Sunday, January 23, 2005

3 Epiphany thoughts Bible Readings

I am not preaching today so this is a collection of random ideas to go with the readings and other bits that washed up on my shore this week.
The psalm is a song to the delight that the creator takes in human creatures and how far from our ability to understand are the ways of creation. Reading Harvard Magazine I happened upon an article on nanotechnology. It seems that the more we discover the deeper the mysteries.

Paul's letter to the Corinthians comments on the divisions in the church. Seems like the church has never been free from controversy and division. I think we need to learn how to live with difference since this is a permanent state. The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry of North Carolina preached to this topic in his annual address to the Diocese of NC. A bishop from Africa said he did not want to visit the House of Bishops after the election of Gene Robinson in New Hampshire but the demand of the Gospel that makes Christians brothers and sisters called him to move beyond his enmity to come to listen. He still does not agree with the US church but he understands more and hopes that he is more understood. The call to sit in one another's presence, listen to one another and walk the journey together is a difficult call but essential to our ministry in the world.

The Gospel is from Matthew and tells of Jesus following the arrest of John. Jesus has just come out from the wilderness after being baptized. He thinks he has a clarity about what he is supposed to be doing but John's arrest seems to shake him to the core. He withdraws to take up residence in Capernaum. Is this an interlude that refers to his abandoning the mission and making a home far from the action of Jerusalem? Does he think he can just settle down like all his friends? It is only one paragraph but it tantalizes the imagination. But the text moves briskly from that moment - he calls disciples from their fishing to follow him and learn how to catch bigger fish - people. I always wonder what did their father think - when they dropped their nets and left him with the family business to run? Did he have other sons who could help? How do we balance the need to support and care for our personal families and the need to follow a call?

Other bits of my week were spent thinking about Judas. I played that part in a "tableau" of the Passion (judgment, crucifixion and death of Jesus). I wonder if he was chosen or volunteerd for this role rather than being the epitome of an evil person? I discovered I am not the only person to think abou this and found an article The Mystery of Judas where the author discusses other interpretations of Judas' actions. Finally, thinking about Judas - here is my favorite poem about him by Robert Buchanan. The Ballad of Judas Iscariot.

'Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
    Lay in the Field of Blood;
'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Beside the body stood.

Black was the earth by night,
    And black was the sky;
Black, black were the broken clouds,
    Tho' the red Moon went by.
'Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
    Strangled and dead lay there;
'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Look'd on it in despair.

The breath of the World came and went
    Like a sick man's in rest;
Drop by drop on the World's eyes
    The dews fell cool and blest.

Then the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Did make a gentle moan --
'I will bury underneath the ground
    My flesh and blood and bone.

'I will bury deep beneath the soil,
    Lest mortals look thereon,
And when the wolf and raven come
    The body will be gone!

'The stones of the field are sharp as steel,
    And hard and cold, God wot;
And I must bear my body hence
    Until I find a spot!'

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot,
    So grim, and gaunt, and gray,
Raised the body of Judas Iscariot,
    And carried it away.

And as he bare it from the field
    Its touch was cold as ice,
And the ivory teeth within the jaw
    Rattled aloud, like dice.

As the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Carried its load with pain,
The Eye of Heaven, like a lanthorn's eye,
    Open'd and shut again.

Half he walk'd, and half he seemed
    Lifted on the cold wind;
He did not turn, for chilly hands
    Were pushing from behind.

The first place that he came unto
    It was the open wold,
And underneath were prickly whins,
    And a wind that blew so cold.

The next place that he came unto
    It was a stagnant pool,
And when he threw the body in
    It floated light as wool.

He drew the body on his back,
    And it was dripping chill,
And the next place be came unto
    Was a Cross upon a hill.

A Cross upon the windy hill,
    And a Cross on either side,
Three skeletons that swing thereon,
    Who had been crucified.

And on the middle cross-bar sat
    A white Dove slumbering;
Dim it sat in the dim light,
    With its head beneath its wing.

And underneath the middle Cross
    A grave yawn'd wide and vast,
But the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Shiver'd, and glided past.

The fourth place that he came unto
    It was the Brig of Dread,
And the great torrents rushing down
    Were deep, and swift, and red.

He dared not fling the body in
    For fear of faces dim
And arms were waved in the wild water
    To thrust it back to him.

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Turned from the Brig of Dread,
And the dreadful foam of the wild water
    Had splashed the body red.

For days and nights he wandered on
    Upon an open plain,
And the days went by like blinding mist,
    And the nights like rushing rain.

For days and nights he wandered on,
    All thro' the Wood of Woe;
And the nights went by like moaning wind,
    And the days like drifting snow.

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Came with a weary face --
Alone, alone, and all alone,
    Alone in a lonely place!

He wandered east, he wandered west,
    And heard no human sound;
For months and years, in grief and tears,
    He wandered round and round,

For months and years, in grief and tears,
    He walked the silent night;
Then the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Perceived a far-off light.

A far-off light across the waste,
    As dim as dim might be,
That came and went like the lighthouse gleam
    On a black night at sea.

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Crawl'd to the distant gleam;
And the rain came down, and the rain was blown
    Against him with a scream.

For days and nights he wandered on,
    Push'd on by hands behind;
And the days went by like black, black rain,
    And the nights like rushing wind.

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot,
    Strange, and sad, and tall,
Stood all alone at dead of night
    Before a lighted hall.

And the wold was white with snow,
    And his foot-marks black and damp,
And the ghost of the silvern Moon arose,
    Holding her yellow lamp.

And the icicles were on the eaves,
    And the walls were deep with white,
And the shadows of the guests within
    Pass'd on the window light.

The shadows of the wedding guests
    Did strangely come and go,
And the body of Judas Iscariot
    Lay stretch'd along the snow.

The body of Judas Iscariot
    Lay stretched along the snow;
'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Ran swiftly to and fro.

To and fro, and up and down,
    He ran so swiftly there,
As round and round the frozen Pole
    Glideth the lean white bear.

'Twas the Bridegroom sat at the table-head,
    And the lights burnt bright and clear --
'Oh, who is that,' the Bridegroom said,
    'Whose weary feet I hear?'

'Twas one look'd from the lighted hall,
    And answered soft and slow,
'It is a wolf runs up and down
    With a black track in the snow.'

The Bridegroom in his robe of white
    Sat at the table-head --
'Oh, who is that who moans without?'
    The blessed Bridegroom said.

'Twas one looked from the lighted hall,
    And answered fierce and low,
''Tis the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Gliding to and fro.'

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Did hush itself and stand,
And saw the Bridegroom at the door
    With a light in his hand.

The Bridegroom stood in the open door,
    And he was clad in white,
And far within the Lord's Supper
    Was spread so broad and bright.

The Bridegroom shaded his eyes and look'd,
    And his face was bright to see --
'What dost thou here at the Lord's Supper
    With thy body's sins?' said he.

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Stood black, and sad, and bare --
'I have wandered many nights and days;
    There is no light elsewhere.'

'Twas the wedding guests cried out within,
    And their eyes were fierce and bright --
'Scourge the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Away into the night!'

The Bridegroom stood in the open door,
    And he waved hands still and slow,
And the third time that he waved his hands
    The air was thick with snow.

And of every flake of falling snow,
    Before it touched the ground,
There came a dove, and a thousand doves
    Made sweet sound.

'Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
    Floated away full fleet,
And the wings of the doves that bare it off
    Were like its winding-sheet.

'Twas the Bridegroom stood at the open door,
    And beckon'd, smiling sweet;
'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Stole in, and fell at his feet.

'The Holy Supper is spread within,
    And the many candles shine,
And I have waited long for thee
    Before I poured the wine!'

The supper wine is poured at last,
    The lights burn bright and fair,
Iscariot washes the Bridegroom's feet,
    And dries them with his hair.

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answer-man said...
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