Imitatio Dei

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“Therefore be imitators of God,
as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us…”

In these days, Jesus? Really?

As press and presidents declaim,
“You speak untruth!”
As anger/outrage/ire dominate
our “civil” civic discourse.
As we enshrine successful thieves,
incarcerating petty ones,
and pay as little as we may
to those who work the hardest.
As we elect those who speak evil,
can we be shocked when they speak evil
over and over and over,
can we be shocked when they do evil
over and over and over,
can we be shocked when “little” evils
become our harsh new “normal?”

When bitterness and wrath and anger,
wrangling, slander, all the breadth of malice
take the center role,
how can we honestly believe, O Christ,
in imitatio dei?

Would you imprison children?
Would you reject the refugee?
Would you enrich the rich?
Would you empower the white?
Would you disenfranchise the woman?
Would you bring death to the guilty?
Would you bring death to the innocent?

“…And live in love, as Christ loved us,
and gave himself up for us…”

Imitatio dei?
I feel more like an imitation…

A poem/prayer based on Ephesians 4:25-5:2, the Revised Common Lectionary Epistle reading for Year B, Proper 14.

The image is of “Jesus falls” from the Stations of the Cross in Église Saints-Pierre-et-Paul (Bertrange) by Bettina Scholl-Sabbatini. Photo by Sultan Edijingo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49262753

If I Could Only Touch

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If I could only touch… Not grasp.
If I could only touch…

Would my loved ones be healed?

If I could only touch… Not hold.
If I could only touch…

Would my nation release the children it imprisons?

If I could only touch… Not seize.
If I could only touch…

Would my nation welcome refugees?

If I could only touch… Not clutch.
If I could only touch…

Would my heart swell with courage?
And power?
And grace?

If I could only touch?

A prayer based on Mark 5:21-43, the Gospel Lesson for Year B, Proper 8.

The image is of the woman touching Jesus’ hem, a sixth century mosaic found in the Church of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy.

Yearning

IMG_4274All right. Let me hear it. Go ahead.
Because I’m one of Your Top Disciples, right?

I don’t need some mysterious story about
seeds growing, I-know-not-how,
beneath the soil. I’ve got it.
Faith takes time. Life happens while
you’re doing other things. Well,
while I’m doing other things.
You’re still doing, I’m sure.

But go on. Let me hear it. Go ahead.
Because I’m one of Your Top Disciples, right?

I don’t need some mysterious story about
how my devotion starts as just a seed,
a tiny seed by any estimation,
seed growing, I know-not-how,
beneath the soil. I’ve got it.
Faith can grow beyond anticipation.
Beyond mine, at any rate. Beyond
Yours? Well, perhaps even that.

So go on. Let me hear it. Go ahead.
Because I’m one of Your Top Disciples, right?

 

Or perhaps…

I yearn to feel the growth, to sense
the roots down-reaching, shoots
up-stretching, leaves unfolding.
I yearn to feel the growth, and so
I yearn for You to feed and water me.

A prayer based on Mark 4:26-34, the Gospel Lesson for Year B, Proper 6.

Leader or Follower

Claude_Lorrain_SamuelI’ve been a leader and
I’ve been a follower, O God.

On the whole, being a leader
is better

Since as a follower I have
to follow the directions
of these leaders who
don’t understand that, frankly,

I Am Right.

On the whole, being a leader
is better

Except for those times
when those I lead lack vision
to perceive this fundamental
Truth, that, frankly,

I Am Right.

You see the problem, Lord?
The thing in common?

Oh. You do. It’s…

Me.

A prayer based on 1 Samuel 8:4-20, 11:14-15, the Hebrew Bible Lesson for the Revised Common Lectionary Year B, Proper 5.

The image is “David Anointed King by the Prophet Samuel” by Claude Lorrain.

I Was Just… No. I Wasn’t Just, Was I?

DSC_0207I was just… occupied, my Savior.
I had no notion of the need.
I saw it, but there were other needs.
I could address it, but I lacked the time.
I had the time, but I lacked the means.
I had the means, but I lacked…

The will? The heart?

O Savior. How you grieve.

You restored the withered arm;
can you restore my withered heart?

I was just… hungry, my Savior.
I did not know how empty I was.
I felt the pangs, but there were other needs.
I knew I was faltering, but I lacked the time.
I had the time, but I lacked the sustenance.
I had the sustenance, but I lacked…

The will? The heart? To feed myself on Your Spirit?

O Savior. How you grieve.

You fed your disciples on the gleanings of the fields
and the stories of the Shepherd King;
can you feed me with the bread of heaven?

A prayer based on Mark 2:23-3:6, the Gospel Lesson for the Revised Common Lectionary Year B, Proper 4.

The photo is of Hilo, Hawai’i, shrouded by vog (volcanic haze) on May 28, 2018.

The Skirt of Your Robe

Curtain-939464Flying creatures, bedecked with wings,
their voices ringing, singing, praising,
Quaking the very doorposts with their adulation.
Smoke billows, yet not smothering
the winged choristers of heaven.
Above it all, a mighty figure looms,
the face so high and smoke-obscured
I cannot see its features. Nor can I see
the shoulders, chest, or torso,
hips, thighs, knees are lost in smoke.
Yes, all that I can see of You
within Your very temple
is the falling drapery of Your robe.

For this moment, let my ears be deaf
to all the ecstasies of angels.
Let my mouth, though wide a-gape,
breathe freely in the smoke.
For this moment, let my lips
be numb to absolution’s burn.
For this moment, let the scent
of incense fade from my awareness.
Let me see the flowing hemline of Your robe.
Let me see the skirt of Your robe.

It billows like the smoke.
It flutters like the wings of seraphs.
It sweeps along the flagstones,
cleansing just as surely as
the burning coal upon my lips,
echoing the zephyrs of the mountaintop
as hem and floor caress.

Sweep me, LORD, into the skirt of Your robe,
for a moment, at least, before you ask Your question,
and I, in arrogance and foolishness,
declare that I will leave its soft embrace
and bear your ne’er-to-be-accepted Word
into the world, and to Your people.
You know your people care far more
for power than kindness, greed than grace,
self-righteousness than righteousness.

For just a moment, LORD, embrace me
in the loving softness of Your robe.

A prayer based on Isaiah 6:1-8.

Photo by tommybuddy – https://pixabay.com/en/curtain-red-stage-theater-939464/, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5924658