Sanctuaries Dance

Imagine these beams dancing…

Perhaps the music welled up from the deepest
liquid heart of Earth, a thudding planetary beat.
Perhaps the music rained down from the clouds,
a pitter-patter drumming, flowing sound.

Perhaps the music swelled as oceans kept the time,
perhaps the music eddied with the whirling cyclones,
perhaps the music sailed across the universe
upon the wings of light: to make the churches dance.

A storefront plate glass window was the first
to “step onto the floor,” reflections shifting, mazing,
scribing curves on the straight sides of the decal cross,
swaying side to side and back and forth.

On village greens and at the edge of prairies,
along the streets and in the city centers,
clapboards hummed as steeples bowed,
copper clappers tapping as they circled.

Stained glass sparkled, catching light, returning it
in new directions. Saints and prophets twisted
gracefully, plaster no longer rigid, marble arms
extending, reaching, drawing near, relaxed.

Granite groaned to twist and turn, towers bowing.
Magen David whirled. Crosses leapt. Buddhas bowed.
Tabernacles, altars, tables, all their leggy footwork pounded.
Minarets described a stately pirouette.

In praise of all creation, we could watch.
In praise of holy and celestial music, we could watch.
In praise of all this Goodness, we could watch:
To see the sanctuaries dance.

This poem emerged from work on a UCC Daily Devotional, one about individual people dancing for the joy of God’s love. It placed an image in my head, however, of the Church dancing – or at least of church buildings dancing.

Photo of Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo, Hawai’i, by Eric Anderson.

Yours

Amos

“King’s sanctuary,” Amaziah said:
“A temple of the kingdom.”

“I am no prophet,” Amos returned.
“I am a herdsman, summoned to speak.”

Which is to say, O Blessed One:
“I am Yours. This place is Yours.

“This house is Yours. This voice is Yours.
Temple, sanctuary: these are Yours.”

And I, even I, for what it’s worth:
I, too, am Yours.

A poem/prayer based on Amos 7:7-17, the Revised Common Lectionary alternate first reading for Year C, Proper 10.

The image is a depiction of the prophet Amos in an 18th century Russian Orthodox icon, found in the Kizhi Monastery. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3232602

Wisdom’s Call

“Gate of Wisdom” by sculptor Ju Ming, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“From the heights I call; will you listen? No?
Beside the road I call; will you listen? No?

“By the crossroad I call; will you listen? No?
Beside the gate I call; will you listen? No?

“Then at the entrance to the portals I cry out:
‘Be wise! Learn! Love righteousness! Grow!’

“Will you listen?

“No?”

Though she should delight
in God’s inhabited world:

Wisdom weeps.

A poem/prayer based on Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Trinity Sunday.

Photo of “Gate of Wisdom” by Chong Fat – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5193511.

Magdalene’s Pentecost

They called it, “an idle tale,”
these Followers of the Way,
these messengers of the Messiah,
these pillars of the Church.

They called it, “an idle tale,”
when Joanna and Mary and I
proclaimed the Word of the LORD
declared to us by angels.

Shall I call it, “an idle tale,”
when wind and fire and dancing tongues
awakened all these pillars
to their urgent calling?

Shall I call it, “an idle tale,”
when Simon affirms that
daughters prophecy – though he
did not believe our word?

I will not blame them for their “idle tale,”
but neither will I wait until
the Spirit’s fire dims and they
ignore the women once again.

A poem/prayer based on 2:1-21, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Pentecost Sunday. The poem also refers to Luke 24:1-12.

It comes from my wonder that Mary Magdalene is not mentioned the chronicles of the Early Church after Jesus’ resurrection.

The image is a panel of a stained glass window depicting the crucifixion of Jesus at the Eglise abbatiale Sainte-Walburge, Walbourg, France.

Praying Again

God, I’d ask you to forgive us,
but we will not repent.

God, I’d ask you to reform us,
but we will not amend.

God, I’d ask you to guide us,
but we will not follow.

And so: eleven dead, or two.
A courthouse or a synagogue.

We will not hear, “Enough of this!”
We will not lay the weapons down.

Do not forgive us, God,
until we choose a better way.

In grief for those killed and injured at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on May 31, 2019.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Desperately

The Slave Girl of Philippi, 1857-60

Desperately silenced.
My only words
not my own.
Tongue in stocks.

Desperately bound.
Daily divination’s
coins presented
to these human demons.

Desperately shackled
to these evil spirits:
one holds my body,
the other holds my voice.

Desperately shouting:
“These men are slaves
of the Most High God!”
But will they hear me?

Desperately hopeless,
silently shouting,
“Bring salvation
to this soul!”

Desperately grateful,
yet thanks go unheeded.
They are hauled away
in chains.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 16:16-34, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Seventh Sunday of Easter.

The painting of Saint Paul casting out the evil spirit from the unnamed woman (ca. 1860) is found outside the Basilica of Saint Paul, Rome, Italy. Photo by Richard Stracke: CC by-NC-SA 3.0.

Open Gates

The “New Gate” in Jerusalem, ca. 1900-1920

Its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there.
– Revelation to John 21:25, NRSV

Go figure. I was wrong.
I always imagined, yawning wide,
the gates of hell, while heaven’s gates
admitted just a few.

But shuttered gates are not
an attribute of paradise.

A poem/prayer based on Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5, the Revised Common Lectionary second reading for Year C, Sixth Sunday of Easter.

Photo of the New Gate in Jerusalem taken between 1900 and 1920 by G. Eric and Edith Matson, part of the Matson Collection at the Library of Congress. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=464832.