Falling Fire

Falling Fire

This is a sonnet for Pentecost and is based upon the account of the same in Acts chapter 2.

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

Suddenly like a mighty, rushing wind,
Love fell upon us as fire and flame,
Winding and binding, empowering to send
Us to the nations proclaiming his Name.
The exalted Name above all others,
The only Name by which one may be saved
Whose salvation unites, makes enemies brothers
Whose dying gives life, frees the enslaved.
And Water of Life, a river flowing
Effulgence, increase, pours, spilling over
Enwraps, enfolding as a breeze blowing
Wells up in love as beloved and lover.
Falling fire in tongues, Babel’s blather breaks
Resounds His own word whose voice Kadesh shakes.

© 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: Jean Restout le jeune (1692–1768) Oil on canvas 1732.

Had You Not Gone

Had You Not Gone

This sonnet is is for Ascension Day and is based upon Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:1-14 regarding Jesus’ ascension into heaven on the 40th day after Easter.

The question why Jesus ascended is a worthy question. It seems that so much could have be dealt with and handled if he had stayed. Aside from his saying that it was needful for him to go so that he might send us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, it is important to see what his going means for us. Rather than grieving his departure, we may enjoy a deep consolation because of his Ascension. For though he is not physically present with us here, we are spiritually present with him there. Our life, as Paul says in Colossians 3, is “hid with Christ in God.” The author of Hebrews says that the reality of Jesus ascension is in fact, an anchor for the soul.

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

Had you not gone away, ascended on high,
You would have remained and still be here;
The tale of your rising, none deny—
Proof forever, age to age, year to year.
Had you not gone our faith would now be sight,
And seeing, believing, for all could see;
You could heal, stop hate, give wisdom and light
So why ascend? Why go? Why leave us be?

I must go, and bear what’s finished to heav’n
Take your life with me, hide you in love
From whence I’ll rule, sit in royal session,
Pour out my Spirit of fire from above.
Secure as an anchor, I hold you fast
For you’re with me now, till I come at last.

© 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  (1836–1902), The Ascension; between 1886 and 1894; opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper.

What Love

What Love

This poem imagines a few texts from the scriptures. Primarily it is an imagining of the parable of the prodigal sons (younger and elder) from Luke 15:11-32, but I have also drawn from Ezekiel 16:6, Romans 8:32, and 1 John 3:1.

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

See what kind of love the Father has shown
Though orphaned in the world and left to die,
You adopt me as your child, make me your own.

You found me lifeless, cast off like a stone,
And 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 beneath Your blue sky
As your child, having made me your own.

But wanting as I would have, off I roam
To the wild wood, other loves to try
Just what kind of love has this Father shown?

From your presence into hiding I’ve flown
I could’ve stayed, hiding, serving up a lie,
Denying I’m your child, pretending I’m my own.

Broken and shoeless, shall I return home?
Shall I enter the joy? Or remain outside?
What love is left that the Father hasn’t shown?
Would He give His all, not even sparing His own?

© 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: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Return of the Prodigal Son, c. 1661–1669. Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

Woe to You

Woe to You

This sonnet is based upon Luke 11:37-12:3 where Jesus pronounces woes upon the Pharisees and lawyers. The passage reads,

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

12:1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

For both the Pharisees and the lawyers (scribes), the glory they seek or the power of counsel they offer only leads to one place: death. It will be the glory of unmarked graves for the Pharisees who love to sit in the seat of honor and be greeted in the marketplace, and it will be judgment and accountability for the oppression and bloodshed which the scribe’s counsel leads to and inspires. Neither the scrupulous avoidance of taboos, nor rigorous application of legal guidance will lead to liberty, purity, and life. One has come however, who will make clean, who will honor with love and bring light even into the darkness of death.

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

He invited the teacher to dinner
In a pious show of hospitality;
“But not washing?” He thought him a sinner;
“A dirty messiah? How could he be?”
When the scribes claimed he was being too hard,
He opened the door to their brutality–
Who rather than unlock, hindered and barred;
Instead of loosing the lock, losing the key.
The honor you lust, is as unmarked graves
Woe to you who wash in that devotion;
Shackled to self, you’ll sink ‘neath those waves
Swallowed by night in pride’s pitiless ocean.
But in the dirt of his death, becoming sin, He makes right
Washes free the tomb’s terror, and floods us in light.

© Randall 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.
Artist: James Tissot, Malheur à vous, scribes et pharisiens (Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees), between 1886 and 1894, opaque watercolor.

Jericho Road

Jericho Road

This poem is based upon Luke 10:21-42 which includes the parable of the Good Samaritan and the account of Jesus in Martha and Mary’s house. It’s my belief that Jesus’ interaction with the lawyer (the context of Jesus telling the parable) and his visit with Martha both took place on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem and comprise two scenes for the same instruction. In the case of both the lawyer testing Jesus and Martha who is testy with Jesus, they have failed to see who stands before them and what He could offer them should they ask. The lawyer feels the desire to justify himself (“Who is my neighbor?”) and Martha is distracted with much serving (“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”). The passages begin with this provocative invitation of Jesus speaking privately with his disciples, which we have the benefit of overhearing, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Luke 10:23,24).

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

He had long sought these things to see,
But being blinded by self-justification,
The lawyer tried with an inquiry
To test the teacher’s sophistication–
A subtle attempt at trickery
By explanation.

She had long listened, labored in care
For a word of mercy for her sibling’s wants;
Though she served, worked, managed affairs,
Death’s specter yet threatens and haunts.
She thirsts for life to well-up somewhere–
A free flowing font.

Help arrived in time on the Jericho Road
To this lawyer and sister hung’ring in need
Whose own back is for their burdens bowed,
Who for distractions and excuses bleeds:
A Samaritan to carry the load
Whose own body feeds.

© 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.

Artist: Diego Velázquez (1599–1660)  Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (Cristo en casa de Marta y María), c.1618, oil on canvas.

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 unveild, 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.