March 1: “A Speech” by Day Williams

A Speech

Let me say how I see myself:
You’ll know me better than before.
I ask for your indulgence;
Don’t grab your coat and push the door.

I’ve lived in places ‘round the world
And given viewpoints careful thought.
I feel a good way to begin
Is to inform you what I’m not.

If I said I’m a Communist,
You’d listen with an open mind.
They say they’re for equality
And that objective fits your lines.

And if I told you I was gay,
You might say you are liberal, too.
What other people do in rooms
Doesn’t matter much to you.

If I said I’m in real estate,
Had made a fortune from my plan,
You’d stick around to hear the spiel,
So you’d get rich quick, too, on land.

And if I talked of hatred of
Folks for the color of their skins,
I bet that some would listen,
Hoping racial hate would win.

If I said I loved drugs and sex,
You might want to join in my game.
You might be one to go along,
Neglecting health, neglecting shame.

And if I said my skin was green
Or blue, or gender was unknown,
And wanted crayons and safe space,
You’d follow me across time zones.

So when I say that I’m a Christian
I wonder why you close your ears.
Why do you close your “open mind”
And flood your mind and heart with fears?

I only said I was a Christian.
I didn’t poke you in the face,
I didn’t hit you with a Bible
Or occupy your private space.

I only want to tell you I
Believe in Christ, Christ crucified,
His body buried in a guarded tomb
While men lost heart and women cried.

That man came back to life again
And ate a fish and honeycomb.
He gave disciples more commands,
Ascended to his holy home.

You might say it’s a fairy tale,
That there’s no life once people die.
If you can prove He didn’t rise,
Then I will bid my faith good-bye.

You hear about hypocrisy,
Not of the good works of the Lord:
How people’s lives have changed for good,
How people are revived, restored.

No, you will hear about the troubles−
That is what makes the stories sell.
You’ll seldom see them cover it
If God has made a crushed man well.

The Gospel’s name means it’s Good News,
News of salvation and God’s light.
God’s Good News is His love for you . . .
Thank you for listening tonight.

 

~Day Williams

The One They Need

The One They Need

Christ Jesus—He’s
The one they need;
But they won’t see
And won’t pay heed.

~Day Williams

EZRA CHAPTER TWO

EZRA CHAPTER TWO

1 These were the people of the province who

Went up from there—from captive

   exiles whom

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon

Had sent to Babylonia. They came      

Back to Jerusalem and Judah, all

To their own towns. 2 They came with Zerubbabel,

Jeshua, Seraiah, Nehemiah, Re-

Elaiah, Mordecai, Baanah, Bilshan,

Mispar, Bigvai, and Rehum. Israelites

Numbered like this: 3 The Parosh family,

          Two thousand and one hundred seventy-

Two, 4 three hundred seventy-two of

Shephatiah, 5 of Arah, seven hundred

          Seventy-five, 6 of Pahath-moab, namely

The family of Jeshua and Joab  

Two thousand and eight hundred twelve, 7 of Elam

One thousand and two hundred fifty-four,

8 Nine hundred forty-five of Zattu; of

9 Zaccai, seven hundred sixty; 10 of

Bani, six hundred forty-two, 11 and of

Bebai, six hundred twenty-three, 12 and of

Azgad, one thousand and two hundred twenty-

          Two, 13 of Adonikam, six hundred sixty-

          Six, 14 and of Bigvai, two thousand and

Fifty-six, 15 of Adin, four hundred fifty-

          Four, 16 and of Ater, namely, Hezekiah,

          Ninety-eight, 17 and of Bezai, three hundred

And twenty-three, 18 and as to Jorah, one

Hundred and twelve, 19 of Hashum

   were two hundred

Twenty-three, 20 and of Gibbar, ninety-five;

21 Of Bethlehem, one hundred twenty-three;

          22 The people of Netophah, fifty-six;

          23 Of Anathoth, one hundred twenty-eight;

24 The family of Azmaveth had forty-

Two; 25 and of Kiriatharim, Chephi-

Rah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty-

Three; 26 and of Ramah and of Geba, six

Hundred and twenty-one; 27 the people of

Michmash, one hundred twenty-two;

   28 of Bethel

And Ai were two hundred twenty-three;

29 The family of Nebo, fifty-two;

30 Of Magbish were one hundred fifty-six;

31 And of the other Elam were one thousand

Two hundred fifty-four; 32 of Harim, three

Hundred and twenty; 33 and of Lod

   and Hadid,

And Ono, seven hundred twenty-five;

34 Of Jericho, three hundred forty-five;

35 Of Senaah, three thousand and

   six hundred

Thirty; 36 the priests: The family of Jed-

Aiah, namely, the house of Jeshua,

Nine hundred seventy-three;

   37 and of Immer,

One thousand fifty-two; 38 of Pashhur, one

Thousand two hundred forty-seven; 39 of

Harim, one thousand seventeen;

   40 the Levites:

The family of Kadmiel and Jeshua—

The family of Hodaviah, sev-

Enty-four, 41 singers: Asaph’s family,

One hundred twenty-eight; 42 the family

Of gatekeepers of Shallum, Ater, Talmon,

Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai, one

Hundred and thirty-nine in all; 43 the temple

Servants, the family of Ziha, Has-

Upha, Tabbaoth, 44 Keros, Siaha,

Padon, 45 Lebanah, Hagabah, and Akkub,

46 Hagab, Shamlai, Hanan, 47 Giddel, Gahar,

Reaiah, 48 Rezin, Nekoda, and Gazzam,

49 Uzza, Paseah, Besai, 50 and Asnah,

Meunim, Nephisim 51 and Bakbuk, Hak-

Upha and Harhur, 52 Bazluth, Mehida,

Harsha, 53 Barkos, Sisera, Temah, 54 Nez-

Iah, and Hatipha; 55 the family

Of Solomon’s own servants Sotai,

Hassophereth, Peruda, 56 Jaalah,

Darkon and Giddel, 57 Shephatiah, Hattil,

Ami and Pochereth-hazzebaim.

58 All temple servants and the family

Of servants of King Solomon, three hundred

Ninety-two; 59 and the following came up

From Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan,

And Immer, but they could not demonstrate

Their family or their descent was out

Of Israel: 60 the family of Delaiah,

Tobiah, and Nekoda came six hundred

And fifty-two; 61 and of the family

Of priests: the family of Habaiah,

Hakkoz, and Barzillai (who had wed one

Of Barzillai the Gileadite’s daughters

And was called by their name). 62 They

            looked for their

Entries in the genealogical

Records, but they were not found there,

   so they

Were kept out from the priesthood as unclean.

63 The governor advised them not to eat

Most holy food until a priest arose

Who could consult the Urim and the Thummim.

64 The whole assembly totaled forty-two

Thousand three hundred sixty,

   65 not including

Their seven thousand and three hundred thirty-

Seven servants, both male and female;

they had

Two hundred male and female singers, too,

66 And horses−seven hundred thirty-six—

And mules−two hundred forty-five− 67

   four hundred

Thirty-five camels, and six thousand seven

Hundred and twenty donkeys. 68 When

             they reached

          The Lord’s house in Jerusalem, some heads

Of families brought voluntary gifts

To help rebuild God’s house upon its site.

          69 According to their means, they

   furnished to

The building fund the sum of sixty-one

Thousand gold drachmen and five

   thousand manehs

Of silver, and one hundred priestly robes.

70 The priests, the Levites, some among

   the people,

The singers, gatekeepers, and temple servants

Settled in their own towns, and Israelites

Settled in their own towns, as was

   their right.

The Temple Cleansed

The Temple Cleansed

Beware that ox, or else your side will sport
A gash in it that you could drive a cart
Through, sir. This is unusual: For sheep,
Oxen, bird cages, tables, to be strewn
Outside the temple when they all belong
Inside so that we merchants can conduct
Our business, as we do at Passover
And other feasts, the prosperous times for us.

What am I doing out here with my sheep
And doves? I’ll tell you if you’ll help me keep
These brutes together while I feed the birds.

We merchants minded our own business while
The money-changers sat at tables where
They changed the coins from foreigners, who had
To pay for sacrificial animals
With shekels–they’re the only coins we take.
My lambs and doves are highest quality,
The perfect specimens for sacrifice
According to the Law, and I will charge
No more than what the market will accept.

A man needs to make a living, sir, to feed
His family, the worker deserves a wage,
Don’t muzzle the oxen while they thresh the corn.
I give my tithes and offerings, take care
Of neighbors when they need some help, my wife—
I’m true to her, I’ve made a covenant
With my own eyes not to cast them upon
A maiden, or to covet animals
My neighbors owns, his wife, his servants, or
Anything else, and for my righteous acts
Jehovah has expanded my domain:
A bigger house, more pastureland, more sheep,
Though I am not as important as you are
As caretaker of God’s Word and a guide
To men like me who need the Lord to steer
Them through the traps and thorns that block the path
To One who made the heavens and the earth,
To One who sent the rain to flood the earth,
To One who with his brilliance made the face
Of Moses shine so brightly that he had
To wear a veil, the people were so scared.

This interloper comes from nowhere, town
Up north with ten or twelve inhabitants,
And he presumes to tell you Pharisees
And Sadducees that you don’t follow God.

We Jews, entrusted with God’s law, we know
The way to God and we don’t block a soul
From knowing him. Today that man took cords
And bound them like a whip, a whip that stung
And took its share of blood, look at my back,
If you will, see the wound and the dried blood,
Is there no balm in Gilead? That man
Should cleanse himself before he seeks to cleanse
The temple, which is what he claimed that he
Was doing, the pretentious Nazarene
Born outside marriage to a peasant girl.

He should be whipped himself; I’ll count on you
And other leaders of our faith to charge
Him with a crime, give him the lashes, teach
Him justice from the temple he’s so fond
Of, and he’ll crawl back to his tiny town,
His tail between his legs, and let us be.
This was to be my biggest day all year,
With shekels that would buy my wife and son
As many gifts and treats as they desire:
I’ll take my sheep and doves, and scrounge for coins
From foreigners devoted to the Lord.

You say that you’ll do even more than whip
The Great Pretender? He will take the curse,
Crucified like the criminal he is.
A satisfactory result, if you
Persuade the Romans to pound him with nails
And lift him up, as Moses raised the snake
So that our ancestors in wilderness
Would look at it and God would heal them. Go
And do your work, I’ll back you ‘til the end.

~Day Williams