At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. – Judges 4:1-7
It’s good to know, O God, the place that I could go for wisdom, between the villages of Ramah and Bethel. Between “the height” and “House of God,” why, yes, assuredly, is wisdom found.
Oh, let me find the palm of Deborah in days when folly struts across the land, a Siren song of foolishness which some dismiss and some embrace.
For folly is a foe of deadly consequence as ever were the soldiers of King Jabin or his captain Sisera. A quarter million deaths are close at hand.
Send us a woman of discernment such as Deborah, a woman of quick courage such as Jael, a woman to dispel the clouds of complementarianism.
Send us a woman, a figure of Wisdom, to speak: and let the posturing of men be left in history’s bin.
A poem/prayer based on Judges 4:1-7, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year A, Proper 28 (33).
Amidst a global pandemic (which some deny), amidst racist violence (which some discount), amidst xenophobia (which some applaud), amidst voter suppression (which some embrace), we come to express the will of the People, O God.
May there be wisdom. May there be health. May there be compassion. May there be mercy.
To be quite truthful, Jesus: I cannot really claim to know just what you meant by “Moses’ seat,” and what you meant to say about authority, interpretation of the law, or representing God. For certain we have called a host of people “Lord,” or “Teacher,” “my Professor,” “Mom,” or “Dad.”
Whatever may be true about the Truth Divine, how cloudy and obscured it is when heard from human tongues or hands! Just like a cosmic game of “Telephone” in which the loss of clarity means life for some and death for many more. But Jesus, we have heard your words through intermediaries, assembled generations after you had taught.
From you to eager followers who did not, I know, take notes, from them to others who, perhaps, would write a word or two, to others yet who finally recorded what they heard on reeds, on parchment, vellum, paper, with a press, and on to me today reminding me once more that greatness is the act of service, and hubris is just asking to be tumbled into dust.
Once more my memory returns to a great soul, who truly in her life embodied what you said was great, whose smile was the mirror of her soul, who sparked new life in all who saw her, who heard her words, who knew with her such joy. I’m sure she was a human, not a plaster saint, because her passing pains me still, and woe, ye world, that misappraises pride for what what is truly great.
God: “…but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:23c)
Jesus: “Whose head is this…?” (Matthew 22:20b)
Faces clattering as coins descend to bounce and roll across the counter; faces whispering as fingers count the bills, exchanging paper for some goods.
Faces flicker on the screen, three up and three across to form a game or set the stage for stories, echoed now in tiny screens within a telephone.
Faces sheltered in the swaddling cloth of masks, reducing by some meaningful amount the risk of illness and of death to me , to you, to those we love.
Faces twisted now by scorn and rage, by privilege and power and by pique, faces streaked with tears as faces lacking breath are given to the earth.
Faces sighing from exhausting toil, faces bright with gratitude for love, faces furrowed with confusion, faces that conceal the hearts within.
Each day I face the faces, Holy One (if just the one that gazes from the glass), and every day I long for one bright face, O God, the one I cannot see and live.
A poem/prayer based on Exodus 32:12-23, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading and Matthew 22:15-22, the Gospel Readingfor Year A, Proper 24 (29).
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Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
I used to call them “Squirrel Days,” O Jesus. Before I moved here to this island without squirrels, it was my tag for days when concentration failed, when focus flailed, when even consciousness would fade.
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
It’s funny how the unimportant can assume such prominence and even over what is right before me. Who needs the phone to ring or text to buzz when adolescent disappointments still possess me?
whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable,
I cannot even concentrate upon the evils, cannot choose which one is worst, which ones are worse, which ones are dangerously proximate. Sufficient for this year are evils, rages, suffering arising in a single day!
if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise,
Incarcerated children, children still not reunited with their parents, refugees denied a hearing, tear gas fired at civilians, a pandemic dismissed despite two hundred thousand graves, a tax break for the rich and no relief for those now unemployed.
think about these things.
Oh, I’ll try to follow Paul’s advice, dear Jesus, but I am… somewhat… distracted.
A poem/prayer based on Philippians 4:1-9, the Revised Common Lectionary Second Reading for Year A, Proper 23 (28).