Category: 2016

God’s Silence of Solidarity. A prayer.

My friend, colleague, and pastor Sam of MCC Toronto asked me to submit something for a prayer service about the Orlando Pulse mass shooting. After turning her request over for many hours, and admitting that I didn’t feel adequate, this is what bubbled up over about a fifteen-minute period, this early morning, well after midnight.

Where are the words?

Where are the right words to tell you, Source of All,
what it’s like to have our worst fears confirmed,
to see queer people of colour snuffed out,
to know that LGBTQ+ people are still,
in some eyes and hearts
less than the image and likeness of God,
less than fully human?

Where are the words?
Where are the best words to express, Word of God,
all the love and pain we feel,
all the lost sleep,
all the numbness and anger and tears,
all the memories of when
words from Scripture and the mouths of friends
and family felt like bullets ripping through us?

Where are the words?
Where are the strong words to shout, Giver of Life,
that we still hope in you,
that we will choose to forgive,

that we are defiant and fabulous,
that we will not hate and we will remember,
that we will not stop working for your justice
until every human being knows the flame of your love
over their heads,
until the principalities of homophobia and transphobia and racism and religious xenophobia
know their defeat,
until the idolatry of “the right to bear arms” is smashed
in favour of the Divine image in every life, the flourishing of our communities and peoples?

These feeble words are not enough,
and yet you hear us.
So, in your many names and in the name of Jesus,
we choose, for a moment, your silence of solidarity with us,
and the Love you are always speaking.
Amen.

Rose Gold. A poem.

I have faith in the power of words.

They are tiny, and insignificant,
and when you use them so powerfully

to evoke the disaster of your life,
complete with sights and smells worthy

of a trigger warning,
and when you tell me

you do not have faith in the power of words,
I see a glass vase dropping to a concrete floor, shattering,
in a shadowed room.

I glimpse, for a moment, your lack of faith.

 

But then I see a man with shadowed face,

one who heard the shatter,
and without a broom or even even a dustpan

gets down on his hands and knees
wearing only a towel

picking up the pieces,
one

by
one.

The sun goes down,
and the glass lies dead.

Still, he keeps working,
working all night,

and I see blood flowing from his fingers,
dark and dripping

and still he picks up the pieces,
one

by
one.

I can barely keep my eyes open–
maybe I don’t

but suddenly a shout rouses me.
My eyes burst open

to the room filling with
rose gold light,

imparting rose-gold to the glass
stained with blood,

and his shout is a word,
so golden with love

that a blood-red rose blooms
in my heart, thorns and all:

“LIVE!”

I do not understand it,
but he has a new vase in his hand,

the same one,
but crackling with lightning.

And the man smiles,
his eyes filling with the joy

of making the universe
and calling it good.

I have faith in that Word,
that calls me rose-gold.

Therefore, though they made him bleed,
yours, and mine,
matter.

A prayer from Body 1.0 (John 20).

They wanted to ask you, “Who are you?”
But they knew it was you:

all “Body 2.0” in a “Body 1.0” world.

My inner child, the one who loves you the most, says:

Resurrection: YaY!
I want a turn!

Teach the rest of me to trust you more,

because Hope sometimes feels
like an explosive
strapped to my chest.

Amen.

A letter to my friend, root beer.

O root beer, my old friend:

How I will enjoy spending time with you again,
this Easter Season.

You’ve crossed my mind, lately,
but to be honest I haven’t missed you much:

I knew you would be there,
still waiting, after my short walkabout with the Rabbi.

Still:

I hope I will appreciate you more,
after making a little space for

“humans do not live by food and drink alone,
but by every word coming from the mouth of God.”

I hope your sweetness
reminds me, just a little, of

“taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who trust in him.”

It will be good to spend time with you again.

Cheers and kisses,
Robbie

Amen, Alleluia! (Easter Day)

From my book, O Beautiful Dust:

All-powerful and Sovereign God:
This is the third day, when you raised your Son,
the world’s Saviour and True Light,
from his rest in a garden tomb
by the power of your Holy Spirit.

This is the day when you broke forever
the power of death, annihilated hell,
and condemned evil by your just judgment.

This is the day when all whom you call friends
celebrate Jesus Christ, firstborn of all creation,
through whom you call the whole universe
to enjoy you forever.

Grant that we,
living joyfully within in your story of liberation,
may do justice for all,
love others with acts of deep kindness,
and walk with you humbly
in the glory of your Triune radiance.

This is the third day,
when your people shout their deepest praise:
Amen, alleluia!

But I don’t feel anything…

1. I have a good friend,
a fiery and earthy poet and activist,

who wondered aloud among friends
if there was something wrong with him

because the Feast of the Resurrection
doesn’t move him as it does others.

…but I don’t feel anything…

He reads his Bible, and he prays,
and that’s it.

2. Sometimes I wonder if he is a stronger Christian than I,
more disciplined in the Way of Life,
because he does the stuff,
works for justice,
tells the truth

without the holy “heebie-jeebies” that someone like me craves,
and then wonders what’s wrong when they are absent.

I wonder if, as he says, there’s an element of “performance Christianity”
in the emotion I sometimes feel in this time of year:

The Word going down to the bottom
of very thin soil. What happens
under
the
pressure?

3. But mostly I just want to say,
to him and to anyone else who says

…but I don’t feel anything…

that’s OK.

It’s possible that only God knows
what it feels like
–in the depths of Godself–
for the universe to shift on its axis.

“In the brooding of the Spirit…”

From N.T Wright’s Easter Oratorio, a passage that never fails to move me about Holy Saturday. I remember a lecture in which he read the last stanza, and, as a punchline, added: “And on the eighth day, New Creation.” Ponder the mystery with me in these last moments before the sun sets on this holy Sabbath:

On the seventh day God rested
in the darkness of the tomb;
Having finished on the sixth day
all his work of joy and doom.

Now the Word had fallen silent,
and the water had run dry,
The bread had all been scattered,
and the light had left the sky.

The flock had lost its shepherd,
and the seed was sadly sown,
The courtiers had betrayed their king,
and nailed him to his throne.

O Sabbath rest by Calvary,
O calm of tomb below,
Where the grave-clothes and the spices
cradle him we do not know!

Rest you well, beloved Jesus,
Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King,
In the brooding of the Spirit,
in the darkness of the spring.

N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is