Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas at the Mall

Well, Thanksgiving is behind us and the frenzy of serious Christmas shopping has begun.  Let's take a deep breath and think about the true meaning of Christmas and not allow the "busyness" of the season to steal our wonder, peace and joy...





CHRISTMAS AT THE MALL

Day after Thanksgiving, at the mall, what is this I see…
Santas sledding in the air and a tinseled Christmas tree,
a roly-poly Frosty, red-nosed Rudolph with some elves,
glittery garlands, balls and bows, bedazzling on the shelves?
The shops are alive with music, “White Christmas,” “Jingle Bells;”
there are “ho, ho, hos,” “let it snows” and cinnamony smells.

It certainly all seems festive, so cheery and so bright,
but what oh what does it have to do with that Holy night?
I cannot find a manger scene, an angel or a star,
I do not see the wisemen…wonder where the shepherds are.
I do not hear a carol or the story of the birth
of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who dwelled right here on Earth.

Many, it seems, have cast aside the things that matter most.
By replacing them with fairy-tales, the Treasure became lost.
My heart fills up with sorrow, and I feel the need to prod
the waning faith of restless souls who live apart from God.
We all need to remember the virgin and the Child…
Revive, O Lord, the rock of faith that’s been so long exiled.

Maude Carolan Pych

Announcement:

I will be the featured poet at a special holiday program of poetry & music at The Ant Bookstore, 345 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, NJ, Friday, December 19th at 7 p.m. Holiday music will be provided by Vicki Warne. Come, enjoy and say hello!

Would you like information about ordering my booklet of Christmas poems and cookie recipes? Just scroll all the way to the bottom of this blog to find it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

DINNER WITH THE HOMELESS

The following poem was written several years ago, following a Christmas dinner for the homeless, at Beth Israel Worship Center, then located in Garfield, NJ. Well, I think Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to share it.

Let me take this opportunity to wish each of you a blessed and thankful Thanksgiving Day.

Photo credit: lilesnet.com


THE HOMELESS DINNER

Beth Israel Messianic Center

Long ago, periodic collect calls
came from various cities around the country
from Brad, down on his luck
desperate for quick cash

Tried tough-love
Get a job
Get it together
Go to a mission
His sinister response to that last suggestion
still burns in my ears…

Before I sit through a sermon

for a bowl of soup

I'll stick a gun in my mouth

That catapulted me out the door
to the Western Union desk
one more time

Every winter
my congregation sponsors a dinner
for the homeless

We circulate fliers at shelters
and Penn Station in Newark, the week prior
and arrange for buses and vans
to pick up all who want to come
We cook up our best dishes
bake our most sumptuous treats
and set each table with linen
and a fragrant pink rose in a bud vase
We donate warm coats
and scarves and gloves
soap, toothbrushes and paste
This year there were even
plenty of new eyeglasses

Gary Selman has been emceeing
the event for years
in faded jeans and red muffler
He tells jokes, makes wisecracks
and strums his guitar
An avid collector of Elvis memorabilia,
Gary humorously strikes a "You Ain't Nothin'
But a Hound Dog," pose and asks
Who wants to sing an Elvis song?

The Sanctuary bulges
with a few hundred people
who appear street-wise and unchurched, so
their quick reply takes me by surprise
especially in light of the long ago words
that still smolder like gunpowder

No! they exclaim

No! We want to sing about Jesus!


Gladly, Gary sets himself to strumming
songs to the King of Kings, the Rock of Ages
instead of the long dead King of Rock

One enthusiastic young man
with a Baptist choir voice
takes the mic and sings
"What a Friend We Have in Jesus"
another, a victim of AIDS
comes forward and gives his testimony
Then homeless and congregants
break bread together
in white linen circles of brotherly love

I can see a lot of TLC

went into the cooking, says one


I hope I can get a pair of glasses, says another

Do you think there'll be a coat in my size?
The lining of this one is torn. See?

