Easter Sunday: Be Thou My Light

This villanelle is inspired by the prayer, Need of Jesus, which is included in Banner of Truth’s collection of puritan prayers.

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.

I have recorded the poem via Soundcloud which you may listen to 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.

(C) Randy Edwards
artwork: Biblia Pauperum, Netherlands, N.; c. 1405. The Master of the Hours of Margaret of Cleves (Lisbon, Museum Calouste Gulbenkian, Ms. LA 148).

Holy Saturday: Five Wounds

On this Saturday of waiting, between Christ’s crucifixion and burial and his resurrection, we are taking time to reflect on the cross. In this sonnet we look at the hands and feet of Jesus in both his earthly ministry and the pierced hands, feet, and side which bear the marks of his crucifixion.

I have recorded the sonnet to Soundcloud which you may listen to below.

His nail-scarred palms hand me trial and blessing.
His gospel feet run my ordered days.
The thoracic flood my core-sin redressing.
The stain in my heart is bleached by his grace.
His hands beckon Peter to step on the tempest–
Waken Talitha who in death only sleeps.
They wipe his own eyes when his sorrow breaks heaviest
For his friend, Life and Resurrection weeps.
His feet bear him here through time’s threshold leaping–
Washed with tears and perfume, stride the sea.
These feet leap the cosmos a bride in seeking
And walk Calvary crossed to bring healing to me.
Sleeping in death, having opened his side
From the second Adam’s rib comes a pure, spotless bride.

artwork: wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883)

Holy Thursday: God’s Full Love

Over the next four days I’ll be posting poems for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Today’s poem is a villanelle based on the following passage, but especially the clause in verse 1, “he loved them to the end” or as the NIV renders it, “the full extent of his love”. The poem’s text is below, and an audio file of me reading the text via soundcloud is available too.

John 13:1-5 reads, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

I know it now; I know love’s way,
Even as I break the bread and pour your wine
God’s full love I show this day.
Wrapped as a scullion that I may
Wash your feet in tear stained brine,
I know it now; I know love’s way.
Bought for thirty pieces of silver to betray,
Though we share the table at which we dine
God’s full love I show this day.
To Gethsemane we go to watch and pray
For all those tempted, who’ve crossed that line,
I know it now; I know love’s way.
Crying out, “Father, take this cup away!”
But even so, “Your will, not mine.”
God’s full love I show this day.
Catching Peter’s eye at dawn’s first ray,
In horror he weeps for the realized sign;
I know it now; I know love’s way,
God’s full love I show this day.

(c) Randy Edwards

artwork: A an etching by Jan Luyken from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations housed at Belgrave Hall, Leicester, England (The Kevin Victor Freestone Bequest). Photo by Philip De Vere.

My Alabaster Heart

based on: John 12:1-3 which reads: “Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

He came to us lately, but too late for healing;
For days my brother lay sealed up behind stone;
My heart twisted, grieving between riot and reeling–
He answered with a word and gave life to these bones.
And now pouring from my alabaster heart, broken
Is the fragrant perfume of my passion’s love and life–
Anointing his feet which runs out in devotion
For my savior who bears my sin, sorrow, and strife.
But worse than I feared my king did for me:
Faced his own death in silence like the Passover Lamb.
My heart breaks again, water from rock, tears flow free…
Is there hope beyond hope for this child of Abraham?
Placed in a stone vial my treasure is now sealed,
To await the word and breaking when love is revealed.

Artwork: woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860 by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794–1872).

Glory Gave Up

This the fourth is series of sonnet meditations on the season of Lent. In it I am considering the glory of God which St Paul says we fell short of in Romans 3.

Humanity’s glory shines greatest in the earth
In beauty like the flowers, in strength strong as stone;
They each build subduing, weaving for their worth
A net to capture blessing to make this world their home.
But brighter still and greater, God shines in glory above
Hidden in invisible substance behind indiffractable light—
Who rules with right justice, works wisdom in love
Accomplishes his purpose with irresistible might.
But marred is our humanity, our monument temples fall;
We slave to grab only to lose all that we’ve begotten;
We seek meaning in our buying, sell ourselves unto the thrall
Though wind is all we’re reaping sown souls to be forgotten.
But Glory gave up weal taking on humility
Bearing the woe and breaking to make us nobility.

(c)Randy Edwards

artwork: Christ washing the Apostles’ feet, from the Otto III Gospels. Beyerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich; late 10th / early 11th century