Two Blind Men

Two Blind Men

This sonnet is based on Mark 8:22-9:1. Interestingly in the passage there are actually two blind men from Bethsaida for Bethsaida is Peter’s hometown too. The blind man finds his healing in two stages, and Peter too must find his own healing in stages. Both see something, but they do not see everything.

Two blind men of Bethsaida came to see
Jesus. One for healing, from blindness freed
The other came with him whom he believed
Would be King, bring a glory guarantee.

The first when healed saw people as trees
The second, a king, opportunity
For the triumph he saw as his destiny;
Of the two from Bethsaida, only one sees.

But the second will see: the glory cloud,
See his chance to fight, to wield the sword,
Will see the day he denies with three words,
See his Christ’s shame, rejected by the crowd.

This second is healed when he comes to see
The Son of Man as his life-giving tree.

© Randall Edwards, 2019
This sonnet 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: Christ and the pauper. Healing of the blind man. 2009. Canvas, oil. 100 x 55. Artist A.N. Mironov. Andrey Mironov [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

Come Buy

Come Buy

This sonnet draws from the episode of the Feeding of the 5,000 from Mark 6:30-44. In service and ministry, Jesus repeatedly asks of his disciples things which they cannot provide or accomplish in themselves. Over and over again, it is not as if they are a cut above the masses to whom they minister, but they are among those masses.

It seems to me that the work of faith is the “buying without cost” which Isaiah mentions in Isaiah 55:1-3. How does one take possession of something that is freely given? One merely receives it. Now, just because a thing is free doesn’t mean it is of no value. The value of what is freely given is revealed in the manner in which one receives it and how much it is treasured afterward.

Worn thin by the work, amazed but weary,
We recount our deeds healing the possessed.
Seeing our hunger, he calls us dearly,
Come ‘way with me into quiet and rest.

By boat we seek a solitary shore,
But the crowd follows and meets us hungry;
We who have left all, who have nothing more
Have become one flock, bewildered, wand’ring.

You give them something to eat, you said
As if from the sky bread falls prodigious.
How with only two fish, five loaves of bread
Can there be enough for them, you, and us?

Come buy without cost food, rich, free, and fine
Feed on what fills, is good, my bread and wine.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This sonnet 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, Image: 7 3/8 x 10 9/16 in. (18.7 x 26.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.134 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.134_PS1.jpg)

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
GraceArt_lowres-2
Ash Wednesday
abstract weaving by Jennifer Edwards (jenniferedwards.com)
photo taken by Hazel Kuehn (hazelkuehn.com)

Ash Wednesday is today and marks the beginning of the Lenten season which is a season of preparation for the remembrance of passion week and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. A traditional text often quoted as ashes are imposed on the foreheads of those coming forward at Ash Wednesday services is from Genesis 3:19 which reads, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This sonnet remembers the first time I imposed ashes during an Ash Wednesday service. It was a moving service for me. The intimacy of touching someone on their forehead, looking them in the eye, and telling them they are going to return to the dust from which they were formed (that is, to die) was a profound pastoral moment.

You Are Dust

“Remember, you are dust,” I say. You bow
Your head toward me standing face to face;
With my trembling thumb I reach, touch your brow
To impose in ash this symbol of grace.

“You are dust”, words every father has told
Every child whom death and dearth drove down,
Deep into earth, where neither young or old,
Wear gems or gold but wear an ashen crown.

“And to dust you shall return,” I say
Crossing your forehead in imposition;
He sends you forth on this Wednesday
Into the wilderness of His transposition.
Where the hopeless hope, through dust and ash rise
When death’s door is broken, opened to sky.

© Randall Edwards 2017.
This sonnet 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.

The Seed

The Seed

Like seed broadcast by a sower’s throw
Are the words which poets scatter around,
And those words, now dormant, will only grow
When received by ears which hear and re-sound
Their meaning, the wonder, through turn of phrase,
By rhyme and cadence, the incantation
Which breaks through as one freed from a maze
Into seeing through imagination.

I see your brow”s furrow; you look again
At these words which the sower flung your way;
As you work your plot, try to comprehend
The worries which germinate through your day.
Stopped in this moment, amazed, you’re the ground
Who sprouts into smile by words which you’ve found.

