So the word of God became a human being and lived among us.
(John 1:14 – J.B. Phillips Translation)
By any standard it would be
extraordinary to find
the infinite, immortal constrained in time
but to find Divinity where it knew full well
the hearts of man
and how they turned, mostly away –
to find the all-sufficient taking on
this meagre flesh, this weakness,
this all-too-human messiness –
no word, no response suits besides
a quaint yet apt, “Behold!”,
a marvelled, “Come and see”,
and footsteps following where he treads,
to see where God makes a home.
At the beginning God expressed himself.
(John 1:1 – J.B. Phillips Translation)
The urge to speak, to connect:
is it heresy to find this in the Immortal,
the all-sufficient? Having
no need of us, and yet
He speaks –
is Word. And we,
the subjects of His sentences,
are warmed by the light of His present tense,
this way, and that,
choosing darkness and silence
yet crying out to the night to hear us.
Hear us. Here with us,
in word, in deed,
in breaking bread.
No need to touch the scars;
Caravaggio got that detail wrong.
The sheer force of His presence made Thomas crumple,
doubt ceasing where belief gained life,
the parched taste, hesitant like salt, exultant like wine,
as loosened lips croaked,
My Lord and my God.
Yet I am comforted to see
both the outstretched hand and
the companions’ fingers lifting his.
I cannot tell if, like Thomas,
I could simply stop doubting and believe at such a sight,
but, held up by the weathered,
briny hands of those who’ve seen with me,
I, like him, can lift a wrinkled brow in faith.
where, on the shore, He had
already assembled, as a table,
prepared for expected guests,
a charcoal fire, some fish laid out,
and, being himself the bread,
a loaf laid for good measure.
No need, of course, for the fish they brought.
No need, either, for that excess in their boats.
To feed seven mouths plus His,
that net-bursting horn of plenty was,
as old Judas, wilting, would have had them know,
not quite au fait.
Yet fitting – that He who made Leviathan solely to frolic
should choose to play with the resources of Galilee
to make much of these staples,
to invite, to delight,
and in the olive branch of this table set
in the presence of friends and enemies
to ask, as the mercy-cup overflowed in the background,
Simon, do you love me?
“So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”
This in-between space is our home ground:
the time after glories and horrors alike,
the time before or after sleep –
and sometimes, sometimes it is a stretch,
sometimes a quest, or a rest.
Yet the tomb is cracking open. The ground
is trembling, if you keep your ear close.
And life is at work even as death is at work,
the silent whisper, ever, ever.
…through the birth of Immanuel…
(From the Collect of the Day)
He saw me by the fig-tree,
desiring yet resisting,
drawn to know the truth of things
yet not looking for it there.
He heard dismissal from my lips,
saw straight into the heart of things,
called to life the truth in me;
I cannot walk away.
That God Himself should take our scum,
that He should walk right here and see –
nothing else but this remains:
I must follow in His way.
Into the realm of princes and thieves
comes the child, comes the child,
hay on his brow.
Into the darkness that knew not the light
comes the Word, comes the Word,
truth in His flight.
Into the sheep-pen where shepherds dig deep
comes the Cross, comes the Cross,
Into indulgence and folly and pride
comes the King, comes the true King;