Sunday, August 30, 2015

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), September 6, 2015 - Mark 7:24-37

Jesus exorcising the Canaanite Woman's daughter,
from Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry,
15th century, Musée Condé, Chantilly, France

(This poem could be useful in its entirety; or, I think the first main section can stand alone.)

It Is Not Fair

It is not fair, the good Lord said,
That dogs would get the children's bread;
The woman, very wise, replied,
Dogs on the children's crumbs rely.
Perhaps the Lord re-thought his plan;
More likely, though, this Jewish man
Provoked her, standing there, to think
That no! She was not out of synch
With God's great love for humankind.
And now, I am much more inclined
To think the Lord knew all along
She had to - for herself - see wrong
In categories we devise
That keep God's love for all disguised.

It isn't fair when things go wrong,
I mutter in some language strong
To God and to the midnight sky;
And angry, ask a constant "Why?"
About a loved one who has died,
Where suddenly I cry and cry;
Or one more shooting bringing grief,
From which we all yearn for relief;
Or why we have such race divides,
Where fear of other still misguides;
Atrocities of war so stick
Inside my craw, they make me sick;
Imagining my death, I rage,
That I will have to turn life's page.

Someday I'll learn life's not possessed,
But see it's given, and be blessed.

Scott L. Barton

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Poem #2 for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), August 30, 2015 - Song of Solomon 2:8-13. See also Ruth.

This poem by Thomas John Carlisle (1913-1992), which inspired a line in my poem (#1, below), deserves to be more known.  In addition, Arthur Frackenpohl (b. 1924) of Potsdam, New York wrote an anthem using this poem that you can obtain from Shawnee Press. 
Hear it here:

Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One
(Boaz' Song to Ruth)

Rise up, my love, my fair one. Come away.
The winter of my witlessness is past.
My concentration on the harvest may
have made me heedless but I see at last.
The mist that filmed my mind is over, gone.
The fairest of flowers appears and it is you.
The singing in my heart has me undone
and I am glad and now know what to do.
The figs have ripened. Vines are in full bloom.
Their fruit and fragrance are as naught to all
your luxury which floods away my gloom
and makes me more than eager for your call.
Arise, my love, my fair one. Come away.
This day of days shall be our wedding day.

Thomas John Carlisle
Eve and After: Old Testament Women in Portrait (Eerdmans, 1984)

Poem #1 for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), August 30, 2015 - Song of Solomon 2:8-13

Arise, My Love, My Fair One

He leaps, he does not walk, to her;
He comes not by road, but as the crow flies;
He cannot wait, and she smiles to see.
She sees him arrive. She shares her joy.
"Look," she tells a friend. Or us.
Waiting, looking, catching a glimpse of her,
Enjoying her even when he doesn't have her.
Finally, he invites, "Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away." She is the answer
to the winter of his discontent.
He feels, he sees, he hears, he tastes, he smells -
Everything, all his senses, announce her to him.
And like the invitation of God, he repeats:
"Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away."

Scott L. Barton

The voice of my beloved! 
Look, he comes, 
leaping upon the mountains, 
bounding over the hills. 
My beloved is like a gazelle 
or a young stag. 
Look, there he stands 
behind our wall, 
gazing in at the windows, 
looking through the lattice. 
My beloved speaks and says to me: 
“Arise, my love, my fair one, 
and come away; 
for now the winter is past, 
the rain is over and gone. 
The flowers appear on the earth; 
the time of singing has come, 
and the voice of the turtledove 
is heard in our land. 
The fig tree puts forth its figs, 
and the vines are in blossom; 
they give forth fragrance. 
Arise, my love, my fair one, 
and come away.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bonus Poem: Welcome (to the Cardiovascular Center)


Perhaps some languages contain
Three "welcome" words, so Wolverines
At C.V.C. Ann Arbor seek
To show, with triple guarantee,
They mean it when you enter here!
And yet, I've found, what makes most clear
The mission of this hallowed place
Is how each person, they embrace -
And name, with smart and tender care,
A healing that's beyond compare.

Scott L. Barton
(Thanks to First Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, for letting me use their computer to make this post!)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), August 23, 2015 - 1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43

Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication for the Temple, Cathedrale d’Amiens, 1220-1240

By Love We Show
(New Policy Statement in a Prayer)
(In Christ There Is No East or West)

A cloud came from that holy place,
The priests there could not stand;
The glory of the Lord replaced
Their ministry, well-planned.

The king, God's promises retold
To Yahweh in his prayer,
Rememb'ring, though, no one controlled
God's how, or when, or where.

Thus Solomon, in royal plea,
Grace to the world declared,
That everyone some day might see
The news which must be shared.

O Lord, the time, we do not know,
When peace will be at hand;
But yours the name by love we show,
And by your power we stand.

Scott L. Barton

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. He said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive. “Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), August 16, 2015 - 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 and John 6:51-58

William Blake: The Judgment of Solomon

Way to Pray

I think that we could learn a thing or two,
Consid'ring Solomon, whose point of view -
After he gets established on the throne -
Revolves around not if he'll be o'erthrown,
But if with wisdom over all he'll rule.
He prays. He asks for help.
                                              Is it now cool
To pray this way today? That we might serve?
Or do our prayers just serve to calm our nerves?

When Jesus so bizarrely talks of eating flesh that's bread,
He wisely knows that living in his way, is how we're fed.

Scott L. Barton

Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.

So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established. Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”

+ + +

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bonus Poem: At Rounds

In honor and in awe of, and in deep thanks for, all the people at Cardiovascular Center ICU, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, including the amazing Dr. William Lynch and Dr. Jules Lin; ever-vigilant, smart and compassionate nurses, all of whom I did not meet, but those I have so far were Katie, Cristina, Shamani, Rob, Austin, Lauren and Miriam; doctors whose names I know, Brian Woodcock, Robert Freundlich, Nathan Peffley, as well as the many brave and faithful presenters at daily  rounds; nurse practitioners Rachel and Courtney; ECMO specialists such as Don and another woman whose name I can’t remember; pulmonologist Paul; student nurses Devlyn and Krista; housekeeping personnel; ICU unit host Susan Mann; and everyone else I have forgotten and/or who care for others, who in learning, continue to create better care for so many people in great need, as you have for my brother and all his family.

At Rounds

Oh, what a privilege to stand
Amidst a people who command
The knowledge of the facts of life
In hopes of ending breathing strife.

They give the numbers and the stats,
A virtual torrent of the facts
That might describe just how he fares
While all they seek inspires my prayers.

My tears pour as they work to save
My brother from a breathless grave;
We long for these new lungs to heal
That they, to him, might life reveal.

None gives assurance of success,
Yet, come what may, their care has blessed
Us all to see how much we need
To know, and show, God's love in deed.

Scott L. Barton
August 4, 2015