Living Covenant Theology – A Poem

This year, my parents, David and Jerri Faris, celebrate forty years of marriage in the Lord. Though their anniversary is October 22, the only time all of their eight children would together this year was this last week at the Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery family conference, Covfamikoi. Our parents worship and serve in the Lafayette, Indiana RPC. The eight children, their spouses, and twenty-one grandchildren are spread over seven RP churches, two presbyteries, and in the Sudanese mission, Cush4Christ.

Together, we children hastily composed the following poetic tribute to our parents which was read at the conference talent night. The poem celebrates God’s grace in their marriage, his grace to their descendants, and his grace  in their service in congregations in Lafayette, Bloomington, and Kokomo, Indiana. God’s covenant love has been poured on us richly through our parents, and we are grateful.

T’was forty years ago,
David and Jerri came to know,
True love in Beaver Falls,
Strolling Geneva’s hallowed halls,

The pastor was Jack White;
Many witnessed the glorious sight.
They moved to Lafayette.
Think this story’s done? No, not yet!

Cariann was born first,
But that only began the burst.
James, the Ruth did arrive;
The marriage then ten years alive.

In Bloomington three years,
Then back to Lafayette drew near.
Daniel came number four.
A vision born for Sycamore.

Esther next joined the mix,
‘Fore Anna came as number six.
Then Flo came really quick,
The first on the banks O Deer Crick.

Two decades then had passed,
But would Flo really be the last?

No, decade three began,
Without a need to sell the van.
Orlena’s birth was great;
David and Jerri had their eight.

At the end of the road?
Well, next the list of names explodes.
Elizabeth came in;
Ellie and David also kin.

Mir’am, and Cargill too;
William, Cam’ron, yes these were new.
Sergei then eighteen made
To celebrate the third decade.

Now on to decade four.
See, Timothy would add one more.
Nadia brought great joy;
First one of five without a boy.

Lydia, Megan too;
Natalie, Maja – yet so few…
John and Samu’l – some boys!
Caleb, Daniel, Liam – more noise!

But wait, there’s Zachary!
Add still more branches to the tree.
For Katherine make room;
And twin Elizabeth came soon.

Julia came alone;
One more set of twins would be known.
Joel and Suzanne are here;
For good measure Flo has one near.

Now ending decade four,
And life will never be a bore.
From two they multiplied,
To thirty-six, the new high tide.

You showed us our one hope,
Christ; that in darkness we’d not grope.
You also loved his bride,
And taught us with her to abide.

We rise and call you blessed.
In human terms you are the best.
May God get the glory!
For this is one awesome story.

Here at Covfamikoi,
We gather all and shout for joy,
For God has shown his grace –
The only cause we’re in this place.

His covenant is true.
To celebrate what will we do?
But cast our lives on grace;
And Jesus’ church we will embrace.


  1. Brad Johnston July 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Way to go, James! Your family is a living example of the INTERGENERATIONAL nature of God’s Covenant of Grace.

  2. Barry York July 26, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Miriam and I rejoice with you all in God’s goodness to your family, which the Lord has used in wonderful ways in our own lives. It should also be mentioned how great it was your dad came to Covfamikoi, and that the poem was sealed with him kissing your mom.

    Given you mentioned Deer Creek in your poem, I thought you’d be interested to see the work of another Indiana poet named James, James Whitcomb Riley. I saw in Steve Rhoda’s newsletter this reference to “On the Banks O’ Deer Crick” –

    Yes, you have to put up with a bit of a low Sabbath view and interesting allusion to Scripture, but the Hoosier twang, mention of Sycamore trees, and the classic line below are worth the read:

    Well–I never seen the ocean ner I never seen the sea:
    On the banks o’ Deer Crick’s grand enough fer me!

  3. James Faris July 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Brad, Barry, thanks for your comments. James Whitcomb Riley used to sit on the banks of Deer Creek just a couple of miles downstream from my parents; he composed many of his works there, including that one. My sister Cariann used that poem in her speech that won the Indiana Soil and Water Conservation High School speech contest.

  4. Barry York July 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    James, that’s fun to know of Riley. Please pardon my commenting without thinking it through that you all with your love of history would of course know of him. My apologies!

    I was not familiar with him until I picked up a collection of his poems a year or two ago and had some great laughs. But I had not seen the Deer Crick one until today.

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