now shivering form,
water for my lips, shoes for my feet,
and I will try to sin no more.

Andy Campbell

Andy wins a copy of Dai Woolridge's Prayers, Texts and Tears.


Special mentions

We enjoyed reading all the poems we received and wanted to a special mention to the work of George White and Joy Rice. 

George's piece was inspired by the the institution of the Lord's supper in Luke 22.

'I've earnestly desired to be with you' 
Jesus says from across the table.
'From your throw away conversations, jokes in train stations, university matriculations, in your depression and elation, 
I've earnestly desired to be with You.'

But I say, 'Lord I know I'm warped and riddled in mysteries and middles, I'm shaped out, out of shape in greys and blanks.
Trying to find my salvation in think tanks, rushing to put you my saviour as salt on food. 
But my kitchen is in ruins! And my heart is bruised!'

The glorious oddity that I've made a commodity, a sovereignty to serve me and fulfil my wildest dreams.
Oh Lord I'm a Pharisee it seems!
Working you into MY homilies, 
Squeezing you into MY stories. 

But earnestly you've desired to be with me.
To laugh and drink and eat with me, resetting my deepest priorities and saving me from myself.

My self that rips me at the seams, empty alone and wasted
my perspectives jaded 
because I've missed the point.
The place to which You point – Father, Son and Spirit not a wishful dream but one and here and present. 
Greatness sits serving as my empires keep yearning.

So I'm breaking out of this desert, where I think I'm drinking water but I'm thirsty all the time.
Where I try to be a disciple but end up a mime, retracing the steps of the kingdom of men, through the lens of the One who calls to me:

'Friend.'

'I'm not a beginning but the glorious end.'

'I’m not a whisper or a whim – not a kingdom full of gold pots at the end of rainbows you're sold.
But the triune God of old
the one in whom all time unfolds, and stories are told, and who breaks your earthly moulds.'

He’s the name that reworks and wrestles me.
He's the trinity that addresses me
He's the wine and bread that sets me free.

From. Me.

'I've earnestly desired to be with you.
To laugh and pray and eat with you, to greet you and entreat you to life and life in full.'

'So stop building your kingdoms' he says, arguing about greatness and position.
'Super apostle, worship leader, director of the team, before them all you’re called to Me.
This isn't platforms for fame and fortune and everything in between 
It's a change of heart
and whilst you're cutting off branches, 
I'm trying to grow a new tree.'

'Don't you see? It's me, always me.
Your life, satisfaction and destiny.
So come and sit and eat with me, true meaning to seek in the offering you see.'
A God poured out for you and me. 
Our object, our passion, screaming life from that tree.
With scarred, wounded hands he’s setting us free,
To build the Kingdom that lasts eternally. 

'Don’t you see? It’s me always me.
Your life, satisfaction and destiny.'

George White


Good News

The poor are always with us, said Jesus in his poverty.
The widow parting with her last mite in her generosity.
Destitute! Deprived! Would you walk a mile in their shoes?
What can I say to the poor except to bring them Good News?

The prisoners locked up and forgotten, all put away.
Incarcerated; innocent or guilty who am I to say?
Judge not lest you be judged; differing point of views.
What can I say to prisoners except to bring them Good News?

The blind imprisoned in darkness, lacking sense of sight.
No joy in God's creation, all dreariness and blight.
Blurred, obscured, no vision, nothing to peruse.
What can I say to the blind except to bring them Good News?

The oppressed cry out for justice, no one seems to hear.
Lives lived out in anguish, worry, panic and fear.
No justice for them, only persecution and abuse.
What can I say to the oppressed except to bring them Good News?

The spirit is upon me! Good News and New Life I give to thee!
I come to bring salvation, I come to set you free!
No longer living in darkness now the blind shall see!
Fear not, I walk beside you, come and walk with me!

I bring you everlasting life, a life that is full and free!
No worries or concerns no more, just come and follow me!
I cannot impose my freedom on you. It's up to you to choose.
What can I say to you, my friend, except to bring you Good News?

Joy Rice

Joy's poem was inspired by Luke 4.17–18

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