My Father’s Kingdom

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

My father was a theologian who spent his entire adult life thinking and writing about the Kingdom of God. Was he right or wrong about the Kingdom’s current status? I don’t know.

Maybe it’s like the Queen in “Through The Looking Glass” would put it: “You think this is the Kingdom? I could show you a Kingdom compared with which you’d call this a pile of manure.”

(background image by “Openclay” on Pixabay)

#kingdomofgod #johnhepp #kingdominbible #diamonds #carbon

After an Ice Storm

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

From worldhistory.org: “Sisyphus (or Sisyphos) is a figure from Greek mythology who, as king of Corinth, became infamous for his general trickery and twice cheating death. He ultimately got his comeuppance when Zeus dealt him the eternal punishment of forever rolling a boulder up a hill in the depths of Hades.”

#icestorm #determination #sisyphus #drivingonice #slippingaway

To The Conductor

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

NEEDING TO BE HEARD
We’re part of something bigger than ourselves, a symphony that requires our silence at one time and our sounding at another.

For some, it’s the silence that’s hard. For others, it’s the sounding.

A Note I Appended for My Sister, Cindy
There’s a lot to think about in this one. Sometimes, words of correction, caution, healing, comfort, or inspiration NEED to be spoken. SOMEONE has those words. It’s their turn to speak (I’m really helped by thinking of our speech as part of a symphony). I doubt anyone has ever accused you of withholding good words. In fact, your readiness to praise and encourage is part of what makes you so lovable.

(background image by “Hans” on Pixabay)

#reticent #verbose #uniquevoice

About That New Manager

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Less than two months into my new job at the library, and I’ll be getting a new manager. I wrote this poem for Jennifer’s going-away party (I also sent it to the Dallas Public Library Director and to the relevant District Manager). Back when I was hired, I had marveled with a friend that Jennifer has a background that’s ideal for the areas in which I want to grow. I think the two months DID set me on a good course. We’ll see what a new manager brings into the mix….

February 2024 update: We did get a new manager a couple of months later, and he has been SUPERB!

Conversation Meant For Me

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

Every now and then, I’m struck by things I’ve taken for granted. In my crawl through John, I’m to chapter 17, which is entirely Jesus praying to the Father. How is it possible that mere man can witness, and understand such an exchange?! If the answer seems easy, you may not have thought this through.

NOTE: The WIDENING of God’s love in that last line had double meaning to me. The less obvious meaning: the rift or chasm Jesus felt when he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It meant more than I succeeded in articulating.

#john17 #upperroomdiscourse #highpriestlyprayer #loveinthetrinity #madeingodsimage #godinflesh

(background image by Lumina Obscura on Pixabay)

The Rusty Pail (a lament)

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

This poem may sound playful, but it really is a lament.

I listen to the podcasts of an Evangelical pastor who is working through his former allegiance to Evangelical beliefs and practice. He, like many of us, is distressed by the behavior of Evangelicals–make that White Evangelicals–in the past few years. Since our behavior has been so horrible, we’re forced to question our beliefs. One of his recent podcasts examined a belief that I still hold somewhat dear. Somewhat. Frankly, I am conflicted. The image of a leaky bucket came to mind as I considered my loss of confidence in this cherished belief.

I’m not going to go into details about the particular belief. Nor am I going to argue with anyone about what I perceive as horrible behavior by White Evangelicals. I’ll leave arguing for people who are good at it. The Holy Spirit is probably more convincing than I am. Right?

(background image is a mashup of the pail, by omnigrapher2016, and the stream, by lalami78, both on Pixabay)

Glory in Descent

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

GNAWING AT GLORY
The other day, I was reading an article by a respected theologian. Whatever the topic was (I forget), I stopped reading when I got to a paragraph that began, “Let me explain glory….”

Why did I stop reading? I respect that author so much that I assume he’s close to understanding something I very much wish to understand. But here’s the deal: I wish to chew on this topic, not swallow it whole; to squeeze the oranges, not just drink orange juice; to assemble a jigsaw puzzle, not just admire its finished scene.

It’s in the COMING TO UNDERSTAND that I’ll be changed.

Here’s a closely-related poem: Through Clouds.

(background image based on an original by Nina Edmondson on Pixabay)

#nowisthesonofmanglorified #john13v31 #judasandjesus

Sent

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

THE CHRIST
This morning, as I crawl through Jesus’ prayer in John 17, I think back to Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Some of us may tend to hear Peter’s confession solely as a recognition of Jesus’ greatness. But where there is an annointed one—the literal meaning of christos—there is an annointer. As we can clearly see in John 17, Jesus was determined that his disciples know WHO had sent him, WHO had annointed him, thus making him the Christ. For him, that was paramount.

Consider the kind of humility it would take for a United States Ambassador to proclaim: “I am merely a deputy.” Jesus was far more than a deputy. But such was his humble perspective.

Is it mine? Today?

#thechrist #matthew16v16 #petersconfession #humility

Prayer to be Well-Aimed

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I initially wrote this about the gift of poetic expression. But as soon as I had called that “joy,” I realized that what I was writing applies to all of us who have been gifted in some way by God. Each person can work out how his or her gift can be an expression of God’s loving intent.

Adam On Trial

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

It seems that we humans are not unified by anything. But is it possible that we are unified in rebellion against our Creator and Judge? I have been puzzling about this. The Babel story is something I’ll have to account for as I explore the idea that the biggest tribe of all is humanity. If you’re interested in where I got my imagery, read about “The Great Sedition Trial of 1944.”

To A Stranger Past Time

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

LUNCHTIME POETRY
A coworker asked me how I spend my spare time. My answer felt weird and lonely.

Thinking about this some more…. Actually, I DO have friends who enjoy things I enjoy (e.g., hiking, making music, photography), but I have failed to schedule doing these things WITH friends most of my adult life (especially after my 20s). I understand this is a common weakness of men. A counselor told me that men my age generally have very few close friends (he was surprised at the number I DO have). Plenty of acquaintances, sure, but they might as well be strangers. I had that in mind in the second stanza: we are sometimes strangers with those who could be friends, or are friends… close friends.

Speech Sins

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

FIRST, MY STATE OF MIND IN WRITING THIS POEM
Occasionally, I lie awake for hours, struggling with the consequences of being an obvious sinner. Then, the sun rises and I must go forth, in hope that the Spirit will channel this expressive energy God gave me.

The sins of some people are obvious, going before them into judgment, but for others, they show up later. Similarly good works are also obvious, and the ones that are not cannot remain hidden.

1 Timothy 5:24‭-‬25 NET

NOW THE EXCELLENT FEEDBACK OF TWO WISE FRIENDS
First, from Jim Powell: “You probably already know this, but Tony Campolo famously began one of his sermons by saying: ‘I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.'”

Jim added, “For the record, I do not use profanity, though I occasionally will quote it if there is a reason to do so. I probably wouldn’t even use it the way that Tony Campolo did, however, he is right about his priorities. While we sleep tonight, thousands of children will die of hunger, malnutrition, and curable diseases. And we don’t get as energized about doing something about it, because we don’t see any angle in which we would be fighting against sin. In fact, too many Christians would turn away those very children if they showed up at our southern border. Because right-wing news media have convinced many that they are a grave threat to our national security.”

Then, this from David Lewis: “I read in a (now out-of-print) book a line about a woman who was poisoning her husband little-by-little. She distilled the poison out of sweet words, loving words, gentle words, all of them withheld.”

#1timothy5v24 #stoneswillcry #luke19v40 #whenwordsaremany #proverbs10v19

Roofers and Wrath

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I’m nearing the end of Michael Reeves’ “Delighting in the Trinity.” In the section I read this morning, he was trying to convince me that God’s love is not at odds with His wrath. I think Reeves might even say that God’s love and wrath are inseparable. I’ll have to keep thinking about this one, mainly by testing words in poetry.

To be honest, this is the sort of poem I might have written when I was young and thoughtless. The truth is that God’s wrath is something I don’t really understand. I think I understand his love, but not his wrath.

Remembering

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

It’s lunchtime as I write this, and I’ve reached chapter five of Fleming Rutledge’s “The Crucifixion.” She is pointing out the active nature of remembering. It’s more than simply recalling. Some of us live only in the space between our eyebrows and the tops of our heads. Our thoughts and actions are estranged. We think, but do not do. Fortunately for us, God isn’t like that. We may not appreciate or understand what He’s doing, but HE IS DOING.

By the way, of poems that I have written, this has come to be one of my favorites. The mindless mumbling of the poor man in the poem is much like my prayers, even the poems of prayer that I write. What I am coming to understand is that God takes my requests more seriously than I do. I expect to be reminded of this often in eternity.

#flemingrutledge #thecrucifixion #remembering #philippians1v6

one poet to Another

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

It’s frustrating to not be understood or appreciated. We probably all experience that at times. Imagine what it’s like to be God, to tell the best story, paint the best picture, or write the best poem ever—all for an audience who don’t get it. Yet.

#unappreciated #john1v10 #godspoetry #ephesians2v10 #vangogh

My Topography

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

Two things prompt this reflection.

First, I am thinking and praying about participating in an organization that promotes spiritual development through outdoor adventures. So I ask myself what part outdoor adventure has played in my own development? Did hiking and climbing mountains alone and with friends lay the groundwork for spiritual growth? If so, how?

Second, I was preparing some photos to help me tell the story of “The Road of No Return.” This was a mountain climbing trip with my great friend Darol. When I was 52, he and I revisited a mountain area where we had climbed 17 years earlier. In the intervening years, wisdom had traded places with strength. To put it another way, strength had migrated from my feet to my head! I have a vivid memory of seeing our car in the valley below, and of the seemingly interminable trek down the mountain road to reach that car. How could it hurt so much to reach something we could see with our own eyes?

Note: I’m not suggesting that the reflection in the image is one of profound understanding. It’s simply a recognition that places and experiences affect how we think about the world. They form a map in our brains… sometimes, a topo map.

#mountainadventures #spiritualgrowth #spiritualformation #learningwithfriends

Is the Shepherd Really Good?

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

TODAY’S LUNCHTIME THOUGHTS
I have been camping out in John 18 for about a week now. This is the chapter where Jesus is arrested and Peter denies him. John switches back and forth between Jesus and Peter. One is protecting others, the other is protecting himself. As I reflect on what Jesus would have me learn from this section, I naturally think about the spheres in which I can and should look out for others: in my family, church, at work, on boards…. Am I being a good shepherd?

HOW ABOUT GOD?
The poem pushes on John’s claim that Jesus loved his disciples to the end, and that he did not fail in protecting them. I’m convinced that God does not mind us asking hard questions about his goodness. To do anything less is to not take him seriously. So, is God good?

What I have written in the poem is not a full answer to that question. Hah! But it’s part of the answer. His loving purpose for us is not accomplished in 70 years, or even 100.

#goodshepherd #theodicy #john13v1 #peteriwilllaydownmylife #john15v23 #greaterlovehasnoone #john17v12 #john18 #feedmysheep #john21v17

(background image by David Mark on Pixabay)

Ex-Cons

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

When, as former students we realize how much we were missing sleep…
When our addictions abate…
When we learn it was a now-defeated power that held us captive…
Then we celebrate.

#flemingrutledge #thecrucifixion #romans7 #prevenientgrace #notsplittinghairs

Patina

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I came home tonight after witnessing a friend teaching even more skillfully than before. This poem was my thankful response.

#patina #refinement #1peter4v10 #puebla #cathedral #copper #catedralbasilicadepuebla #poetography #stenerikarmitage

Tearing The Curtain

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

[WARNING: this is me “thinking out loud.” I haven’t come to conclusions; I simply invite friends to keep pondering God’s word with me]

I just read a long sermon in which the preacher waxed eloquent about what it meant for the curtain in the temple to be torn from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus’ death. The preacher made absolutely no direct reference to scripture that might—or might not—support his interpretation. All my life, I have heard only one interpretation of the significance of the rending of the temple curtain… until yesterday. Now, I’m reading Fleming Rutledge’s excellent “The Crucifixion.” She represents a slightly different tradition of Christianity than the one in which I was raised. Her different perspective gives me much to ponder. It prompts me to observe the Gospels, and Hebrews more closely, and to tune out the echo of a lifetime of sermons.

I suspect this is the main thing I need to fully embrace: it is not my feet that carry me into the holy of holies. It is my forerunner Jesus, my relationship with him. The author of Hebrews put it this way (note the present status of the curtain):

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:19‭-‬20

#matthew26v65 #mark14v63 #matthew27v51 #hebrews6vv19-20 #thecurtain #theholyplace #tornveil #flemingrutledge #thecrucifixion

Hey!

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

On my way to church this morning, I was listening to “A Way With Words” on the car radio. One caller was asking about the interjections “Say!” and “Hey!” It dawned on me that my imagination has always shut down when someone says “Hay is for horses.” In my mind’s eye, I spelled out the homonyms: “hay” and “hey.” That’s when this poem was born.

(background image based on one by “12019” on Pixabay… with a little generative fill behind the horse)

Walking to the Banquet

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

ON THE PATH
This early morning poetography is too personal, too idiosyncratic to be GOOD. But, like the dream from which I just awoke, it is TRUE.

The elements don’t go together for anyone outside my head. But for me, they all belong. I know when and where I took the background photo: December 22, 2019, west shore of White Rock Lake. I know what I was thinking then: I was beginning to recognize my judgmentalism, how unreliable I am in whether people are attractive or repulsive to me.

I’m still learning my place on the trail. What I think of—or feel toward—people I encounter on our respective paths is not what’s ultimately important.

THUS, THE TITLE:
Wherever we go,
See ourselves as sent:
Not for our pleasure, but His.

#thebanquet #judgmentalism #blessing #theheartisdeceitful #jeremiah17v9 #poetography

What is Jesus Like?

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

As I near the end of my slow crawl through the Gospels, I’m asking myself, “How accurate and how full is my understanding of Jesus?” There are things we say about Jesus’ character based on brief accounts of his words and interactions. I believe they’re true, and I’m not discounting what the Spirit chose to record. But, to be honest, it isn’t an extensive record.

One could argue that the Apostles DID have an intense companionship with Jesus, and their later writings add to the picture. John assures us that “there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 ESV)

ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE
The inspiration for this poem is the idea that even as Jesus showed us what the Father is like, we show the world what Jesus is like.

Or do we?

#ambassadors #historicaljesus #john21v25 #imagodei #psalm1v3

(the background image is a mashup of some tree photo I grabbed somewhere, addition of a “bag,” and creative effects)

Zeff, Not Jeff

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I did actually meet a Zeff today. We talked about the origin of his name (Hebrew?), tools one can borrow at the library, and turning every lawn into a meadow. He didn’t seem to think I’m crazy, so maybe I have a new friend. Just don’t tell him about this limerick.

EDIT, 2/1/2024: Although I haven’t gone back and worked on this new friendship, I have since learned from someone else that the Zeff in question is a brilliant young man.

To Silence and Beyond

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

1 John 3:2 ESV

I apologize for this poem’s opacity. It expresses a growing recognition of the gap between my story-reading and God’s story-speaking. As I told a new friend yesterday, my questions increasingly outpace my conclusions. Hopefully, God is pleased with this.

(background photo: 6:59 am, Monday, September 19, 2016; ascending La Plata Peak)

#1john3v2 #weshallseehimasheis #babbling #tonguetied #poetography #laplatapeak

Other Names in Heaven

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I don’t know why I didn’t publish this back in April of last year. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and remember why (maybe somebody will point out how knuckle-headed I am). Jesus’ radical identification with man, especially in suffering, changes everything. I love our Older Brother.

By the way, the preacher I refer to in this poem is one from long, long ago.

#daniel #shadrach #meshach #abednego #jesus #suffering #godwithus

The Deposition

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I remember like it was yesterday (it was) when I realized that Nicodemus joined Joseph of Arimathea in removing Jesus’ body from the cross, preparing it for burial, and interring him. This historical event is referred to as “The Deposition,” and it has been the subject of significant paintings and sculptures.

Being simple-minded, I read “deposition,” and think of a legal case. This poem plays with that confusion.

GOSPEL ALLUSIONS

They replied, “Are you [i.e., Nicodemus] from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

John 7:52 ESV

Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.

John 19:39 ESV

CARAVAGGIO
See Caravaggio’s painting Deposition, and what is written about it at this site.
[TIP: when you get there, click the expand icon to see the whole image]

A PERSONAL RESPONSE
I can’t read the last stanza without tearing up. WE know what would happen within 72 hours. But Nicodemus didn’t. And neither do some of our friends.

#nicodemus #josephofarimathea #deposition #caravaggio #john7 #john19

Sabbatical

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I had a lot of this the last several years. And I’m better for it.

I suspect one reason God prescribed the Sabbath is so He can demonstrate HIS faithful provision. We tend to make it transactional: “Take this time off, and the reward is that you’ll be able to provide better for yourself by working harder and/more efficiently afterwards.” We say, “Here’s how I justify Sabbath….” I hear a murmur from the clouds: “They don’t get it yet!”

#surviving #pastors #anticipating #sabbatical

(background image by Roman Grac on Pixabay)

Missing Roofs

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

You can’t be good at everything.

My friend, David Lewis suggested that “The arch never occurred to them. So perhaps we can’t refer to anything built in their time as architecture.”

I checked a dictionary and then responded, “I’m a fan of creative etymology. That one almost sounds plausible.”

David allowed that “Almost” is closer than I usually get.”

I have clever friends. Hopefully they don’t realize how easily they could pull one over on me….

Fear of Moment’s Notice

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

WELCOME TO MY DIARY, 5/6/2023

Every time I post something like this, the algorithms pick it up and start feeding me articles and ads about “early signs of dementia.” WELL, THAT AIN’T IT!

A thoughtful friend consoled me: “Brad, while you can’t quote what you’ve learned, you DO work it into your thinking.”

AM I thinking? AM I honoring God with the mind He gave me?

AM I doing what I CAN do instead of wallowing in self-pity about what I cannot do?

Is there a chance I’ll find my limitations present a smooth and uncluttered path of progress?

Writing good poetry is a matter of making NEW connections, thinking afresh. Perhaps the thorn in my brain—my limited access to all I’ve learned—is a path to walk on, not a path to fear and avoid. As the clever preachers say, “Hmmm.”

(background image by Simon Mettler in Pixabay)

#limitations #welcomeeachrebuff #thatturnsearthssmoothnessrough #freshthinking #writingpoetry

Song of the God-Danglers

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

This morning, after I awoke, and long before I got out of bed, I began imagining a travel guide for people visiting my island. In this guide, I would introduce travelers to three groups of people they’re likely to encounter: God-deniers, God-fearers, and God-danglers.

You’ve probably never heard of God-danglers. These people may or may not utter the curse “God dangle it!” In fact, many of them would be far too proper for something so close to profanity. The term “God-dangler” originally* referred to people who wear a chain with some form of religious pendant. And—this is important—they wear it AS a talisman. In other words, they think of God as their magic charm.

But a pendant is close to the heart, and it’s important to understand that God isn’t really close to the heart of God-danglers. That’s when it occurred to me that God-danglers sometimes dangle swords at their sides. Swords, like talismans, are something people rely on to get their way.

So there you have the complete history of the term “God-danglers.” These are people who don’t technically DENY God. They also don’t really FEAR God. Rather, they see God as someone they’d better dangle along to insure they get their way while getting’s to be got.

_____________

*meaning five minutes into my flight of fancy

Orange, You Proud?

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

THE ICKINESS OF OTHERS’ SIN
I keep wondering what prompts moral outrage in society. Some of us fixate on outward forms of morality and conformance. We’re especially heavy on others whose sin holds no attraction to us. Is it deflection? “Don’t look at the greed and hatred in my heart. Look over there; notice that icky sinner. Concentrate on THAT sin!”

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Matthew 23:27‭-‬28 (NIV)

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS
I must credit my mother for pointing me to the virtue of thin-skinned, “imperfect” oranges. You couldn’t fool Billie Jean Hepp.

