November 18, 2018

Thanksgiving Frost

Posted in Hope, Liturgical Calendar, Suffering, The Great Physician, Trinity at 10:42 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

To see them now you would not realize
That in the longer days they were consumed
By green bathed in the tears of summer skies
And flowers bursting forth in fragrant bloom.
Then vibrant buds gave way to sumptuous fruit
That harvesters brought safely in for food
Before they turned the plants up by the root,
Abandoning the fields in quietness to brood.
But on November mornings cold and brown,
The fields yield harvest of a different kind:
As frigid air descends on fertile ground,
A cloud of glory blankets for a time
The naked fields forgotten and forlorn,
In witness of the life that they have worn.

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


The last half of my drive to work runs through a rural area with fields on both sides. Over the past ten years I have enjoyed the beauty of this land in each season. There is something holy about the fields after the harvest has been taken and the cold begins to settle in. Almost every morning they have breathed up a cloud of fog as though they are giving up the ghost.

 

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.


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)


For Advent

November 26, 2016

Dirge at Dawn

Posted in death, Eastertide, Grief, Hope, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering at 6:20 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

I must sit beside the road a while and rest
For I am wearied by this constant fray.
Our warriors are on all sides sorely pressed,
And darkness threatens to devour the day.
Today’s news from the front has torn my heart:
Our leader has succumbed to wounds sustained
By every soldier when the Opposer’s art
Brought down the curse of death and God ordained
We would in enmity live out our days.
Yet from a distant shore a shout resounds
As our courageous leader joins the praise
Echoing in a mighty chorus that now drowns
The noise of battle and the cries of woe.
So I will rise betimes and fight anew
Since Christ has dealt to death a deadly blow
And will restore all things when time is due.

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


This poem is fondly dedicated to the memory of The Most Reverend Royal U. Grote, Jr., a faithful shepherd of the flock who went home from the war on Thanksgiving Day. I have no doubt he heard the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

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.

April 4, 2015

To His Mother on Holy Saturday

Posted in Atonement, Darkness, Faith, Holy Saturday, Holy Week, Hope, Incarnation, Resurrection, Suffering, Word tagged , , , , , at 8:12 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

The Holy One once hidden in your womb
Lies silent in the unforgiving earth.
Your sword-pierced heart is shrouded now in gloom,
As was foretold at His miraculous birth.
As chaos tries to overtake your soul
You dare to hope that all His words were true,
That God’s own Son holds all in His control,
And by His power will the world renew.
Dearest mother of the dearest Son,
Weep now, but not for His demise.
Weep for the sin which has this world undone,
For souls ensnared by the deceiver’s lies.
But your Son by His death has set the captives free,
And at His Word, darkness and death will flee.

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

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