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Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

22nd Aug 2021


12th Sunday of Trinity Year B

 

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life”.  John 6.60.


St John’s Gospel is the Gospel which is written for the Church, and which raises practical issues of basic understanding and faith, especially in the face of human conflict. And this morning’s Gospel Reading confronts us with what John has called ‘the message of eternal life’ and of the challenge of its falling on deaf ears, and the possibility of its being lost. ‘The simple question/plea of the disciples, ‘Where shall we go to?’ suggests that God is at the heart of human life’s meaning and that we are to come to him as the source of life. I well remember as a young child on holiday in August taking a new orange ball onto the beach. As I got to the sea’s edge I threw the ball into the sea and swam after it, but the waves soon took it out, and then there was the sad admission of its being irrecoverable. The sea had taken it away from me. It was awful to see it float away, so visible among the blue/grey sea, seemingly quite happy to bob up and down and to be on its way, being carried out on the current, further and further away. And then I imagined that it might arrive in another place and that someone might find it and have it, delighted at the thought of a lovely orange ball having arrived out of the blue. I wondered though, if my voice would be loud enough to say “Would you please give me my ball back?” But it might be received by another as a gift from the sea…

 

So much for my little bereavement. But as I remember this, over fifty five years later, I realise that it opens up a message in a bottle – the meaning of what John calls ‘the message of eternal life’. This is not a phrase, like many phrases in holy scripture, which begets immediate understanding. And so John offers us a clue as to the direction in which we are being taken when he tells us that ‘the flesh has nothing to offer; it is the spirit that gives life’. This is the difference between life’s brute or sad particulars and the hope which lies beyond them which is imperishable and everlasting. It is that spirit of God which, residing in us, can provide the deeper sea, the broader scope and endless horizon for our spiritual navigation here on this earth:

 

Thou art a sea without a shore

A sun without a sphere;

Thy time is now and evermore,

Thy place is everywhere.

 

This is the challenge of the teaching of Christ for John. And the disciples find this teaching difficult and we can sympathise with them, but the call to Christian Faith is never easy or synthetic. It is all too challenging and it calls us to embrace the full-on reality of our human condition. This is especially true especially when it feels that life itself and life’s hope is being countermanded by forces which seem to be killing of our trust in its goodness. Jesus summons his disciples us to the life which is the hope that God holds out for all of us.  For it is God who is reality itself. God is the light which may shine in the darkest of human experience.

The events of the last two weeks have revealed too much evil, of the gunning down of by a deranged killer of his own mother and of a father and daughter out on a walk; the random killing of passers-by as they go about their lives in Plymouth, as well as the guns held aloft in by the Taliban at the airport in Kabul and the fear of the trapped people there – both have revealed a little more of the darker side of things. In the numbed confusion of reactive feelings we hear this morning the words of the disciples as they are encouraged either to hold fast or deny their teacher:

 

“Lord, to whom should we go? You have the message of eternal life!”

 

The message of Christ is certainly not all ‘sweetness and light’. In John, if there is light, it is the light of Christ, his attention, which enters the individual consciousness and which leaves its indelible mark. This is also God’s light which searches us out and knows us. Echoes of Simeon’s words are heard, namely that Jesus is the one in whom ‘the secret thoughts of many will be laid bare’. Jesus is concerned not with exteriors but his gaze shines a light into the deep places of the heart and mind. He may come to us when there feels when there is nowhere else to go. He has left seekers after God with an all too real sense of their own vulnerability and the seemingly impossible task of keeping the faith. ‘This is intolerable language’ says one of the followers, ‘How could anyone accept it?’ …We must stay in this difficult place of brave, committed and persistent faith which Jesus teaches as God’s own ‘way forward’. For it is the spirit of God which brings life…

 

God’s gaze, both upon his world and upon us, is a loving gaze, which longs for our spiritual homecoming, for that which lies true for us and for what will last, for that which is ‘eternal life’ in the now of our existence.  We know we are in need of healing and yet we draw back, all too often defensively. And yet the ‘message of eternal life’ is loving and confiding and discreet. It longs to provide for all that is truly needful for us. John sets up in the Gospel the tension between that which pertains to the flesh (life ‘without’ God) and the spirit (belief and trust in the promises of Christ). There is, in coming to Christian Faith. (we ‘come to faith’ of course at every moment) the realisation in the words of the Psalmist: ‘Thou hast searched me out and known me; thou knowest my down seating and my uprising, thou knowest my thoughts long before’ (Psalm 139). There is, in holding on to that faith which God has given, nothing to fear. The call to advance on the life of faith is a call both to courage and to the embrace of all that we have to bear as we say; ‘Honest to God’. 

