Jesus Christ

POETRY: For Advent by Christina Rossetti

December 16, 2018

Sweet sweet sound of distant waters, falling On a parched and thirsty plain; Sweet sweet song of soaring skylark, calling On the sun to shine again; Perfume of the rose, only the fresher For past fertilizing rain; Pearls amid the sea, a hidden treasure For some daring hand to gain; — Better, dearer than all these Is the earth beneath the trees: Of a much more priceless worth Is the old, brown, common earth. Little snow-white lamb, piteously bleating For thy mother far away; Saddest sweetest nightingale, retreating With thy sorrow from the day; Weary fawn whom night has overtaken, From the herd gone quite astray; Dove whose nest was rifled and forsaken In the budding month of May; — Roost upon the leafy trees; Lie on earth and take your [...]

POETRY: On The Mystery Of The Incarnation by Denise Levertov

December 13, 2018

It’s when we face for a moment the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know the taint in our own selves, that awe cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart: not to a flower, not to a dolphin, to no innocent form but to this creature vainly sure it and no other is god-like, God (out of compassion for our ugly failure to evolve) entrusts, as guest, as brother, the [...]

POETRY: From God Christ’s Deity Came Forth by Ephrem of Edessa

December 10, 2018

From God Christ’s deity came forth, his manhood from humanity; his priesthood from Melchizedek, his royalty from David’s tree: praised be his Oneness. He joined with guests at wedding feast, yet in the wilderness did fast; he taught within the temple’s gates; his people saw him die at last: praised be his teaching. The dissolute he did not scorn, nor turn from those who were in sin; he for the righteous did rejoice but bade the fallen to come in: praised be his mercy. He did not disregard the sick; to simple ones his word was given; and he descended to the Earth and, his work done, went up to Heaven: praised be his coming. Who then, my Lord, compares to you? The Watcher slept, the Great was small, the Pure baptized, the [...]

POETRY: Advent Calendar by Rowan Williams

December 9, 2018

He will come like last leaf’s fall. One night when the November wind has flayed the trees to bone, and earth wakes choking on the mould, the soft shroud’s folding. He will come like frost. One morning when the shrinking earth opens on mist, to find itself arrested in the net of alien, sword-set beauty. He will come like dark. One evening when the bursting red December sun draws up the sheet and penny-masks its eye to yield the star-snowed fields of sky. He will come, will come, will come like crying in the night, like blood, like breaking, as the earth writhes to toss him free. He will come like [...]

POETRY: Into The Darkest Hour by Madeleine L’Engle

December 4, 2018

It was a time like this, War & tumult of war, a horror in the air. Hungry yawned the abyss— and yet there came the star and the child most wonderfully there. It was time like this of fear & lust for power, license & greed and blight— and yet the Prince of bliss came into the darkest hour in quiet & silent light. And in a time like this how celebrate his birth when all things fall apart? Ah! Wonderful it is with no room on the earth the stable is our [...]

POETRY: Conversion by Marci Johnson

December 3, 2018

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) How can word become flesh? Belly. Bone. Tongue—the feel in the mouth a word rolling around. Word, not a kiss not the thing itself—a name. The arch of a foot. Your face in my hands, just a name. Blue sky lolling beyond the window frame—eyes open. just a way of looking. begin with a [...]

POETRY: Advent Credo by Allan Boesak

November 29, 2018

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss— This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction— This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly. It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever— This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace. It is not [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: Meditation by Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster

November 27, 2018

From Christ and the Human Life Above the portal of the ancient cathedral in Lisbon is found a marvelous portrayal of the Blessed Mother and her child.  Mary, the image of purity and divine grace, is not bent over the child: she is looking far, far away, as if she were contemplating the deepest meaning of the Incarnation of the divine Spirit and as if she were surveying the immeasurable consequences of the event upon which shone the star of Bethlehem.  What is that deepest meaning?  It becomes clear to us when we hear from the streets the cries of newspaper vendors calling out the latest news.  This latest news is basically age old and constantly repeated: the cold or hot war of everyone against everyone else.  Its simple cause lies [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: The Dangers Of Advent by J. B. Phillips

