Royalty

Royalty

He was a plain man
and learned no latin.

Having left all gold behind
he dealt out peace
to all us wild ones
and the weather.

He ate fish, bread,
country wine and God’s will.

Dust sandaled his feet.

He wore purple only once
and that was an irony.

                                                               –Luci Shaw

Before His hands were bound

A profound meditation from Amy Carmichael:

The last thing He did before His hands were bound.

And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer you thus far. And He touched his ear and healed him. (Luke 22. 50, 51)

Then the band and the captain and the officers of the Jews took Jesus and bound Him. (John 18.12)

The last thing the Lord Jesus did before His hands were bound, was to heal.

Have you asked yourself, If I knew this was the last thing I should do, what would I do?  I have never found the answer to that question. There are so very, very many things that would want to do for those whom we love, that I do not think we are likely to be able to find the chief one of all these. So the best thing is just to go on simply, doing each thing as it comes as well as we can.

Our Lord Jesus spent much time in healing sick people, and in the natural course of events it happened that the last thing He did with His kind hands was to heal a bad cut. (I wonder how they could have the heart to bind His hands after that.)

In this as in everything, He left us an example that we should follow in His steps.  Do the thing that this next minute, this next hour, brings you, faithfully and lovingly and patiently; and then the last thing you do, before power to do is taken from you (if that should be), will be only the continuation of all that went before.

Advent’s Sacred Silences

In the quiet of a room they sigh.
In candle’s glow they live under
An icon’s shadow and an unheard cry
And the Truth-bearing words that thunder–
Those Sacred Silences who
tenderly await the soul.

They speak of His coming, not delayed, but near
for etched in unknown depths, they say,
the same Image of the One whose patient tear
slays the heart and gives all away–
In those Sacred Silences who
tenderly await the soul.

Let saving truth’s grammar unbound
Those lips thirsting for syllables of love
To drink deep the wisdom in whose font resound
Those words below of the Word above:
As enveloped in great silences
The soul awaits His coming.

— Anthony Lilles

“Your flame is touching ours”

There is a little known Advent tradition–at least little known to me–of using an Advent log, instead of an wreath.  “It contains a candle hole for each day of Advent, plus one for the Christmas holy day itself.”  Here is a poem I came across that refers to this lovely tradition:

Prayer at the Advent log

The small lights steady
against the dark,
Your flame is touching ours.
Today is the fifth day.
It is a safe fire,
the candles still tall
above the brittle wood
of the birch, the air
damp and chill.
But the days will draw us
inexorably toward
Your celebration,
and again we’ll stand
in the crackling air,
the first days’ flames
licking the log
with their shortened lives,
the length of it
threatened by Your fire,
Your love dazzling our eyes,
and, O Christ,
Your love searing
our nakedness.
(Jean Janzen)

Advent Sunday

Advent Sunday

Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out
With lighted lamps and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.

It may be at the midnight, black as pitch,
Earth shall cast up her poor, cast up  her rich.

It may be at the crowing of the cock
Earth shall upheave her depth, uproot her rock.

For lo, the Bridegroom fetcheth home the Bride:
His Hands are Hands she knows, she knows His side.

Like pure Rebekah at the appointed place,
Veiled, she unveils her face to meet His Face.

Like great Queen Esther in her triumphing,
She triumphs in the Presence of her King.

His Eyes are as a Dove’s, and she’s Dove-eyed;
He knows His lovely mirror, sister, Bride.

He speaks with Dove-voice of exceeding love,
And she with love-voice of an answering Dove.

Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go we out
With lamps ablaze and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.

~Christina Rossetti

Palm Sunday

This holiest of weeks I would like to share a poem or piece of art each day, hopefully drawing you deeper into the Great Mystery we are celebrating.  I begin with one by Malcolm Guite.

Palm Sunday: A Sonnet

 

We come now, with Palm Sunday, to the beginning of Holy Week and in the sonnets that follow I have explored the truth that what was happening ‘out there’ and ‘back then’ as Christ entered Jerusalem is also happening  ‘in here’ and ‘right now’. There is a Jerusalem of the heart. Our inner life also has its temple and palaces, its places of corruption, its gardens of rest, its seat of judgement.

If you would like to join in a discussion of these and my other poems for Holy Week poems you can do so by joining the Literary Life Facebook Page

I am grateful to Linda Richardson who has given me permission to share with you her series of remarkable paintings, ‘The Faces of Holy Week’. These will be on display, together with my poems, in the resurrection chapel in St. Mary’s Linton throughout Holy Week, do look in and see them if you are in the area. You can also look at these paintings and others on Linda’s Webpage.

Linda writes about this picture:

Very often I have thought that I knew what Jesus was about, what he was doing and why he was doing it. Then later I realise it was more than that, something deeper, and my understanding is stretched, and later is stretched again. So it is with Palm Sunday. Jesus is always with me on on my journey but he is always behind me and he is always beyond me.

In this painting Jesus face is elusive, and the features are gestural brush strokes, but energetic and visceral. It is a mixed media painting and within the face is the palm branch that I received at the Palm Sunday service last year. In the painting there is a ceremony from the past, a reminder of the cross that is to come, but if we don’t give our attention, we might miss the present day revelation of Palm Sunday. What will Jesus say to us today? We might imagine there is nothing new to learn, but as our “easy feelings” go through the familiarity of a Palm Sunday service are we still listening?

Palm SundayNow to the gate of my Jerusalem,

The seething holy city of my heart,

The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?

Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;

They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,

And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find

The challenge, the reversal he is bringing

Changes their tune. I know what lies behind

The surface flourish that so quickly fades;

Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,

The hardness of the heart, its barricades,

And at the core, the dreadful emptiness

Of a perverted temple. Jesus  come

Break my resistance and make me your home.