Ascension: Our glory & the Bible’s hinge


jesus-christ-ascension-iconToday in the Christian church calendar is Ascension Day, the day we celebrate Christ ascending into heaven 40 days after his resurrection and now sits at “the right hand of God the Father.” (You can read a prayer and poem I posted earlier for this Holy Day)

The Useless Ascension

The idea of “Ascension” doesn’t seem to get a lot of play nowadays in the Church. This, in spite of the fact that it is an essential part of all the Church’s earliest doctrinal formulations, and the subject of the most-quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament:

The Lord says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Compared to other, non-creedal things like Hell, homosexuality, and “attacks on biblical authority”, the Ascension isn’t really talked about. Maybe this is because the Ascension isn’t really a “doctrine”–it’s an “event” and a “declaration”.

And we western Christians love our systematic “doctrines” that we can pick apart as nauseam and/or figure out how we can “apply it to our lives” in such a way that we can feel like we’re “good Christians.” But honestly, the Ascension doesn’t have many direct applications for today.
Continue reading

On Easter Sunday: “Oh Death” [a song]


[I wrote this after my grandfather died in 2010 after a long battle with throat cancer. It really affected me, and I wrote this to redeem this moment for him and me. You’ll find a recording of the song below. It’s simply a piece of cathartic lament in light of pain, and is not meant to be “high art”.]

I here your footsteps coming
The floorboards they scream
I pray to my Father
to wake from this dream

I’m tired, so tired
when will this end?
I’m tired, so tired
Your strength, won’t you lend?

Oh Death, here is your sting
Oh Death, I hear your voice ring
Through echoes and ages and days gone past

Oh Death, here is your sting

This breath, you can take it
This body, is yours
This voice you have stolen
My eyes are now dim.

Oh this sweetness you’ve taken
I taste life no more
This life, I release now
But this love you can’t have!

But I’ll rise….
But I’ll rise…

I’ll awake from this nightmare as daylight draws nigh
The tension of ages breaks before my eye

This breath I’ll take back. This life will be His.
That body, you can keep; I’ll get a new one from him

Like daybreak it’s new and as strong as fired steel
The demon like dew is gone, ’cause I am healed.

His vict’ry now better: of this conquest we’ll sing
Your vict’ry now bitter:you will taste it’s last sting.

Because…

Oh Death, you’ll taste your last sting
Oh Death, I’ll hear your voice scream
Through echoes and ages
and days gone past

Oh Death, here is your sting.

Oh Death….
taste it and weep,
for oh Death,
I no longer sleep.

Because, Oh Death,
I’m no longer thine;
And, Oh Death,

The vic’try’s now mine.

[read my other Holy Day poetry here]
all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

On Holy Saturday: “Tired” [a poem]


“Yes
it is time
to think about Christ
again.

I keep putting it off.”

Longing and lusting
Raging and seizing

Looking out the open window
wanting a woven sacrament to
touch me

Functional loss
A downward slope
___sloping
________sloping

Noting the works and words
with fingers cold
Touch the parchment
feel the ridge

Ancient enchantment enticing
___interlude

English bathtubs as angel arms
___a memory vivid
___tongue refreshed?
Imagine imaged imagination

Piercéd Christ
Pasted chest

Aroma fills:
pierce the pores!
Wash the brain!

Heal

_________not

soothe

[read my other Holy Day poetry here]
all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

On Good Friday: “Gabriel Came on a Friday” [a poem]


I

Pierced
Not of flesh nor will of man
But of heart by will of Him
Walking weary and steering stares
Casting glances and lots to those who do
Whispers spoken from around
Make silent the shouts cast from within
And above

Because deep within a shot was cast and burrowed in the bow
The fine line of ecstasy and horror homoousion‘d among
And within
For obedience was found on worthy lips, blessing bestowed for ages come
And this joy was found as a bell in the mist
Meaning: it was not

Until the rocks came.
Continue reading

a prayer, a creed, and some history for the Holy Day of Apostles Philip & James


prayer.

Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(from the Book of Common Prayer)

apostles’ creed.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Continue reading

on Easter: “to Life, a sonnet” [a poem]


to Life, a sonnet

____________________________________Praise.
_________________________________Ovate
______________________________Now
___________________________How’s
________________________Why’s
_____________________Cries
__________________Birth
_______________Groans
____________Crows
_________Creation
______Weep
___There:

Here:
Sleep…

[read my other Holy Week poetry here]

all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

Holy Day Meditations: Jesus Presented at the Temple


The backbone of my morning and evening meditations and prayer has become the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. It has taken me a while to figure out how to use it (with a lot of help from a friend), and I’m still clumsily trying to make my way along, but it is an amazing book. It gives just the right amount of both freedom and structure to give me both guidance and excitement. I’m really enjoying it. Secondly, I am a relatively new member of a church that belongs to the Reformed Church in America. Both of these things has led me to encounter ancient church documents, creeds, and traditions I was never exposed to as a Bible Belt Southern Baptist.

One of those newfound traditions that is really becoming a major part of my life is the Church Calendar. According to the calendar, we are currently in the season of Epiphany, where the church celebrates the travel of the Wise Men to see Jesus, therefore declaring him King and Lord among all the nations, and today is the Church Holy Day on which we celebrate Jesus’ presentation by His parents in the temple (forty days after Christmas) (Luke 2:22-40). As I went through the Daily Lectionary this morning, I found that focusing on this event and meditating on it bore some very real personal fruit that I wished to share.

Continue reading