Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sonnet: John 2:1-11

I have a goal to compose a sonnet for each of the Sundays in the Revised Common Lectionary. If this goal ever gets accomplished, it will likely take my entire life to do it.

This is my first attempt, and it is written for the occasion of the baptism of Luke James Norton on January 17, 2010:

We are not told who bid him there inside
The wedding festival in Cana town.
Did he support the groom? Perhaps, the bride?
Did he show up as things were winding down?
As empty mugs declare the party dead,
This Guest has plans to save the best for last,
And vessels used for washing swell with red.
The party lives! New wine flows free and fast.
Himself, He is the unexpected sign,
The unforseen abundance of God's grace.
The changing of the water into wine
Points us to Him: the image of God's face.
So, come, dear Guest, true mercy from above:
When we run dry change us to flow with love.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Epiphany of Our Lord

When I lived in Pittsburgh I sang in a compline choir that offered this piece each Epiphany. The tune is beautiful, but I can't remember who arranged it.

"Saw you never, in the twilight, when the sun had left the skies,
up in heav'n the clear stars shining through the gloom, like silver eyes?
So of old the wise men, watching, saw a little stranger star,
and they knew the King was given, and the followed it from far.

Know ye not that lowly baby was the bright and morning star;
He who came to light the Gentiles and the darkened isles afar?
And we, too, may seek his cradle; there our hearts' best treasures bring:
love, and faith, and true devotion for our Savior, God, and King."

The festival of our Lord's Epiphany, as told in Matthew 2, was the church's original Christmas. In the west, Luke's narrative about Jesus in the manger and the visit from the shepherds has eclipsed the star and the Magi for several centuries now, which is too bad. There is nothing wrong with Luke's story about the infant Jesus, but Matthew's account offers a very interesting perspective on the effects that Jesus' birht has on the earth. As my colleague says, "There is no 'Peace on earth' in this story!" Herod is frightened. The magi must return to their homelands in secrecy by another way. Eventually there is a slaughter of innocent children. All in all, it is a sharp contrast to the serene setting offered by Luke. Sometimes I wonder if Matthew's account, now relegated to January 6 (which rarely falls on a Sunday) might not relate a bit more to the violent and pluralistic world we inhabit. Are the nations still drawn to the Light? Can science still pay homage to faith? How are politics and society upended by the advent of Jesus? What gifts do we lay before our God and King?