Christmas 3: Follow Me (For the Feast of St John the Evangelist)

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”
(John 21:20-21)

Some followed to the cross, some to their tombs,
some were stoned, some were flayed,
some beheld the lions’ roar…

And others followed into cells
with ageing eyes in the dying light.
Some grew old to the ring of words
more bounteous than all the world.

Some saw, some hoped
but never saw.
All were held, transformed by Life –
what was, what is, what ever is,
is still to be, what waits.

The day remains, and we remain,
yet nothing is the same.

Christmas 3: Beloved

As well as being the day when my true love sent me three French hens, the third day of Christmas traditionally remembers St John the Evangelist, who contrasts with Stephen the martyr for being the only one of the apostles not be martyred. He also saw the glories ahead revealed to him when imprisoned for following Jesus, and was perhaps the best theologian of the Incarnation in the New Testament. Today’s poem takes as its inspiration an old Gregorian chant for the Feast of St John, as well as the reading for the day, 1 John 1:1-4.

Beloved

On the Lord’s Day, in rapture,
the beloved disciple
beheld Him in glory
who once walked beside Him.

And did he recognise Him,
that beloved disciple?
So changed into glory
was this one like a brother.

Now a glorious saviour,
that disciple’s Beloved
called the prisoned to rapture,
in renewing of all things.

Did he think of the meals shared,
that beloved disciple?
Did he think of the dust and
the waters of washing?

Remember the glories,
O beloved disciples,
When walking where Christ trod,
When fading, no rapture.

Remember, beloved,
the eyes that beheld Him.
Await His swift coming;
tune ears to His feet.

Illuminated Manuscript, Gospels of Freising, c.1340