November 28, 2015

Drink Offering

Posted in Advent, Atonement, Bread of Life, Incarnation, Lamb of God, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist tagged , , , , at 12:30 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

From the fiery altar in the temple door
Twice daily sacrifice was made from which arose
Sweet savour that was pleasing to the Lord
Who meets His people where His mercy flows.
Tried by fire, the altar sanctified the dead,
And through the death of lambs God’s hand was stayed.
But His thankless children mocked their sovereign Head;
Rebellious, in the wilderness they strayed.
Yet in the fullness of God’s time He sent
Another Sacrifice whose death would end
All types and shadows, for in His first advent
He stooped to tabernacle among sinful men.
The perfect Lamb poured out His sinless blood,
As a drink offering flowing from His riven side
To sanctify the earth with its life-giving flood,
And in His body is the bread of life supplied.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Scriptural context:

Exodus 29

John 6:35

I have had the idea of Christ’s blood as the drink offering on my mind for a while, but as Advent has approached, I felt compelled to complete the thought. The poem needs little explanation, but I do want to call one thing to your attention. I have heard many times that because Jesus is the perfect Son of God, He cannot be defiled by touching sickness or death. To the contrary, anyone who touched Him (like the bleeding woman who touched His garment) or whom He touched (like the son of the widow of Nain) became clean and was restored to abundance of life. Similarly, the earth on which His blood was shed was not defiled as it had been by the blood of Abel but sanctified instead.

But as many times as I had read the book of Exodus, I had never noticed this verse, which is a harbinger of His gracious reversal of the curse of sin:

Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. (Exodus 29:37)

I had never considered why the presence of dead animals did not defile the altar. It was because the altar itself made them holy. Praise God for His eternal Son, who sanctifies the whole earth with His glory!

November 11, 2015

Veterans Day

Posted in War tagged at 11:06 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Some trudged for days through sullen swamps,
With water soaking into boots and socks and bones.
While others marched on desert sand
Through insolent, remorseless winds
That parched their faces and assailed their souls.
Still others, travelling in metal frames
That moved through perilous seas or skies,
Tried to remember how it felt to touch the earth.
All these, the brave, stood firm against the foe.
Their pockets cherished letters that conveyed
News and normality of life at home.
And every hour of liberty they spent
Was filled with thoughts of all they left behind,
Of kisses sweet, and yes, of comforts too.
From far, far distant shores they strained to hear
Church bells on Sunday or a baby’s cry,
Knowing they might never see their home again,
Counting the days until their duty had been done.
Lord Jesus, haste the day when wars will cease,
When all the earth is draped in perfect peace.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Today is Veterans Day, so this post is a bit different from previous ones.

My grandfather, two uncles, two cousins, a cousin-in-law, a nephew, and countless friends have served from France to Japan to Vietnam to the Middle East and beyond. Those who came home were never the same because of what they had seen and experienced. By the grace of God, I have never had to stare into the face of an enemy soldier or live in fear of imminent death from an enemy invasion. I have the utmost respect for all who have spent sleepless nights in swamps or soil or sand or at sea or in the sky, ever vigilant for the cause of freedom. But most of all I pray for that day when war is only a distant memory.

October 6, 2015

Thy Son Liveth

Posted in Atonement, Bread of Life, Faith, Family, Grief, Hope, Redeemer, Resurrection, Suffering, Suffering Servant, The Church, The Eucharist, Water of Life tagged , at 11:30 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Hot breath of famine dried the brook
That once had quenched Elijah’s thirst,
And so God sent him on to look
For one whose fate seemed doubly cursed.

A widow and her one beloved son,
With oil and meal barely enough for two,
Faced certain death, for hope and bread were gone.
One final supper ere they bid the world adieu.

But when the prophet came, the widow fed
Him with the first fruits of her scant repast.
And from that day, she never lacked of bread;
Her faith was blessed with food enough to last.

So when her child fell ill and met his doom,
She felt betrayed by all the prophet said
Until Elijah took him to an upper room,
Entreating God, who raised him from the dead.

Outside the gates of Nain a widow walked
In sad procession with her only son.
Her hopes lay dead, her footsteps balked,
To stay the moment when goodbyes were done.

