Thursday, May 25, 2017

Windy city

Windy City

And the lake it sings its own song mid the sparkle and the shade
And the rain and bitter wind notes come and go
And the music that they're making is a tune that I can hear.
Windy City.

There's a melody of seasons, there's a painted change of light
There's a rustling of squirrels in the trees
And clouds are wrapped like scarves around the shoulders of the towers.
Windy City.

And the waters are a mirror to the twists of history
And the lake has gathered in a million tears
And the groans of pains uncounted lend their bass notes to the breeze.
Windy City.

And there's striving and there's growing and there's struggle and there's loss
And the turning pages may be dark or bright
And there's mystery and longing and the strange smell of success
Windy City.

For they came, they came, the dreamers and the hopeful and the lost
Sheep and wolves like every place that that man has trod,
And the fire is burning ever and the guns blaze in men's hearts.
Windy City.

But the waters still sing gently and the works of man still stand
And the promises are certain as the day
There's a welcome word of kindness and a wonder takes your breath
Windy City.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Autumn Twilight

The sun burns low upon the western sky
And winter draws its cloak around it, tight.
And, in this life of waiting and of love,
I sit and watch the dying of the light.

Time is the only rhythm that I know,
By heart and breath and clock to measure pace.
But always, just beyond the senses’ scan,
Eternity wears quite another face.

Those moments beyond time when stars stand still,
Or dance before a beauty we can’t see,
When love enables soul to touch with soul,
And we are stilled from our cacophony.

Therefore I walk this small and earthly span
In hope of glory far beyond my guess;
For every chill of cloud and fall of leaf
Recalls to me the great eternal Yes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Man with a Burden

He had always believed that his shortness of stature was a horrible burden to bear. As a child he had been laughed at and picked on by boys who were bigger than him but no older; as a man he had been disregarded and overlooked until he found a way to make them take him seriously. In his world there were two things that made everyone sit up and take notice: money was one and the power of Rome was the other. And there was one way a rather clever nobody like him could use both of those to his advantage – become a tax collector for the Romans! Nobody would dare despise him then (or, at least, not to his face).

And it worked, well, mostly it worked. Nobody dared openly offend the man who set their taxes. And he gained wealth, much wealth. Of course by the standards of Jewish law it was dishonestly gained wealth, because Rome set the amount they wanted for the district and then he collected the actual taxes from people, setting them at levels that gave him a nice little excess he could keep for himself. Alright, to be completely honest (which he never was), it was quite a large excess, and he enjoyed all the privileges of wealth. The fact that people possibly liked him even less than in his bullied childhood was something he took care not to think about. Wealth and power certainly had their compensations. But somehow they hadn’t freed him from his burden, and he was no longer childish enough to blame his lack of height. It was like having an itch that he didn’t know how to scratch.

Then one day he heard a rumour that the Teacher, the strange new prophet called Jesus was coming to town. Normally such things were of little interest to him, but for some reason he felt he had to be there. But so, apparently, did other people; the roadside was already crowded and he couldn’t see over their heads. He knew, from bitter experience, that while no one would dare be openly aggressive towards him, there were one hundred and one ways they could passively express their disgust of him by just pretending they weren’t aware of his presence. There was no way they would let him through the front so that he could see anything.

But then he saw the solution – there was a large sycamore growing by the roadside. He was agile enough, he could easily climb it, make himself comfortable on one of the big branches, and peer out between the leaves. He would be above everyone else, and no one would even notice him. The thought pleased him and he climbed the tree.

And just in time, for Jesus was coming now. He was surprised at how excited he felt, but even more surprised when, a moment later, Jesus stopped, looked straight up into his hiding place, and called him by name. “Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” The Teacher knew who he was and wanted to dine with him? Nobody had ever wanted Zacchaeus before.

He hurried out of the tree so fast that he almost fell. He realised that this was so important, so precious to him, that he didn’t want to give Jesus time to change his mind. Suddenly all his gold and silver didn’t seem so important. He did not yet know it, but his real burden, the burden of being despised and rejected, was about to be taken away forever. Still less did he know yet how Jesus would ultimately carry that burden for him. But he already felt like dancing.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Restoration

In the end is the beginning, in the loss we find the gain, from seeming defeat comes ultimate victory. True life is found on the other side of death, not by clinging relentlessly and hopelessly to this shadow of life we know now. Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall, but life remains in the hidden places and is called forth to flourish once again. The history of the world is the story of restoration, in spite of every dark thing that evil works against it.

In the beginning there was a man and a woman, and there was also one who took the form of a serpent and beguiled them into sin and death and misery. But there was also God, and he had a better story to tell them and invite them into. It wasn’t the easy way, or the simplistic way, but it was the true way. It was the way of restoration.

And even through darkness and evil, some chose to follow that path. And there was a man called Abraham who left the glittering comforts of the world behind to walk with God beneath the stars. And to him there was given a glimpse of promises beyond his power to measure. But the road to restoration was not an obvious one for his descendants, it lay through exile and slavery, bondage and brokenness. But, in the fullness of time, through fear and wonder, they were restored to the land that had been promised, and became a nation.

And the centuries passed. And, in the pattern of history, there was gain and loss, exile and restoration. But God had a bigger plan, for he is not just their God, but the God of all that is. And so he came himself, the Creator entering creation; he came to his own and his own did not receive him. He did not come wearing any earthly splendour as a shoddy symbol of his majesty, he came as the least of these and was despised and rejected, for they still did not understand God’s way of restoration. And he died, shamefully and horribly, while the crowds jeered and mocked, and it seemed like the last frail thread of hope had snapped.

But this was all part of the plan of restoration, and the very thing that looked so like defeat was a mighty victory over sin and death and all the forces of destruction. The miracle had happened and the tide had turned.

But the work of restoration is not yet complete. The earth still groans and injustice and oppression stalk the world. And so we wait for the final act, the fulfilment of all that is.  We wait for a new heaven and new earth. We wait for a city of glory that will descend like a bride. We wait for every tear to be wiped away, and the splendour of the nations to come in. We wait for that joy which can never be taken away – never ever again. We wait for God.