November 8, 2013

Winter’s End

Posted in Advent, Christmastide, Eastertide, Incarnation, Resurrection, Son of God, Spiritual Warfare, Water of Life at 6:45 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Cruel frost will coat the desiccated leaves,
And brutal winds will harry evergreens.
Ruthless snow will smother cropless fields
While creatures flee from winter’s bitter bite.
The lengthening nights will silence laughing birds,
As shortened days steal light and joy from men,
And gloom enshrouds the flowers on each grave.
But underneath bleak snow a seed abides
And naked trees dip fingers into earth
Made holy when Immanuel came down.
In Him is hope for life to shine anew
When resurrected by the Easter’s morning dew.
For though the sun will fade and fail to glow
The constant Son’s Light melts the winter snow.

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


This poem has the same theme as Dragon Death (previous post). As I become more dreadfully aware of the spiritual battles that surround us every day, I feel the need to acknowledge their reality, but not without asserting the greater reality: Our Lord has conquered sin and death, and in Him, we are more than conquerors. As the Advent and Christmas seasons approach, I have to remind myself that Christmas finds its full meaning in Easter, and Advent looks both backward and forward. I long for the day when the Son’s light will consume all of the winter-ills that plague us: sin, sickness, pain, loss, and death.

As for the technicalities of poetry, I purposely did not introduce rhyme until the final four lines, to signify that His name brings order out of chaos.

April 7, 2013

A Soldier’s Song

Posted in Eastertide, Faith, Hope, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, The Church tagged , , at 12:00 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

The wargs are fierce tonight.
So painful is their noxious bite
That as sharp teeth tear into tender flesh
Their hapless victims scream and thresh.
The orcs and trolls cause terror as they chase
Their prey and pound them with a lethal mace.
Such dreadful enemies pursue my soul
And would with fear my days control.
But when I closely listen for the sound
Arising from the Valur army gathered round
In bright array to guard me from the horde,
My breathing calms and I advance toward
The gates of Rivendell, where I find peace.
For in that homely house all worries cease.

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


One of my favorite Old Testament passages is II Kings 6:8-23. It’s all about the ability to discern what is hidden from the human sight. Elisha’s servant awakens to find the city surrounded by the Syrian army. He panics, thinking there is no hope. But Elisha responds, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (II Kings 6:16). What a curious thing to say! The servant, as yet, had not seen the supporting army to which Elisha referred. So Elisha prayed that the servant’s eyes would be opened: “And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” The frail Syrian army would be no match for God’s unconquerable hosts.

During Eastertide as we reflect on all that the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ has won for us, we cannot afford to forget all of the fury that the defeated Satan has unleashed upon the Lord’s followers. We read in the final chapters of St. John’s Gospel how Jesus tried to prepare His disciples for it, but they were not ready for the savagery of the opposition. Neither are we, especially since we cannot see the true nature of our foes. We cannot afford to take spiritual warfare lightly.

We also cannot afford to take lightly the role of the Church in our survival, and for it I have used Rivendell as a metaphor. I’m not sure that was Tolkien’s intention, but I don’t think he would mind terribly, just as he would not be too out of sorts for my using the Valur in reference to the angel armies that surround God’s people with protection.

I commend the remedies offered by St. Paul in Ephesians for ordering our lives in such a way as to avoid destruction. Especially the following verses should be called to mind often:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

And never forget that you are not alone. The same army that surrounded Elisha stands ready to do God’s bidding. There is great hope and peace in knowing that those who are with us are more than those who are with our foes, not only more in numbers but in strength. When darkness threatens, may God let us glimpse His army.

April 4, 2013

Sonnet of the Forty Days

Posted in Eastertide, Lent, Moses, Resurrection, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering Servant, Tempter tagged , , at 11:04 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

For every day Your judgment’s raindrops fiercely poured
To cleanse the earth from evil spread by wicked man;
For each day Moses in the cloud lived on Your word;
For every day the spies searched out Your Promised Land,
Goliath petrified the army led by Saul,
Elijah journeyed on the strength of angel’s bread,
And Jonah counted time before Your wrath would fall;
For every day Ezekiel marked the coming dread;
You spent a day of testing in the wilderness,
Midst clever invitations to be Satan’s thrall.
And though tormented, You would never acquiesce.
Then when it seemed that he had conquered all,
You left an empty tomb that echoes endless praise
And roamed the earth triumphantly for forty days.

Copyright © 2013, 2016 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


The period of forty days is charged with theological meaning, specifically with the concepts of judgment and redemption. The forty days of temptation that directly followed Christ’s baptism can also be considered in light of the forty years spent by the Israelites, as discussed below. All of the Old Testament events referenced in the poem are listed below with the their scriptural references. These offer plenty of food for further thought and study.

