November 12, 2018

The Great Physician

Posted in Hope, Liturgical Calendar, Suffering, The Great Physician, Trinity at 11:06 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

His healing touch had made a leper clean again.
He raised a servant with the power of His Word
And stilled a storm and cast out demons from two men.
Then driven from that place, forgiveness He conferred
Upon a paralytic and a publican.
Chastised for breaking bread with sinners He proclaimed
That mercy is God’s greatest gift to fallen man.
Then to his knees a troubled ruler fell unshamed
And heard the blessed news his child would live anew.
Meanwhile, a weary woman followed silently,
Half mad with fear yet holding onto hope that grew.
And though unclean, she pressed in close enough to see
His garment’s fringe, which she in eager faith took hold.
Dispelling fear, His words spoke healing manifold.

Copyright © 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


This poem loosely follows the narrative given in Matthew 8:1-9:22. The portion about the woman with the issue of blood was the Gospel reading for the 24th Sunday after Trinity, and although I wanted the main focus to be on that moment of healing that the woman experienced, I thought it was important to see what had led up to this event, which was multiple instances of healing, administered in various ways, as well as a demonstration of His control over His creation in the calming of the storm. In each case, Jesus gave the petitioner exactly what was needed. His healing power was not distributed through some magic hocus-pocus formula. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and His solutions were as varied as the problems.

But what was also varied were the responses to His grace. He had driven out demons, and for His trouble was driven out Himself. And though it was not recorded that this dear woman spoke a word, her grasping the tassel of Jesus’ prayer shawl spoke volumes of the faith she bore in the Christ who could heal when He would and as He would.

Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.

 

May 20, 2018

Gravity and Grace

Posted in Grace, Grief, Hope, Spiritual Warfare at 12:23 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Gravity is so ponderous some days
It rips the flesh down to the very bone.
Even the air is heavy with a scorching haze.
Till joy—and sometimes life itself— is overthrown.
The birds and butterflies have wings of lead,
And flowers wilt beneath the crushing weight
Of being in the presence of the dead
And sparring too long with the bitter hate.
But most days hope prevails despite the pain,
And shafts of light pierce through the murky gloom.
Sweet fragrant flowers thrive in gentle rain,
And with them happiness begins to bloom.
Grace resurrects the soul, releasing it to soar,
Undoing gravity and death forevermore.

Copyright © 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

March 27, 2018

The Seated Angel

Posted in Creation, Eastertide, Hope, Resurrection, Spiritual Warfare at 6:42 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

First light of dawn upon the first day of the week—
Twice begun but for the mourners doubly bleak,
The morning rumbled with a loud and dreadful roar,
An aftershock rekindled from three days before.

The women, bearing spices to anoint the dead,
Were startled by an angel and would soon have fled,
But then they heard the angel’s reassuring tone,
“Fear not, for I can tell you where your Lord has gone.”

The angel spoke no peace to Pilate’s soldier-guard,
Who fell as dead before the entrance they had barred
When heaven shook the earth to roll the stone away.
And then, his work complete, the angel sat in bright array.

Since time began he had stood ready to attend God’s will,
and never had he seen such woe as that on Calvary’s hill.
The conflict finished, his the glorious task of setting free
The Holy One who set sin’s prisoners at liberty.

And yet, the heavy stone could not have kept our Lord constrained,
But for our sake discarded linen cloths within the tomb remained.
The angel rolled away the stone so that the world could see
The empty tomb, for it revealed our Saviour’s sovereignty.

Copyright © 2013, 2017, 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


This poem is based on Matthew’s account of the resurrection, primarily on Matthew 28:1-7.  It is a comfort to dwell on Christ’s resurrection, for in His is the hope that we too will be resurrected. A few years ago when this passage was read during an Easter Eucharist service, I became fascinated by the idea of the angel sitting down. Angels are almost always depicted as standing, ready to do God’s will. The Scriptures do not mention such details unless they are important. In this poem I offer one possible explanation of the significance of that fact. “It is finished” resonated throughout creation on the day of resurrection, and we can hear it still.


This poem was started on 28 January 2013, and I thought it was complete at the time, but I’ve revised it twice now.


March 25, 2018

Redemption

Posted in Atonement, Good Friday, Holy Week, Original Sin, Redeemer, Son of Man, Suffering Servant, Thorns/Thistles/Tares at 8:09 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Lost, all lost, to foolishness of sin.
The gate obstructed now by flaming sword.
The thieves cannot forget what might have been
Had they not stolen from the garden’s Lord.
Cast out, they tilled the earth through grievous toil,
Reaping their meager crops amid the thorns.
They buried children in the greedy soil
And wept as dark nights turned to bitter morns.
Oh, who can save us from this endless death?
Who will redeem our lost inheritance?
Only the Kinsman who gave us His breath
Can pay the dreadful price for our offense.
Between two thieves He paid redemption’s price
To bring His people back to Paradise.

Copyright © 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life,
for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice,
that he should live on forever and never see the pit.

Psalm 49:7-9 (ESV)

January 13, 2018

A Kingly Gift

Posted in Bread of Life, Epiphany, Herod, Incarnation, King of Kings, Light of the World tagged , , at 7:47 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Miles and months they trudged across forlorn terrain,
Making their way through desert winds and drenching rain.
Spurred on by prophecy and guided by a light,
They gathered regal gifts and launched into the night.
Like Him, they left their stately home to seek a prize.
They longed to see the King with their own eyes,
To give Him frankincense and worship at His feet,
To lavish gold upon the one true Mercy Seat,
And myrrh, ah yes, the bitter scent of holy worth:
His life and death portrayed in presents for His birth.
They sought the promised King in Herod’s palace grand,
But there they found only a scheming, murderous hand.
He sent them on to Bethlehem, the house of bread,
Where lay the Bread of Life, just as the prophet said.
Returning home without the riches they had brought,
They carried in their hearts the Treasure they had sought.

Copyright © 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


References:

Philippians 2:4-8

Matthew 2:1-12

Isaiah 60

Micah 5:2

November 20, 2017

The Advent of the Law

Posted in Advent, Atonement, Bread of Life, Holy Spirit, Incarnation, Lamb of God, Moses, Redeemer, Sanctification, Son of God, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist tagged , , at 11:12 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

On Sinai, Moses held the perfect heart of God
Inscribed on two smooth stones to testify abroad
God’s Law, carved by His very finger on the stone,
Front and back, to fill them with His Word alone.
But stony human hearts can never perfect be,
And Adam’s ruined children yearned to be set free.
Who can deliver us from Death’s unyielding bands?
The Perfect Lamb with nail scars in His feet and hands,
Whose heart of flesh, pierced through by soldier’s cruel blade,
Poured forth sweet mercy even though He was betrayed.
His holy blood transforms our stony hearts to flesh,
His bread, His holy body, will our souls refresh.
The Advent of the Son of God new life imparts,
And His Spirit writes His law upon our hearts.

Copyright © 2017 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


So many scriptures are distilled in this poem; here are a few of the references:

Exodus 31:18

Exodus 32:15

1 Samuel 17:40

Ezekiel 36:25-27

Jeremiah 31:33

Hebrews 8:10

Hebrews 10:16

 

September 12, 2017

Joy in the Mourning

Posted in Grief at 6:50 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Sometimes my prayers become a cloak.
I clutch them close around my heart
So that the rain of tears won’t soak
The landscape where you worked your art.
And then at times they are a shield
Defending me from all who scorn
A love that cannot be concealed,
A soul that cannot help but mourn.
They are a helmet large and strong
To keep my memories in line.
For I must live where I belong,
Pursuing duties that are mine.
Through prayer I seek the loving face
Of God, the blessed Trinity,
Who through great loss has offered grace
To mourners, and has set us free.

Copyright © 2017 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


Dedicated to all who mourn this day, and praying that their hope will be renewed.

July 15, 2017

Moneychanger

Posted in Judas, Liturgical Calendar, Maundy Thursday at 11:06 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Oh, stood you there as moneychangers fled,
And did your pious glare increase their dread?
As they sought refuge from His holy wrath,
Pray, did you salvage coins in the aftermath?
Sly keeper of the funds, how carefully
You counted silver and spent frugally!
Was yours the voice objecting to the price
Of bread to change the wilderness to paradise?
You cringed when fragrant oil was freely poured
To anoint the blessed feet of Christ the Lord.
You feigned concern for souls who live in dearth,
While reckoning upon the spikenard’s worth.
Then in your final pact to fill your purse,
You sold the Maker of the Universe.

Copyright © 2017 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


Scriptural context:

Mark 11:14-16

Mark 6:35-38

Matthew 26:6-16

 

 

April 9, 2017

Hosanna!

Posted in Palm Sunday, Son of Man, Suffering Servant tagged , at 7:15 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Hosanna, King! We need your power now,
When tyrants rage and tax our very soul.
Deliver us from despots, and endow
Our lives with peace to make us strong and whole.
Prosper us with circuses and bread,
For we are weary from oppression’s yoke
And tired of wasting days in bitter dread.
Save now! It’s time that you awoke!
We know you raised the dead, so now arise
To free your people and to take your throne.
Hosanna, Savior! Hear our desperate cries,
Messiah, our eternal Cornerstone!
Now, speak no more about this Son of Man
Whose sufferings will spoil our master plan.

Copyright © 2017 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


Scriptural context:

John 12

Isaiah 53


We dare not judge the crowds who thronged our Lord on his triumphal ride. What are we looking for when we approach the throne? An easy life? A full pantry? Earthly prosperity?

Our prayer should be for God to give us everything we need to serve Him best and to increase in holiness. Are we bold enough even to pray that He would take away all that is an impediment to serving Him?

May God give us grace to walk in the light of Christ.

December 10, 2016

Even So

Posted in Advent, Faith, Hope, Incarnation, Light of the World, Redeemer, Son of God, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, Suffering Servant tagged at 9:20 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Our path meanders through a barren land
Where lowering clouds press in on every side,
With gales so swift that we can hardly stand,
Rain so pervasive that we cannot hide.
Then storms give way to scorching desert heat.
Now parched, we long for mists to calm our thirst
And seek a haven for our weary feet.
Yet though we journey through a land accursed
Despair is not our answer to this plight
For sure and certain hope steadies our gait.
Relentless gloom can never quench the Light.
Unyielding joy belies our sad estate
Because the Son of God who shared our pain
Will come again to heal our every bane.

Copyright © 2016 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


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