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Blog

 

SERMONS

Transfixed
Tranfigured
Da Vinci Sermon: "Mary, Mary Extroadinary"

 

LECTURES

Special 23-Part Series on I Corinthians Exegesis, July 2007 (click here to order)
Long Suffering Job – The Man and His Manuscript
Da Vinci Seminar, Part 1: "Faith, Fact, Fiction?"
Da Vinci Seminar, Part 2: "Faith, Fact, Fiction?"

 

POEMS

Closure
Fire On Ice
Ode For a Winter's Day
RSVP
Shade Tree
Pope's Passing
Incognito

 

PRESENTATIONS

Creation and the Origin of Human Culture (download)
Creation, Fall, Salvation (download)
Crowned with Honor, Glory and Dominion (download)
Holy Words – Holy Writ (download)
On Dispensing With Dispensationalism, Part 1 (download)
On Dispensing With Dispensationalism, Part 2 (download)
Teaching and Preaching on the Afterlife (download)
How to have a Nice Afterlife (download)

 


TRANSFIXED – Rev. 21.1-22.5

Have you ever really longed to go home? You been away for a long time, and you miss the friends, the family, the food, the physical landscape that spells home. You miss that profound sense of being at home, at rest, in sanctuary, secure, and beyond reproach. Far from the madding crowd, far from the busyness and anxieties of life. In his beautiful poem Heaven-Haven Gerard Manley Hopkins puts it this way: AI have desired to go / Where springs not fail / To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail / And a few lilies blow / and I have asked to be / Where no storms come / Where the green swell is in the havens dum b/ and out of the swing of the sea. Fredrick Buechner in his powerful book The Longing for Home speaks of the primal nature of the longing for home. He reminds us of our clichés – There’s no place like home – words spoken by Dorothy when she was in Oz and so very much longed to go back to Kansas. But of that home from which we have come, Thomas Wolfe, that great N.C. novelist says You can never go home again – You may miss it, long for it, seek it, but it can not be your destination as a Christian person. But oh how powerfully does it tug at our hearts, this home from whence we have come. Story of fall trip to Asheville and Linville in fall 2003, tears and joy at its beauty.

The Christian journey you see is not finally a journey back, but a journey forward. It has been said that a Jew is a person who faces the past and backs his way into the future saying “tradition, tradition, tradition”, but the Christian is a person who looks forward, who “looks homeward angel” and reminds herself “the future is a bright as the promises of God”. I think that this contrast between the Jew and the Christians is partially true, but it is striking to me that early Jews of John’s day didn’t necessarily see life that way. Consider the following quote from 4th Ezra, a Jewish work written almost at the same time as John’s Apocalypse – “For many miseries will affect those who inhabit the world in the last times, because they have walked in great pride. But it is for you that Paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the age to come is prepared, plenty is provided, a city is built, rest is appointed, goodness is established, and wisdom is perfected beforehand.” 4 Ez. 8.48-52

Today it is our task to examine John of Patmos – dream home, the destiny and destination to which he has been pointed in his vision and to which he points us. John knows that God has put in the heart of every human a homesickness, that can only be cured when one enters the new Jerusalem. Stuck on a God-forsaken island, in exile from home and hearth and friends and family, John dreams a big dream of an eternal home, a dream home that was once in heaven, but shall become heaven on earth when Christ returns.

It is not a surprise that when John describes this place, this home, this final destination that he thinks of both a beautiful garden like Eden unspoiled, and a grand city, like Jerusalem untainted by sin and sorrow and suffering, free from disease, decay and death. He does not see our destination as an escape into a safe haven far away from humanity like a wildlife sanctuary or a monastery, but rather a pilgrimage into the midst of a city full of people which also contains a garden. It is as if the monastery and the wildlife sanctuary have been incorporated into the city successfully. In other words, it is as if finally the harmony between nature and human nature, the peace between human beings and God has finally been achieved in the presence of the radiant Christ, the bridegroom. But that it not all, for not only does the bridegroom come walking down the stairsteps of heaven to meet the bride, but the heavenly city, the saints and all that is in it comes with him. Heaven comes down, and glory will fill our souls. Our ultimate destiny is not, nor has it ever been to live in a disembodied condition in heaven forever and ever amen. Our ultimate destiny is to be fully conformed to the image of Christ by means of resurrection, and thereby made fit to dwell in the new Jerusalem, the holy city, in which there will be no more sin or suffering or sorrow or disease or decay or death, or war or weapons or violence.