November 26, 2018

From Good News: Thoughts on God and Man By far the most important and significant event in the whole course of human history will be celebrated, with or without understanding, at the end of this season, Advent.  The towering miracle of God’s visit to this planet on which we live will be glossed over, brushed aside, or rendered impotent by over-familiarity.  Even by the believer the full weight of the event is not always appreciated.  His faith is in Jesus Christ – he believes with all his heart that this man, who lived and died and rose again in Palestine, was truly the Son of God.  He may have, in addition, some working experience that the man Jesus is still alive, and yet be largely unaware of the intense meaning of what he [...]

JESUS CHRIST: A Battle Worth Fighting

October 16, 2018

We can wander into Renaissance Festivals and see people all made up to be people of that time. We can watch the news and see how a group of people have assembled to recreate an historical battle, complete with swords and drums and even working muskets. There was a time when young people liked to dress up as druids and demons just to play a game. And so the list can go on:  People who put themselves into a Sherlock Holmes story; people who dress up as Antony and Cleopatra; even children in a Christmas play, miniature wise men and a pregnant lady. In a way I am one of those people.  Except without a costume. When I am in visions of being back with Jesus, in his time, I am not there physically.  I am not part of the scene. I am just breath [...]

PRAYER: Shine In Our Hearts by Thomas Cranmer

October 8, 2018

O Lord Jesus Christ, you are the sun of the world, evermore arising, and never going down, which by your most welcome appearing and sight, brings forth, preserves, nourishes, and refreshes all things, as well that are in Heaven as also that are on Earth; We beg you mercifully and faithfully to shine in our hearts, so that the night and darkness of sins, and the mist of errors on every side may be driven away; with you brightly shining in our hearts we may all our life go without stumbling or offense, and may decently and seemly walk as in the day time, being pure and clean from the works of darkness, and abounding in all good works which God has prepared us to walk in; you who with the Father and with the Holy Ghost live and reign for ever [...]

PRAYER: My Trewest Tresowre Sa Trayturly Was Taken by Richard Rolle

September 10, 2018

My Truth and my Treasure so treacherously taken, How bitter your bonds and how biting your bands, How soon by your so-called servants forsaken, When horrid men hurt your poor head with their hands. The source of salvation was seized on so sore, Then pulled out of prison to Pilate at prime. Their battering blows then so bravely you bore; The sinners just spat in your face with their slime. My dear, my desire, you were dragged through the dirt, Forced to carry your cross and wear cruel crown of thorn, They harried your heels to your harm and your hurt, To your hanging the back-breaking burden was born. So sadly my Savior in sorrow must die, Stripped naked, then nailed to the cross all alone; They horribly heaved up the gallows on high, Then [...]

POETRY: The Chimes Of Neverwhere by Les Murray

August 15, 2018

How many times did the Church prevent war? Who knows? Those wars did not occur. How many numbers don’t count before ten? Treasures of the Devil in Neverwhere. The neither state of Neverwhere is hard to place as near or far since all things that didn’t take place are there and things that have lost the place they took: Herr Hitler’s buildings, King James’s cigar, the happiness of Armenia, the Abelard children, the Manchu’s return are there with the Pictish Grammar Book. The girl who returned your dazzled look and the mornings you might have woke to her are your waterbed in Neverwhere. There shine the dukes of Australia and all the great poems that never were quite written, and every balked invention. There too are the Third AIF [...]

POETRY: The Glorious Mysteries—The Ascension by John O’Donohue

August 6, 2018

With waves the ocean soothes the dark stillness of the shore. With words the mind would calm the awful, inner quiet. Offerings to the nothingness on which we trespass. Our imprint no deeper than breath on a mirror. Though delighted by the wonder of your return, To glimpse you is already too much for their eyes. At your cadence of voice a bird stirs in the heart, Its wings spread such brightness nothing can hold its form. You are no longer from here, yet you still linger In the lightness, wed to the dance you awaken, As if in drudged-down lives, the song of your new hands Could raise the soul towards horizons of desire. You slip through a door of air. Memory comes home, Bright as a dead tree drawn to blossom by the [...]

