The labor of lament

Who among you believe that grieving and lamentation are symptoms of despair?

Not so!

Only the hopeless are silent in the face of calamity—

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The new deuteronomist

History says, Don't hope on this side of the grave.
It is too much to ask for mere mortals such as us.
     Yet we say, Noli timere. Do not be afraid.

Hope is not beyond your reach. It is not in the highest
     region of heaven, or out beyond the farthest sea.
Hope need not be the exclusive province of heroic figures.
     Noli timere. Do not be afraid.

Hope is in your mouth, ready to be savored; it is in your
heart, awaiting love’s harness. Noli timere. Noli timidus.

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The breadth of Heaven’s reach

A life in Christ is
           an invitation
to live according to a different rhythm.

It stimulates the courage to
           move forward
even when the path seems to crumble
beneath our feet, when every way forward
                       is shrouded in threat.

The Love of Christ is that embrace which
           untangles the anxious heart
           and calms the fretful hand
where fears are overruled by confidence and
           trembling is tempered
with pardon and permission.

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The boundary of bedlam

From the turbulent bowels of darkest deep,
     our roiling souls cry to you, O God!

Close not your ears to the sound of our
     afflictions! Remind us again that Heaven’s
Provision will yet outlast earth’s squalid distress.

Draw us to the Still Point of love’s tranquil refrain,
     to the melody of restful hearts:

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That friggin’ Lexus

Listen close, God.
When we get together and sing
“Down By the Riverside,” we mean it.

But outside this sanctuary,
the urge to study war jumps up again.
     We all want peace, but we can’t seem
           to get what we want without war.

It’s not so much al-Qaeda
     [or, insert name of current national enemy]
that bothers us. It’s our neighbors, co-workers,
family members, or that friggin’ Lexus
     that just cut us off in traffic.

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Testimony in a Time of Terror

Standing with the Word of God, for the earth and against the world

Our nation is at war, and our hearts are torn. The seeds of fear are planted in terror and harvested in violence.

How long, O Lord, how long?

The dream of a new order birthed in justice and baptized in mercy has been ruptured by the nightmare of bloody enmity.

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Temple Bouncer

John’s Gospel begins with a dizzying set of Jesus tales. It begins in metaphysics:

“In the beginning was the Word . . . without him not a thing was made.”

Then, chapter two has him as the impromptu wine maître d’ for a wedding feast, intervening to spare the host’s embarrassment by turning water to wine—and such fine wine it was! Then the scene switches to the temple where Jesus makes a holy mess of things, rousting the loan sharks and stampeding their wares.

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Take heed

Take heed, all of you, that your possessions
do not choke the breath from your lungs,
rout the glee from your hands, or steal the
affection of your hearts.

The longing for more, and yet more,
and more again, grows faster
than kudzu, whose greenery—
though pleasant of sight—
smothers everything in its grasp.

Take heed, all of you, and resist the urge
for bigger barns and the impulse to secure
your life by the power of your own appetite.

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Sweet Surrender

A litany for worship inspired by Psalm 15

Oh, Sweet Surrender, inviting our companionship along the road
 of righteousness,

Hear the thankful hearts gathered in this tent of meeting.

You—Honor of the Humble and Restorer of Faithfulness,

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