Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Re-entry: My Post Camino Journey

I have returned to my old life with all of its ambiguity
Moving from a deep sense of purpose on a world scale
To uncertainty, melancholy and meaninglessness
Exacerbated, I’m sure, by too much introspection
But undoubtedly fueled by a genuine depravation
One that is not new, nor fleeting
Ancient to the soul and lingering deep within 
How does one move from significance to desolation
Such a radical shift, belonging to detachment, in a matter of days

Having lived a life that others only dreamed of
Having scaled the heights and explored the depths 
Having been poured into by many notables from many streams
Having been taken, blessed, broken and given away
Having found faith, hope and love, earthly and heavenly
Having ventured into paths unknown, guided by a divine hand
Having tasted His goodness, mercy, loving kindness, and abundant provision

And now restlessly, faithlessly, weighed down by unsettledness
Denying the contentment that declares itself over and above me
Ignoring the peace, sacramentally spoken around and in me
Flirting with despair and resignation repeatedly 
Hoping to numb a pain in a place I cannot find

If I were a psalmist there might be resolution
If I were a martyr there might be consummation 
If I were a warrior there might be noble valor
If I were a visionary there might be hope on the horizon

But I am a lost sheep, wandering in an overgrazed field
Longing for the voice and guidance of the Good Shepherd
Remembering His words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Wondering where His hand has led me and why
Wondering if this merry go round has an end game
Wondering if I will ever hear that voice behind me…
“This is the way; walk in it.”

"Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart sad?'
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again --
my savior and my God!"

mark d. cooke, 11-14-17

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

On the Eve of Power: A Prayer

I’m supposed to preach tomorrow…about your power
The power that comes when we tarry – seeking Your face
        acknowledging our helplessness, sinfulness
            and utter inadequacy
Your Word and works declare, even shout
            this power, this spirit indwells me
    but there’s something more… “it shall come upon you”
            something from without, invading within
Changing forever the source and direction
          of what drives me
And tomorrow I stand before your precious people
Confidently confessing for all to see
            the reality, immanence and relevance
Of your power…for us today – right now
     come hell or high water
            come addiction, depression and personal failure
An overcoming power
    when my loved ones get sick and even die
    when my children stray and fall
    when the chaos of the moment
            drains out any vision for the future
    when my own flesh leads an open rebellion
         against the new creation that I’ve become in Christ
    when I’m misunderstood, misrepresented
            and even betrayed

That’s right Lord, I’m gonna stand up there
       under the mantle of man’s ordination
              vast years of my pastoral training and profession
  with what sometimes seems like – very little overcoming faith
       but loads of religious experience
       and testify to the POWER, Your power, the power of God
Divine power, creative power, resurrecting power, healing power, saving power, delivering power, transforming power, overcoming, devil-stomping, faith enhancing, limitless power!
I’ll wave my hands expressively and shout,
“It’s in me!  It’s in you!  It’s in this church!
It’s real and here right now, for any and every situation!”

Just one hitch, Jesus, I don’t feel very powerful tonight
            I have recollections of yesterday and long ago
When your power in me
            imparted transformation and faith
Somewhere in the journey…too often self-absorbed
     I stretched out my hand,
             touching a glory meant only for you
Proud, careless, foolish, naïve, immature, undisciplined
            all the above
My need for validation exposed me
            to the pressures and pulls of this world
        and Delilah cut my hair and Philistines plucked my eyes

But when I cried, “Lord, have mercy! Great is Your faithfulness!”
Your healing grace restored my sight, the joy of my salvation
             and with that my strength
So tomorrow I will without shame proclaim…
“Not by might, not by power
                  but by my Spirit, says the Lord”
And if you don’t do something, Father
            in my life, in our church, in our land
We don’t have the power…to get it done

Lord, light the fire again
            start tonight, ignite in me afresh
                    then through your presence and your power
Release in your people the passion of Pentecost
Make it so, dear God – for Jesus sake.  Amen!

02/14/98, Revised, 1/31/17  -  Mark D. Cooke