The Seventh Day – Genesis 2:1-4

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | July 5, 2020

I was recently inspired to write a poem for each day of creation–(which are written as poems themselves). I will be posting a new entry each day. Today: Genesis 2:1-4.

The Seventh Day

The ancient rabbis saw
that it was the seventh day
in which creation was completed.
Not a bonus day, not a day of recuperation
in order to make the Six Days' work
possible or more efficient. 
The telos of Creation, towards which
the six days are always moving.

Tasks and to-do lists lie
in their places untouched
Statuses and identities of the
workday world are unimportant
and forgotten;
all are at rest in the "palace in time,"
impregnable walls fortified against
the onslaught and tyranny of things
the six-day conquest of space.

Turbines and trucks and tractors 
power down
Blue glow of unread emails and Reddit's rabbit trails
and Instagram's filtered reality and Facebook's fury
now a dull black.

The sudden Interruption of noise
gives rise to what first appears
as eerie silence but is not silence.
The sounds of the Seventh Day 
now no longer unnoticed:
conversation unhurried
laughter unfettered
suppers savored and unrushed
Doves cooing in aspens rattling 
their leaves in gentle wind
Spirit songs and people's prayers
The Seventh Day.

[1] “Pilgrim bound by staff and faith, rest thy bones”, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 5, 2020]. Original source:

The Sixth Day – Genesis 1:24-31

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | July 4, 2020

I was recently inspired to write a poem for each day of creation–(which are written as poems themselves). I will be posting a new entry each day. Today: Genesis 1:24-31.

The Sixth Day

Like rereading a kind text or note from
a loved one sent hours or minutes before
their unexpected passing or
gazing at the photograph of a joyful moment
together with friends taken the day before
the world turned on its head: Sept 10, '01
or December 6, '41 or New Year's on the eve
of 2020, smiling faces unaware of ominous
thunderclouds fast approaching on the horizon,
so is reading the account of the Sixth Day:
a happy memory turned melancholy
by future tragedy, a reminder of what was
and what could have been.

The Imago Dei, 
the Crown of Creation
moved by Pride 
soon forgot in whose image they were made
soon forgot they were created
soon forgot their fellow humans were also 
made in their Creator's image
soon forgot the earth was given to them to be 
received with thanks, not taken by force;
soon forsook their calling to steward
choosing instead to plunder, the only
creatures capable of not being what they were 
created to be.

The Imago Dei; desecrated but not destroyed
defaced but not effaced, in need of redemption
but not irredeemable
Redeemed by One Uncreated who alone was now capable
of being what these creatures were created to be,
who was taken by force, plundered, crucified
forgotten and forsaken
moved by Love,
the Crown of Thorns on
the Imago Dei.

The Sixth Day a reminder of what was and
what could have been and
a glimpse of what one day will fully be
glimpsed now in the face of my friend who
devotes his life to those with 
mental illnesses forgotten by others,
glimpsed now in the hands of the vet 
caring for the injured roadside deer,
glimpsed now in the feet of the farmer
walking her field once more in unending
cycle of love and labor, her patch of planet
received to steward, to grow, to give:
the Imago Dei
the Sixth Day.

[1] Raimondi, Marcantonio, ca. 1480-ca. 1534. Adam and Eve, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 4, 2020]. Original source:

The Fifth Day – Genesis 1:20-23

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | July 3, 2020

I was recently inspired to write a poem for each day of creation–(which are written as poems themselves). I will be posting a new entry each day. Today: Genesis 1:20-23.

The Fifth Day

Consider the birds of the air
Unburdened in freefalling flight
It is almost as if God forgot
to tell the fifth day creatures of gravity

Broadtailed hummingbirds dart,
dash, dance, zip, flit, fling, streak,
swim through air from fuschia to fuschia;
painted buntings plunge, a blur of color 
diving before switching direction 
to resurface on the limb of a tree;
falcons float effortlessly on the wind's waves
like a spread-eagle snorkeler passively surveying
the world below in objective observance.

Salmon soar through open ocean before 
annual upstream spawning, their very nature
seeming to defy nature;
angelfish like stunt planes loop, flip, fly
in easy freedom as moon jellies hover in haunted 
weightlessness, suspended above the floor below.

Birds swarm in the waters above like fish in flight
Sea creatures swarm in the waters below like
underwater aviators, each a reminder of
the limits of gravity's persistent pull,
nearly every corner of creation now
stocked and teeming with life,
The Fifth Day.

[1] Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 2, 2020]. Original source: – Janetandphil

The Fourth Day – Genesis 1:14-19

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | July 2, 2020

I was recently inspired to write a poem for each day of creation–(which are written as poems themselves). I will be posting a new entry each day. Today: Genesis 1:14-19.

The Fourth Day

I am on my deck in early darkness when it happens:
The clouds, as if painted with liberal oil brushstrokes
by some Impressionist artist
turn apocalyptic pink;
a revealing of the world splashed with
colors forgotten by night 
now irradiated by perfect golden hue,
the flowers and trees yawn and begin
their daylong photosynthetic stretch 
toward this giver of life: 
the Sun.

I am walking back to my dorm in cold alpine air
after a late shift in a summer job at 
the Paradise Inn when I see it:
the mountain. Rainier is not hidden
by night but all 14,000 feet from my feet
to the slopes of the summit are seen in 
unexpected luminosity: miles of glacier glowing
phosphorescent, a reflection of reflected light:
The Moon.

I am deep in a desert canyon miles
from manmade illumination of metropolis and city
The sky hangs above me like a porous black canvas
trying to hold back the very light of Heaven which
bursts through in millions of little places:
The Stars.

Gazing up into space I am transported out of time
into the fullness of this Present
unaware of growing awareness of my smallness,
warmed by the faint breath of eternity invading time.

No wonder so many worshiped 
Sun, Moon and Stars in holy reverence!
What wonder that Ancient Hebrews living 
under the brilliance of Middle Eastern sun,
gazing at the mystery of the moon
and spectacle of the stars did not bow
in worship, but knew even these are creation:
The Fourth Day.

[1] Snowstorm of Stars, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 1, 2020]. Original source:

The Third Day – Genesis 1:9-13

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | July 1, 2020

I was recently inspired to write a poem for each day of creation–(which are written as poems themselves). I will be posting a new entry each day. Today: Genesis 1:9-13.

The Third Day

In a few simple words, Dry Land is created:
wind and glacier worn flanks of
Annapurna, Blanc, Cerro Bonete, Denali
an endless alphabet of soaring ice and granite
River-carved canyons and caverns
Plateaus and plains

It is the afternoon's events 
that receive the attention:

The third day of creation 
yet the first day in which God saw
how good creation was
letting out a mirthful laugh
delighted at these creatures
capable of re-creating and recreating:

Mountain meadows awash with flowers
bringing a full palette of new color 
into this new creation
Roses of Sharon and Lily of the Valley 
and the lillies of the field
Cedars of Lebanon and Saguaros of Sonora 
and Sequoias of California clapping their hands
and bursting into song
each one breathing, growing, alive
each one sacred, created and re-creating
each one very good.
The Third Day.

[1] van Gogh, Vincent. Olive Trees, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved June 30, 2020]. Original source:

The Second Day – Genesis 1:6-8

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | June 30, 2020

I was recently inspired to write a poem for each day of creation–(which are written as poems themselves). I will be posting a new entry each day. Today: Genesis 1:6-8.

The Second Day

Raindrops drizzle and dance
upon the surface of the lake
In their playful prancing they are becoming
a part of the surface upon which they dance

Sidewalks steam in the streaming sunlight
ethereal evaporation
the returning--
transformed and having transformed
for rain and snow do not return
without nourishing, conceiving, bringing forth life;
in their becoming they beget the becoming of the world

Sky above and sea below
Separated but not separate
"Neither movement from nor towards,
neither ascent nor decline... there is
only the dance"[1]
In the dance the becoming
In the becoming the transforming
In the transforming the returning
A symbiotic cycle made possible
Only by the separating.
The Second Day.

