Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Ode to Church Dogmatics

Of thee I sing, Church Dogmatics,
Of thee I sing, grandest and most lofty work,
Mountains of thought, cathedral of the mind,
Symphony of wonder and surprise.
Mighty sentences, I sing of ye:
Phrase upon phrase, tottering in the air, creating worlds
And vistas, heights and darkest depths.
Of ye I sing, black volumes:
Lined up and dressed in sombre orange overcoats, now turning
Autumn-yellow, crowding out entire shelves;
Groaning tomes as heavy as the earth,
With words as light as dust
Or music.

Of thee I sing, Volume One,
Doctrine of self-unveiling Trinity, and Trinity
In self-unveiling Word;
Volume Two, of thee I sing,
Doctrine of love and liberty, of liberating love,
Electing God, elected man, one person;
Volume Three, I sing of thee,
Doctrine of creation and of covenant,
Of heaven and earth called
Out of chaos to redeem, and of a creature
Loved by God.
Volume Four, I sing of thee (longest and best by far):
Doctrine of Immanuel, of God and man
And God-with-man in Jesus,
Doctrine of a servant who is Lord
And the Lord who is a servant;
Doctrine of God’s Yes-made-flesh
Forever in one person, forever for us all.

Of thee I sing, Church Dogmatics:
Work of astonishment and joy,
Work of one life, one struggle,
One long limping wrestling with an angel—
A young boy telling what he saw;
An old man talking on and on, till all his talk
Falls silent
Before the whisper of a Word.

Happiest work of witness, I sing of thee:
A crooked finger pointing
In the dark.


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