Sunday, January 22, 2012

POEM: Day Seven

Evening cool settled on the warm world
Flowers' fragrance rising in the fog
Cicadas playing their first night's song.

The Artist sat back from his canvas, well-satisfied
Angels craned their necks for a better look and then
Covered their glowing eyes with wings and shouted praise
Tuning ten-million voices to the wheeling stars.

God blessed the seventh day with rest and holiness,
Silence and seeking, a day to lay on the chest of God and breathe.
Creation was all done and just begun.

If You Call the Sabbath a Delight

When I was a young boy, Sunday was a bother.  There were certain things I wasn't allowed to do, and the day as a whole seemed a little stuffy.

Now it is often my favorite day of the week.  Sunday for me is the equivalent of sleeping in, watching cartoons and eating pancakes.  Here are a few things that have turned Sunday (technically not the Sabbath anyway--Saturday was) into a joy.

1. Personally, I like to follow the old Jewish method and start my Sabbath on Saturday evening, and end it on Sunday evening. By the end of Saturday I'm pretty exhausted, ready for a break from work.  By the evening of Sunday, I'm refreshed, starting to think about the week ahead, ready to accomplish a few things before Monday morning. 

2. A good tradition, unlike a bad one, can be exciting.  Jewish people often remember very fondly the process of the Mother lighting the Sabbath candles as the family came together to start the Shabbat.  For me, on Saturday evening sometimes I like to say a prayer of thanks for the week past, and eat some Sabbath ice cream. The ice cream is very important.  On Sunday evening, before I begin working again, I will sometimes listen or sing a hymn or two, then pray for the week to come, committing it to God.

3. I TRY not to have any hard and fast rules about what can and can't be done on a Sabbath. After all, the day was made for us, we were not made for the day.  Activities that are fun, rejuvenating are great. I try to avoid duties that I do the rest of the week.  Anything that feels like "you must do this" and there is an inward groan--you are free from that today!  Answering the long backpile of emails, cleaning the house, studying for that test, baking all those dishes for supper, finding receipts to do your taxes--GOD has given you a "get out of jail free" card from them for this one day a week.  And resist your flesh that whips at you and says "if you had been more responsible earlier in the week, you could take a day off, but now you have to work to catch up."  No. God's "get out of jail free" card trumps that. But notice the distinction. It's not saying you CAN'T clean the house and do your taxes. It's saying YOU ARE FREE NOT TO. If you are doing them out of a sense of misery and duty--God at least is not going to be clicking his tongue at you for not working on them today.

4. I like kicking back on a sofa, napping, reading some encouraging books on Sunday afternoon.  Watching football games all afternoon might be relaxing for a while, but spending some time with God, although a discipline, is far more refreshing.  Do you feel the balance?  Kicking back, letting your hair down, having fun playing Sorry with your family or reading a book in solitude--and resting you heart with a secret smile on God. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

POEM: Why Do the Angels Keep Singing?

Nha Trang Beach, Vietnam, January 2004

God, I hear the Hallelujah chorus

and the angels crying glory.

But with my eyes I only see a crippled boy,

peddling a tricycle with his hands to sell his peanuts

to tourists.

Why do the angels keep singing

as though they can't see the sadness

in this world?

But now I remember that You came here

to our broken earth, and touched

the cripples, and wept at death, and died and rose.

Angels, keep singing for my Jesus.