Monday, May 17, 2021

"You put this child, dear God" - Poem

You put this child, dear God
Into my hands today,
I the potential sculptor
He the mortal clay.

In reaching out to him I pray
That you will give me skill,
So I may help to mold him
According to your will.

Other hands have molded
Smoothed away a line,
Each one has left its mark
In efforts to refine;

As it nears completion
There's a hope in every heart,
That the finished product
Will be "A Work of Art."
-- anonymous

a member of my church shared
the above poem with me.
On first read,
I thought about
the responsibility of raising a child,
in my case, a son.

Then my mind wondered,
"Is this a prayer that Joseph
may have prayed over raising Jesus?"

Then my mind wandered
to reflect on the Child of God within me.
Perhaps, Lord, this is a prayer
for shaping and molding
the Beloved Child of God
in each human life.

The member who shared this with me
is in his 90s
a kind remarkable humble man
full of vigor
In his laugh and his smile,
I see childlike wonder
-- maybe even mischief
and the last stanza
takes on introspection:
As life nears completion,
may it be "A Work of Art."

And I am reminded of Ephesians 2:10
"For we are God’s handiwork..."
The Greek word translated here "handiwork"
is poema.
It could equally be translated:
creation, work of art, poem, magnus opus.

today I celebrate
the work of art you are creating me to be
and the "Work of Art"
in each human life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Don't be fooled by the leaves

John 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

I often do not understand fully
your farming metaphors.
I grew up in the suburbs.
I know riding bikes and climbing trees,
not fig trees and vines.

That is until 
I lived in a house 
that came with a scuppernong vine.

Every summer
its leaves would be
lush green.
And every summer
I would be disappointed
to find very little fruit,
here and there 
maybe a grape or two,
but never a whole cluster.

If left unattended, 
grapevines can become unruly, 
and fruiting will be poor due to 
overproduction of vegetation.
It may look lush and green,
but without pruning
it will produce little fruit.

I thought of this when I read John 15 recently.
Even if from the outside things appear healthy,
that may not really be the case.
Pruning is necessary to bear much fruit.

I think of the church:
dollars may be coming in;
people may be coming in;
things may appear healthy by outside measures,
but what about the fruit?
It is just a random grape here or there,
or is there much fruit?

your pruning may be required.
A program at church that did not produce fruit 
(even if people liked it) might need to be pruned
in order to bear much fruit.
Things that seemed to matter so much before the COVID crisis,
might not be so central now and could be pruned back,
so that something we undervalued may grow and bear much fruit.

Help me welcome 
your pruning work.
I know now that pruning 
is necessary and desired 
in order to bear much fruit for you.

May it be so 
in my life,
and in your church.