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Lay for the Day
26th December

The feast of St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who was stoned to death outside Jerusalem. "And Saul" – who would become St Paul – "was consenting unto his death."


A glory we who are condemned can only faith
Is the glory of one-in-all that Paul confessed,
For the human is not whole apart. Even breath
We borrow and return, as song, with interest.

The blood shed of love’s fools who felt it must be so,
Though it pollutes the earth, puts life into the heart
Of hearts, whose pulses hearts in all will one day know.
Those who held out for the low against the upstart

Tyrant, the self-made god, defended the juster
Against the unjust act, the more against the less
Equal share, even if the good they could muster
Fell short of the sum, trusted the sum of goodness

Has need of every little, and takes it in.
A glory we who have been pardoned cannot law
Is community of the pure in heart. Begin
To build with passing acts. The foundation is sure.

And a woman sings there who found no forgiver,
Where the hair of her that was shaved, blood of those killed,
Is swayed as a wheatfield and pours as a river,
And their rushing revoices the song of love fulfilled.


John Gibbens
from Church of Thorns


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar