Sunday, September 30, 2018

America, Bless God!

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2 Chronicles 7:14

I grew up loving Jesus
and blessing the USA—
With my classmates every morning
I’d bow my head and pray.

God Bless America we’d sing
with heartfelt awe and pride
aware that God Almighty
was our nation’s Holy Guide

Our churches were full of people
and from our homes flags flew;
we saluted veterans, and
respected leaders, too.

We knew America was beautiful,
“God shed His grace on thee!”
then took that grace for granted
and failed to bend a knee.

The years have led us far off course;
and faith in God has waned—
Our leaders now get less respect.
The Bible’s been profaned.

In the shadow of 9/11
we live every day.
Many hearts are downcast;
many folks have lost their way.

So I’m praying for revival—
We need it desperately!
Let us promise to follow God
with true sincerity.

When we return to follow Him
He’ll restore His loving grace.
From sea to shining sea, our Lord
will shine again His Face.

Oh, come and join your prayers to mine,
let’s do it every day.
Ask God to heal this troubled land
and vow to live His way.

Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, September 23, 2018

I'm "Grafted In" to the Olive Tree

*The Grafted In symbol


except that the sap
which rises
from sturdy old olive roots
flows through the veins
of this grafted branch

I’m not Jewish
except for my flesh
which still shudders
at the Shoah
 (of sisters and brothers
of the natural branch)
and the same root
and swears
I’d have done something...

I’m not Jewish
except for my feet
which have walked
the holy, well-worn pathways
in Eretz Yisrael

except for my fingertips
which pressed petitions
between stones
of the Western Wall

except for my ears
which perk to the cantor’s
chanting of the Shema
the Aaronic Benediction
the Kiddush
over bread and wine

except for my eyes
which look
upon the Lamb,
my Atonement

except for my lips
which chant
ancient baruchas
to HaShem

I’m not Jewish
except for my heart
which bears the cloven mark
of circumcision

and loves Yeshua,
the Jewish Messiah
Who was pierced
for my transgressions
Who shed
His precious Jewish Blood
for me

Maude Carolan

*The Grafted In symbol (above) was discovered in the Jerusalem area as a decoration on pottery dated at the 2nd Century A.D. Some archaeologists determined that this symbol was an identifying mark of the early followers of Jesus/Yeshua.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

At the Western Wall, Jerusalem

During our pilgrimage to Israel in 2006
we prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
I was inspired to write a poem about it...

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Israel Pilgrimage—2006

We fold bits of paper
on which are written
our secrets before God
our yearnings
the deepest desires
of our hearts
and tuck them
in crevices of the stones
of the Western Wall

We lay hands
upon the cool stones
and pray earnestly
where others have prayed
their prayers
over the years

The woman next to me
is sobbing, clenching
a slip of paper
in her hand

clearly demonstrating
why some call this
the Wailing Wall

The wind blows
some of the papers
out of the crevices
They sail through the air
and skitter and scatter
along the ground

I ask Etay, our guide
what becomes of them—

He says they are swept up
and placed into bags

then they are buried

…with respect

Maude Carolan Pych

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Remembering 9/11/01

My radio is on. 
The names are being read.
It's been 17 years since 9/11/01.
Here is a poem that I wrote in remembrance
one month later...

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October 11, 2001

No one sees us weeping
No one sees us praying
No one sees us trying
to piece together pieces
in our private places, but
it’s flags we see
They color bustling boulevards
and line our sleepy side streets
Huge ones hang from poles
in front of municipal buildings
and are draped across storefronts
Star spangled banners wave briskly in the breeze
over our white-washed porches
We stick smaller ones in flower boxes
along with the chrysanthemums
Construction paper ensigns
are taped to every classroom window
Flags flutter from car antennae
and are glued to our bumpers
Ostentatious ones stream from rusty red pick-ups
and sleek eighteen-wheelers
Our colors are strung from bridges
and unfurled across overpasses
We even see them tied from tree to tree

Apollo Flag had customers lined up
outside and around the building for over a week
The front of an old clapboard house
on Webster Avenue is painted like Old Glory
and the cement retaining wall is studded with stars
The owner’s boss gave him the day off
to finish the job, and
The Philadelphia Inquirer
snapped it and printed it on Page 2
People drive by just to see it
A talented graphic artist painted
a weeping Lady Liberty
flanked by red, white and blue
on “The Wall” in Ringwood
as a poignant memorial to the missing

No one sees us weeping
No one sees us praying
No one sees us trying
to piece together pieces
in our private places, but
it’s flags we see
We see them on patriotic T-shirts
on rhinestone stars and stripes
and ribbons pinned to our lapels
We even place miniature banners
in miniature stands on shelves and desktops
and download tiny ones
to ever-wave in the lower right corner
of our computer screens
That magnificent banner
raised high above the wreckage and carnage
where until one month ago
the Twin Towers stood
is seared upon our memory banks

Suddenly, it’s not an occasional flag we see
not a rare salute
Suddenly, we’re singing “God Bless America”
and our national anthem, a little louder
a lot more earnestly
our hand placed firmly upon our heart
Suddenly, we’re more apt to shed
a “proud to be an American” tear
Suddenly, it’s not merely accustomed banners
flying from government buildings
and outside new car dealerships
Suddenly, the stars and stripes are not reserved
for Flag Day and the Fourth of July
Suddenly, we’re flying crisp new flags
of a crisp new patriotism
and frayed dingy flags
of a proud old patriotism, renewed

Tears may flow in secret
for the victims and ourselves
Heart-wrenched prayers may appear invisible
as they work in realms beyond what eyes can see
but in the light of day
and beneath porch lights at night
our true colors
our red, white and blue colors
fly boldly in terror’s twisted face
and it’s flags, flags, flags we see

Maude Carolan

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Sound of the Shofar...

Rabbi Jonathan blew the shofar today. I love that sound! It tells me to wake up. Repent. Prepare. Rosh Hoshanna ushers in the Days of Awe and encourages me to look ahead to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. As a member of a Messianic congregation and follower of Yeshua/Jesus, I am grateful my sins are atoned for by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, my Blessed Savior...

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I reach for my sweater against the chill
The crickets are chittering
Sunflowers have shed their golden petals
and a few green tomatoes remain
abandoned on the vines
It’s September—
the High Holy Days are approaching

Soon I will gather with michpocah
in the parking lot outside Beth Israel
We will observe Rosh Hoshanna
Rabbi Jonathan will sound
his kudu shofar beneath the full moon—
Tekiah—Shevarim—Teruah—Tekiah Gedolah

Sages tell us the first day of the month of Tishri
is the day God created the world
the world He so loved
the world He gave His only Son to save
The trumpeting reminds me
to reflect upon my relationship
with this God of my salvation
reminds me, humbly, to prepare for Yom Kippur

So I ponder the Day of Atonement
ponder the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies
sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice upon the Mercy Seat
ponder the sacrificed goat and the scapegoat
ponder forgiveness
ponder my sins, atoned for by Yeshua
ponder my High Priest, the Perfect Sacrifice
Who offered His Very Own Blood
on my behalf

Next will be Sukkot
the Feast of Tabernacles—
From inside a leafy sukkah
I’ll be reminded of the sojourn of God’s people
to the Promised Land
reminded of my very own sojourn
toward God’s promise—
eternal life with Him
in Heaven

Maude Carolan Pych

L'Shanah Tovah!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Contemporary Christian Music, Anyone?

Have you ever been to a Christian rock concert?

The Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove, NJ
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It was good for us to be there
even though our silver pates pounded
and our ears were so deeply traumatized
by each deafening decibel
our hearing actually dulled, temporarily
The thundering beat bounced off
walls and rafters, ceiling and floor
reverberated in our seats
and sent tremulous vibrations
through our entire beings

It was a rock concert of worship music
with smoke and strobe and spotlights
PowerPoint and praise to Jesus. Hallelujah!
Amplified drums and crashing cymbals
the resounding cymbals the Psalms speak of
It's the very same music we enjoy over the radio
when we have control of the knob
There was no adjusting the volume tonight

The lead singer leaped across the stage
and sang so loudly we couldn't hear words
We attempted to sing along as best we could
we clapped and shouted and raised our hands
along with thousands, mostly young
with wonderful innate enthusiasm
and accustomed, receptive ears
We even did "the wave" with them
until we all were reminded
of the balcony's 100-year-old fragility
We were reminded of our own 60ish fragility

We really wanted to stay. We really wanted to enjoy
We really wanted to span generations with great jubilation
We didn't mean to weenie out, but
looking one to the other
realized our pinched faces weren't reflective
of the fired-up ones one-third our ages
so we ducked out midway through the second performance

Tomorrow we'll go to church
We'll sing, "Come, Thou Almighty King"
Number 392 in the frayed pew hymnal
but we'll treasure aspects of tonight
like the little girl in ribbon-tied pigtails
both hands raised way up high
like the cool guys with their big silver crosses
their earrings and bandanas
black tees emblazoned with The Name
like the twelve-year-old in the row in front of us
who kept spinning his green glow stick
as he danced in the bleachers praising his Jesus
with all the fervor of the shepherd/king of long ago
who led that remarkable gambol of wild abandon
before the Holy Ark

Maude Carolan