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Upon the Life of Christ

When Jesus walked about the hills of Galillee,
revolutionaries camped all about,
a righteous fire simmering in their bellies.
They awaited the time of action,
when they would take up arms against the oppressor
and restore power to their people.
God himself would fight for them,
and the name of Yahweh would be vindicated.

Though some of his friends were revolutionaries,
Jesus took no part in the armed struggle.

At that time there were many who forsook political and social struggles,
believing that the consumation of Israel's deepest longings
would not be manifest through any human endeavour.
So they journeyed into the desert,
to meditate on the Scriptures, to pray,
and to pursue the discipline of the body.
There they awaited the coming of God's messiah.

Though some of his friends were ascetics and quietists,
Jesus was not given to a passive spirituality.

And there were some in Jerusalem who felt that the national story
could only continue by a careful compromise with the invader.
The temple aristocracy therefore conspired to hand all zealots
and religious radicals over to the Romans.
In this manner, the invader would become the guarantor of orthodoxy,
and God's name would be preserved.

Though some of his friends were priests and scribes,
Jesus never colluded with the aristocracy.

Jesus joined none of these movements.
He ratified none of their claims.
Jesus claimed God for all the people,
from the least of them to the greatest.
To all the warring factions,
each believing that God was on their side,
he made a simple declaration:
the God of the Hebrews in the God of the godless.
Jesus lived his life in the midst of these little people
and gave them his courage.
The God of Jesus will always be the God of the poor.
Let us not, therefore,
be too swift in claiming this God for ourselves.

Lord Christ, God-forsaken one,
have mercy on us. Amen.

Upon the Urban Poor

Who are these who wander the streets of Collingwood,
eyes empty and shoulders hunched?
Who are these who live in thatches,
and eat McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and tea?
Who are these whom society has hidden away
and pacified with drugs and psychiatry?
These are the schizophrenic and the tortured of mind.
Lord, have mercy:  Lord, have mercy

Who are these whose emotions have been numbed?
Who are these whose weeping cannot be stilled,
whose grief rages wild and deep?
Who are these who blame themselves,
and morn for the passing of a kinder world?
These are the mothers and fathers of suicide.
Christ, have mercy:  Christ, have mercy.

Who are these who hug the bottle for warmth,
whose spirits wander homeless through concrete jungles?
Who are these who mourn the loss of sacred lands,
whose weeping echoes across two hundred years?
These are the firstborn from the Dreamtime.
Lord, have mercy:  Lord, have mercy.

Who are these who fill the churches,
lifting their voices in praise to God Most High?
Who are these who read the stories of Jesus and
pray God's blessing on their going out and their coming in?
Who are these who are ever seeing, but never perceiving,
ever hearing but never understanding?
These are the ones who hearts are stone.
Christ, have mercy:  Christ, have mercy.

Who is this whose form is bruised and mis-shapen,
who sight is obscured by blood?
Who is this man who bears the cross of shame,
who staggers the path of ultimate suffering?
Who is this person unjustly accused,
the victim of trumped-up charges and civilized corruption?
This is Jesus, the poet from Nazareth.
Lord, have mercy:  Lord, have mercy.

These prayers are © Garry Deverell of 13 Lerina Street, Oakleigh East 3166, Australia. If you use them in any way, I would appreciate your acknowledgment of the source.