Twenty-six people accept Jesus

No sermon for soup
Just love in action

That's what serving Jesus
is really all about

 Maude Carolan



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Baptisms at the Jordan River

Baptism, Jordan River


AT THE JORDAN RIVER
Israel Pilgrimage—1987

The pilgrims line up
at the popular baptismal site
on the banks of the Jordan
donned in flowing white robes
rented from a vendor
on the way in

One by one our rabbi
listens to words of testimony
and dips each believer backwards
as their brothers and sisters
sing softly on the shore

After they emerge
washed clean in that murky old river
they shed their rented robes
and are funneled through
a narrow aisle
where souvenir bottles
of Jordan River water
where olive wood sheep
and olive wood shepherds
tee shirts and postcards
and holy this and blessed that
are offered—
for a price

Our driver hurries us along
beckons us to the bus
The motor’s running

Quick! Or you’ll miss the camel ride
through the wilderness tonight!

And despite renting and hawking
despite murky water
and tight tour agendas, we know
the sincere emersion
of each contrite sinner
has filled the heavens
with hallelujahs
this glorious day


Maude Carolan Pych

The pilgrims from my congregation, Beth Israel Worship Center, Wayne, NJ, continue their Holy Land pilgrimage with our pastor/rabbi, Jonathan Cahn.

The above poem is from a pilgrimage I took in 1987. It is included in my chapbook, A Pilgrim's Quest--A Poet Visits the Holy Land. For ordering information, scroll to the end of this website.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A PILGRIMAGE TO ISRAEL

Mt. Arbel    Photo: peakery.com


MOUNT ARBEL IN THE MOONLIGHT
Israel Pilgrimage--2006

Traveling in the tour bus from Tel Aviv
we arrive at the base of Mount Arbel
before twilight turns to dusk

The prudent would
postpone this venture
till daybreak, but
the zealous are rarely prudent

so seventy of us
imprudent zealous pilgrims
hastily begin an uphill trek
dodging rocky obstacles
Spritely pilgrim feet
shuffle, sprint and stumble
up the mount
right to the cliff edge
at the pinnacle

The last vestiges of twilight
reveal the Galilee
flowing below us, darkly
like a great well of ink
Thousands of twinkling pin-lights
emanate from across the lake
…the city of Tiberius

The full moon
makes shadows of us all
as our guide teaches
and our rabbi ministers

We sing
O how we sing—

We are standing
on holy ground and we know
that there are angels all around…

and song after song of praise
unconcerned about hour or nightfall

Our exhilarated spirits mellow
and we lapse into solemn silence
except for muffled adoration
by a few and gentle weeping
by those bearing weighty burdens

then one by one
we make our way
…sure-footedly
down the steep, stony path
as the Lamp Unto Our Feet
God’s great October orb
casts His holy beacon
upon what otherwise would be
a treacherous, dark descent

Maude Carolan Pych

Jonathan Cahn, pastor/rabbi of Beth Israel Worship Center, Wayne, NJ, is currently leading a pilgrimage to Israel. May the Lord bless it in every way and may all of the pilgrims return from this amazing trip with an ever deepening love for Messiah, the Bible and the land.

The above poem appears in my poetry booklet entitled, A Pilgrim's Quest--A Poet Visits the Holy Land. For information about how to place an order, scroll all the way to the end of this blog.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pilgrimage Pending

The City of Jerusalem     Photo: thedesertreview.com








A GOOD LAND
“For the Lord your God is bringing
you into a good land.” Deuteronomy 8:7-9

Israel Pilgrimage—2006

My children, siblings
and friends are quick to say:

What’s so good about it?

Suicide bombers
blow themselves up
in the marketplace
and take as many with them
as possible

Palestinians and Israelis
throw rocks at one another

Bombs fly from Lebanon

Enemies surround
and yearn to shove Israel
into the Mediterranean Sea

Who needs the Middle East?

And yet
this is the land
where the virgin gave birth to Jesus
where Lazarus emerged
alive! from the tomb
where Peter walked on water
and lepers were healed
where my Savior
was crucified, rose
and promises to return

where the roots
of the olive tree
that I’m grafted into
reach down deep
into good soil

It’s a good land—
nourishing me with milk
of the living Word
and sweet honey hope
that thrives
in the center of my being

How can I not love it?

Maude Carolan Pych

Jonathan Cahn, pastor/rabbi of Beth Israel Worship Center, Wayne, NJ, is preparing to lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, this month. I will not be going this time. I've been blessed to make three pilgrimages to Israel and have written a chapbook of poetry about my experiences. The above poem appears in that chapbook, titled "A Pilgrim's Quest". Scroll to the end of this blog for ordering information.