The title of these poems comes from a Twitter conversation, where it was suggested that “Holy Hooligans” was an apt way to describe the behaviour of some people in church, especially children!
We want the children to be seen, not heard,
To treat our holy place with some respect;
We like our peace and quiet undisturbed,
So this is the behaviour we expect:
No running up the aisle; don’t stand on pews;
No talking, even when the prayers are long;
No giggling; no sweets to suck or chew;
Boys wearing baseball caps inside is wrong!
Jesus himself said, “let the children come”;
We suffer them, for they’re tomorrow’s church –
But wait: it’s possible we’ve got it wrong
And ought to recognise today their worth.
So let us open wide our hearts and hands
To celebrate our Holy Hooligans.
It also occurred to me that “Holy Hooligan” might even be used to describe Jesus himself, especially when we think of him cleansing the Temple (e.g. Mark 11:15-17 , John 2:13-16)
He sees, on coming to the sacred space,
The merchants and the money-changers there.
With anger and compassion in his face
He tells them this is still a house of prayer.
He does not share the views of those who say
True worship needs a gift that shows perfection;
A whip of cords he takes to drive away
And turn the tables: is this insurrection
Against those serving God? He calls them thieves:
And though we read the story and agree,
We make it hard for those who would believe
By other barriers, that we may not see.
The way to God requires no talisman:
It’s opened by this Holy Hooligan.