Posted tagged ‘christian poetry’

This Shall Be A Sign

December 24, 2011
Christmas 2003: The Nativity

Image by DUCKMARX via Flickr

I edited this poem I wrote last year, and I like it better. So I am reprinting it, because I haven’t had time to write another, which is sort of a tradition of mine, to give Him a gift of a poem.  I don’t think He minds that I abandon my traditions.

I am so thankful He is enabling me to walk in such peace and rest this Season, as I focus not on traditions and tinsel, but on the wonder of His coming to die for such a wretched sinner as me. Oh, thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

After the angel’s Excelsis Deos, the mess
of this ugly Nativity was so unexpected:
that the stink of dung, not frankincense,
had welcomed Heaven’s exile,
that the cave floor was so smeared with blood,
that the wan mother was fallen into straw–
With suffering His kingdom
began its violent advance.

Yet these smelly vagrants had little interest
in these parents unprepared for their visit.
Their gazes fixed on the mystery
wrapped like  gravecloths,
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow made in cold stone
like a corpse in a sarcophagus:
this was their Savior.

Why do we outfit them all with halos,
snuggle Him in cosy blankets,
sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold? We tell a story
voiced with British accents
for suburban wide screens, drenched in sentiment.
We take the good news from the losers: the orphans,
lepers, hookers, and demoniacs–

Those from the night shift
He was anointed for.
But He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him.  Even Creation groaned
at His birth–and a dragon waited to devour Him.
That bright star leads to a tomb.
The sign for you
is  strips of cloth and hollowed-out stone.

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Beachcombing

April 12, 2011

sand seaweed seashell insect

Today, I found this unexpected treasure of free verse, complete with  meter, alliteration, assonance and exquisite imagery, lying  buried  in the sands of C.H. Spurgeon’s classic devotional, “Morning by Morning.”   All I did was frame it.  The Prince of Preachers, I am convinced, was a closeted  modern poet.    This is my outreach to poetry haters who love God.

Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten
in the ocean of  His griefs;
but how high ought our love to rise!

Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus,
like the sea at the flood in spring tides,
cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares,

lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord’s feet,
and there let me lie, a poor broken shell,
washed up by His love, having no virtue or value;

and only venturing to whisper to Him
that if He will put his ear to me,
He will hear within my heart faint echoes

of the vast waves of His own love
which have brought me where it is my delight to lie,
even at His feet forever.

This Shall Be A Sign

December 29, 2010
Christmas 2003: The Nativity

Image by DUCKMARX via Flickr

I was haunted by these words, ‘This shall be a sign for you… a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger”, and also  this blog post by Matt Redmond, “Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most.” 

 

And,  to aid in understanding the imagery used, the manger was not a cosy wooden trough,  but  was most likely a niche carved from stone at the site, and the stable itself  was a grotto or cave

After the angel’s Excelsis Deos, the mess
of this ugly Nativity was so unexpected:
that the stink of dung, not frankincense,
had welcomed Heaven’s exile,
that the cave floor was so smeared with blood,
that the wan mother was fallen into straw–
With suffering His kingdom
began its violent advance.

Yet these smelly vagrants had little interest
in these parents unprepared for their visit.
Their gazes fixed on the mystery
wrapped like  gravecloths,
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow made in cold stone
like a corpse in a sarcophagus:
this was their Savior.

Why do we outfit them all with halos,
snuggle Him in cosy blankets,
sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold? We tell a story
voiced with British accents
for suburban wide screens, drenched in sentiment.
We take the good news from the losers: the orphans,
lepers, hookers, and demoniacs–

Those from the night shift
He was anointed for.
But He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him.  Even Creation groaned
at His birth–and a dragon waited to devour Him.
That bright star leads to a tomb.
The sign for you
is  strips of cloth and hollowed-out stone.

Conversations after Eden

January 6, 2010

Jan van Eyck- The Ghent Altarpiece - Adam (detail)

“Why do you blame me?” This night,
she held back no longer her need to assuage.
“You were with me
when I ate!
You heard that wicked creature’s enticements!
Why did you not protect me? Why were you silent?”
Bitterness ricochets off the cavern’s walls; even
punishing did not satisfy, nothing did.
The accusation echoes —  then she is wrenched
with guilt at the muffled sobs of the man. He never
wept.   Always that flinty gaze, even when
exiting the garden.

Then Cain wakes. She turns from the man’s side
to the child; he nestles at her comforting breast,
and slumbers again. Adam murmurs, finally, “Woman,
I forgave you, as I named you. You are ‘Giver
of Life’! Eve, forgive me — or  the promises
will wither, as all our crops have done.” She hears his plea,
she ransoms fear, her fingers drip with liquid myrrh,
to open the handles of the bolt, yet he has risen from their bed.
And another day she must endure of
her soul failing when he spoke.

He groans, feeling his body’s bane, the chill of Fall,
and an ebbing fire. He sees an ebony mamba,
a sneering glint, slithering away
towards the field’s briers, and though he knows
her seed would smash its head, he will taunt a snake.
“You are finished!” His voice sounds ridiculous in
the empty silence. So Adam wearily waits for
more light, yearning for that dawn
when the sting of thorns will be ended, and
his children will not return to dust — only be made new.

An Expensive Gift

December 26, 2009
unwrapping the gift

This is real love: imagine a gift,
one thing you treasured for self,
and you weep as you wrap–
you cry, “Oh, must I give it, Lord?”

Such excruciation only ornaments
the celebration of a birth
that was only ever meant for death–
wrap, and weep, oh you giver of gifts!

Package undone, your sacrifice–disdained?
Grieve again for love unrequited. Yet turn
your cheek– then turn your eyes — to adore Him!
O Cry, “Thanks be… for His inexpressible gift!”

For Broken Things

November 7, 2009

to Josselyn

Glory be to God for broken things:
for a tunic of skin covering nakedness,
for a rainbow of a robe become torn and bloody,
for a veil hiding fading radiance,
for a harp hung on a willow by a river,
for a water pot forgotten near Jacob’s well,
for a net torn by its load of fish,
for a flask that released some fragrance,
for linen strips unbound from a body,
for a curtain torn in two.

Glory to God for all the scattered shards, bruised reeds,
for every sparrow’s feather that falls.
He gathers them, and in a heavenly alchemy,
a nail splinters wood,
a bitter cup is drunk to the dregs;
and those contrite who have
mixed His words with faith
are strangers no longer, are knit together
with the power of an indestructible life
to then reflect His beauty.

Glory to God for those ransacked souls
admitting their bankruptcy:
the madman gnashing the skin of his tomb,
the blind man shouting above the crowd,
the bad woman crashing the pious man’s party,
the proud ruler begging for his dying daughter,
the unclean one touching His hem as she bled,
the fisherman cursing as a rooster crowed,
the nailed thief’s poignant plea and
an exiled king, head covered, weeping on his barefoot ascent.

Oh Glory to Him for every wretched heart
set on pilgrimage;
for all those who fail, then fall on that Rock,
and come to Him in pieces.
O Glory to God for all the wastrels
coming to their senses, still stinking of pigpens!
He has called out these broken bits of earth,
they have become the living stones.
It is not many noble the Father has welcomed
to His gleaming home in Zion: Praise Him!

Elijah Is Fed

October 17, 2009

Does only splendid light hide You? This
dreadful body of death covers just as well;
Oh, such heaviness since I said, “I, only I, am left,
who follow you wholly!” Such darkness always comes
from self-martyrdom and man-fearing!
Now I am abandoned, forsaken,
facing her fierce wickedness, alone.
Except for traitor memory that
dredges up all my Jezebels– again!
And did I really forget that You are

not in fire, not in wind, not in tremors?
No, You are only in a delicious stillness
that rescues  humbled men;
Repentant, I  fall into the splendor
of the Father now; in His embrace I
exchange impoverishment for
promised rest, a prophet’s mantle
for nourishment of bread.
Another will be anointed to wonders;
I am taken up by a Voice that feeds.