Challenging thoughts for Christmas – and all year round

20 Dec
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”....

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”…. (pic from Wikipedia here)

In Galatians 2:10, we read “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”  Do these words sting you like they do me?  Are you, like me, convicted of a lack of concern – at the very least a lack of prayerful concern in this area?  I am.  Mea culpa – I have not been as sensitive as I could be about these things.  The neighbors God has put around me are always there that his love might be revealed!

A few weeks back we had a speaker here at Concordia University St. Paul who labels herself “lower class”.  It was a very enlightening talk – she brought to my attention several things I had not considered – and many others I have considered but quickly forget – about the challenges that face people who are, as she put it, “experiencing poverty”.  I had a chance to email her later on and she suggested that I get in touch with a man from our university campus who she had been most impressed with – the janitor, Keith Horrigan.  She told me that when she had been on campus, a bit nervous about her speaking engagement here, Keith had noticed her and very helpfully and kindly guided her to where she needed to be.  Keith ended up attending the talk (or “convocation”), which he told me later he never does at Concordia, and she pointed him out afterwards, heaping praise on him for noticing her and helping her.

It turns out that Keith to would label himself as “lower class” – and he happens to be a member of a local LC-MS congregation.  I had lunch with Keith a few weeks back and heard the remarkable story of how God saved him in his late twenties.  Growing up in a Catholic family, he had lost his faith very early on before Christ pulled him out of his pit.  One of the many interesting things I learned from Keith is that he is very well read when it comes to books about Christian spirituality.  He told me that right now he is working his way through the Philokalia, a spiritual classic in the Eastern church (which he says he thinks gets a bit wacky at times, but has much of great worth).  He is also a poet.  What follows is his poem “My Gomorrah”, which he gave me permission to publish here.

I need to eat with this man again.   Perhaps today I will be so blessed to do so.
Here is Keith’s poem: (not sure why can’t get a space before it):
I have wandered through your city nights
      through the corners of your screens,
Between the factories exhaustions
   and the drought
      of your garbage ridden streams,
Beneath these newspaper blankets
   I have weathered
      the assault of your extremes,
Through the ash cans of your alleyways
   through the dank
      in the churning of your schemes,
Through the miles of  your heartlessness
   through the thick
      and the grime of your regimes,
In the blank of your ghetto dawn
   sprawled out
      between these lines of urban green,
Walking through this dead of night
      through these memories obscene,
I have traced the bindings of your gold
      to the gate of broken dreams,
Within these iron railed graveyards
   I have fought
      with the howling of your screams,
With the taste of blued metal in my mouth
   and with all
      that belittles and demeans,
I have bathed within your sacraments
   and waded
      through the pools of your ravines,
And I have wasted not a taste
      from your sewers and latrines,
I have greased the turning of your gears
      through the cogs of your machines,
Shackled to the threshold of your doors
      for your courtrooms to convene,
Held hostage for the piercing of this crown
   to be tried
      by the wiles of kings and queens,
Paying for the crimes of your injustice
   with more
      than one lifetime it seems,
Hammered to your tree of weeping wood
   once again
      I replay this morbid scene,
And once again
   for this crime of empty pockets
      I’m forsaken
         waiting for the just to intervene.

Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Challenging thoughts for Christmas – and all year round

  1. Travis Doig (tdoig)

    December 30, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Nathan, this is great stuff! Thanks for sharing. Could tell me a bit more about what went on at this convocation?

  2. infanttheology

    January 1, 2014 at 12:29 am


    Here is Julia Dinsmore’s book:

    Here is her Twitter handle:

    She had lots of thoughtful and challenging things to say and she struck me as being very gracious in spite of the hard words she had to say (much of it which revolved around the fact that most persons who are well off simply do not understand world of the lower class – and the bad and good that is found there – nore do they generally wish to).

    Would write more but a bit prssed for time right now.



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