Other Poems

By the Beautiful Gate

By the Beautiful Gate doth my heart lie abandoned,
confined to the dust by crippled estate, dependent on
shame for a shekel’s remorse and a pitiful glance.

                  Look at me,
if you dare to compare your lofty composure.

Season by season, we watch for the light of the sun’s
promised rise and Messiah’s awaited approach.
We long for redemption beyond silver and gold,
           beyond every imperial consent.

      Here Yeshua*
stumbled on his way to that hill, the judgment of those
with investments to guard.

      Here Stephen
was stoned for his wonders and signs, blaspheming the
beggar-filled temple’s reproach.

      Season by season
we fancy a word from a John or a Peter, for some grace
overheard. We long for a gift
     beyond charity’s rue,
     beyond silver and gold,
for the bounty of wonder;
     for a Presence divine,
           arrayed in full splendor.

                  Look at us,
the disciples demanded. Oh indigent soul, disabled of
limb and dishonored of heart, the Abling One comes
     with honor-laced eyes, causing feet to arise with
           the high prize of praise.

      Season by season
by the Beautiful Gate—now plastered and bricked by
despair’s brutal reign, we long for redemption
     beyond silver and gold,
           beyond all imperial consent.

            How long,
how long shall predestined Mercy
lie tangled and tethered with grief?

            How long,
how long ’til gravity’s sway shall
     relinquish its stay over feet made
     for leaping and eyes for delight?

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org. Inspired by Acts 3:1–10. *Transliteration of Jesus’ Hebrew name.

Background: The walls of the old city of Jerusalem bear seven gates. The oldest was known as the Beautiful Gate in Jesus’ day, though its common name now is the Golden Gate. It is on the east wall, where the Shining Glory of God entered the city and where the Messiah was to be revealed.

Archeologists believe the Beautiful Gate was built on the ruins of an older gate named the Mercy Gate. It was here that John and Peter encountered the crippled man begging for alms in the story from Acts 3. Legend has it that Jesus passed through this gate on his final entry into Jerusalem, and then was marched out this gate, carrying his cross on his way to crucifixion. Legend also has it that the Jewish-Christian community’s first martyr, Stephen, was stoned in front of this gate. The gate was walled shut in the ninth-century and has remained so ever since.