Nazarene

Image: Open Doors
Image: Open Doors

“We can only silence the guns of hatred with the guns of love.”

– Nigerian church leader, quoted in Open Doors prayer letter


I am broken in my love:

I cry, I steal,

I hurt, I hate.

My heart has guns which fire and kill

and I am daily killed.

 

I do not understand my friend;

my neighbour dies,

I pass him by.

I do not walk across my street

or see you in your home.

 

The scarf around your head sparks fear;

my crucifix

is shame to you.

The Nazarene upon the cross

lives not like I have lived.

 

All exiles, while the Garden grows

far from our homes,

we never meet

or open hands to shake, to greet

and give as we’ve received.

 

Yet love transformed by crown of thorns

has power to

unload these guns.

Such love has wounds to mend the rift

and make us many One.

 

O I am broken in my love.

I cry, I steal,

I hurt, I hate.

O Jesus, Nazarene, come heal;

come open doors and sing.

Hospitality

Well, poems have been few and far between at The Consolations of Writing recently, mostly because – I must admit – I’ve been slightly distracted by my recent engagement to an absolutely wonderful girl, Hannah. This week I have distractions of another kind: a week-long, short-term mission in my own city, Melbourne. Today’s poem is a reflection on what it means to open ourselves in Christ-like love to the stranger in our home.

Hospitality

Open my hands:
You have opened Your hands;
You had nails scar Your hands.
      Open heart.

Open my fists:
You have unclenched Your fists;
You have satisfied wrath.
      Open hands.

Open my heart:
You have sword-pierced Your heart;
You have loved with Your scars.
Open fists, hands and heart:
       Open, heart.

“August Sabbath”, and eight years of poetry

Eight years ago today, I began writing poetry. It was a beautiful spring day – the promise of things to come. But, as is so often the case at the end of a Melbourne winter, the spring was fragile. Cool weather could return at any moment and snap up the new growth. I was about to begin teaching and had recently emerged from a bad relationship; life was hopeful. Yet it seemed to me it could so easily fail. I turned to poetry to express this feeling and never looked back.

Today is another beautiful spring day. Life has brought more disappointment and more joy than I could have known. My hope is quieter, my heart more still and my poetry is – I hope – a bit better. But God is the same as He has always been.

August Sabbath

Hope settles as wind whistles in fresh leaves;
August grins in unexpected warmth, and though
Next week may bring cold worse than before,
New days are sure to prosper in His plan.
As we await the joys, the sun, the cold,
Hope settles and the wind whistles today.

Apology

If perhaps in sullen days I might slide back

to where I fell, a child, into the dark,

please wait with me as slowly I am brought

 

again into the light. Your love has brought

the truth to bear in silent corners, back-

rooms where thick lies have festered in the dark.

 

Although not whole, I’m neither lost in dark;

I mourn this languid baggage that I’ve brought,

yet every night and morning I come back

 

to see how far from dark I have been brought.

Psalm 131: Humility and Submission

"Le Sommeil" by Alphonse Eugène Félix Lecadre vintageprintable.com
“Le Sommeil” by Alphonse Eugène Félix Lecadre
vintageprintable.com

Yesterday I posted a poem based on the beautiful Psalm 131. It is one of the shortest psalms in the Bible, yet one which I have found particularly comforting at times of emotional and psychological distress. Today I am posting a recording I have made of a new musical setting of Isaac Watts’ hymn based on the same psalm. Here are the words to Watts’ hymn so that you can read them along with the recording. May it be a reminder of the stillness that we can have in the arms of an infinitely loving God.

Is there ambition in my heart?.
Search, gracious God, and see;
Or do I act a haughty part?
Lord, I appeal to thee.
I charge my thoughts, be humble still,
And all my carriage mild,
Content, my Father, with thy will,
And quiet as a child.
The patient soul, the lowly mind,
Shall have a large reward:
Let saints in sorrow lie resigned,
And trust a faithful Lord.

(Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts)

Love to the End

wpid-painting_of_the_foot_washing_-_santa_maria_del_mar_-_barcelona_2014_crop_1.jpg

My king, the heavens were your throne, your seat.
The task beneath us, we shuffled in our pride;
All things beneath you, you God washed our feet.

Undignified, so lowly, indiscrete!
What, Rabbi, wash our feet? we all decried.
My king, the heavens were your throne, your seat…

With thrones to claim and enemies to beat,
The servant’s towel the victory robe you tied;
All things beneath you, you, God, washed our feet.

Reclining in our comfort, souls replete
With motives mixed and dull, we turned aside…
My king, the heavens were your throne, your seat.

The lord of all now redefining great –
What did such love demand? Our status cried.
All things beneath you, you, God, washed our feet…

The shame of it, the love now made complete:
This utmost-love of nails and pierced side.
My king, the heavens were your throne, your seat:
All things beneath you, you, God, washed our feet.

Lent 38: Friday of Fifth Week

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Look:
see the woman with her oil and hair;
see His feet (they’re not yet scarred);
see the gasp upon your face;
see His searching eyes.

Listen:
He spoke to you of the Son of Man;
He spoke of death and burial;
He spoke of Passover, exodus;
He spoke; you did not hear.

Learn:
He stands to tell you all the truth;
He stands beside the lavish act;
He stands against what we expect;
He stands soon in our place.