As a Massachusetts resident and a part-time history buff, and in light of Friday’s inauguration, this past week I went back to President Kennedy’s inaugural address of 1961, the famous “Ask not what your country can do for you…” speech. In this speech Kennedy lays his vision for the country. A vision of “unwillingness to witness or permit the slow undoing of… human rights.” A vision of the “survival and the success of liberty,” here and around the globe. A vision committed to those “south of the border,” and our “special pledge… to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty.” A vision of support for the United Nations, “our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace.” A vision of a world in which “civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.” A vision of “both sides [exploring] what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.” A vision of “a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.” Anybody remember? It was – and is – a stirring, hope-filled speech. Continue reading →
Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
A Song of the soul in intimate communication and union with the love of God
The Boyars’ Wedding – Konstantin Makovsky
Flame, alive, compelling.
yet tender past all telling,
reaching the secret centre of my soul!
Since now evasion’s over,
finish your work, my Lover,
break the last thread, wound me and make me whole!
Burn that is for my healing!
Wound of delight past feeling!
Ah, gentle hand whose touch is a caress,
foretaste of heaven conveying
and every debt repaying:
slaying, you give me life for death’s distress. Continue reading →
Sermon for June 28, 2015
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places! How the mighty have fallen!… Jonathan lies slain upon your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me. – From 2 Samuel
The words are David’s, from his lamentation after the death of King Saul and his son, David’s beloved friend Jonathan. We all know that David was a great lyricist and singer and the composer of the Psalms. But suppose – God forbid – David had a tin ear. What song might David then listen to to help give voice to his grief?
To help him in his grief, I can see David listening to songs like “In My Life,” by the Beatles, or Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt.” Or maybe he’d listen to Boyz II Men’s “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye,” or Mariah Carey’s “Without You.” Or maybe he’d listen to Celine Dion’s, “My Heart Will Go On,” or Diamond Rio’s, “One More Day.” (“One more day, one more time, one more sunset, maybe I’d be satisfied.”) Continue reading →
In summertime, my favorite time to go to the beach is around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. The crowds will have dispersed and it’s easy to park; the heat of the day is past, but the air is still plenty warm. There is ample space in the sand to set up chairs or spread out towels. And – if we stay long enough – the beach at sunset is beautiful. The shorebirds that hid during the mid-day heat come back out, and fly about and sing. The breeze tends to die down. The shadows from the dunes lengthen over the beach, and the waters grow progressively deeper and darker blue as the sun sets. If waves are breaking, their white tops shine forth in the fading evening light. And if we stay a really long time, the sand will slowly cool off, the brighter planets, and then stars, will become visible. Depending on its cycle, the moon’s light may be reflecting on the sea. To be at the beach in the late afternoon and dusk leaves me with a real sense of completion, of wholeness. Continue reading →
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.