© Randall Edwards 2017
artwork: James Tissot, The Sower, 1886 and 1894, Medium: opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Brooklyn Museum,

Legion

Legion

This sonnet is based on the following passages which tell of the healing of the Gerasene demoniac from Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39, and Matthew 8:28-34. Jesus, having delivered the disciples from the terror of the night storm, arrives on the other side of the Sea of Galilee and is confronted by a demoniac who roams naked among the tombs of his people. The story of the demoniac’s ruin, isolation, and degradation is particularly desperate and sad. His neighbors have given up on either helping or managing the demoniac in his ravings, and he himself is as good as dead, living naked among the tombs. A question provoked by this event is, can there be hope when there is no hope…when one has been given over to demons and death?

Long since, I left my people and my home
Who had long since quit, given up on me
To dwell in undwelling, midst death and bone
Among these tombs by the Galilee.
When he came, I rushed, was all in a rage;
As he called them out, rebuked the unclean,
His call I thought, was back into the cage;
Leave me alone! Don’t look! Leave me unseen!

What if we would step out, wait, let him speak;
Let him see our hearts, untie the twisted;
Be bold yet humble, use strength to be weak?
What if in peace, we could just sit and listen?
What if Power came in Peace with Affection
To bring news of coming resurrection?

© Randy Edwards 2019.
This sonnet 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 Swine Driven into the Sea (Les porcs précipités dans la mer), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 10 3/16 x 6 11/16 in. (25.9 x 17 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.107 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.107_PS1.jpg)

Waking to Our Fear

Waking to Our Fear

This sonnet is based on Mark 4:35-41 when the disciples and Jesus cross the Sea of Galilee and are caught in a storm. What I imagine confounds the disciples, is that even though he delivers the disciples from the storm he seems indifferent to the threat (these sorts of storms happened and these seasoned fisherman knew it). Even so, Jesus leads them out. Having led them into probable trial, not only does Jesus leave the tiller untended, he falls asleep at the wheel.

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, I wonder how the disciples imagined Jesus’ crucifixion and burial played into the plan of God’s bringing peace? Did he always intend to lead them into the storm? Or did he do so that he might rise when all hope seemed lost and speak, ‘Peace!”

It was because you wanted to that we
Started for the other side that evening–
Crossing at night Galilee’s fitful sea
When the cool of Mt Hermon comes beating.

And as we’d seen a hundred times before:
You lose when caught in the night-storm’s billow;
Reeling in fear, we pulled and pushed to shore
While you slept sound on the tiller’s pillow.

And shouting, Lord! Don’t you care if we die?
We did as you asked! Ignored our warnings!
Waking to our fear, he spoke to the sky
Which fell still as a spring Sunday morning.

Who are you that into the storm you lead
Permitting despair, that your friends be freed?

© Randy Edwards 2016
This sonnet is for Christ’s church and is included my collection of poems, Walking with Jesus. 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: Gustave Dore

Suddenly He Comes

Suddenly He Comes

Rise and shine, campers, the Lord has suddenly come to his Temple!

February 2 is Candlemas and is the fortieth day after the church celebrates the birth of Jesus. The event is recorded in Luke 2:22-38, and recounts when Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem and his parents paid the redemption price for a firstborn son (Leviticus 12).

In the United States, the significance of the Lord’s sudden appearing as promised in Malachi 3:1-3 is either lost or ignored much as Jesus was by those in Jerusalem in his day. Instead, on February 2, we mark Groundhog’s Day imagined to be the half way point between the first day of winter and the first day of spring.

Borne in arms to his house as a pilgrim
The Anointed who’ll bear our salvation;
Redeemer redeemed with two young pigeons
For the desire and wealth of the nations.

Suddenly, he comes to those who waited,
The refiner’s fire, promised fuller’s soap;
Simeon and Anna, made young again
Seeing Israel’s consolation and hope.

Lord, in the light of Candlemas I see
In the heart of my own mid-winter way
You gave your wealth, to become poor for me
That I might be young and long for the Day
When the sudden shaking of your revealing
Dashes the proud, but the poor and pierced, healing.

© Randy Edwards 2018.
This sonnet 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: Saint Simeon with the Christ child. 2014. Oil on canvas. 90×70. Artist A.N. Mironov
By Andrey Mironov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons