Saturday, January 6, 2018

Christmas, day 12 and Epiphany

Our final in this series of meditations on Elijah. This is Elijah's only appearance in the New Testament. We are never told the subject matter of the conversation--it clearly was not for our information or the disciples. It was Jesus' appointment. But the transfiguration was for the disciples. 

It brings me to think: why were these two specific people chosen, of all the saints in the Old Testament? What set them apart?  It was not the miraculous. It seems to be their thirst for the Presence and revelation of God. Lord, increase my thirst.

Christmas, day 12 and Epiphany.  Moses and Elijah

Mark 9: And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

dusty people
are we all
intricate formation
complex organisation
beyond imagination

chemicals and 
minerals, we
four bucks fifty:
for value thrifty
that’s pretty nifty

fragile earth
is not prepared
to fathom the gory,
truth-laden story
of the brunt of glory

to speak Life
into death:
who would God choose
to bring heaven’s news
to the One He would bruise?

Not the one called to leave it all
and sacrifice his son—
or that promise-out-of-time born son—
or the one who saved from famine—
or the one who defeated the giant—
or the one who lived in a fish—
or the one who slept with lions—
or the ones who walked in fire—

only two would God choose:
the one who saw the back of God

and the one who heard Him whisper

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Christmas, day 11. Elijah and John

Just before the final day of Christmas, we are reminded of the type of people God uses to get the attention of wanderers: They are not highly polished motivational speakers. Not charismatic and smooth-talking. Every publicists nightmare. God uses solitary nomad-types without a shred of personal ambition so when they speak, they are not dazzled or distracted by the messengers. No need for John and Elijah to preface their message with "fear not." They don't inspire fear.

But when we look at them, truly seeing the men they choose to be, the path they choose to walk, we can only follow the Light in their lives right back up to the Father of Lights. Then we listen to unpolished, simple, servant men. And know that God is God.

Christmas, day 11. Elijah and John

Is 40: 3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”

desert wind howling through vowels
of two sand-encrusted voices
desiccated by the sun
frosted by the moon
in a light-shattered dusk

two dusty voices
rasped hoarse
by months without speech
on a riverback
where multitudes strain to hear:

“are you Elijah?”
“Of course not. I’m John.”
“but Malachi said—“
“Isaiah promised—“

a voice, wild and lone
 two voices, centuries apart
mingled as one
in the barren wilds

turn back
make straight:
the hearts of stone must break

to feed on broken bread

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Christmas, day 10. The Holy Tension

Christmas, day 10. The Holy Tension

Luke 1:17 And he will go on before the Lord in the Spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Again a ragged desert sentry
appears on the horizon
after the last word in the last book:
“or else I will come and strike the land
with a curse”
thank you, Malachi, 
for that benediction.

a curse or what?
another Elijah
who lives in holy tension
between silence and the Word
between rock and crumbling sand
between drought and pastures green
between brook and desert strand
we, too, live in the tension
far as the curse is found

and the promised voice
in the desert
in the wild places
calls: prepare
shouts: get ready

urges: He’s on the Move!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Christmas, day 9. The Day of the Lord (part 2)

Christmas, day 9. The Day of the Lord (part 2, meditations on Malachi)

Malachi 4:5-6 See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.

where no Light is
hearts cannot see—
we hurt ourselves
stumbling blindly to assuage pain—

crashing oblivion to forget loss—
climbing without oxygen to gain advantage—
burrowing to escape abuse—

not made to navigate:
no steering wheels,
no rudders,
no bits and reins,
no yokes—
but are too easily turned:
manipulation, deception,
oppression, shame,
guilt, threat,
fear, pain

turning hearts aright—
a Titanic task,
a job for an Elijah:
like fire from heaven
like rain in a drought
like raising the dead:

to turn hearts
to The true longing
for which they were made:
fathers to children
children to fathers

the prophet will come
with Light

and hearts may see

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas, day 8. The Day of the Lord, part i.

Malachi is the final prophet in the Old Testament and his final verses promise that Elijah will return before the day of the Lord. The book as a whole is a whirlwind of accusations and indictments against a people who think they are religious but who have lost their spiritual integrity. It is a relevant read for today and I highly recommend reading it in one sitting. It won't take long. 

Then reflect on how 2600 years hasn't made much of a difference in our indifference to a Holy and Mighty God.

Christmas, day 8.  The Day of the Lord (part 1, meditations on Malachi)

Malachi 2:16b Guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith.

For calling the arrogant blessed,
we lost our blessing.
For calling the evil good,
we lost our discernment.
For offering blind and crippled sacrifices,
we lost our generosity.
For showing partiality in the law,
we lost our justice.
For breaking faith with our marriage partners,
we lost trust.
For not defending the orphans, widows, and aliens in our land,
we lost righteousness.
For using violence to protect ourselves,
we lost our security.
For marrying sons and daughters of other gods,
we lost our God.

Malachi’s litany of charges, LORD, so heavy
—My yoke is easy
besides, it’s all that Old Testament stuff
—My burden is light
You’re much more compassionate
—take My yoke upon you
in Your human-saviour role
—and learn of Me
those Mosaic covenant laws!
—my covenant was with him of Life and Peace
of course we’re better off now under grace

—guard yourself in your spirit

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas, day 6. The Double Portion--Otherwise Not

This idea of Elisha receiving his request dependent on his own ability to keep the connection with Elijah is complex. A deep reflection of spiritual truth: another "to him who has, more shall be given; and to him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

We are not pre-determined beings, not without potential. Our will, a gift--like our faith, is still ours. And God allows us the mercy to approach Him and the grace to receive Him.

Christmas, day 6. The Double Portion—Otherwise Not

2 Ki 2: 9-10 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said,”yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not.”

Otherwise not—the thing you ask
slips from your grasp.
The boon you strive and yearn to keep
lost if you sleep.
The treasure that his spirit bore
will be no more.
To gain the goal requires reach
to heaven breach.
Consumed by love, avoid the rot—

otherwise, not.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas, day 5. The Mantle and the Jordan

As Elisha now turns to his life without his master, he realises the burden that has been passed to him. And he now has no buffer between himself and God. This is a pivotal moment: when Elisha leans into the pain and loss and pushed through to meet God.

Christmas day 5. The Mantle and the Jordan

2 Ki 2:13-14 He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

My fingers sense its weave is rough and coarse
And more abrasive than a cloak should feel
whose years of wear, now gentled by the sun
Should comfort and protect the one it shields.

And heavy, O Father, it is not
The faded, time-worn thing it would appear:
Its weight is like the one which burns within,
Deep this loss of father-friend does sear.

Now grasp this cloak and claim it for my own,
But is the Spirit with it as I pled?
My shoulder feels the weight and years of wait
Within and desert scents the sandy threads.

Just hours ago he parted Jordan’s flow,
We crossed a riverbed of smooth dry stone:
Will I my father’s double spirit know?

I lift the mantle high and bring it down—