POETRY: Confession (O What A Cunning Guest) by George Herbert

March 13, 2019

O what a cunning guest Is this same grief! within my heart I made Closets; and in them many a chest; And, like a master in my trade, In those chests, boxes; in each box, a till: Yet grief knows all, and enters when he will. No screw, no piercer can Into a piece of timber work and wind, As God’s afflictions into man, When he a torture hath designed. They are too subtle for the subtlest hearts; And fall, like rheums, upon the tend’rest parts. We are the earth; and they, Like moles within us, heave, and cast about: And till they foot and clutch their prey, They never cool, much less give out. No smith can make such locks but they have keys: Closets are halls to them; and hearts, high-ways. Only an open breast Doth shut them out, so that [...]

POETRY: Marked by Ashes by Walter Brueggemann

March 6, 2019

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day… This day—a gift from you. This day—like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received. This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility. This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home halfway back to committees and memos, halfway back to calls and appointments, halfway on to next Sunday, halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant, half turned toward you, half rather not. This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday, but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes— we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth: of failed hope and broken promises, of forgotten children and frightened women, we ourselves are ashes to ashes, [...]

POETRY: Quinquagesima Sunday by Blessed John Keble

March 4, 2019

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the Earth. (Genesis 9:13) Sweet Dove! the softest, steadiest plume In all the sunbright sky, Brightening in ever-changeful bloom As breezes change on high;— Sweet Leaf! the pledge of peace and mirth, “Long sought, and lately won,” Bless’d increase of reviving Earth, When first it felt the Sun;— Sweet Rainbow! pride of summer days, High set at Heaven’s command, Though into drear and dusky haze Thou melt on either hand;— Dear tokens of a pardoning God, We hail ye, one and all, As when our father’s wak’d abroad, Freed from their twelvemonths’ thrall. How joyful from th’ imprisoning ark, On the green [...]

POETRY: Create In Me by Anna Beth Fore

March 2, 2019

From: A Voice for My Soul Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12) Create in me a pure heart filled with love, joy, and peace. Calm these inner struggles and give my soul release. Renew my love and passion for my Savior and my King. Fill me with psalms and songs, an offering to you I bring. Cleanse me every day, Lord, and make me pure and holy. Comfort me with your Spirit as he lives inside of me. Transform me with your love, your mercy, and your grace. Strengthen me when I am weary so that I can finish the race. Welcome me with open arms [...]

POETRY: Sexagesima by Christina Georgina Rossetti

February 27, 2019

Yet Earth was very good in days of old, And Earth is lovely still: Still for the sacred flock she spreads the fold, For Sion rears the hill. Mother she is, and cradle of our race, A depth where treasures lie, The broad foundation of a holy place, Man’s step to scale the sky. She spreads the harvest-field which Angels reap, And lo! the crop is white; She spreads God’s Acre where the happy sleep All night that is not night. Earth may not pass till Heaven shall pass away, Nor Heaven may be renewed Except with Earth: and once more in that day Earth shall be very [...]

POETRY: Your Grace by Anna Beth Fore

February 23, 2019

From: A Voice for My Soul Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9) Because of your grace, Lord, I am free. I’m no longer blind, Lord; now I see. Because of your grace, Lord, I am forgiven. My sins are washed away, Lord; Christ has risen. Because of your grace, Lord, I am blessed. I’m no longer anxious, Lord; in you I find rest. Because of your grace, Lord, I am saved. I’m sanctified by your holiness, in which I am bathed. Because of your grace, Lord, I have less fear. I can feel your presence, Lord; You are always here. Because of your grace, Lord, I do believe that your gift of eternal life I [...]

POETRY: Septuagesima by John Betjeman

February 20, 2019

Septuagesima—seventy days To Easter’s primrose tide of praise; The Gesimas—Septua, Sexa, Quinc Mean Lent is near, which makes you think. Septuagesima—when we’re told To “run the race,” to “keep our hold,” Ignore injustice, not give in, and practice stern self-discipline; A somewhat unattractive time Which hardly lends itself to rhyme. But still it gives the chance to me To praise our dear old C. of E. So other churches please forgive Lines on the church in which I live, The Church of England of my birth, The kindest church to me on Earth. There may be those who like things fully Argued out, and call you “woolly”; Ignoring Creeds and Catechism They say the C. of E.’s “in schism.” There may be those who much [...]

