In Their Presence

This sonnet is a based on Mark 2:13-17 and the account of the calling of Levi from his tax booth. It is a reworking of a previous sonnet entitled, Levi’s Table.

The faithless sorts of things we do, we do to manage the margins over which we have no control such as security and significance. More money, we think, will lead to more security which will lead to more peace which will give us rest — rest from fear, from toilsome work, from self-accusation, and recrimination. Money cannot do that.

The beauty in the account of the calling of Levi is that Levi moves from one table — the despised table of the tax collector’s booth where he works to ensure his own security to another table –a table in his home where Jesus has taken a seat and is despised himself because he eats with tax collectors and sinners. But here, at this table Levi finds the fullness of true wealth and peace. Levi begins to delight himself in the richest of fair and all without cost. Here, at the table where Jesus sits, is the promised table which the Lord himself prepares. This is the table of vindication which King David saw, and sitting at this table is perfect peace.

Walking past my table, he stopped and stared
At me and the toll I’d taxed and taken;
And discerned my fear: how poor and scared
That my kingdom would fall and I shaken.

He called, “Follow me.”  I rose, came after,
Left my booth and scales, cast them each aside,
Welcomed to my home light, love, and laughter;
Cancelled the debts in my ledger of pride.

I recline at my table of the least
While my enemies scoff from outside,
But he in their presence prepares a feast
Fills with the promise to always abide.
I now work to give, collect from east and west,
“Come, buy riches without price, be filled and rest.”

© Randall K. Edwards, 2019.
artwork: Jacob van Oost (I) (1603–1671), “The Calling of St Matthew’, 1648. Church of Our Lady, Bruges.

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