Think of it – a home town with no need of hospital, no need of police, no need of walls save for ceremonial purposes, no need of firemen or insurance agents, no Temple in its midst for the division between the sacred and the secular will be obliterated forever – all the land will be our Father’s land, and all the city will be holy and light, and in it there will be no shadow of turning, no darkness at all, for in Him there is no darkness at all. It will be the ultimate family reunion, the ultimate marriage celebration, the ultimate triumph of all that is good and true and beautiful and loving over all that is wicked and false and ugly and hateful. We will not study war any more, we will not need a Homeland security division, we will not need politicians to tell us what is best, we will not need to be pointed toward God for we will be dwelling right in his midst: Immanuel. Faith will become sight, hope will be realized, and perfect love will cast out all fear. Don’t you want go home? Don’t you want to be there? Don’t sell your ticket to the final destination for the lesser good of dying and going to be with Jesus.

Eugene Peterson puts it this way ‘Many people want to go to heaven the way they want to go to Florida’ they think the weather will be an improvement and the people decent. But the Biblical final destination is not merely heaven, it is new heaven and new earth. It is not a nice environment far removed from the stress of the hard city life. It is the invasion of the earthly city by the heavenly one. We enter this final destination not by escaping what we do not like but by the sanctification of the place in which God has placed us. We enter this final destination by finally being fully conformed to the image of Christ by means of a resurrection. Then, then indeed we may talk in the full sense of Christian perfection, nothing less than the full conformity to the image of Christ in body as well as in mind and spirit and emotions. Don’t you want to be there? Don’t you want to go home?

This home is not achieved, it is to be received. It is not accomplished, it is entered by grace through faith. It is a city in which God himself condescends and there is a corporate merger between heaven and earth, and God in person will personally wipe away every tear from every eye. The future is so bright we will all need shades, as we are told there will be no more night. The future is so bright, that in this city we will not only have all we need, we will have all we want and want only all we have. The future is so bright that there will even be the healing of the memories as is symbolized by the medicinal trees meant for healing in the golden city. And we will reign forever and ever on earth with our God and with his Christ.

Tell the story of worship in the catacombs and of my grandfather. Our final destiny is indeed to love God and enjoy him forever. Casting down our golden crowns before the glassy sea. With the whole company of heaven, with all the saints of the past and now we experience’ Exultation, adoration, celebration, jubilation, coronation, destination all wrapped into one. Don’t you want to be there? Don’t you want to go home? Hear now the way that Jackson Browne describes it.

Amen

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Transfigured---- Rev. 4

It happened to Isaiah a long time ago. He went into the Temple and encountered more than he had counted on. He says AI saw the Lord........ The Temple was seen as the juncture between earth and heaven, and he had a close encounter of the first kind with the Almighty. The thing about any such encounter, if it really is God one is encountering is that it is a matter of communion between two beings of very different orders. A close encounter with God paradoxically enough both widens and narrows the gap between God and us. It widens it because any such genuine encounter makes clear that God is God and we are not! Notice what Isaiah says "woe unto me, I am a man of unclean lips". God is the Holy One, and Isaiah, even with his priestly and prophetic pedigree is so NOT the Holy One. Worship happens when the creature realizes he is not the Creator, and bows down before and adores the one who is. That is true worship. It is about giving up, surrendering, presenting your self as a living sacrifice, bowing down, recognizing and restoring the creation order of things.

But the gap is also NARROWED in the sense that when we bow down, God condescends to come down to our level and honors our worship and we encounter God. Worship creates a communion which maintains the separation of God and humankind. As G.K. Chesterton once said, a creature is not made so that he can worship himself any more than you can fall in love with yourself – or if in a fit of narcissism you do so, it will be a monotonous courtship.

Worship is not about our cozying up to God, our buddy or pal. There is of course intimacy with Abba, but we are in no way being set up in a partnership of equals in worship. A partnership or koinonia between equals results in fellowship, not worship. So let us be clear – the experience of Isaiah was worship. Any experience which seeks to put us up on God's level is not worship. It is inappropriate and even shocking familarity, indeed it can even be called idolatry. God condescends and remains God, we do not ascend and become as gods. If we once ceased to be the creature and became absorbed by the deity we would no longer be capable of worship. Worship inherently implies a distinction between the worshipper and the one worshipped. Furthermore, when real worship happens we become even more creaturely, even more of what we were intended to be as image of God. We become eternal worshippers of the Triune One

The English word worship actually comes from the combination of two words – worth and ship from the Olde Englishe. It has to do with honoring, giving homage to one who is worthy to receive such praise, attention, obeisance: "Thou art worthy". We by contrast are not worthy of such absolute, unconditional devotion and adoration. Idolatry is the polar opposite of true worship. It is ascribing deity to, and serving and sublimating one's self before, something that is less than God Almighty a human ruler, a parent, a friend, a conqueror, a lover, a teacher or mentor, or even one's self. There are many forms idolatry can take.

