“Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you get to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.'” – John 1:48
It was long ago, my Savior, that you called me out from under my fig tree. Neither then nor now do I pretend to understand just what you saw.
I strive, Redeemer, to become a person without guile – sometimes successfully. I’ve found your awkward knowing words and silences correct me more than praise.
Still, knowing what you know, you sent the call to summon me from shelter, and I came to come and see, and seeing, echoed those old words: You are the Son of God.
A poem/prayer based on John 1:43-51, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Second Sunday after the Epiphany.
The image is Bartholomew the Apostle by El Greco – lAHToi0sj3MVQw at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29844192. Nathanael, named only in John’s Gospel, has traditionally been identified with Bartholomew, one of the Twelve in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Far from a barn in Bethlehem in miles and in time, remembering the stories passed and wondering just how much was forgot, and how much lost, of Jesus’ birth that holy night.
Who will recall, in truth, the circumstances of this year? For though we think our times “unprecedented,” it is just a sign of swift forgetfulness, a well-established human trait.
The griefs so hard to bear will not be felt by our descendants, for we did not recall the sorrows of our ancestors, nor think to learn from their successes or their failures to protect ourselves from ill.
Nor will our children’s children hear of ti leaves waving gently in the breeze beyond the window’s Christmas glow. Why should they? They will have their own bedazzling sights and sounds at hand, their own deep scents to breathe.
Now my tree’s glow (in echo of ohi’a blossoming upon the slopes of Kilauea) takes on the shades of stone a-fountaining, a-flowing, and a-pooling at the mountain peak. This might be held in memory.
For this becomes a link between the distant island of Hawai’i and the inn of Bethlehem, the places where the Earth grows thin, and from the deepest places of the planet and the love of God there flows the light a-glowing bright.
Yes, here we have the breaking-in of grace: the one builds up the land and rises from the seas. The other builds up love and joy and peace, reclaiming souls from greed and other-disregarding sin. So come, Lord Jesus! Make the darkness bright.
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).