O God of Growth and Greening

For today’s readings, to the tune THAXTED:

Thus says the Lord GOD:

I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,

    from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,

and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;

    on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.

It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,

    and become a majestic cedar.

Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,

    every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.

And all the trees of the field shall know

    that I, the LORD,

bring low the high tree,

    lift high the lowly tree,

wither up the green tree,

    and make the withered tree bloom.

As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

Ezekiel 17:22-24
O God of growth and greening,
awake in every spring,
new leaves cry out your meaning:
new life in everything!
But winter's withered weeping
your glory also sings:
the stormwinds in their keening,
the tears that nightfall brings,
they tell of love's redeeming,
embracing mortal stings,
who rose from death's own keeping
at dawn's awakening!

So withered trees shall blossom,
and budding branches break,
and summer sink to autumn,
and dusk to night shall fade.
The rising of the dawn sun 
shall vanquish gloom and shade;
the vine shall wind its burden
around the barren stake;
and Christ, the crowned and cross-hung,
shall all dominion take:
the living fall to bless him,
and every sleeper wake!

Mature trees in w:Cedar Rapids, Iowa severely damaged by the w:August 2020 Midwest derecho. By David Amelotti – National Weather Service (Quad Cities Office) – https://www.weather.gov/dvn/summary_081020, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93582353

You Hide In Everything

You hide in everything,
delighting in your play—
you disappear in anything
each time I head your way.
The siskins' outstretched wings
reveal a golden ray
lain hidden as they perch and sing,
until they fly away.

You dance away from me
whenever I draw near.
I look and look but never see;
I hush but never hear.
The wrens may seem to flee—
they fly but do not fear,
and sing unseen in every tree
and ring upon my ear.

O God in every place
and with me, touch my eyes
to see the wonders of your grace
in their mundane disguise:
as fluttering through space,
or stillness split by cries,
a feather's brush against a face,
and every bird that flies.

By photochem_PA from State College, PA, USA – Bird in a tree, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75359530

Corpus Christi

For the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, based on the sequence Lauda, Sion, to the tune DUGUET (“O Saving Victim”):

More precious than the blood of rams
poured out upon the altar stone,
the self-gift of the spotless Lamb
who takes us each to be his own.

He takes the bread, eternal priest,
and breaks his body for us all,
completely gives himself to each,
unbroken savior of our fall.

He lifts the chalice, filled with wine,
and offers us his living blood.
As rain on branches of the vine,
his mercy falls on us in flood.

Then take him as he gives himself,
the undivided Christ for you,
not in the hope of help or health
but for his love forever true.

Come forward to the altar now,
beyond the veil, and see your God:
the son of God, to earth come down,
who will not leave his earthly flock.

Come, take your groom, belovèd bride,
and give him all yourself complete.
For Christ will never leave your side,
and welcomes you to heaven's feast.

Last Supper. Russian icon By Anonimous – http://www.sedmitza.ru/ index.html?did=32500, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3071693

Within the Darkness

Within the darkness of the womb
you spoke my name and let me be.
The darkness was as light to you
as now my light is dark to me.

Teach me the measure of my days;
I count them back, but cannot tell
the meaning of the life you made—
though I know you make all things well.

Should I rise up or should I lie,
or should I act or even think
you know it better, Lord, than I,
writ down in never-fading ink.

Should I run out beyond the dawn,
or turn and to the darkness speak,
you know the words upon my tongue
with all the clarity I seek.

And when I come upon my death
or sink into the realms of gloom,
still do you know me in myself
within the darkness of the tomb.

Give me a little of your light—
yourself proceeding from yourself—
and break me open to my sight
to know you and to know myself.
By Caravaggio – Self-scanned, Public Domain, https://commBy Caravaggio – Self-scanned, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15219497ons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15219497

Caravaggio‘s The Calling of St Matthew uses darkness for its chiaroscuro effects. – Self-scanned, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15219497

O Christ, You Send Your Servants Out

This would work for Ascension, or for the Gospel we had this Sunday for Trinity:

O Christ, you send your servants out
to baptize all the world,
to speak with holy grace and pow'r
the wonders they have heard.,
but send as well your mercy down
into my inner world
to speak into my pain and doubt
yourself, O living Word.

You send us as a living sign
of mercy and of love,
as branches spreading from the vine
they bear the ripeness of.
As in the wide world, so in mine,
O Lord, pour out your love
that I may see your face divine
and tell the world thereof.

