The Tassel of Your Cloak

A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him

and touched the tassel on his cloak.

She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”

Jesus turned around and saw her, and said,

“Courage, daughter!  Your faith has saved you.”

And from that hour the woman was cured.

Matthew 9:18-26
How far from you I stand;
how much lies in between.
Beyond the reach of feeble hands
you dwell afar, unseen.

If I could catch your robe
or brush against the seams,
just touch the tassel of your cloak,
Lord, it would make me clean.

Then from your hidden realm
fling out your garments here,
that I may feel the touch of them
and know that you draw near.

And then, ere you arrive,
put strength into my limbs,
upward to stretch as down you dive
and grasp at fold or hem.

Still more than this, give too
the faith that knows your might,
that never rests from seeking you
in every place you hide.

If you will come to me
with grace to reach for you,
then, oh, I shall be healed and free,
for all this hope is true.
Christ heals the bleeding woman, By circle of Simon Jordaens (c. 1590–c. 1640) – Dorotheum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23157489

If Christ Should Stand Among Us

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 

When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,

and many who heard him were astonished. 

They said, “Where did this man get all this? 

What kind of wisdom has been given him? 

What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 

Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,

and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? 

And are not his sisters here with us?” 

And they took offense at him. 

Mark 6:1-6

On prophets only being without honor in their native places, to the tune FINLANDIA:

What would we do, if Christ should stand among us
and speak the word, the wisdom we have sought,
not as a god, a mighty voice that thunders,
but one of us, our own, or so we thought?
Would we accept the gift of signs and wonders
if we knew well by whose hands they were wrought?

So we can look upon our own, our brothers
and never hear the gospel words they say,
refuse to see our sisters and our mothers
when they reach out to guide us on the way.
We know them well and run to search for others
to be God's voice and hear us when we pray.

Emmanuel, the son of God and Mary,
you stand here still and dare to lift your voice
in those who weep, who share the cross you carry,
who call us, too, to make the cross our choice,
and when they speak, those whom contempt would bury,
oh, give us ears to hear them and rejoice.
Synagogue in Capernaum By Unknown author – Scan aus: Rudolf Lehr –- Landes-Chronik Oberösterreich, Wien: Verlag Christian Brandstätter 2004 S. 79 ISBN 3-85498-331-X, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6633986

Unanswerable Questions

Almighty God, when you condemn,
shall you convict the innocent?
Shall all your wrath rain down on them
when you mete out our punishment?

The infants dashed upon the rocks
as recompense paid to their kin:
Were they not lambs within your flock?
What was the nature of their sin?

All Sodom's wives and daughters, too:
Were they not worthy of your grace
for what their menfolk met to do?
Did not your likeness wear your face?

So now, the spotless lambs cry out:
What has your perfect justice wrought?
If Lot could get his family out,
why not these others, O my God?

And he, most innocent of all,
most Spotless Lamb, could he not live?
He that is down need fear no fall,
unless the Fall is all there is.

My sin can kill those yet unborn,
and still you let me sin and sin.
Why leave the wretched world forlorn
to draw the wretched sinners in?

What, then?  Will you redeem the blood
that cries aloud from every stone?
Or shall it be the second flood,
condemning what the world has done

while all the rest of us ride high
upon the crossbeam of the ark?
How long, O Lord?  And why?  Say why
you sit in silence, in the dark.
Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, tempera and varnish on cardboard, 1929-30, High Museum of Art, By Henry Ossawa Tanner – High Museum of Art, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28838167

Talitha, Koum

Another one from yesterday’s readings, to the tune NETTLETON (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”):

I will praise you, faithful savior,
for you drew me from the grave.
When my courage cracked and wavered,
you stretched out your hand to save.
For the fallen cannot praise you,
nor the damned your love proclaim,
but as God the Father raised you,
you have raised me just the same.

You had blessed me with your goodness,
but I fell in dark and gloom.
Though I called you in my sickness,
still I sank into my tomb.
When you came, I lay in silence,
shrouded in my aching wounds,
yet I rose again to brightness
when you said, “Talitha, koum.”

Now your joy is dawning on me,
and your voice I start to hear:
all the answers to my longing,
and the end of all my fear.
Take this sackcloth and ashes;
take this night awash with tears;
change my mourning into dancing:
Take my hand and draw me near!
Hubert Landa – Auferweckung der Tochter des Jaïrus – 6256 – Österreichische Galerie Belvedere By Hubert Landa – https://digital.belvedere.at/objects/5006/auferweckung-der-tochter-des-jairus, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80489369

What Are You Wearing, Lord My God?

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.

She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors

and had spent all that she had.

Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd

and touched his cloak.

She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”

Immediately her flow of blood dried up.

Mark 5:21-43
What are you wearing, Lord my God?
For if I touch your clothes,
you can redeem the stream of blood
that from my sickness flows.

Show me your tassel or your hem,
the sandals on your feet,
and guide my hand to reach for them
if ever we should meet.

And if you wear the form of bread,
come still into my hand;
or in wine's robes of flowing red,
yet show me where you stand.

If in the faces you have made,
the neighbor or the poor,
you walk the restless world today,
through their touch make me pure.

Give me the faith that reaches out
because it knows your pow'r,
that clings to you in every doubt
and trusts you every hour.

