Torn Nets

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,

he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;

they were fishermen.

Jesus said to them,

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.

He walked along a little farther

and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.

They too were in a boat mending their nets.

Then he called them.

So they left their father Zebedee in the boat

along with the hired men and followed him.

Mark 1:14-20
 I hear you call across the sand,
 “Come, follow after me,”
 but still my net is in my hand,
 my feet are in the sea.
 I hear you say, “Come after me
 and cast your nets again.”
How, Master, can I leave the sea
 and fish instead for men?
 It's to this work that I was born,
 to storm-tossed, angry seas.
 My heart is hard; my nets are torn;
 what can you do with these?
 “Come after me,” still echoes on
 like waves that strike the shore.
 As you walk off into the dawn,
 I long to hear you more.
 How can you want the thing I am,
 just this and nothing more?
But I will follow God's own Lamb
 when he goes from the shore.
 “Come after me”: Oh, Lord, I will
 across the sand and sea.
 I give you my torn nets to fill
 while you are mending me. 
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Calling of Saint James and Saint John (Vocation de Saint Jacques et de Saint Jean), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 7 11/16 x 5 3/4 in. (19.5 x 14.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.58 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.58_PS2.jpg)

Song of the Paralytic

 Oh, Lord, I cannot come to you;
 I cannot even move,
 but if the things I hear are true,
 God's promise you will prove.
 You shall our stony hearts renew,
 our ancient sins remove.
 My brothers cannot bring me through,
 but bear me to the roof.

I cannot walk the way alone,
 or even lift my hands,
 nor for my sins can I atone
 or strive to make amends.
 They bear me over stock and stone,
 my faithful kin and friends;
 they break a way into your home
 where my salvation stands.
 Oh, my Messiah drawing near,
 their faith and hands are strong
 who laid me at your mercy here,
 and they have trusted long.
 The blind will see; the deaf will hear;
 the muted tongue will talk;
 our sinful souls will be washed clear;
 and I will rise and walk.
 You lift your eyes and see their faith
 and say I am forgiv'n,
 that here with you my soul is safe,
 my heart has found its heav'n.
 I draw my grateful, shaking breath,
 and one more gift you give:
 I rise and walk away from death,
 and in your grace I live. 
Jesus heals the paralytic at Capernaum (Galway City Museum, Ireland) Photo By Sheila1988 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, WWL


 The world is fierce with weaponry
 and we are born with swords in hand;
 in every face an enemy,
 each step a palace to make our stand.
Our shields and armor weigh us down,
 and when the waters rise, we'll drown.

You came into this world, oh Lord,
without a shield strapped to your back,
 your message as your only sword,
 the truth alone as your attack.
The Son of God to earth come down,
you walk the waters where we drown.

How can we follow where you lead,
too heavy here to walk your road
 when it's your weightless peace we need?
Oh, free our shoulders from the load!
Teach us to lay our weapons down
and save us, Lord, before we drown!

Then lead us onward, swordless king,
 as we go weaponless to fight,
 and bless the empty hands we bring
 to work for you and build the right.
For you we lay these burdens down,
 and take your hand, and do not drown. 
By Amédée Varin – (Gravures et eaux fortes), Public Domain,

Where Are You Staying, Lord?

Another one from Sunday’s gospel reading.

 Where are you staying, Lord?
 Where can we find you here?
 Where sit and listen to your word
 with you a handsbreadth near?
 May we sit at your feet
 wheree'er you come to rest
 to find beside you joy complete
 and at your side be blest?
 As John the Baptist taught,
 unworthy here to kneel,
 we know you are the Lamb of God,
 the Christ who comes to heal.
 And so we turn away
 from our past teacher's voice
 to seek a place with you today,
 a reason to rejoice.
 Then, rooted in your word,
 shall we send forth our shoots,
 the practice of what we have heard—
 oh, may we bear good fruit!
 Not us, but you alone
 the force that moves our work,
 until at last, before your throne
 we rest with you, oh Lord. 
The Exhortation to the Apostles. By James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2007, 00.159.129_PS2.jpg, Public Domain,

Oh, Christ, You Pour the New-Pressed Wine

For white, American Christians (myself included) in the year of Our Lord 2021, to the tune EIN FESTE BURG (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”):

 Oh, Christ, you pour the new-pressed wine,
 the cup of our salvation,
 our joy for years of hard-wept brine
 and strength against temptation.
 But we this wine have poured,
 against your grace, oh Lord,
 into the skins of old,
 of empire and of gold—
 oh, see their devastation!
 You bid us wash each other's feet,
 but we, instead, have trampled.
 You gave to us your flesh to eat,
 but we strange fruit have sampled.
 You crushed the serpent's head
 to free us from his dread,
 but we have crushed th'oppressed,
 have burdened those distressed,
 against your own example.
 Our hardened hearts make soft again
 and give us true repentance.
 Give grace to mend what we have rent;
 press out your saving vintage.
 And where we have been blind,
 come, touch our eyes and mind
 that we may see the right
 and join the ancient fight
 ere you pass righteous sentence! 
The Washing of Feet and the Supper, from the Maesta by Duccio, 1308–1311. Peter often displays amazement in feet washing depictions, as in John 13:8. By Duccio di Buoninsegna – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain,

Wounded Hands

One for today’s readings; no tune.

 No spirit hand is writing on the wall,
 no words of flame are burning in my sight.
 No disembodied midnight voices call
 to tell me not to turn to left or right.
 Instead, the human voices of my world
 are calling me each moment of the day,
 while human hands are pointing to you, Lord,
 and human footsteps forge for me the way.
 Some hands are withered, some are worked and worn,
 or smooth or wrinkled, light or deeply dark.
 They point me to your own hands, ripped and torn,
 and show me every everlasting mark.
 Then take your wounded hands and touch my eyes
 to see in all these hands the spirit's flame.
 Teach me to hear your voice in every guise,
 in every call to work in your great name.
 And may I, when they call, say, “Here I am.”
Here are my hands: oh, use them as you will!
 And may my voice teach others of the Lamb
 who died and rose, who lives and saves us still. 
By Michelangelo – Web Gallery of Art[1], Public Domain,

Come and Gather

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,

it became known that he was at home.

Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,

not even around the door,

and he preached the word to them.

Mark 2:1-2

To the tune NETTLETON (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”):

 Come, oh children, to the teacher;
 come from every winding lane.
 Lay your sick where he can reach them.
 For this work alone he came:
to renew us, weak and feeble,
 to remove our guilt and shame,
 to restore a straying people
 to the glory of his name.
 Come and gather in the doorways;
 crowd as closely as you can
 for his wonders, for a foretaste
 of the kingdom of the Lamb.
 Come today, though sick and sorry;
 see the face of the I AM.
 Come to touch him in his glory
 when he stretches out his hand.
 Come to love beyond all telling.
 Come to Christ, however far.
 Crowd around him in his dwelling,
 for he leaves the door ajar.
 Come with all your faults and failings;
 come with everything you are,
 for his grace is all-availing,
 mercy higher than the stars. 
By Melchior Doze –, Public Domain,

Hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Patroness of the Americas–all of them, all of us. to the tune PASSION CHORALE (“Oh Sacred Head, Now Wounded”):

 O, mother of the nations
 and heaven's dark-eyed queen,
 announcing our salvation,
 that God our works has seen:
 We turn against each other
 and do not hear you call,
 but are you not our mother
 and mother of us all?
 The rich man robs the poor one;
 the strong weigh down the weak.
 In each of them lives your son,
 and for them each he weeps.
 Oh, show us Christ our brother—
 in every voice, he calls!
 For are you not our mother
 and mother of us all?
 Teach us to tend his body,
 to bind the grievous wounds
 that leave his people bloody
 and sinking toward the tomb.
 Teach us to love each other
 lest we to hatred fall.
 For are you not our mother
 and mother of us all? 
Virgen de Guadalupe Public Domain,

Comfort This Wayfarer

When it was evening,

the boat was far out on the sea and [Jesus] was alone on shore. 

Then he saw that [the disciples] were tossed about while rowing,

for the wind was against them. 

About the fourth watch of the night,

he came toward them walking on the sea. 

He meant to pass by them.  

But when they saw him walking on the sea,

they thought it was a ghost and cried out. 

They had all seen him and were terrified. 

But at once he spoke with them,

“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” 

He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. 

Mark 6:45-52

You can sing this to AURELIA (“The Church’s One Foundation”):

 Lord Jesus, I am rowing
 against a driving wind,
 the fear within me growing
 of sorrow and of sin.
 I have no way of knowing
 how this long night will end,
 how I can keep on going,
 or how day will begin.
 The waves now rising o'er me
 will break and tumble down
 and terribly will bear me
 where I will fail and drown.
 I see a light before me,
 as if the waves were crowned
 where Christ is striding toward me,
 his seas a solid ground.
 You walk upon my terrors,
 and I am terrified
 my failings and my errors
 in your light magnified.
 And yet, they are your bearers
 who bring you to my side
 to comfort this wayfarer
 awash on wind and tide.
 Stay, Lord, now you have found me
 adrift upon the seas.
 Though storms will still surround me,
 stay with me, savior, please.
 My fears will still confound me;
 my struggles will not cease,
 but with your arms around me,
 I bear with me my peace. 
Christ walking on the sea, By Amédée Varin – (Gravures et eaux fortes), Public Domain,

Now, Lord, Rend the Heavens Open

For the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, to the tune ST. THOMAS (“Down In Adoration Falling”):

 Now, Lord, rend the heavens open;
 send your holy spirit down.
 Christ is rising from the Jordan;
 washed in death, he did not drown,
 but fulfills what you had spoken—
 even now your words resound!
 Christ has come to crush the serpent,
 come to set the captive free.
 Long we waited, blind and fervent:
 May he touch our eyes to see!
 Not as tyrant, but as servant,
 he our king and light shall be.
 Distant coasts shall wait to hear him;
 he will not cry out his name
 as he draws the wounded near him,
 kindles crushed wicks into flame,
 soothes the bruised who cringe and fear him
 'til o'er all the world he reign.
 Send, oh God, a year of favor:
 Opened is the prison door,
 debts forgiven in the savior,
 good news given to the poor,
 peace that will run on forever,
 never more disturbed by war. 
Baptism of Jesus, c.1710 By Arent de Gelder –, Public Domain,