etch

mirroredsky

(Scripture: Revelation 21:1-7, 22-27)

These little lights of ours,
Candles, lit on the darkest days of the year,
Shining through the frosty haze on window panes:
These are antidotes to our doubts and fears,
These are hopeful sparks of a far future,
Etched in flame in mirror skies,
Called by His name, as we are.
Dawn will see us rise.
Do you hear what I hear?
“He is near,” The cosmos cries.

This City is our Home,
Made bright by the Begotten, leading Born Ones in His train.
He who was lit by starlight,
Is the Illuminating Sun.
He who was flanked by shepherds
Now shepherds everyone.
He who cried for Mary’s touch
Now wipes tears from our view.
He who once was fresh in flesh
Is making all things new.

Citizens and faithful ones,
Your names are known by God with us.
His dwelling place is here,
So that He can draw you near.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
As you have sewn love into the fabric of creation,
Etch hope into the walls of our hearts.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Suggested Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

strain

crackedpot

(Scripture: Hebrews 4:14-16)

We are weak.
And our weakness, as winter wind,
Cuts to the bone
And divides us asunder.
We know where we’re grown,
From soil on a planet infected with sin,
The stuff of Satan injected within our broken beating hearts.
Skin-shells are but the start.

You are weak,
Christ-babe, Christ-child,
Christ-teen, Christ-man.
In every season of growth plagued
By the very dust of skin and bone,
Earthy human: as us, for us, with
Head that knew fear,
Hands that knew strain,
Heart that knew love, so
Heaven could know pain.

Persevering Priest,
Place your scarred hands in ours,
Place your scarred self in hearts,
Tempt us anew with Your Divine-Human self,
That through all our Christmases, calendar and within,
Your sanctity and empathy would be reborn in skin.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
You were injured, so that we might be healed.
You endured pain, so that we might enjoy peace.
You bore the strain of human existence, so that we might rest eternally.
You died, so that we might live.
You are worthy; all praise and honor and glory to you!
Amen

Suggested Hymn: Once in Royal David’s City

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

clothe

robestudy

(Scripture: Colossians 3:1-14)

We used to walk
In the ways of the broken
And stand in sin-riddled spaces
And sit in old-self places.
We used to leave love unspoken…
Church,
Kill it, murder the earth in you, the old self, the cold stiff soul of you.
He came with so much more, for you.

Look up,
To a sky packed with angels,
To a star drawing wise men,
To the Baby born and died, now risen and enthroned on high,
To the things unexplainable that are not impossible with God.

Clothe yourself in Him,
(As He slipped into your skin)
In righteous raiment, not of rules,
But of royal, gentle, patient love.
Bear with your brothers and sisters,
Their burdens, their brokenness,
For you are not rich or poor,
Male or female,
Old or young,
But one in Christ.

Christ,
Be born in our everyday Christmas lives,
As you were on that holy Christmas night.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, Word made Flesh,
Cause us to shed…
The garments of greed, gluttony, and gain.
The apparel of apathy, insensitivity, and indifference.
The attire of anger, hatred, and rage.
And to clothe ourselves with you.
Amen

Suggested Hymn: Joy to the World, The Lord Is Come!

(from “Come As a Child: A Christmastide Devotional,” prayers by Pastor Mark van Stee)

Christmastide 1: Crush
Christmastide 2: Sift
Christmastide 3: Flicker
Christmastide 4: Spill
Christmastide 5: Stifle
Christmastide 6: Squall
Christmastide 7: Plunge
Christmastide 8: Kiss
Christmastide 9: Burst

better

IMG_8162-2

A new soul needs to inhabit new skin.
Old skin can’t take a new shape. It’s too thin
Not to crack by fermentation to foam,
Like naked green shoots erupting from stone.
New growth won’t accept the shape that I’m in.

I’m melting, I’m molting, I can’t seem to win
This game of evolving, of growing new limbs.
This stuff is so strange; what used to be home
Just seems better.

Fill me with wine, let new skin grow again.
Old shells can burst and fall, chaff for the wind
And rain to plant deep in paths that I’ve roamed
(perhaps to enrich the fallow to loam?)
Life in Law pales until life filled with Him
Just seems better.

He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
Luke 5:36‭-‬39

(Liturgical poetry during ordinary time after Pentecost is inspired by the parables of Luke. Photo by Linnea Wheeler.)

Words for the Church: Ordinary Time
difficult, divine

difficult, divine

trinity

(for Trinity Sunday)

You are Three but One,
Above, beyond, outside, more,
Difficult Divine.
I can accept the concept,
But living is to adore.

You are One but Three,
Through, with, in, beside, and here,
Kindest Deity.
Embrace me in sweet death
Such that sweet life begins clear.

Father, Brother, Ghost,
Behind, before, surround me,
Dearest Trinity.
I see. Impart, yet fully
Present, past and future: free.

birth of a nation

pentecost

(poem #2 for Pentecost; poem #1 here)

See the Spirit scatter
Eternal Flame into a thousand tongues,
Simmering in saints of every race
Until every language sings His grace.

See! A million tiny candles on a million tiny hills (for He owns them all):
Such is sight that births sight from thin air.
To be owned by Him is to push back the night, to be in and not of,
And the giftings are numerous, beautiful, fair,
And the greatest of these is love.

Rekindle in me
The heat and the flame
Of an earlier day,
When I sparked at Your name,
Let the sputter of embers within me
Drive me down to my knees,
And the power of prayers translated from groans
Lift my head and remind me:
I am not my own.

Saints:
Witness the birth of a holy nation,
Showering fruit and fire like the Son.
This is the gifting of re-creation:
We burst into flame as one.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:7-12

(Liturgical poetry during Eastertide is inspired by the I AM statements of Christ.)

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
within the knot
lay me down
finer line
dwell

dwell

pentecost

(poem #1 for Pentecost; poem #2 here)

I stand among stone-throwers
Ashamed, and sin-hurled into the melee,
And the only light in this dim world
Radiates from His face, leaning down,
Bending to touch this dusty ground.

Accusations are words made weapons,
Forged in bitterness, formed by a truth:
Caught in the act.
I wait, we all wait, to hear the verdict.
Will it be love? or fact?

In stillness, there is naught but
Scratch upon scratch,
Nail into dust, scarring rifts in the earth,
And silence of the pregnant kind.

A stone falls.
And the thud breaks the spell.
He walks away,
A greybeard with too many years
To be blind to this separating light.
He saw sin, and it wasn’t at the center of the mob,
But within himself, the night.

To dull and deathly thuds,
Fallen stones and falling followers,
They leave, the accusers, the accused.
And I stand, left lonely, and simmer inside.

He writes, this Word.
And the Light of Him is more holy and fierce
Than any “holy-man mob” hell-bent on sealing heaven
against those who need it most.
And I think,
Would that this Word would dwell in men and not just among them;
Would dwell in me, like a tongue of fire from an eternal flame,
Like a love that could never be quenched.

I am
Unworthy,
So I drop my stone
And leave Him and His soiled bride alone.

“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:7-12

(Liturgical poetry during Eastertide is inspired by the I AM statements of Christ.)

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
within the knot
lay me down
finer line
birth of a nation

finer line

tapestry

(for Ascension Sunday)

Salvation is a seamless garment of glory,
Woven before and beyond the world,
And stretching along the lines of
Eternity in our hearts.
It is complete, a holy raiment,
Drenched in blood and covenant.
This is the way of truth to life,
Of God and Man, of Jesus Christ.

What kind of a Way is this?
Narrower than a Pharisee,
More tripwire than binding rope.
With all these camels squeezing through the needle,
How then can any be saved?

What kind of a Truth is this?
Honest as fire and
Just as destructive.
It incinerated my old comfy clothes, and my new garments hurt!
They are better, but not broken in.

What kind of a Life is this?
That rips me apart each day
Just to sew me back together.
Until death parts this ragdoll,
There will always be tears.

But here I am still,
Dangling by this thread
Between heaven and earth,
With the scarlet cord
Slicing through bone and marrow, spirit and soul.
I’m too tied up to break free.

Family:
You are clothed in the Sun.
Tangle yourselves further up and further in
To Him whom you have known and seen.
There never was a finer line,
Yet the labor is comfort
And the cut is kind.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
John 14:5-7

(Liturgical poetry during Eastertide is inspired by the I AM statements of Christ.)

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
within the knot
lay me down

lay me down

greenpastures

Lay me down
In fields of green, where grazing is my greatest aspiration.
We are worn out by grasping for greener grass, when we could just let you lead us.
And here I am, refusing to gobble grain that was purchased at great cost,
Like me, even when I’m lost.

I am a sheep and I am a child,
All that is within me is woolly and wild,
Yet I hear Your voice and come tripping and rolling down the hill in your general direction.
I’d make a great viral video.
Not so sure about that whole follower thing.

Lead me along,
Through valleys of twisted thoughts and deeds ill-done.
They are my own and not my own,
As I am Yours but act unknown.
Maybe half of my life is falling,
Over things and off of things,
Into sin and into Your arms.

And even now
I think wolves are just wonderful.
They appreciate young blood and fresh ideas.
Until I’m scattered and attacked, I’m smitten.
After, I’m limping, longing for a Word long-written.

Lay me down
By law and by love,
By the laying down of Your life
In satisfaction of the same.
Let me listen,
And by listening be lost and found
And wrapped and wound,
And called by Your name.
Fences are friends, not foes, in this field.
Your calling is not just to obey, but yield.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:14‭-‬18

(Liturgical poetry during Eastertide is inspired by the I AM statements of Christ. Photo by Linnea Wheeler)

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
within the knot

within the knot

IMG_7014-2

Plants are lazy.
All they do is sit around and grow.
Yet He is one, and so are we,
So there’s something vital in the flow.

This ecosystem is
Meant for growth at its root:
Vine to branch and branch to fruit.
When I separate from the tangle of Vine and branches we call Your People,
All I intake is pollution and smoke.
I shrivel, withered and parched, which is why you call us to remain.
Except,
To be within the knot is not all it’s cracked up to be.
It seems that certain branches strangle their neighbors over resource and space,
Cannibalizing others in the name of grace.

It is the way of things in nature to cling to survive,
But what we cling to determines if we thrive.

Flow from within me,
That I may grow from the thin me to
A flowering sapling, a taller tree,
A fruit-bearing defender of all I see.
Let me be in the thick of the wait,
Bearing up under it when beleaguered,
And always, ever,
Remaining.

Maybe plants aren’t lazy, but patient,
And confident of soil and Vine.
The root of the matter will always be:
I am His, and He is mine.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:5‭-‬8

(Liturgical poetry during Eastertide is inspired by the I AM statements of Christ. Photo by Linnea Wheeler)

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
lay me down