Bush church of my childhood: see server and priest
In tiny vestry; vestment-chest of oak,
White robes laid out immaculately creased,
Christ’s purity, and his mother’s, evoke.
The albs are bordered in fine crafted lace,
Stole and chasuble crisply ironed and laid,
Emptied of sound, in silence of place
The server hears as his precursors prayed.
Inside the small church a reed organ sounds,
On, into the sanctuary the server leads on,
He bashful bows deep then processes ‘round,
He offers water and wine: the Dreaming’s white swan.
My mother and grandma with pride are stilled;
They watch from the pews the now and the willed.
Malachi 3:1-4, Psalm 84, Luke 2:22-40
In Native American stories, Dragonfly persuades Swan to surrender to the power of the river so that she can, in a state of grace, be taken into the future. ( http://www.swansongs.org/who-we-are/swan-mythology/ )
Joe Laufer’s Blog – Memories of a Life Adventure https://burlcohistorian.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/it-takes-a-village-part-ii/
—They’re dazzling Da-Esh with wonders and signs
Across widespread Islamist latitudes,
Where gospel is grounded in physical confines
And must be proved by miracles’ certitudes.
—We in Nazareth are more Word-based, of course,
Our gospel is rooted in reason’s deep grace,
In doctrine and Midrash is Jesus’ real source,
In text and good preaching we see Jesus’ face.
So Jesus can stand and read the whole scroll,
he can sit and discourse and be learned as well,
he can count off the ways he will save your soul –
but he cannot act. No! We’ll move to expel.
Your water to wine, your sadness to joy,
disrupting our world prepared to destroy.
Christ Preaching in the Synagogue at Nazareth. 14th c. fresco (detail).
Visoki Decani Monastery, Kosovo
Poem by Symeon the New Theologian(949-1022), Hymn 15 in his
Hymns of Divine Love
We awaken in Christ’s body,
As Christ awakens our bodies
There I look down and my poor hand is Christ,
He enters my foot and is infinitely me.
I move my hand and wonderfully
My hand becomes Christ,
Becomes all of Him
I move my foot and at once
He appears in a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous to you?
Then open your heart to him.
And let yourself receive the one
Who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
We wake up inside Christ’s body
Where all our body all over,
Every most hidden part of it,
Is realized in joy as Him,
And He makes us utterly real.
And everything that is hurt, everything
That seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged
Is in Him transformed.
And in Him, recognized as whole, as lovely,
And radiant in His light,
We awaken as the beloved
In every last part of our body.
Quoted by Richard Rohr, pp. 219-20 in
Arise, ablaze because your light now beams,
Godly light, insight to eternal aims.
The darkness that would cover earth still dreams
Of battle victory in Satanic games.
The poverty of the poor brought to nought,
The dryness of the drought be drowned in rain,
The violence of the vicious be stopped short,
The upright once disgraced honoured again.
So yes: God’s mystery wise has been revealed,
the Gospel locked in sepulchre set free,
and Jesus master of this battle-field
is fruiting flower of frankincense tree.
For darkness has no means of quenching light:
Wise men blaze in the beacon of Twelfth Night.
Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7,10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12
Ted Witham Epiphany 2016
Sonnet to welcome the new year
New Year, A.D. 2016
Readings for Christmas 2: John 1:1-18, Jeremiah 31:7-14, Sirach 24:1-12
The Word became our flesh and dwelt with us,
so the cosmos was by God itself restored,
the past is healed, the future bright for us,
Jesus’ poor birth revealed, humanity awed.
With pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
says our Lord, I will make them walk by streams,
I’ll keep my people on the straightest track,
the blind, the lame, I will fill full their dreams.
Wisdom for my homing, mercy’s teacher,
comb through heaven’s reaches and the depths’ abyss,
destination of God’s every creature –
Heart of the Universe accomplish this:
Last grain, and God’s letter spaced to kern,
Made from star-dust, to stars we will return.
Ted Witham 2016
This morning I came face to face with an illegal immigrant, and I felt compelled to expostulate:
Rabbit kitten just was sittin
In the grass as I passed:
Ears were flappin, heart was tappin –
this the question that it asked:
‘Immigration made this nation.
Came in boats that scarcely float:
rabbit pest turned out best
at forcing owners to be donors.
‘These the dangers from the strangers
Stealing terra bloodbath terror,
seize the riches, spread diseases;
chalk it up as holy error.
So small rabbit, who inhabit
second-hand wide brown land?
Put the queries, hear the theories.
For shame who shake at all we take?’