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).

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


With you I’ve walked down matrimony’s aisle,
Ridden in a hearse’s funeral train reeling,
Danced down in a vale on summer’s day while
You wheeled round corners, walking for healing.
And we press on walking, no choice but to follow
Where the numbers take us correcting as we go.
How basal rates of meaning seemingly so shallow
Translate into our arriving there? We simply do not know.
In the end we each shall walk benighted and alone
Through the darkest valley — the last road trod,
Having wandered through this wilderness far from home
Found and led by our Albergue into spaciousness and broad,
Opening into a field of stars where He shall lead the way
Encircled in the hallowed rose of love and our eternal day.

(c) Randy Edwards