Sunday, August 27, 2017

the God who sees, hears and touches

Father, 
Thank you for sending your Son
so we could see you with no veil between us,
hear you through no interpreter,
and touch you with no fear.

Thank you for sending your Son
who assures us that
you see us in love,
you hear us when we cry out,
and your touch is our healing.

How can we ever repay you for so great a gift?
Take our hearts, take our lives, take everything;
you have won us by your grace.

And I pray in faith
that you would fill us
with the power of the Holy Spirit
to make us more like Jesus,
to see everyone the way you see them, in love;
to listen in empathy
without adding empty platitudes;
to come close to those we pass every week,
to come so close to them that we will
be able to touch them with your touch
which changes everything,
to embrace them with your love
which makes us whole.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

restore to us the gift of gentleness

Restore to us the gift of gentleness,
no strength but love,
wisdom borne by listening,
and action without haste.

May my words be filled with grace
as you fill my heart with joy.

Let my mind provide no harbor
for harsh judgement.
Gentleness, wash over me
when I consider the mistakes of the past,
when anxiety seems ever-present,
and when fear holds captive the future.
Gentleness, wash over me.
Help me be gentle with myself;
help me be gentle with others.

Restore to us the gift of gentleness,
no strength but love,
wisdom borne by listening,
and action without haste.

Amen.


......................

Restore to Us the Gift of Gentleness
by Troy Cady


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

pinning angels

Pinning Angels
by Troy Cady

My research concludes that
angels have lost their ability to fly;
their wings are now too small and weak
in proportion to their total body mass.
This applies across all breeds.
Just compare my specimens.
In trials of angels
aged three to six months
I found they are able to sustain flight for
an average of only 10.4 seconds
until they plummet to their death.
In my autopsy report I found
consistent bone deformation
due to premature overexertion.
Sociological surveys demonstrate
that most angels now die in adolescence;
the leading theory
is that teenage angels try to fly on their own
despite warnings to the contrary
by elder angels
who have learned that
all angels are now destined to a grounded existence.
If an angel happens to age beyond a thousand years
(which hasn’t occurred since
the dawn of modernity)
their wings become brittle
such that the least bit of flapping
can easily cause irreparable shattering,
commencing in the extremities
and spreading, tragically, to the very core
of their skeletal structure.
This was discovered
in a series of tests dubbed
The Excitability Index.
In brief, raising the hopes
of an Ancient causes them to implode.
See my study in connection
with last year’s Christmas season
for a more detailed analysis.
Regarding treatment,
there is no scientific consensus
beyond that of Aquinas
who links vocalization exercises
with longevity of life.
In this regard, isolation therapy
is now considered an obsolete technique
as multiple observers have demonstrated
the limited efficacy of angelic vocalization
absent a human recipient
(much like the phenomenon
that occurs when a tree falls in the woods
without human observation).
Upon further vocalization exercises
in densely populated urban centers
we have also discovered
limited angelic potency
despite proximity to human subjects;
I have dubbed my working hypothesis
the Aural Obstruction Theory.
Confirmation of this is pending
contingent upon further experimentation.
We are also consulting God
in this study and have filed a petition
to overturn the Angels Unawares Mandate,
since our understanding of angels
would be greatly enhanced
if we could more readily tell them apart
from the common human.
Despite several petitions, God hasn’t budged
and we have yet to find any loopholes in the law.
We are now running projections
to determine how long
humanity will survive
once angels become extinct;
current estimates predict
global destruction on par with
the Greenhouse Effect.
We will destroy ourselves
as we destroy our planet.
More research pending;
education is the best policy. 



Thursday, July 20, 2017

reflections on grief



I know several people who are experiencing some gut-wrenching grief these days. I’m trying to give them the gift of just paying attention to their grief—validating it and being with them in it…not trying to “fix” it. I’m not sure I’m doing such a good job at it, but as I pray for them, I’m trying to keep in mind what they appear to be feeling and thinking at various points. Their thoughts and feelings appear to me to change from day-to-day, hour-to-hour, even minute-to-minute. Confusion is the word that comes to mind. Existential chaos. As I try to put myself in their shoes (which I can’t) this is what I hear, if imperfectly:  

Something cherished and irreplaceable has been lost. How could life betray us so? How to make sense of the violent chaos of existence? How can the world at one time hold so much promise, hope—joy like the rhythm of the tide, a not unexpected ebb and flow—suddenly bring this tidal wave, a sea change of heartbreak whose tears could fill an ocean basin to overflowing? Who could have predicted the earthquake, this tragedy, this ground shifting under our feet?

