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.

 

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.


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)

March 8, 2015

Not My Will

Posted in Conversion of St Paul, Faith, St. Paul, Suffering tagged , , at 11:25 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

A sudden dreadful Light pierced through the gloom,
And Saul’s unbridled pride fell to the ground.
He had set his face to cause the Church’s doom
Until he heard the stern, accusing sound:
“Saul, Saul, why have you persecuted Me?”
And from that day, Saul’s life was not his own;
Through myriad trials, his only choice would be
To do the will of Jesus Christ alone.
But soon another’s pride crashed to the dust
When in a vision of the brilliant Son
Ananias’ heart filled with distrust
To hear Saul’s persecuting days were done.
But believing Christ, he cast his fears away,
And two received their sight on that great day.

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


For the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), from the Gospel reading for that day: Acts 9:1-22.

February 28, 2015

A Sonnet of Tearful Hope

Posted in Faith, Family, Grief, Hope, Incarnation, Kingdom, Love, Resurrection, Suffering, Thankfulness, The Eucharist tagged at 4:50 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

When we must leave, we grieve to say goodbye,
Or when we part with others who must go,
If tears flow not, we heave a weighty sigh
To think the miles between us now must grow.
But time and space and every vale or hill
That separates sincere companion souls
Cannot erode the love that binds them still
Nor take the hope that constantly consoles.
Yet hope would be in vain, except for trust
In Him whose tender love surrounds us all.
His life ennobles feeble forms of dust
And reunites them in his banquet hall
In Heaven, where there is an end to grieving;
For it is the place from whence there is no leaving.

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


This poem is dedicated to Bill and Kathy, and to all who have suffered great loss and yet cling to an even greater hope.

November 30, 2014

The Curse Undone

Posted in Advent, Atonement, Bread of Life, Grace, Original Sin, Redeemer, Serpent, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist tagged , , , at 10:20 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Hiding their faces from the evening sun,
They stood ashamed among the shuddering trees
And heard the bidding voice of God, the One
Whose judgment brought the sinners to their knees.

“You will give life, but mingled with deep woe,”
He said to Eve, who sold her children into war
With him who on his belly now must go,
His fangs poised for destruction near and far.

To Adam, careless watchman, God then said,
“And you will earn your food by toil and sweat,
The dirt shall thwart your quest for daily bread,
While children doomed for death you shall beget.”

But of the woman’s pain a Seed would come
Just at the moment of earth’s darkest night.
This promised Seed to sin could not succumb,
The Second Adam, who all wrongs would right.

For He would freely give Himself for food,
The Bread of Life to take the curse away.
His agony the grieving world renewed
As death gave way to life at break of day.

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


This is the companion piece to The Advent of Grace.

The idea that I could not let go in writing that piece was that the remedy for the curse is not only as real as the physical effects of sin have been upon mankind, but also is like in kind to the Fall and its results. Stolen food was the undoing of man; Food given freely now gives us life and nourishment. The Eucharist is the meal that we may have without money or price (Isaiah 55:1). Pain, toil, and death were sin’s reward; the Son of God bore all of these on our behalf, then threw them back into the face of the wily serpent as He crushed its wicked head.

I suddenly realized that reading most of my poems is like attending an abbreviated version of Lessons and Carols or The Great Vigil. This one starts with the Fall of man and ends with the Resurrection of the Man, Christ Jesus, which was the undoing of the Fall. Even the first and last lines are bookends of sorts, the first ending at evening and the last at dawn. Though it may not seem like it when you read the newspaper or watch the news, the victory has already been secured. Day has broken; let us walk in the light. Food has been provided; let us meet Him at His table.

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.

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