Tag Archives: Creation

Song of Creation

By NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) – http://hubblesite.org/image/3471/news_release/2015-01, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38165284

 

What is the palette in which the master artist dipped the brush that painted in colors?
Or what thunderous notes did the creator sing to tune the sun and stars and quasars?
Which no eye would see, nor any ear hear, nor thought comprehend for millions of years
Where the colors spoken into being or where did they burst onto the scene with the elements
Did spirits or angels go to gather them together at their master’s directing like treasure hunters
Or was it the act of a solitary composer working in silence waiting to create an audience
Crafting the depths of the universe and sprinkling brilliant light into the blackness of the abyss
Singing into the silence of space a symphonic composition whose melodies gave form and shape
Whose beat marked the passage of days and millennia as the spheres turned and the cosmos shone.

What runes were hidden deep within the caverns of the earth which are the hidden signature
Of the master artist waiting to be discovered by those who peer deeply into the painting?
What fingerprints might remain from the act of raising the mountains and carving canyons?
Do the notes of the songbird echo some piece of the melody of the maker, a reflected praise?
Or the whale song of the deep form a baseline with the rumble of the continental drift?
Might the human drive of curiosity be the imprint of the master’s image on the creature?
The drive to delight in the possibilities of the palette of the painting they reside within
The desire to listen to the melody of the cosmos in all its wide range of sounds
To develop eyes to see and ears to hear and minds to comprehend their place in the picture
To join the song and dance in delight at the magic of the universe’s echo of the song it learned
At the knee of its creator and which it continues to sing as it wonders at its majesty

The Vision

Creek babbling through Benvoulin wetlands in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, Capture from video shared by Extemporalist under Creative Commons 1.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Creek_babbling_through_Benvoulin_wetlands.webm

The Vision

The stream burbled patiently singing its tune
As the sun shone in a ray through the break in the trees
While dragonflies danced and frogs played
In the early summer’s warmth of this peaceful place
My secret place where others rarely enter
A space to commune with the undisturbed world
To delight in the slow and steady rhythm of the creator
Where every mote of dust reflects magic and light
And heaven and earth are not so far apart
This thin space where sometimes epiphanies occurs

Into this peaceful space emerges a hawk, proud and strong
Soaring in to rest upon the branch an ancient oak tree
And it watches me watching it with knowing eyes
A herald of the mystery that awaits unveiling in that space
Rustling through the underbrush another unexpected guest
Emerging with his royal blue head from the undergrowth
Strutting into this magical place with his myriad eyes
As he quickly expands his tailfeathers in proud display
Looking imperially at the human who happens to be
In this space where creation came to play in delight
To dance in the joy of the creator’s masterwork

As nature continued to roll back her curtain of majesty
Rolling out her green carpet to await the celebration
Out of the mystery steps lady wisdom cloaked in green
With her escorts, a stag on her left and a wolf on her right
The frogs cease their croaking chorus
Dragonflies circle to land on the cat lilies
The peacock bows his proud blues head
the hawk swoops down to land upon her shoulder
While I stand transfixed by this moment of mystery
All watch as she brings forth an egg from her cloak
Which she cradles in her hands like the greatest treasure
As the creation watches this miracle of new birth

Somehow, I know to look away not to look unmediated
At the divine drama unfolding in this beautiful place
But from the reflection of the stream I see her lay
The dormant egg into a thick blanket of green grass
And from the bed of green emerges red, yellow, blue and orange
As nature’s nest burns and yet remains unconsumed
And I wonder if I, like Moses, stand on sacred ground
As the new chick emerges with a cry of victory
From fire and light and ash the new phoenix emerges
Spreading its wings towards the waiting sky
Looking to its dominion among the heavens

Before it flies away from this place it scooped
By the woman’s gentle hands and they share a second
As all the earth bows in this moment of mystery
Wolf and stag bend low, peacock and hawk
Even the trees themselves seem to stoop
As creation lifts its joyous song and the resurrection
The revelation that magic has not left the creation
And I, on behalf of humanity lie upon the verdant ground
In wonder and awe as a witness of this sight

As quickly as it was revealed it is concealed
Nature closes her curtain and the world returns
To the chorus of frogs and the dance of dragonflies
The woman and her escorts are gone
Back behind the shroud of the ancient trees of the forest
The phoenix disappears into the heavens
Shining as radiant and dazzling as the beaming sun
Yet, I remain stunned at this dream, this vision
Wondering at what I have seen as the memories fade
And so, I grab my pen and write furiously
Trying to capture the essence of the epiphany
Of the magic and mystery at work in the world
Masked but to those who sit in the thin spaces
Where heaven and earth are not so far apart

Psalm 33 The Earth is Full of the Steadfast Love of God

Psalm 33

 1 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright.
2 Praise the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind.
14 From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth —
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds.
16 A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.
18 Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield.
21 Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
 
This psalm is a majestic psalm of praise that takes the fundamental trust throughout the psalms that God will take care of the author and the faithful ones and extends that care to all of creation. If you read Psalm 32 and 33 together then this psalm becomes the shout for joy by the righteous ones (shout for joy in 32 and rejoice in 33 translate the same Hebrew verb). Martin Luther’s well-known explanation of the first commandment that we are to “fear, love and trust God above all things.” could explain the dynamic of many psalms, but we hear in this psalm why God is trustworthy and many of the things that seem to be powerful are not. The faithful one understands that the earth is full of the steadfast love of God and that the poet’s role is to praise this creative love of God which permeates everything.

Structurally the poem is designed to give a sense of completeness. The poem’s 22 lines, mirroring the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet even though the poem is not acrostic, speak a complete message of God’s power and trustworthiness in all of creation. (Actemeir, 1997, p. IV:809) The act of praise is an act of hope and faith, of speaking trust amid a world that trusts in other sources of power. It protests trusting in military might, physical strength, financial resources or political power. The Psalmist can rejoice because at its heart the world is full of the steadfast love of God that nothing can separate the poet from.

The LORD is described as committed to a stance of uprightness, faithfulness, righteousness and justice. The God of the psalmist is not an unmoving or unengaged deity, but one that chooses and defends those who attempt to live in accordance with God’s will for the world. Even though the word shalom (peace, harmony) is not mentioned in this new song the poet lifts before the LORD, it underlies the trust that the one who created and ordered the world protects and guards the one who lives in righteousness and faithfulness. The words of the LORD given through the law and the prophets echo the order that the LORD has spoken into creation itself.

Psalm 33 shares a common vocabulary with Genesis 1, where the creation comes into being and is given form by the word of the LORD. In the beginning when the LORD created the heavens and the earth reverberates as the heavens are created by the word of the LORD and the host are created by the breath of God. The limits for the oceans and sea become playfully like a bottle and the LORD has storehouses that can contain the immeasurable (at least at the time of the psalm’s composition) depths of the oceans. If the world itself is an act of imagination and speaking for the LORD and the seas and the stars find their place due to the word of the LORD, then the promises uttered passed on to the psalmist are a faithful foundation to build the poet’s trust and hope upon. If earth is full of the steadfast love of God, then the psalmist can rest in the comforting embrace of that love.

Philip Melanchthon, one of Martin Luther’s close associates in the reformation, once said, “to know Christ is to know his benefits rather than his natures…” and similarly Rolf Jacobson can parallel:

the Psalter bears witness that to know the Lord is to know the benefits of being in relationship with the Lord, rather than to know the Lord’s natures. In Psalm 33, the emphasis first of all upon the relationship with that the Lord forges with humanity through the act of creation (vv. 6-7, 9, 15) and also upon the special relationship that God forged through Israel through the election of the chosen people. (v.12) (Nancy deClaisse-Walford, 2014, p. 319)

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, who trusts in God rather than the military might, financial prosperity or political influence. Faith enables the individual and the faithful ones to see that the benefit of the LORD’s trustworthiness. I’ve said in other forums that I believe that the greatest idol in the United States is security and we are willing to sacrifice almost anything to that idol. We may inhabit a place where great armies and military technology can create incredible damage and vast amounts of death, but ultimately it is the LORD who looks down from heaven who can control the course of humanity. God sees all of humanity, fashions the hearts, observes the deeds, and the eyes of God watches those who trust in the LORD. Nothing can separate them from the seeing eyes and the pervading love of the LORD, not death and not famine nor anything else under the heavens.

The grace of God that can forgive sin and bring about peace and reconciliation is the same steadfast love of God that creates and fills the earth. The word of the LORD, whose utterance brought creation into being continues to shape the hearts of humanity and the course of the nations. Even though might and power may appear to reside in the strength of the military or the wealth contained within the vaults of banks or the political power of various groups these are ultimately illusions. The steadfast love of God fills the earth and faithful ones have learned to rest within this gracious presence of God’s creative might. This praise of the upright and new song of the faithful ones proclaim the trustworthiness of the LORD and stands among the blessed ones chosen for the joyous task of praising the LORD and knowing what the steadfast love of God is creating in their midst.

Psalm 19- Creation, the Law and a Faithful Life

James Tissot, The Creation (between 1896 and 1902)

James Tissot, The Creation (between 1896 and 1902)

Psalm 19

 <To the leader. A Psalm of David.>
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
  In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
  and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them;
  and nothing is hid from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
  the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
  the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever;
  the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
  sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me.
  Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,
   O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19 as a psalm of praise brings together the wonder and mysterious natural knowledge of God uttered in the unheard speech of creation and the revealed wisdom of the LORD in the gift of the Torah (the law). Like Psalm 8, the other psalm of praise we have encountered at this point in the book of Psalms, it reflects upon the majesty of creation from a sense of wonder and awe. It can look at the heavens above, the earth below and the seas in their vastness and be amazed at the creator God who has done all of these things. Here in the first verse the word for God is the generic El which can be either God, a god, or in plural gods, but it is not a name like will be used beginning in verse seven. Yet, the heavens and day and night and sun are all poetically personified in the psalm, speaking in words that are unheard and voices that human ears cannot perceive. Perhaps the psalmist, just straining, can barely hear the silent resonance of the Creator echoing through the creation. Perhaps they can perceive the God that stands behind the creation where others have taken the created parts of creation and deified them. In verses four and five, it is possible that the Psalmist makes use of an existing Akkadian/Summerian bilingual hymn that refers to the sun as a hero, warrior and bridegroom (Nancy deClaisse-Walford, 2014, p. 208) yet instead of leaving the sun as a deity in its right (like the surrounding cultures) now the sun becomes a rejoicing servant reveling in the course that the creator God has set for it.  The first half of the Psalm revels with the song of creation in the artistry and majesty of the creator and the Psalmist lifts up in their own way an audible voice for the unheard creation’s song.

It may seem unusual to bring together creation and the law in a poem, and perhaps these originated in two different places, but bringing these two together makes sense of the broader understanding of how God works with the Hebrew people. Creation is a gift of God for all the world, but the law (the Torah) is the special revealed gift for God’s chosen people. The God referred to initially only with the generic El now receives the revealed name YHWH (frequently pronounced Yahweh, anytime you see LORD in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) the proper name of God revealed to Moses is behind that, it is typically pronounced Adonai when read (translates to Lord) to not take the LORD’s name in vain). Together with Psalm 1 and the much longer Psalm 119, Psalm 19 praises the law of the LORD. The revealed will of God in the law becomes the nourishment, which revives the faithful, brings wisdom and purity and clarity and are a rich gift fit for a king. The ideal leader was to have the law always before them and to diligently observe and follow it all the days of their life. (see Deuteronomy 17: 18-20) If the king is the one lifting up this prayer the wonder of the cosmos is combined with the revealed wisdom of the Torah to keep them in obedience to God’s will for their life and God’s people.

The Psalm ends with a petition to be kept in this way revealed by the LORD in the midst of all the temptations that life brings forward. There is a humility in realizing that even though the law may reveal the human may conceal from themselves the faults of their hands and hearts. Even with the wisdom of Solomon one may fail to see the divergence in one’s life from the way of the covenant which coheres with God’s law. The Psalmist petitions their LORD to clear them of hidden faults, to keep them away from the insolent and foolish and to allow them to be blameless. God is their rock and their redeemer, the word for redeemer is go’el the kinsman redeemer who is able to, and is expected to, purchase their enslaved kin from slavery. Here the LORD is the one who is able to set the Psalmist free to live the life they are called to live: a life that can revel in God’s creation and delight in God’s law.

