May 28, 2013

Peace Meal

Posted in Darkness, David, Incarnation, Maundy Thursday, Moses, Redeemer, Resurrection, Son of God, Son of Man, Word tagged , , , , , at 11:23 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Piecemeal the plan unfolded from creation to the Cross:
Through Abraham and Moses sacrifices showed the cost.
Then David served as king, anticipating Jesus’ reign,
But kings who followed spoiled the sacred, making it profane.
And time and time again the prophets preached the truth of God
To those who spoke of justice but whose hearts were hiding fraud.
Then the worst, the years of silence with no prophet, priest or king;
No word from God to kindle hope, though darkness loomed foreboding.
Until an angel broke the silence to proclaim Immanuel
In whom all offices were gathered in one Man to dwell:
The Word of God and Prophet bold, who was the Truth and Way,
To pierce the darkness, He was Light and brought us endless day.
As God with man, the Son of Man, both Sacrifice and Priest,
King David’s greater Son whose righteousness will never cease.
He lived and died and lives again, His people’s wounds to heal.
And now enthroned, He is the Host who serves the great Peace Meal.

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


This is another sweeping summary of the story of redemption. The underlying concept is that only in Christ is found all three offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. Only in Him are all the pieces and threads brought together in a perfect whole.


A couple of weeks ago I was giving a devotional about the Eucharist at choir practice, and I called it the Peace Meal. In the back of my head, the homonym “piecemeal” started rattling around, and this poem is the result.

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.

March 22, 2013

Something for the Feast

Posted in Holy Week, Lamb of God, Liturgical Calendar, Maundy Thursday, Redeemer, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering Servant, Tempter tagged , , at 6:44 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

With them you walked and closely held the purse,
The cunning one so trusted, yet so cursed.
Grave countenance to cover evil plans,
Imagining the coins in your hands,
You ate the bread, then lifted up your heel
To crush the One who offered you the meal.
Yes, quickly go into the dark of night
To make your deal; betray the One True Light.
For if you change your mind, the world is lost.
No other sacrifice can pay the cost.
Go, sell the perfect Lamb to the chief priest,
Obtaining what is needed for the Feast.
As your companions thought, your deeds secured
Provision for the poor, who had endured
The terrors of the one whose path you chose.
His plans the God of Heaven to oppose
Came to fruition on the bloody cross,
While deeper plans unraveled all his power.
He won and lost it all in that same hour.
There in the presence of our greatest foe
The feast was set and blessings overflow.

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


As I get ready to enter Holy Week this year, I am more aware than ever of the spiritual warfare that is captured so poignantly in St. John’s account of our Lord’s final hours. I keep going back to John 13 because one sentence captivates me. It is when our Lord says “Now is the Son of Man glorified.” Before the cross? Before the empty tomb? Before His victorious ascension and re-enthronement? It is astounding to think that the spiritual warfare had already been won in the giving of the Feast. His heart was so set on obedience that He could declare victory before it had happened in time because it had already happened in eternity. He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

But Judas’ part in all this is where this poem dwells. It was not easy to write, for there is a sense of dread that I could so easily fall into the same trap that ensnared Judas. May God protect and defend His people from our own dark hearts.

Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. (John 13:27-30)

March 9, 2013

Mercy’s Robes

Posted in David, Good Friday, Grace, Holy Week, Liturgical Calendar, Prodigal Son, Redeemer, The Eucharist at 10:15 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Forgiveness is clad in robes of linen white
And wears a signet ring and chain of gold.
He had a lesser robe he dropped in flight
From her who caused him pain with lies she told.

A many-colored robe he lost before
When jealous brothers sold him as a slave.
In all these tribulations Joseph bore,
He trusted it was God’s good will to save.

Sometimes forgiveness rends its battle robes
To know its enemy has fallen to his death.
Though Saul had sworn against him many oaths,
The mournful David raised laments and wept.

Forgiveness also sees past hardened hearts
Who laid their robes down so they could begin
Their vengeance on St. Stephen, who imparts
A prayer God would not charge them with their sin.

But when the lots were cast for our Lord’s robe
His great forgiveness fell like morning dew.
An avalanche of love flowed ’round the globe.
It is the selfsame mercy tendered you.

Repentant prodigals, we now approach
Our Father’s house and bask in His embrace.
Clad thus in mercy’s robes, without reproach
We join the feast prepared by hands of grace.

Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


The theme of clothing throughout the scriptures is worth studying in a larger context, but I have limited it to its relationship to forgiveness. In the beginning, Adam and Eve were clothed in God’s righteousness, and when they sinned, He made them coverings that reminded them not only of their former glory but of the blood-price of restoring them from their sin back to glory. But the fact that He was willing to pay the price Himself showed His great mercy, and it set the tone for our dealings with each other. Since He has so freely forgiven us such great sins, how dare we withhold forgiveness from our fellow man!? As those whose sins have been rolled away, we should in turn freely dispense mercy, though we must always remember that it is to a much lesser degree than our Father in heaven has done.

