March 2012


"A Fallow Field", Kurt Anderson

In murky dark was silent dread

Of the Triune Spirit overhead

When through his voice creation brake

And fallow fields their place did take

To fallow fields He reached His hand

And brought forth grit, and dirt, and sand

He breathed upon the wrought of sod

And made one like the Son of God

On fallow fields His feet did walk

And Creating Voice with man did talk

Face to face, as to mirrored glass

Familiar the sound as He walked past

Sprung in completeness from fallow fields

The earth in goodness, supply did yield

Then a look, a taste, a falling, a sin

Broken communion with God and men

In fallow fields then man did bow

To the force and pull and groan of the plow

To idols and Asherah, to fear, to law

Dread dark had returned to cover them all

And The Voice spoke no more…

Til Jesus walked in fallow fields

Saying, “Let goodness and mercy be your yield,

compassion and charity be your harvest,

peace with one another, from the greatest to the least.”

Voice spoke Word, and Word became Flesh

God’s very heart beat in mortal breast

Messenger of Hope, and Kingdom Come

Words of comfort, but troubling to some

Reeds ‘cross his back

Thorns for his brow

Timber to hold his body

Iron piercing palms and feet

Gifts of pain from the earth He spoke into being

They tempered His voice, and broke His sweet will

On a hill overlooking a fallow field

They pierced His dear skin, and laid Him to rest

Midst liars and thieves and those not thought blest

In fallow ground my Savior did lie

Son of The Voice, born but to die

Descended below to battle all strife

Then what once lay fallow, sprang forth with new life

By fallow fields two pilgrims did walk

To Emmaus town, then one more did talk

Of prophets and kings and priests of old

Kindling hearts whose flame had grown cold

Bread taken, broken

Blessed, given

Wine poured

Hope restored

To dreams of the Kingdom

Pilgrims walk on past fallow fields

Word as seed

Man, the soil yet tilled

With hearts aflame and sacred yearning

The pilgrims wait now for Christ’s returning…

Brennan Manning is one of my favorite authors, and as history plays out, he will undoubtedly be known as one of the most influential voices of faith in our generation.  His work, ‘The Ragamuffin Gospel’, is a book I’ve read over and over, to the point that the binding has surrendered, and the pages have begun to let go.  I make a point to read this book at least once every year, but more often it happens two or three times annually.  His writing often polarizes, and Evangelical reactions to this former Jesuit range anywhere from fear to anger to reverence.  One thing’s for certain, there’s no one out there who can argue that Manning understands grace, and the reckless, scandalous love of God.    As I compiled these quotes this morning, I have to admit, I wept over the goodness and power of God’s grace.  Hope you enjoy these thoughts, taken from several of his books…

+++ “My life is a witness to vulgar grace — a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wage as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party, no ifs, ands, or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request — “Please, remember me” — and assures him, “You bet!”…This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something or someone that it cannot cover. Grace is enough…

Sin and forgiveness and falling and getting back up and losing the pearl of great price in the couch cushions but then finding it again, and again, and again? Those are the stumbling steps to becoming Real, the only script that’s really worth following in this world or the one that’s coming.”

+++ “I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery. ”

+++ “The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.”

+++ “Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

‘But how?’ we ask.

Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

There they are. There *we* are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”

(more…)

The Lorica, or The Breastplate of St. Patrick, is one of the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever come across.  As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, I hope you might use it as a tool during your own personal prayer time.  Enjoy!

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the threeness
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the creator.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgement of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim
In obedience to the Angels,
In the service of the Archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of Holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s host to secure me
against snares of devils
against temptations of vices
against inclinations of nature
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me and these evils
Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of heathenry,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that endangers man’s body and soul.

Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Thrones,
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the Creator.

Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of Christ
May thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

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