Sounds and Syllables

Creation by Selfish Eden (deviantart.com)

Creation by Selfish Eden (deviantart.com)

What power lies within the syllables and sounds?
Do they merely describe a reality fully formed?
A mimetic act of the glorification of creation
Reflecting upon a completed picture imperfectly
A flawed simulacrum of what sense can comprehend
Or is there something more in the words?
Do they reflect or recreate?
 
In these syllables and sounds is there the power of creation?
Do the songs and poetry open up new worlds of possibilities?
Can a statement or the stroke of a pen start a reality?
Can the sounds dance along the chaotic creative waters
Or commands give shape to the formless clay
Or is it something less contained in the words?
Do they reinvent or refract?
 
And perhaps the answer isn’t in the words at all
For maybe it is the potential of the creation already latent
And words may describe the reality that is already present
Or serve as a key that opens up some preexisting door
Echoing the preordained syllables that resonate among the stars
Copying the creative wisdom that predates the cosmos
And perhaps they are only words and yet, they are words
Resurrecting, retelling, recasting and realizing

Psalm 8- The Soul Searcher’s Psalm

Picture of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon

Picture of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon

 Psalm 8
 <To the leader: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.>
O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
 

When Apollo 11 made its trip to the moon in 1969 the leaders of various nations and important voices from the earth were invited to send messages that were included on a small disk that included these greeting. Pope Paul VI included Psalm 8 as a part of his greeting and in light of the magnitude of the journey and the fragility of the men and machines that made the journey this psalm was an excellent choice. This is the first Psalm of praise and wonder in the Psalter and it wonders at the writer’s place in the cosmos and the place of humanity in the cosmos. It, like the language of the creation narratives in Genesis, is an expression of awe and praise, of reflecting on the majesty of the world and the universe that wondered encounters.  Where Psalms 3-7 have found the psalmist finding their world compressed by fear, by weakness or sickness, by oppression or opposition in Psalm 8 we find the world expanded beyond the immediate moment as the poet gazes into the sky and enters into a state of wonder and awe.

Perhaps the place of wonder, praise and amazement arises out of the experience of being delivered. Where before there was wonder about the present moment because of one’s enemies, now the enemies have been silenced from the weakest of place-from the mouth of babes. The world is no longer compressed and the promise in previous Psalms to praise the LORD can now be fulfilled. This is as Rolf Jacobson calls it appropriately the Psalm for ‘soul searchers’ (Nancy de Clarisse-Walford, 2014, p. 120) For those who look out at the heavens and the earth and all of flora, fauna and features and marvel. In our modern age as we look further out into the night sky at galaxies and universes or deeper into the subatomic world we can still respond from a place of awe at the complexity and beauty of the cosmos we inhabit. Yet for many people the world has lost the sense of wonder it may have once had. The skies become illumined by electric lights blotting out the stars and constellations, the beauty of the world becomes reduced to cold and analytical resources to be exploited. We lose the mystery and magic of the world and the romance between the question of ourselves as a part of the creation and yet somehow entrusted with it as well. As Charles Taylor states memorably speaking of our disenchanted reality, “We might say that we moved from living in a cosmos to be included in a universe.” (Taylor, 2007, p. 59) What Charles Taylor is referring to is the sense of loss that many people feel about the difference between the enchanted cosmos of our ancestors full of mystery, magic and danger and our more analyzed and scientific universe where we have lost the sense of mystery and magic.

Psalms are poetry and in their words they wonder about the place in the world of the writer and the writer’s relationship with their Creator. What are human beings that you are mindful of them? These fragile and fickle beings that live for only a short time and then must pass the torch to the next generation. Yet in the midst of the marvel of the cosmos which the poet stands within is the contrast between the miniscule and the majestic. The finite is valued by the infinite, for the Creator has endowed the creation, these men and women, with the ability to reign. Perhaps reflecting back to the Genesis 1 creation narrative Psalm 8 talks of humans being crowned with the glory of God, perhaps a way of referring to the Hebrew thought that humans are created in the image of God. And echoing the creation narratives humanity rules over “the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” (Genesis 1. 26) and yet the place of the Psalmist is not due to the Psalmist own power or majesty but instead is bestowed upon them by the Creator whose name is magnificent in all the earth. It is praise and awe and wonder, and as Martin Luther reflected on creation almost 500 years ago the response was simply:

“For all of this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey him. This is most certainly true.” (Luther, 1994, p. 25)

Images for The Holy Trinity Sunday

Genesis 1: 1- 2:4a                In the beginning…
Psalm 8                                    When I look to the heavens, the work of your fingers…
2 Corinthians 13: 11-13    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God…
Matthew 28: 16-20            Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…
 

OK, a lot of directions that can be gone on a Sunday like this artwise…talking specifically about the Trinity there are images like:

Icon of the Council of Nicea

Icon of the Council of Nicea

Since the Council of Nicea is where the language of God as Trinity became the official doctrine of the church in 325

Rublev's Icon of the Holy Trinity

Rublev’s Icon of the Holy Trinity

Trinity with Christ Crucified, Austrian abour 1410

Trinity with Christ Crucified, Austrian about 1410

For the first reading about the creation there are also a plethora of images, here are some varied images I like:

Lukas Cranach, Day 7 Shabbat, The Rest of God and Man, from the Lutherbibel (1534)

Lukas Cranach, Day 7 Shabbat, The Rest of God and Man, from the Lutherbibel (1534)

William Blake, The Ancient of Days: The Division of Light and Darkness (1794)

William Blake, The Ancient of Days: The Division of Light and Darkness (1794)

PIA09107_fig1

I like this particular nebula because it is where the formation the Pillars of Creation is

Origins of Creation by nisht@deviantart.com

Origins of Creation by nisht@deviantart.com

Creation by OneLifeOneArt@deviantart.com

Creation by OneLifeOneArt@deviantart.com

And for the Great Commission in Matthew’s Gospel:

Christoph Wiegel, The Great Commission

Christoph Wiegel, The Great Commission

Stained glass window by David J. Hetland

Stained glass window by David J. Hetland

The Spirit of Creativity-A Poem

holy-spirit-fire3

At play in the depths of chaos before time began
Dancing in the dangerous depths of the waters of creation
Playfully forming light and darkness, earth and sky
Throughout the ages bringing form to the formless
Giving substance to the wisdom and words of God
Delighting in bringing new and unusual forms of life
Shaping and creating with the molecules and elements of dust and the air
Over the eons you listened and danced and played
Giving birth to the world you delighted in
And it was good

From the smallest creature to the wisest person
Your breath fills our lungs and animates our bodies
You knit us together in our mother’s womb
Forming us each as unique masterworks enduring for a moment
Some of us have recognized the brushstrokes of your work
Others endure unaware of your wind blowing through the world
A few have breathed in deeply allowing you to possess them
While others have been brushed by your fingertips in a moment of inspiration
In the midst of it all you dance and play throughout time
Renewing life in the world you delighted in
And it was good

Never there to be controlled by any priest or king
Instead sometimes you would possess and prophesy
And young men would dream dreams and old men would see visions
The great and the small could all be caught up in the ecstacy of your movement
Never tamed for you are the breath of creation
The Spirit who can play with Leviathan and dance with the Behemoth
Yet sometimes you were content to rest in this dust and clay
Opening eyes, revealing truth and love and beauty
Giving gifts for service and building up the community
Dancing on the edges of dreams and playing with the prophets
Dreaming of the vision of a world renewed
Pointing to the life you dream for the world you delighted in
That it would be good

You came down to the world you created like a descending dove
Like a rushing wind, like tongues of fire, in visions and dreams
Always present yet never grasped and defying words to describe
Yet you move the mountains and shatter the power of fear
You are there pulling the wary disciples of all ages beyond their comfort
Beyond their homes to the ends of the earth and beyond
Interceding in words to deep for sighs and moaning in the brokenness
The wounded creation and a fearful people
Revealing the children of God, opening eyes and dreaming dreams
Moaning in the birth pangs of the new creation
Giving birth to that which is good

Breathe in us breath of God and renew our lives
As you playfully created throughout the eons
Now continue to mold and shape us to be the children of God
The world is longing for as it waits for redemption
In the midst of our own sighing may we hear your voice
And in the midst of brokenness may we hear the music you are dancing to
As you dream and sing a new creation in the midst of the old
Renewing and revitalizing, refreshing and recreating
Dancing and playing and singing and dreaming
For your delight is what enervates the dawning of the new age
And it is good

Neil White, 2013

purple rose 01 by picsofflowers.blogspot.com

The Prophet’s Agony: Jeremiah 4: 19-31

Job by Leon Bonnat (1880)

