Saturday, December 12, 2015

growing up as the God-man
Harvey S. Mozolak

he has left the bed
of animals
Joseph borrowed a house
from some distant kindly relatives
and he is walking now
it seems early
but somehow nothing he will do
will probably be premature
when he walks around the room
outside in the small street
and at the nearby field where Mary
takes him for air
it is like he is a wild creature
caged or un-caged
it is difficult to tell
Auden called him a tiger
once I versed him a panther
his Book said behold a lamb
he has begun to hunt
and stalk evil where it is found
in the neighborhood and nation
like a child who cannot let a pet or beast
be still he will find the foe
and confront its tottering stand
with childlike simplicity of spirit
himself the taunted prey
he the serious game in grace
this is where my Father
sent me to walk
and take a stand
in a sapling
he tells Mary he wishes today to climb
to see beyond Bethlehem's soft beginnings
she warns him of its dangers
one hand to each low branch
he places
he has not yet strength to climb
will the pure and holy virgin
aid this early crucifixion?
are these the lion claws of Judah mounting
he the treed king of beasts?

straw pole
Harvey S. Mozolak

a hey for the hay
he’s bailing us out…
born beneath
the post
holding up the roof
of a barn
with stars stowed
in the rafters

Harvey S. Mozolak

a manger moment
caught in time
frozen figures
warm God
caught just in time
for life beyond

God’s yes
Harvey S. Mozolak

one large brown leaf
enough to cover
our fall?
December speaks
through the spokes of tree limbs
beyond the stars themselves
a knowing “no”
in the nakedness of God

table of Christ
Harvey S. Mozolak

the fragrance of setting
the communion table

wine unstopped
sharp free opened grapes
aged sweet and mellow
leaping to awareness
a life beyond the flask
beyond into the air
unseen but tasted

bread one whole
ready to be broken
and passed to hands
warm like awaiting ovens

faucet shut off
Harvey S. Mozolak

the phrases flow
wetting with ebony
a great deal of paper
with drying thoughts
of the ever God bowed
bent and twisted
into the dates of Augustus
but after the twenty-fifth
we quit counting
and only he does
for us

Christmas Sursum
Harvey S. Mozolak

cold this night when the night
creates anew all days
and an infant’s birth and breath
begins the opening of all graves
and closed hearts
when a baby’s beginning cry
are the first words of God
in our living human tongue
God singing to silence
angry un-quietude with peace
come here and near
and offered to us
the blood of God surging
in the cup Mary bears
and Joseph lifts up
diminishing the morning light
with the tiny tender struggling body
we receive and hold as warmth

o magnum mysterium
Harvey S. Mozolak

the enclosed within
maiden-held God
o great the small
he the I AM of all
mystery come to dust
and flesh for faith
in the greatness of the unseen
contained for us
to blanket bind bruise
bleed and bury
for from his bandages
the blessing of healing will come

post feast post
Harvey S. Mozolak

when it is over
all that is left
the red tail lights
left from looking
down the streets
of strung blinking lights
the cold pots and dishes
soaking in the sink
lost Legos making their way
deeper into couch cracks
and the flesh of gifts
crumpled un-ornamental
balls bagged for the trash
he is off to Egypt amid slashes of red
washed and walking the shore of the sea
then like a prayer shoved into the seams
of the walls of the city-promised peace
the earth unraveled
rutted with ruin
is his swaddling for death
and when it is over
all that is left
is his life posted
that we might live
afterWord and feast

Harvey S. Mozolak

above the wool-dotted field
a corona of angels
lights and warms a flock of men
as yet manger-unknown
lamps lit to lead
to the light of life’s new breath
where Joseph whispers
Mary quietly sighs
as the baby cries
in a barn’s darkness and cold

higher than the hills
Harvey S. Mozolak

the angels are painted
in glory about the madonna
with the Christ-child
a picture that did not take place
others with cows
donkey and sheep show
the unclean shepherds
crowding within
under the loft of hay
peaking beneath the straw
at the blanketed babe
have just seen
been to a concert
of an angelic choir
their hearts must still
beat in blessing
thump and trumpet
with the high praise

shepherds’ flocked praise
Harvey S. Mozolak

song from sky
sad and hurt bleats
among lost lambs
ewes and rams below
readied for sacrifice
a tree cold
covered with rare snow
for the star of stars has fallen
for the herd has been heard
by God

art by Moze
Shawn A. Mozolak

earth kept
by king David’s greatest child
God’s sole Son
we are held
in the keep of the Shepherd of Israel
fed in the lowly Lamb’s manger
by the living staff of life
wood- one day his scepter of mercy
hoc est corpus meum
chaliced in our hands


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Seasonal Advantage

Have you noticed that from morning soft news shows to local noon TV and even through public service and plain old sales promotional advertisements there is an attempt during this month to highlight, underline and “stir up” interest in using the December weeks to strengthen relationships, family ties and the doing of positive social things.  Find a way to give more, to feel and share peace and joy and understanding.  In fact, it is a yearning for Advent amid the pre-Hollydaze-ing muzak noise and over-bright light displays.  A search for family and friendship of God amid war and anger, hybris, hunger and hatred.  A search, sadly that will not find until we are found in the infant-small— God’s greatness in the December weak.   

