On Saturday, I attended a wedding. The following Thursday, I attended a funeral. This upcoming Tuesday, I’ll celebrate a birth. All three events are about endings and beginnings, and the first two events, though quite different from each other, find meaning in the third. Continue reading
Harsh battle cries and cries from battle blows
Break full upon the ears by helmets hidden.
The enemy’s assaults—always unbidden—
Besiege the soldiers. All around them, foes
Fling flaming arrows ‘gainst the humble few.
These few still march, past bodies spoiled and sodden,
In search of captive souls. These, the downtrodden,
Still march, unbroken, victory in view.
They taste their own blood, wear blood not their own,
Press forward by a blood more diff’rent still.
They war to see the day the war will cease.
Though sore-afflicted, fire burns in their bone.
They march with life no enemy can kill,
Their ev’ry step in war, a step t’ward peace.
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Little children, keep yourselves from idols,
Works of our own hands. Voices–our voices–
Call us to cast off all righteous bridles,
Chastise us for limiting our choices.
Choose you then this day your lord, your master.
Choose the voice you trust above all others.
Choose the path to life, avoid disaster.
Heed the voice of reason, sisters, brothers.
Learn distrust of self, for self is often
Led astray by varied vices. Passions
Harden hearts to truth. Consciences soften,
Filled with fleshly fears and fleeting fashions.
Build upon the only sure foundation.
Idols only lead you to starvation.
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Why? Why, dear souls, do we insist
On clinging to our chains?
We who now wear robes which persist,
Why love we still the stains?
Christ bore the wrath our sin had earned.
No fear of death remains.
Forsake the things in Christ you spurned,
These passions and these pains.
For freedom, Christ has set us free,
And we are free indeed
From ev’ry subtle slavery
And ev’ry stifling weed.
No longer do we bear the curse
Of final poverty.
Heed now the joyful second verse:
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He knows our needs.
He promised to provide.
So worry not
Nor let your courage fail.
Flow’rs grow from seeds
After the seeds have died.
You will not rot.
In Christ, you will prevail.
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The fall was not the final word.
Isaiah has foretold,
A silent lamb shall take our place,
A saving act of wrath and grace
That sinners young and old
Might know the power of the Word:
He laid aside his majesty
To be for us the light
And tasted death in place of men
That man might know freedom from sin.
He overcame the night
And shines for all eternity.
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Father, let me ne’er forget the story
Of the cross, the tomb, the third day’s glory.
For after those four hundred years so long,
Elijah’s call was heard throughout the land.
“The kingdom comes! Repent! Make straight the way!”
And with his words, John pointed to the Word,
The spotless lamb of God, the virgin’s son,
The heir to David’s throne, the promised one.
He brought us peace yet also brought a sword;
The people were divided in that day.
They cried. He died. They did not understand.
He rose, and this is evermore our song:
The king has won the war we could not fight;
The darkness has not overcome the light.
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The dissonance resounds
As all attempt to sing
A song of their own making.
Disorder now abounds
For all forget the king
(A fatal undertaking).
We sing our dirge till death
Yet sing with all our might,
Our very voices breaking.
With ev’ry selfish breath,
We shrink away from light
To try to stop the aching.
But light shines in the dark,
And dark cannot resist.
The kingdom is advancing.
There is a holy ark.
With joy, we may subsist.
Salvation comes with dancing.
Amidst the rebel choir,
A melody is heard
That rings throughout creation.
The true composer’s ire
Fell full upon the word:
The ransomed sing his song
Now knowing it involves
The rescue of the dying.
Though so much now seems wrong,
The song at last resolves:
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You save us from idolatry
The call to bear the killing tree
Is healing ointment.
“Take up your cross and follow me” –
We do not know the depths of sin
Within our being.
We fight against but cannot win;
But you, all seeing,
Stepped into time to work for men
From forces that devise the fall
Of your creation.
Depravity common to all
Met its damnation.
Now hear, all broken hearts, his call:
In you, we hope. For you, we wait.
You are provider.
You know our weakness, our estate;
Your grace is wider.
You bear our sin and fix our fate,
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Death will come for all men in the end.
None escape the final reckoning.
All who climb the mountains must descend.
All must heed th’ eternal beckoning.
Righteous men and wicked men alike
Fade at last into obscurity.
Actions matter not, for doom will strike
All. The grave remains a surety.
Is there gain in doing what is good?
Can we earn a single day of bliss?
We still die in doing what we should.
Vanity of vanities is this.
Yet the story need not end in vain.
Death does not possess the highest pow’r.
Life embodied died to end death’s reign.
Now we need not fear the final hour.
Slain upon a skull and then entombed,
Life partook in full the fatal drink.
Life then rose again, the curse consumed.
Hope now lives and nevermore will sink.
Therefore we have purpose in our ways,
For we follow him who doth transcend.
Christ has given meaning to our days.
Now we know that death is not the end.
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