Transition

27 01 2017

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Today I realized something for the first time.

Roughly nine months after abortion-on-demand became the law in America, in the autumn of 1973, I was born for the second time.

During those months when many women were embracing their new-found reproductive freedom, God was forming me in the womb of faith, preparing me to become His child.

I could say a lot more about what happened that day, when my sixteen-year-old self first felt the irresistible urgency — unseen forces from without and within pressing me toward my emergence from the dark womb of spiritual sleep into the dazzling radiance of faith.

But the one thought that demands my profound awe in this moment is simply this: God is a redeemer.

Always, in every place and at every time, God is making all things new.

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A few years later, when I was in my early twenties, I was reading Malachi 4 and was inspired to write a song. This morning, when George read the same passage, he reminded me of it and said we should revive it. Maybe so. But meanwhile, I can share the words with you here.

The Day is Coming

The day is coming, burning like a furnace,
And all the wicked will be chaff.
The day is coming when the righteous will rejoice
And leap from the stall like a calf.
The day is coming when the Sun of Righteousness
Will rise with healing in His wings.
And all the holy ones will be before Him
And crown Him King of kings,

Alleluia.

Come, Lord Jesus; come, Lord Jesus,
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”
Come and bring us the day of our deliverance
When we will be revealed as sons.
For creation is anxiously longing,
And we ourselves grown within.
But the day is coming, the end of our suffering
Because we’ll be found in Him.

Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia
Jesus, Come.

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Romans 8 says God subjected the creation to futility on purpose — that all this groaning we see, hear, and feel is the pains of childbirth, meant to assure us that deliverance will indeed come.

I had the holy and awesome privilege of watching my daughter and my daughter-in-law give birth — one at home, and one at a birthing center — both without the use of any drugs.

I watched and prayed as they entered fully into their labor, breathing into the pain, working with the contractions.

As the hours dragged on, I watched them battle through the dark and awful fear that deliverance would never come — that strength would fail, and life would be swallowed up in death.

And I watched as they entered the phase called transition — that sacred and solemn space, where the world disappears and the whole body, soul, and spirit is consumed with bringing forth life.

Watching was like catching a glimpse into eternal mysteries — the hope that the creation itself  will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. The hope of redemption that contracts the soul of every believer with prayers that are groanings too deep for words.

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When I consider the brokenness of the world today — the desperation of refugees torn from their homes yet feared and rejected by many in the world, the immensity of modern day slavery and human trafficking, the selfish demands of the privileged, and the ignored oppression of the poor, the orphan, and the widow — I feel exhausted and tempted to despair. Perhaps deliverance will never come. Perhaps strength will fail, and life will be swallowed up in death.

But then I remember Who subjected creation to this prolonged ordeal, and hope rises. Perhaps we’re on the edge of transition — that holy and solemn space where the soul gives itself to a higher purpose.

Perhaps the church will shake off her anesthesia, enter fully into her labor, breathe into the pain, and work with the contractions, and perhaps new life will come forth from all this agony.

This is my hope.

And my prayer?

It hasn’t changed.

It’s still the same aching, exquisite cry that belongs to the Spirit and the Bride.

“Jesus, Come.”

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Echoes

25 11 2014

 

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A canyon can
be
a mountain top
salted with saints,
majestic ones,
in whom is

All
my delight.

Light
from glowing ember
singing star

Far
from distraction
by distraction

Near
His heart
and yours
and ours, we

Come
and take, eat,
this is one
body, one
spirit, one
hope, one
high calling to

Walk
worthy of
the bond of peace
over all
through all
in all
humility, and

All
shall be well, and
all
shall be well, and
all
manner of thing
was
is
and ever shall be

world without
end

well.

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I don’t often post poetry in this space, but today it seemed appropriate. My heart is full, thankful for gifts of God’s presence and people at Laity Lodge this past weekend, heavy for Ferguson and all the ways our pride and blindness rob us, leaning into divine purpose that makes all things new, and looking toward a day when the redeemed from every tribe, tongue, and nation will worship with one voice around the throne.

Thanks for the inspiration to the High Calling community, Marilyn McEntyre, who invited us to slow down and play with words, Vincent Bacote, who reminded us to be salt and light, the psalmist David, T.S. Eliot, the apostle Paul, doxology, and Julian of Norwich, who said:

“In my folly, . . . I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, the onset of sin was not prevented: for then, I thought, all should have been well. This impulse [of thought] was much to be avoided, but nevertheless I mourned and sorrowed because of it, without reason and discretion.

“But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that is needed by me, answered with these words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.'”

And so it shall. Hallelujah.





Open to the Day

18 05 2011

Venice, Italy

Krakow, Poland

Heidelberg, Germany

Valbonne, France

Croatian Island

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Bosnia

“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light.”
Ephesians 5:8

* * *

“All the windows of my heart I open to the day.”
~John Greenleaf Whittier





Prelude

6 04 2011

My eyes still closed, a misty dream
dissolves into a tinkling sound
of rain, I think. But no — the light
is bright through eyelids. Foggy thoughts
congeal and body settles out
of clouds and back to now I know
the sound. A morning chorus, feath-
ered flutes alert to cues, they watch
the Hand that holds the wand. And I
awake to all their joy, my heart
now stirred to listen, enters in.

A river runs a river’s course
and sometimes disappears to flow
beneath the rocks in paths unseen,
until at last it breaks its bonds
and gushes forth in sparkling dance,
its fragrance cool, its music sweet,
and all creation drinks the notes
and echoes back in waking tones
the singing of this symphony.

In pulsing gloom of midday storm
I sit in pool of honeyed light
and hear the cymbal, feel the drum,
then soft the patient pattering.
My fingers tingle restlessly
and move to touch familiar keys,
but not to follow former forms,
they dance a new unpracticed step —
accompany the song of rain,
of river running, morning flute,
the cymbal, drum, an orchestra
that sweeps me up and carries me
beyond myself. I hear a sense
of all things waiting, hoping, know-
ing what must be will be. A pierc-
ing nail, a rending veil, a God
entombed. My God entombed. My God.

(A river runs a river’s course
and sometimes disappears to flow
beneath the rocks in paths unseen.)
A host of heralds watch the Hand
that cues the morning’s trumpet blast,
a stone to move, a curse reverse,
a God to break the bonds of death
and, bounding forth in glorious dance,
His living water springing free,
its fragrance cool, its music sweet,
the crashing sound of death’s defeat.

Let all creation drink the notes —
a cross, a tomb, a risen King —
and echo back in waking tones
the singing of this symphony.

The music is always there. May we have ears to hear it. Celebrating the practice of Easter in community:








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