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O thou brain -- exalted, senior,
Holding forth from pulpit's throne.
Feed us with thy academia,
Meted out in monotone.
     ‘We could never,
     ‘We could never,
     ‘Plumb such myst'ries on our own.'

Hear the classics now recited,
Tumbling from thy tutored lips.
Nooks ignored are now ignited,
By thy greek and latin quips.
     ‘O how richly
     ‘O how richly,
     ‘Wisdom from each sentence drips.'

Teach us frames to fathom glory,
Scriptures' tale doth not agree.
Pure distil the Jesus story,
Into subtle sophistry.
     ‘All was darkness
     ‘All was darkness,
     ‘Till thou spoke and now we see.'

Pompous, ponderous, proud, pretentious,
Leaning o'er thy preacher's perch.
Pressing out the sap that quenches,
Thirst for knowledge, Eden's search.
     ‘Breathe thy wisdom
     ‘Breathe thy wisdom
     ‘Till inflated is thy church'

O thou noble mind pray guide us,
Through the darkness and the lies.
Warn us from thy foul deriders,
We shall fear, avoid, despise.
     ‘Raise a banner
     ‘Raise a banner
     ‘We shall chant thy tribal cries.'

How to mark our true devotion?
What could ever count as praise?
But to clone thy stale emotion,
Forced to feign thy learned ways.
     ‘Where's my pulpit?
     ‘Where's my pulpit?
     ‘I'll abide there all my days.'

Marching strong into the brightness,
Resolute, we set our face.
Staunch persistence, clothed in rightness,
Rectitude, our saving grace.
     ‘Call us onward
     ‘Call us onward
     ‘Grimly to our resting place.'

Then one day in vindication,
Face to face at last we'll see
Precious few in that location,
Gathered with thy coterie.
     ‘Now receive us
     ‘Now receive us
     ‘To thy ‘ternal library.'

 

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..

I'll confess I'm part of the problem as much as I'm part of the solution.

But part of the solution is confessing there's a problem.

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An incredible 7th century old English poem.  (Rood means cross)

Listen! The choicest of visions I wish to tell,
which came as a dream in middle-night,
after voice-bearers lay at rest.
It seemed that I saw a most wondrous tree
born aloft, wound round by light,
brightest of beams. All was that beacon
sprinkled with gold. Gems stood
fair at earth's corners; there likewise five
shone on the shoulder-span. All there beheld the Angel of God,
fair through predestiny...

...Then best wood spoke these words:
"It was long since--I yet remember it--
that I was hewn at holt's end,
moved from my stem. Strong fiends seized me there,
worked me for spectacle; cursèd ones lifted me.
On shoulders men bore me there, then fixed me on hill;
fiends enough fastened me. Then saw I mankind's Lord
come with great courage when he would mount on me.
Then dared I not against the Lord's word
bend or break, when I saw earth's
fields shake. All fiends
I could have felled, but I stood fast.
The young hero stripped himself--he, God Almighty--
strong and stout-minded. He mounted high gallows,
bold before many, when he would loose mankind.

I shook when that Man clasped me. I dared, still, not bow to earth,
fall to earth's fields, but had to stand fast.
Rood was I reared. I lifted a mighty King,
Lord of the heavens, dared not to bend.
With dark nails they drove me through: on me those sores are seen,
open malice-wounds. I dared not scathe anyone.
They mocked us both, we two together. All wet with blood I was,
poured out from that Man's side, after ghost he gave up.
Much have I born on that hill
of fierce fate. I saw the God of hosts
harshly stretched out. Darknesses had
wound round with clouds the corpse of the Wielder,
bright radiance; a shadow went forth,
dark under heaven. All creation wept,
King's fall lamented. Christ was on rood...

...May he be friend to me
who here on earth earlier died
on that gallows-tree for mankind's sins.
He loosed us and life gave,
a heavenly home. Hope was renewed
with glory and gladness to those who there burning endured.
That Son was victory-fast in that great venture,
with might and good-speed, when he with many,
vast host of souls, came to God's kingdom,
One-Wielder Almighty: bliss to the angels
and all the saints--those who in heaven
dwelt long in glory--when their Wielder came,
Almighty God, where his homeland was.

Translation copyright © 1982, Jonathan A. Glenn

Read the whole thing here

May you know that young Hero - God Almighty - close this day.

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Check out this poem by D. Gwenallt, translated by Rowan williams - h/t Ben Myers

It's called "Sin"

Take off the business suit, the old-school tie,
The gown, the cap, drop the reviews, awards,
Certificates, stand naked in your sty,
A little carnivore, clothed in dried turds.
The snot that slowly fills our passages
Seeps up from hollows where the dead beasts lie;
Dumb stamping dances spell our messages,
We only know what makes our arrows fly.
Lost in the wood, we sometimes glimpse the sky
Between the branches, and the words drop down
We cannot hear, the alien voices high
And hard, singing salvation, grace, life, dawn.
Like wolves, we lift our snouts: Blood, blood, we cry,
The blood that bought us so we need not die.

Wow!

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5

I've just preached on Hebrews 2 this Sunday.  "He shared in their humanity so that by His death..."  Or again, "He had to be made like His brothers... in order that He might make atonement." (v14,17)

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Or to quote Kim Fabricius' provocative post: "The crib and the cross are cut from the same wood."

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See the crib and you've seen the cross ahead of time.  You've seen a Man falling, there's only one outcome possible.

 .

Anyway, it got me waxing lyrical.  Not finished, but here's a sketch of a poem:

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God in a manger
Defenceless, enfleshed
Immanuel crying
And fighting for breath

God in a manger
Wriggling and raw
Laid out on the wood
Enthroned on the straw

God at Golgotha
Pierced in His flesh
Immanuel crying
And fighting for breath

God at Golgotha
Forsaken and lost
Stretched out on the wood
Enthroned on the cross

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You can read/hear the sermon here.

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Anyway, probably won't get a chance to blog for the next week, so let me wish you all a blessed Christmas

May we in darkness rejoice in our Glorious Light.

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All but cursed, the men of dust,

From garden’d bliss dejected thrust.

Cast down to blood and tangling thorn,

Flat-faced in mud, bereft, forlorn. 

.

Unmoved as ages droned along,

Resigned to sighing pity’s song.

To mouth their sadness with each breath,

In love with self and sin and death. 

.

Then glancing back, a glimmering sight,

Through gnarling weeds, a shaft of light.

The tree untouched, of matchless type,

Engorged with life, effulgent, ripe. 

.

It lay beyond the thorny wall,

A tantalizing siren’s call.

All wrong reversed, all tears made good,

All hunger filled with holy food. 

.

New drive possessed the men of dust,

They set to work with primal thrust.

To have the fruit at any cost,

If failing this then all is lost. 

.

And so they pressed against the wall

Of thorns and blades and jagged sprawl.

Their eyes aglow with mad intent,

Their bodies pierced and torn and rent. 

.

Their flesh sliced through by razor wire,

Could not abate their one desire.

No hurt could halt their desperate zeal.

“Once through, the tree alone will heal!” 

.

Their bodies strewn along the route,

Their hands outstretched to reach the fruit.

Yet none would cross this death-divide,

Their hope lay on the thorny side. 

.

Behind them in the other way,

Another tree for sinners lay.

It stood apart and unacquired,

Gnarled and grim and undesired.  

.

It did not catch the eye of men,

Who sought a ripeness there and then.

Yet this one pledged a golden yield,

To all who ceased and turned and kneeled. 

.

For hanging lone across its form,

The Lord of Life enthroned in scorn,

Was off’ring all a bloodied balm,

With up-raised voice and out-stretched arm. 

.

Thus from the midst of cursèd death,

Is raised His call with rasping breath.

“Come every man, leave off your quest

Find life within my piercèd breast.” 

.

“He lies!” they shrieked through raging tears,

They scoffed and mocked with angry jeers.

What life could this cadaver give?

What guarantee that we shall live?” 

.

“Just this” He said with pity’s call,

“I’ve come direct from o’er the wall.

All bliss that moves your frenzied glee,

Such fountains first begin in Me.” 

.

At once they spluttered daft disdain,

“No wounded Man or tree of pain,

Will be our well or way of life.

We’re free! You pledge us only strife!” 

.

“Dear friends!” He pleas, “regard your plight,

Your freedom bonds you, blinds your sight.

Your wounds for self, for self are loss,

Come lose them in my wounded cross. 

.

“Your life is death, My death is gain,

Now trust the word of Paschal slain.

Come hide in Me through darkest night,

Soon heaven’s dawns shine fresh delight.” 

.

Just so His promise stands above

All men, inquiring which they love:

To seek the fruit and Him defy,

Or heed Life’s call to “Come and die!”

.

All but cursed, the men of dust,

From garden’d bliss dejected thrust.

Cast down to blood and tangling thorn,

Flat-faced in mud, bereft, forlorn. 

.

Unmoved as ages droned along,

Resigned to sighing pity’s song.

To mouth their sadness with each breath,

In love with self and sin and death. 

.

Then glancing back, a glimmering sight,

Through gnarling weeds, a shaft of light.

The tree untouched, of matchless type,

Engorged with life, effulgent, ripe. 

.

It lay beyond the thorny wall,

A tantalizing siren’s call.

All wrong reversed, all tears made good,

All hunger filled with holy food. 

.

New drive possessed the men of dust,

They set to work with primal thrust.

To have the fruit at any cost,

If failing this then all is lost. 

.

And so they pressed against the wall

Of thorns and blades and jagged sprawl.

Their eyes aglow with mad intent,

Their bodies pierced and torn and rent. 

.

Their flesh sliced through by razor wire,

Could not abate their one desire.

No hurt could halt their desperate zeal.

“Once through, the tree alone will heal!” 

.

Their bodies strewn along the route,

Their hands outstretched to reach the fruit.

Yet none would cross this death-divide,

Their hope lay on the thorny side. 

.

Behind them in the other way,

Another tree for sinners lay.

It stood apart and unacquired,

Gnarled and grim and undesired.  

.

It did not catch the eye of men,

Who sought a ripeness there and then.

Yet this one pledged a golden yield,

To all who ceased and turned and kneeled. 

.

For hanging lone across its form,

The Lord of Life enthroned in scorn,

Was off’ring all a bloodied balm,

With up-raised voice and out-stretched arm. 

.

Thus from the midst of cursèd death,

Is raised His call with rasping breath.

“Come every man, leave off your quest

Find life within my piercèd breast.” 

.

“He lies!” they shrieked through raging tears,

They scoffed and mocked with angry jeers.

What life could this cadaver give?

What guarantee that we shall live?” 

.

“Just this” He said with pity’s call,

“I’ve come direct from o’er the wall.

All bliss that moves your frenzied glee,

Such fountains first begin in Me.” 

.

At once they spluttered daft disdain,

“No wounded Man or tree of pain,

Will be our well or way of life.

We’re free! You pledge us only strife!” 

.

“Dear friends!” He pleas, “regard your plight,

Your freedom bonds you, blinds your sight.

Your wounds for self, for self are loss,

Come lose them in my wounded cross. 

.

“Your life is death, My death is gain,

Now trust the word of Paschal slain.

Come hide in Me through darkest night,

Soon heaven’s dawns shine fresh delight.” 

.

Just so His promise stands above

All men, inquiring which they love:

To seek the fruit and Him defy,

Or heed Life’s call to “Come and die!”

.

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