POETRY: Today Is The Day by Anna Beth Fore

February 16, 2019

From: A Voice for My Soul Let the heavens rejoice, let the Earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! (1 Chronicles 16:31-32) This is the day that you have made, and you want me to rejoice and be glad. Regardless of my circumstances, Lord, Help me rejoice in you and not be sad. This is the day that you have made, and it may be that it is my last. Help me be present in every moment, to slow down and not move so fast. This is the day that you have made, and you have prepared it for me. Open my ears to hear your voice, and open my eyes so that I will see. This is the day that you have made, and you give me new [...]

POETRY: Fifth Sunday After Epiphany by Blessed John Keble

February 13, 2019

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God. (Isaiah 59:1-2) “Wake, arm divine! awake, “Eye of the only Wise! “Now for thy glory’s sake, “Savior and God, arise, “And may thine ear, that sealed seems, “In pity mark our mournful themes!” Thus in her lonely hour Thy Church is fain to cry, As if thy love and power Were vanish’d from her sky; Yet God is there, and at his side He triumphs, who for sinners died. Ah! ‘tis the world enthralls The Heaven betrothed breast: The traitor Sense recalls The soaring soul from rest. That bitter sigh was all for earth, For glories gone, [...]

POETRY: As I Come Into Your Presence by Anna Beth Fore

February 8, 2019

From: A Voice for My Soul You have made know to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in  your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11) As I come into your presence, Lord, please reveal your will to me. Please open up my heart and mind so that we share a deep intimacy. As I come into your presence, Lord, uncover your secret mysteries. Show me your truths in new ways that bring joy, as when a blind man sees. As I come into your presence, Lord, fill my heart with thankfulness. Remind me of all your promises and the ways that my life you bless. As I come into your presence, Lord, please help me hear your voice. Fill my lips with words of praise as in your presence I rejoice. As I come into your presence, [...]

POETRY: Tears by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

February 6, 2019

Thank God, bless God, all ye who suffer not More grief than ye can weep for. That is well— That is light grieving! lighter, none befell Since Adam forfeited the primal lot. Tears! what are tears? The babe weeps in its cot, The mother singing; at her marriage-bell The bride weeps, and before the oracle Of high-faned hills the poet has forgot Such moisture on his cheeks. Thank God for grace, Ye who weep only! If, as some have done, Ye grope tear-blinded in a desert place And touch but tombs,—look up! those tears will run Soon in long rivers down the lifted face, And leave the vision clear for stars and [...]

POETRY: Good Morning, Father by Anna Beth Fore

February 2, 2019

From: A Voice for My Soul The Lord remembers us and will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel, He will bless the house of Aaron, He will bless those who fear the Lord— small and great alike. (Psalm 115:12-13) Father, greet me this morning with your Heavenly kiss. Sprinkle your blessing on me with the morning mist. Father, smile lovingly at me as the sun begins to rise. Look after me and protect me with a father’s intimate eyes. Father, show me your wonders and surprise me every day. Reveal your might power in a creative, awesome way. Father, share your mysteries and fill my heart with delight. Give me fresh enlightenment and enhance my spiritual sight. Father, play ethereal songs for me as the celestial bodies romance; among the [...]

POETRY: It is as if infancy were the whole of incarnation by Luci Shaw

January 30, 2019

One time of the year the new-born child is everywhere, planted in madonnas’ arms hay mows, stables, in palaces or farms, or quaintly, under snowed gables, gothic angular or baroque plump, naked or elaborately swathed, encircled by Della Robbia wreaths, garnished with whimsical partridges and pears, drummers and drums, lit by oversize stars, partnered with lambs, peace doves, sugar plums, bells, plastic camels in sets of three as if these were what we needed for eternity. But Jesus the Man is not to be seen. There are some who are wary, these days, of beards and sandalled feet. Yet if we celebrate, let it be that He has invaded our lives with purpose, striding over our picturesque traditions, our shallow sentiment, overturning our cash [...]

POETRY: I Bask In Your Glory, Lord by Anna Beth Fore

January 18, 2019

From: A Voice for My Soul Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in  your praise. (Psalm 106:47) I bask in your glory, Lord, as I behold your majesty. I’m in awe of your creation and the wondrous world I see. I bask in your glory, Lord, and feel your presence everywhere. I search for you in the heavens, and I know that you are there. I bask in your glory, Lord, as I hear the mighty oceans roar. I’m inspired by your creatures when I watch the eagles soar. I bask in your glory, Lord, when I feel the sun’s light. I’m amazed at your power when I see the stars at night! I bask in your glory, Lord, when I hear the songbirds sing. I’m delighted every moment with the [...]

POETRY: Epiphany Poem by George Mackay Brown

January 16, 2019

The red king Came to a great water. He said, Here the journey ends. No keel or skipper on this shore. The yellow king Halted under a hill. He said, Turn the camels round. Beyond, ice summits only. The black king Knocked on a city gate. He said, All roads stop here. These are gravestones, no inn. The three kings Met under a dry star. There, at midnight, The star began its singing. The three kings Suffered salt, snow, skulls. They suffered the silence Before the first [...]

POETRY: A Voice For My Soul by Anna Beth Fore

January 11, 2019

From: A Voice for My Soul O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1) My soul longs to speak to you, Lord, and to share my thoughts with you. My heart desires to know you, Lord, and your Spirit my being imbue. Holy Father, bless me with your words to express my soul with a voice. Give me words of praise and adoration, and in my heart, let me sing and rejoice. May my soul cry out to you, O Lord, when I experience pain and suffering. May your Holy Spirit speak for me when my own words I cannot bring. Give me words of wisdom, dear Lord, words of discernment and spiritual insight, words of empathy and understanding, so that they [...]

POETRY: The Forest Primeval by Paul Willis

January 9, 2019

I am five years old. It is a lamentable week—or two weeks—after Christmas in Anaheim. All the way around the block there are Christmas trees at mute attention on the curb. They are stripped of lights and stars and angels, and lean against the garbage cans with only a trace or two of tinsel, tawdry in the morning light. These trees are lonely, I decide. They need to be brought together somewhere to commiserate, to regain a semblance of miracle. Somewhere like my backyard. One by one, on a rescue mission, I drag them down the sidewalk and around our house and plant them one against the other, a thick entangling of grateful boughs. All afternoon I crawl inside their fragrant shade, touching open pockets of pitch and feeling needles rain [...]

POETRY: Twelfth Night by Elinor Wylie

January 5, 2019

It has always been King Herod that I feared; King Herod and his kinsmen, ever since… I do not like the color of your beard; I think that you are wicked, and a prince. I keep no stable…how your horses stamp!… If you are wise men, you will leave me soon; I have been frightened by a thievish tramp Who counted bloody silver in the moon. You get no lodging underneath these roofs, No, though you pay in frankincense and myrrh; Your harness jangles with your horses’ hooves; Be quiet; you will wake him if you stir. This is no church for Zoroastrians, Nor resting-place for governors from Rome; Oh, I have knowledge of your secret plans; Your faces are familiar; go home. And you, young captain of the lion stare, Subdue your arrogance to [...]

POETRY: A Christmas Hymn by Richard Wilbur

January 3, 2019

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. (Luke 19:39-40) A stable-lamp is lighted Whose glow shall wake the sky; The stars shall bend their voices, And every stone shall cry. And every stone shall cry, And straw like gold shall shine; A barn shall harbor heaven, A stall become a shrine. This child through David’s city Shall ride in triumph by; The palm shall strew its branches, And every stone shall cry. And every stone shall cry, Though heavy, dull, and dumb, And lie within the roadway To pave his kingdom come. Yet he shall be forsaken, And yielded up to [...]

POETRY: O That With Yonder Sacred Throng by Marci Johnson

January 2, 2019

The things of this world do not seem to be going according to plan. For one thing, the altar’s on fire. The pastor hasn’t noticed, thinks the audience is unusually moved by his words his sharp suit the way his thick hair waves at a part so straight the Israelites could pass through to the Promised Land with out detour. A man in back has gone for the fire extinguisher while we like sheep look to one another to gauge reaction. Shall we finish the final hymn? Remark on the too obvious symbolism? No, let’s throw our bodies on the flames Old Testament style like a people uncivilized by bulletins and keyboards and cupped ceiling lights but living in the raw wind, the hunger, the sand in our upturned [...]

