Saturday, March 28, 2015

great week
Harvey S. Mozolak

the week is about to begin
the weather report indicates it will start
below freezing
deadly to early blossoms
so there will be no standing 
in the courtyard with palms 
for the mostly elderly crowd
although they would not complain
but there is no good in catching a chill
and dying before Friday
several neighbors are mowing
since the city is not far enough south
to have palms on the block
the scent of wet wounded grass
will have to do this eve 
which is the day already begun
collected in bags for the dump
children running in the last long shadows
with bats balls and bikes 
unaware that the king
is coming to town
that death 
from which they are carefully shielded
except for what is televised
and played as game from time to time
must be seen and embraced
braced like the fence against
the old dead tree on the corner
that marks the edge of the community
and secures it for the week end

Friday, March 20, 2015

thick stick 
Harvey S. Mozolak

a thick stick
planted among bedding materials
a sparrow alights
to gather loose broken bark
and carry a splinter away
for it is spring

we are told he had no place
to lay his head
that even animals have holes and dens
nests and gathered pine
his straw stripped and scattered
in an urgent flight to Egypt

he did sleep in the house of Lazarus
and his sisters Mary and Martha
Lazarus who had slept in the grave
and awaked by the alarm of his name
called and heard while stone silent
deaf by death 
pillowed already in reeking rot

homeless he did recline at the meal
where his body and blood
given and shed were passed
that dark night of betrayal 
when his address was kissed 
like a mezuzah by Judas
Jesus the doorpost

and he had slept aboard 
the disciples’ ship in the tempest
as now he lay down 
on the two tree limbs
branchless boards 
keeled for killing 
mast-less and grounded
fitted with Roman ropes
awaiting the storm of our sin
filling his drowning lifted lungs
crying out for us 
to his Father
to prepare us room 
for harbored rest and to rejoice in rising
with God our home

Thursday, March 12, 2015

bronzed belief
Harvey S. Mozolak

the sandals of our souls are sore
oh God
Hor was high, unbreathable
rocky and ripped our soles
and now the wild places
vultures, their wings
curtain our walk with curses
scrubby brown branches
and saw-edged bitter green stalks
grow only once in a while
can you see Moses
our hands have scabs from the sand
and thorns
our children scream when we touch them
and our wives shrink from our embrace
we drink our own sweat
and taste our weak tears
the what-is-this sticky stuff
that is to pass for bread
is detestable meal
too bony to roast
the bird broth
is thin and acrid
with nothing to float in it
except our fear
of jackal and lion
and the slithering stems of poison
we have begun to see
bitten the burning blackens the eyes
coppers the flesh
hot, fevered
the people die
so many
oh God hear him
unfang our failure
the curling fury of our ingratitude
wrapped about ourselves
Moses stripped a pole
of fruit and foliage
and coiled about it
bronze beaten to englory
angels’ antidotal food
our arms and hands like new limbs
and wings of perching seraphim
begged and held
to hope
God’s stake in the world
twisting a tourniquet of love
taking his only
breath and light
our venom
envelops and stops
the heart of heaven
so in its holy halt
we may live again
to trust
unseen the ending
and that beating

beyond belief

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

flower carol: rose
Harvey S. Mozolak

“lo how a rose”
is wilting
withering in the dry
sun blistering sky
life’s petals falling
blooming blood
this carol cast to die

flower carol: lily
Harvey S. Mozolak

bound in lifeless layers
pungent drying skin
sheathed and chambered
a bulb buried
among the stones of clay
lo how he arose
limp lipped lily 
to the Father’s face
sun embraced brightness
as the trumpet’s ribs 
brace and blossom
their gold stalked stamens 
note with filament and flower
the shout of song
“beyond all sadness”

Friday walk
Harvey S. Mozolak

dim and dark
followed by the sound 
of a single lark
I saw a man
take the form of a tree
then closer came
I could see it was not
he was the form of me
leafless shorn
sleeved by blood
and shod in iron nails
a lifeless plant 
unrooted both of earth
and light-branched heaven

kingdom change
Harvey S. Mozolak

thrice like thunder
bolted to the earth
the pale posting
of the hill
was his 
among evil’s claim of the land
forcefully fenced
by sharp-stemmed suffering 
spikes and spear
there his kingdom 
recaptures all in holiness
loosened life
left to descend among
funeral cloths and prayers 
whose only hope
is waiting 
faith as yet not folded
on the stone

among the first up
Harvey S. Mozolak

butter yellow cups 
on fluted saucers
the sun-yellowed
daff photo stills
are ready for spring
framing by the wood
of greening trees 
and flower ringed bushes

Sunday, March 8, 2015

poems on John 3. 14-21

Harvey S. Mozolak

the cure
heaven taking the dose
of the poison itself
snake hunting
God went
pruning from a dry tree
a forked stick
like a tongue of flame
fired in the fangs
of a Friday sun
the darkening world
still bright
in the dimming eyes
of the lifted up
from his drained
dead bitten body
the medicine

meeting at night
Harvey S. Mozolak

not like carrying a placard
some large sign
in the screaming coliseum crowd
announcing he was present
to cheer the combat or the victor
rather he moved unseen
parting the folds
that held the drapes of darkness
deep shadows dimming all
between the buildings at night
hurrying like one
who changes the scenes
in a play
centering a well
with realistic rope
setting a stage table
with a cup of cold water
altering the placement of a propped tree
just before the characters enter

the rabbi came in shortly after he arrived
they spoke at length
of the dark entrance
into the world from the womb
and quicken birth
from God on high
the Lord standing
beside one of the timber supports
for the roof of the house concludes
“some things above
“are not seen well below”
his hand rubs the wood
a carpenter checking its grain
dryness and strength
reaching upward
in a sudden smooth motion
into the yoke at the top of the post
his hands lower grip and hold
an until now hidden small field snake
frightened awake coiling
gently he places the creature in the soil
at the edge of the garden

“it was where Moses placed it
“when he lifted up the seraph
“in the wandering places
“while traveling here to where we are
“where the Son of Man will also go up
“though more rudely and roughly lashed
“nail-bound to writhe
“the evil from all beyond the garden”

Nicodemus’ face leans forward
into the lamp’s light
his hands placed on the table
where a loaf of bread cools
near a sweating jug of wine
Jesus lifts Nicodemus’ hands
as they are held in open prayer
“believe in the light that is true
“where the whole world hangs
“in the giving”

Nicodemus rises
unsure whose is the exit

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mark 14. 43-72
Harvey S. Mozolak

the bar of judgment
has not only a hammer
but the judicial bench four nails
and the court guards
a spear and sponge
the condemned carries
an innocent verdict to all the earth
holy order, order, order
pounded fist and feet
shackled in heart-drained blood
for the disordering
caused by sin
stripped of robe
flung far from heaven's train of galaxies
and withheld angel armies
we gamble at his weakness
he who clothes the fleeing naked
in fear of hatred and power
and the devoted who hold each other
against the terrors of this world
he forms into family by faith
beneath his execution...
of forgiveness  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Thoughts as commentary for Lent 2 B   Year of St. Mark

Jesus I will follow ... in times of toppling temples

John 2. 13-22 
Pastors (and presumably others) sometimes find things in church buildings that they would just as soon not be there, maybe on a pew left behind by someone who had no respect for the sacred or perhaps on a bulletin board, left behind by someone who thought they could shroud opinion in the holy. Somehow the Sunday School photo-memory I have of this event includes the irate Christ using the cords on the backsides of the moneychangers themselves not only on the sheep and cattle. That may have more to do with remembrances of wooden-spoon theology in the home.

The Passover was near. This feast was a feast of the temporary, eaten on the run, heavenly house addresses written in blood that will stain but wash away, coats on, with staff in hand, backpacks in place, Nike's on the feet and done every year with food that will be consumed or burned.

And where did the cords come from ... the ties for animals, the velveteen roping like that used in banks and theaters to line up the crowds buying sheep ... the bathrobe sashes from a few left over shepherds from the Christmas pageant in Bethlehem? While both natures participate, is it more the divine or the human Jesus enraged or both? Or does the coinage of that question get you mad? In my private quest for new (and usually lesser and some better, should be suppressed) I AM's ... I am the good minority whip, a minority of one and only, destroyed.