You send your servants out to teach,
to turn the world to you
with works of wonder, pow'rs of speech,
and eyes for all that's true.
O Christ, into my heart your reach
to turn myself to you,
and at your feet I hear your preach
as you make me anew.
Drogo Sacramentary c. 850 By Unknown author – Sacramentaire de Drogon, Metz. BNF lat 9428 page 71v., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1985948


My soul proclaims you, Lord my God,
for everything you are.
Though nothing, I am in your thought
and ever in your arm.

For you leaped down from heaven's throne
to share the fallen's shame.
Now all the mighty are cast down
in honor of your name.

You emptied out your every vein
that death itself be killed,
and now the full are sent away,
the empty ones are filled.

The lowly rise; the hungry feast;
the mighty learn to cower,
and now the fearful ones are blessed,
for you have shown your power.

Your mercy, promised long ago
and never since forgot,
in this and every age you show,
so I rejoice, my God!
Adriaen van der WerffThe Visitation. Ink, washed, on paper. 29.4 × 20.6 cm. Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Kupferstichkabinett. By Unknown author – http://www.bildindex.de : Home : Pic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10629764

The Lord Is God (Trinity)

This is why you must now know,

and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God

in the heavens above and on earth below,

and that there is no other.

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40

To the tune FINLANDIA, for Trinity Sunday:

The Lord is God, and there is not another
on earth below or heaven high above.
None but the Lord has done such signs and wonders;
none but our God such power ever proved.
We are God's own, and we shall have no other
than God alone, who made us for his love.

His word is law, who speaks us into being;
his law is love, who died on Calvary.
For this he came, from heaven once all-seeing
as God-with-us, one with ourselves to be,
to teach the way, our fallen world redeeming,
to break the chains, and set the captives free.

No other God, no other law shall save us;
no Spirit breathes, save that which breathed us first.
Then cast them down, the idols that deprave us,
that make us less and drive us to our worst.
And turn again, to worship God who made us,
to love again, God's images on earth.
Depiction of Trinity from Saint Denis Basilica in Paris (12th century) By Rebecca Kennison – Own work by user:RRKennison, croppedThis file has been extracted from another file: France Paris St-Denis Trinity.jpg, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1565468


Unwind my fingers, Lord,
wrapped tight around this ticking clock,
around the keys I hoard
prepared for every waiting lock.

Unhinge my jaws, O Lord,
clamped tight upon my bitten tongue.
Let me breathe out the words
to songs my fear has left unsung.

Unbend my shoulders, Lord—
as if the world could rest on me!
Let it go spinning forward
and never get the best of me.

Unclench my fists, O Lord,
and help me lay this anger down,
to sheathe again my sword
before in war and blood I drown.

Unchain my mind, O Lord,
from every lie I'd like to be,
to know your love outpoured
and let your mercy set me free.

Unbind my heart, O Lord,
and let it open once again
to meet you reaching toward
the world you've loved since it began.
By Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts – https://www.flickr.com/photos/39699193@N03/6899054550/, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98491086

Sacred Heart

My heart is marked as Jacob's flock,
as maculate as jasper stone,
unworthy of the saving Rock,
too poor to lay before his throne.

The years I've scrubbed and scoured these stains
and drubbed them, tried to beat them out—
but spotted still my heart remains,
and flecked imperfect, wrecked with doubt.

O Spotless Lamb, who looks on me
from fathomless domains away,
how can you care for what you see
if I can't wash these stains away?

You, who came forth from realms beyond
this dappled, variegated earth,
as ruddy as the clouds, you dawned;
all specked with dust and straw, your birth.

You, who sit now on heaven's throne
as marked as Cain, as badly scarred,
you see this heart of speckled stone:
for this you rose up, maimed and marred.

Give me the love you have for it,
O sinless one who cast no stone;
for dust whereon my sins are writ,
give me the mercy you have shown.

For you came down to bear the marks;
made sin, the spotless bears our spots
and bears them still.  O sacred heart,
draw mine into the heart of God.
Tiergarten Kleve, Jakobschaf (Jacob sheep) By Pieter Delicaat – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50866743

American Pentecost

We are white and Black, my Lord,
and every color seen,
Native, or just from the port,
new money and has-been,
colonizer, unwashed horde,
and all things in-between,
yet we hear your holy Word,
and we know what you mean.

How is it that you speak to us
in every language known?
We are torn, Lord, each of us
from every other one.
When you came to preach you,
we made the cross your throne;
still you see and reach for us
through all divisions sown.

Sow again your piercing seed
and harrow up our earth;
show again the grace we glean
by springing up to serve.
Flourished wheat and sprouting weed
to you have precious worth:
Turn us all a springtime green,
the color of new birth.
By Niccolò da Bologna – http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=254371, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1977717