Advent Hymn

morningstar-markmallett-com

Photo: Mark Mallett

O Morning Star (Hymn)

O Morning Star, thou soon shall rise
attending dawn in eastern skies.
Draw then our eyes to thine ascent;
may we behold thee, innocent.

O Rose of Winter, blooming e’er,
thy foliage green, thy blossom fair,
thy seeds on many winds be blown
and in the humblest gardens sown.

O Savior, when at last we meet
thy gentle soul and wash thy feet,
heal thou the sick, lift up the poor,
and grant us peace forevermore.

Amen.

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Give Us This Day

The_Flood_with_Noah's_Ark_Jan_Brueghel-the-Elder

The Flood with Noah’s Ark, Jan Brueghel the Elder

Give us this day our daily bread, by which, God,
I confess that I mean, “Prosper me,” and isn’t that
about my heart and not the things I have or have
not? “Let me own enough for generosity.”

Evangelists today assure me, “God wants you to
flourish.” They say, “God’s way is the way of
wealth.” So those of us who struggle simply took
the wrong fork some way back, distracted by the
scenery?

Benny Hinn cites Adam and his Eden, where
“the gold was good.” He speaks of Noah, claiming
that his ark of gopher wood might be worth scores
of millions now; and Abraham was rich indeed in
livestock and in gold and silver. Jacob, Joseph,
David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah “had
exceeding riches,” and to be like them, we only
need obey his covenant, says Benny Hinn.
For God rejoices when we prosper: “Let them shout
for joy, and be glad, those who champion my
righteous cause: yea, let them say continually,
‘Let God be magnified, who does rejoice in our
prosperity.’”

“Here is the key,” says Benny Hinn. “They were
obedient in giving! All were givers!” Solomon gave
“tons of gold to God,” as David did. “They knew
that if we don’t give, we don’t live.” They
understood that when we give, “we bring God on
our side.” And well might Benny Hinn advise, with
forty million dollars set aside.

Look around, says Benny Hinn, at what God gave
to us: “The glory of creation, life itself, the beauty of
the earth, the sunshine, so much more.” Yes,
so much more indeed!

But Benny Hinn came by his riches honestly, and
I begrudge him not one penny. No, my sin is
jealousy… and yet I can’t help noticing: when
Benny Hinn enumerates the luminaries of the Bible,
all those givers who received, he doesn’t mention
Jesus. Oh. Did Jesus Christ give “tons of gold to
God?” He had no gold or silver, sheep or cattle,
yet he was the one whom God called “my beloved
son.” And wasn’t he—was Jesus not—the most
obedient of all?

__________________

Benny Hinn quotations above are from the evangelist’s worldwide ministry solicitation, http://bit.ly/2qrTTaS.

Forgiven

The-crucifixion-Pietro Lorenzetti-1340s

The Crucifixion, Pietro Lorenzetti, 1340s

Poem for Good Friday

I wondered at another’s strength,
begrudged her victory despite the cost,
and was ashamed of being not as strong.

I contemplated Jesus on the cross
while I forgot the resurrection
and the lessons: gratitude, compassion;
and I walked away from grace, ashamed
of clinging to my body and not
making of it such an offering.

I shunned companionship, ashamed
of wanting it—a friend, an intimate
would be too soft a pillow for a
head that ought to bear a crown
of thorns instead—and with such cruel
thoughts, in solitude, I clawed my spirit
even as I prayed for God to spare me
suffering and loss

Where None Had Been

angels-the-baptism-of-christ-masolino-da-panicale-1435

The Baptism of Christ (detail), Masolino da Panicale, 1435

Poem for the Twenty-Eighth Day of Lent

Heaven wept so many tears
(the angel told us), there began
a waterfall, and streams appeared
where none had been.

Where none had been, there filled a lake
and angels gathered there to pray
for you; we grieved not for his sake—
He lives today.

Where none had been, now rivers run
of joy and sorrow, side by side:
sweet, healing streams of tears that come
from angels’ eyes.

Throughout the night the angels prayed
with him—Did you know he was near?—
until the first and bravest ray
of dawn appeared.

His soul (the angel said) is young
and curious. Upon his face
shine wisdom and compassion, love
and Heaven’s grace.

In this life or another, you
will know him; trust your intuition.
With him will go angels, too,
as they have done

through eons long passed out of sight
since God in love created him
to be a ray of holy light
where none had been.

In memory of Monty Fey 1936-2011

Only Yesterday

Christ_Handing_the_Keys_to_St._Peter_by_Pietro_Perugino-1481-2

Christ Handing the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter, Pietro Perugino, 1481-1482

A Prayer for the Third Day of Lent

There are too many children in Heaven today,
and on the earth too many friends with broken
hearts and empty arms. Shadows lie too broad
and fade too soon as night falls early on a
wailing world.

Dear God, when will the grieving end? When can
we once again hear bright, clear laughter, songs
of innocence and curiosity, voices yet to deepen,
and not wonder if those voices will be hushed
before they mellow and grow wise?

The faces in the crowd are stiff and cynical,
uninclined to open to a stranger’s smile. We have
too much to carry now—suspicion, wariness, the
armored layers of our souls, which yesterday
were covered only with a scarf against the odd
chill wind. Spare us, God, the weight of
vengeance, far too heavy to be borne by mortals
such as we.

Where are whimsy, merriment, and joy today?
Do they patter with the feet of children on the
crowded streets of Heaven? Can’t you see we
need them here, before our sorrow palls the
feeble sunlight that remains?

Dear God, what would you have us do with all
the love we bear for those who have been torn
away? Might it find its way to someone whose
uneasy spirit even now turns poisonous? Can we
make, amid the flood of pain and anger, islands of
humanity where troubled hearts can lay their
beds?

Amen.

Little Things

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Antonio da Correggio, The Nativity, c. 1529-1530

A tiny flame is all you need
to build a fire; a tiny seed
becomes a great and mighty tree;
a tiny babe, Divinity.

One little thought grows wings to fly
across the wide, unbroken sky.
One little child who wonders why
can change the world; and you and I

can take one step, and then one more,
until we climb, and then we soar.
A little breach becomes a door
to worlds no one has seen before.

The grandest things begin so small.
A tiny babe, the one we call
the Christ, will lift us when we fall,
for he was born to save us all.

Three Kings

Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 6th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 6th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo

The planet sighed, then held its breath,
while in the town of Bethlehem
a virgin bore a baby boy.
A star appeared, much brighter than
its sisters in the galaxy.
Three Zoroastrians began
a journey, guided by the light.
They traveled night and day from distant
eastern lands, it’s said—and to
Jerusalem at first they came
and told King Herod when they had
espied the star. Who were these men?
Magicians? Kings? Of royal birth?
Some say that they were Balthasar
from Ethiopia, and with him,
noble Melchior from Persia,
Gaspar, king of India.
Tradition tells us that they knelt
in meek obeisance to the babe.
They gave him gold and aromatic
frankincense and myrrh, as if
to say, As spreads the fragrance of
these oils, so shall thy love, O holy
child.
And they adored him, did
these men who journeyed ‘neath the star;
they worshiped him while shepherds knelt
and angels sang; and all their riches
were as naught beside the glory
of the newborn Prince of Peace.
We call the day that they arrived
Epiphany—God manifest.

What did they know, these mighty kings,
to undertake the perils of
a journey from a far-off land?
What did they see upon his brow
and in his mien—Mary’s son—
and what was whispered on his breath?
Did they know then that he had come
to free the prisoners of fear
and save the world from sin and death?

Dear God, we shall adore him too,
the baby boy in Bethlehem.
Three kings set out to see the Christ;
shall we do less than these good men?

Amen.