But consider another OT worship experience. Just like Isaiah, Ezekiel was taken by surprise by the God who is the Hound of Heaven who just keeps coming our way in divine condescension, even in surprising places. Isaiah had his close encounter and was transfigured in the Temple. But Ezekiel was sitting by the canal Chebar in exile in Babylon swatting mosquitoes the size of small birds when God gave him the awesome throne chariot vision. Worship was not a matter of a holy place for Ezekiel, rather what he learned is that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof even the Land of the Exile. God's presence can be encountered anywhere, at any time.

This vision is crucial not only for Ezekiel, but also in a modified form for John of Patmos who also sees the throne chariot vision. To be sure, John also was not in church or synagogue when he saw the mysterium tremendum recorded in Rev. 4. He too was in exile, on a rock pile off the coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), when we hear 'I was in the Spirit on the Lord's... and I heard.... and I saw'.... He was in the Spirit, not in the church. Its not a matter of holy space, it's a matter of holy or at least receptive, condition. But with the mention of the Lord's day it may suggest a holy time, a time for worship. It is no accident that Ezekiel had his vision on the very day he should have been anointed priest in the temple in Jerusalem. It was a holy time for him.
Our proper text for today, Rev. 4, raises compelling questions about the nature of worship, and our posture and preparation for it. So often we will hear people say AI don't go to that worship service because I don't get anything out of it. But wait a minute who is supposed to be doing the worshipping here? If it is the congregation then the primary question should be, where can I go to best GIVE praise and worship to God, not where can I go to GET the most out of it. Ex. Blind elderly lady.....

Worship is not and never was intended to be a spectator sport or the performance of the few for the benefit of the many couch potatoes in the pew. The consumer approach to worship puts the emphasis almost entirely on the wrong syllable. It leads to pastors desperately seeking to change worship patterns and acts so it will attract a bigger crowd on the theory that worship should be a matter of giving the people what they want and crave. WRONGC WORSHIP IS A MATTER OF GIVING TO GOD WHAT HE DESIRES AND REQUIRES OF US. If you end up with a nice buzz because of it, that=s a bonus and a by-product, its not what we are striving for. John of Patmos was not looking for a more au courant worship service when he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day and received a vision.

Consider first what was the pre-requisite for John receiving the vision. It was not that the right mood was being set by the music. It was not that he was in the right place. It was rather that he came prepared for an encounter in holy time, he came prepared to give honor and praise and glory on the Lord's Day. He was wide open to the Spirit to such a degree that it says he was in the Spirit. Notice it does not say the Spirit was in him, though that is also true. No, he had already immersed himself in the divine presence before the vision came. This likely means that he had prepared his heart to worship, he had repented of his sins, he had been shriven or cleansed, and so he boldly approached the Presence and immersed himself in God.

And when God gave him the vision what a vision it was a vision of heavenly worship that transfixed and transfigured him. He saw representative samplings of all the different orders of creature lifting up God on God's throne animals, humans, angels all were symbolically present in the Presence of God lifting up God on his throne. The 24 elders representing God's people, both old and new and though they were given thrones, they fell down before him who was on the throne and worshipped him. The living critters with eyes everywhere seeing all there was to see, were in wide-eyed amazement, never stopped saying Holy, Holy Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, now and forever.

Why is God worthy of such worship? Because he is the creator God who made all the creatures for just such a purpose. AIt is the chief aim of humankind to love God and enjoy and adore him for ever. as John Knox once said. The most important act on earth is worship. It completes the intended life cycle of all creatures great and small. The chief end of humankind and human history is NOT the salvation of all persons. I will say that again. SALVATION IS NOT THE POINT AND GOAL OF HUMAN HISTORY. That is but a means to the ultimate end which is the proper worship of God by all creatures. It is of course true that were we to go on to Rev. 5 we would also learn that worship is intended to include and focus not only on the Creator God, but also the Redeemer God, namely the Lamb who is at the same time the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! But redemption is a means to the end of true worship, a worship where every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.

So lets review what we have learned: 1) true worship requires that we be in the Spirit at the appropriate time for worship (e.g. the Lord's Day); 2) this in turn implies that we come as true worshippers wide open to giving praise and glory to God, having already received the grace necessary to be able to do so, having put aside all distractions and the sin that so readily encumbers us. Only so are we prepared to receive what God will give the proclamation of his truth and the comfort of his presence; 3) worship is chiefly what WE do – we come to give honor and glory to the Worthy One. We come to give primarily, rather than to get. But hear the good news God ALSO comes to give! God bows down as we bow down to God. God comes to relate to, empower, heal, save, give vision to his people and proclaim his truth; 4) the vision John received was of heavenly worship. The chief aim of worship is that we be caught up in love wonder and praise of God, and by so doing get a glimpse of the heavenly worship which happens when and as we are worshipping. In other words we get a glimpse of what is happening above, which is also a vision of our destinyB when heaven comes down, and glory fills our souls, and we become God's music, and we become God's true temple, and we become the bride, and we become the new Jerusalem that God's holy presence comes to inhabit for ever and ever, Immanuel. But that is a subject for a homily in two weeks. For now I leave you with a story.
Catacomb story......

AMEN

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LONG SUFFERING JOB – THE MAN AND HIS MANUSCRIPT

When Howard Dean recently made the gaffe of claiming Job as ‘my favorite New Testament book’ it was only the latest in a long series of injustices and indignities done to both the legendary figure Job, and the book named after him. Our concern is with the book of Job and we need to say from the outset that it falls into the category of Jewish (not Christian) wisdom literature.

It is certainly one of the most profound reflections in the Bible on the problem of theodicy, namely, if there is indeed an omnipotent and omni benevolent God, why then do the good or the just so often suffer as they do in this world? Why do bad things happen to God’s people? The book of Job reflects a time in Israel’s history when this question needed to be asked and answered, which is to say during or after the exile. As such, it reflects a social situation very different from what we find in the book of Proverbs.

The Wisdom of Proverbs is wisdom that works when the times are not out of joint and there is a reasonably stable society in which justice is regularly done and injustice is rightly punished. But both the book of Job and the book of Ecclesiastes reflect a social situation that is very different than that which existed at the height of the monarchy, indeed they reflect a situation when injustice was as likely to happen to God’s people as anything remotely just. The issue in Job is not merely why do the good sometimes suffer, but more tellingly why do God’s good people often suffer in such egregious and extreme ways? The book of Job probes these sorts of human dilemmas, trying in some way to address the issue of the character and will of God in the bargain.
Scholars have sometimes thought that the so-called happy ending or epilogue in Job 42.7-17 must be by a later hand, because it seems out of character with the rest of the book. They are perhaps comparing Job too closely to Ecclesiastes, and figuring that the author of Job will have shared with Omelet his jaundiced view of life in which there are seldom if ever happy endings in such a fallen and dark world. In fact the epilogue makes very good sense in light of the Prologue in Job 1. Job was only to be tested, not destroyed or obliterated by his sufferings. More to the point, the sort of Wisdom expressed in this book is much like that in other late Jewish Wisdom material both of the intertestamental period (i.e. Wisdom of Solomon) and from the New Testament (e,g the book of James and some of the teachings of Jesus). It is also shares something of the apocalyptic perspective we find in apocalyptic books like Ezekiel and Daniel. This worldview in essence asserts--- there are many things wrong with the world, which humans themselves can not remedy, but God still cares for his people and in the end God will personally intervene and set things right. This seems to be the perspective of the author of Job.

But there is more to be said. The book of Job in its Prologue introduces us to the character of ‘Ha Satan’, the Adversary, or as we might call him, the Prosecuting (and persecuting) Attorney. The introduction of an angelic figure that would later even be called Satan is telling because it shows that the author has begun to think about the issue of secondary causes. In other words, he operates with a world view in which God does not cause everything that happens to happen. God causes some things to happen, but he allows other things to happen. Suffering is one of those things. In other words, God allows some lesser beings, angels and humans to exercise choice about some matters and this often leads to suffering.

