Easter Collect

Easter Collect

The Collect for Easter week in the Anglican church reads,

Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.

Here’s a sonnet based upon those words, and if it’s helpful you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

Sin and death is overcome;
The old order vanquished; ruin undone
By the mighty resurrection of the Son.
Victorious King, by your resurrection
You silenced the Accuser’s every objection
To renew and remake us in your perfection.
Lord of all life, who is life and power,
Whose glory fades not, unlike grass or flower,
Shine through us unvield, from this very hour.
May we to sin through Your dying, die;
Through Your death live, be made alive.
Buried with You, in Your rising, rise
To reign with You in humility,
In love, light, and life for all eternity.

© Randy Edwards 2017
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). Thanks.

artwork: Giotto (1266–1337), No. 37 Scenes from the Life of Christ; Resurrection (Noli me tangere); Date between 1304 and 1306; fresco; Scrovegni Chapel.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

Here are two previously reposted poems for Easter Sunday.
The first is a villanelle inspired by the prayer, Need of Jesus, which is included in Banner of Truth’s collection of puritan prayers, Valley of Vision.

In particular I meditate upon Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb on Easter morning to anoint Jesus’ body. Dealing with the confusion of the empty tomb, she weeps not only for her grief for Jesus’ death, but the double wounding of not being able to honor him in preparing his body. Thinking she is talking with the garden’s gardener, Jesus speaks, calling her by name, “Mary!” and she sees that she has been speaking with Jesus — that realization must have been as bright as the dawn of creation.

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

I am blind, be Thou my light.
Speak, call me into New Creation’s Day,
And seeing Thee, I shall love aright.

My heart bedeviled with the night
Is faithless, wanders, loves to stray
I am blind, be Thou my light.

Rescue me; employ Thy might;
Leave no unclean spirits to remain
And seeing Thee, I shall love aright.

Raised upon Golgotha’s height,
God’s Lovingkindness, the world did slay;
I am blind, be Thou my light.

Now this morn, the end of night–
With spice to dress at dawn’s first ray,
And seeing Thee, I shall love aright.

My called name turns dark to sight;
Fear and sadness gives way to say,
“I was blind, Thou art my light!”
And seeing Thee, I love aright.

© Randy Edwards 2016

The second poem is entitled, We Had Hoped, and is based upon the encounter Clops and the other disciple had with Jesus on the road to Emmaus and in particular Luke 24:21 which reads,

But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.

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

When death closes the door and hope is shut
Behind a stone — sealed from every light,
When the tears of loss tear the heart and cut,
The wound is darkness, and happiness, trite.
We had hoped that he was the one to save,
And redeem Israel from bondage and pain,
But three days ago we laid hope in a grave,
And now every plan and purpose is vain.
“We had hoped,” we told the one who joined our
Weary walk, and his question broke the wound
Open again. Our sad hearts, drained of power
When hope died and was buried in the ground.
But hope sparked anew with each word he said;
Blindness became seeing when he broke bread.

© Randy Edwards 2016

These poems are 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). Thanks.

Good Friday

Good Friday

Here are two poems which have been previously posted which deal with themes of Good Friday.

The first is a poem titled, The Dragon, and it is based upon Revelation 12:15 which reads, “The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.” The flood is a river of lies and deception about the gospel in which the serpent seeks to sweep away the church (the woman). However, it is not only the serpent, but we too are caught up in that flood of lies when we engage in the management of our reputation by lying or manipulating others with our words. The apostle Peter succumbed to that flood on this day so many years ago. His denial is the subject of the poem (Luke 22:54-62).

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

From the Dragon’s mouth words pour out
Like a river in which truth seems to shout:
The shameful curse and accusation,
The legalistic judge’s condemnation,
The victims raging imprecations,
To drown and make you his prize.

In desperate deceit we lie. We make
Excuses for self-preservation’s sake.
We deflect with condescending over-simplification
To manipulate another’s expectations,
Managing with half-truths our own reputation,
Denying there could be any association
Between our actions and the Father of Lies.

And in these moments when we double-speak—
Fearing the loss of the fame we seek
And terrified of the cost of the implication—
We deny the very insinuation
Of any merit of the accusation,
We call down curses and condemnations
That we have any association
With this Teacher condemned to die.

It is then and there, at dawn’s first light
When the rooster’s cry breaks the silence of night
We remember our confident exaggeration:
Defiant against any prognostication
That we could be tempted to any prevarication
Or withhold sincerely offered oblation,
Denying our love — our chosen vocation
Merely to protect our own reputation?
And we see through Another’s knowing eyes.

And from this horrified, humiliated heap
A flood of tears pours out in words we weep
Of the hasty vows we swore in the commotion,
Of the sting of exposure and anger at the notion,
That one could be guilty of such insincere devotion…
Drowning in shame and regret and resentful emotion
No more words, no excuses, no alibis.

© Randy Edwards 2016

The second poem is a sonnet which links Mary’s encounter with Jesus at the Wedding in Cana in Galilee from John 2:1-5 with her presence at the crucifixion in John 19:25-26. They are book ends of a sort of John’s good news about Jesus’ ministry and mission. The question which Jesus asks of Mary at the wedding, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” is answered by his words from the cross, “Woman, behold your son.”

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

Finding us outside as we waited on
Our master who brought us to the wedding,
His mother, not asking, telling her son
The shameful news the steward was dreading.
“The wine has runout,” in question she eyed
Looking for what he might say and do.
“Woman, what’s that to me, my time’s not arrived.”
To the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
It’s been three years since he turned water to wine;
We stand at the foot of his crushing shame
Twisted round a stake like vintner’s vine
Her son who saved stewards from blame.
And so, “Why?” pours from her eyes in sobs overcome
The wine saved for last, “Woman, behold your son.”

© Randy Edwards 2016 and 2017.
These poems are 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). Thanks.
artwork: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), St. John Comforting the Virgin at the Foot of the Cross (After the Ninth Hour), 1862; pencil and watercolour with bodycolour and gum arabic on paper laid on linen

The Fullness of Your Love

The Fullness of Your Love

I have been writing poetry to include as part of an art installation that is taking place in conjunction with Lent and Easter entitled, Ashes to Eternity.

This villanelle is a re-working of an earlier poem and is written from Peter’s perspective and begins with the washing the disciple’s feet, and continues with Judas’ presence at the table of the last meal, going with Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane, and Peter’s realization of his own betrayal. What always catches me, is that none of what transpires over the next days is a surprise to Jesus.

I appreciate the NIV’s rendering of John 13:1 which reads, “…he now showed them the full extent of his love.” Most translations render (and correctly) that “he loved them to the end”, but there is something to not merely loving all the way to the end, but to what length he would go to show his love.

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

You knew it then; you knew love’s way,
When you broke the bread and poured the wine
The fullness of your love, you showed today.

And kneeling as a scullion that you may
Wash our feet with tear-stained brine?
You knew it then; you knew love’s way.

Bought with thirty pieces of silver to betray,
Yet you shared the table, with him dined
The fullness of your love, you showed today.

To Gethsemane you took us to watch and pray
That we might encourage, help, hold the line,
You knew it then; you knew love’s way.

And you cried out, “Father, take this cup away!
But even so, your will, not mine.”
The fullness of your love, you showed today.

Then catching my eye at dawn’s first ray,
I weep with horror, to see the sign;
You knew it then; you loved anyway.
The fullness of your love, you show today.

© Randy Edwards 2017.
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). Thanks.

artwork: A an etching by Jan Luyken from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations housed at Belgrave Hall, Leicester, England (The Kevin Victor Freestone Bequest). Photo by Philip De Vere.

The Widow’s Best

The Widow’s Best

On the Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus and his disciples return to the Temple where Jesus teaches and debates with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus also witnesses a commendable act of faith and devotion.

This villanelle is based upon the story of the Widow’s Mite found in Luke 21:1-4 which reads,

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

John Tissot’s painting of the same account choses to imagine the moment a bit differently than I. I imagine the moment of her offering being one that is ignored by all except Jesus. Tissot, however, imagines how the widow may have experienced her giving in this public place being watched by all. In his painting, Tissot, has one of the wealthy depositing his offering just as the woman walks away with her child. What is one to make of the position of the hand of the man making his offering behind the widow? It is an unusual intersection, my wife says and must be deliberate. What may Tissot be saying about one who is giving and this widow with her child who is walking away.

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

From her poverty she gave more than they
Who gave of their wealth, who gave from their best;
All she had to live on, she gave away.

Their offering was a giving display
Giving to show they had more than the rest;
From her poverty, she gave more than they.

For they fill their hearts with what other’s say
The real treasure buried ‘neath their vest;
All she had to live on, she gave away.

The crashing of shekels like a surf’s spray
Washes in praise as they empty their chest;
From her poverty, she gave more than they.

Round the Temple’s court, the Rabbi’s eyes stray
To one who gives from how much she’s been blessed;
All she had to live on she gave away.

He wonders at one who gives, freely lays
Down her living, no trouble or unrest;
From her poverty, she gave more than they
All she had to live on, she gave away.

© Randy Edwards 2017.
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). Thanks.

Artwork: James Tissot, The Widow’s Mite (Le denier de la veuve), 1886-1894, Brooklyn Museum.

Mary of Bethany

Mary of Bethany

The church remembers on this Saturday, Mary of Bethany’s anointing of Jesus. Many see her actions as evidence of the first of Jesus’ disciples to really understand the mission he is undertaking as he heads to Jerusalem.

In the sonnet I imagine the fuller arc of Mary’s experience with Jesus, from his healing of Lazarus to her awaiting news of the resurrection.

This sonnet is based on John 12:1-3 which reads,

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

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

He came at last, but too late for healing;
My brother for days, sealed up behind stone;
My heart grieved between riot and reeling;
With a shout he healed, gave life to these bones.
Now, from my alabaster heart, broken
Pours the fragrant passion of love and life
Upon his feet, a running devotion
For my savior bearing my sin and strife.
But worse than I feared my king did for me:
Faced death in silence as a Pascal Lamb;
My stone-heart breaks again, tears flow free;
Is there yet hope for this child of Abraham?
My treasure now in a stone vial is sealed
Awaiting a breaking when love is revealed.

© Randy Edwards 2017.
This sonnet 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). Thanks.

Artwork: woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860 by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794–1872).

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

This sonnet is for Palm Sunday and serves as both a part of a series for Lent entitled, Ashes to Eternity (which is an art exhibit) and is also a part of a series of Sunday sermon passages from the Gospel of Luke entitled Walking with Jesus. The sonnet is based upon Jesus’s Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem as recorded Luke 19:28-40.

In this sonnet I try and capture both the expectation of what he will do over the course of the next week, but also touch on the irony of what will actually happen.

If it is helpful you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

Time’s Fullness comes to Jerusalem
Midst the throng of waving palms and praise;
“Son of David!” we all cry in unison
Beholding our king, our hosannas raise!
This is the sudden coming, the long-awaited hour —
Riding on a donkey’s colt, bearing our salvation;
No longer secret, now wielding his power,
In this display of prophecy, he unites a nation.
Now is the fullness; now, the expectation.
The rumor becomes real, promise becomes plan;
Our enemies, shall kneel, shall see the revelation,
Lift up the King of kings, exalt the Son of Man.
Who could not Hosannas bring, not welcome his renown?
Who seeing would disown him, deny to him his crown?

© Randy Edwards 2017.
This sonnet 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). Thanks.

Artwork: Albrecht Dürer, Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, probably c. 1509/1510. woodcut