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)

What Love

What Love

This poem imagines a few texts from the scriptures. Primarily it is an imagining of the parable of the prodigal sons (younger and elder) from Luke 15:11-32, but I have also drawn from Ezekiel 16:6, Romans 8:32, and 1 John 3:1.

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

See what kind of love the Father has shown
Though orphaned in the world and left to die,
You adopt me as your child, make me your own.

You found me lifeless, cast off like a stone,
And gathered me close, having heard my cry;
See what kind of love the Father has shown.

Raised as Your child, nevermore alone,
I walk the wide world beneath Your blue sky
As your child, having made me your own.

But wanting as I would have, off I roam
To the wild wood, other loves to try
Just what kind of love has this Father shown?

From your presence into hiding I’ve flown
I could’ve stayed, hiding, serving up a lie,
Denying I’m your child, pretending I’m my own.

Broken and shoeless, shall I return home?
Shall I enter the joy? Or remain outside?
What love is left that the Father hasn’t shown?
Would He give His all, not even sparing His own?

© 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: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Return of the Prodigal Son, c. 1661–1669. Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

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.

The Fullness of Your Love

The Fullness of Your Love

I have been writing poetry to include as part of an art installation that is taking place in conjunction with Lent and Easter entitled, Ashes to Eternity.

This villanelle is a re-working of an earlier poem and is written from Peter’s perspective and begins with the washing the disciple’s feet, and continues with Judas’ presence at the table of the last meal, going with Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane, and Peter’s realization of his own betrayal. What always catches me, is that none of what transpires over the next days is a surprise to Jesus.

I appreciate the NIV’s rendering of John 13:1 which reads, “…he now showed them the full extent of his love.” Most translations render (and correctly) that “he loved them to the end”, but there is something to not merely loving all the way to the end, but to what length he would go to show his love.

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

You knew it then; you knew love’s way,
When you broke the bread and poured the wine
The fullness of your love, you showed today.

And kneeling as a scullion that you may
Wash our feet with tear-stained brine?
You knew it then; you knew love’s way.

Bought with thirty pieces of silver to betray,
Yet you shared the table, with him dined
The fullness of your love, you showed today.

To Gethsemane you took us to watch and pray
That we might encourage, help, hold the line,
You knew it then; you knew love’s way.

And you cried out, “Father, take this cup away!
But even so, your will, not mine.”
The fullness of your love, you showed today.

Then catching my eye at dawn’s first ray,
I weep with horror, to see the sign;
You knew it then; you loved anyway.
The fullness of your love, you show today.

© 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: A an etching by Jan Luyken from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations housed at Belgrave Hall, Leicester, England (The Kevin Victor Freestone Bequest). Photo by Philip De Vere.

The Widow’s Best

The Widow’s Best

On the Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus and his disciples return to the Temple where Jesus teaches and debates with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus also witnesses a commendable act of faith and devotion.

This villanelle is based upon the story of the Widow’s Mite found in Luke 21:1-4 which reads,

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

John Tissot’s painting of the same account choses to imagine the moment a bit differently than I. I imagine the moment of her offering being one that is ignored by all except Jesus. Tissot, however, imagines how the widow may have experienced her giving in this public place being watched by all. In his painting, Tissot, has one of the wealthy depositing his offering just as the woman walks away with her child. What is one to make of the position of the hand of the man making his offering behind the widow? It is an unusual intersection, my wife says and must be deliberate. What may Tissot be saying about one who is giving and this widow with her child who is walking away.

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

From her poverty she gave more than they
Who gave of their wealth, who gave from their best;
All she had to live on, she gave away.

Their offering was a giving display
Giving to show they had more than the rest;
From her poverty, she gave more than they.

For they fill their hearts with what other’s say
The real treasure buried ‘neath their vest;
All she had to live on, she gave away.

The crashing of shekels like a surf’s spray
Washes in praise as they empty their chest;
From her poverty, she gave more than they.

Round the Temple’s court, the Rabbi’s eyes stray
To one who gives from how much she’s been blessed;
All she had to live on she gave away.

He wonders at one who gives, freely lays
Down her living, no trouble or unrest;
From her poverty, she gave more than they
All she had to live on, she gave away.

© 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: James Tissot, The Widow’s Mite (Le denier de la veuve), 1886-1894, Brooklyn Museum.

What Kind of Love?

This villanelle is based on 1John 3:1. In it I connect the adoption which John revels in and employ the parable of the Prodigal Son to reflect upon the significance of that adoption.
1John 3:1 reads,

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

See what kind of love the Father has shown
Though orphaned in the world and left to die,
To be adopted as your child, by your name, known.
And finding me lifeless nearly dead as a stone,
You gathered me close, having heard my cry;
See what kind of love the Father has shown.
Raised as your child, nevermore alone,
I walk the wide world neath my Father’s blue sky
As your adopted child, by your name, known.
In desperate delusion, I set off to roam
To seek a better blessing, to taste and to try
To see what kind of love the Father has shown.
In cunning deceit, in rebellion I’d flown
Defamed the family name, lived hiding in a lie
Though your adopted child, by your name, known.
Now broken and shoeless, I return home,
Offering my life, my redemption to buy.
I see what kind of love the Father has shown,
Am your adopted child by your name, known.

© Randy Edwards
artwork: Gustave Dore

Easter Sunday: Be Thou My Light

Easter Sunday: Be Thou My Light

This villanelle is inspired by the prayer, Need of Jesus, which is included in Banner of Truth’s collection of puritan prayers.

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.

I have recorded the poem via Soundcloud which you may listen to 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.

(C) Randy Edwards
artwork: Biblia Pauperum, Netherlands, N.; c. 1405. The Master of the Hours of Margaret of Cleves (Lisbon, Museum Calouste Gulbenkian, Ms. LA 148).