Job by Leon Bonnat (1880)

Jeremiah 4: 19-31
 19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly;
 I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
 20 Disaster overtakes disaster, the whole land is laid waste.
 Suddenly my tents are destroyed, my curtains in a moment.
 21 How long must I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
 22 “For my people are foolish, they do not know me;
 they are stupid children, they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good.”
 23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.
 24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro.
 25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled.
 26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
 and all its cities were laid in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
 27 For thus says the LORD: The whole land shall be a desolation;
 yet I will not make a full end.
 28 Because of this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above grow black;
 for I have spoken, I have purposed; I have not relented nor will I turn back.
 29 At the noise of horseman and archer every town takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
all the towns are forsaken, and no one lives in them.
 30 And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in crimson,
that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold,
 that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
Your lovers despise you; they seek your life.
 31 For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,
the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!”

In entering the prophet’s poetry we come to experience some small part of the agony of his profession. His whole life, even his very health becomes consumed by the foreboding fear of what is to come. He sees the disaster which he feels he has no power to stop, and yet he takes the fear and names it, places it into words. Perhaps he hopes that by painting reality through the dystopic  lenses that perhaps someone might hear and turn, that perhaps the uttering of this potential reality might alter the reality that comes, otherwise he is looking at the end of the world as he has known it.

The Bible has an audacious belief that the human conduct matters for the well being of creation, in fact the whole notion of shalom and justice are not merely human concepts in Hebrew thought, they effect everything and Israel and Judah’s failure to live this vision is poisoning the earth. From the beginning of the Genesis story Adam and adamah (the Hebrew word for soil/earth) are tied together and in Genesis 3 the earth bears the price of the man’s disobedience:

And to the man he said,”Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘you shall not eat of it,’cursed is the ground because of you; Genesis 3: 17

This is a poetic and theological description of reality that Jeremiah is living out of. It is also behind Paul’s imagery in Romans 8:18-25 where creation will be set free by the children of God being revealed and beginning to live out of their identity and into God’s shalom.

The final image of the poem at this point shows the distance between the poets reality and the peoples with the offensive imagery of a foolish prostitute. When invading armies come and the capture a city the soldiers do not pay, they take what they want-and yet here is Judah represented as a prostitute who is decking herself out in her finest jewels expecting payment, but what Judah will find is rape. As I have  said in earlier posts it is an offensive image, and yet it is the image of the poetry which is trying to rouse the people from their slumber.

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Creative Words: A Poem

Creation by Selfish Eden (deviantart.com)

Creation by Selfish Eden (deviantart.com)

A clever turn of phrase or a verbal picture
In the beginning come the words
And in their own Genesis they craft a new world
Painting with the spirit of imagination
Breathing new life where once only an abyss rested
The words emerge and join together
As bones and sinews
Muscles and skin
Life emerges from the bone yard of the void
Once they emerge they take their own form and have their own life
Each one its own character to be savored and relished
Evoking sights and smells
Sounds feelings and emotions
Recreating the past
Re-imagining the future
Each one has the potential to unearth memories long forgotten
Some use their indelible ink to tattoo themselves on the soul
The realities they create may be harsh and brutal
In their dystopic world we see the dark side of reality
The truths we would rather not see
The sins we would prefer remain buried
Words that rend the world and pierce the soul
Sometimes the poet and the prophet are one
Crying tears of sorrow over words that cannot be contained
And a people whose ears no longer hear and eyes no longer see
Yet words uttered from the same mouth may ache of passion and love
Calling us to hope
Lightening our darkness
Pointing to potentiality and power unimagined
And a future seen only through the hopes and dreams of faith
But they are never just words
They are echoes of the deep language that pours its magic into the world
They point to the real and imagined
They define and name
They build up and tear down
Words set loose on the world
Bearing the best and worst of humanity’s heart
Laying naked the mind and soul
A mirror showing the sacred and profane blended together
For the world the words create reflect the heart of their creator
They go forth to create
They rattle around in the eardrums and the imaginations
Of those who have eyes to see and ears to hear
For in the beginning the words come
The Genesis, the beginning of all the potential worlds they might create
And in the end, when their pneumatic inspiration ceases
Remains the apocalypse of new creation
Unveiled within our memory

Composed Neil White, 2013

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