Epiphany Snow

Epiphany Snow

This sonnet is for Epiphany. It draws its inspiration from T.S. Eliot’s, “Journey of the Magi” and recalls an Epiphany a couple of years ago when here in the South, we got a special gift: snow.

It was worse for them, a cold, hard coming
Through the world’s wild winter waste wandering;
With camels and servants grumbling, running
Off, it must’ve seemed their mission was found’ring,
And in the dark no less, this hard going
Chasing some sacred, celestial shining
Leaning into the west where the blowing
Snow and king resisted their divining.

Eon’s later I watch this Epiphany’s snowing;
Christmas has past, so too carol singing,
Waiting on spring? It’ll be hard going
To body forth through this winter’s keening.

But we come home as they when we kneeling,
Give all to the homeless One, who came healing.

© Randy Edwards 2020.
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.

A Voice Loudly Cries

A Voice Loudly Cries

This sonnet is based on Matthew 2:16-18. There have been many Herods who have stood in opposition to the King of kings, and these tyrants use many weapons. However, the vulnerable are the ones who always pay, and the most vulnerable are the children.

This is the world where every king chances

To control and do what they can to win,

Where choice vindicates all circumstances,

Where the cost of that choice pays with children.

Oppressors force marriage to dominate,

Defile with sex, make the victim a villain,

Use rape to terrorize, humiliate,

And the price that is paid? Paid by children.

A voice heard in Ramah, she loudly cries:

Rachel lamenting for all her children
As a king’s arm kills till ev’ry child dies,

Ev’ry parent’s arm emptied, ev’ry grave filled in.

Rachel, unconsoled shall weep for her lost

Until they return, and the king’s arms crossed.

© Randall Edwards 2018
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: Pieter Brueghel the Elder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Nativity

The Nativity

This is the final poem in a series for Grace Kernersville’s Jesse Tree project. The poems in the series are attempts at ekphrasis. A gifted artist in the congregation in which I pastor have provided abstract paintings from which the poems have derived their inspiration. This painting is entitled, The Nativity.  Have a look at the painting, How do you read it?The Nativity Here’s my reading of the painting in poetic form.

Gathered ‘round the manger, the shepherds there
Had each struggled through their own unbelief—
Groping through this world’s dank and dingy air,
Jaded by dejection, wearied by grief,

But now they are bathed in color and light
Where, with this mother, they behold, ponder
The tidings foretold by angels that night.
Un-wintered by joy and warmed with wonder:

What Grace gathers us to this treasured place?
Is salvation created, swaddled here?
Are we beholding the look of Love’s face?
Is desire answered in the cry we hear?

Behold Emmanuel, David’s Lord and Key;
New life is come from the stump of Jesse’s tree!

© Randall Edwards 2019.
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). Thank you.
artwork: © Adah Freeman 2019, “The Gentle Shepherd” acrylic on canvas. All Rights Reserved.

God with Us

God with Us

The antiphon for December 23 is the last and is “O Emmanuel.” The antiphon reads, ”O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.”

It continues to be, for me, the most amazing news that God would ‘rend the heavens and come down’ in order to show the full length of his love. I am a pretty fearful person, and knowing (sometimes more, oftentimes less) that God is with us, is a particular comfort.

One more day…

Far, far away is any king from me;
Beyond his castle’s bolstered gates and doors
His ear, taken with many other pleas—
Greater than my economy and wars.

Yet I hope, and hope is not one if seen.
So say the preachers whom I’ve often heard;
I try to hope, to trust, try to believe
But life’s cares choke and hide his promise-word.

If only help would come, bring salvation
A help with heart, who keeps, safe to lean upon—
Strong, to bear the hope of every nation,
Hold in loving arms till all fear is gone.

Hope has come, lies swaddled in a stable:
God-with-us, loves us, is willing, able.

© Randall Edwards 2016
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). Thank you.

The Gentle Shepherd

The Gentle Shepherd

The last in Grace Kernersville’s Advent series, The Jesse Tree is The Gentle Shepherd. A theme which flows from King David’s Psalm 23 through the prophets culminates in Jesus’ declaration in John 10, “I am the Good Shepherd.”

In this series, I write ekphrastic poems which find their primary inspiration from Adah Freeman’s paintings are also informed by the scriptures themselves. The main passage from which both Adah and I started was Psalm 23.  Keeping in mind the psalm, look or read the painting below. What do you see? Once you’ve had a moment reading the work for yourself, see my sonnet below and judge whether I read it well.

IMG_4023

Here I face the darkest darkness, the Valley defile
Where I can’t see in, can’t see the end. Will
It last feet or will it go on for a mile or miles?
Will I lie down again or will those who kill
Drive me from the waters, the valley green?
Will I ever walk beside them? Will he,
My shepherd, abide? Walk with me, lead,
With rod and staff comfort and protect me?

The shepherd is gentle as one of his own,
But his meekness hides a leonine mane;
From his gold fleece blessing follows, is blown
And sparkles like the sequins of his train.

The Lion became a Lamb to pay the full price,
And finding his flock, he laid down his life.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
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). Thank you.
Artwork: © Adah Freeman 2019, “The Gentle Shepherd” acrylic on canvas. All Rights Reserved.

King of Nations

King of Nations

In a society and world which seems to be falling down or torn apart, today’s antiphon is particularly poignant. The antiphon for December 22 is King of Nations or Rex Gentium. The antiphon reads, “O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.”

The antiphon draws it inspiration from two scriptures. Haggai 2:7 reads, “I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty.” And Isaiah 28:16 reads, “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”

King of Nations, king of our desiring,
Come to your creation, square it and right,
Mend the marred, rebuild, be never tiring
Of pulling out darkness, ripping out night.
Builder and joiner, dovetail and make one;
As keystone, bridge the pillared-arched ceiling,
Tear down hatred’s walls, make righteousness run;
And cross-armed, gather, make whole, bring healing.
In concretion, cohesion, hold us, King;
Sustain us by your presence and power;
Make us yours, seal in promise as as ring,
Wed us in love beneath banner and bower.
The King of desiring climbs in the clay
Lays as cornerstone midst manger and hay.

© Randall Edwards 2015.
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). Thank you.

Dayspring!

Dayspring!

The Antiphon for December 21 is O Oriens. The antiphon reads, “O Dayspring splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness: come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”

The Antiphon draws its inspiration from the following scriptures:

Isaiah 9:2 The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

Malachi 4:2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

Here is my take in sonnet form.

Turned west, this sunset of humanity
Denies the dusk of death’s looming shadow.
Reviles the real as some profanity
Which pilfers profit and ruins workflow.

O Sun of Righteousness, make right and shine
On prisoners who dwell in dark dungeons,
On the worried who’s weeds choke and entwine,
And the pharisee who can’t see his sin.

O Dayspring, shine, flood our grey town in light
Drive back the darkness in which lurks our fears.
Arise! Dawn! Flood! Illuminate our night!
Speak tender mercies, wipe away our tears.

When with healing wings the Sun rise on all,
We’ll bound as joyful calves from winter’s stall.

© Randall Edwards, 2018
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.
photo: Lisa Tancsics, uploaded by Pro2 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons