Suddenly He Comes

Suddenly He Comes

Rise and shine, campers, the Lord has suddenly come to his Temple!

February 2 is Candlemas and is the fortieth day after the church celebrates the birth of Jesus. The event is recorded in Luke 2:22-38, and recounts when Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem and his parents paid the redemption price for a firstborn son (Leviticus 12).

In the United States, the significance of the Lord’s sudden appearing as promised in Malachi 3:1-3 is either lost or ignored much as Jesus was by those in Jerusalem in his day. Instead, on February 2, we mark Groundhog’s Day imagined to be the half way point between the first day of winter and the first day of spring.

Borne in arms to his house as a pilgrim
The Anointed who’ll bear our salvation;
Redeemer redeemed with two young pigeons
For the desire and wealth of the nations.

Suddenly, he comes to those who waited,
The refiner’s fire, promised fuller’s soap;
Simeon and Anna, made young again
Seeing Israel’s consolation and hope.

Lord, in the light of Candlemas I see
In the heart of my own mid-winter way
You gave your wealth, to become poor for me
That I might be young and long for the Day
When the sudden shaking of your revealing
Dashes the proud, but the poor and pierced, healing.

© Randy 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.

Artwork: Saint Simeon with the Christ child. 2014. Oil on canvas. 90×70. Artist A.N. Mironov
By Andrey Mironov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Robert Burns Day 2019

Robert Burns Day 2019

Friends of mine hosted a Robert Burns Night in their home on January 25 in which they served a traditional Scottish dinner with rumbledethumps and bannock and of course the main dish, haggis, which is not actually authentic haggis (because traditional haggis is banned in the United States by the USDA) but is, by all intents and purposes,…haggisy.

A part of every Robert Burns Diner is the recitation of Burn’s poem, “Address to the Haggis,” which I have been reciting constantly for a week, much to my families dismay and amusement.

It probably won’t be too helpful, but you may listen to me attempt to recite the poem via the player below with my humble apologies for butchering the Scots dialect.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang ‘s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut ye up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

It’s probably more helpful to read a translation which you may find HERE.

Goodness Reached Out

Goodness Reached Out

This sonnet is from my chapbook collection of poems inspired by the Gospels and is entitled Walking with Jesus. This sonnet is based on Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 6:6-11 when Jesus enters the synagogue and heals the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath.

I sat there each Sabbath in that same place
Pitied and lonely with my withered arm;
Friends couldn’t even look me in the face
For them a reason of subtle alarm
That Providence’s purpose and pleasure
Is not easily read or understood:
Why not all judged with the same measure?
Why the wicked thrive though doing no good?

But goodness reached out on this Sabbath day,
Freed me from power’s weighty, with’ring yoke
His question left them with nothing to say
He worked with a word. He healed when he spoke.
To what length will this rabbi stretch out to take,
The broken in arm whom the powerful forsake?

© 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.

Fullness

Fullness

“Fullness” is a poem from my chapbook collection of poems inspired by the Gospels entitled, Walking with Jesus, and this poem is based on Mark 2:23-38 and Luke 6:1-5.

An easy Sabbath walk in the lengthened light
Of evening wading through a sea of wheat,
Which swelled with wind, waving, rolling in flight
Across the field where we gather to meet.
In the cool of the evening out of the heat,
With One who left us hungering for more
Our bellies talk, we pluck the grain and eat
Rub the kernels free on this threshing floor.
We feed on His words, whose grain fills, restores;
Gives life to the hungry, strengthens, and stays
Welcomes the outcast, throws open the door
But offends the proud, sends the full away.
But to us, Sit down, says, You are the blessed
Who’ve hungered and thirsted, sought out my rest.

© 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.
artwork: James Tissot [Public domain]

In Their Presence

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.

What Carries?

What Carries?

This sonnet is based on Mark 2:1-12 which tells of a paralytic who is carried by his friends to a house where Jesus is speaking so that Jesus may heal him. When they find that they can’t get close enough to Jesus, they dig a hole in the roof of the house and lower him on a mat in front of Jesus.

It is a wonderful story about carrying. The friends carry their friend whose own legs won’t carry him to the healer, Jesus. The scribes and pharisees carry out an investigation and question whether Jesus has committed blasphemy in forgiving the paralytic his sins. Jesus declares the man’s sins are forgiven, but Jesus also carries out the healing the friends and the paralytic himself sought so that all may see he carries the authority to do just what he said. In fact, he has come to carry out what is necessary to bring the forgiveness of sins and the healing of the world. Lastly, the man carries out his mat and is carried along with the joy of new life.

Carried along, my four friends bear me to
The healer and teacher come to our town
With the hope that he might right, heal, undo
These cursed, lifeless limbs that have let me down.

But the way is barred (so many others)
Another closed door leaves me lost, reeling,
Carries me under, fear floods and smothers—
My sin surely shuts the way to healing.

Carried down, sinking, a dug hole passed through
Into dark on the bier that’s borne me here;
I lie on the earth but find him here too
Who came first, who forgives, carries my fear.

“Arise! Take your mat,’ I take my burden
Carried forth in joy, loved, forgiven.

© 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). Thanks.
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Palsied Man Let Down through the Roof (Le paralytique descendu du toit), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 9 5/16 x 6 9/16 in. (23.7 x 16.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.123 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.123_PS1.jpg)

To His Garden

To His Garden

This sonnet is based on Jeremiah 39:1-10 which recounts the fall of Jerusalem. The account itself strikingly echoes the fall in Genesis. In both cases because of sin and rebellion, God’s people are cast from a garden. Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and Zedekiah and the people from the garden of the holy city, Jerusalem. A future king, however, would enter a garden, on behalf of his people, not to flee but to face judgment.

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

The walled carapace of self-sufficiency
Is breached by the imperial powers.
Time. Time is up for the garden city
Her midnight has come, her judgment hour.
Judges are seated where their word awaits
To condemn all, from elderly to child,
But the people’s king flees through his garden gate
In fear runs away, cast out to the wild.

One day again, judgment to a king comes
Who to a garden goes running to pray
Find help to face alone the gallows’ drums,
That the cup of wrath be taken away.
This king drinks death for us, is raised above,
That we in his garden, may drink his love.

© 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). Thanks.
Artwork: “Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar as the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah, XXI, 4 7)” c.1956; France. 
© Marc Chagall Fair Use