Give me the mercy, saving Lord,
that sets the bound heart free,
that walks amid the thronging crowd
to heal and nurture me.
The Woman with an Issue of Blood (L’hémoroïsse) By James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2008, 00.159.111_PS2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10957392

For the Prophets

For the Nativity of John the Baptist.

This song is for the weird ones
with fire in their eyes
and jumbles on their seared tongues,
whose works are strange and wise.

Elijah with his anger,
who slew the priests of Baal
and burned again on Tabor
when Christ on glory called.

He trembled at the whisper
when raging storms were done
and called the hearts of fathers
back to their long-lost sons.

Or John, whose word went thund'ring,
from Jordan, far and wide,
as soft and sweet as honey
when Christ the Lamb he spied.

Who knew his own decreasing,
the raising of the dead,
Good News to poor folks preaching,
before he lost his head.

So here's to all the odd souls
whose bones'll melt like wax
if they don't speak their hot coals
or try to hold them back.

And here's to words like daggers
they drive into our hearts
to make way for the Rabbi
who pulls our chains apart.
St. John the Baptist Preaching, c. 1665, By Mattia Preti – The AMICA Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18915662

I Want to Calm

Another one from Sunday’s readings:

I want to calm the raging storm
and bid the wilding waves be still;
to wrest the chaos into form
all by the strength of my own will.

To fight the terrors of the deep
and roll the dark night into dawn,
and let you, on your cushion, sleep,
and steer the boat still on and on.

But I cannot.  I have no pow'r
and precious little of my faith.
Wake up, Lord, in this fearsome hour,
before we perish in the waves!

You still the waves and calm the winds,
then cast your weary eyes on me
to teach the lesson once again
that you are with me on the seas,

that none but you can calm the storm,
nor do you ask me to be you.
And so, a different faith is born
as once again you make all new:

Not that you'll drive the storms away,
but that you feel the waves crash down.
That if I perish here today,
you still are with me as I drown.
Le Christ sur le lac de Génésareth, huile sur toile, Eugène Delacroix, Photo By Ibex73 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68705548

O Teacher, Do You Care?

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:

“Let us cross to the other side.”

Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.

And other boats were with him.

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,

so that it was already filling up.

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.

They woke him and said to him,

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

He woke up,

rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”

The wind ceased and there was great calm.

Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?

Do you not yet have faith?”

They were filled with great awe and said to one another,

“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Mark 4: 35-41

One for today’s Gospel reading, to the tune KINGSFOLD (“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”):

We set out for the farther shore,
O Lord, at your command,
and when the storm begins to roar, 
we call for every hand.
And when you do not come to us
or seem to hear our prayer,
how can we rest?  How can we trust?
O Teacher, do you care?

Though rebuke the howling wind
and bid the sea be still,
we have as yet a storm within
of wonder and of will.
The wind and waves obey your voice,
but can we have their faith
to make your peace our only choice
and hold fast to your grace?

When tempests rage and terrors rear,
awaken to us, Lord,
with kindness for our human fear
that calls you in the storm.
Do not rebuke our frightened hearts,
but help us still sail on
to know the mercy that you are
and reach you in the calm.
Stuttgart, Stiftskirche, Nordwesttür, Tympanonplastik „Stillung des Sturmes durch Jesus“ von Jürgen Weber, 1957 By Photo: Andreas Praefcke – Own work (own photograph), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15039823

The Wandering Herd

Inspired by the herd of wild elephants that is trekking across China.

Just go: We heard the clarion call
and rose without delay,
and though the road is now our all,
we do not know the way.

No matter, for the heart has ears;
the body comprehends
the silent music that it hears,
the way that never ends.

And so we followed, forging paths
across the ordered fields,
and foraged in the towns we passed
for any good they'd yield.

They fall behind, the shrinking lands,
but our way still goes on
to where the world untroubled stands
before a peaceful dawn.

The call still wakes us everyday,
and still we rise and go.
Our young ones born along the way,
they, too, already know

the rhythm of our restless feet,
the music of the search,
the pattern—seek and sleep and eat—
surrounding them from birth,

and if we old ones walk no more,
our ways will never part
as long as echoes run before,
the trumpets of the heart.

The Mustard Tree (In the Branches of the Vine)

“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,

or what parable can we use for it?

It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,

is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.

But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants

and puts forth large branches,

so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

Mark 4:26-34

Another one based on Sunday’s readings, to the tune ODE TO JOY.

In the arms of Christ the savior,
in the branches of the vine,
build your nest in shade and safety;
rest and shelter you shall find.
Heaven's manna you shall savor,
scattered by his hand divine:
Gather it in grace and favor;
in his Temple, rest and dine.

There is room for every sparrow
in the echo of his Word,
hawk as swift as any arrow,
ruby-throated hummingbird.
Swallows following the harrow
sing the promise they have heard:
Enter, though the gates are narrow,
when they rise to greet the Lord,

Come, the kingdom bids you enter;
come, the savior calls you in.
Come when autumn turns to winter;
come out of the storm and wind.
Here find shade from summer's swelter;
here find mercy for your sins.
Here within his heart find shelter:
Here eternal spring begins!

Female ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on nectar from scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma) By Joe Schneid, Louisville, Kentucky – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6691558