Another widow’s Son noticed her there,
And in compassion bade her weeping cease,
He raised her son and lifted all her care,
Restored her child to live in perfect peace.

But soon this Son would in procession go
Outside the gate to die as though a thief.
This perfect Son offered Himself to bear our woe,
Dying and rising, He would end our grief.

Though evil may beset our souls with strife,
Though brooks dry up, and meal and oil decay,
Treasures of Living Water, Bread of Life,
Are spread for us in His new Eden day by day.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Scriptural context:

Luke 7:11-17

I Kings 17

Isaiah 53

John 19

This poem does not need explanation, but at the risk of stating the obvious, I would point out that it begins in the wilderness and ends up in the new Eden. The lectionary reading about the widow of Nain has always spoken to my heart, but much more so since I lost my son James.

September 7, 2015

Sonnet of the Samaritan

Posted in Atonement, Hope, Parables, Suffering Servant, The Church, The Good Samaritan, Thieves tagged , , at 10:50 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Half dead I lay, blood mingling with the roadside dirt,
Victim of brutal thieves who left me there to die.
I sensed someone draw near, but seeing I was hurt
He rushed to cross the road and passed on by.
And still another paused but left me to my doom,
Fearing that care of me would complicate his day.
Forsaking hope, I waited only for my tomb.
But then another traveler came my way,
Bound up my wounds, and showed me tender care,
Conveyed me to the safety of this cordial inn,
Paid all my costs and promised more to spare.
Thus resurrected, I find mercy’s face herein.
This Outcast stooped to save me from the grave;
Despised, rejected, yet His all He gave.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Scriptural context:

Luke 10:25-37

Isaiah 53

Luke 2:7

Last week’s Gospel reading was the passage that is often called “The Good Samaritan.” There is much to be learned from this parable: that the priest and Levite were bound by the old covenant responsibility to keep from becoming unclean, that the Good Samaritan was a neighbor to the wounded man because he showed mercy to him, and that the inn represents the Church. But the focus I have chosen is that the outcast Samaritan represents our Lord. For Him there was no room in the inn, but He has prepared for us the Church as the Last Homely House here on earth, as well as a mansion in heaven with plenty of room for His family. For Him there was nowhere permanent to lay His head; He traveled from place to place to seek and to save that which was lost. For Him, there was only suffering: He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, and by His stripes we are healed. Yet for us there is the sweet comfort of His Church and the promise that His Spirit is always with us and that He will come again for us.

But here is the final takeaway from this parable, which is no doubt a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New. The priest and Levite were concerned about becoming unclean if they touched the wounded man, for he might die while they attended to him. Yet our Lord was never afraid of dealing with death, for it is His touch that makes us clean.

August 3, 2015

Twelve Stones

Posted in Cleansing Fire, Elijah, Holy Spirit, Hope, Spiritual Warfare tagged , , , at 6:57 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

In evil times a famine seared the land,
The feeble clouds hung mocking in the sky
And arid fields produced no wholesome food.
But worse, the Word of God was banned,
The king and queen His power did defy;
They sought the death of righteousness and good.

But by a brook the ravens fed God’s man.
And when the brook ran dry Elijah found
A faithful widow who would share her bread.
Then in God’s time Elijah took his stand
On Carmel where arose a dreadful sound
Of Baal’s dupes who cut themselves and bled.

The frantic prophets flailed about and cried
For their deaf god to hear and win the day.
But no voice answered them, no fire came.
Elijah mocked them as they prophesied
Till evening when he took twelve stones away,
Prepared the altar, and called down God’s flame.

We join our voices with the faithful there
Proclaiming that the Lord is truly God
And train our ears to hear the blessing of the rain.
We fear not flood nor famine for we share
The vision of the altar and are awed
At Him whose cleansing Fire shall ever reign.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

I was in a hurry when I made the original post, so I’m adding the scriptural context. Besides I Kings 17-18, which covers the main account of Elijah, I would refer you to the following additional references for the title:

Exodus 28:21; 39:14

Joshua 4

We live in evil times, much like those of Elijah. God’s Word is mocked, and many lose hope. But the account of the events that culminated in the showdown on Mount Carmel should bring us infinite hope in the Spirit of God, who sustains His people and restrains the wicked.

June 18, 2015

To Martyrs Near and Far

Posted in Liturgical Calendar at 11:05 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

The world is weary-worn
Of all this blood and death,
Fueled by hate that spreads
Like dry leaves in the wind,
Wafted among thick clouds
Rising from fires of hell.
Each day calamity uncoils,
A noxious rattlesnake
Seeking its prey to kill.
But though the wily serpent
Strikes the blameless heel,
The head he raises
Feels a crushing blow.
And God’s own spotless Lamb
Who bore our grief and woe
Will reach with nail-scarred hands
To welcome all His children home.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

June 7, 2015

The Beggar

Posted in Trinity at 6:36 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Certain man, so certain of your place among elite;
Dressed fine, your larder brimmed with choicest fare.
Too often in your rounds you paused to glare
At Lazarus, the beggar lying helpless at your feet.
Disgusting man, his dirty sores oozed poverty.
Why should your crumbs be shared with one so base?
And what cared you that hunger marred his face?
He had no right to any of your hard-earned money.
But sumptuous fare was waiting for him in another land.
His God rewarded him with heaven’s best.
In Abraham’s bosom Lazarus found rest,
Yet you entreated comfort from his now-healed hand.
Demanding favors from your well-earned place among the damned,
You still believed that you deserve the good,
Yet never once showed mercy while you could,
Thus you are nothing like the gracious God of Abraham.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

From the Gospel lesson for the First Sunday after Trinity – Luke 16:19-31

This morning I heard an excellent sermon on this passage. The priest was careful to point out that the story of the rich man and Lazarus cannot be interpreted as a diatribe against riches. Lazarus did not go to heaven because he was poor, and the rich man was not doomed by his riches. Salvation comes only through God’s grace, and those whom God redeems by grace are made like Him. In his life, the rich man was perfectly situated to show forth the love of God by sharing his worldly goods. That he refused to do so is proof that he was not a child of God, who is loving and merciful.

I haven’t commented recently on poetic form, but with this one, the form is part of the full effect. The story of the rich man and Lazarus is that of a reversal of fortune, and the rhyme scheme of a-b-b-a, with the “a” lines having seven feet and the “b” lines having five feet, is intended to convey that concept.

Also, the phrase “disgusting man” at the beginning of line 5 is deliberately unclear in its reference, the point being that the rich man would have thought Lazarus disgusting, while all the time, his own selfishness was the most disgusting thing of all. And you’ve already guessed that the title has a dual meaning as well.

May 24, 2015

Pentecost Lilies

Posted in Liturgical Calendar at 4:27 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

My garden has written its own sort of poetry today. Pictured below are three blooms from the Easter lily I planted last year. The buds had hung suspended between heaven and earth for days, waiting patiently to open on the morning of Pentecost Sunday 2015. I took the photo after a brief thunderstorm, so some of the droplets of the latter rains still cling to their petals.

Praise to thy eternal merit, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Easter Lilies Blooming on Pentecost

Easter Lilies Blooming on Pentecost Sunday 2015

May 14, 2015

Poems for Ascensiontide

Posted in Liturgical Calendar at 7:33 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

The Collect for Ascension Day

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that since we do believe thine only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

April 12, 2015

My Lord and My God

Posted in Eastertide, Faith, Feast of St. Thomas, St. Thomas, Suffering Servant, Word tagged , , , , at 3:32 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Apostle Thomas, faint of faith,
How did you come to know about His piercéd side?
Were you not one of those who ran away
When soldiers stormed the garden while He prayed?
You once had said that you would die with Him,
So were you there when He was crucified
To see the sword release the water and the blood?
When rich men took His body from the cross,
And wrapped it carefully in swaddling cloths
Infused with bitter scent of myrrh,
Did you assist them in the solemn task
Of carrying His lifeless form away
To place Him in the virgin tomb?
Or did you hear the rumor that He had appeared
Behind closed doors to others whom He loved
And showed to them His wounded hands and side?
You missed so many opportunities to see
But soon regarded faith as slave to sight
Until His voice broke through your wall of doubt
And drew from you confession that did not require
Plunging your hand into His riven side.
Thomas, I am your twin when faith would ebb,
So I rejoice with you that all our doubts
Are answered by the patient voice of Love.

Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

John 11:16

John 19

John 20

Next page


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 153 other followers

%d bloggers like this: