The Temple: A Sonnet Crown
Come, make your dwelling in my humble heart:
although the outside is a hut of clay,
inside eons compact into a day
and there's a universe in every part,
but without form and void, lacking the art
that spoke the worlds into divine array.
You breathed in life; I breathed out the decay
that undid what was well done at the start,
and made myself unfit to be your home.
You could have passed the sentence even then,
but stooped instead to indwell a virgin's womb;
stoop further now, to the dark home within,
where dust and disrepair dwell till you come
set my flawed house in order once again.
Set my flawed house in order once again:
Sloth lazes on the couch; Lust, in the bed,
mocks when mad Envy strikes Wrath on the head
till he fling furniture around the den
where Petulance, Self-Love, and Pride have been;
there Gluttony and Idol-Worship spread
a feast of mice in filth and pig's blood bred,
and the Strong Man keeps all enchained within.
Bind the Strong Man with his own cruel chain;
with the coiled whip that cleansed God's holy ground,
drive out the seven demons that remain
in my dark house; rebuild it all around,
purge it till it's as free from crook and stain
as the tent patterned on the heavenly mount.
As the tent patterned on the heavenly mount,
so are God's graces ordered all aright:
the altar, where God's Lamb burns out of sight
our sin; then purity flows from the fount
before the door; inside, the loaves abound
to feed our faith; we may read, â€œI am Lightâ€
in the flaming candle; to the ceiling's height,
soft smoke shields from the glory blazing round
God's fierce shekinah on the mercy-seat,
from which we are prevented by a veil
(his own torn flesh) his holiness to meet.
But, transitory types of what is real,
they cry out for a lasting home instead,
a perfect temple where God's Name might dwell.
A perfect temple where God's Name might dwell
was David's one prayer that God did not heed,
but promised he would raise him up a Seed
to build a house and throne unshakeable;
the house of Solomon was founded well,
and there the weak and poor all came to plead
and find God's mercy great in time of need;
but that king died, his throne and temple fell.
Rivers of blood God's wrath cannot appease,
and there's no house of gold that we can raise
for him to dwell in, since he made the seas
and earth and heaven. Angels before his face
tremble at this deepest of mysteries:
Immanuel is God's true dwelling place.
Immanuel is God's true dwelling place;
no lodging but a womb did God prepare
for him whose arms encircle everywhere.
He bound the boundless in so small a space
he seemed lost in his mother's warm embrace
of care for him who bears the worlds that bear
her up who bore him while borne in his care.
The second Eve, mother of a new race,
a carer cared for and a bearer borne,
made a new temple of frail flesh and bones,
which soon was rent by cruel nail and thorn;
but in three days he raised it up at once,
as he had said; and rising up that morn
in him, we are a house of living stones.
In him we are a house of living stones,
his own possession, a kingdom of priests
who offer sacrifices, not of beasts,
but calves of good deeds, incense of deep moans,
helped heavenward by the Spirit's speechless groans.
Our bread is better than the ancient feasts,
priests clothed more glorious, kings with higher thrones,
prophets who have more joyful news to tell;
We are Christ's brothers; the bride of his love;
his body; the Church where he's pleased to dwell;
both house and household, and on earth may prove
a mystic city fit for God until
the heavenly dwelling comes down from above.
The heavenly dwelling comes down from above
when two or three are gathered in his name,
one Church, the spiritual Jerusalem,
those striving joined in one with those who strove
and conquered; all hell's powers could not move
them from their Rock, and our Rock is the same;
one Lord, one faith, one gospel we acclaim,
one Spirit who has made us one in love.
We lost love's unity when we first fell,
and found a hell in being set apart
from God; restore your land, Immanuel!
Make our end better than our Eden-start;
and till that heaven where we'll ever dwell
come, make your dwelling in my humble heart.