The Pain of God

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Blood-red, crimson poured, bruised and slashed,

cross-crisscrossed, tissue, nerve and sinew,

Sacred threads bleeding, “Father, forgive them— ”

Thorn and nail, sin and curse,

opposing timbers track and soak rivulets, tears ruby-red,

dripping, dripping.

Heaving heavy, breaths sucked searing,

rising, falling, out of joint, lots cast, seamless prize,

a Savior’s scream, “My God, my God, why— ”

Creeping clouds, shake the thunder,

separated sun, temple veil top to bottom, human veil rent,

ripping, ripping.

Pale, drained dry,

a Spirit’s surrender: “It is finished.”

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My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Once Again

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These witchy trees, bare and lifeless, cold and leafless:
One might wonder where life has gone and if all hope is gone,
receded into the dark earth. But
in one moment, that gifted second,
a nub of green sprouts, a speck of promise appears, and the sleeper rises,
stretches to the sky. Renewal happens once again—
from death to life.
That these dormant praises in me would rise again, unchained.
That these sleeping sermons once more would reach my mouth that I may speak of Your wonder,
once again.

 

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Have Mercy

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Oh, Lord of the broken and heartsick,
of the world weary and tumult tossed,
have mercy.
Oh, Lord of the fractured and failing,
of the wounded and flailing,
have mercy on us.

May our beliefs align with Your truths,
and may our weakness not hinder Your kingdom work
here in this battleground
between earth and heaven,
between the cross and the crown.

Oh, Lord of the blind and beleaguered,
the willing but wanting,
have mercy on us here below.

May our hearts break for the living lost
and our hands be quick to holy tasks
here on this hallowed ground
between world and wonder,
between sacrifice and song.

Oh, Lord, have mercy on us here below, we pray.

 

The Silence of Saturday

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Do you hear the silence in the tomb—hard and lifeless—vacuous hopes of my heart buried in a borrowed grave with one who would save us?

Do you hear the silence in the streets where palms, faded and brittle, blow to the wadis by dry desert winds—blow along with our visions of an overcoming respite?

And the pain of that black moment has dissolved in my tears and loss, and we mourn for him, but probably more for ourselves—myself.

And in the weeping and the regularity of another’s day, a great silence fills and empties me of will and belief.  Behind my eyes, inside my head, the palpable quiet pushes out hope and in my hands where once we held his bread and wine, I hold despair, pressed down, dark, and bloody.

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Upside-down World

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When what was and now is not happens in a wisp of a moment,
when friends become foes, exchanging their trust for biting and isolating words,

then it is plain to see that we are living in an upside-down world.

When conversations meant to break down barriers instead erect the worst kind of walls,
when what I see and what you see suddenly are
oddly at odds
to the vision once shared,

then it is pain to see that we are as much a part of this upside-down world as everyone we have observed from afar. Tut, tut, what a shame it was. And is.
We are in it, of it, and yearning for all to be made right.

What makes it worse is that the reflection is somewhat like what we hope for; but
in its rippling distortion and ever-changing color, what’s hoped for seems like some cruel illusion.

Far off, unattainable, yet present enough to hunger the soul.
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Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

 

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Power Under

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When spin is more important than truth and

winning is more important than loving,

when circling the wagons is more important  than loving the enemy, then

we have failed to be Christ followers—

Christ,

who did not consider his reputation something to defend,

who did not fight back against mockery and misinformation,

who did not power-over his political foes, but rather

submitted, came under,

to the point of death. If I am a Christ-follower, that is the path I should choose.

Lord, help.

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Asking you, asking me . . .

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Does your faith-life even require Jesus?

Got the maxims memorized.

Got the rules down.

Is religion more your bulwark than relationship—

behavior and image more important than face-falling service,

open-hearted devotion to His worthiness?

Has purpose surpassed person?

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate this substance-hoped-for idea.

Are we a scattered and lost flock, devoted to a text but without a message?

I think I would rather falter on a rough road than walk resolutely down a worn and wrong path,

stuck in a form of obedience . . . but without a desperate, clinging trust.

My will is contrary to my dedication;

my rituals supplant my connection, offering a form without reality.

Am I so right-on religious that as a Christian I can do this thing without Jesus?

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Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. ~Psalm 51:10

I want to do…

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