Beware!

Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

Matthew 24:37-44
Beware! The thief is coming,
though no one knows the hour
when David's key is turning
and Jesse's root shall flow'r.
Then all your strong defenses
will crumble to the ground:
He'll come with recompenses
while mountains tumble down.

Be watchful, and be ready—
Do not, dare not to sleep!
His coming, long awaited,
th'appointed time shall keep.
Prepare yourself for testing;
stand firmly in the fight:
The plow must be your weapon,
your armor made of light.

Behold, this is the moment—
shall it e'er come again?—
the thief is on your doorstep
and knocks to be let in.
Make ready to receive him;
prepare a level way.
Get up and let the thief in:
At your house he must stay.

Christ Pantocrator By Unknown author – Unknown source, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5820582

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Then

An angel showed me the river of life-giving water,
sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb down the middle of the street,
On either side of the river grew the tree of life
that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month;
the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.
Nothing accursed will be found anymore.
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and his servants will worship him.
They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun,
for the Lord God shall give them light,
and they shall reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-7
Then all the broken promises
and all the severed ties
will be restored with all that is,
where nothing ever dies.

And all that should be but is not
shall be forevermore,
and all that was and then was lost
to us us shall be restored.

The tree of life shall grow again
in orchards, rows on rows,
and Eden's gate be opened then
to everything that grows.

The flaming sword shall plow the ground
to open every grave,
and nothing cursed shall then be found
when all has been remade.

The bodies wedded to decay
shall taste the medicine
that was in Eden locked away,
and they shall live again.

Then all the broken will be healed,
the severed mended then,
and death to endless life shall yield—
but when, my God?  But when?

Painting of life tree in interoer of Shaki Khan palace, Azerbaijan NAtional Art Museum, Usta Gambar Garabagi By Urek Meniashvili – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26760866

Lay Your Weapons Down

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2:1-5
Come, lay your weapons down,
and plunge them in the soil.
The sword that was so sharp and proud
is humbled to our toil.
Now it shall plow the ground,
tear out the roots of war:
Prepare a place for seeds to sprout,
a harvest for our joy.

Unless the seed should fall
it would remain a seed,
but buried, it shall rise up tall,
a hundredfold to yield.
The scythe is at the stalk—
it once had been a spear—
come, now; the harvestmaster calls:
His day is drawing near!

Then let us climb at once
the mountain of the Lord,
and hand in hand declare a truce,
lay down the hungry sword.
Come, plow the fallow tombs
and let our roots take hold
to grow the grain our God shall use
to feed a hungry world!

Mosaic in the Beit Habad Gallery, Jerusalem, quoting Isaiah 2:4, with lion, spear and spade. By benito roveran from verona, Italia – IMG_4713, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36487009

Come, Thief

For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.

1 Thessalonians 5:2
I shut the doors left open,
lock them against the dark,
but locks can all be broken:
Come, thief, and wake my heart.

I thought my peace secure, then,
shut tight against the dark,
but still the doors creak open:
Come, thief, and wake my heart.

Too long has it been sleeping,
its shining lamps gone dark,
and shadows have come creeping:
Come, thief, and wake my heart.

My peace is merely silence;
my ease a blindfold dark;
my comfort numb to violence:
Come, thief, and wake my heart.

New flame in me enkindle
to pierce the heavy dark.
Your day let me remember:
Come, thief, and wake my heart.

To leave a life of hiding
and face in truth the dark;
to find a peace abiding:
Come, thief, and wake my heart.

Couvercle d’un coffret en ivoire d’éléphant portant la représentation du Christ en Majesté entre les quatre évangélistes. Cologne, première moitié du XIIIe s. Ivoire. By Anonymous – Marsyas 18:37, 6 March 2006 (UTC), CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=616980

The Day Is Coming In a Blaze

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
 when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
 and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
 leaving them neither root nor branch,
 says the LORD of hosts.
 But for you who fear my name, there will arise
 the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Malachi 3:19-20a
The day is coming in a blaze,
as sure as stars will turn;
the sun will rise with healing rays,
and oh! How we will burn!

Our lives will kindle into flames
the Spirit's breath will fan,
devouring all our varied shames,
and how the sparks will dance!

But some shall burn for cruel rage,
and some love shall ignite,
yet all shall know themselves unchanged
within the furnace bright.

Christ Jesus, I don't want to burn,
for life is hurt enough,
but if I must to cinders turn,
then let it be for love!

Let me not kindle hatred's fire
or take delight in pain.
Let not an unjust thirst for ire
consume my heart again!

But when it comes, that day of days,
O Christ, when you return
to set the waiting world ablaze,
for love, then, let me burn!

An outdoor wood fire By Fir0002 – Originally uploaded to the English Wikipedia here by the author, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11904

O God of All the Living

Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out ‘Lord, ‘
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”

Luke 20:27-38
O God of all the living,
the unconsuming flame,
O saving and deliv'ring,
bring us to life again.

You drew us through the Red Sea;
now draw us through our death—
but who knows what we shall be
when you restore our breath?

From dust, to dust returning,
then dust is glorified;
not ash in your love's burning, 
but endless warmth and light.

But all our life is ashen,
from birth to our decay.
What shall we be, new-fashioned,
within your glorious day?

The bush ablaze yet growing,
its green shoots never burned:
So shall we stand adoring
within your love, O Lord.

And there shall be no sandals
on all that holy ground
where we shall burn like candles
that never shall burn out.

Moses and the burning bush. Painting from Dura-Europos synagogue, 3rd century CE By Anonymous – Own work → https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Moses_bush.jpghttp://realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Misc/Jesus/Jesus.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34210760

And On That Day

One for the readings on All Saints’ Day, to the tune FINLANDIA

And on that day, the trumpet note resounding
will shake the ground and shatter sea and sky,
but they shall come, by hundreds and by thousands—
though they may die, yet they shall still survive—
the endless throng, the multitude uncounted:
Behold, they come, marked with the sign of Christ!

What shall we be, the children of the holy,
when all is done, and all has been revealed?
We do not know; we grasp this one thing only:
We'll be like God, whose name on us is sealed.
So day by day, this hope in us transforming
refines our hearts; new harvests we shall yield.

Until that day, when all our strife is over,
God, give us strength to work and watch and pray.
We journey on, as did the saints before us,
so step by step we follow in your way.
And when we fall, reach out, O God; restore us!
And draw us still into your endless day.

Come, all you saints, on earth as well as heaven;
come join the throng, alive and living still,
around the throne, with angels as our brethren,
to raise the song: All earth and heaven fill!
For Christ is Lord, the now and the forever,
and we are Christ's, the children of God's will!

By Fra Angelico – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here. Transfer was stated to be made by User:richardprins, Original uploader was Sampo Torgo at en.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3000363

We Lift Our Hands Before You

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Luke 18:1-8
We lift our hands before you
and raise again our voice;
though weary, we implore you
for reasons to rejoice:
an end to endless hunger
and justice for the weak.
Come, savior, walk among us
and bring the light we seek!

Yet as we wait to see you,
our pleading hands held high,
stand with us in our need here,
already at our side.
Our power unavailing,
our voices growing hoarse:
When our own strength is fading,
O savior, give us yours!

And thoughwe have grown weary
in waiting for the day,
in hoping and in fearing
we rise again to pray:
A thousand years it may be,
or just a watch at night,
but come at last to save us
and bring your endless light!
Victory O Lord!, 1871 painting by John Everett Millais, depicts Moses holding his staff, assisted by Aaron and Hur, holding up his arms during the battle against Amalek. – Originally uploaded on en.wikipedia by Paul Barlow (Transferred by lux2545), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18811161

We Plowed the Fields and Planted

“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'”

Luke 17:5-10
We plowed the fields and planted;
we waited for the rains.
We did as you commanded—
O God, what have we gained

but dirt beneath our fingers
and sunburns on our backs,
an even fiercer hunger
for all the world yet lacks?

We worked on, even knowing
the harvest still could fail.
We labored through the growing—
O God, to what avail

but tenderness for seedlings,
and hope for future years,
and mercy in our weeding,
despite the weight of fears?

The seasons stretch out farther
than all our days gone past,
to threshing after harvest—
O God, when shall we rest

but when the bread is broken
and laid before the least?
God, help us in the working
and call us to the feast.
Brooklyn Museum – The Sower (Le semeur) – James Tissot – overall – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2006, 00.159.119_PS1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10195964

O Little Flock

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your belongings and give alms.
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”

Luke 12:32-48

To the tune FINLANDIA:

O little flock, the time for fear is over!
The kingdom waits, and even now appears.
Sell what you have, to gain a better treasure,
and give to all, for Christ in them draws near.
As you have giv'n, to you it will be measured:
Hold nothing back, not doubt or pain or tears.

So we shall live as strangers and sojourners:
the world as ours to have, but not to hold.
Though we may grieve, we do not go as mourners;
though we may want, we shall not cling to gold.
Though wand'ring still, we journey ever homeward;
though weary yet, our hearts shall not grow cold.

So may we meet our Savior soon returning,
and be awake to tend the master's needs,
as he did ours to end his long sojourning,
who broke the bread and knelt to wash our feet.
Whate'er the hour, oh, let our lamps be burning
to welcome Christ, and enter heaven's feast!
An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Luke 13:41-48 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England. By Phillip Medhurst – Photo by Harry Kossuth, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7550884