Easter Sonnet

Within the blackness of the night His body lies at rest
Alone within His catacomb, amidst the quiet chill
His skin is pale and bled of life, no air’s within His chest
He lies in state, forsook by God, within the lonely hill
She weeps within the waning night, alone before the morn
When death is at its blackest tide and hope’s forever lost
But when the pitch is at its peak the dawn is at its bourn
And when despair is at its end there’s light to melt the frost
A ray is cast upon the tomb; the stone is split and rolled
And death is turned upon its head, defeated by the Cross
The Lion stands within His How and strides upon His Wold
Victorious in life and death, in laughter, pain, and loss
He comes to save His enemies with grace and love and death
In love He’s raised in human blood, in human life and breath


The Dusk of Night

I find myself within the dusk of night
Where ghouls and shadows flit around my head
Spitting words of hopeless paths and tired treads
Pressing under me, the weight of darkness’ might
In the midst of shadowed storms I seek the light
Trying to remember words of hope I’ve heard and read
Holding onto sanity by naught but tiny threads
Beat and bruised and cast beyond the realm of fight
In this pitied state I seek the light of Jesus’ hope
I cling unto the splintered Cross, I’m washed by perfect blood
I feel as one who’s lost to die, but sought by He who hung
And as the light shines down upon my bloody face, I grope
I seek the One who saves and keeps with perfect love
For I have no one else to seek and no one else to run

The Hound of Heaven

The classic poem, “The Hound of Heaven“, by Francis Thompson

I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;	
  I fled Him, down the arches of the years;	
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways	
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears	
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.	
      Up vistaed hopes I sped;	
      And shot, precipitated,	
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,	
  From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.	
      But with unhurrying chase,	
      And unperturbèd pace,	
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,	
      They beat—and a Voice beat	
      More instant than the Feet—	
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’	
          I pleaded, outlaw-wise,	
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,	
  Trellised with intertwining charities;	
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,	
        Yet was I sore adread	
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside).	
But, if one little casement parted wide,	
  The gust of His approach would clash it to.	
  Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.	
Across the margent of the world I fled,	
  And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,	
  Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars;	
        Fretted to dulcet jars	
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.	
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;	
  With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over	
        From this tremendous Lover—	
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!	
  I tempted all His servitors, but to find	
My own betrayal in their constancy,	
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,	
  Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.	
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;	
  Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.	
      But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,	
    The long savannahs of the blue;	
        Or whether, Thunder-driven,	
    They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,	
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—	
  Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.	
      Still with unhurrying chase,	
      And unperturbèd pace,	
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,	
      Came on the following Feet,	
      And a Voice above their beat—	
    ‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’	
I sought no more that after which I strayed	
  In face of man or maid;	
But still within the little children’s eyes	
  Seems something, something that replies,	
They at least are for me, surely for me!	
I turned me to them very wistfully;	
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair	
  With dawning answers there,	
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.	
‘Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share	
With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;	
  Let me greet you lip to lip,	
  Let me twine with you caresses,	
  With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,	
  With her in her wind-walled palace,	
  Underneath her azured daïs,	
  Quaffing, as your taintless way is,	
    From a chalice	
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’	
    So it was done:	
I in their delicate fellowship was one—	
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.	
  I knew all the swift importings	
  On the wilful face of skies;	
  I knew how the clouds arise	
  Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;	
    All that’s born or dies	
  Rose and drooped with; made them shapers	
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;	
  With them joyed and was bereaven.	
  I was heavy with the even,	
  When she lit her glimmering tapers	
  Round the day’s dead sanctities.	
  I laughed in the morning’s eyes.	
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,	
  Heaven and I wept together,	
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;	
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart	
    I laid my own to beat,	
    And share commingling heat;	
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.	
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.	
For ah! we know not what each other says,	
  These things and I; in sound I speak—	
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.	
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;	
  Let her, if she would owe me,	
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me	
  The breasts o’ her tenderness:	
Never did any milk of hers once bless	
    My thirsting mouth.	
    Nigh and nigh draws the chase,	
    With unperturbèd pace,	
  Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;	
    And past those noisèd Feet	
    A voice comes yet more fleet—	
  ‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me!’	
Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!	
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,	
    And smitten me to my knee;	
  I am defenceless utterly.	
  I slept, methinks, and woke,	
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.	
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,	
  I shook the pillaring hours	
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,	
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—	
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.	
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,	
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.	
  Yea, faileth now even dream	
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;	
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist	
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,	
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account	
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.	
  Ah! is Thy love indeed	
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,	
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?	
  Ah! must—	
  Designer infinite!—	
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?	
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;	
And now my heart is as a broken fount,	
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever	
  From the dank thoughts that shiver	
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.	
  Such is; what is to be?	
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?	
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;	
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds	
From the hid battlements of Eternity;	
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then	
Round the half-glimpsèd turrets slowly wash again.	
  But not ere him who summoneth	
  I first have seen, enwound	
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;	
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.	
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields	
  Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields	
  Be dunged with rotten death?	
      Now of that long pursuit	
    Comes on at hand the bruit;	
  That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:	
    ‘And is thy earth so marred,	
    Shattered in shard on shard?	
  Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!	
  Strange, piteous, futile thing!	
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?	
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),	
‘And human love needs human meriting:	
  How hast thou merited—	
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?	
  Alack, thou knowest not	
How little worthy of any love thou art!	
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,	
  Save Me, save only Me?	
All which I took from thee I did but take,	
  Not for thy harms,	
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.	
  All which thy child’s mistake	
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:	
  Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’	
  Halts by me that footfall:	
  Is my gloom, after all,	
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?	
  ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,	
  I am He Whom thou seekest!	
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’	

Jesus Loved the Poor

Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.

– Rich Mullins

The End of Religion

What role have I left for religion? None. And I have left none because the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ leaves none. Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.

Religion consists of all the things (believing, behaving, worshiping, sacrificing) the human race has ever thought it had to do to get right with God. About those things, Christianity has only two comments to make. The first is that none of them ever had the least chance of doing the trick: the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins (see the Epistle to the Hebrews) and no effort of ours to keep the law of God can ever finally succeed (see the Epistle to the Romans). The second is that everything religion tried (and failed) to do has been perfectly done, once and for all, by Jesus in his death and resurrection. For Christians, therefore, the entire religion shop has been closed, boarded up, and forgotten. The church is not in the religion business. It never has been and it never will be, in spite of all the ecclesiastical turkeys through two thousand years who have acted as if religion was their stock in trade. The church, instead, is in the Gospel-proclaiming business. It is not here to bring the world the bad news that God will think kindly about us only after we have gone through certain creedal, liturgical and ethical wickets; it is here to bring the world the Good News that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” It is here, in short, for no religious purpose at all, only to announce the Gospel of free grace.

– Robert Capon

(featured image source)