Did the coin exchange involve Roman images impressed on their coinage that depicted their deities or Emperors-as god? Anything like finding a casino chip in the parish offering plate, which pile do you put it into the dime, nickel, quarter or where the silver dollars used to be? And who will sacrifice an hour to drive over and exchange deities.

It would interesting to compare and contrast the whipping of the Temple leeches and the whipping Christ receives at the hands of the guards in his passiontide. The Lord Christ has his battles and campaigns not against the legions or crowds but in the Temple, amid its cages, ropes, restraints and boxes of blood money. Jesus does not de-sword the centurion or whup up on the priests of Zeus and Diana but on those who sell holiness, hawk purity and trade in peace of soul in his own temple. And the legions and crowds, their front lines form at the cross where there appears little of value even to be given away.

Likewise one could balance the criticism of those who make the Father's house into a marketplace with the need, we often call relevancy, to take the Father's abiding into the marketplace. Should sacrifice be caged in the world of advertisement? Should offering be weighed by the standards of commerce? Should worship be ground for quick plattering and MacDonaldized tastes? Should we pray this Javelin pray hurled at heaven, “Houseclean how we temple you Lord?”

Watching the televised portrayal of the science fiction Dune series, I was reminded of a number of images that shadow in an often-antithetical fashion and allude to Christianity, namely that of Messiahship, the incarnation in the wormform, a prophet like the Baptist, the reversals of desert to garden back to desert. One of the oft-repeated litanies was the statement that ritual ruins. The Lenten Temple cleansings include some relatively benign customs like giving up chocolate, not forever of course and certainly not beyond the forty days and Sundays are not included, right? There are good and salutary cleansings like giving up smoking, especially if they go beyond forty l-ashes. But say, giving up all angry words. Somehow we know that probably there will be a number of failures within the forty to say nothing of the angry heart. The liturgy of the true Lent is written in wood, pain, piercing and that death that cleanses. "Destroy this temple .... " Is Good Friday in the bazaar, does the crucifixion take place at the bake sale?

Temple spring-cleaning is an interesting phenomenon. The Scriptures call our bodies the temples of the Holy Spirit. The whole world, universe, is the templing for God. We frequently speak like we can eradicate evil, that a concentrated or even consecrated attack against evil will quell it. What if the New Testament temple is larger than Solomon's or either one thereafter? We must demonize our enemies to make them sweepable. Politically we use the term "evil" with a facile ease. Evil finds its own way to level, to seep, and to leak out, often among what we deem good and necessary. Do we think for a minute that the bazaar tables were never again brought back to the consecrated courtyards? There was probably an Easter sale the next week or something like it.

This is not normally thought of a stewardship text but it is. Stewardship texts normally indicate what to do with money, this one speaks of what not to do with the goods of wealth, of how we offer and of the holiness of oblation. The temple walls will come down and the offering will take in all creation freed.

These are times of toppling temples, some overtly religious and others owned by our cultural and societal gods.

"Zeal for the Father's house," consumes Jesus. This house is the vine, the vineyard, the people, and the world that consumes Jesus. A new temple is being built, one that David could not even envision much less Solomon build. The foundations were laid in Mary's womb and the wood beams will be erected on the Jerusalem hillside somewhere near the city dump. 

Christ cleaned the Temple of its unclean, unholy mammon, animal dung, advertising voices and shouts of sales, the worship space was now wholly God's and then he was crucified in one of the dirtiest of Jerusalem places… the garbage dump shaped like a decayed skull.

Psalm 19 
"Cleanse me from my secret faults." There are small shrines we erect to hide our commerce in sin. 

1 Corinthians 1. 18-25 The stumbling block, the foolishness, the expensive sneakers, running shoes, dark mirror-polished wing tips or combat boots that that walk the way of death ... it is easy to trip on the loose shoelaces of holiness. In the presence of God, our temples are covered in weakness and our naked feet touch the earth from which we were formed.

An Evening Prayer Lord God you pull your glory over us as the darkness spreads from the horizon to the heavens. Help us to sleep in your praise and wake in your adoration. In Jesus, AMEN

Seasonal Prayer As Lent deepens and the dying becomes dense, untwist and unbarb all obstacles to prayer, through Jesus. AMEN