Thursday, January 29, 2009

for the preachers

Tell me the story again–
I know you’ve told me before,
Hundreds of times,
But I was given a mind like a child
And like a child I recognize a good tale
When I hear it, and so tell it to me again
So I can live in it body, mind, and soul

Let me sit down at your feet,
Master bard, prophet, priest, and poet alike,
The keeper of the keys of our history.

Tell me of our ancestors
Who rose up and followed a midnight voice
To go find the light
Who stayed in darkness and did dark deeds
Who called upon the name of the Lord
Who built a tower to bring Him down
Tell me again of the great rebellion
Tell me again of the remnant that remained

Tell me of the heroes who paved the way
For the greater Hero who was to come
Tell me of His kindness toward the unkind
Tell me of the bloody battle that tore Him to pieces
And of the victory He won on the third day

And tell me of the fathers and the mothers
Who handed on the flame of love through
Persecution and nakedness and famine and sword

And tell me your story, O preacher–
Tell me of your sin forgiven, soul redeemed,
Mind renewed, body marked for resurrection.
Tell your story to tell the greater One
Over and over and over again

So that we children at your feet
May find the courage and skill to tell ours.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I came to meet God today--

I came to hear the voice that spoke the stars into space,
the voice that was Word, Word that was flesh,
flesh that is body and blood broken for us,
bread and wine for the long road ahead,
and I will taste and see that the Lord is good.

I came to meet God today,
and angels caught me unaware
as they went dancing up and down the stairs
hung in between heaven and earth;
they taught me their one-song glory
and told to me the old, old story
of eternity invading time,
of a kingdom coming for you, for me.
For in the six days of nine to five
I stand a little less alive,
like the silver cord that will one day break
(for dust we are, to dust we will return),
but today the Lord said let there be light,
and we are raised to life like a dry bone army
only to have the Spirit set us aflame.

I came to meet God with His blood on my hands,
but before this Judge I don't fear to stand,
because these stains are my safety and my alibi,
so I raise them up rejoicing like a flag flown high in a hostile country;
they are the marks of my longing for my true fatherland.
I just came here to get a glimpse,
to hear its song, to taste its riches.

I came to meet God today
and at first I didn't recognize Him because
He looked an awful lot like you,
for we too are His body,
broken and poured out like a drink offering,
but raised up again to life and seated in Him in the heavens.
Sorry, Ms. Rowling, we are the real
Order of the Phoenix--and we don't need spells!
We are the children of the Deeper Magic from before the dawn of time.

I came to meet God today,
and He left His kiss on my lips
and His name on my hands
(and in those days, He said, one will
write on her hands, "I am the Lord's").

I came to meet God today
only to find that He came to meet me,
came to meet us
instead.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

the advent series (2008)

He hadn't meant to fall asleep--

The watchman had stood steady through the night
Waiting for the morning, waiting for the morning,
And for the king's coming at the trumpet sound.
The night was cold, and his enemies many, so
He set his heels into the rock to stand his ground.

But who, of course, watches the watchman?

And the clouds came and veiled the moon,
Still waiting for the sun's return,
And the watchman squinted for the stars;
The night grew longer, the hours ticking by,
And he still stood like a remembering stone.

But the next thing he knew, he snapped awake
To the cries: "The king has come!"
And he looked down from the walls to see the surrounding
City burning, light and heat incarnate,
And he felt a hand on his shoulder, and a voice:
"My boy, why couldn't you stay awake for me one hour?"

He covered his eyes in shame.

And the king replied, "Don't you know
That I neither slumber nor sleep?
Rise: I defeated your enemies in the night."

And it was only then that the watchman saw
His master's hands covered in scars.

* * *
And the herald came shouting in the desert places:
"The king is coming; come out, ye folk, and greet him!"

And the cry rose up from the gates
Of the city, echoed like wave upon wave,
Deep calling to deep: "The king comes
From a far country bringing treasure and peace,
Reconciliation with an ancient lord,
Comfort for a city ravaged by war."

And the people went out with their
Filthy rags to wash themselves clean
In the river--but some of them stayed, saying,
"Why should we go to meet him?
He is slow in coming, and there's work to be done."

And the king came, not with pomp and circumstance,
But in warrior's gear, with his treasures hidden,
To greet his ragged and weary people,
And exchange their rags for robes and crowns.
And he sent up a cry to the folk inside the walls:
"I was not slow in coming as you count sloth;
I was giving you time to still come."

* * *
And the king quietly stole into the city
To seek a woman, lovelier than lovely,
His beloved, his betrothed, his queen.

But he found her on the streets,
Threadbare, homeless, covered in dirt
And tears, garments rent, eyes filled with shame
And fear when he came to her and took her hand--
"Beloved, didn't you know I'd be back for you?"

"You don't know, you don't know what
I've done while you were gone--
I thought you weren't coming back,
And I gave myself to others..."

He didn't say a word, but folded her into his
Embrace a while, then turned to his friend
And aide and said, "You've heard all that has
Been said. So go and get from my treasury
The finest crown, the best of robes,
The most precious of jewels, for I came
For my beloved, to give her glory and beauty
In place of her shame; my battle scars were
Won to make her mine."

And he looked at her and said,
"I know everything, and yet, my beloved,
I'll still take you in, if you'll but pledge your trust."

And his friend went forth crying through the city,
"The king has taken for himself a wife--
Come join the wedding feast a while."

* * *
And the herald went forth through the city,
Shouting to the people both inside and out:
"Come, all ye faithful to the true King,
Come and rejoice in his triumph over our enemies!
Come and pay your homage!

"And come all ye unfaithful, you adulterers
And thieves and traitors, come join and receive
Forgiveness and blessing!
Come receive mercy and clemency,
Reconciliation and peace!

"For he comes with healing in his wake,
Riches for the poor, justice for the oppressed,
Food for the hungry, exaltation for the humble!
He will come and turn the world upside-down."

And the king came to the city with his bride,
Now both arrayed with royal splendor,
And he looked on the people, and he started the work
Of rebuilding.