I know the following and some previous posts are not poetry but now that I am not preaching every Sunday, it still is good to work in the homiletical medium:


The message “some assembly required” comes on many of the boxes gift wrapped for all ages.  The manger is in a simple sense a box for God.  Certainly the blessed Virgin’s womb earlier was perhaps a warmer and friendlier wrap, that is, if the infant had been only human… but the packaging of God, the wrapping of glory with the tangles of time’s ribbons crammed into all the containing surfaces and corners of space, no matter where, must not have been comfortable for the God-man, Jesus the Christ.  Nevertheless he comes because some disassembly is required.  The God who created all things in perfection and peace and who watched all things be refit together for the human will and desire and not God’s intents and plans must now disassemble evil’s contortions, sin’s turns away and the change into the curvatus in se that the human heart finds acceptable and good.  The reassembly of the God and human relationship begins anew in the feed box at Bethlehem.  Sadly we use the tools of ropes, nails and hammer and he only his love, an open gift for us.  

Advent in North Carolina

Ever since I saw Ben Long’s fresco in the Roman Catholic church in downtown Charlotte, NC a few years back I have been interested this artist’s religious works.  The fresco which covered a whole large chancel wall which spanned from one side of the church to the other— is no more, fallen from the wall, thanks to some demolition at a nearby construction site.  But other smaller, earlier frescos adorn the chancel areas of several Episcopal parishes north of Boone, NC.  The Last Supper fresco is well worth seeing at one of them but during Advent his two smaller frescos depicting St. John the Baptizer and St. Mary mounted on either side of a rural chancel come to mind.  I had opportunity to see them in person this fall.  John is portrayed in a full sense of a wild prophet.   The blessed Mother of God is depicted in full pregnancy, about as round as possible.  Some might say, “She is really showing.”  It is after all Advent.  Much demolition is going on and many murals of the faith have fallen.   His comings— then, now in Word and Sacrament and again in the fullness of the eschaton— should be as evident in us and in our lives to encourage some to comment on our living portraits, “You are really showing… showing forth the Messiah, the Jesus, the Lord of the Universe.”

Christmas Eve with John and Luke

after the last gospel

driving home
dismissed among 
the night snow showers 
lit by a lantern moon
small clouds passing 
among the stars on the deep
between the altar’s high hung crucifix
and home around 
the balsam tree’s glittering globes 
and lights for the eve of the entry

of the first gospel procession

Adventuring Days

The newborn in California was an abandoned baby girl found in the debris of asphalt and rubble near a river on a bike path.   Read as a news headline, online:  “Newborn in stable condition after being found 'buried alive' in Los Angeles”   In the context of a day in Advent reading, it first sounded like, “Newborn in stable…  condition after being found buried alive….”  Drop the Los Angeles for a hillside full of Angeles and you have the incarnation at Bethlehem.   Christ the Son of God buried in a girl’s womb in the whereabouts of barn animals and the vast multitude of earth’s sinners.  

Buying into December Days

The catalog of religious items for Christmas, features— with free shipping (although Mary must have noticed the weight during the nine months, a rather long Advent wearing blue as she traditionally does!)— a “Vintage Nativity.”  Vintage has the meaning of something to do with grapes or wine (or maybe in this context, blood?) and also something to do with the period in which something (or someone) was made or begun (or again in the context of Advent, the only begotten conceived of the Virgin spring by the wind of the Holy Spirit).  Anyway, is this too much symbolism?  But the ad for the nativity notes the it is a wire construction and brings to mind the wire that often surrounds securing the cork in a bottle of wine.  (sorry for the symbol stuff again)  Then again the ad says that it can be easily molded back into shape if becomes distorted in storage.  Ahh…  it just begs, does not the words of the ad in the Word of the season, for talk about the distortion of sin and how the one stored in the womb comes in the manger to mold us back into the shape of the sacred.  So far the distortion of the ad reading.  What do you think, do you buy into more than symbolism and the wire held nature of the season?


The cover photo on the ELCA’s December edition of “The Lutheran” magazine is a nativity by He Qi, a Chinese artist who along with Japanese print artist Sadao Watanabe are personal favorites.  The vibrant pink-clothed blessed Virgin holds the infant Lord on her lap under the watchful eyes of dimly lit purple animals, Joseph and perhaps a shepherd holding a lantern.  The swoop of an angel curved above is also more muted than the Madonna and child.  While the piece is all is done in more Oriental motifs than the usual Western paintings normally traditional on Christmas cards and postal stamps one thing is out of place for any traditional, realistic nativity scene.  (Although this year’s US “religious” stamp is several years old because one might assume they haven’t sold out of it and exhausted supplies in a couple of years.  Does that say something about the phasing in of electronic greetings or the phasing out of religiosity in our greetings… at least on our envelopes?)  Here’s the thing that is noteworthy:  the baby holds in his tiny hand a bright, round, red apple.  Hardly soft infant fare.  He is bringing it back for the tree.  Obediently he will replace himself, as fruit for the forbidden bitten, on its branches, bright, red juice of his veins running down its cut grooves and trunk.  

In the jargon of philately envelopes are called covers…  this is a season of uncovering as the story is covered of our God covered with flesh.