Just So

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…

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.

Sanballat and Tobiah?

Sanballat and Tobiah?

This (I can hardly call it a poem) is based on Nehemiah 4 in which Nehemiah and the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall is opposed by Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. It may be a spoken word hit piece. The question always comes back, who’s the one hit or who gets taken down?

Sanballat, you stinky polecat,
You heavy-handed, fat-headed rat
You poser, you loser, you boozer ding-bat.
Tally these up on your clay ledger mat
Suck on them eggs you viperous diplomat
And stash them in your skanky velvet hat
You blithering boob of a bureaucrat!
Whatcha think about that, Sanballat?

Tobiah the Ammonite, you parasite;
You feast on misfortune, you buggy blight
On humanity, doing good only for spite;
You imagine other’s success as a slight
As if it all were about you, amiright?
You are as alive as a barrow-wight
What you love are the deeds which you do at night
Which you always do when you get lit, get tight.
But one day you’ll be drug out into the light,
And you will fall, fall, so far from your great height.
I’ll say it again, Bruh, if you like,
Tobiah the Ammonite.

Thank you God, that I am not like them
Who use people, do with them all they can,
Evil-Doers, not just every now and then.
But Me? I have given a tenth of every yen
I’ve made, given time and time again;
Oh how I thank you that I am not like those men.

Lord, How many times must I forgive a debt?
He answered with parable, with a gospel net,
Caught me in a trap, and that trap upset
My truce between resentment and regret,
My long record of all I was owed, kept–
A list from A to Z, an alphabet
Of wounds which chained me so I’d never forget,
To which I’m still chained, and still not free yet.

Who will rescue me from where I am at?
From being a Tobiah, Sanballat?
Would He give what I deserve? Give tit for tat?
Pay me out, squash me like some pesky gnat?
Or would He in love, take the blow, be spat
Upon, scorned, become sin, be a doormat
Become for me, Tobiah and Sanballat?

© 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: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Pharisee and the Publican (Le pharisien et le publicain), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.178 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.178_PS2.jpg)

Just So

Just So

This poem or spoken word piece had its start with a sentence I heard in a meeting I recently attended. I cannot recall the specific context or who spoke it, but the sentence captured my imagination, and I wrote it down. I believe the subject of the conversation was what we expect of our leaders: how we expect them to be superhuman, heroic, and yet accessible and personable. The breadth of qualities which are encompassed in all our expectations have only been found in one man, and maybe you heard what they did to him.

Here’s a swing at working those thoughts out.

If it’s helpful 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’ll serve without putting on some show.
Not pretentious, nor 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-imagined 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 cursings, take all the blame?
We like our leaders just.

So you’ll have to do better,
You’ll have 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.
Artwork: The image is from page 13 of Leonard Leslie Brooke’s, The Story of the Three Bears, (1900).

The Seed

The Seed

Here is a sonnet about what happens when one reads poetry.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

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 resound
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 furrow. Till you look again
At these words which are flung across 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,

Our Strength

Our Strength

This is another poem based upon Psalm 126 which is a Song of Ascent.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

Our strength is not in “being upbeat”.
Is not our performance record
It’s not our popularity, being greeted on the street
We are not our own, we aren’t our own lord.

Our strength is not our authenticity
Nor our capable application
Not in being efficient, exemplars of productivity.
We stand on a firmer foundation.

We are not strong because we know
Whats to know, posses sophistry’s acumen
We are the tearful who in weeping sow
Who know what it means to be fully human.

Our strength is not in the people like us,
Who like us or who like to fight
We don’t fight to win, to be self-righteous
We fight, to be sincere, walk humbly, upright.

Our strength is not that our families are better
That our marriages and children are enviable
Meeting expectations right down to the letter
Never experiencing any trouble.

Our confidence is not because our pantries are well-stocked
Because our 401Ks are properly diversified
Our hope is not that our comfort in retirement
Will allow shell-seeking at some sunny seaside.

The joy of the Lord, His joy is our strength!
Even so Lord, restore our fortunes!
Make us fruitful! Give us faith to go to any length
Be our sole solace. Be our living portion.

© 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.
artwork: detail from an illustration of The Pilgrim’s Progress or Christian’s journey form the City of Destruction in this evil World to the Celestial City; Published July 1, 1813 by J. Pitts No 14 Great St Andrews Street Seven Dials.

Bread of Heaven

Bread of Heaven

Today, I was able to give the message at the Kernersville Community Lent Service at Main Street UMC — an opportunity for which I am grateful. As a part of the message which was on the Bread of Life passage from John 6, I read a spoken word piece based upon that passage.

I am reposting here along with the Soundcloud player so you can hear me read if it’s helpful.

They asked him about the Bread of Heaven.
And so he told them:

“There’s no work that can earn it.
There’s no sin that can’t be overcome by it.
If you are in it you can’t resist it.
If you want it you won’t be denied it.
Moses didn’t give it.
He merely told them about it.
For it was the Father who gave them manna
And in a place they couldn’t make it.
And now, even as you hunger,
I am telling you that you are looking at it.
I am the bread come down from heaven.
The bread which satisfies,
Nourishes, sustains — upon which you can rely,
To which he testifies.
Don’t go spending your work and your toil on food that will spoil.
I am the bread.
The bread of all fulfilling,
The Cosmic Gospel-filling,
The fast-ending feast.
A table set for the least.
I have come to end the slow, hard, soul-famine
And give thrilling, life, joy, and peace.
And all fear ended.
I tell you, I am the bread of heaven.”

Are you hungry yet?
Do you want that filling?
Tired yet of that life you are killing
Yourself for and your spouse and mother and father and friend?
He’s the bread come down from heaven.
The bread of God unleavened.
Pierced and scored in the furnace of affliction,
Bearing for us , God’s malediction.
Cursed for our benediction.
Given for you and your Cosmic Hunger-Thirsting.
Given for you–to you.
It’s him, I’m telling you.

He feeds, nourishes, satisfies, justifies, makes holy and does it solely.
The door is wide open. If to him you’ve been given,
Give in. He’s gonna win
‘Cause the Father has called you–the Spirit will draw you.
Believe in him.
Receive him.
Look to him.
Are you hungry yet?
Afraid you’ve been left out of the feast?
Afraid you’re the least?
He said, “Whoever.”
That’s not you?
Never!
He said, “Whoever
Comes, I will never drum out of line
–drive away.
Come while there’s time.”

“I am the bread of heaven,” he said.
“And it’s the will of him who sent me
That I should lose none of those he’s given me.
But I shall win for them a standing in eternity
One long, glorious Olympic victory.
Forever singing the anthem,
‘Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb that was slain!'”
Praise Jesus name.
His love-banner flying overhead in his house of wine.
The love we’ll proclaim and enjoy for all time.
Eternal banquet filling and life and telling:
We believed.
But with the angels shaking,
Stumped, new breaking in a glorious humility
A person quake,
Shaking our heads,
“Who would’ve believed, that he was the bread
Even for me?”

He said, “I am the bread of heaven.”
Do you hunger?
Do you wonder,
“Will I ever be satisfied?”
Believe.
Believe in the Son who is himself now alive
Even though crucified.
And even if you die or have died,
On the last day you’ll be there
Alive.
Justified.
Sanctified.
Glorified.
Alive.
And full for time upon time
With the Bread of Heaven.

© Randy Edwards 2010.
This 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.