HUMILITY: Humility And Exaltation by Andrew Murray

July 13, 2018

From Humility I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves – one above another – and the taller we grow, the easier we can reach them.  Now I find that God’s gifts are on shelves – and the lower we stoop, the more we get. (F. B. Meyer)   He who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 14:11; 18:14)   God gives grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:6, 10)   Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6) Recently I was asked the question, “How can I overcome my pride?”  The answer is simple.  Two things are needed.  Do what God says to do: humble yourself.  Trust him to do what he says he will [...]

HUMILITY: Humility And Happiness by Andrew Murray

June 29, 2018

From Humility Should you ask me: What is the first thing in religion?  I should reply: the first, second, and third thing therein is humility. (Augustine) Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) It seems that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was sent to humble him so that he might not exalt himself as a result of the great revelations given to him.  Paul’s first desire was to have the thorn removed, and he asked the Lord three times that it might be taken away.  The answer came to him that the trial was a blessing – that through the weakness and [...]

HUMILITY: Humility And Death To Self by Andrew Murray

June 14, 2018

From Humility Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself. (T. S. Eliot)   He humbled himself and became obedient to death. (Philippians 2:8) Humility is the path to death, because in death it gives the highest proof of its perfection.  Humility is the blossom of which death to self is the perfect fruit.  Jesus humbled himself unto death and opened the path in which we too must walk.  As there was no way for him to prove his surrender to God to the uttermost or to give up and rise out of our human nature to the glory of the Father but through death, so it is with us.  Humility must lead us to die to self: so we prove how wholly we have given ourselves up to [...]

HUMILITY: Humility And Faith by Andrew Murray

June 7, 2018

From Humility Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish yourself to be. (Thomas à Kempis)   How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:44) In an address I heard recently, the speaker said that the blessings of the higher Christian life were often like the objects displayed in a shop window: one could see them clearly and yet could not reach them.  If told to reach out and help himself, a man would answer, “I can’t; there’s a thick pane of plate glass between me and them.”  In the same way, Christians may see clearly the blessed promises of perfect peace and rest, [...]

HUMILITY: Humility And Sin by Andrew Murray

May 31, 2018

From Humility Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility. (Jonathan Edwards) Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15) Humility is often identified with penitence and contrition.  As a consequence, there appears to be no way of fostering humility but by keeping the soul occupied with its sin.  But I think we have learned that humility is something else and something more than being consumed with our own sinfulness.  We have seen in the teaching of our Lord Jesus and the Epistles how often the virtue is mentioned without any reference to sin.  In the very nature of things, in the whole relationship of the creature to the Creator, in the life of Jesus as he [...]

HUMILITY: Humility And Holiness by Andrew Murray

May 24, 2018

From Humility It is no great thing to be humble when you are brought low; but to be humble when you are praised is a great and rare achievement. (Bernard of Clairvaux) All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people who say, “Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too scared for you!” (Isaiah 65:2,5) We speak of the holiness movement in our times and praise God for it.  We hear a great deal of seekers after holiness and professors of holiness, of holiness teaching and holiness meetings.  The blessed truths of holiness in Christ and holiness by faith are being emphasized as never before.  The great test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it is manifest in the [...]

POETRY: The Country Clergy by R. S. Thomas

May 18, 2018

I see them working in old rectories By the sun’s light, by candlelight, Venerable men, their black cloth A little dusty, a little green With holy mildew. And yet their skulls, Ripening over so many prayers, Toppled into the same grave With oafs and yokels. They left no books, Memorial to their lonely thought In grey parishes; rather they wrote On men’s hearts and in the minds Of young children sublime words Too soon forgotten. God in his time Or out of time will correct [...]

POETRY: How To Prepare For The Second Coming by Abigail Carroll

May 16, 2018

Start by recalling the absolute goodness of rain and repent for every grumble you have ever made about the weather (this will take approximately forever.) Next, you will want to commit a theft: with deft lock-picking and a shrewd hand, steal back the hours you fed to the hungry god of work, then squander them on hydrangeas, Wordsworth, voluntary sidewalk repair. Teach a child to lace a shoe (your child or another’s—any four-year old will do), and while you’re at it, set the alarm for three, and fumble through the dark to the pond to guard the salamanders as they cross the road. If, having accomplished these tasks, you wish to go on, sit at your desk and carefully design a few radical acts of grace, by which I mean murder (of a sort): [...]

HUMILITY: Humility In Daily Life by Andrew Murray

May 12, 2018

From Humility The more humble a man is in himself, the more obedient toward God, the wiser will he be in all things, and the more shall his soul be at peace. (Thomas à Kempis)   For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20) It is a solemn thought that our love for God is measured by our everyday relationships with others.  Except as its validity is proven in standing the test of daily life with our fellowmen, our love for God may be found to be a delusion.  It is easy to think that we humble ourselves before God, but our humility toward others is the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real.  To be genuine, humility must abide in us and become our [...]

POETRY: Threshold by R. S. Thomas

May 11, 2018

I emerge from the mind’s cave into the worse darkness outside, where things pass and the Lord is in none of them. I have heard the still, small voice and it was that of the bacteria demolishing my cosmos. I have lingered too long on this threshold, but where can I go? To look back is to lose the soul I was leading upwards towards the light. To look forward? Ah, what balance is needed at the edges of such an abyss. I am alone on the surface of a turning planet. What to do but, like Michelangelo’s Adam, put my hand out into unknown space, hoping for the reciprocating [...]

POETRY: Ascension by Kathleen Norris

May 10, 2018

Why do you stand looking up at the skies? (Acts 1:11) It wasn’t just wind, chasing thin gunmetal clouds across the loud sky; it wasn’t the feeling that one might ascend on that excited air, rising like a trumpet note. And it wasn’t just my sister’s water breaking, her crying out, the downward draw of blood and bone…. It was all of that, the mud and new grass pushing up through melting snow, the lilac in bud by my front door, bent low by last week’s ice storm. Now the new mother, that leaky vessel, begins to nurse her child, beginning the long [...]

POETRY: Easter Hymn by A. E. Housman

May 9, 2018

If in that Syrian garden, ages slain, You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain, Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night The hate you died to quench and could but fan, Sleep well and see no morning, son of man. But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by, At the right hand of majesty on high You sit, and sitting so remember yet Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat, Your cross and passion and the life you gave, Bow hither out of Heaven and see and [...]

HUMILITY: Humility In The Disciples Of Jesus by Andrew Murray

May 5, 2018

From Humility God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, he can make something out of us. (Martin Luther)     The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. (Luke 22:26) We have studied humility in the person and teaching of Jesus; now we will look for it in the circle of his chosen companions – the twelve apostles.  If we see a lack of humility in the disciples, and a contrast between Christ and men is brought out more clearly, it will help us to appreciate the mighty change that Pentecost brought and prove how real our participation can be in the triumph of Christ’s humility over the pride Satan breathed into humankind. In the texts quoted from [...]

POETRY: Past And Future by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

May 2, 2018

My future will not copy fair my past On any leaf but Heaven’s. Be fully done Supernal Will! I would not fain be one Who, satisfying thirst and breaking fast, Upon the fullness of the heart at last Says no grace after meat. My wine has run Indeed out of my cup, and there is none To gather up the bread of my repast Scattered and trampled; yet I find some good In earth’s green herbs, and streams that bubble up Clear from the darkling ground,—content until I sit with angels before better food:— Dear Christ! when thy new vintage fills my cup, This hand shall shake no more, nor that wine [...]