Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The Saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of the heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus, come
Break my resistance and make me your home.
Hear Malcolm Guite read today’s poem
As we arrive on Palm Sunday at the cusp of Holy Week, let us consider Jesus on the outskirts of Jerusalem, preparing to enter. Let us likewise consider Him ready to be welcomed as King of our own heart. As Malcom Guite said in The Word in the Wilderness:
What would it really mean to welcome Jesus as King into the Zion of one’s own heart? How is the city already occupied and governed? Who is in charge now and how is power divided? Is there an uneasy compromise in my own inner Jerusalem such as there was in the outer Jerusalem of Jesus’ time. Is there a grand looking Temple where lots of time-worn rituals can be repeated as long as it makes no trouble for the secular administration? And that secular administration, the bit of me that makes all the day-to-day financial decisions, about who should have my time, for how long and for how much, that administration that decides what to buy and what to sell, what to acquire and what to lose, for whom is it really working? Am I in charge there? Or is my governing ego, like Pontius Pilate, really and fearfully beholden to another power structure? Are the big Corporation’s and their advertisers really running the show, manipulating my sense of what I need? Perhaps the Pilate of our little ego is really working for their Empire. And, what about the general population of my heart? The crowds of feelings and memories and thoughts, caught between the temple and the court, swaying this way and that, not sure who to follow, or where their true loyalty lies.
Can I invite Jesus in to all of that?
If I do, what will happen?
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Dig Deeper: Literature & Liturgy
Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings. For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page.
Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith
For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.
Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.