POETRY: Snowfall by Ravi Shankar

January 1, 2019

Particulate as ash, new year’s first snow falls upon peaked roofs, car hoods, undulant hills, in imitation of motion that moves the way static cascades down screens when the cable zaps out, persistent & granular with a flicker of legibility that dissipates before it can be interpolated into any succession of imagery. One hour stretches sixty minutes into a field of white flurry: hexagonal lattices of water molecules that accumulate in drifts too soon strewn with sand, hewn into browning mounds by plow blade, left to turn to [...]

POETRY: Year’s End by Richard Wilbur

December 31, 2018

Now winter downs the dying of the year, And night is all a settlement of snow; From the soft street the rooms of houses show A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere, Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin And still allows some stirring down within. I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell And held in ice as dancers in a spell Fluttered all winter long into a lake; Graved on the dark in gestures of descent, They seemed their own most perfect monument. There was perfection in the death of ferns Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone A million years. Great mammoths overthrown Composedly have made their long sojourns, Like palaces of patience, in the gray And changeless lands [...]

POETRY: Shepherd’s Song At Christmas by Langston Hughes

December 30, 2018

Look there at the star! I, among the least, Will arise and take A journey to the East. But what shall I bring As a present for the King? What shall I bring to the Manger? I will bring a song, A song that I will sing, A song for the King In the Manger. Watch out for my flocks, Do not let them stray. I am going on a journey Far, far away. But what shall I bring As a present for the Child? What shall I bring to the Manger? I will bring a lamb, Gentle, meek, and mild, A lamb for the Child In the Manger. I’m just a shepherd boy, Very poor I am— But I know there is A King in Bethlehem. What shall I bring As a present for Him? What shall I bring to the Manger? I will bring my heart And give my heart to Him. I will bring my heart To the [...]

POETRY: Christmas Child by Paul Willis

December 29, 2018

When you were born, sycamore leaves were brown and falling. They sifted through the stable door and laid their hands upon your cheek. Sunlight bent through cracks in the wall and found your lips. It was morning now. Joseph slept, curled on the straw in a corner. Your mother offered her breast to you, the warm milk of humankind, of kindness. You drank from the spongy flesh as you could, a long way now from vinegar, but closer, closer, closer than the night before. She cradles you, O Jesus Christ, born in blood and born to bleed, for this brief dawn a simple child, searching the nipple, stirring among the whisper, the touch, of [...]

POETRY: Holy Innocents by Christina Rossetti

December 28, 2018

Sleep, little Baby, sleep; The holy Angels love thee, And guard thy bed, and keep A blessed watch above thee. No spirit can come near Nor evil beast to harm thee: Sleep, Sweet, devoid of fear Where nothing need alarm thee. The Love which doth not sleep, The eternal Arms surround thee: The Shepherd of the sheep In perfect love hath found thee. Sleep through the holy night, Christ-kept from snare and sorrow, Until thou wake to light And love and warmth [...]

POETRY: A Sonnet For 27th December—The Feast Of St. John by Malcolm Guite

December 27, 2018

This is the gospel of the primal light, The first beginning, and the fruitful end, The soaring glory of an eagle’s flight, The quiet touch of a beloved friend. This is the gospel of our transformation, Water to wine and grain to living bread, Blindness to sight and sorrow to elation, And Lazarus himself back from the dead! This is the gospel of all inner meaning, The heart of heaven opened to the earth, A gentle friend on Jesus’s bosom leaning, And Nicodemus offered a new birth. No need to search the heavens high above, Come close with John, and feel the pulse of [...]

POETRY: St. Stephen’s Day by John Keble

December 26, 2018

As rays around the source of light Stream upward ere he glow in sight, And watching by his future flight Set the clear heavens on fire; So on the King of Martyrs wait Three chosen bands, in royal state, And all Earth owns, of good and great, Is gather’d in that choir. One presses on, and welcomes death: One calmly yields his willing breath, Nor slow, nor hurrying, but in faith Content to die or live: And some, the darlings of their Lord, Play smiling with the flame and sword, And, ere they speak, to His sure word Unconscious witness give. Foremost and nearest to His throne, By perfect robes of triumph known, And likest Him in look and tone, The holy Stephen kneels, With steadfast gaze, as when the sky Flew open to his fainting eye, [...]