The author of Job then is not a fatalist, and will not blame God as the cause of the world’s sufferings. Rather he even suggests that suffering, at least sometimes, is allowed by God to test and indeed even improve the character of God’s people. Like a silversmith purifying the dross from silver so the silver may be unalloyed and truly useful, God can use suffering for the good of his saints (Malachi 3.2-3). Job, though he might well be deemed as righteous in various senses of the word, clearly was in need of something of a reality check in the form of a reminder that he Job did not know all the factors involved which led to his suffering. The book is making the point that before we start pointing fingers at the Almighty, assuming we know what is what in regard to suffering in this world. We had better first swallow a humility pill, and recognize that too often when we pontificate on such issues we are ‘darkening counsel without knowledge’. Arrogance and ignorance are a bad combination when it comes to evaluating such huge issues as the cause of unrighteous and extreme suffering. Job presumes certain things, and is corrected. This is why the book rightly ends with Job not merely admitting that he was speaking of things he did not fully grasp (42.3), but his faith in God had been too small. When he sees God face to face, he goes beyond hearsay to direct knowledge of God (42.6), which results in him repenting of his arrogance and ignorance.

It is perhaps too much to hope for that Mr. Dean will do a similar about face, but it is clear that he has not grasped the importance of Job 42.7-17 as an integral part of this wonderful book. Our author is telling one and all that true wisdom amounts to this—recognizing that if help and reversal of fortunes is to happen for those in truly dire straits, it must come from the Lord, not from the pundits and arm-chair analysts (Job’s so-called comforters). Perhaps also it is worth saying that James, rather than Mr. Dean, was on the right track when he analyzed the same book and said “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James. 5.11).

Copyright Ben Witherington

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CLOSURE

“My life closed twice, before its close”
Said Emily in her prime,
But closure happens many ways,
And comes at many times.

At birth the cord is severed,
The start requires an end,
Cut off, a form of closure,
Allows you to begin.

But how to shut the mental door,
And close out endless sound?
Or is the whispered still small voice
Heard through the noise around?

How do you close a painful wound,
Caused by friends on edge
Whose jagged way of loving
Has pushed you to the ledge?

How do you finish efforts
Abandoned by those you trust,
Your heart’s no longer in it
But finishing’s a must?

How do you turn the page,
And let bygones be gone,
And realize moving forward,
Requires your moving on?

Completion, finished ending
The longing for the goal,
But what if its perfection,
That finally makes us whole?

The letting go, the giving in,
The learning to release,
Is half the key to living,
And half the key to peace.

A person can be measured
By closures on the way,
And by the One who carried her
Upon her dying day.

The Alpha and Omega Man
Is where all endings lead
If we’re enclosed within his grasp,
It’s all the end we need.

July 22, 2004

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FIRE ON ICE

Fire on ice
Ice on fire,
Unbridled ambition
Unending desire,
Golden hair
Midas touch
I am Alexander.

Ice on fire
Fire on ice,
Gory glory
Beyond advice
One world vision
Flickering flame
I am Alexander.

Macedonian monarch
Aristotle’s ward
The great commander
Without reward,
Without peers
Without an heir
I am Alexander.

All the world’s glory
All the acclaim
The Greek colossus
The mythical name
Builder of Empire
Finder of fame,
I am Alexander.

Child of the gods,
Destined from birth,
Harvest of Hellas
Spread through the earth,
Conquerer conquered
Food for the worms,
I am Alexander.

BW3--- Nov. 1972 and Nov. 2004

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Ode for a Winter's Day 2/8/02

The spray, the foam, the salty air,
The sound, the roar, the silent prayer,
The way the waves roll cares away
The way the sun beats down all day,
The sound of gulls, the sound of wind,
The simple silent peace that mends,
The tide, the crabs, the sand fiddlers too,
The pools of warm water caressing you,
Your hair bleached out, your skin quite red,
The feeling of languor in your head,
The children making sand castles near,
The fishermen casting their lines from the pier,
All this and more awaits your eyes,
In summertime, a wonderful surprise.
Your heart will mend, your will will bend,
Your mind stops racing, your feet stop pacing,
And stillness, awe, and wonder come,
The sense of God, that strikes you dumb,
So hush and ponder on this dark night,
Why God made it all, and made it just right....

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RSVP

To move from fast to feast,
From ashes to riding an ass,
From wilderness wandering
God’s willingness wondering
To follow the way of the cross
To find what was utterly lost
All this was Lent to us.
The cup not passed over
By our Passover
The vinegar he willingly drank—
But through gift divine
New covenant wine
Came forth from his side as he sank
All this was given to us
Through breaking of bread
They knew their head
The joy of new life begun
From out of the depths,
From out of his death
His people one loaf had become
All this was food for us.
Lent leads to Easter
The faster turns feaster
A foretaste for those in the dust
A bread with new leaven
The manna from heaven
All this has risen for us.
Come now to the dinner
Come saint and come sinner,
The meal is now served to us.

