I Am The Door of the Sheepfold: A Poem for Good Shepherd Sunday

Julie:

I have been a shepherd of both the four foot and two foot type of flocks.

Originally posted on Malcolm Guite:

I am the door of the Sheepfold I am the door of the Sheepfold Today, the 4th Sunday of Easter, the lectionary gives us the wonderful discourse of Jesus in the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel in which he reflects on the shepherd’s role and identifies himself as ‘the Good Shepherd':

Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might haveitmore abundantly.

11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for…

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Share the fabulous!

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My Chicago peep, Tammy Perlmutter, curates a fabulous blog called “Mudroom – Making Room in the Mess.” Tammy is a funny, creative, big-hearted force to be reckoned with at Jesus People USA. This month she has been sharing the honestly amazing work friends have been adding to the glorious mix at the Mudroom, featuring women and their work in faith. I chimed in with my meditations on our sister saint, Dorothy Day, of the Catholic Workers Movement, and a woman with many unexpected aspects. Here’s the link: http://wp.me/p56g3A-bc

Give it a boo and enjoy the party!
Dorothy Day children

Reason and Sacrifice

YOKE blog post 2-27-15 fast

“If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice,” my older son said to me this weekend.

And that is simply true. It is early in Lent, and Easter looks a long distance away.

Yet onward with this fast.

Why am I fasting? I have some good reasons – it is traditional, it frees some funds for charity, I need to lose 20 pounds to lessen the burden on my arthritis damaged hips and feet.

It gives my body a break from rich food, alcohol, sugar and meat.

Reasons, good reasons.

Sometimes we don’t have a “good” reason for fasting, though, in the fasting seasons. And then we should simply fast, cutting out meat, dairy, fish, sugar, alcohol. We live for a few weeks the way many people in the world must live all the time.

Sometimes the reason for the fast is simply obedience.

See more at The YOKE: http://www.theyoke.org

Church Door

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The door of a church is more than simply a way inside. It is a symbol of baptism, marriage, death, heaven. It is the symbol of entering into the eternal union with God, and it is, when one is outside it, symbolic of the loss of community.

Cathedral doors are incredible structures. The massive wood and metal doors themselves are surrounded by stone arches, sculpture, art work. They are high enough for giants. Thousands of people may enter through those doors for a single event. They are a symbol of God’s triumph, of Christ’s entering and leaving this earth, and taking us with Him to life everlasting.

I have been noticing church doors here in Iowa City. Some of the old doors are ornate and beautiful, works of art and engineering. Others have been modified to include a small airlock entry to keep drafts out in the winter, and keep air-conditioning in through the summer. Chipboard, plywood: seemingly temporary structures overshadowing the door behind it. They make me anxious, as if entry to the church now requires a test, a holding place, a narthex before the narthex.  Practical ugliness replaces open beauty.

Side entrances and “new” doors are often steel, reinforced glass, locked with mechanisms. They don’t have obvious doorknobs or latches. I approach them and wonder if it is a pull or push situation. They are glum, industrial portals, with no character, a resigned modern patch on an historic structure.

One church we visited lately had actually closed off their main doors; the narthex had been turned into a tiny meditation space. If a visitor was not prepared, or came to the building from the other side, it would seem impossible to get in the building, as the obvious doors are no longer functional.

I really don’t like this trend. I have never liked locking churches, and having them vacant most of the week. My vision of the church is that of a place where people want to be, where they are comfortable meeting, working, talking and visiting as well as a place where they come for prayer and sacrament. Medieval churches were like this; markets were held in their precinct. People took shelter, courted, made plans, rested, and viewed the art they enclosed. Priests, clerks and monastics were available for prayer, discussion, instruction and advice. Schools were conducted, music made. the dedicated were there for prayer all day and night. The church was sanctuary, Pilgrims ate and slept there.

I doubt if we can return to that ordered use of churches and the Church until we are willing to give up our ownership of those buildings and institutions, and return them to God.

See more about us at http://www.theyoke.org.

 

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The Visible Cross

YOKE qtly crucifixAll believers come to Christ by way of the Cross. Without the Cross, our faith is ephemeral, and  devolves into emotional platitudes.  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. The new life God gave us in Jesus, the Christ, is by way of the dead seed falling into the ground, and coming forth, strong and vital.

And we keep the image of His torture and death before us, for that reason – to remember His passion, that is, His suffering in innocence, and His death. His earth-born body came out of the lonely tomb not by a mere resuscitation , but with a new kind of life, the matter of the atoms and particles made over in the perfection God intended for creation from the beginning.

My own house has many crosses and crucifixes on the walls, balanced on shelves, depicted in artwork. I have almost no secular artwork, except for a few quiet and personal pieces. If I am sitting or working, or falling asleep, or waking, I want to see the Cross before me.

My life depends on it.

To see that issue of the YOKE quarterly, go to http://www.theyoke.org.

 

YOKE annual 2 crucifix

In the Wilderness: 2 Jacob Wrestles With The Angel

Julie:

Malcolm Guite, our poet-priest, writes on Jacob wrestling with an angel.

Originally posted on Malcolm Guite:

DSCF9147Here is the second in my suite of seven sonnets on the theme of Wilderness composed in response to a set of paintings by Adan Boulter which will be exhibited along with the poems at St. Margaret’s Westminster . As before, I am giving you the initial sketch from Adam’s notebook with his pencilled notes (shown above) and then my sonnet in response. The finished paintings, made with both the sketch and the sonnet to hand, can be seen any day in lent at St. Margaret’s between 9am and 4pm.

In the first painting and sonnet Abraham welcomed the angels who were the harbingers of Isaac’s arrival. Now we skip  generation and Isaac’s own son has that life-changing encounter, that long wrestle in the dark that will change his name to Israel and change his future and ours for ever. This meeting with an angel is the harbinger of his…

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Trinity Spiral

Trinity spiral

 

sweet journey into the heart,  this inward path

living water flowing from chaos into order

since the first word of creation

an eternity that holds itself as more than a progression of days

days that are One Day days that flow back to the Day of Divine Rest

it is finished and is always creation creating

under the hand of the Maker

(This post is in response to a graphic provided by my partner in ministry, Fr. Larry Woodsmall of the YOKE – http://www.theyoke.org – as an exercise in new creative prayer.)