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The Feast of All Saints: A Poem

Posted on 28 Oct 2015, Preacher: Kevin Maly
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Reading:
St. John 11.32-44

Heaven and earth.
Clean and unclean.
Time and the eternal opposing.
Near and away,
one from The Other,
like God from death and the grave.
Death,
to Mary,
to Martha,
to them in Judea
forever the farthest
removal from God,
the final
removal from God,
the final
removal of
God.
Lazarus and the dead, entombed,
and the tomb NOT
the province of God.
Unclean, everyone knows!
The shroud fouled and filthy,
all pussey and oozing,
untouchable . . . . .
and
anodoryoucouldcutwithachainsaw.
God and humanity on this one agreeing,
on this one in concord at least.

And anyway, it’s just Lazarus. Not married, you know – therefore, not truly in the eyes of the neighbor a man – ever the boy, how sad and how clear, not one in God’s favor. “Yeah, the two of them were never all that close, ya know.”

And Mary and Martha, agreeing just this once:
had Jesus, Messiah, and Savior so dear,
been here
and near,
not dawdling
in all the wrong places,
our brother, he would not have died.
“A wave of your hand hand, a puff of your breath,
and our still brother’s garments would still . . . . .
well, they’d at least still be clean.
Too late now.
Not God Almighty,
not the special Lord OUR God,
can unmess this mess.
Definitionally
not possible we know:
God simply will not abide
things foul, things dead,
things that stinkely stinketh.
Cleanliness next to Godliness, all know.
Or at least the right sort of people know . . .”

Jesus now there
and Jesus weeps.
“What a hash they’ve made of it,” he weeps.
“I and the Father, the One I AM, always and only
love I AM, but you have made
of I AM your monster.
Time to whirl your puny minds ‘round:
Lazarus, you stinker, I AM here!
Arriba, Muchacho, Hop to it!!!”
And “Oooooo,” and “Ahhhhhhhhh,”
goes the crowd. “Who knew?”

“Well, it’s been that way all along,
you silly virgins.
The Light of I AM,
it glows in the dark,
it shines in the tomb,
it’s the ember
amongst the cold ashes.
And this get down,
too this set down:
I AM
not offended
as you would suppose
at the stench of him
dead for four days.
And the gray, sodden shroud –
it’s been lifted and washed and unwound for
I AM,
Yahweh,
this way,
all along,
Glory Be.”

This, the Word of I AM, for this, the Feast of All Saints.
The Feast of All Saints.
What’s it mean?
“You are one of them,” says
I AM.
“My promise eternal,
elemental:
with water and
wind
and
fire and with oil,
with salt bearing witness: see –
the God that
I AM
promises
I AM
forever with you.
And you,
you’ll not ever
rid your self of
I AM.
You’ll not wash
away the mark
of I AM.
You’ll not badly act
away from
I AM.

Nearer I God to thee,
than even your
nose to your face –
most especially
when all facing is gone.
God always near
I AM
God, unoffendable
I AM
by death un-put-off-able,
by death all unstoppable
I AM.”

“Right,” we say,
filled with the murk
of our selves’ own
Enlightenment,
it’s that
that’s this
I AM’s
offense:
we KNOW
when we’re done, we’re done.
Dead is dead!
Life forever in God?
It’s quaint, but it ain’t.
And these All Saints?
“Wish fulfillment,”
Sponge-like we say.
Pat the child on the head,
but don’t dare you say
all the living and dead,
a party of Saints,
a communing of saints,
all chatting
and dining
and drinking.
Bah,
humbug.
And here, we thought
Jesus
was a liberal.

“But a God’s got to do
what a God’s got to do.
So on a November day
darkness
hovering,
I AM
the God undissuadable
I AM
the God undeterable
at grave’s side to comfort
I AM
all them that mourn
I AM
at grave’s side
to offend
the Enlightenment,
to turn tears today
into
tomorrow’s wine of best wonder.
Here’s shock and awe,” says
I AM
without vengeance.
“The distance between
I AM
and you
and you
and the dead
and you
and the yet to be,
tiny, infintessimal and to
I AM
but dust.
So wait and watch
this almost winter month:
you’ll see,
the light shines
well in the dark
that you shall know
I AM
not absent in death,” says
I AM.
“For only the dead shall rise.
And all that separates
you from your dead
and you and the yet to live –
all that has been
and will be and are,
the distance
between the saints –
mere breath.”

Jesus laughs.
“Oh, the surprises I have
for you my dears.
Here,
have
some bread and
some wine.
Toast all the saints –
the ones
near to you
in the pew –
and the unseen ones
even nearer, for
I AM
and
THEY ARE
and, so yet,
YOU
SHALL
ALL
BE.”
Thus
says the Lord
I AM.
Amen.