With His Life’s Wage

With His Life’s Wage

The passages of John 6:1-14 and 21:1-14 mirror each other. In both instances a crowd is gathered, full of expectancy but hungry and weary. In one a meager meal of some fish and five barley loaves is more than enough in Jesus’ hands, and in the other, Jesus’ presence with a small amount gives the disciples as much as they can handle. In one you have Philip’s comment that a years wage wouldn’t be enough to give all even a little. In the second, one man’s wage is more than enough to fill all.

‘Look at this crowd, where’s food enough to feed?’
The Rabbi questioned Philip as a test,
Who says, “A years wage wouldn’t meet the need
Feed some a little, leave nothing for the rest.”
A boy shares what he has (bread and some fish);
Andrew brings to Jesus, filing through the ranks,
And Jesus blesses more than one could wish
Feeding famished thousands, filling them with thanks.

By that sea after the Son in full measure
Had poured out his wealth for our wage of woe
And having turned His weakness into treasure
He breaks their night’s fast shares himself to show
That with his life’s wage he buys fish and bread
Gives life, fills full, unto rising from the dead.

© Randall Edwards 2018.
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 Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes (La multiplicité des pains), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Brooklyn Museum. No known copyright restrictions.

Unless I See

Unless I See

This sonnet is based on John 20:25 which reads, “So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.'”

‘Unless I see the marks the nails left,
The scars of his hands, place my fingers in
Those iron wounds, place my hand in the cleft
Of his side where the spear went in?
I’ll not believe. I’ll not be taken in.

I was ready to lose my life in off’ring,
Gladly die with him, give everything.’

‘Thomas, I know you would’ve gladly given
Your life with me if you could. Nor do I
Doubt that you would’ve resisted, striven,
Remained true, not run away, nor in fear fly,
You’d have stayed by my side, lent a hand, died.

Embrace my death, but more, my life receive
Take my hands, touch my side, see, live, believe.

© Randall Edwards 2018.
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: Béla Iványi-Grünwald [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. (PD-1923).

Easter Collect

Easter Collect

This is sonnet is a repost for Easter Sunday. It is based upon The Book of Common Prayer‘s Collect for Easter Sunday. The Collect 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.”

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 unveiled, 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.
graceart_lowres-25
Artwork: Abstract weaving by Jennifer Edwards (jenniferedwards.com) titled, Resurrection, from the series, Ashes to Eternity, © Jennifer Edwards 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Be Thou My Light

Be Thou My Light

A villanelle repost for Easter Sunday. This poem is inspired by Valley of Vision, “Need of Jesus” which I have reimagined from the viewpoint of Mary Magdalene.

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
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). Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene (Apparition de Jésus à Madeleine), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 8 15/16 x 6 1/16 in. (22.7 x 15.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.334 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.334_PS2.jpg)

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.

Good Friday

Good Friday

Here are two poems which have been previously posted which deal with themes of Good Friday.

The first is a poem titled, The Dragon, and it is based upon Revelation 12:15 which reads, “The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.” The flood is a river of lies and deception about the gospel in which the serpent seeks to sweep away the church (the woman). However, it is not only the serpent, but we too are caught up in that flood of lies when we engage in the management of our reputation by lying or manipulating others with our words. The apostle Peter succumbed to that flood on this day so many years ago. His denial is the subject of the poem (Luke 22:54-62).

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

From the Dragon’s mouth words pour out
Like a river in which truth seems to shout:
The shameful curse and accusation,
The legalistic judge’s condemnation,
The victims raging imprecations,
To drown and make you his prize.

In desperate deceit we lie. We make
Excuses for self-preservation’s sake.
We deflect with condescending over-simplification
To manipulate another’s expectations,
Managing with half-truths our own reputation,
Denying there could be any association
Between our actions and the Father of Lies.

And in these moments when we double-speak—
Fearing the loss of the fame we seek
And terrified of the cost of the implication—
We deny the very insinuation
Of any merit of the accusation,
We call down curses and condemnations
That we have any association
With this Teacher condemned to die.

It is then and there, at dawn’s first light
When the rooster’s cry breaks the silence of night
We remember our confident exaggeration:
Defiant against any prognostication
That we could be tempted to any prevarication
Or withhold sincerely offered oblation,
Denying our love — our chosen vocation
Merely to protect our own reputation?
And we see through Another’s knowing eyes.

And from this horrified, humiliated heap
A flood of tears pours out in words we weep
Of the hasty vows we swore in the commotion,
Of the sting of exposure and anger at the notion,
That one could be guilty of such insincere devotion…
Drowning in shame and regret and resentful emotion
No more words, no excuses, no alibis.

© Randy Edwards 2016

The second poem is a sonnet which links Mary’s encounter with Jesus at the Wedding in Cana in Galilee from John 2:1-5 with her presence at the crucifixion in John 19:25-26. They are book ends of a sort of John’s good news about Jesus’ ministry and mission. The question which Jesus asks of Mary at the wedding, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” is answered by his words from the cross, “Woman, behold your son.”

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

Finding us outside as we waited on
Our master who brought us to the wedding,
His mother, not asking, telling her son
The shameful news the steward was dreading.
“The wine has runout,” in question she eyed
Looking for what he might say and do.
“Woman, what’s that to me, my time’s not arrived.”
To the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
It’s been three years since he turned water to wine;
We stand at the foot of his crushing shame
Twisted round a stake like vintner’s vine
Her son who saved stewards from blame.
And so, “Why?” pours from her eyes in sobs overcome
The wine saved for last, “Woman, behold your son.”

© Randy Edwards 2016 and 2017.
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.
artwork: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), St. John Comforting the Virgin at the Foot of the Cross (After the Ninth Hour), 1862; pencil and watercolour with bodycolour and gum arabic on paper laid on linen