Catechism 51

Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension?
Christ physically ascended on our behalf, just as he came down to earth physically on our account, and he is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father, preparing a place for us, and also sends us his Spirit.
(New City Catechism)

Not waiting in vain,
men and women thirsting at a cloudless sky,
nor farmers ploughing a desert.
Not children
hiding behind a veil of hands
or the clenched-fisted ones in the corner.
No metaphor sates us:
only a body will do. Only
face-to-face, Father to Son,
full sight in place of dim mirrors.
And so a body grows,
and for a body, a home with walls
solid to the touch, but never closed,
a welcome that has arms,
a priest who bears scars,
a love decked with nails,
crowned,
risen, no fall.

Catechism 48

What is the church?

God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another.
(New City Catechism)

Washed and waiting,
fed by Word, by bread, by Spirit –
a body, planned
from beginning, bought
by blood, crafted
by grace, grafted
by cross –
we wait, and show
the kingdom which stands
when nations fall, when bodies crushed
beneath the heel reveal the weight
of Now – we wait,
washed and purchased,
broken, glorious,
scattered, stained
and one.

Catechism 47

image
"Communion" by Alphonse Legros, Wikimedia Commons

Does the Lord’s Supper add anything to Christ’s atoning work?
No, Christ died once for all. The Lord’s Supper is a covenant meal celebrating Christ’s atoning work; as it is also a means of strengthening our faith as we look to him, and a foretaste of the future feast. But those who take part with unrepentant hearts eat and drink judgment on themselves.
(New City Catechism)

The feast awaits.
Now symbols and nutrients are divided,
vying for space in our minds.
The stomach craves what cannot sate spirit;
vine recalls dirt, bread anticipates yeast –
the work is done, the meal yet to be.
Take and eat. Eat and drink.
Bread cannot do what Spirit’s not done;
what bakes without yeast cannot rise.
Eat, recall; drink and trust:
what’s done has been done
and will prove true
when symbol and food can be one.

Catechism 42

Van Gogh - Stillleben mit Bibel
Van Gogh – Stillleben mit Bibel

How is the Word of God to be read and heard? With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith, store it in our hearts, and practice it in our lives. (New City Catechism)

And teach. Let us be ready:

the hands poised beneath the pages,

holding open, as in prayer;

the eyes attuned, the ears listening,

the spirit waiting,

the Spirit turning

hearts to hear and grow.

And store:

though minds are dull

and eyes may wander,

teach and hold

and store within

the mind’s recesses truths received.

Rebuke! Transform!

Let grace unfold

in pages turned in time, absorbed,

ingested, stored in minds and souls,

ready now to grow.

Catechism 41

lordsprayer

What is the Lord’s Prayer?

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

(New City Catechism)

 

Hands upraised,        hands open
        imploring              yet worshipping
receiving              yet giving
        asking                 yet content
forgiven               and forgiving
        on earth,              as it is in heaven;
now                    forever
        delivered             yet
              daily caught in moments’ fear…

Our Father     here    and Heaven’s king:
            teach us how to pray.

Catechism 40

What should we pray?
The whole Word of God directs and inspires us in what we should pray, including the prayer Jesus himself taught us.
(New City Catechism)

What then?
The whole story beckons:
Creation, fall, flood, a people
set apart yet crumbling.
Every moment shines
what-might-be against what-is,
entropy’s melancholy truth, and yet
this potentiality of grace.
The sorry state, the hope of otherwise,
drags knees down and elevates hearts
in hopeful, humbled prayer.

Catechism 38

What is prayer?
Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God in praise, petition, confession of sin, and thanksgiving.
(New City Catechism)

Sometimes with words, sometimes
with hearts groaning,
fists shaking,
a silent rumble.

Sometimes with hope, sometimes
in anguish, with
little to hold,
save Prayer’s ladder.

Sometimes with sight, sometimes
desperate, aching,
every breath, Why?
but still holding.

Always faith.

20141019-175520.jpg

Catechism 37

Detail from a painting by Antonio da Correggio Wikimedia Commons
Detail from a painting by Antonio da Correggio
Wikimedia Commons

Catechism 37

How does the Holy Spirit help us?

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, comforts us, guides us, gives us spiritual gifts and the desire to obey God; and he enables us to pray and to understand God’s Word.

(New City Catechism)

Dove:

my best attempts are straw.

My righteousness is dust, my hope

of being more is void.

Dove:

Your peace like river flows;

your olive branch restores, implores

us into growing grace.

Dove:

rest on my spirit; open eyes

and ears and heart. Give gifts,

give life. Give comfort in this dross.

Dove:

only when Your flame descends,

and burns, convicts – O gentle peace –

only then, release.

Catechism 36

What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?
That he is God, coeternal with the Father and the Son, and that God grants him irrevocably to all who believe.
(New City Catechism)

God’s wind blows
wherever it wills –
blows and leads
the soul to life.

The Spirit draws
the dying spirit,
draws and enters,
giving life.

Spirit from
eternal Father:
dwelling in
and never lost:

breathing and
revivifying,
sign and seal
of life to come.

Catechism 35

Since we are redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone, where does this faith come from?
All the gifts we receive from Christ we receive through the Holy Spirit, including faith itself.
(New City Catechism)

Even faith’s a gift:
   the thought
that I can stretch out my hand
     and take
   free gift of grace,
in death does not occur;
     the soul
clings only to the dust,
           unless
respired by gift of faith.

Even faith’s from His hand:
   the Spirit
breathes out life-desiring life
     and life
    breathes hope that there
is more than death ahead.
      What life
desires, the Spirit gives.
           Faith first:
for faith itself’s a gift.