  • Exodus 24:18; 34:28. Moses on the mountain, obtaining the Law of God. As with Jesus’ time in the wilderness, this was a period of fasting from food but not from the Word of God.
  • Numbers 13 and 14. The account of the spies scouting out the land of Canaan: This was the Israelites’ opportunity to trust God, despite the apparent dangers of the land, and they failed the test. They were given one year of wandering in the wilderness for every day the spies spent in the land, ten of them not believing in God’s power. That is why Jesus’ period of temptation could be forty days and not forty years. He would be faithful.
  • I Samuel 17. For forty days Goliath strutted out in his armor and his gargantuan height to terrify God’s army. They were tested, and this time there was redemption, in the form of David’s slingshot. The stones that struck Goliath were made of the same stuff as the stone that was rolled away from the empty tomb.
  • I Kings 19:7-9. After his spiritual battle with the prophets of Baal, Elijah was spiritually exhausted, one might say he was in spiritual shock. God took pity on him and sent an angel to minister to him, feeding him bread and water. The strength he obtained from this meal sustained him for a forty-day journey to Horeb for his encounter with God’s still, small voice.
  • Jonah 3:3-5. Once Jonah was finally obedient to God’s command, he went to Nineveh and announced that they had a period of forty days before judgment would fall. They repented, of course, but their probation period was in line with the judgment/redemption theme.
  • Ezekiel 4:5-7. Ezekiel was given several dramatic acts to perform as demonstrations of the prophecies with which God had entrusted him. One of those was to lie on his right side for forty days, as a prophecy of the impending siege of Jerusalem.

As we reflect on the Lord’s triumph during this Eastertide, we should remember that both of the forty-day periods which serve as bookends of His ministry are essential to the Gospel. His triumph over temptation in the wilderness is as important as His victory over the grave, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by His continual appearances to those who knew and loved Him.


The ideas for this poem have been clattering around in my head for several days, but only now have I had the opportunity (and the discipline!) to pull it together. I think this may end up being a more fragmented and obtuse piece than I have written in a while, but that may be appropriate. I can just imagine that the forty-day period after the resurrection felt fragmented and disjointed and exciting all at the same time. It was also a time in which a fuller understanding of all the Old Testament prophecies came pouring over the disciples.

March 26, 2013

The Witness

Posted in Eastertide, Holy Week, Kingdom, Liturgical Calendar, Palm Sunday, Redeemer, Son of God, Son of Man, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering Servant tagged , , , at 11:59 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

One minute I was dozing in the morning sun;
Then I awoke to find my ropes had been undone.
The kindest Man that I have ever seen drew near,
And with one gentle touch He drove away my fear.
When His disciples led me to a crowded street
I bowed my back to Christ, the Mercy Seat.
So I, a donkey, bore the burden of the Lord;
Beneath my feet were palm fronds, spread there by a horde
Of selfish people who had sought to crown Him king,
And loud hosannas through the lanes began to ring.
But all too soon the shouts of victory had turned
To “Crucify Him!” as the Holy One you spurned.
The crown you gave had thorns that pierced His noble head;
The regal robe you offered dripped with crimson red.
You persecuted prophets when they preached to you,
But every chain will crumble, and every stone you threw
Will cry aloud to bless the God that you deny,
For all of His creation is prepared to testify
That Immanuel has come to break the dreadful curse
And all the ruinous powers of darkness to disperse.

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


I dedicate this poem to Pedro, the sweet donkey who helped make our Palm Sunday Passion Play complete. I always smile when I remember that the animals share a part in the same remedy that makes us new creatures. The recapitulation of earth will certainly include donkeys.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

I felt compelled to have the donkey be our accuser, the witness against us. It was man’s sin that caused the donkey’s life to be filled with unpleasant toil. Therefore, it was only right for this obedient creature who served our Lord to bring the covenant lawsuit against rebellious mankind.

February 24, 2013

Battlefield

Posted in Eastertide, Good Friday, Holy Spirit, Holy Week, Hope, Lent, Liturgical Calendar, Obedience, Original Sin, Redeemer, Resurrection, Sanctification, Self-Discipline, Son of God, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering Servant, Tempter, Word tagged , , at 12:11 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

In the beginning, the battle line was drawn
When rebels stole what God had disallowed.
The evil one had used them as his pawn,
Pretending he could elevate the proud.
Then God in mercy banished them from Paradise
And charged an angel with a flaming sword
To guard them from the tree that would entice.
The tree of life could not be their reward.
Not life but death was due for their offense,
Yet as the battle raged throughout the years
Kinsman-redeemers came to their defense.
In expectation of the One who ends all fears.
Though dying on a tree, He won the day,
Pierced through by sword of Roman soldier rude.
And three days in the silent tomb He lay,
Till with His rising all things were renewed.
This time the Father charged the angel guard
To speak His peace to those who love the Son,
Soldiers of Christ armed with the Spirit’s Sword,
The Living Word who has the conquest won.
Now marching on to songs of victory
His army keeps the disciplines of war
Until all prisoners have been set free
And God is glorified on every shore.

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


This may be the most epic piece I’ve ever written because it spans all of history. A few days ago I started thinking about the three swords mentioned in the poem, and I was especially intrigued by the idea that the Roman soldier’s sword pierced through Him who is called the Word, and the Word is called the sword of the Spirit. Then tonight I was captured by the thought that there was an angel at the gate of Eden and one at the tomb. I know it is fruitless to dwell on questions like, “Could that have been the same angel?” But I still think it’s amazing that the angels are an integral part of the story of man’s reconciliation to God.


Completed in the hours just before the Second Sunday of Lent.

January 11, 2013

All for the Bride

Posted in Atonement, Bridegroom, Eastertide, Epiphany, Hope, Redeemer, Sheep, Shepherd, The Church, Water of Life tagged , , at 9:29 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

He lay down with a stone under his head
And in his sleep to heaven’s gate was led.
Then Jacob traveled east to Laban’s land.
Arriving there, he met the shepherd band.
He saw sweet Rachel leading thirsty sheep;
Her gentle beauty caused his heart to leap.

The shepherds would have waited for the rest,
But Jacob saw the purpose of his quest.
So by himself he rolled away the stone,
Securing her whom he would call his own.
He freed life-giving water for the herd
And won a bride by honoring his word.

Another stone was rolled away that day
When Jesus proved He was not Satan’s prey.
Now on Christ’s Bride all blessings He bestows,
And for the Shepherd’s flock pure water flows.
His tomb appeared deserted, but it served
To swallow up the death that we deserved.

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


The resource for the first two stanzas is Genesis 29, with parallels drawn to the Gospel accounts of the the Lord and His Resurrection. The significance for the First Sunday after the Epiphany is the willingness of Rachel to be about the business of her family, and the parallels between Jacob and Jesus as the bride’s champion.


Started on 1 January 2013 with this idea: “His tomb was empty only for a while, for it has swallowed up our death.” As I began to research the idea of rolling away a stone, I was both amazed and pleased to find another story of a stone being rolled away.


August 29, 2012

Lazarus Grace

Posted in Eastertide, Faith, Resurrection, Spiritual Warfare at 12:24 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Too soon the verdant trees will drop their leaves,
While flowers shed their fading blooms like tears.
So also hearts grow weary through the years,
Burn out, and then another lone heart grieves.
Like snow dissolving in the noonday sun
Our spirits languish under rays of doubt.
Thus burdened down, these feeble hearts wear out,
Becoming weak before the race is run.
When hearts grow weary and our strength declines,
The enemy looms large, and we would yield.
Like wounded soldiers, we would quit the field,
Until His healing grace upon us shines.
Then Lazarus comes forth to prove again
That Jesus Christ will ever rule and reign.

Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


The Scriptures are filled with the gruesome reality of what life is like on earth, beginning with God’s pronouncements in Genesis 3. Sin is a destroyer, and there are days when it takes more than all our strength to stand against it. The grass withers and the flower fades, and sometimes our faith fades with it. With St. Paul we say:

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (II Corinthians 4:8-12)

This battleground on which we live and move at present is filled with life and death. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ means that each of us is a Lazarus. Lord, resurrect our faith, our hope, our love for You!


This poem is a bit of a departure for me. Most of it sounds solemn and hopeless, but considering that I wrote it three days after my late son’s birthday, I was still in a very somber mood. But let’s face it; we have those times in our lives. We are in pain and find no relief. We lose a dear one. We find that we’ve been betrayed by someone we thought was our dearest and best friend. And if we say that those things didn’t hurt and that we’ve never felt like giving up, we would be lying. The worst part is that those lies cause other Christians to believe themselves to be inferior when they become overwhelmed.

We are Kingdom people, and our hope is ever and always in the King, but it’s rough being a soldier of the Cross. Yet we can never completely lose heart, for while it is true that our lives will be blighted by sickness, loss, and death, the even greater truth is that we have the sure and certain hope of resurrection. And that alone is enough to resurrect our fading faith.

