Submission Could Ever Be

Because of abuse, there is justified concern about teaching on the subject of submission as it relates to the Christian life and Christian marriage. Submission as I understand it, is a gift even as it is a discipline. In times of trouble when pain and confusion overwhelm, submission is a gift. In other times, the heart which is able to submit itself to the will of God, is better able to receive reality as it is and as such can live soberly and wisely.
I am thinking a lot about weddings and marriages this week. Here is a sonnet based on the Apostle Paul’s words on marriage from Ephesians 5.

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:32, 33

We love love, its intoxicating draught;
Our hearts swim and sway as we fall,
And we reach for the other as a life raft;
In their eyes we are lovely, no longer small.
And no dignity that self-respect affords
Could ever stoop so low as to admit
That submission could ever be a lovely word;
We recoil embarrassed and flatly reject it.
Yet the True, the Beautiful, and Good, lays aside
Records no wrongs nor insists in its own way
Submission in love does not shamefully deride
But rejoices and respects does not deny or betray.
Do not despise love that in weakness steps down;
You’re kneeling with the One who set aside his crown.

© Randy Edwards
artwork: The Formation of Eve by Gustave Dore

Greater Than Our Hearts

Here is another sonnet from the series on passages from 1John. The sonnet itself is based on 1John 3:11-24 but the title comes from 1John 3:19-20.

You can listen to sonnet being read via Soundcloud below.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

In this world’s repeating ruin, the eye
Of evil (envy’s hateful gaze) falls
Upon our brother whose blessings we spy
As resentment rises like prison walls.
And thus imprisoned we ask, “Where’s the love
We had when we just didn’t talk the talk,
But forbore, forgave, joyfully lived out of
Each morning’s new mercy, walking the walk?”
What shall we do with our weak flailing affection
When our own hearts condemn, ruthlessly mock
Can assurance be ours, from death, resurrection?
Can truth become pleasure, salvation unlock?
Yea, greater than our hearts Beloved, is he
Who answers faith with love, abides, sets us free.

© Randy Edwards
artwork: Gustav Dore

What Kind of Love?

This villanelle is based on 1John 3:1. In it I connect the adoption which John revels in and employ the parable of the Prodigal Son to reflect upon the significance of that adoption.
1John 3:1 reads,

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

See what kind of love the Father has shown
Though orphaned in the world and left to die,
To be adopted as your child, by your name, known.
And finding me lifeless nearly dead as a stone,
You gathered me close, having heard my cry;
See what kind of love the Father has shown.
Raised as your child, nevermore alone,
I walk the wide world neath my Father’s blue sky
As your adopted child, by your name, known.
In desperate delusion, I set off to roam
To seek a better blessing, to taste and to try
To see what kind of love the Father has shown.
In cunning deceit, in rebellion I’d flown
Defamed the family name, lived hiding in a lie
Though your adopted child, by your name, known.
Now broken and shoeless, I return home,
Offering my life, my redemption to buy.
I see what kind of love the Father has shown,
Am your adopted child by your name, known.

© Randy Edwards
artwork: Gustave Dore

The Beginning Abides in You

This roundel is based on 1John 2:23-24 which reads,

Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.  24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.

I was particularly taken with the twist of the phrase, “the beginning abides in you” which takes on a double meaning as St John is talking about what was first heard, but the new beginning in new creation.

The beginning abides in you. Do not doubt and fear
When the father of lies seeks your heart to hew
With disappointed looks, the aren’t-you-ashamed sneer.
What you heard from the beginning abides in you.

For in eternity past long before you knew
There was a Judge who sat above the world’s sphere,
He donned our humanity making one from us two.

Continue confessing, Christ who makes God’s love clear
Though the world makes ugly what is beautiful and true.
Abide in His love; his holiness draws near.
What you heard from the beginning abides in you.

© Randy Edwards 2016
artwork: Gustav Dore, The Creation of Light

Waking to Our Fear

This sonnet is based on the account of the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee with Jesus when they are overtaken by a great storm.
I’ve often thought of this passage in conjunction with Carrie Underwood’s song, “Jesus, Take the Wheel”–except, when the disciples finally call out, he’s asleep at the wheel, or tiller. The disciples don’t shout instructions to their land lubber rabbi, they ask the most heart wrenching question of fear and doubt, “Lord, do you not care that we are perishing?” This is one of the constant questions underneath all our questions. The answer which bolsters and strengthens is knowing the significance of how he answers it.

Here is the passage from Mark 4:35-41:

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

It was because you wanted that we
Started for the other side that evening–
Crossing at night Galilee’s warm, fitful sea
When the cool air of Mt Hermon comes beating.
And as we’d seen a hundred times before,
You lose when caught out in the night-storm’s billow.
So we reeled and rowed–heaved to any shore
With an untended tiller, you asleep there on the pillow.
And shouting, “Lord, don’t you care if we die?
We did as you asked! Ignored our own warnings!”
And waking to our fear, you spoke to the sky
And all was as quiet as a holiday morning.
Who are you that into the storm you lead–
Permitting despair, that your friends may be freed?

© Randy Edwards
artwork: Gustave Dore