The message that this poem tries to convey is that those who live the life of forgiveness and love become like their Father, as is our goal. We are clothed in the righteousness of God when He forgives us of our sin, and that great gift obligates us to offer mercy freely to others. The three historical examples in the poem—Joseph, David, and Stephen—are prime examples of God’s people being exalted as they forgive their persecutors and allow God to fight their battles for them.

Joseph could have become bitter at his brothers or at the pharaoh’s wife, but he patiently endured suffering, and God exalted him to a level of honor and then gave him the perfect opportunity to show mercy to his brothers.

David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but he chose instead to honor Saul as the Lord’s anointed king, despite the fact that Saul had fallen into disobedience.

And then there is Stephen, who faithfully preached the Gospel, despite the cost of his own life. His dying words were filled with grace, love, and mercy for the very people who were killing him. They had removed their outer garments, which would symbolize their purposely shedding the robes of righteousness, in order to be freer to commit their atrocious sin. But the sinfulness of their deeds could not keep God from exalting Stephen.

We are always lifted up when we humble ourselves to forgive in the name of the One who forgave us everything.

The final verse was added during Lent of 2014. In re-reading the poem, it struck me how the first two lines resonate with the story of the prodigal son. And I realized that bringing in the reference would complete the thought that we forgive because we are forgiven.

March 2, 2013

Firstfruits

Posted in Atonement, Good Friday, Holy Week, Hope, Incarnation, Liturgical Calendar, Redeemer, Resurrection, Son of Man, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist at 11:22 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Our mother, Eve, stood gazing at the tree,
Then reached to pluck the firstfruits that hung there.
Deceived by him who hated liberty
And sought to separate her from God’s care.

Her via dolorosa into hiding led,
But Mercy bridged the chasm sin had cleft
And paved the way to resurrect the dead,
Returning hope to those who were bereft.

Through years of pain and hope the promise grew
Of One who could roll back the blight of sin.
Then at the darkest hour the Light shone through
To scatter night, restoring life again.

This Light, the Firstfruits of our righteousness,
Hung in disgrace upon a barren tree.
Suspended, bridging earth with heaven’s best,
While His dear mother stood in woe to see.

But in the moment that He bowed His head,
He lifted us to heaven’s lofty height.
The Fruit of Calvary’s tree, the wine and bread,
Is the sacrament of life that ends our plight.

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

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.

December 29, 2012

A Question Answered

Posted in Atonement, Christmastide, Good Friday, Holy Week, Hope, Incarnation, Original Sin, Redeemer at 10:56 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

He had given all they ever needed:
Sumptuous food and shelter, life and breath.
But His solemn warning went unheeded:
They disobeyed His word, begetting Death.
Here where their Father’s blessings freely flowed,
They had squandered life and sought a hiding place.
But in the Garden, Love’s voice echoed:
“Where are you?” Then Adam understood disgrace.
Looking past their vain equivocation
God saw souls in need of mercy mild.
He took fig leaves to clothe them with compassion,
And promised to provide a Saving Child.
So from the Cross we hear the cry resound:
“It is finished!” Thus the lost are found!

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


During Christmastide the emphasis is rightly on Bethlehem, but we should never forget that Golgotha looms in the distance, casting a cross-shaped shadow over the manger.


I started this poem on 25 March 2012, when I formed the question and answer concept (“Where are You?” combined with “It is finished!”) and completed it this morning (29 December 2012).

December 23, 2012

The Burden of the Lord

Posted in Advent, Christmastide, Good Friday, Holy Week, Incarnation, Lent, Liturgical Calendar, Son of Man tagged , at 6:23 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

In ages past good shepherds spoke the truth
And faced the scorn of disobedient men.
Some heard the call while they were in their youth,
Others, advanced in age, combatted sin.
A path of grief and pain the prophets trod;
Only a few saw fruit from labor long.
They bore the burden of the Word of God
And through the struggle sang His victory song.
Another bore the burden of the Lord:
The mother of the promised Son of Man.
Her heart would be pierced by Roman sword,
But freely she submitted to God’s plan.
And taking on that burden, she has borne
The Savior, who our deepest woes has borne.

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


St. Luke’s account of the annunciation has always gripped my heart. There is so much for us to learn by St. Mary’s responses to the angel. It is quite obvious that she knew the promises of God, recorded by the prophets of old. The angel did not offer any theological explanations of the need for a Savior, though he did answer her question about the biology of it all. In her question and the angel’s answer we see two things: God does not want us to follow Him blindly but to understand as much as we are able. We also see that when our concerns have been answered, the proper response is “be it unto me according to thy word.”

It is worthwhile to study the phrase “the burden of the Lord” or “the burden of the word of the Lord” as it is found in the Old Testament. I cannot do it justice here, but one good resource is a sermon by Spurgeon. He deals beautifully with the solemn task of being a preacher of the Word. My addition to the meanings of “burden of the Lord” is a poetic play on words related to the actual physical burden a mother experiences in bearing a child.

May we ever be as faithful as the Blessed Virgin Mary.


This resulted from the notes I took during the sermon today. I scribbled down the words “the burden of the Lord” when the priest was talking about St. Mary’s willingness to endure ostracism or worse in order to be obedient to the Lord God. As to the form, it is a sort-of sonnet. I probably violated all sorts of rules by ending the last two lines with the same word, but the ideas were so important to place together that I will accept the consequences, should the poetry police ever come knocking at the door.

November 24, 2012

Moriah’s Song

Posted in Atonement, Holy Week, Lamb of God, Liturgical Calendar, Suffering Servant at 11:12 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Strong, obedient, perfect ram,
Led by the God of Abraham
Up Moriah’s lonely hill
To fulfill His holy will.

Abraham was led here too,
With the wood that he did hew
Carried by his only son,
And other offering there was none.

“Behold the wood, behold the fire,
But where’s the lamb that we require?”
“God will provide, my precious child.”
So on they walked into the wild.

The altar built, the child lay down;
From heaven came a welcome sound.
“Stay your hand, O faithful one
Who did not spare your only son.”

Just then the ram bowed down its head,
Prepared to die in Isaac’s stead.
Lift your eyes, behold the Lamb,
The perfect One, the Great I Am.

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


I’ve written about this topic from Genesis 22 before (The Thicket and the Ram), but with a slightly different approach. What drew me back to meditate on it more was the idea that the ram was led up onto the mountain just as Abraham was. The one connection I wasn’t able to make explicitly is that Abraham and the ram came up the mountain by different paths, which would signify the path of righteousness that Jesus walked, in contrast to the sinful walk of man.

Rather than a long discursive explanation this time, I’ll just provide a few bullets, mainly because I’m running out of steam for the day:

  1. Moriah is considered by some to be the sight of the temple in Jerusalem. The song of Moriah (which may mean either “chosen by God” or “God teaches”) would always have to be about the Lamb, and never about the rams, goats, turtledoves, or any assorted animals that were sacrificed there. They were merely placeholders.
  2. Can you imagine what it was like for Abraham to chop the wood that he knew would be used to sacrifice his precious son? And in the line that says “other offering there was none” is intended to show that Abraham did not carry a backup, just-in-case lamb with them. God makes sure we know that by having the Scriptures record that Isaac asked about it.
  3. The ram bowing down his head, caught in the thicket, should bring to mind John 19:30, where we read that Jesus said, “It is finished,” and then bowed down His head to die.
  4. This was the first time I had noticed the connection between Isaac’s question in Genesis 22:7, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” and the answer uttered by John the Baptist (John 1:29): “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
  5. The final verse is a play between those last moments on the cross, when our Lord bowed His head to die for us, and the admonition we hear in Scriptures and in the liturgy to lift up our heads and lift up our hearts. He was bowed down so that we might be lifted up!

Hallelujah! Praise to the Lamb!


These ideas have been simmering for about three weeks, ever since a lectionary reading from Genesis 22. It started out as an address to the ram, but I couldn’t sustain that concept, and it somehow made the ideas seem less serious than they are. As it is, the short lines of the poem are teetering close to childish sing-song, but with the words of Isaac injected in the middle, it somehow seemed acceptable.


August 19, 2012

The Son Restored

Posted in Atonement, Faith, Good Friday, Holy Week, Lent, Liturgical Calendar, Redeemer, Suffering, Suffering Servant at 11:15 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Desolate, the weeping mother followed
One last time her precious boy.
Years ago her steps were lighter,
But great losses stole her joy.

Jesus saw the sad procession,
Took compassion on her pain,
Asked her first to cease her weeping,
Then He raised the child of Nain.

Reuniting son with mother,
Christ restored what death had won.
Eve received her fallen Abel.
God has traded Son for son.

Soon His mother would be weeping
As her Son walked through the gate
On His way to die for sinners,
Sin’s dread curses to abate.

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


The very worst part of the entrance of sin into the world is not just that we individually were tarnished by sin, but that all our relationships are ruined by its curse. Even when we are redeemed, when we live and love and walk in the light of Christ, we will most certainly face the death of loved ones. So when Jesus broke into the sorrow of this world and proved by healing the sick and raising the dead that the curse could be rolled back, He fulfilled the hope that had been building up since Adam and Eve were called out of hiding and back into the grace of God.

The very short passage in Luke 7 that tells the story of the widow and son of Nain has some notable details that are emphasized in the poem. First, he meets the funeral procession on their way out of the city. This was the idea that drew me most into the story tonight, because as the last verse relates, this situation mirrors the one at Calvary. Second, as soon as He saw her, Jesus told her to stop weeping. In other words, He asked her to have faith in Him, for His promise of blessings is surety of that they will be delivered. Third, the situation with a mother losing a son is close to my heart, and I cannot help but relate all such instances back to Eve and Abel. How deeply she must have felt the pain of losing her dear son (actually both her sons), for she knew for a fact that it was her sin that caused his pain! The same is true with the mother of our Lord.


Although there are echoes of these ideas in other poems, this one was written fresh tonight.

Previous page · Next page

%d bloggers like this: