Moderator’s Holiday Psalm

Moderator’s Holiday Psalm

God, is this really the holiday in hell?
Sin City some say —
the Gold Coast:
Sun-loving, alcohol fuelled, self-indulgent,
nightclubs, drugs and crime;
the glitzy gutter of the world,
tall buildings reaching for the heavens,
shallow lives, hardly profound or sublime.

Yet, God, as I walk the beach I see
young people together,
ethnically diverse,
playing footy, laughing, enjoying the fun;
children playing happily in the sand,
running away from fast flowing foam,
screeching with delight,
jumping endless waves hand in hand.

Families and people of all sorts and sizes,
mostly gathered between the flags,
share the churning surf and golden sand;
Muslim women hidden beneath head scarves,
long dresses billowing in the breeze,
unclad brown bodies,
in colourful bikinis and fading boardies …
What, God, can you find here to displease?

Awoken from my sleep at 4 am, or thereabouts,
I gaze out from my vantage point,
ten-plus stories up,
onto a dark sea gilded by floodlit Surfers beach …
a young couple, he in black, she in white,
walk to the water’s edge —
a handstand for him, a cartwheel for her,
a kiss and a cuddle to end the night.

More young people, half a dozen or so,
friends it would seem,
sit together on a rise of sand,
staring out at the black void of sky and sea,
listening, seeing, pondering, thinking what?
Maybe of eternal things!
Is this hell or the dwelling place of God?
Is it you or the devil who owns this spot?

Two young men stroll down onto the sand
and to my surprise,
on already said floodlit beach,
strip off all their clothes, run and dive into the sea
and, wow, they really do have some fun!
Is it so terrible? Is it so bad?
Outrageous, scandalous, indecent behaviour,
a sin about which I should beat my righteous drum?

In the paper, on the news just hours before,
ideology, theology,
what, in someone’s mind, is right …
seems more important than a house full of love.
Burning Korans, soldiers killing people for fun,
living bombs, innocents destroyed.
All in defence of a Holy God!
Is this really your desire? “Thy will be done.”

A $60 billion arms deal for the United States —
saving autocratic Saudi Arabia from nuclear Iran.
Mexican drug cartels —
purveyors of violence, harbingers of death,
flooding our land with vile cocaine.
How to bell the culprits,
for sins … a blight … creating
for you (my God) and the world, unending pain.

On Sunday morning the preacher preached:
“Biblical peace — more than the absence of war:
positive harmony and wellbeing.”
And then proclaimed,
“Jesus speaks of the greatest threat time and again:
wealth, riches, money,
true source of poverty and misery,
the great corrupter of both women and men.”

What I saw on the beach in the city of sin,
A touch of heaven!
Even if it is not without its hell:
people of all nations getting along,
families enjoying the day, people in love, having fun,
harmony and wellbeing …
what the Prince of Peace lived and died for,
God is creating: a life lived out in the sun.

Niall Reid

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