[1] From T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets

[2] Featured image: Caillebotte, Gustave, 1848-1894. Yerres, the Effect of Rain, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved June 29, 2020]. Original source:,_pluie.jpg.

The First Day – Genesis 1:1-5

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | June 29, 2020

I was recently inspired to write a poem for each day of creation–(which are written as poems themselves). I will be posting a new entry each day. Up first: Genesis 1:1-5.

The First Day

“God is not darkness, but in the darkness I saw God.”[1]

The work of God begins in darkness 
evening first, then morning.
While I slumber in subconsciousness
God works well before my waking
knitting neurons and leading them on right paths
“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery”[2]
Unexplained abyss formless and void.

GPS pinpoints the coordinates of our routine transpacific flight
But neither person nor computer
the world that lies below the
surface of the deep over which we hover

Ferries filled to capacity jet confidently
and routinely across Puget Sound,
barely submerged into the unseen darkness below
They are water-winged children
Dog-paddling on the surface of mystery

God is light 
…though the darkness hide thee.
The work of God begins
hovering over the darkness 
of a world still uncreated.
In the unexplained abyss of
formless chaos
God calls forth light
evening first, then the illumination of morning. 
The first day.

[1] Something I read years ago and a quote I’ve been able to track down. Rainer Maria Rilke, perhaps?

[2] Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

[3] Featured image: Watkins, Carleton E., 1829-1916. Solar Eclipse from Mount Santa Lucia, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved June 29, 2020]. Original source:


There are better pictures of the Olympic Mountains out there. This one has powerlines in it, but that’s kind of the point. It’s a picture I took on a recent walk. It’s what’s available to me now.

Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | May 12, 2020

One of the joys for Kitsap County residents is our proximity to, and many vantage points of the jagged, snow-capped (at least this time of year) Olympic Mountains rising up dramatically above Hood Canal. I’ve found over this past month I’ve lifted my eyes up to those hills often with longing. Longing for the fresh air of old growth cedar and high alpine wildflower meadows and lakes. But, like so much else in our world, the National Parks have been closed (though perhaps are opening soon!), preventing me from inhabiting those spaces I can see for now only from afar.

I’m reminded in those moments of a German word that C.S. Lewis loved: sehnsucht, that is, an experience of “bittersweet longing.” As professor Forrest Baird defined the term it’s an experience where “the want is acute and painful, yet the mere wanting is felt to be somehow a delight.”[1]

“the want is acute and painful, yet the mere wanting is felt to be somehow a delight.”

In his own life, Lewis said he first experienced this sensation as a young boy when his brother brought in a tiny toy garden he’d put together with some moss and twigs. Lewis suddenly had a deep desire to become tiny and to inhabit the lushness of the garden. Or, similarly, “every day there were what we called ‘the Green Hills’; that is, the low line of the Castlereagh Hills which we saw from the nursery windows. They were not very far off but they were, to children, quite unattainable.”[2]

Though the want is acute and painful… the mere wanting is somehow a delight.

And sometimes the desire is more delightful—or at least “differently delightful”—than the satisfaction of that desire.

My family’s go-to campground when I was a kid was the White River Campground in Mount Rainier National Park, so we hiked all over those trails on the eastern slopes of the mountain. My dad would help me point the large telescopes at the Sunrise Visitor Center onto the glaciers where I could see climbers that looked like tiny ants even with the help of a magnified lens. I remember as a kid looking up at the upper icy slopes of the Emmons Glacier towards the summit with a longing—a delightful desire—to be there.

