Tag Archives: Christian Poetry

The Spring Equinox Today with Spring is Coming to Zion :: Poem

Dogwood Flower Bloom in Spring

Today is the first day of Spring (the Spring Equinox)! For some reason, a day I look more forward to each year, but this year, I wanted to commemorate the day with a poem. I make no claims whatsoever to be any kind of a decent poet (see prior attempts), but I do make attempts from time to time. This is one I started in the middle of winter, when it was dark and dreary, and all I wanted was to see some sun and a little bit of warmth in the air. I was writing in anticipation when I would be able to shoot this image above, which I took on Sunday of our Dogwood tree.

I was told off and on in photography that if you have to explain a photo it isn’t very good. I’m not so sure that counts for some forms of writing, since many genres I need plenty of explanation to understand. The first half of the poem is very very loosely formed in an iambic tetrameter as my others have been, in counter rhyming verse, going back and forth between nature and scripture. The back and forth is supposed to be between our current here and now, and the second coming. Looking forward to the time of the new heaven and the new earth, a time when Christ will come back like a Spring, waiting to arrive. I think of that time much like I do Spring after a long winter, the anticipation of Christ’s Second Coming after a long cold winter.

I really wanted to “finished” poem and post it on the first day of Spring, but as with life, so many things got in the way. It still feels unfinished to me, a rough start to something that needs much more work. Kind of like life. So for what it’s worth, here it is:

Spring is Coming to Zion

Spring is coming, ‘or the daffodils say it’s true
Spring is coming, where the frost gives way to the dew
No one knows that day and hour
Still light moves on in full power
The bluebirds fill their boxes full
Where legends of the dogwoods rule

Spring is coming, where the winter must resume it’s queue
Spring is coming, for darkness is a light with you
We are pure at it’s arrival
At once we see him in his all
The seam of light begins the prize
And the meadow grass now gives rise

Spring is coming, where the night is bright as the day
Spring is coming, the very stones cry out and pray
The time as yet to have appeared
His glory is joy and revered
When pure beauty colors our eyes
We know summer is set to rise

Spring is coming, so stay awake and do not snooze
Spring is coming, rejoice in knowing the Good News
Where the city of our God shines
He will establish in the pines
A beauty that has no ending
And winter that has no beggining

Spring is coming now.
In the city of God
There is a river
Where streams are made glad
Though the earth gives way
And the mountains tremble

Spring is coming now
And is to be praised.
Let creation rejoice
to the ends of earth
that this is our God

Spring is coming now
So be still and know
Our God is with us
He won’t forsake us
Let Zion be glad

Spring is coming, where the frost gives way to the dew
Spring is coming, just for you.

If you have some favorite Spring poems I would love to read them, send them on over or leave a comment below.

The Valley of Vision :: Poem

I took this photo above from a painting that one of the kids in Uganda painted at Bethany Village Orphanage, and it just reminded me of this poem written by the Puritans around the time of World War I (1918). I found this poem from a collection of files I put together several years ago. I just love how the poem, the painting, and it’s painter go together so well.

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
You have brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see you in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold your glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter your stars shine;

Let me find your light in my darkness,
your life in my death,
your joy in my sorrow,
your grace in my sin,
your riches in my poverty,
your glory in my valley.

Amen

Over Egypt

If I timed this right, and that’s a stretch but it should be close, we are flying over Egypt right about now looking out over the Saharah Desert. The shot above is what we should be looking at right this very moment as we cross over from the Mediterranean Sea into the great land of Egypt. No, I don’t have wifi on the airplane unfortunately, I just, for once, planned ahead. I’m not really sure why this point in the trip has significance to me, perhaps because after all this preparation we are finally over the continent of Africa, but if you are looking at the photo above and thinking, there’s nothing there… that’s sorta the point. Nothing, for miles, hundreds of miles, except sand. All I could really think about was how in the world did the Israelites wonder around in the desert for 40 years? No wonder they were ready to kill Moses at that point.

Getting to this point in the trip keeps me thinking about being stuck between two worlds, the western world and all it offers is now so far behind us, yet we sit on a plane, which is basically our own civilization and culture, while we look out over a land that Moses walked across some 4,000 years ago (give or take a few). Another 4-6 hours and we will land in Rwanda, then Uganda, and leave the culture we know and understand behind for the next week or so. From then until we leave we will be known as the Mazunga who came to visit.

I’m a terrible poet, but this view and this flight across the desert, where so many thousands and thousands of people flown before today, deserves to be written about at some point. I know, at least for me, I’m excited that we have finally crossed over into Africa.

Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again… Genesis 46:3.4

I love that God has called out this land from the beginning, and I am now able to see it as none of the Israelites could have ever imagined, from 40,000 feet up in the air. Looking forward to some sleep on the ground in another 6-8 hours or so. Till next time.

Sunday with The World State by G K Chesterton :: Poem

I think it has literally taken me a few years to adjust to Sunday being a work day, and I have grown to absolutely love late Sunday afternoons after all the services and meetings are over. It’s one of those few times during the week I get (usually) a few quiet uninterrupted hours to spend with Deborah watching a game or to read. A while back on the recommendation from Piper on the Role of Poetry in the Christian Life I picked up the book A Sacrifice of Praise, An Anthology of Christian Poetry in English from Caedmon to the Mid-Twentieth Century (yes, I seem to just find books with long titles). I came across this poem by Chesterton, with a short title, called The World State I thought I would share below.

The World State

Oh, how I love Humanity,
With love so pure and pringlish,
And how I hate the horrid French,
Who never will be English!

The International Idea,
The largest and the clearest,
Is welding all the nations now,
Except the one that’s nearest.

The compromise has long been known,
This scheme of partial pardons,
In ethical societies
And small suburban gardens—

The villas and the chapels where
I learned with little labour
The way to love my fellow-man
And hate my next-door neighbour.

I love the subtle in your face presentation of the “second greatest commandment” here found in Matthew 22. There is just something about the Brits and the French that make me laugh and I can hear this poem being read aloud in a British pub somewhere like The Eagle and the Child in that awesome British accent. Chesterton was a poet, writer, and literary critic in the very early 1900′s and was friends with H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, and others. He also wrote, among many other things, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Imposition of Ashes Mixed with the Pouring Rain

The photo of the day today comes from my back yard, as it was being clobbered by wind and rain. This photo sort of summed up the day in some respects. We had two unexpected calls by two different doctors for Deborah, neither of which I was all that excited about, it was cold and obviously poured, for most of the day… and then…

We went to our Ash Wednesday service (my first that I can ever remember as an adult Christian). At this moment I am trying to figure out how to mentally unpack what just happened.

My emotions were on edge from the day already but sometimes just being able to worship with raw emotions allows the Holy Spirit to have an impact. Brian led worship with a song I hadn’t heard yet (apparently everyone else has) by Tomlin from Passion called “Spirit Fall”, written by Jason Ingram, Louie Giglio, Kristian Stanfill and Daniel Carson, which has some incredible energy with a room of 500 people singing…

Oh, come
Magnify the Son
Savior of the world
The hope for everyone

After an incredible message from Genesis through Luke led by Josh (podcast will be up tomorrow), followed by the “imposition of ashes”, Allen closed with this prayer called The Valley of Vision.

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
You have brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see you in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold your glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter your stars shine;

Let me find your light in my darkness,
your life in my death,
your joy in my sorrow,
your grace in my sin,
your riches in my poverty,
your glory in my valley.

Amen

Sometimes it’s just hard to explain to how God works during corporate prayer and worship, but God was there, waiting for us to bring our worries and cares to Him. As explained by Josh tonight, today started a journey that walks down into and across a long valley and eventually ends up at the peak, the resurrection. I feel right now like I literally have no idea what is going to take place in our house over the next 7 weeks leading up to Easter, but I hope to look back at Easter and see that this night was one of those nights you just want to remember, even if the day wasn’t what you hoped for.

Ash Wednesday the Poem by T.S. Eliot

Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent is tomorrow and I came across this poem by T.S. Eliot called “Ash-Wednesday”, which is the first long poem written by T. S. Eliot after his conversion to Anglicanism (or the Church of England) in 1927. The entire poem was a big long for one blog post so I have made it available here in a pdf: Ash-Wednesday by T.S. Eliot if you want to read the entire poem. The full text can also be found at this website. I love how it ends:

Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

This is an interesting poem by T.S. Eliot. It straddles the line between secular and Christian poetry but opens the door for his later “Christian” poems. He shows the need for God, his lack of hope for everything in the world, and how “unworthy” we are when we come to God in our natural sinful state. A background reading of the book of Ezekiel would be a good idea prior to reading “Ash-Wednesday” as some who have analysed the poem far more than I have said it helps in a more full understanding of the poem.

I would love to hear how you or your church is observing Ash Wednesday and Lent this year. I’m looking forward to this time of reflection myself.

A Little Mixed Up or Dazed and Confused

My mother-in-law used to keep this notebook (which I now have) of clippings and tear-outs of poems and cliché sayings. She used to find from all over the place, almost all of them have no names associated with them, only a few have a way to actually find their original source, but most of them are quite uplifting and humorous. This is the poem I found in her stash this morning from an unknown author. A title that first came to mind was Dazed and Confused but I think Led Zeppelin has that one covered. The author titled this poem “A Little Mixed Up”.

A Little Mixed Up

Just a line to say I’m living
That I’m not among the dead,
Tho’ I’m getting more forgetful
And more mixed up in the head.

For sometimes I can’t remember,
Where I stand at the foot of the stair
If I must go up for something
Or – if I’ve just come down from there

And, before the frig’ – so often
My poor mind is filled with doubt.
Have I just put the food away, or
Have I come to take some out?

And, then there’s times when it is dark out,
With my night cap on my head
I don’t know if I’m retiring —
Or – just getting out of bed.

So, if it’s my turn to write you
There’s no need in getting sore,
I may think that I have already written
And don’t want to be a bore.

So – remember that I do love you,
And – I wish that you were here.
And – now it’s nearly mail-time
So – I must say, “Good-bye m’dear”.

There I stood beside the mail-box
With a face so very red.
Instead of mailing you my letter
I had opened it – instead!!

—author unknown

Theology the Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar

This is a followup post to The Pop-Culture Glenn Beck Theology article I published earlier in the week. I came across this poem earlier in the week by Paul Laurence Dunbar called “Theology”, and it struck me on multiple levels; it was hilarious and sad.

Paul Laurence Dunbar published his first book of poetry in 1893, a time late in the Victorian Period where poetry was not at its best and brightest period. Many of his poems were lighthearted and humorous, probably what drew me to this one.

a Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar: Theology

There is a heaven, for ever, day by day,
The upward longing of my soul doth tell me so.
There is a hell, I’m quite as sure; for pray,
If there were not, where would my neighbours go?

Jesus, I need Your Love, Hawkmoon

Do we recognize how much we need God’s love in our life, or put a different way, how much do we desire that love that only God can fulfill? Our lives are so busy, we tend to just push away this desire or we may not even think about it at all. But even when we do contemplate God’s love, we can only express it in terms that a limited human mind can do (like below), in terms of things that are familiar, but it’s so much more than that.

I came across a familiar poem today that expressed, in worldly terms, how much one can desire the love of another, and it reminded me more of whether we desire God at least like this, or is it only this powerfully expressed for the things of this world? If we can express worldly love “like the hot needs the sun, like honey on her tongue, like oxygen, I need your love”, how much greater is the love God has for us? Without the desire for God’s love, and for His Glory, we are just about in the same shape as my widow pictured above, broken.

I have gone over the words below about twenty times now, it’s pretty powerful (even more when put to music), but how much more should we desire God’s love… probably more than we need to take our next breath.

I Need Your Love

Like a desert needs rain
Like a town needs a name
I need your love
Like a drifter needs a room
Hawkmoon
I need your love

Like a rhythm unbroken
Like drums in the night
Like sweet soul music
Like sunlight
I need your love

Like coming home
And you don’t know where you’ve been
Like black coffee
Like nicotine
I need your love (I need your love)

When the night has no end
And the day yet to begin
As the room spins around
I need your love

Like a Phoenix rising needs a holy tree
Like the sweet revenge of a bitter enemy
I need your love

Like the hot needs the sun
Like honey on her tongue
Like the muzzle of a gun
Like oxygen
I need your love (I need your love)

When the night has no end
And the day yet to begin
As the room spins around
I need your love

Like thunder needs rain
Like a preacher needs pain
Like tongues of flame
Like a sheet stained
I need your love

Like a needle needs a vein
Like someone to blame
Like a thought unchained
Like a runaway train
I need your love

Like faith needs a doubt
Like a freeway out
I need your love

Like powder needs a spark
Like lies need the dark
I need your love

I need all the love in your heart… and I need all the love in your heart…

~ Hawkmoon 269, U2

New Semester Of Hebrew from Alef to Taw

Today is the start of another new semester. I love the start of the fall semester when it rolls back around. Everyone getting back into the groove of a busy fall schedule (down here that means football and basketball are not far away). Hard to believe how full my schedule already is at this point but along with my second Systematic Theology class, today I start Hebrew. There were many times over the last year or so that I had completely given up on ever being able to complete a cognitive language set, but some how it worked out this time, and today is day one. Since I can barely claim to be proficient in my own native English, Hebrew is somewhat intimidating to me right now, but I hope to look back in a year and know it was worth the work, and I managed to learn something along the way.

Step one was to learn the twenty three Hebrew consonants, which gave me a perfect opportunity to practice writing an acrostic poem, Of Hebrew from Alef to Taw. Trying to memorize totally unfamiliar information has never been easy for me, but working the information into a form of study works much better at solidifying the unfamiliar. This was my first attempt at learning the Hebrew letters and my first attempt at writing an acrostic poem. Makes me look forward to a coming semester full of firsts.

Of Hebrew from Alef to Taw

א  Alef is first and foremost to complete and appeals to thus
ב  Bet is on deck but gives no solace
ג  Gimel sounds familiar with no pivot or axis
ד  Dalet as in “day”, said slow, not of quickness
ה  He corresponds to the grass that cows eat
ו  Waw is the way to follow that drumbeat
ז  Zayin reminds of that great city on the hill
ח  Het seems like some mathematical problem to distil
ט  Tet has power and might to be used many ways
י  Yod is the smallest among those twenty-three displays
כ  Kaf comes back around again to explain that of Josiah
ל  Lamed roars across the kingdom much like Hezekiah
מ  Mem says be quiet now, the little one needs some rest
נ   Nun is more than halfway, now don’t be depressed
ם  Samek brings a circle of life that sounds like the fall
ע  Ayin proceeds with silence, just like a cat’s crawl
פ  Pe will furnish a prayer that might demand our response
צ  Tsade looks just like another minus the tail of nuance
ק  Qof incurs the wrath of a king going into combat
ך  Resh provides hope this exercise ends with proper format
ש  Sin runs through our blood and must come to repentance
ש’ Shin appears to be identical just one spot out of vengeance
ת  Taw is first and foremost to complete and appeals to thus; a text as old as He, but a genesis for us