To Grasp

To Grasp

This sonnet is based on Ephesians 3:14-19.

It seems to me that there are two kinds of grasping. There is the taking in hand of something so that one may posses it, control it, and own it, and there is the taking in hand of being taken in hand. It seems to me that Paul is speaking of the later.

Our comprehending the love of God is not something over which we get mastery but instead it is something which gets mastery over us. Love can become controlling and possessive — even if it is our love for another. The love of Christ is not of that sort. The “master-slave” sort of love is more akin to ‘dominatrix-submissive’  love (which has its reflection in Baal worship). Rather, Jesus’ love is the love that kneels down, takes the lowest place, and washes the feet of those he loves.

There is a grasping which is not stealing,
Nor taking what’s another’s for one’s own
But it is a child’s clasp — a hand sealing
Taken and given against the unknown.

There is a moment of comprehending
That avoids the pressing need to explain
And rather than being condescending
Knowledge is full yet the questions remain.

As one upon a canyon’s edge stands
After hours of climbing the narrow trail
Taking in the scope of sky, broad’ning land
You see your world’s concerns against the scale.
And your thoughts which cannot grasp, though you try
Take the hand of Love who dwells above sky.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
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: Gabriel Max. The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter , oil on canvas, 1878.

Your Love’s Breadth

Your Love’s Breadth

This sonnet draws its inspiration from Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:14-21.

What strikes me about the passage is that Paul invites the Ephesians to do what they cannot in fact, do. He prays that they “may have strength to comprehend” the size of God’s love when we know that though we may apprehend God’s love, we could never fully get our minds around it. Secondly, he prays that they might know the “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” How can one know what is beyond knowing? Of course, this is the point.

Paul is not praying for their capability to quantify God’s love, he is inviting them to marvel in the massive, unknowable, cosmic, stunning, out of this world size of God’s love. He is inviting them to imagine it. In making use of their imagination, the Ephesians will begin to apprehend in fresh ways and greater insight. And here, in a fresh experience with something of which we thought we already knew the answer, we step out of the dingy familiar and onto the barefoot, holy ground. This is where we worship with Paul, and we bow our knees and give God glory.

I bow my knees before the Father of
All, in whom we all live and to whom we
All return to stand uncovered, stripped of
All our self-stuff, stark as a winter tree.
Naked at first, in Eden unashamed,
But we deceived ourselves with lying arts,
Running, we hid behind the good He made,
And in stealing His gifts, greed grabbed our hearts.

But Your love’s breadth reached, stretched out on a cross
Climbed to the height, hanged naked on the tree,
Descended in death, entombed, paid the cost,
Went to any length to bring us mercy.
I praise You who has abundantly done
More than we can ask, think, or imagine.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
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 (www.backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

Artwork: artwork: Maximilien Luce [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Maximilien Luce  (1858–1941), Le bon samaritain, oil on canvas, signed ‘Luce’ (lower right); signed again and dated ‘Luce 1896’ (on the stretcher)

Brought Near

Brought Near

This poem is based on Ephesians 2:11-22 and is a part of a series entitled Grow Up. Specifically, I was inspired by the inscription which was posted at the temple in Jerusalem and marked the boundary between the the court of the Gentiles and the inner courts in which ceremonially clean Jews were invited. The inscriptions were warnings not to enter under pain of death.

The translation of the inscription on the stone pictured reads, “Let no foreigner enter within the parapet and the partition which surrounds the Temple precincts. Anyone caught [violating] will be held accountable for his ensuing death.” This screen, parapet, or dividing wall is what the Apostle Paul likely visualized when he wrote in Ephesians 2:14, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility….” And it was the accusation that Paul himself had violated this ordinance by taking several of those who had traveled with him from Asia and Greece to bring the relief offering to Jerusalem. (See Acts 21 and 22) that ultimately landed him in the chains in which he now writes the Ephesian church from Rome.

Remember what it was like to be
Known for what you weren’t? For your
Shortcomings? For what you tried but
Couldn’t do? Remember what you
Wanted but were denied? Or how you failed when
Trying? Let alone that, no matter how hard you
Tried, it didn’t matter because you were
Born that way? Being separated, shewed away as an
Unclean dog, alienated and a
Stranger and counted among the
Hapless, hopeless, godless, lost?
Do you remember?

And then?
But.
That blessed
Interruption which a child
Learns soon after learning to say, ‘No’.
‘But Mom…but Dad..but why…but when?’
“But now
You have been brought near”
Not through your
Excellence or having secured your own
Access BUT, by the passive activity of the
Reception of a gracious gift. You are
Brought near. Though you had been far off,
Peace has been secured by a
Blood-bond and payment;
And the hostility
Drained from the veins of wrath as a butchered
Lamb prepared for the spit.

No more walls,
No more sore warnings,
Nor taking your life in your own hands.
For you have been taken in hand,
And those scarred by nails.
That hand joins yours and theirs and ours
Each of us smeared with the same blood
And ears pierced with the same awe-full word
And eyes lifted, to the full-bore, blazing
Sunrise smile of blessing.
To stand in the presence of THE ONE whose mere
Presence pacifies, stills, and quiets. Makes no-matter
The questions which burned before.
Hand in hand, by that hand, knowing as we are
Known, wanted as we have always been, and
Reborn.

© Randall Edwards 2019
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.
Picture: Istanbul Archaeology Museums [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D