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.

February 18, 2013

Oasis

Posted in Lent, Liturgical Calendar, Sanctification, Serpent, Son of God, Son of Man, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist, Water of Life, Word tagged at 7:59 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

He, the Living Water, was baptized,
Then made a path into the wilderness
To meet the challenge Satan had devised
When thirst and hunger left Him in distress.

He yielded to no purpose but His own,
Rebuking lying words with living Word,
Thus proving that though He had left His throne,
The God-Man’s power could not be deterred.

Now in our wilderness we find Him still,
For He precedes wherever we may tread.
He freely gave Himself so He might fill
Our famished souls with living wine and bread.

The meal prepared by human hands is blessed
To be our sustenance and sure repose.
The One who fought temptation bids us rest;
The Rock was struck, and living water flows.

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


This is a companion piece to the lectionary for the first Sunday in Lent, in which the Gospel reading is Matthew’s account of the Temptation of Christ. If we look only at that event in isolation, we miss so much, and even this poem does not make all of the connections that it could. Our Lord’s triumph over temptation is, of course, God’s setting right of what happened with our first parents, who did not rebuke the Opposer, but were willing to entertain the evil notion that God’s commandments were not intended for their own good.

But enough about what the poem does NOT cover. What it does bring in are references to the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness, also not doing very well in resisting temptation, but still sustained by the Living Water and the manna from heaven. How unworthy we are, and yet God still loves us!

There is also some of the language of Psalm 23, for it is in the spiritual wilderness that we meet our enemy, and it is also there that Christ bids us come to His table and be filled with the Living Water of His grace. The serpent bids us come and worship him, thus securing the destruction of our souls. Jesus bids us come and dine, come and live, come and rest. Whom will you hear?


December 28, 2012

Holy Innocents

Posted in Christmastide, Faith, Herod, Holy Innocents, Hope, Sanctification, Suffering at 7:33 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Our lives, O Lord, rest safely in Your hand,
And nothing on this earth can thwart Your plan.
Your enemy—and ours—has many spies.
He sends his minions forth to spread his lies.
They plot against the Kingdom You hold dear;
They strut and roar to cause your people fear.
They would have even murdered Lazarus;
Most certainly they rage and threaten us.
Herod conspires to murder innocents,
While Pilate washes hands in wickedness.
Teach us, O Lord, to trust Your endless grace
And every joy or sorrow to embrace.
We are the clay and You the Potter kind,
The fire strengthens what You have designed.
For in the furnace one thing burns away:
Our fetters fall, Your glory to display.

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


The collect for the Feast of The Holy Innocents contains a line that many find offensive. It speaks of God having made “infants to glorify [Him] by their deaths.” But this phrase most certainly does not mean that He is using us for some dark and selfish purpose. To the contrary, that phrase should give us hope that none of our suffering is wasted and that nothing our enemies can say or do will destroy us. We can trust in Him to bring about all things to our good and His glory. The passages this poem should bring to mind are Genesis 3:15, John 12:9-11, Matthew 2, Matthew 27, Isaiah 64:7-9, Daniel 3, and Romans 8:28.


I started this poem on 25 October 2012, and completed it this morning during my meditations on this solemn day of remembrance. May God bless all the Holy Innocents who suffer for His sake.

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