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Happy Birthday, Church

(x = space)

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Happy Birthday, Church

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The birthday of

The Christian church

Not the first day of Advent

In November of December,

Which is the birth

Of the Christian year

Itself

And from there the

Days of seasons

Counted,

Advertised through colors

x

Pentecost

That has a five in it

(to look at it)

For fity

And is a celebration

Out the Jewish culture

And tradition

(for Christians,

the parent culture and tradition)

But Christianized

Like Easter

Keeping the name

As well

x

I suppose the Christians

Own it mostly, now

x

Liturgically,

It is a day of fire

A day of wind, the kind

That carries fire

Destructive forces

Reined in by the Spirit

Even as the Spirit

Gives it, first

x

The church is born

From hiding

And from sorrow

That Christ has left

Two times

With promises,

That living in the keeping

Could be hopeful

But wears on followers

As well

x

Red helium balloons

Are not unusual

Or dances to resemble fire

(people

and balloons

can do that),

Movements

The like

We have not beheld

Since Palm Sunday

x

People could wave palms

Now;

They would match

The setting of

Pentecost events

In western Asia

x

There is the matter of

Languages:

The Spirit spoke to each

And more importantly

Those crowded

outside

(Why a crowd?

had a fire been reported? were

they for

the five-and-fifty festival?)

x

To each one (anyway)

The language of one’s own

Is what one heard,

A long list given

Of the nations, nationalities

Assembled

x

A confusion of clarity—what

Was said to each?

We could wonder—but

Peter rises

And in words clear enough

First excuses

The excuse of wine

(we herein are not drunk

it’s the morning,

after all)

And proceeds to talk of God

And of the child of God

And of the promised Spirit

For each one

(what we now call trinity)

Now for each one

Who asks

x

From this day,

The church grows

As any life might

After being born;

There will be a first debate

Too soon

Within itself

And first divisions

x

But there will be miracles

And the word does go around

Into many persons

By hearing

By conviction

By will for each

And water for baptism

x

Air for exhortation,

Land to carry missionaries

All around,

Ships that move as well

Upon the Middle Sea,

Which sometimes wreck

So that the persons there

Might hear of it

As well,

A word of God

x

A saving word

As any choose

To hear it often first

With ears

And always in

Another way

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C L Couch

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notes

5 June 2022

Acts of the Apostles, second chapter (though as with most things maybe read around)

“Easter” is not Jewish—though Easter often happens near Passover—but is Babylonian in origin.

“Pentecost” is for a Jewish celebration (Feast of Weeks, Shavuot).

Photo by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash

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Fish and Bread for Breakfast

(x = space)

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Fish and Bread for Breakfast

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And he does

Jesus loves you

Grumpy we might be

Though post-resurrection letdown

A haze of liturgy

Formal words that don’t match up

With Easter

But here we are

Since the book is ours

Invited to have breakfast with Jesus

Fish and bread

Common enough fare

Or not

The English

And others I’m sure

Have kippers

That is herring

England is an island nation

Israel is by the sea

And by an inland sea

We’re having breakfast

And hearing about metaphoric sheep

From a shepherd who knows the work

Perfectly

And is calling us to do it

What

How can we take from perfection

Well, we can’t

But we’re all here

It’s what and whom we have

We can dine with Jesus

That is the Christian church experience

But then we have to be out there

Out here

x         

A message from white men

We need to hear from everyone

We need to hear the story

From the lips

And other parts

The parts that move,

That dance,

That look and try to look with love

On a good day

While struggling on another

This can’t be a message of perfection

It has to be real

And what do we know of perfect

That is real?

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And we are loved, anyway

And we must love

And it’s the best thing going, anyway

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C L Couch

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(church with preaching on John 21)

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Photo by Andrew Valdivia on Unsplash

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On the First Day

(x = space)

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On the First Day

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It’s Sunday

The day Al Roker

Announces in

An echo chamber

I’m not sure why

Maybe his mother

Told him to

Maybe because

It’s game day

I’ll have church

In a little while

Service and Sunday

School in a virtual

(and, yes,

hopefully virtuous)

Way

And the day will continue

We’re expecting snow

In the afternoon,

Over night into

Monday morning,

Which could make

The commute

A mess

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C L Couch

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Photo by alexey turenkov on Unsplash

Published 1h ago

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Revival

(x = space)

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Revival

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Litany

Reading and response

Perhaps an antiphon

Might it happen in the forest

Where leaves are hymnals

And the altar

Is a clearing?

The supplicants

Are independent creations

Of all kinds

Petitioning for food, water,

Or the succor of the soil

x

The forest as cathedral

Is nothing new

As metaphor

I wonder if each clearing

Is a parish

While alongside (in

earthly terms)

The desert

Is a church so vast

That all the Notre-Dames

Might fit within

With room for more

As if to invite

A wider awe

By people

x

C L Couch

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Photo by Thomas Ho on Unsplash

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Missing Church

(x = space)

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Missing Church

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It used to meet

In buildings

Who’d have

Thought

That would be

Novel, given

Centuries

Of scary-high

Structures with

Ornaments that

Trod through

Ages’ worth

Of styles,

Of schools

x

But then,

Before

The buildings

There was nothing

Formal but

The people

Who met in homes

And basements,

That is,

Tombs

x

Cathedrals now

Are cyber

While the

Pandemic surges,

Though we wish

To have our

Lofts again and pews

And pulpits

Or, for

Some, a room

Big enough

For all of us

x

I don’t know

If there’s teaching

Here about

Where we

Meet—that it

Doesn’t matter,

Maybe

x

Two or three

The standard,

Maybe

Really

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C L Couch

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Photo by Xavier Coiffic on Unsplash

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Vatican

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Sunday Best

(x = space)

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Sunday Best

(for Juneteenth)

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I celebrate from a distance,

Thinking of church

As an invitation

I received

Several years ago

In a Black church in Louisville,

Kentucky

x

I was there for meetings

And on

Sunday morning

We went to a church

Some of us

Had known about

x

Arms rose into the air

For hours, and the choir

Never seemed

To stop

x

And, I’m sorry,

I don’t remember the

Preaching

But remember the music

And the dancing in the air

Of arms and words

Carried up

By song

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And if the Spirit could be

Smoke, we

We wouldn’t breathe

But as it’s air

We breathed in life

And exhaled

New visions

x

And we were welcomed,

Such was love

In the airy cloud

That prismed every color

With invitation

Courtesy

And movement

For outsiders

x

We were there for hours

Without knowing

This was Sunday best

At its best

I’ll be a part of it again

Someday

x

For there

There was freedom in the

Spirit

As there should be a day for it

Then every day

Every day a work

And play

For freedom

Numinous

And real

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C L Couch

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Spirituality

Photo by Thiago Barletta on Unsplash

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Faithful Skeptic

(x = space)

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Faithful Skeptic

(spiritual humanist)

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I sin

And then I go to church

How does that work?

We sing that it is well,

Which Saint Julian proposes

We pray for the world

And for concerns

In the parish

We sing some more

We’ll pray some more

Then there will be teaching

(word and sacrament

for those who have sacraments)

Through it all,

We’re singing now

And thank goodness there is

Justice in that

Mingled with grace and mercy

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Through sin and virtue

Through indifference and zeal

Through exhaustion and desire

There is something

Going on,

Something moving

Call it spirit

Call it the orbit of the Earth

And the pressing down of gravity

Call it God’s

Call it nature’s

Call it ours

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And, yes, through it all

It is well

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C L Couch

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Saint Julian of Norwich is a saint in the Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches.  Other traditional Protestant churches recognize her standing.  Many Christians of all kinds respect her work in parish service and the service of the Christian Church, overall.  Her name is not known:  she is called Julian because that was the name of the church in Norwich, England where she lived.  She had a cell there, not a jail cell but a hermit’s.  She had a cat.  Each day people of the town would come to her to speak with her through a window, asking her for wisdom and advice.  I’m sorry, I should have mentioned that she lived and worked from the latter decades of the fourteenth century into the first years of the fifteenth century.

She wrote Revelations of Divine Love, a widely-read spiritual text.  It is also taken as the oldest book written in English by a woman.  Two things Julian is popularly known for asserting are the metaphor of the world as a hazelnut (long before William Blake asserted perceiving the world as and through a grain of sand).  And she claimed that, no matter how grim or unhopeful or destructive the world might seem, all shall be well.  She says this many times.

And all shall be well.

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Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash

Tallinn, Estonia

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Istanbul

(x = space)

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Istanbul

(Yankee perspective)

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How colorful the lamps

For sale in the bazaar

I’m not sure how their talents

Transliterate back home

Where so much

Is right-angled

And pastel

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One lamp of these lamps

Could shine over

Our obligatory book of a thousand tales

If not a treatise on the origin

Of mathematics

Or astronomy,

Right knowledge

That made protraction possible

Right angles

As well as acute, obtuse

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A world worked out

Until the rough-edged stories

Like the roc that swallows interlopers

In the lore

Come to roost

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C L Couch

(Yankee)

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Tell the Beadle

(x = space)

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Tell the Beadle

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I had church today with friends

Five hundred miles from here,

And I am thankful

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I’m not sure what it means or

How it counts, and I guess mostly

I don’t care

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There was prayer and conversation,

And God was mentioned many

Times and Jesus

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I think if there were an attendance

Book, our names could be

Fairly entered

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As it is, computers have recorded

In theirs pathways our participation so

Cybernetic stars

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C L Couch

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Sayq, Ad Dakhiliyah ‍Governorate, Oman

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