April 15, 2012

Peter’s Sermon

Posted in Atonement, Eastertide, Resurrection, Suffering Servant at 1:47 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

based on Acts 3:12-36

Heinous crime, to kill life’s Author,
But His life could not stay dead.
Yet His rising did not threaten
Those whose thorns had pierced His head.
With forgiveness freely offered
Messiah’s foes become His friends
As they turn from their rebellion,
Being cleansed from all their sins.
While they wait the restoration
Of the undecaying earth,
Blessings flow from Abraham’s Offspring,
To all nations through new birth.
In the paradox of Heaven,
Life has swallowed up the grave,
And the Son has borne dishonor
For the profit of the slave.

Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


This poem was based on the first reading in today’s liturgy. I love the way Acts 3 pulls together so many threads from the Scriptures to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who should have been expecting Him and who should have recognized what He had to do. Their cries of “Hosanna!” (Save now!) turned into “Crucify Him!” not because they recognized that He would have to die in order for them to live but because they were done with Him. They wanted success as the world defines it, and He did not have political power or earthly riches to offer them. The greatest ingratitude of all was the rejection of Jesus Christ, who was Immanuel, God with us. Political power is a pale substitute for the presence of God Almighty!

The picture that St. Peter draws of his listeners as the ones who purposely forfeited the life of their Messiah so that the murderer could go free is very powerful. Hearing that and knowing that He has risen from the grave might have caused some to panic. What if He wanted revenge? But Jesus Christ has two ways of dealing with His enemies. Those who repent are no longer His enemies but His friends. But as St. Peter warns, anyone who fails to heed the word of Christ will be cut off from His people (Acts 3:23).

February 7, 2012

Bitter Herbs

Posted in Eastertide, Hope, Lent, Maundy Thursday, Sanctification, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist at 10:03 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Thou, God’s Lamb, our Passover art,
And from Thy side deliverance flows;
Yea, Thy dread wounds did death impart
New life, for in Thee we arose.
Now from Thy side a river pours
To cleanse Thine own from every stain,
From every evil God abhors:
It was for this the Lamb was slain.
Now Thou dost give us bread and wine,
And perfect rest that naught disturbs,
For Thou has made us wholly Thine
And banned for aye the bitter herbs.

Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


There has to be a reason that the meal sacrament of the New Covenant does not include either the meat of a lamb or the bitter herbs that were required for the original Passover, the meal sacrament of the old covenant. The death of the Lamb was always intended to end the bloody sacrifices of the temple economy, and with the death of death, the bitterness of our lives is rolled back with the stone at Jesus tomb.

That does not mean that we will not suffer in this life, and sometimes suffer acutely. No, what it means is that our suffering has a purpose and a goal, and it will not last forever: it has an end and an end. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we know for a fact that the dead are brought to life. Through the ascension of Jesus Christ, we know for a fact that there is somewhere other than here, somewhere that the bitterness and brokenness of this sad earth cannot reach. That is the truth in which we live, if we will lift up our eyes and look at the hills of God.

For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.  (II Corinthians 4:17-20)


I find the date recorded for this poem as January 20, 2008. Ten short days later, my son James would rise above this land of bitter herbs. His light afflictions are over, and he rests in the eternal arms. I praise the God who made him, who saved him, and whose mercies took him out of his sufferings, which were many, and whose love took him out of a land where joys were few.


February 1, 2012

Until Hope Ends

Posted in Eastertide, Faith, Grief, Hope at 11:13 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

The ground lies stark as winter holds its breath.
Bare branches point accusingly at steely skies
That swallow up the days in sunless death.
And now with crops all gleaned, a lonely raven cries.
The only surfeit, dearth; the world in want is rife.
But buried in the bleak and frigid ground
Are sleeping seeds that cradle steadfast life.
Soon promises of green will burst from twigs of brown,
And crops again will grace the ordered field
With grape and grain for sacrament.
In blessed beauty all the earth is healed
When spring releases earth from discontent.
There is no need for hope once all is saved.
Till then, hope clings to me like petals from your grave,
Like petals from the flowers on your grave.

Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


The Bible is filled with passages that tell us we have every reason to hope in the goodness of God, no matter how bad our circumstances may be, and many of those are illustrated by situations we find in the created order. According to Job 14:7, “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.” One of the greatest promises of all, that God would never again destroy the earth by water, is accompanied by a promise that “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). If you ever need cheering up, read Romans 8, which talks extensively about hope; this chapter provided several of the concepts for the poem, especially Romans 8:24, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?”

Have you ever realized that one day God’s children will lose their need for hope? It will, not coincidentally, be the same day on which all tears are dried from their eyes. The winter, the night, the cold will be over forever, and there will be only eternal harvest. Blessed be God who gives us every reason to hope until then:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (I Peter 1:3)


This is a new piece, written mostly today. The last line was part of a thought that developed on Saturday (January 29) when my daughter and son-in-law took me to put flowers on James’ grave.


Previous page · Next page

%d bloggers like this: