Sermon: Ask, search, knock


Luke 11:9-10

I wrote this poem a few years ago, reflecting on Jesus’ teaching that our desire to love, when taken far enough, eventually leads us to see the world in ‘I-thou’ terms. 

– Ted Witham

I asked for a Mercedes, coupé 220, of course.
Received a mirror, 360, signed, with love, Yours.
Reflected… the shiny image that was my deep desire;
to climb up the world’s path, a higher flyer.

I searched for love in writing reviews,
Expecting my readers to walk in my shoes;
I searched for love, making Church work my life,
but found love closer in children and wife.

I knocked on the door of God, Father, King,
Insight opened: metaphor turns God to ‘thing’;
I opening saw God as all my ‘Thou’,
me to be present in the Eternal Now.

Asking, searching, knocking, all stones stepped
to draw near to the One so wind-swept,
Spirit-blown, tempest-tendered,
The ‘Thou’ who all my love has ended.

 

Transfiguration


Transfiguration

I walk this distant red gorge path alone.
My feet seek strength but I fear its sheer side,
I reach out searching for my God: unknown.
I touch nothing and weep; my faith has died.

I trudge on with the bread and blood and Word
These connect me to the church not to God.
“Scriptura sola” is literally absurd
My only joy is that others have trod

This way; and overstepped the bounds of linking.
I’ve lost the power to feel where God creates,
Abandoned zeal, fearing downfall, am sinking —
Instead of love, my worship isolates.

I falter, fall, free-fall down the chasm deep,
I faithless, God grasps me, who makes the leap.

  • Luke 9:28-36 (February 7, 2016)
    “Scriptura sola” – Latin tag meaning “Scripture alone”.

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Image courtesy http://www.australiasnorthwest.com/Destinations/The_Pilbara

Christ’s Body is my body


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 Things Hidden

Epiphany


Epiphany

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
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New Year 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

 

Psalm 114 for Noongar country


When Israel came into the Great South Land:
and the People of God among a people of an alien tongue.

Torndirrup became his sanctuary:
and Walyunga his domain.

The sea saw that, and fled:
Derbal Yiragan was driven back.

Pualaar Miial skipped like a ram:
and the foothills like young sheep.

What ailed you, O sea, that you fled:
O Yiragan, that you were driven back?

O Bluff Knoll, that you skipped like a ram?:
O little hills like young sheep?

Tremble, O Noongar country, at the Lord’s presence:
at the presence of the God of gods.

Who turned the rock into a billabong:
and threw sand into the waterhole to make it safe.

***

(Acknowledging Professor David Frost’s version of Psalm 114 in A Prayer Book for Australia)

 Torndirrup – the National Park on the south coast at Albany with the Gap and Natural Bridge.

Walyunga – National Park on the Darling Range near Perth with many sacred places associated with the Waagyl.

Derbal Yiragan – Swan River

Pualar Miial – Bluff Knoll (tallest peak in the Stirling Ranges)

Throwing sand – When Noongars arrive at a water-hole or river, they throw sand into the water so as not to disturb the Waagyl and make the water safe for drinking and swimming.

The Gap, Torndirrup National Park, courtesy pleasetakemeto.com

Psalm 108 for Noongar country


My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed:
I will sing and make melody.

Awake, my soul, and awake, sticks and didj:
for I will awake the morning.

I will play the didj, O Lord, among the peoples:
its circle buzzing breathes our gratitude.

I will chip your clapping sticks among the nations:
its clicking claims your eternal praise.

For the dawn in the east rises in gold and scarlet:
robes of Easter and Pentecost overwhelm the sky.

Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds:
and the land is a body painted with white and ochre dreamings.

Be exalted, O God, above the southern skies:
and let your glory shine over Noongar country;

That all whom you love may be delivered:
Noongars and wedulahs, O save us by your right hand, and answer us.

***

(Acknowledging Professor David Frost’s version of Psalm 108 in A Prayer Book for Australia)

 The ‘didj’ (didgeridoo) was technically not a part of Noongar culture before the arrival of Europeans, but they have adopted it since contact with ‘wedulahs’ (white fellas) has brought them into contact with other Indigenous groups.  

My country of origin is Koreng country. I now live in Wardandi country.

Noongar country (Western Australia)