Now, I have been there, having summitted Rainier three times (a puny number compared with my predecessor Lee Riley’s 25 times, and many other CKPC climbers who have also been up a fair bit). Two of those times I summitted by that very same route I watched as a young boy, now myself one of those little ant-climbers. In many ways, the satisfaction of that sehnsucht desire of my boyhood was extraordinarily fulfilling; those Rainier climbs were exhilarating and truly wonderful; memories that I wouldn’t trade for almost anything.

In other ways, though, the satisfaction of that desire was less than the desire itself. On one particular climb I was probably the coldest I have ever been in my life as we got caught in a miserable rain/snow and extremely high winds. I was the most exhausted I’ve been on one particular climb. And I was more sunburnt than I’ve ever been on another. I can tell you that none of those experiences had factored into my boyhood sehnsucht longing and imagining of what it would be like to be there.

We are in a period of longing. Longing for hugs, longing for picnics with friends or board games at a local brewery, longing to go to places we are prohibited from going to and much of that is simply painful, bitter longing. In bitterness, it’s appropriate to practice the tradition that has been handed down to us from long ago: lament. It is good and right for us to lament, and to help others and give them the space to do the same in this time.

But might there also be a bittersweetness somewhere in our longing? Or even a sweetness? C.S. Lewis said our desires reveal things about how we were created. Our desire for hugs reveals how we were created for community, connection, and intimacy. Our hunger reveals we are creatures who need food and nourishment. (And, Lewis says, our sense that “time flies” or our surprise at “how much so-and-so has grown!” reveals we are creatures not created for time, but for eternity.)

The satisfaction of the longings and desires we currently have in this strange season of staying at home will be a wonderful thing. And yet in some ways the satisfaction won’t fully live up to the desires themselves, at least not in the long run. As Annie Dillard put it in her description of the beautiful majesty of the view from the cabin in the San Juans from which she wrote one of her books: “It was very grand. But you get used to it.”[3] Schedules may well get overcrowded and busy again, conflicts will arise with friends and family. In those Olympic Mountain alpine meadows, I’m sure I will get bitten by mosquitos or flies. The satisfaction of the desire to finally get a view from the summit will be satisfying; it will be beautiful and other-worldly, but it will also be bitter cold and we’ll still get sunburnt from time to time.

I’m not trying to be a wet blanket here, I’m trying to be a pastor (hopefully those aren’t the same thing too often!). My hope is that we might see God in our very desires and longings right now. My hope is that our desires will point us not only to the things that are good—very good!—that we will attain soon enough and will indeed satisfy, but also that they might point us to deeper desires, to the “far off country,” the heavenly country. The longing is very painful and bitter some days. We lament that. But sometimes it is bittersweet. Sometimes it is reminding us of how much we love and desire something, some place, or someone we’ve taken for granted. Sometimes God is using our very desire to reveal something to us about how we were created, and to reveal something about a future we are destined for which is only hinted at in our sweetest sehnsucht longings.

[1] Forrest Baird. Lecture given at Whitworth University in Fall 2010.

[2] C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy. Since I am working/writing from home in this season, I don’t have all of my books with me, which means I can’t easily cite page numbers as I normally would.

[3] Annie Dillard, The Writing Life.

Easter Sunday – Joe Bettridge

April 12, 2020

We are blessed to have a number of retired pastors who worship in our congregation. For Holy Week, we asked them to each write a blog post on a different day of Holy Week. Our final post comes from Joe Bettridge:

What If the Resurrection is a Placebo?

If Christ hasn’t been raised, then… your faith is useless… If we have a hope in Christ only in this life, then we deserve to be pitied more than anyone else. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 15:14, 19-20

What if John Lennon’s song Imagine was an accurate statement of theological truth? He famously sang: “Imagine there’s no heaven? It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky.” Such skepticism about God’s promise of eternal life in our Risen Lord Jesus is no new thing. In 1 Cor. 15:12 Paul asks the Corinthians: “How can some of you say there is no resurrection?”

What was the context in which these folks didn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection? Well, in the First Century, the common pagan notion was that death meant oblivion. So, Paul says to the doubters: “OK let’s assume that everything Jesus taught is a fairy tale and let’s assume that Jesus is dead. If this is true, what then, do you believe will happen to you after you die?” And they answered: Well, we don’t know. But our guess is that we’ll be disembodied spirits floating in the spirit-world.

And the best that contemporary skeptics of Jesus’ Resurrection can say is something like this: “Well, Jesus’ resurrection is a happy idea but we don’t believe in an actual bodily resurrection. That’s fiction. It’s enough for us to think of Easter as a symbol of happy new springtime beginnings or something.” In other words, Jesus’ Resurrection is, for the skeptical mind, a kind of ‎spiritual placebo. A placebo is a “dummy pill” usually made of starch. It’s used in the blind testing of new medications. So, when a placebo is taken by a subject who doesn’t know if it’s the actual medication or not, he/she often feels a positive effect. It’s called the “placebo-effect.” And it’s explained as a psychosomatic response of the brain to positive expectations. But this response is only a mind trick since a placebo has no actual, organic ability to cure physiological illness.

So, here’s Paul’s point to the skeptics: “Suppose Christ is not actually raised from the dead and all our thinking about Jesus is an illusion about an imaginary friend. In other words, it is a theological placebo; a “make believe thing for gullible people.” I know a guy who told his children that heaven is only a “pretend” thing that church people tell their kids to make them feel better when someone dies. But in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul speaks to the doubters: “If Christ has not been raised your faith is futile. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.”

So, here’s the wonderful Easter mystery: those who believe in the Risen Jesus will experience eternal life. When Jesus died His physical self was transformed by the power of God until his old earthbound humanity and was raised into an imperishable spiritual body; a new kind of undying human flesh.

Paul teaches us that when God raised Jesus from the dead, His Resurrection power became available to us, right now, here in this life– so that at the very moment we believe in Christ, we become spiritually linked to The One Who will never, ever die again. So, let us affirm that Easter is not a placebo, but in fact, Christ is risen and through His risen humanity, we too will flourish for all eternity in an imperishable resurrection body.

Joe recently completed 46 years of pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church and now is an honorably retired member of Northwest Coast Presbytery. Joe came to faith in the First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma and was spiritually nurtured at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. He has served long term pastorates in Alaska, Arizona and recently in Friday Harbor, WA. Joe graduated from Stadium High in Tacoma and the University of Washington. He received his Master of Divinity, Master of Theology and Doctorate of Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Becce, are delighted to now be part of the CKPC family.

Holy Saturday – Rich Buckham

April 11, 2020

We are blessed to have a number of retired pastors who worship in our congregation. For Holy Week, we asked them to each write a blog post on a different day of Holy Week. Today’s post comes from Father Rich Buckham:

I write this as our country is being stalked by the COVID-19 virus. Many are scared half-to-death; others are in denial that they could be infected. We hear on the news about the suffering people go through as attempts are made to save them. Into this crisis Holy Saturday comes to us.

I believe that Holy Saturday has generally been neglected by the church in its theology and proclamation. We Christians commemorate the Lord’s crucifixion, step over the day he was dead in the grave, then commemorate his resurrection. As one example of this we might expect Holy Saturday to be emphasized in a thoroughly liturgical book like the Anglican Book of Common Prayer which has special services for just about any important event in the church year. But we notice that in its liturgy for Holy Week seven pages are devoted to the crucifixion, eleven pages to the resurrection, and only one page to his actual being-in-dead in the grave:

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified
body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy
Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day,
and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reins with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Note that nothing is stated about his burial, his actually being-dead-in- the-grave; this one page only points back to his crucifixion and forward to his resurrection. (Note also that he was buried and in the grave on the Sabbath, a day of import for understanding Holy Saturday.)

Now in a way this omission makes sense. Both his crucifixion and resurrection were out in the open, open to public view and witness, especially by his followers. Think of the drama of Peter’s denial in the courtyard as Jesus was being accused and sentenced to death; think of the drama around the discovery on Easter morning that he was not dead. There could be no story full of drama about something totally hidden from view, something totally silent. There were no words from the grave, no words from heaven (unlike the Angels proclamation when he was born). No, we have only the seven words he spoke on the cross, particularly and most significantly his cry of dereliction: “from noon until mid-afternoon there was darkness over the whole land. About the middle of the afternoon Jesus shouted in a loud voice” Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani” which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” There were no words from God to Jesus or from Jesus to his followers that all would soon be well, that victory was in sight, that they should not give up hope. No, they were surprised, startled, even stupefied when they discovered on Easter morning that he was not dead.

And yet he was dead on that Saturday. Really dead. Death had conquered him. We neglect a significant part of God’s message to us if we do not give due attention to the reality of death in all of its manifestations in human existence. It should not surprise or startle or stupefy us. But we are predisposed (at least in the West, even in our churches) to deny death as the power that is behind human dysfunction, destructive relationships, distorted beliefs and values and attitudes and discriminations, all that can make human life so easily darkened and deadly.

Holy Saturday should draw us to this good news, that death does not have the last word. True realistic Christianity is not a “victorious” Christianity, not “peace and prosperity,” not customary theology about the doctrine of Jesus’ death but a totally realistic understanding and picture of death for what it is.

Are we missing something important to our Christian identity, our life in the Lord by not giving full weight to his being-dead-in-the-grave in its sheer reality, a reality none of us has experienced and lived to talk about. I suspect our focus on Good Friday (as we are right to do) and the death and suffering by crucifixion (the means by which Jesus was killed) can divert us from the power and reality of death that Paul speaks to in one of his deep reflections on death in Romans 6:

Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into the Messiah,
Jesus, were baptized into his death. That means that we were
buried with him, into death, so that, just as the Messiah was raised
through the Father’s glory, we too might behave with a new
quality of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death . . . [and if] we died with the Messiah we believe that
we shall live with him. We know that the Messiah having been
raised from the dead will never die again. Death no longer has
any authority over him. The death he died, you see, he died to sin
once and only once. But the life he lives, he lives to God. In the
same way you, too, must calculate yourselves as being dead to sin
and alive to God in the Messiah, Jesus. (N.T. Wright’s translation).

What does it mean now to be buried into death with Jesus and yet still experience the power of death; that Jesus died to sin, yet we must calculate ourselves dead to sin. These are only some of the (often neglected) questions raised in this passage that need to be internalized and incorporated into our lives.

Holy Saturday should draw us to this gospel, this good news that death in all its power (we all die!) does not have the last word with us just as it did not have with Jesus.

We modern Christians often think we need a “felt experience” to realize God’s presence with us, to give us what we think we need to maintain our lives in the Lord. I do not believe Jesus had any such felt experience on the cross; we might not have the benefit of such an experience as we come under the grip of death, especially suffering in its power to demand our full attention. No, we will be dead. Fully dead with no control over what’s happening to us, no felt confidence we will be raised from the dead.

No, the good news is that even if we cannot prepare ourselves for death, even if we die alone, isolated from family, with no words of assurance from a pastor that death does not have the last word, even then it is not those words that our hope shall carry us through death into the Father’s presence. What will happen is that we will be raised “through the father’s glory” in its power to undo death.

Father Rich Buckham taught psychology in Iowa for 6 years.  In 1982 he and his wife and 2 small children moved to PLU where he  received training for clinical practice in marriage and family therapy.  The family moved up to Kitsap County in 1983 where he began work as a licensed psychologist after getting his Ph.D. in psychology from University of Nevada -Reno.  He got an M. of Theology from Fuller Seminary.  He was the pastor of a small Anglican church for 20 years.  He is currently semi-retired from his clinical practice.  He loves reading theology, philosophy, history and cultural studies.  He has an outdoor HO train layout which may never get done.