Count It Loss

Whether misplaced or stolen, the effect is the same:
the search, the panic, the retracing of steps,
the sense that not an object but an organ,
not a possession but a position,
has vanished, without trace.

Whether passing or lasting, the search seems boundless.
The mind must run to what-ifs because
you never know: the cushion may disguise it, yet
tomorrow may also bear more disappointments
and soon it may be clear,

it is gone. And for now, at least, it is.
You might as well prepare:
its absence now defines you. The gains it bore
now weigh you down, your mind ever turning
to carve possibilities like pillars of salt.

Throw off. If it returns,
the bond must not return with it.
You have lost yourself; rejoice, held securely,
if tomorrow proves lost,

if found.

Catechism 33

Should those who have faith in Christ seek their salvation through their own works, or anywhere else?

No, they should not, as everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ. To seek salvation through good works is a denial that Christ is the only Redeemer and Savior.

(New City Catechism)

 

            Understand:

the chasm is too wide, the gap

too vast for any Good to bridge.

            All vain

attempts to straddle death with works,

however beautiful, are only

            puddles

                        in an infinite sea.

 

            And know this:

all the ladder-clambering to

which the dying soul will turn

                        cannot

ascend the smallest rung,

can only slip, and slander grace

            which lifts

                        the sinner from her knees.

 

            And nothing

in our best attempts, our finest deeds,

our kindest actions, whitest fleece,

                        can near

the width of grace’s arms which span

the heavens and the earth to take

            our filth

                        into its cleansing grip.

Catechism 32

What do justification and sanctification mean?

Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.

(New City Catechism)

 
First, declared –
            altogether
                        undeserved.
First a righteousness which comes
            from above
in shower, blood,
            avenging love.
                        First the gavel’s pound upon
            the bench declares
                        salvation.
 
Then the change –
            “As you are, and
                        have been called –
now be each day. Now live a life
                        worthy of
this calling, worthy
            of this Life.”
                        First the calling, first New Life,
            then life transformed
                        by Spirit.

Catechism 30

In Christ Alone large-500x500

What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Faith in Jesus Christ is acknowledging the truth of everything that God has revealed in his Word, trusting in him, and also receiving and resting on him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.
(New City Catechism)

 

Price paid – rest.
            The promise lies in deepest past:
Adam’s offspring crushes heads
            of serpents
                        with his heel.
 
Rest, receive:
            the Word tells all a soul must know.
Adam’s stain to stainless death,
            many sons
                        brought glory.
 
Trust the truth:
            though sin clamours at our ears,
better words are spoken in
            the blood which
                        pleads for us.

Catechism 29

Francisco de Zurbarán -Agnus Dei
Francisco de Zurbarán – Agnus Dei

How can we be saved?

Only by faith in Jesus Christ and in his substitutionary atoning death on the cross; so even though we are guilty of having disobeyed God and are still inclined to all evil, nevertheless, God, without any merit of our own but only by pure grace, imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ when we repent and believe in him.

(New City Catechism)

 

Without excuse, I

testify within me to

this daily sickness,

this ever-reaching backward

to the garden’s first death-fruits.

 

Without excuse, I

cannot grasp my way towards

what once should have been.

Too late, I have only death;

but rich mercy intercedes.

 

No excuse and no

justice: righteousness given

to the least righteous.

Perfect life lived in my stead,

lived on this beggar’s behalf.

 

How can we be saved?

No excuse, we cry, desperate.

The answer, senseless,

replies: only faith, only

grace which pays infinite price.

Catechism 27

IMAG0707

This next question from the New City Catechism is a hard pill to swallow. It touches on what for me has long been one of the toughest questions of faith: the doctrine of election. The Bible is full both of invitations for all to come and also clear teaching that not all will come, and indeed that God has chosen for some not to come to Him. It can turn our heads and hearts inside out as we wrestle with it, yet in this poem I have tried to focus myself – and, I pray, you as you read it – on the goodness of God which shines through all these struggles through the gifts of common grace.

Catechism 27

Are all people, just as they were lost through Adam, saved through Christ?

No, only those who are elected by God and united to Christ by faith. Nevertheless God in his mercy demonstrates common grace even to those who are not elect, by restraining the effects of sin and enabling works of culture for human well-being. (New City Catechism)

 

It hurts
            to hear
that some are lost.

It stings
            to know
that grace has cost.

It cuts
            into
our minds to know

that not all shall be saved.

And yet
            this grace
shines through it all:

that God,
            the sovereign,
makes and rules

the work
            of hands
in spite of all

the dirt, the sin we wrought.

To trust
            His grace:
in this is peace.

To seek
            His face
and righteousness

is all
            that we
with broken minds

can hope or need to do.

Pentecost

Crispin van den Broeck - "Pentecost"
Crispin van den Broeck – “Pentecost”

What wind swept through the house that day –
what dawn arose,
what day became?
What life shone through the shuttered doors
and lit a dancing flame?

What trifold truth unloosened tongues –
what fractured past
now set aright?
What joy made sober men seem drunk
and woke the town to sight?

What destiny set feet to roads –
what Comforter
bound burdened soles?
What promise made the rough road smooth
and stretched from pole to pole?

What anguish sings in spirit songs –
what waiting now,
what hope to come.
What Pentecostal flame burns still,
bright vigil of the Son.