Hard to Bear

A good friend shared this quote from Elisabeth Elliot’s devotional, A Lamp Unto My Feet.

“Someone who is suffering as a result of his own foolishness or failure may read these words. These griefs are hard indeed to bear, for we feel we might easily have avoided them. We have no one to blame but ourselves, and there isn’t much consolation there. Sometimes we imagine that we must bear this kind of trouble alone, but that is a mistake. The Lamb of God, slain for us, has borne all of our griefs and carried all of our sorrows, no matter what their origin. All grief and sorrow is the result of sin somewhere along the line, but Christ received them willingly. It is nothing but pride that keeps me from asking Him to help me to bear the troubles which are my own fault. ‘Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,’ take away mine.”

It has continued to be of encouragement to me and so as to work it in deeper, I’ve taken the quote and re-written it as a sonnet.

These griefs and sorrows are indeed hard to bear–
This bed of my trouble in which I must lie;
Had I simply avoided the obvious snare,
I’d be holding the pearls I’ve trampled in this sty.
The troubles I’ve made are mine and mine alone
To silently bear (suck it up) make no plea,
Any help of relief I must pay out on my own
I’ve no one to blame, pass the buck, just me.

Ev’ry grief and sorrow came somewhere from sin,
And Christ received them all and willingly bore
All our sins no matter what their origin
Only pride keeps you from going, to humbly implore,
“Lamb of God, who the sins of the world takes away
Take the troubles I’ve made; please, take my sins today.”

© Randy Edwards 2016
artwork: Unknown

The Narrow Door III: Levi’s Table

This the third in a series of sonnets reflecting on the Parable of the Narrow Door from Luke 13:22-30. In this sonnet, I am imagining the table at which the Master’s guests recline and the sorts of tables they’ve left behind to sit at that table. One such table is the table at which the disciple, Levi, collected taxes and from which Jesus called, “Follow me.” The account is in Luke 5:27-31 which reads,

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

He stopped at my table and stood and stared
At me and the extorted wealth I’d taken;
But he discerned beneath how poor and scared
That my collector’s kingdom would fin’lly be shaken.
He called, “Follow me.” I arose and followed after,
Left my booth and scales dropped them all aside,
And welcomed to my home light and love and laughter;
But left out all other’s debts, left no seat for pride.
And reclining with this rabbi, at my table of the least
While my betters stood despising, scoffing from outside,
My Master in the presence of mine enemies set a feast
Of lordly leisure and promise: to be always at his side.
My mission now is to carry news, calling from east and west,
“Come to the table of the King, be found and filled and rest.”

(c)Randall Edwards

Easter Sunday: Be Thou My Light

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.

An Invitation to Porn Spammers

A little explanation may be in order. This poem began as a rant at the fact that it seems like too many of the “like” notifications I get on soundcloud are actually porn spammers. It’s both disheartening and wildly baffling. But there is hope of more even for the worst of us, even rage poets.

This poem goes out to all you porn spammers:
Who think of women as wham-bam-thank-you-ma’amers,
You likers who peddle personas without manners —
Offering pouty-lipped profile picks in provocative pa-jammers.
Do you really care or even give-a-dammers
For those upon whom you prey?

I wish you did care about those upon whom you prey:
Who are living just tying to make it through another day
Who want to be honest, do just what they say,
But are trapped in colorless lives–unless the color is grey,
Who live lives barren and stark.

And the pleasure you proffer, compared to truth? It is stark,
But you don’t care about those whom you target and mark.
Your liking and linking and sharing on a lark
Is the chum offering baiting for a predators shark
Whom you’ll torture, tear, and shred,

And so your bots move through websites and shred,
Putting out links trying to capture any unwary fred,
But there’s nothing here, Nothing, no commenter’s thread
I have nothing of my own — only His wine and bread —
The one exposed, shamed, by his friends left for dead.

But if you’re into that kind of shameful revulsion,
A religion of the dying and the Edenic expulsion,
You’re welcome to stay, sit, query your questions,
Make your peace, pour it out, in full-free confession.
Together we’ll admit our powerlessness in profession
And be welcomed back in embrace and hope and resurrection.

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).