Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Right Mind

[see also Isaiah 52: 13-15]

Let this mind also be in you, which was in Christ Jesus:
Who, subsisting in the form of God
Did not [consider this] to be grasped; 
He did not esteem it to be equal with God.
But He emptied Himself into the form of a servant,
Having taken the likeness of humanity*
Having been made and having been found
In appearance as a human,

He humbled Himself
Having become obedient unto death,
Even death on the cross.

Therefore God has also highly exalted Him
And granted to Him 
The NAME above every name,**
So that at the NAME of JESUS,
Every knee should bow,
In heaven and earth and under the earth,
And every tongue should confess 

To the glory of God the Father.
              --St. Paul, Philippians 2:5-13
                (translated c.m.b. April, 2018)

*Not a stab at gender inclusiveness, but more faithful to the Greek. ["Anthropos", humanity vs. "aner", a male man.]
**see Revelations 19:12

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Jesus, Refuge of the Weary

Jesus, Refuge of the weary,
Blest Redeemer Whom we love.
Fountain in life's desert dreary,
Savior from the world above.
Oh, how oft Thine eyes, offended
Gaze upon the sinner's fall;
Yet upon the cross extended,
You have born the pain of all.

Do we pass that cross unheeding,
Breathing no repentant vow,
Though we see Thee wounded, bleeding,
See Thy thorn encircled brow?
Yet Thy sinless death has brought us
Life eternal, peace, and rest;
Only what your grace has taught us
Calms the sinner’s deep distress.

Jesus, may our hearts be burning
With more fervent love for Thee;
May our eyes be ever turning
To Thy cross of agony
Till in glory, parted never
From the blessed Savior’s side,
Carved into our hearts forever,
Dwell the cross, the Crucified.

By Girolamo Savonarola; translated by Lady Jane Wilde, adapted

Girolamo Savonarola was an Italian Dominican friar and preacher.  (In his zeal to reform the Roman Catholic Church, before Luther came along, he unfortunately destroyed some secular art in Italy.) He called for Christian renewal and expressed skepticism towards the culture of his day.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Good Friday

(Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday arrive on the same day this year. This poem is an early preview for both.  It deals with the "heart" in the most important way.  It is a nice Lenten reflection, of course.)

Am I a stone, and not a sheep*,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved**;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.**

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses***, turn and look once more
And smite a rock*.   --Christina Rossetti, 1866

*She's saying her heart is like a stone because she's not moved to tears over Christ's crucifixion like a "sheep", a "true follower" (John 10) would be.  She picks up the idea again at the end, asking Christ to break her heart of stone.

**The women at the cross, the repentant Peter, even one of the thieves crucified with Jesus were moved to sorrow.  Even the Sun was somehow darkened from about noon to 3 pm, at a time when it could NOT have been a solar eclipse (full Moon).  Nature itself expresses sadness, but the poetess indicates she feels strangely unmoved.

***Deuteronomy 18:  Christ was prophesied as the New Prophet, greater than Moses.  He is also the Shepherd (John 10; Psalm 23).   Moses broke open a rock to get water out of it (Numbers 20), but Christ does a greater thing by breaking open hearts of stone.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Winter Wakenth All My Care*

Winter wakeneth all my care,
these leaves waxeth** bare;
Oft I sigh and mournfully stare
When it cometh in my thought
Of this world's joy, how it goeth all to naught.
Now it is, now not seen***,
As though it hath never been;
That many sayeth, and so is still:
All goeth by God's will:
All we shall die, though we like it ill****.
All that green which groweth green,
it fadeth which has been***:
Jesu, help that it be seen
shield us from Hell!
For I know not how long I go, nor how long here I dwell.
*Paraphrased in slightly more modern English.  It is one of the earliest surviving winter poems in English literature, original written in Middle English spelling.
**"Wax", an old word for "to grow", from the German "wachsen."  Now used only to speak of the "waxing moon", when the lit part of the moon appears to be growing, all the way to full moon.
**See Psalm 90, which speaks of the grass quickly fading and compares this to the short lives of people.  Also, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 and Luke 12, how God clothes the grass of the field, which quickly dies, with beautiful flowers.
***Though we don't like it at all

Saturday, December 2, 2017

On Christmas Night All Christians Sing*

On Christmas night all Christians sing
To hear the news the angels bring:
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our merciful King’s birth.

Angels with joy sing in the air,
No music may with theirs compare;
While prisoners in their chains rejoice
To hear the echoes of that voice.

So how on earth can men be sad,
When Jesus comes to make us glad;
From sin and hell to set us free,
And buy for us our liberty?

When sin departs before His grace,
Then life and health come in its place;
Angels and men with
joy may sing,
All to see our newborn King.

Then out of darkness we see light,
Which makes the angels sing this night

“Glory to God and peace to men
Now and forevermore. Amen.”

---A folk carol of rural England & Ireland, 
         *known in some versons as "The Sussex Carol"

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Fall Gardener

These are evidence of my Labor Day (early September) planting.  Here, the growing seasons are different than what most people in the northern hemisphere expect. 

This is a "scatter garden", where there are not organized beds.  In fact, vegetable & flowers grow among "volunteer grasses", which serve as "nursery plants" while the others get going.

This is a bee haven, something our world needs. The bees even like the grass heads.  (We have to let it grow longer because of our other plants.  Then we have to literally whack it off with clippers. We can't mow because there's always some other interesting plant coming up in the midst.)

(For your other November & Thanksgiving Day enjoyment, please select the "autumn" or "seasons" tag in the sidebar.)

Green bean flowers

Carrot plants

Pumpkin & flower

Black-eye Susans or purple coneflowers sprouting