 

St Augustine of Hippo:

 “Therefore, my God, I would not exist at all, unless you were in me; or rather, I would not exist unless I were in you ‘from whom and by whom all things exist….” (The Confessions, I.2).

 



Sermon for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity

1st Aug 2021


9th Sunday of Trinity

 

Jesus said to them “I am the bread of Life”. John 6.35 

 

Our Gospel from John explores the theme of Jesus as the ‘Bread of Life’ John’s Gospel surrounds Jesus’ identity with the so-called ‘I am’ sayings. The ‘I am’ phrase had previously only been used a way of identifying with God the Father, who could not be directly named. When Jesus proclaims ‘I am the Bread of Life’ he promises the Church a sustenance which had in the past only been given as manna in the desert. Jesus is now our ‘Bread of life’ and his offering of himself, his ‘flesh’ is given for the life of the world.  In Christ our lives find their true belonging and their sustenance. It feeds us and sustains us even when we do not know it.

 

I was drawn some years ago and entering upon the ministry here at Holy Cross to a little book ‘I am Somewhere Else’ by a Methodist Minister, Rev. Barbara Glasson. She was given the opportunity to put this ‘bread of life’ theology into practice. Given by the Methodist Church a small old shop in a derelict part of Central Liverpool she was asked to ‘make something of the situation’ and to create around this unpromising situation a new and different kind of church. She was an experienced pastor, but had always worked within church situations that were formal and predictable, and that had structure, services, formal duties. Now she was pitched into the unknown. But given that this was Liverpool, and lying somewhere close to the heart of Liverpool’s shopping district this was a place where all sorts of wanderers, all kinds of different people passed by. The derelict shop was refurbished and set up as a drop in. Most of those who came in were homeless and on the margins and in dire need of that same ‘Bread of Life’ of which today’s Gospel speaks.  

 

It was some time before Barbara realised that the situation (God) was calling her to a ministry divested of its usual structures and stripped down to the bare essentials. God was to be discovered through every human encounter – through the meeting of strangers and fellow travellers. This wasn’t just a ‘drop in’ but a church whose minister was found to be there at all hours watching and praying and waiting. This was a an ‘inside out’ kind of church.  One day she she was offered a bread oven by a nearby bakery which had closed down she had it set up. Each day she and her followers made bread. And the bread was shared over  a soup lunch and a few loaves distributed to those who needed them. And it was in the making and the sharing and the eating of the bread which told you all you needed to know about the provisionality of life, and the importance of finding our life in the lives of others in others in the welcome of the stranger. The provisional is a key word which speaks of course of a provider but also of the unpredictability of things and so the importance of the present moment and the need not to act for the fulfilment of God’s promise and to enact his eucharistic life today.

 

In contemporary life, many promises are made for the consumer which cannot possibly be satisfied, particularly the buying into the illusion of a life oblivious to its brevity. In this vein a Company of Funeral Directors offers a funeral pre-payment plan entitled ‘Dignity in Destiny Limited’. My mother was shocked to discover that as she ordered a burial plot for my dead father, she had also to face the fact of its providing a second ready-made space for her own remains. Dreadful that in the death of another you come face to face with your own mortality. Barbara Glasson reminds us that “….life dawns on us as we grow in self-awareness. We do not know why we are alive but with every breath we breathe we experience life as a given. Sometimes we are thankful for it and sometimes it scares us witless”.  But we must always act as though new life in the present was entirely needful.

 

If Jesus, ‘The Bread of Life’ is our sustenance, it must be a sustenance that is given ‘just as we are’. And in the middle of where we are and of how things actually are. Life is not all black and white, ready-made as a kind of pre-planned insurance policy. It contains so much is unpredictable, confusing, difficult to bear and to understand, and containing far less fixity and security than we would wish. It is, in short, provisional. It was with this in mind that Barbara advanced the idea of her bread-baking church. The Church which had turned itself inside out was the church which lay open to the elements and took a risk on its own existence, but which was confident and bold in its expression.

 

In such a way we at Holy Cross we are nourished and empowered as we receive the God’s bread in Jesus – his ‘Bread of Life’ in the Holy Sacrament at this altar. We come both to be fed and to acknowledge our need of God’s feeding. We come to receive life from the source of all life:

 

Bread of Heav’n on Thee we feed,

For Thy flesh is meat indeed:

Ever may our souls be fed

With this true and living Bread;

Day by day with strength supplied,

Through the life of Him Who died.

 

And coming as we do from an Anglo-Catholic tradition we remember that the restoration of the sacramental tradition in the 1850s was purposeful. At its heart lay the embrace of the experience of being fed sacramentally with the body and blood of Christ.  It was to re-establish something felt to be lost : that before our worship was ever ceremonial or occasional it was first and foremost a living encounter with a God, who in Jesus Christ  – the life of the world – feeds us now and ever more, wherever and with whomsoever we find ourselves.

 

 

As this broken bread was scattered as grain upon the mountains, and, being gathered together, became one, so may thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into thy Kingdom; for thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever and ever.

 

From The Didache

 

 

 

 

 



Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity

25th Jul 2021


Sermon for the 9th Sunday of Trinity Year B

 

“But he said to them “It is I…Do not be afraid”.   John 6.20

 

 

When you visit the Colosseum in Rome its stones speak to you of the terror that was once practised within its great pock-marked walls. As you walk into the amphitheatre it is as though you are walking into the jaws of a great lion. It is a place whose atmosphere eats you up. Beautiful it is not. Intimidating  it is. Like it or not, such great amphitheatres, or as we call them now stadiums, tell us something we already know about us  – that we are by nature communal; and we have always needed places of ingathering, and above all places where we can feel the power and the swell and the emotion which is raised in being together in one place. And, to draw upon the image of the lion, we may speak of the roar of the crowd. The Colosseum was a place where the early Christians were thrown to the lions, to be mawled and devoured by them for the entertainment of the masses. The architectural shape of the modern stadium is built as a cradle. It envelopes and surrounds and yet it also excites and overwhelms.

 

What a different scene is represented to us in the Gospel reading this morning, in which the disciples are together in a little boat in a storm and who see Jesus walking on the water and bringing calm. The Gospel writer John understood what we must know to be the case – that in life there is no one place of absolute safety and certainty. The psychoanalyst Jung would often speak of what he called ‘life’s vicissitudes’, as though they were a natural and normal part of the experience of life. We might say that life is not all plain sailing. Things don’t always go smoothly for us. Sometimes we might feel ‘all at sea’. Sometimes life has and does take us into choppy waters. The Old Testament writers experienced these vicissitudes in many ways, and the psalmists in particular sent up their cries and their sighs. They own an experience of life in which such internal turmoil is deemed natural and inevitable and to be accepted not as a part of something abnormal in us, but as a very predictable and understandable part of what makes us human.  

 

John sets up the idea of the boat and the storm as identifying with the fact of finding faith in God amid the storms of life and not apart from them. The boat is a figure for our life together and our need for one another, and the Christ who walks upon the waters is the One who has come to communicate what we have called ‘the peace of God which passes all understanding’. In the church we need to begin practising a tactful kind of understanding of one another which accepts that whether we know it or not, life has not been plain sailing for any of us. It is a good paradox that it is in our shared experience of life and its vicissitudes that we may more surely understand what makes us human; that is understandable and forgivable. The opposite of this could be a Christianity that places us at a distance from the very humanity, which in us all, cries out for compassionate understanding and for the receipt of peace. A Christianity disconnected, that is, from our true humanity. The message of the gospel this morning is of the Christ who has come not to deny our own fears or to banish them for good but to recognise them. In this story he gets into the boat with them and journeys with them and they get to their destiny together.

