Categories
poetry

The Whole Earth

This is a spoken-word piece meditating on the cry of the seraphim in Isaiah 6 who cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy! The whole earth is full of his glory.”

The whole earth is full of his glory;
Every person, every place, was
Made for the story of the fullness of His grace,
To shine in holiness, shine on every face
Among all peoples, every tribe, every race—
The whole earth is full, the Whole.


It’s full. Do you hear? Full.
Don’t fill yourself with the dull,
Dank counterfeit bull
Oh, quit! Don’t settle for it: the pleasure of praise
Which you’d like to score (and is nice)
But leaves you wanting more
Until you’ve poured out everything,
Left lying empty but consumed
Though the whole earth is Full.


And they said the whole earth:
The Earth,
Not just feelings or thoughts but the dirt
And dust of life, the struggle and strife,
The ordinary, everyday-ness, the lovely
The great, the worries you carry,
And the mess, the beauty and hurt
What seems important or of no worth,
It’s all for his glory, the whole Earth.

© Randall Edwards 2020.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com).
Categories
poetry

The Gold of Evening

There is a kind of poetry for fall which are often referred to as as autumnals. Here is one such. You may listen to me read the poem via the link below.

As the sun sets behind her further shore,
The Gold of Evening ricochets
Off the rippled surface of Lake Arzu
Her silver sparks pierce,
With desire’s cool arrows
Even as the golden warmth
Of light and water 
Warms and comforts
Evening’s whisper.

The beat of beauty breaks my heart
And longing wells up in tears with the grand
Greatness of this moment’s grace
Bright as gold.
Unseen by those whose heads are
Bent down with the busy,
Whose faces are washed
In the silver light of screens
Which carries them away
On threads of comment and envy,
The Beauty grows me
Grateful.

I sit in the slow and wait…
Watching the sunset shimmer on the lake.

When.
When will the Beauty stay?
When will I not be driven away
By dusk
And the dark of ending day
But rise full and free into 
The Day upon day
Which breaks with joy and grace
Full of love and play?

O the grace of color,
Of reflecting water and sky
And the fullness which resonates 
For all I have received.

And you, my golden girl.
The Silver sparkles on the waves of your hair
In this evening’s light,
Whose smiling eyes,
Creased with time and care,
Whose spirit is as bright and light as the sky,
Who gives, who holds me here above the flood,
We sit suspended on this shore
Midst gleam and gold,
And watch and wait and listen
To Evening’s whisper.

© Randall Edwards 2020.

Categories
poetry

Saints Day

As Fall has come, and as we move to All Saints/All Souls Days, I have been thinking about church members and friends who have died. One such date came yesterday. My wife and I spruced up a flower bed in which a plaque had been placed and in whose honor a crepe myrtle was planted.

These friends and former members, I carry around in my heart. I think of them often and remember my experiences with them which include all those things which friends experience together and share. This sonnet is for them and for the hope we share when all is made right.

I bear within heart, mind, and soul
The memories of their mortality— 
Those beloved saints whose love pulls
Me into their immortality.

Their smiles and laughter I recall;
How facing some, I stood toe to toe
Or side by side in some bygone brawl
About something I owed or was owed.

Whatever the weight of regret
Or resentment about the past
With which I walk bruised, still limping, yet
I  believe love shall o’ercome, outlast.

Grateful for the love which as grief I bear,
Hopeful for the joy we shall one day share.

© Randall Edwards 2020.
Categories
poetry

The Incense

This sonnet is based on Isaiah 6:1-8, and is part of a new series on Isaiah titled, Full of His Glory.

I have always been brought up a bit short by the coal touching Isaiah’s lips and his subsequent eagerness to be sent. I can’t get over how painful I imagine it.

Much is made in my circles of the atonement made for Isaiah’s sin and the conviction that the coal must have come from the altar of sacrifice in the Temple’s courtyard. But Isaiah’s explicit mentioning of Uzziah at the beginning leads me to believe that the altar of incense inside the Sanctuary is what he has mind. Though I hold firmly to justification by faith, it seems that there is more going on than the battles of atonement theories.

In Isaiah more generally, but here too, the all too often malady of giving lip service to God while having a heart that is far from him seems to be more at hand. Even here, Isaiah’s preaching will fall on ears that cannot understand and be set before eyes which cannot perceive. Judah’s problem is in the heart. So this brings me back to Isaiah and his lips, and mine if I’m honest.

Burning coals and lips do not go together, but what if the image is not one of atonement but of sanctification. What if Isaiah is the incense who when ignited by God’s Spirit sends up the offering of prayer and praise –rising to heaven and suffusing everything around with the fragrant message of God’s word? What if Isaiah’s heart has been ignited in holiness and zeal and love? That he would rush forward and say, Send Me! Send Me! makes much more sense. So, here’s to Isaiah and hearts set aflame to make lips smoke with prayer and praise.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

In the year that King Uzziah died I
Saw the Lord seated in His Temple high
Above where he speaks, makes the threshold shake
At the sound of his voice and glory’s weight.

And I shake too and break, for I am one
Who has seen the Holy. I am undone.
Unclean in heart my lips lie, lay claim
To the greedy loves of self, pride, and fame.

But from the altar where Uzziah sinned,
Comes heat and fire born on wings and wind.
I, the incense, the coal touches my lips,
Ignites his word, prayer smokes, calling grips
With grace. My heart aflame, he calls to me
To proclaim His favor, set captives free. 

© Randall Edwards 2020. This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com).

artwork: Marc Chagall, Le prophète Isaïe, 1968–1968.

Categories
poetry

Doesn’t Look Like Much

This past Sunday was the first time the church had physically gathered for worship and the Lord’s Supper. It was a morning of expectation, and I sensed deep appreciation among those gathered for the opportunity, and our worship was full of gratitude.

Yet, there was a tinge of sadness. Our numbers were limited to under thirty people. We were socially distanced and masked. We were outside in the morning heat in our picnic shelter and not in the climate controlled building worshipping in the comfort of our sanctuary. The elements of the Lord’s Supper were one of those single, prepackaged, shipped-in-box-of 250 MRE’s. It all, we all, didn’t look like much. Yet, on the other hand, it seemed to be just about perfect.

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

It doesn’t look like much, no high altar,
No stained glass; it’s just a picnic shelter:
With a concrete floor and wooden tables.

It may not have looked like much,
But God first spoke, first reached with hands to touch
Us in a village stable.

We don’t look like much, not more than thirty
In our number gathered on a Sunday,
Scattered here to hear of Him who freed us.

They may not have looked like much:
Uncouth, unschooled yet bold in the clutch—
All knew they’d been with Jesus.

This doesn’t look like much, this plastic cup
Of juice, this tasteless bread, on which we sup,
Sealed in cellophane for distribution.

It may not look like much,
But the wicked and proud ne’er fed on such
A feast of absolution.

Yes, it isn’t much, only bread and wine
Bur it’s more than food on which we dine
It speaks pledge through sign, by words unspoken.

It may not look like much,
But here is promise more than enough:
He still loves and is for you, broken.

IMG_5225
© Randall Edwards 2020.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com)