Oh mark my heart, Lord, with your cross
Till nothing less will satisfy;
Until I count earth's gain as loss,
And, to my self, begin to die.
Until I know the tears, the pain,
Are worth it all, for you are God;
And, knowing that all else is vain,
Walk in the path which Jesus trod.
Till the proud heart and stubborn will
Are laid an offering at your feet
With heart and soul and mind; until
I yearn for my complete defeat.
That I might rise a conqueror, Lord,
O'er sin and self and Satan's host;
And find my heart's delight, reward,
In loving you the more, the most.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Under the covering of perfect love
Two faltering human souls come face to face
Taking of the blank masks that make them safe
Trusting their fragile selves to mighty grace.
Silencing the swift chatter of the mind,
Lowering the defences one by one;
To own the truth that is their own, not ours,
To own it fully, till their tale is done.
Stilling the vaunting ego’s petulance,
That cries out for attention constantly;
Hearing the heart behind the screen of words
In all its manifold humanity.
Trusting our weak selves to the Spirit’s power
Knowing that perfect Love knows everything;
Forgives, and overcomes, our brokenness,
And makes our awkward fumbling rise and sing.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
It was truly finished. The world had changed forever.
Never again would the blood of the innocent victim, spilled in murder, cry out for vengeance, as Abel’s blood had done; for the blood shed from before the foundation of the world had been shed now within the world, on a particular day at a particular time, and it cried out for mercy and forgiveness on its tormentors.
Never again would the earth be destroyed by flood, for the promise of mercy, offered by a rainbow, was fulfilled in darkness and terror, when the light of the sun was quenched in the middle of the day.
Never again would God require that a lamb, or some other young, unblemished creature, should be dragged to the temple, or bought in the temple courts for an exorbitant price. Never again would a man need to bring the creature, made nervous by the smell of blood, to the priest, place his hand on its head, confess his sins over it, and watch while the priest killed it and its blood was shed in payment for his sins, so that he could be reconciled to God. The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world had been slain, and His death was sufficient for every sin that every human being could commit. It was finished, and it was enough.
Never again would membership of God’s people be determined by one’s physical descent from Abraham. For the identity of the children of God was not determined by their physical birth and parentage. Instead, they must be born again of water and the Spirit, for those who received him, who believed in his name, had the right to become the children of God.
Never again would those children of God be under the bondage of the law which could not save them. For he had nailed it to the cross, and disarmed the powers and authorities. Instead they are called to walk in freedom, by the Spirit, bearing the beautiful fruit of the Spirit, love in all its aspects, and so fulfilling the law as they grow to be like their Lord.
Never again would the temple in Jerusalem be the dwelling place of God. For he had visited and redeemed his people. He had come to them in that upper room, where they hid away, with the sound of a mighty rushing wind and tongues of flame, symbols that recalled Mount Sinai, and now he would make his dwelling place in each and every one of his children. Sinful, struggling, broken human beings would become, each one, a temple of the Most High God.
And never again would death lord it over the human race, for one who was altogether man (and therefore mortal), and altogether God (and therefore perfectly holy and beyond the claims of death) would die, grievously and terribly die, and in that dying triumph over death. Death and the grave were defeated, for he rose from the dead to live and reign eternally, and his life was the light of men. And those who are willing to be crucified with Christ shall live and reign with him for all eternity.
It was finished. Things would never be the same again.
Friday, April 10, 2015
Here is the healing place,
Here is Christ’s presence found,
And, where he speaks his word,
Blessings of grace abound.
He walked our human earth,
With human feet he trod,
Bearing our human ills,
Holy and wholly God.
From him, in direst need,
Healing, release, they sought,
Love reached, love touched, love healed,
And living wisdom taught.
Power to heal and bless
Poured out upon their need;
He who had come to die,
He who was God indeed.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
He called them to him one by one,
He called them name by name:
Each with his life, his work, his pride,
Each with his secret shame.
He called them to him, called to walk
Walk with him side by side,
Each with his hunger for the truth,
Each with his secret pride.
Called to a path they did not know,
Called to put so much by
Leaving the old securities,
Having no place to lie.
Called to put all their trust in one
They could not understand.
Having their hearts turned inside out,
Was this what they had planned?
Called to take up their cross and walk
Following day by day,
Learning to love him more and more
He was their Truth, their Way.
Following him through death to life,
Until they recognised
He was Redeemer, he was King
He was the source of Life.
Saturday, April 04, 2015
Do we really know what clean hands look like?
We who would be pure
To handle holy things,
To shine our righteousness
Like some kind of human lighthouse,
With our germicidal soap,
And carefully trimmed nails
(Nothing too ostentatious,
Perhaps a ring or two,
We are keeping cleanly-chic)
Do we know what clean hands are?
We with hands neat-folded
Round tidy Sabbath bibles
(Taken from week-day shelves),
With appropriate pious words,
Do we know?
Do we know what clean hands are?
Hands that are wet with tears,
Calloused in service,
Hands that reach out to touch,
Reach out to bless,
Reach out to pull a brother from the mire
(Knowing how much that sucking mud can cling)
Hands that lift children,
That hold each other in the face of death,
Comfort each other in the face of pain,
Or link united against some injustice,
These are clean hands.
And there are hands
Wrung with the agony of wordless prayer,
Held up to God in desperate supplication,
Willing to wear his nail prints as our own,
Willing to do the unexciting work
That helps the Kingdom come.
Hands washed clean
By Christ’s own blood,
Hands fit to serve our God.
Chaos and darkness were everywhere, without order or meaning. Then God spoke into the darkness and said, “Let there be light”, and there was light. It was morning.
They had fled in the night, their staffs in their hands, their sandals on their feet, the unleavened bread carried with them for sustenance. In the dark they had eaten their slaughtered lambs, and waited, cowering and uncertain in their homes with the blood-painted doorways.There had been an enormous wail of sorrow all throughout Egypt, from Pharaoh’s palace to the lowliest hovel at the death of the firstborn, and Pharaoh had finally consented to let them go. They journeyed for several days, but it seemed like a long night of terror, because of the great dread they felt towards the Egyptians who pursued them. And that last night, while they camped at the edge of the sea, there was only a cloud between themselves and the Egyptians. Then Moses stretched out his hand and, right before their amazed eyes, the waters parted and a way was made before them. They saw the salvation of God, and it was morning.
They huddled in fear. They had seen the sun turn to darkness in the middle of the day, and their beloved Master tortured to death. They had seen him heal the sick, they had seen him walk on water, they had seen him silence the storm and feed a multitude with one tiny meal. And now he hung there, on a cross, consumed by the helpless weakness of death, and it seemed that all their hopes died with him. They had never seen anything that looked less like freedom and victory. It was defeat, it was hopelessness, it was the terror of what might happen next. Though the sun came out again, and day gave way to night, gave way to day, gave way to night again, for them it was a prison of darkness. They felt like never again would there be a dawn that mattered.
It was the women who went out there, before dawn, when the Sabbath was over. It was something they could do with their grief, at least they could take his poor, mutilated body and tenderly wrap it with the best they had to give. So out they crept, in the greyness before dawn, and made the way to his borrowed tomb. For them it was still the blackest of nights, and when they came and found the stone rolled away and the tomb vacated, it seemed even darker. They did not expect to meet with angels, they did not expect to hear the world-shattering words “He is not here, for he is risen.” And Mary, alone with her grief in the shadowed garden, did not expect to meet with him face to face and hear him speak her name with the quiet, unstoppable power that calls the dead to life. He had truly risen, conquering death, judgement and the grave with a victory that transformed the universe. It was morning indeed.