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.

What we don’t know

It is hard for those who live near a Bank
To doubt the security of their money.

T.S. Eliot

Only those who have felt the cold
will remember to close the door.

Only those who are fallen or proud
will perceive the rule of law.

Only those who live far from the bowl
will know it means to need more.

Only those who believe they might win
will bother to check the score.

Lent: Emmaus 2

The heavens are telling the glory of God –
    (tweet tweet, like like, instant message)
His voice goes out to the ends of the earth –
    (I fast, I tithe, I pray twice a day)
Heaven and earth will pass away –
    (Lord, let me sit at your right hand)
Before His law will fade.

In wilderness, make straight the way –
     (I thank you, Lord, I’m not like him)
The Son of Man must suffer and die –
    (O surely Lord not I?)
Heaven and earth will pass away –
     (Anti-ageing cream for sale)
His promises remain.

Catechism 15

Since no one can keep the law, what is its purpose?
That we may know the holy nature and will of God, and the sinful nature and disobedience of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior. The law also teaches and exhorts us to live a life worthy of our Savior.
(New City Catechism)

So earthly good starves, yet Law stands,
a good tree planted in sick soil,
exemplar of life, arrow to Eden.

And we, though our stomachs
sicken at the sight, may eat –
if we first learn to kneel at its roots.

Desperation must come first: the cry 
of a helpless heart eternally lost,
mercy the one last, half-hoping hope.

Then the tree: planted in the place of skulls,
and the Exemplar ascending,
desperate and hopeful, merciful to the last.

Catechism 14

Did God create us unable to keep his law?

No, but because of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all of creation is fallen; we are all born in sin and guilt, corrupt in our nature and unable to keep God’s law.

(New City Catechism)


The spirit is willing but the flesh languishes,

new laws created in place of old:

first, If you eat of this fruit you surely won’t die;

now, what I would do, I cannot do.


In the bone, this error: entwined

with the impulse behind flights to the sky,

yet sickened, wizened, good trees in bad soil,

good stunted and cast in wrong directions,


engines against the Almighty which,

in His will, could be engines of manifold grace,

but legacy bred too deep in the marrow

for any earthly good to remove.

Lent 29: Wednesday of Fourth Week

Detail from Rembrandt van Rijn, "Christ Driving Money Changes from the Temple"
Detail from Rembrandt van Rijn, “Christ Driving Money Changes from the Temple”

The blind, the lame, are let inside;

the cursed now are blessed.

The king in triumph rides upon

a humble donkey’s colt.


The temple tables overturned,

the mind thrown into chaos,

prophecies are rendered true

in ways that chill our hearts.


The unexpected king burns bright

with anger at the sham.

He knows the depths of truest Law

and dies to see it kept.