Signs of the Times
Signs of the Times • 7 December 2018 • No. 178
IN THIS ISSUE: a poem, and a litany for worship, focused on John the Baptist. Below that, a large collection of Advent and Christmas resources for personal reflection and public worship. —Ken Sehested
The baptizer’s bargain
A poem based on John the Baptist
Such a tame name for a man
born to inhabit the wild side
of heaven’s incursion.
You startle children with
your leather-girdled, camel-haired attire,
hot breath bidding the devout
into Jordan’s penitential wake,
the same waters that marked
the boundary of beneficence: of the Hebrew
slaves’ long march from Pharaoh’s provision
(the latter hard, to be sure, but also secure)
to Providence of another, riskier kind,
though laced with promise of milk and honey.
What drove you to this scorched abode,
abounding in wild beasts, hostile foes
and scarce sustenance?
—continue reading “The baptizer’s bargain”
§ § §
John the baptizer
A litany for worship based on Luke’s story
of John the Baptist
Such a tame name for a man born to inhabit
the wild side of heaven’s incursion into
You startle children with your leather-girdled,
camel-haired attire, hot breath calling the
devout into Jordan’s penitential wake.
Witness to the Spirit-dove’s descent,
confirming Elizabeth’s praise and Mary’s assent.
What brings you and
your honey-smeared beard
into such a barren land?
Wade in the water. Don’t mind the mud.
A certain drowning is required as Breath
from above is delivered on the wings of a dove.
The baptizer’s bargain is this:
There’s no getting right with God.
There’s only getting soaked.
Inspired by Mark 1:4–11. Adapted from a longer poem, “The Baptizer’s Bargain.”
§ § §
Advent & Christmas resources for worship
Litanies, poems, sermons, essays, and new lyrics to old hymns
• “Silent night,” an Advent poem
• “Advent longing”
• “Behold the Lamb”
• “The quelling word: Emancipation is (still) coming," a poem inspired by Revelation 21:1-6a”
• “John the baptizer,” a litany for worship based on the Gospel of Luke’s introduction to John the Baptist
• “My soul magnifies you,” inspired by Luke 1: 46-55
• “Keeping watch: The angels appearance to the shepherds," Inspired by Luke 2:8-15 and Lamentations 21:8-9, 14-15
• “Big band or bluegrass,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 98
Old hymns, new lyrics
• “Watching and Waiting in a Half-Spent Night,” a sermon based on Matthew 24:36-44
• “The Baptizer’s Bargain,” a sermon based on Luke 3:7-18; Zeph. 3:14-20; Phil. 4:4-7
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