 

In the little town of Olney in Buckinghamshire there is a Newton and Cowper Museum. And this is a museum dedicated to two hymn-writers who compiled the so-called ‘Olney Hymns’. But they were more than just that. Cowper was descibed by Coleridge as ‘our best modern poet’, and John Newton wrote the words to ‘Amazing Grace’. He had been a ship’s captain, and was heavily involved in the slave trade. During a storm, the sea was so bad that for the first time in his life he prayed. The storm as it were cracked open his old self and tore it out of him like Shakespeare’s King Lear. What remained and what was revealed was also revealed to the blind man who had received his sight. Christ was revealed! Newton had come through the storm and he came to know that it was God who lay in the midst of the storm. God was in the eye of the storm. He was at the heart of the storm which is also the place of its still centre. 

 

At the deep heart of all our defences, uncertainties, reluctancies, vanities and stubbornnesses; at the heart of all our struggles and doubts and failures there lies God, the God who has made us and who even now seeks  for us that reconciliation which is our life and our soul’s true wellspring. And so it was for Newton, and the crowning expression of his experience of God as a man born blind is given to us in the words of ‘Amazing Grace’.

 

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

 

And then the sobering words of his friend George Cowper:

 

Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan his work in vain;

 

 

 

 

 

God is his own interpreter,

And he will make it plain.

 

May the God who visited the disciples on the choppy waters of their existence also visit you, to give you that amazing grace which was first realised on the Sea of Galilee and which held the disciples together. For they like we, in and of God, find ourselves, all of us, in the same boat…for He comes to declare himself to us all in the words

 

“It is I…Do not be afraid”.



Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity

18th Jul 2021


Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Trinity Year B

Herod feared John , knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. 

Mark 6. 20.

 

At significance points in history the people who have made a lasting difference have been those who have challenged the vice-like grip of tyrants and the empires of will and force. We may name the English saints Thomas à Becket and Thomas More, who both challenged the naked authority of their sovereigns, Henry II and Henry VIII. Then there have been three figures in the twentieth century, who like John the Baptist have proclaimed their message of radical peace from a place of deep conscience and from prison : Mahatma Ghandi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Nelson Mandela. Their  names will live for ever because of the way in which as single persons with singular consciences and single voices, minds and hearts, they managed to challenge the vast powers ranged against them.  They managed in their own push for human freedom despite beatings and torture and to win through. They helped the masses to acknowledge greater and abiding truths. Like lions, they held out for the greater dignity of us all humankind against the power of the oppressor.

It seems at first strange that we should include John the Baptist among these modern prophets, but he shares with them, or rather I should say they share with him, the vision of a world transformed in the likeness of its Maker. In our first reading from Amos, we learn that Amos is called to the status of prophet from his own job as a herdsman and ‘dresser of sycamore trees’. God raises before Amos a builder’s plumb line before a wall. God, holding the said plumb line, was aware that something was wrong with the society and that it was, as my Cornish father would have put it ‘out of truth’. Little Amos is called to put it right, and how might Ghandi, Bonhoeffer and Mandela have felt themselves to be so ‘little’ in relation to the titanic struggles to which they were severally bound. But they responded, as did Amos to a deeper call to a more profound response in the longing for a better world. 

In today’s Gospel reading, setting out the drama leading to the beheading of John the Baptist, we know that John has been outspoken about King Herod concerning the latter’s marriage to his own sister-in-law, Herodias. John dares to declare openly that this marriage is invalid under the Jewish law. At first it is not Herod but Herodias who wants to have John killed. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. She feels degraded. She knows, as we do, that Herod has an acknowledged respect for the Baptist, knowing him to be ‘righteous and holy’. The ‘dance of death’ that she stages is the one in which she knows her husband’s weaknesses through and through. Her daughter’s dance  elicits a promise from the King that he will grant her anything she wants, even up to half his kingdom. He little expects her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. We see the contrast between John’s message of repentance and its call for a set of values which are truthful and morally binding with Herod’s lasciviousness and foolishness. John’s is a costly discipleship of faith and trust and self-sacrifice, Herod’s is attracted to these values and influences, but he is easily seduced. He follows too much ‘the devices and desires’ of his own heart, which have become warped with power its misuse. His mind is essentially a wayward one and his real person is grievously split. 

This Gospel reading is a satisfying tale which concerns the ‘goodies and the baddies’ of the Gospel story, but its real meaning hits home when we come to consider the abiding worth, the depth and the integrity of God’s Word set against what St Paul was to call ‘the powers and principalities and rulers of this present darkness”. Paul’s appeal to the faithful was simply to their desire for the truth of things which had revealed itself for him in Jesus Christ. That same appeal to desire that same moral truthfulness is still vastly important.

In our own time, it is not too difficult to name those aspects of our common culture which are spiritually deadening and which do not give live or offer us that true freedom for which John and then the Saviour Jesus Christ lived and died for. People are wandering around our town and cities as we say ‘on empty’ without actually realising it. However, they, like Herod recognise, perhaps vaguely that there does exist a body of spiritual and actual truth, but it is not recognised as residing in the Church or in Jesus Christ. Instead it is acknowledged in ways which seem sound but which are in fact diffuse. John’s testimony is the one which ultimately convinces because of its grounding in reality.

I once spent a week on conference in Liverpool and we were at Anfield Stadium to watch the World Cup football match. The Club Chaplain gave a very inspiring talk in which we denied the oft quoted Bill Shankley who once said that football was more important than religion. John Lennon once said that the Beatles were becoming more popular than Jesus. Both men in their time had even now have immense pulling power and the admiration and the even the adulation of the masses. Lennon may have come closer to the truth when he penned the song ‘All you Need is Love’. But neither provides us with either the whole story or the complete picture. Herod’s partial recognition of who John the Baptist really was gives evidence to the fact of a deeper resonance, a more profound meaning. It is that without God we are nothing. And yet God is no tyrant and urges us to come to know Him from the point of view of our desire for the deeper truth which underlies our existence. Not this word desire, and not indoctrination.

The story of Herod and John the Baptist and the dance of Herodias’ daughter is a tragedy but a necessary one. For in it, the true nature of things is being established and revealed for all posterity. Paul reminds us in Ephesians that “with all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time”. Ephesians 1. 10. God is to be for the faithful ever in our ears and in our eyes, as the manifest presence. It is God who gives life and hope. God’s presence and love is the perpetual challenge to that temptation for us to become that which we are most emphatically not.

When I was in Liverpool I got on a bus that I thought would lead me back to the Hope University Campus. After a long while I went to the driver who with great emphasis told me “You’ve got on the wrong bus1” You have to go back and change – at Penny Lane”. I left the bus full of the joys of Spring and scouse bewonderment.

Oh, Penny Lane -  like the words of God in scripture. Living words for real life. May you be always in our ears and in our eyes.

 

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes

There beneath the blue suburban skies

I sit, and meanwhile back

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes

There beneath the blue suburban skies

Penny Lane



Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity

11th Jul 2021


v

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Trinity Year B.

John the Baptist and the call to repentance.

 

It is now a commonplace observation that with the advent of a truly multinational London there is a sense that the world has arrived here in a way it never has before. The coming of the Olympic Games in less than two weeks’ time will serve to signify on the big stage what is already apparent in fact. It will be seen in the arrival of foreign nationals whose compatriots already live here and who already regard themselves as Londoners. We are becoming led to the vision of a future world in which will see the enlargement and the dominance of massive cities, which will become whole worlds in themselves and yet related through the communications with the greater world around them. And so the world will become in a way small and yet will communicate with itself as never before. The hope is that this will introduce a true globalisation of interests and intentions and hope and peace, like the Olympic hope. One example of this is the recent defection of the Syrian foreign minister who can speak out to the listening world about how things are in Syria. He can tell it like it is. And he will tell it through what we call ‘twitter’. In the press of a single button, messages of hope, of warning and of instruction can be delivered to millions. The scale and scope of these things is awesome. But the danger with this communication is that it will largely be communication for its own sake – it will be useful, but it will not speak to the heart and the soul.

 

Communications at the time of Jesus Christ were of a very different order. The Judaean society of which Jesus was a part greatly prized a tradition of religious faith and understanding which was based on an oral, spoken medium passed on through the generations and revealed in scripture. Moreover this was shared by clusters of what we would now consider to be very small communities over a very long period of time. This tradition, enshrined in the Old Testament, provided a sure guide in the understanding of a God who was unnameable and yet recognisable. He was recognisable in his dealings with men and women, and he revealed himself primary in his chosen people Israel, and in the promises he had made to protect them and provide them with a future. At the heart of this tradition of God’s involvement and promise was the existence of the Old Testament prophets. These individuals were called by God to speak on his behalf to the people. They existed as God’s voices, warning and directing the people. They were foretellers of the future : they called the House of Israel to a renewed sense of its own destiny, and this came very often in the form of dire warnings of terrible things to come if the people did not mend its ways. (Jeremiah 26.23) They would also instruct the people in their religious duty, whether and would openly voice the displeasure of God in a society that was going to bad, or turning away from what God had destined for them. When Jesus in Matthew 16.3 criticises the Pharisees he does so from their boasted ability to show the fate and destiny of people from the movement of the stars. “But” he observes “You do not discern the signs of the times”. So Jesus is saying that prophecy, once the powerful guide of the community, has become blunted and meaningless. He is calling for a prophecy which is the one which truly discerns ‘the signs of the times’ with a deep understanding of the presence of God and of how God’s present speaks to this world in its present state. The Church must surely need those prophets who can speak in this way, especially in an age when we communicate so much, but give ourselves less space and time to reflect upon the meaning of is said and shared. If words are to outlast their speaking they must speak to that part of our nature which is God-seeking.

 

John the Baptist put an end to prophecy as he proclaimed the coming of the Christ. It was because he, more than any other prophet, who embodied his message and died for it. He was confused in the popular mind as a Christ figure. But his communication was one primarily of command, much in the vein of the prophets before him. In this command was the stubborn and insistent message that he was not the One, the Christ, but the forerunner, ‘the voice crying in the wilderness’, the one who realised his role as subordinate to Jesus “He must increase but I must decrease” John 3.30.

 

And what lies at the heart of St John the Baptist’s prophecy? Well, it is not possible to make this any simpler than to say that it lay in his call to repentance, the call which is the one great incarnating and humanising call. The call to say ‘sorry’ married with the call to self-examination and to the confession of sins. The call to forgive and to receive forgiveness. The call to keep it real. This was a radical departure from the old religious observances and duties and the goal of righteousness. This teaching was for the transformation of the individual soul and of whole communities. This was the communication of healing grace.  This was lasting. It was a message which spoke directly to the heart and the soul of mankind. ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand’ ‘Repent, for the transformation of body and mind and soul into the likeness of God your maker, the merciful One, the giver of all grace and peace’.

 

Yesterday I visited one of our members, Joan, in a nursing home. I was led into a small sitting room where tea was being brewed. I had brought a Waitrose  lemon tart and we shared it out. The women, all of whom were there for respite care, were all fairly anxious about the future. I was not dressed as a clergyman but when asked told the ladies that I was Joan’s Vicar. And then something broke into the conversation and it immediately became a conversation about God, and of how each woman in turn was able to tell the rest of us about how important Christian Faith was to them and of how much the life of faith meant to them in the present. This was very moving because unsolicited and honest. The fact of the experience of a life of faith, which is also a life of trusting in God and of ‘telling it like it is’ as a routine and undramatic and practical repentance. A real relationship with a real God, which even from the point of view of older age and a certain weariness and resignation, still existed for them as a light and a hope and a joy. I could tell that this was so, because as they spoke their faces shone. It was for this that John proclaimed repentance and upon which faith is sustained and enlarged. It is this, I believe, which will carry us joyfully and hopefully into our future, come what may.

 

The Moon in Lleyn     RS Thomas

 

The last quarter of the moon

of Jesus gives way

to the dark; the serpent

digests the egg. Here

on my knees in this stone

church, that is full only

of the silent congregation

of shadows and the sea's

sound, it is easy to believe

Yeats was right. Just as though

choirs had not sung, shells

have swallowed them; the tide laps

at the Bible; the bell fetches

no people to the brittle miracle

of bread. The sand is waiting

for the running back of the grains

in the wall into its blond

glass. Religion is over, and

what will emerge from the body

of the new moon, no one

can say.

 

But a voice sounds

in my ear. Why so fast,

mortal? These very seas

are baptized. The parish

has a saint's name time cannot

unfrock. In cities that

have outgrown their promise people

are becoming pilgrims

again, if not to this place,

then to the recreation of it

in their own spirits. You must remain

kneeling. Even as this moon

making its way through the earth's

cumbersome shadow, prayer, too,

has its phases.

 



 

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