All Leave

A poem about being left and leaving.

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

They all leave. Every single, last thing, leaves 
And goes away til there is nothing left;
All are consigned to one life and then, death.

All of us, all of them, from the first cry,
Are counting down till their last, labored breath
When they shall stop breathing and die.

And every leaving leaves me feeling left—
Leaves me burning with the sting of death
Empties my hands, leaves me bereft.

And to whom shall I leave what I have left—
The things for which I have paid for in sweat?
Who shall take it after my own death?

They all go; it all goes over time;
Whether they leave in trickles or at once
Leaving won’t stop till it has the last dime.

And here Truth shines for me to see
The fleetingness of my mortality:
That day by day the one leaving is me.

© Randall Edwards 2021

Your Hand

This poem draws its inspiration from Psalm 139. You may listen to me read the poem via the

player below.

 Even there your hand,
 The hand which you stretched out to deliver me,
 The hand by which you led your people through the sea
 And with which you take our hand
 And as a shepherd lead,
 That hand is the same hand 
 With which you took hers
 As she lay upon her bed
 Even though her father’s friends had said,
 ‘It’s no use, she’s already dead.’
 But you clasped her hand in yours,
 And without an audience, behind closed doors,
 You tenderly tugged and said,
 ‘Sweetie, time to get up’
 As if it were just another morning.

 Those hands are the hands with which
 You wiped your own tears as you wept 
 At your friend’s tomb 
 Though you said he only slept.

 And with those hands, you took the beam
 And with them carried it through the din
 Of Jerusalem’s cries and shouts
 And bore with it the weight of my sin;
 To that wood, they nailed
 Your hand even as they mocked and hailed
 You King of the Jews,
 And in your exaltation
 Said your kingdom had failed.

 And with your hand which you raised to you mouth
 You called the disciples from the shore
 You hailed them with a shout
 To cast our nets on the other side
 Of the boat.

 That hand beckoned Peter again from the sea
 And asked again whether of fish or men
 Would he rather a fisher be,
 Entreating three times,
 And through Peter ask me,
 Do you love me?
 Do you love me?
 Do you love me?
 More than these?

 That hand is the hand by which 
 You take mine in hand
 Whether I ascend to heaven, 
 Mount on wings,
 Or make my bed in the grave 
 With those who have died;
 Whether I dwell in the utmost part of the sea
 Even there your hand shall guide,
 Your hand shall take,
 Your right hand lead
 And hold 
 Me.
 

 © Randall Edwards 2021

Just So

This month is Pastor Appreciation Month. This was written a couple of years ago after I heard someone talk about leaders and how they liked them ‘just so’. The line caught my attention and rolled around in my head for a few days.
Oftentimes there is an attempt to position ourselves in terms of us and them: us pastors and them parishioners or us who appreciate pastors and them who don’t. But when it all boils down there is really only us and Him. And well, He’s really just so…

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

We like our leaders just so–
Not too brash, not too bold.
We like them humble, but not so much so.
We like our leaders just so.

We like them selfless,
Who serve without putting on a show.
Not pretentious, ostentatious,
Modest and humble,
Not too high but not too low.
That’s how we like our leaders.

Just so,
You know from the start,
From the get go, we have no issue
With receiving, following, heeding,
We hope you got the memo.
And we like you too,
(We thought you’d like to know),
We like our leaders.

Just so we’re clear
(And although no one’s perfect)
We’d like you
To be the closest to perfect
Of anyone we know—
Who’ll play their part
In our well-conceived dreams,
Lead us in fulfilling all our schemes,
Who is authentic down to their bones,
Who really is, not merely seems,
Someone we can trust more than anything.
We like our leaders.

We like our leaders just. So
You’ll need to measure up,
Exude perfection,
Reflect our fronting, our righteous reflection,
Our confident, prosperous, self-projection.
We like our leaders just.

So, why are you wearing that towel?
Why disrobed? Down on your knee?
Why touch my feet as a slave?
Why wash me?

Why don’t you speak, live up to the hype?
Do the deeds which brought you fame?
Are we to follow one so derided, disdained?

Defend yourself, why scorn the shame?
Why bear the cursing, take all the blame?
We like our leaders just.

So, you’ll have to do better;
You’ll have to rise higher;
You’ll have to break out
Of this lamb of God game.
You’ll need to make a better name
If we’re to follow you into your dominion;
You may not like it, but that’s our opinion.
There’s just no glory for a lion laid low
Because we like our leaders just so.

© Randall 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.

Doesn’t Look Like Much

This past Sunday was the first time the church had physically gathered for worship and the Lord’s Supper. It was a morning of expectation, and I sensed deep appreciation among those gathered for the opportunity, and our worship was full of gratitude.

Yet, there was a tinge of sadness. Our numbers were limited to under thirty people. We were socially distanced and masked. We were outside in the morning heat in our picnic shelter and not in the climate controlled building worshipping in the comfort of our sanctuary. The elements of the Lord’s Supper were one of those single, prepackaged, shipped-in-box-of 250 MRE’s. It all, we all, didn’t look like much. Yet, on the other hand, it seemed to be just about perfect.

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

It doesn’t look like much, no high altar,
No stained glass; it’s just a picnic shelter:
With a concrete floor and wooden tables.

It may not have looked like much,
But God first spoke, first reached with hands to touch
Us in a village stable.

We don’t look like much, not more than thirty
In our number gathered on a Sunday,
Scattered here to hear of Him who freed us.

They may not have looked like much:
Uncouth, unschooled yet bold in the clutch—
All knew they’d been with Jesus.

This doesn’t look like much, this plastic cup
Of juice, this tasteless bread, on which we sup,
Sealed in cellophane for distribution.

It may not look like much,
But the wicked and proud ne’er fed on such
A feast of absolution.

Yes, it isn’t much, only bread and wine
Bur it’s more than food on which we dine
It speaks pledge through sign, by words unspoken.

It may not look like much,
But here is promise more than enough:
He still loves and is for you, broken.

IMG_5225
© Randall Edwards 2020.
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)

Psalm 13 an Ordinary Prayer

This is the next installment in my psalms paraphrase project titled, Ordinary Prayer. In Psalm 13, which you may read HERE, David tells a story of personal struggle in which begins with his admission of his experience. It moves on to his cry to the Lord, and it concludes with his full awareness of the Lord’s covenant faithfulness to him which wells up in praise and song.

I wait and wait.
Do you ever think of me?
Will you ever look my way?
I spend the day in my head.
I try and work it out, but worry wears me out
And leaves me sad from morning till night.
How long will haters brag and have the upper hand?

Think of me and speak to me O Lord, my God.
Only you can lift my spirits.
If you don’t, I’ll just lie down and die,
And the haters will stand over me and gloat–
They’ll high five each other because I’ve been dropped.

But I have thrown myself on your strong, certain love;
My heart swells at the news of your salvation.
It swells into song — a song to you
Because you’ve done more for me, than I ever dared hope.

© Randall Edwards 2020. This paraphrase of Psalm 13 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
Ordinary Prayer