ALSO
I was talking with a friend about this issue of moral outrage, and a different explanation emerged. It goes like this: People don’t really care about changing mores as much as they pretend to themselves and others. What they DO care about is being loyal to “our side” and the assortment of values espoused by “our side.” If the “other side” starts saying that (let’s come up with something silly) “all good men wear beards,” then you can count on it that “our side” will all agree that beards are evil, and must be banned. This agreement to rage about something as beautiful and sensible as beards doesn’t make sense, and “our side” doesn’t ACTUALLY care about the issue. It’s just that we’re in an all-out war to preserve the privilege secured for us by “our side.” Every hill becomes a hill to die on. Tribalism is juvenile.

“Thinking out loud….” I continue exploring my theory that selfishness is a common underlying motive that ultimately explains most of the weird behavior explored above. It sure has explained a lot in my own life!

(background image by Coleur on Pixabay)

#whitewashedtombs #pharisees #beautifulontheoutside #matthew23vv27-28

Prosaic Parrot

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

“How do you like to be addressed,” I asked. “I’ve read enough to know three dozen ways.”

“Dance!” he said, “Or sing… with moves and melody no other child has ever brought, or even thought to bring.”

“Don’t you care for words?”

“They’re fine,” he said, “but only if you join those words in such a way as shows they’re what you really mean.”

“Lord…” I said.

“Lord!” he cut me short. “Why do you call me ‘Lord’? If that is what I really am to you, there are at least three dozen other things that mean as much to you and more.”

“Am I—could you say—what brings you pleasure?
Am I what you crave?
Am I, on your ev’ry map, the ‘X’ that marks out treasure?”

“Am I not
To you
What you
Have always been
To me?”

“Or do I merit only prose,
While you’re my poetry?”

— Brad Hepp, 5/19/2023

COMMENT
Wow. That turned a whole lot darker than I intended. I have been thinking about the huge spectrum of creativity available to us in worshiping God, and how little we bother to—or sometimes think we’re allowed to—employ. But the darkness of this poem may be deserved, as it turns out. Is mouthing “Hallelujah!” really a suitable stand-in for praise, or is it a bouquet of wilted flowers?

Full disclosure…. I wrote this poem after reviewing an older poem where I personified Beauty. I wondered then—as I often do—if people with a sense of propriety narrower than my own will judge me for using metaphors they don’t find in the Bible. Is Jesus rightly called “Beauty” incarnate? Am I free to create my own names for the Creator? I’ll probably insist on sanctified creativity to the day I die. In fact, I suspect it’s my special responsibility as a poet. For God the Poet’s sake, I should double down!

#singanewsong #prosaic #poetic #trueworship #ephesians2v10 #youarehispoetry

(background image by Hans on Pixabay)

Looking For The Real Lord’s Supper

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I serve two churches on Sunday mornings: a Bible church and an Anglican church. They both celebrate the Lord’s Supper each week. They do it differently. But in both cases, I think we must acknowledge—borrowing George MacDonald’s words—”the end of the Maker’s dream is not this.”

#1corinthians11v26 #proclaiminghisdeath #untilhecomes #revelation22v20 #iamcomingsoon #comelordjesus #communion #eucharist #lordstable #lordssupper #georgemacdonald

(background image by Bereana on Pixabay)

Dancing The News

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

This has come to be one of my favorite poems. Maybe that’s just because of the beautiful expression of the fellow in the background image. If you haven’t read Acts 3 in a while, do yourself a favor, and let your imagination play with the story we’re told there.

ACT ONE OF A TWO-ACT PLAY IN ACTS CHAPTER THREE
I’ve begun my crawl through Acts. In this morning’s passage, Luke mentions the look a lame man gives Peter and John, the look they give him in return, and the more attentive look they require of him. Is this and what follows a device to draw our attention to something Peter will tell the crowd? Who arranged this little two act play? Does the second act build on the first act? I suspect it does. We’ll have to take a closer look.

#beautifulgate #lamemandancing #acts3 #payattention #dancingnews #restoration #restored #raisedup

(background image by Dieu vath MAYOMA on Pixabay)

Culture Wars

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I love it when a poem gets shorter and shorter, ’til all that’s left is one sentence.

I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.

Psalms 27:4

(background image by Alp Cem on Pixabay)

#psalm27v4 #winsome #witness #seeingisbelieving #culturewars #insanity #poetography