EVEN THE HOLIEST OF LABELS
(Matthew 16: 13-20)
We would have held you in the past, Jesus.
We would have kept you in the jars,
however large, from which we’d already drawn,
the ones with the title of prophet, names
synonymous with speech from the voice of God:
names like Elijah, Jeremiah, John,
and others whose words had rung
through streets and hills,
had challenged our minds and hearts
a while ago.
A little bothersome, those prophets,
thorns to the strong while
comforting the weak,
disruptive to the status quo,
but familiar, understood;
holding few surprises
and therefore somewhat safer
for the following.
We are not easy with the new, Jesus,
we do not readily welcome change.
We prefer our futures to arrive in dress
of the dreams we dreamed in the past,
tomorrow to be today with
Even the title Messiah,
apparently so daring,
was a word we thought we understood
to mean another David:
the reign of God to mean the reign
of another worldly kingdom.
We were not prepared for the cross.
We were not prepared for the wine
to be new, and to require
such newer skins.
We would have held you in the past, Jesus,
But you are not confined by
the fence of our understanding.
You move beyond the boundaries
Show us afresh the limits of even
the holiest of labels.
Open us to a God who is
full of surprises.
Show us that there are possibilities
we have not imagined.
Show us anew that there is more,
much more, than we may ever know
about what it can mean,
for ourselves and the world,
that God is really with us: