I did not see them go there with their flame
to burn the city’s heart, the city’s bones.
I did not see the past fall down in ash
or hear the cries of covenant in pain.
I did not hear the gongs of history clash
or see foe-cities’ gods fight in the square.
Yet in me is a city dead, and groans
of all our cities lost and yet to come.
In all our homes are ghosts, and everywhere
are souls displaced from homes, and everyone
has lost their way from some-where to where-else;
I do not know their places or their ways,
yet in me is the city’s call, the pulse
of beggars in a dust-heap singing praise.
My covenants break; I cannot hold
myself, my trust. My word
unbinds before I bind
myself to it.
Yet this is mine,
this is enough:
Jesus my own and His brother.
What world may fling,
what failings ring against me
count for nothing. This
is enough. My God, my covenant,
my binding joy. Hold tight.
What have you seen of the past?
What stories do history’s pages tell?
A mute dirge perhaps, or a final bugle,
retreat sounding when battle’s about to be won?
You look only in false places;
the witness of the past tells only half-truth.
It was not there when firmaments were sealed
or covenants carved into space.
Shine light. Everything illuminated
comes to life. The dead must hide
in darkness where there is no voice.
Yet in the light a new song sings
and hails the truth that reigns…
What are the sacraments or ordinances?
The sacraments or ordinances given by God and instituted by Christ, namely baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are visible signs and seals that we are bound together as a community of faith by his death and resurrection. By our use of them the Holy Spirit more fully declares and seals the promises of the gospel to us.
(New City Catechism)
Because minds are fickle and hope grows faint:
take bread, take wine,
Because the world shouts out to us false names:
take depth, take water,
Because our flesh is weak: enact;
Because our souls can wander far:
take hands, take part,
Because this world is passing: let
these signs contain
the lasting part.
Your tenacious grip
holds as it teaches
loves as it reaches
& renders all new.
Your covenant grace
deep into history
never lets go.
like the hills' fortifications,
whelmed by the wind but not
moved, not shaken;
firm as rock, firm as covenant,
grounded in Christ's almighty core;
stern as mountain,
sure as sunrise,
safe as heaven,