Lent 1982

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SHADE TREE

A tree always a tree,
That shadows forth his shade to me.

The tree of Eden long before
Tempting those who longed for more
Knowledge, power, experience,
But lacking trust, lacking sense.
A tree always a tree,
That shadows forth his shade to me.

The burning bush
Could Moses see
More than curiosity
Ablaze to all infinity.
A tree always a tree,
That shadows forth his shade to me.

The terrible Terebinth
Oh Absalom, a tithing tenth
Ensnared in branches as he went,
The royal robe of David rent.
A tree always a tree
That shadows forth his shade to me.

Elijah lost and on the run
A broom tree shading from the sun,
He prayed to die but fell asleep,
And angel food his soul did keep.
A tree always a tree
That shadows forth his shade to me.

Ezekiel’s cedar in Lebanon
Which once was here but now is gone,
Cut down by ruthless foreign foes
A symbol of the chosen’s woes
A tree always a tree
That shadows forth his shade to me.

Moaning Jonah could not see
The tree-like vine was God’s mercy
And so it withered and it died,
And Jonah seethed, and Yahweh cried.
A tree always a tree
That shadows forth his shade to me.

Isaiah saw Eden restored
Fertile fig trees, no more war
But exiles failed to take the hint,
Returned to fight, inheritance spent.
A tree always a tree
That shadows forth his shade to me.

The cursed fig of Jesus’ day
Sign of judgment on the way
Blighted when it bore no fruit,
Unplanted souls without a root.
A tree always a tree
That shadows forth his shade to me.

The cross a tree on which he hung
Bearing the curse of which they sung
“His ways are not our ways, our eyes cannot see
The logic of love nailed to a tree.”
A tree always a tree
That shadows forth his shade to me

And then at last Jerusalem
Where rivers flow and kingdoms come
tree of life, twelve fruits it bears
Medicinal leaves that heal the cares
A tree always a tree
That shadows forth his shade to me.

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POPE'S PASSING

The bells kept on ringing,
Tolling, telling,
The mourners kept singing
Sorrow indwelling

The lines kept on forming
Feeling, filling
The weight of the moment,
Tragic, thrilling

The people kept praying
speaking, seeking
The prelates kept saying
Eulogies speaking

The Host kept Holy
Body, breaking
The Cup kept pouring
New wine making

The cortege kept coming
Old life, failing
The Wake and the Vigil
Senses assailing

Critical Mass reached,
Funeral, exposure
Corpse in Regalia
Consumate closure

But then from the Chapel
Sistine smoke
"Habemus Papam"
The cardinals awoke

The bells kept on ringing
Tolling, telling
The church kept on singing
Joy indwelling.
4/4/05

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INCOGNITO

He came in incognito,
A thinly veiled disguise
The not so subtle son of man,
A human with God's eyes.

The messianic secret,
Left many unawares
A God had walked upon the earth
And shared our human cares.

We did not see his glory,
At least not at first glimpse,
It took an Easter wake up call,
Before it all made sense.

The truth of Incarnation,
Of dwelling within flesh,
Shows goodness in creation,
And Word of God made fresh.

Standing on the boundary
Twixt earth and heaven above
A Jew who hailed from Nazareth
But came from God's great love.

Born of humble parents,
Installed inside a stall
This king required no entourage
No pomp or falderal

No person was beneath him
No angel o‚er his head,
He came to serve the human race
To raise it from the dead.

His death a great conundrum,
How can the Deathless die?
But if he had not bowed his head,
Life would have passed us by.

Though we are dying to be loved,
And long for endless life,
He was dying in his love,
And thereby ending strife.

Perhaps the incognito
Belongs instead to us,
Who play at being human,
And fail to be gold dust.

But there was once a God-man
Who played the human‚s part
And lived and died and rose again
Made sin and death depart.

Yes now through a glass dimly,
We see the visage royal
And feebly honor his great worth
And his atoning toil.

We cannot see his Spirit,
But moved by its effects
We are inspired to praise his worth
And pay our last respects.

Yet that too brings him glory
That too makes a start,
The journey of a million miles
Begins within one‚s heart.

And someday we shall see him
And fully praise his grace,
Someday when heaven and earth collide
And we see face to face.

He comes in blinding brilliance,
A not so veiled disguise
The not so subtle Son of God,
A God with human eyes.
------------
May Day 2005

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