76. The Sermon

“Children:
Now I cast my
Gaze outside these windows,
Purchased by us
In prosperous days.
Now as I look
Out, what do I
See? No
Blade of grass. No
Bird nests. No leaves
On the trees.
And your faces,
They as much as
Ask me:
Why no rain?
Why would our good
Lord take our green fields?
Take them, leaving
Nothing.
So on this good
Sabbath here, I ask you:
What is God’s word
When He takes
Away?

“‘Thus the Lord says:
Cursed be
The man that trusts in
Man, who maketh
Flesh his arm,
And whose heart
Departeth from the Lord.

“‘He shall be like
Heath out in
The desert–
In the patched place
In salt land he liveth, in
Wilderness and
Not inhabited.

“‘Blessed
Is the man whose
Trust is in the Lord,
And whose hope
The Lord is.

“‘He shall be
A tree with roots by
Waters,
One that spreads her
Roots beside the river;
Not see heat,
But her leaf be green;
Nor be careful
In the year of drought.
Neither shall she
Cease from yielding fruit.

“‘The heart is
Deceitful above all,
Desperately
Wicked. Who can know it?
I the Lord search
Hearts, I
Try the reins,
Even to give
Every man according to
His ways.’

“Is it dry?
God has sent
His Word. Before
You heard, the birds
Of the air told you. Ere
You heard, the creatures
Of the field cried out.
Ask yourself why
You cannot find water.
Why your fields turn
Salt land as you till.
Why?
Because love of
Mammon, love of Man,
Yes, even of family,
Hinders God if
God is not loved
First. And
Brings no bounty
From the ground or sky.
Fellow Christians,
I myself have
Watched our Sundays change:
God’s day.
Sundays spent at
Church and Bible-reading?
No.
Sunday drives, cars,
Buying with your coin,
Visits, idle gossip, hearing
Radio, more things to buy.
Wild colts play and
Gallop with their kind:
So you revel
In the pounding
Beating of your
Hearts.

“Where
Is your treasure?
Here?
You cannot trust
Man. Cannot
Trust the heart that
Beats in your own breast.

“Bless the Lord
Today. And bless
The dust. When the sparrow
Falls, go shrive
Your soul.
God has gathered
Your face in His hands,
Stripped away all
But what you must
See: that you are
The naked, helpless, hungry,
Wandering lost
Children of the Lord.
And that in His
Limitless, high
Kindness–Word took
Flesh. Christ died
On the cross. For
You:
          ‘Jesus
          Walked that lonesome
          Valley. He
          Walked it by
          Himself–no one
          Else could walk it
          For him. He
          Walked it by
          Himself.’

“Yes.
You stand, by
Yourself, as Jesus did.
Just you. You and
God. Keep that
Hymn in mind,
Brothers, sisters,
When you see
The land.
God is with us.
Yes, He is.
In this land. Now:
Humbly bow your
Heads in gratitude.”

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