The Sermon on the Plain

As I was walking on the plain
The crowds were gathering again
To hear that Galilean bloke
(I knew him by the way he spoke).
He ranted on on and as though
He didn’t like the status quo!
The man is odd, his teaching crazy
He does no work, his friends are lazy
He calls down blessings on the poor
But if some thief came to his door
And stole his stuff one afternoon
By evening he’d have changed his tune.

And yet I must admit that I
Was fascinated by this guy
I took my pen and word by word
Recorded (roughly) what I heard.

“For all your wealth you do not see
The earth is not your property
And though you buy your tracts of land
You do not own a grain of sand.
In spite of all the laws you pass
You do not own a blade of grass.
You proudly boast, ‘This land is mine.
Take notice of my Keep Out sign!’
You build your fences, build your walls
Yet in your wood the blackbird calls.
She knows you not, she comes for free,
She sings, ‘The wood is home to me.
I own it not, yet here I sit
The wood is me and I am it.’
Your Keep Out sign will surely rot
And when you’re dead, what have you got?
For all the bargains that you’ve driven
What do you have that was not given?
You claim some dwelling as your own,
It is not yours, it is on loan.
Bewildered by your fear of death
You grasp at life and choke its breath.
Now, hold it loosely in your hand –
You are the ground on which you stand
You are the leaf, the branch, the tree
You are the waves upon the sea
You are the wine, you are the bread
You are the sky above your head
You are the stars that spin in space
You are the paths the comets trace.
All is open, all is free
To those who own their poverty,
Then life prevails and love endures
For all is you, yet nothing yours.”

Developing the theme of lack
He took a slightly different tack:

“Life is filled with mysteries
That no one understands
Like water when it trickles through
The fingers of your hands.
You’re out of luck, you’ve lost you shirt
And everything you had,
But now you’re free to start from scratch
And things don’t seem so bad.
For when your hands are full
There is no way you can receive
And when you know it all for sure
There’s no need to believe
And always having lots of food
You lose the joy of taste
You end up throwing stuff away
And live a life of waste.
Abundance leads to selfishness
And finding life a bore
And never being satisfied
And wanting more and more.
But hunger teaches you to love
The simplest of things:
The colour of an orange,
An onion’s perfect rings…”

At this the wealthy people laughed
And one called out, “You must be daft!
I have good food, a lovely home,
Some little luxuries from Rome.
I think your listeners would agree
They’d love to be as rich as me!”

The Galilean shook his head
And turning to the man he said,

“Woe to those who sneer and laugh
Not thinking of the other half!
You cosy, carefree nighttime sleepers,
Learn from the prayerful, nighttime weepers.
Shedding tears, they save their laughter
For the joyous morning after,
When captive lands shall be set free
And all be shared out equally.”

“You seek for peace at any price
And love to be considered nice,
But woe to those who do not speak
When tyrants trample on the weak.
God loves the one who’s black and blue
Through standing up for what is true
And, buffeted by falsehood’s blows,
Still gives the lie a bloody nose”

Unfortunately that was all
I’d room to write upon my scroll.
I like to do the best I can
However, I’m a busy man,
My time was short, I could not stay
And so continued on my way
But as I left the plain I swear
I’m sure I heard the man declare
That I should love my enemy
Which makes no sort of sense to me.

Those were the words I heard him say
Though others that were there that day
Have also written down a list
Of things he said; they got the gist
But missed the spirit, I maintain,
Of what was said upon the plain.
I like to think it is no crime
That I’ve recorded this in rhyme.

Luke 6:17-38