Did you know, God? Did you know this would happen? If you did, where were you—and WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP IT!?

Blind-sided. That’s what we were. Blind-sided. And now we’re just…blind with tears.

My mother has lost her memory of me. She’s no longer home. Two months only. My father may pass any day now. He only has…maybe a few hours of lucidity left…and then at most a few days of just breathing...and we a few days of just praying the pain keeps at bay. My love isn’t herself anymore. I don’t know what I did. Did I do something to bring this on? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure of anything anymore. Was it all a lie? What do I do? Where do I turn? Do I remember happiness rightly? Was I ever happy? I feel dead, numb. I feel angry. I’m afraid. I feel betrayed, duped. I don’t want to be fooled again, but how can I ever be sure of anything anymore? Who can I trust? What should I do now? My son, my brother, my friend is gone. Just like that. No parent should outlive their child. So much promise! So much life! Gone. Just…gone. Let me collapse. Just let me fall. I can’t stand it. How is it I feel I can’t breathe? My stomach has risen to my throat and my heart sank to my gut. Why am I breathing like this? God, help me breathe. Fill these shallow lungs. Where is the wind now?

You left a hole that will never be filled—wait: Who am I talking to? You’re gone. Can I talk to a hole? I don’t think so. But I want to. Oh, my God, I want to talk to you. I want to hold you and smell your hair again. I want to hear you laugh again. I want to stroke your hand, listen to your voice.

Please say you are in these tears. So many tears, on my face, in my soul, so many tears. Please say you are there. I miss you. I hurt for you. I love you.

………………….


Father, I offer you these many griefs on behalf those I love who have lost so much. I have nothing to add but: Hear them! Carry them! Bear them on your shoulders, in your heart. Hear the cries they cannot put into words. And surround them with friends who can be with them in their pain as much as is possible. Do not leave them abandoned.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

burying peters-son

burying peters-son
by troy cady

what if resurrection
hinges on loving the dead

what if God gives free lessons
on kissing corpses
like learning mouth to mouth
with mummies

what if all we needed to practice
was the art of the
open kiss of opened lips,
a face full of ground’s gravel

whose side would i take?
the living or the dead?

“disgusting!” the critics would say.
“unbiblical!” the christian.

they’d call me in for an interview.
“whose side are you on?” they’d ask.

“the Hurting,” i’d say.
“the hurting? they’re not hurting.
they’re dead,” they’d say.

they’d strike me
and, hearing no prophecy,
would begin to prophesy
on my behalf.

“crucify!” they’d shout.
“he’s good with words
but he never tells us plainly
what he thinks
and when he does,
it’s heresy.”

they’re at my side
with a spear,
thrusting epithets.

so here i am now
slain in the grave
on the side
of the dead
who will rise
like brides
full of passion
for their Beloved,
king of the grave,
king of the crucified.



Friday, July 14, 2017

what children would say


Dear Grace: What God Says Through Children to Today’s Church
by Troy Cady

A good portion of the New Testament consists of letters sent by Christian leaders to congregations in a variety of cities throughout the Roman empire. Paul sent letters to the Christians in Ephesus, Galatia, and Colossae, to name a few. Peter sent letters to Christians in a variety of provinces.

Generally speaking, these letters were filled with admonitions to believers living in a specific context and the admonitions were aimed at helping Christians know how to live in a way that was both a) different from the culture and b) identified with the culture.  The church as the Body of Christ is intended to resemble Christ in that Jesus was both fully human (identified with us) and fully divine (different from us).

By the indwelling Spirit of Christ, followers of Jesus are enabled to imitate their Lord. That is, they are able to live in such a way that identifies with society but also stands apart from certain self-destructive tendencies in society. This is how the church is able to be a hopeful, loving presence in places and situations laden with despair and hatred.

