For Easter Sunday: “On the Ecclesiastical Ramifications of Worship” [a poem]


It’s uncontrollable!

And my person
is
barely even
knowable

But it is.

By joy
satisfaction
contentment
You.

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Here’s absolutely everything the Gospels say was happening on Holy Saturday


The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
–Matthew 27.62-66

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
–Luke 23:56b

Yep. That’s it.

Sabbath [a Holy Saturday poem]


Rothko-Black-RedOn the 1st Day: God created Palm Trees and Donkeys
On the 2nd Day: He created Fig Trees and Temples
On the 3rd Day: He created Scribes and Pharisees
On the 4th Day: He created Silver and Kisses
On the 5th Day: He created Bread, Wine, and Gardens
On the 6th Day: He created a Tree, Nails, and Thorns

And on the 7th Day: God rested from His labor.

And there was evening
And there was mourning…

___________________________

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

The Elements [a Good Friday poem]


death-of-salesman-clothes-hangerWelcome, hello
Come in.

Take your shoes off
Set down your suitcase
And hang your jacket

Enjoy the fire; enjoy the tea
Rock in the chair, back and forth

That’s all you can do right now.
Rest.

Your items will still be there when it’s done.

Your shoes–
the mud will be dry, they’ll feel like new
to aid you on your way

Your suitcase–
is not all that important, frankly
take it or leave it
it doesn’t do much

And your coat–
yes, it just hangs there, dripping from the storm
the rip in its side as apparent as ever

But it will dry out and stiffen once more.
Ready to clothe you and hold you;

To keep what’s within,
within.
To keep what’s without,
without.

To speed you home in health.

But for now

Let us wait.
Let us drink.
Let us rest.
Let us cry.

Let us feel the searing heat of flame lap our feet in the hearth below.

___________________________

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

Longing for Liturgy (a Catechumen’s reflection on Holy Week) {by David Schrott}


In recent years, and prior to my Orthodox catechesis, I heard many a Protestant writer or preacher lament that Easter was not of enormous import to most Christians when it was the eminent Christian holiday.  I didn’t share that view. Easter was an after-thought for me – another spring holiday without much real significance. Little did I know that it was the cultural liturgy of the market-place that informed my position towards the holiest of Christian celebrations.

Liturgies form us. Whether they are cultural or religious, we are moved to be formed in the image of something and in the West, the market-place is driven by the most powerful liturgy called Consumerism. Christmas is the most powerful holiday in our culture and not because of what it is or what it means; it is the most powerful because of the 30-something day cultural liturgy from Black Friday til Christmas day that forms our hearts not toward God, but towards pretty much everything else. As James K.A. Smith notes in his book Desiring the Kingdom, the Culture understands liturgical formation better than the modern church does.photo1

The Holy Orthodox Church is not the modern church.  Before I decided that Orthodoxy was the church of the Apostles, the Fathers and Christ himself, I longed for liturgy without knowing what I was longing for. I think this is the basis of the modern Evangelical root of church innovation. The Western Christian wishes to attach himself or herself to something, but doesn’t know how or have the framework for doing so; so innovation in church methods based on market research emerge. A few years ago, I’d fast all of Good Friday (and accidentally get drunk when breaking fast that night with beer and bread; Lord have mercy!) or round up friends for a Maundy Thursday dinner or try to watch the Passion movie. These were my own personal longings for connectedness to Holy Week and the larger Church; these were longings for liturgy. Little did I know that there was already a place where these connections existed and they existed nearly unchanged for most of 2000 years.
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“Coffee Crucifix” (a sonnet for National Coffee Day)


Coffee Crucifix

Crescent ring under porcelain smooth
___stain the wood-stained finish.
______(It is finished.)
___Marked with muddy water;
___mark the merry day; to
___marry the murdered man.

Floral notes in blackened waves
___crash the shore of trembled lips.
Choral bright, in darkest night,
___wake the tone of trebled kiss.

Younger tastes left open-wide; older eyes made
satisfied.

Mark the wood: complex simplicity.
Pierce my heart: storied infinity.

[read my other Holy Week poetry here]

all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

The Cross vs. The Resurrection


art-museum-crucifix-death-pmaIn Christian theology, there is a seemingly small thing that really influences so much of one’s theological outlook and even how they think they should live as a Christian.

Are you “Team Cross” or “Team Resurrection”?

Yeah, yeah, I know that the right answer is “both”, but really, most people tend to emphasize one more than the other.

What got me thinking about this was a Facebook post I saw on Easter evening. The poster said that the Resurrection was not when Jesus conquered sin and death. Instead, Jesus did that on the Cross, and the Resurrection was “simply” the “validation” of what Jesus did.

In other words, all that Jesus came to accomplish was done on Good Friday. God the Father saw it, thought it was awesome, so he went ahead and raised Jesus on Sunday.

In other other words, if the Resurrection never happened, nothing “essential” to salvation would be lost, merely the “proof” that it had been accomplished.

It really stuck with me, and no matter how much I tried to re-articulate it in my mind, give him the benefit of the doubt, or pick apart my own presuppositions, I really couldn’t shake how strongly I disagreed with this statement.

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a note on Grace from a friend (I miss you, Michael Spencer)


Two years ago (almost to the day), a dear friend of mine passed away. Michael Spencer (or, the “Internet Monk” as he was more widely known) encouraged me for years with his blog writing critiquing the wider church with both wisdom and bite (the site is being continued by one of his good friends and avid readers). He died of cancer, and in that death, the Church lost a great man. His one published book, Mere Churchianity, was published several months later. It’s a great summary of his life and thought. I highly encourage anyone to get it.

While he was still living, I wrote on this site about how he influenced and affected me. I also wrote this piece for Patrol Magazine after he died (I still remember the tears blurring my vision as I typed that up).

Anyway, another dear blogging friend, Lore Ferguson, is going on sabbatical from her own amazing blog and asked me to write a guest post on–of all topics–grace. I told a couple of my friends this the other night, and one of them said, “Wow! That’s you favorite topic!” It certainly doesn’t feel that way.

As I was thinking through that, I was reminded of the best thing I’ve ever read on grace, and I wanted to share it with you all. It’s an essay by Michael Spencer. I cried through this piece as well (a lot of crying in this post. Hmm…). It was the inspiration for the sermon I delivered at my church’s prison ministry that later was turned into a five-part series on this blog called “Holy Week & the Scandal of Grace“.

I want to give you the link to the article, an extended quote, and then the end of his piece that I adapted as a benediction at the end of the sermon. Enjoy. And grab some coffee. And some tissues.

Link: Our Problem with Grace: Sweat. Hand-wringing. “Yes, but…”
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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

on Holy Saturday: “to death, a sonnet” [a poem]


to death, a sonnet

A fear as frank as frankness be
I hold within this frame so dear;
so dear please hold me, till this dark is past
_____— till the darkness passes mine eye.

But to be so engraced I know I must face
_____– and lose-
___________to this spectre this prospect requires.

O this still darkest night, I lie here betwixt
competing rays
__________of glory’s gaze.
One lies ahead; one lies to my face
___both wooing and charming a choice from my hands:

___________to re-seize and be lived,
___________or release and be sieved?

[read my other Holy Week poetry here]

[image by Mark Rothko]

all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

on Good Friday: “Coffee Crucifix” [a poem]


Coffee Crucifix

Crescent ring under porcelain smooth
___stain the wood-stained finish.
______(It is finished.)
___Marked with muddy water;
___mark the merry day; to
___marry the murdered man.

Floral notes in blackened waves
___crash the shore of trembled lips.
Choral bright, in darkest night,
___wake the tone of trebled kiss.

Younger tastes left open-wide; older eyes made
satisfied.

Mark the wood: complex simplicity.
Pierce my heart: storied infinity.

[read my other Holy Week poetry here]

all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

From His Father [GUEST POEM]


by Jen Huber

He can easily say what he has lived by:
God and belonging; known from childhood.

He was raised to believe in what was taught
To stand by his father’s belief in his Father
Accept the judgement of another,
The forgiveness of one another
Believing in something unseen

From generation to generation
This belonging to faith has remained
And grasped his life long-lived
And to know that his Father carried
Him throughout his time

He can easily say what he has died for

[image credit: Lauren Chandler]

Free Holy Week Music: Cool Hand Luke’s “Of Man” & Lent Mixtape


All of us know that one of the things that can affect our mood like no other is music. And so, to that end, I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite albums ever, by my favorite band ever (they’ve had that title since I was in high school, so I promise, I’m not just exaggerating for effect), Cool Hand Luke’s Of Man.

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Holy Week & Meditations on Radical Grace


Last year, on Palm Sunday, I got the privilege to deliver a little message to a group of men at the prison ministry my church does each month. I ended up building off of that message and its outline and writing a series of blog posts meditating on Holy Week and the radical, scandalous grace inherent in the story and actions of Jesus over those days. For your mediation this year over Holy Week, I wanted to post these links for your perusal and, hopefully, your blessing.

The Scandal of Holy Week

{i} the forsaking of God | In this post, we meditate on the fact that Holy Week was the week-long process by which everything–from humanity to creation to God Himself— forsakes Jesus. We see that true disciples are not those that never forsake Jesus. In fact, we will all forsake Jesus in radical ways at some point.
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