Pass Through the Waters

Pilgrims, we return again to Jordan
where the old familiar waters flow;
As always we face the choice to enter,
awash in what we do not know.

Familiar the doubt, uncertain the prospect:
the promise declares like a quaking in sky,
yet how it transpires, our toes must encounter
and nothing ensures that our feet will stay dry,

only a dove and the voice of a father
and his story the same – ever ever.

Epiphany: Unexpected Myrrh

all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
(Isaiah 60:6b)

The promise shines bright,
but not all have eyes to see.
Many search elsewhere, dismissive of their quest
for nothing great comes from Palestine.
Preferring the grandeur of temple and palace courts,
they snub noses at a people on their knees
and follow other stars for other fates.

Yet to those who’ve been waiting,
those willing to hoist saddle and trudge desert sands,
the movement of stars matches movements in hearts
and the star points to what they are seeking.
Only this is unexpected: not only
do they bring the ointment of kings
and the gold that’s surely fit for him
but a resin that embalms when bodies expire,
a sign that the child-king lives here to die.
Knees bow before this acceptance of fate
while proud knees are buckled at the truth.
Only when it humbles will it save.

Christmas 12: Seen (Nathanael’s Story)

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.

Christmas 10: Sons

gather the nations to be one family…
(From the Collect of the Day)

But we know travail,
know separation,
are well-acquainted with the feeling,
on waking,
that something or someone or somewhere is missing, or wishing,
or losing, is lost.

And we know the gap
between ourselves;
we call the vacuum by first name.
We know division enough to feel
the shock of being brought into a whole.
We know the weight, the wait, delight
to be called sons of God…

Christmas 9: …who lives and reigns with You and the Spirit (For Basil the Great and Gregory Nanzianzen)

…eternal unity of perfect love…

(From the Collect of the Day)

What He left behind we can scarce imagine,
having never known such unity or home.
At best we can only recall
the closest to belonging that we have touched:
glimpses of a womb or a bed or a heart,
footsteps meeting the sand in shared rhythm.
Only if we knew
the radiant, pulsating
glory-to-glory from first, on and on,
only then could we fathom
the depths that He fathomed,
incarnate Word,
before time, found in time,
the stable not knowing His name.

Christmas 8: The Name

Not an unusual name,
though a powerful one.
Many Joshuas down the street no doubt
hoped for some of their hero’s kudos:
if not the power to bring down Jericho, then at least
the nod of approval as if they could if they tried.
Yet this one would be different. No
family lineage dictating the name,
but beating wings and the memory
of a thumping heart at the dining table
as the angel had brought her his news.
He saves. A grand claim
for the eight-day-old lying
half-asleep, half-stirring
while Joseph held the pair of pigeons,
their measly offering, a gift that could
not ever suffice, would have to suffice,
though the rules were soon to change,
as the dozing Saviour surely knew.

Christmas 6: How we grow

And Mary treasured in her heart
the mystery, the sheer
beyondness of what she held and did not hold.
He already moved from her grasp,
wiser than her and Joseph combined,
outsmarting his teachers,
taking himself off for theological talks,
when she had hardly finished feeding him.
Only time stood between her and total loss, only
years before a sword would pierce
her own soul through – and his, and his.
Only ever years, and yet
these years are how we grow (for she
was the one who’d still to grow.)