It’s hard being a Christian. We tend to lean more towards one aspect of what it means to be a Christian than the other: either we identify too much with the world-system or we hardly ever identify with it. Those who identify too much do well to remember that without difference…we don’t make a difference. Those who identify with the world too little do well to remember that we can only love the world to the extent that we relate to people and engage the real world. If we are too separate, we fail to love; if we are too enmeshed, we hold forth little hope that things can change.

This summer at our church we are carrying on this great tradition of letter writing for the purpose of discerning how we can be both in the world but not of the world. Each week, a different leader at our church reads a letter to the congregation that grapples with how we can live faithfully in the way of Jesus that engages with the world as we experience it in 2017 (since a lot has changed since the first century A.D.!).  

Since I have the privilege of working with children, I have engaged them in this exercise, too. Each week I tell a story from the Bible and in our wondering time I ask them: “What does God want the church to know through this story?”

It should come as no surprise to us that the children have some amazing and wonderful things to say. I look forward to sharing with you on occasion what God says to the church in 2017 through them. Here are a couple of examples.

On the first week, we looked at the story of creation and this was the short letter the group created:

“Dear Grace,
God made everything to make a song. God made us because he loves us and God is still creating something new for tomorrow. Remember: even though you can’t see God, he’s still there. Love, Grace Kids.”

Last week we looked at the story of Noah and one boy in preschool offered this bit of wisdom when asked what God was saying to the church through the story. He said:

“Dear Grace,
New life comes after death. Love, R—“

This Sunday we’ll be looking at the story of Abraham and Sarah—and the Great Family they started. I can’t wait to hear what the kids have to say!

I’m sure you’ll agree their words are a much-needed reminder to the church in 2017. My prayer is that the adults will take it to heart, that the adults will learn to receive the kingdom of God like children.

That is why I said to them two weeks ago: “It’s important for the church to hear what you have to say. God has given you a voice and God wants you to use it. I wonder what makes your voice unique. I wonder what others need to hear from you. You have a voice and God wants you to use it. Speak up for what’s true and good, beautiful, right and loving.”

There was a moment of silence as they took in that message. And then the silence was broken as one child asked: “I wonder what your voice is, Mr. Troy.”

I said, “I want to use my voice so that others will hear your voice. It’s important for others to hear your voice.”

I pray it will be so.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

the sparrow

“Two for a penny.”
That’s how much he sold me for.
Half a penny.
That’s how much I was worth.
On my own, next to nothing.

Who was this Man
at the market?
And what did He want
with two homeless sparrows?
Those eyes, kind and compassionate,
peered into our small cage.
For the first time in a long time
I stopped beating my wings
against the bars.
For the first time in a long time
I was still and silent
under His gaze.

He regarded me with grace and a grin.
“I’ll take those two,” he said.
Did he see something in me he loved?
Were my colors delightful in his eyes?
I had no song to sing; was it my size
that made him smile?

He paid the price
and reached into our cage
with both hands,
opened like the door.
It was late afternoon.

His hands were dirty
with traces of sawdust,
hard-working and trustworthy.
I can’t explain why,
but I wanted to be in those hands.

He held me tightly
and carefully all at once.
Just right, like he knew
what it was to be a sparrow,
small and fragile.

And as soon as he held me,
he set me free.

All that time, I had lived
in the shadow of the Temple,
but never enjoyed its shelter.

I flew straight
for the altar of incense.
Who can explain it?
Something of the fragrance here
reminds me of the One
who bought me.
Something of the scent
puts a fresh prayer in my chest.
It is only a small piece
in the grand scheme of things,
but I have found a home here
above its smoke,
where I catch the wishes
of the Priest,
who has caught the desires
of the People,
crying out to God for deliverance.
The aroma clings to my wings,
so all day long, every day,
I catch countless prayers
and carry them to the sky,
singing a new song—
the song of incense, bittersweet.

I may die tomorrow,
but I will die in joy—
for one day with God
is better than all that time
I spent living in a cage.



the sparrow
by troy cady
after Matthew 10:29 and Psalm 84:3