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Archive | Poetry

But I Do, Dad

You are often there, in the edges of my dreams. Quiet. Not speaking. 

Not like you were in life. Working, hunting, fishing, fixing – always using your hands. And always, always a story to tell or a tease to offer. You were unable to suppress the grin, the crow’s feet forming around smiling, brown eyes. Yet there, in hazy dreams, you are silent, just watching. A presence. The others do not see you. 

But I do. 

When the sun rises and I’m off into my day, the dreams dissipate like the morning mist. Then, softly and quickly, wispy memories bring you back. As in my dreams, you are there. Quiet. No one sees you. 

But I do.

When my son, who never knew or saw you, moves his hands like you did when he tells a story. When I see the flashing, dark eyes and hear the big laugh of my daughter. When I use a tool, then clean it and put it back in its place like you told me to do a thousand times. When I open that wooden box Uncle Pete made and see your initials on the blade of your knife. When men speak of leading and I remember the kind way that you […]

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Are you giving thought to words you might speak at your Thanksgiving Day table or worship service? Whether you are the host of the meal for the extended family, a head of the household, or a ministry leader, you’ll have the opportunity to take a few moments to lead the family in some reflection of gratitude.

Over the years here at Gentle Reformation, we’ve written a few article on the topic of thanksgiving. Around this time of year, we hear from people looking to our archives to help prepare thoughts. We’ll surely keep writing more, but here are links to posts of Thanksgivings past. They might give you ideas of themes to emphasize as you lead those under your charge.

Biblical Themes:

Growing in Jesus on Thanksgiving Day explores how Psalms of thanks stimulate growth in our souls, and Eight Themes in Thanksgiving pulls more themes of praise from the Psalter.

Seven Themes in Thanksgiving in the New Testament explores exactly that.

Historical Themes:

A seventeenth Century prayer of thanks following deliverance or prayers of thanksgiving from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer will lead your hearts to the throne of God like they did for saints of old.

A Thanksgiving Day Proclamation from 1777 or a Thanksgiving Day […]

O Little Nuthatch

O little nuthatch,
From whence comes your name?
Did you look a little crazed
When from the shell you came?

O little nuthatch,
Can you explain this to me?
How does your gray disappear
On the trunk of my oak tree?

O little nuthatch,
Why eat upside down?
Would not swallowing be easier
If you simply turned around?

O little nuthatch,
What is with your song?
Are your really laughing
With those scratchy notes all wrong?

O little nuthatch,
Why do you despise a duet?
Can you really be so fierce
To chase a jay from the suet?

O little nuthatch,
Have you guessed by now?
You bring a smile to me
As to your Maker I bow.

Then You, My Love

Today my wife and I celebrate thirty years of wedded love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If love must be awakened
     Then you, My Love,
Stirred mine the day
I first set eyes upon you.
An ardor unceasing,
Unrelenting,
Never to be quiet again.

If love is a banner to be raised
     Then you, My Love,
Have me waving ours gladly,
Shouting from the peaks,
Telling the whole world
Simply
You are the one
Whom my soul loves.

If love is better than wine
     Then you, My Love,
Are fresher than a rosé,
More elegant than a Bordeaux,
Smoother than Chardonnay. 
How delightful you are!

If many waters cannot quench love
     Then you, My Love,
Can be assured that
Rivers of tears
Or trials that may flood us
May sweep all away,
But they will never conquer
This passion for you.

If love no greater is a life laid down
     Then for you, My Love,
I am
An offering pledged,
Willingly, solely
Vowed unto you.
To love until death,
To die loving you,
To cherish you until
The only enemy able
To end these anniversaries
Makes us part.

Yet, O yet,
Remember this, My Love.

If love is stronger than death –
And it is, My Love, it is –
     Then you, My Love,
Need to know our foe’s reminders –
The scars you bear,
The wrinkles you see,
The […]

Love (III) by George Herbert

In posting about the darkness of our age earlier this morning, I thought I would share the poem below.  In a class I am in being taught by Dr. Dennis Johnson, he read aloud this poem with tears. One help in reading these verses is each time you see Love to substitute in the name of Jesus. Truly Love will conquer all.

Source: George Herbert and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets  (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1978)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
                              Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
                             Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look […]

Two Dates My Epitaph

Corrupted from the womb,
Consigned to damning tomb –
Two dates my epitaph.
Soon chiseled upon stone,
Story of my life.

Yet He came forth!
First a babe 
From virgin womb,
Then a man
From virgin tomb.

A babe delivered,
By mother’s anguish,
Grew to receive 
Sin’s imputation
And the death it brings.

A man raised,
By Spirit’s power,
Now victorious
Over sin’s invasion
And death’s vain sting.

So now I,
United to Him,
Have two dates my epitaph
As my life’s story
No more.

A Garden Afar

Over vales and fields,

lies a garden afar.

The beauty of its three flowers

call to me.

So I travel winding road 

for a day to gaze upon,

to joy in,

and to learn from them.

~~~~~

The first, a bright crocus, 

puts springtime delight 

in a heart shivering over 

her wintry surroundings.

As I bow to smell 

her playful fragrance,

and feel chubby, little petals against my cheek,

I wonder how one so small

– and too far away –

can put such great love

in a grandfather’s heart?

~~~~~

My next flower is a bold tulip –

how colorful, grace-filled, and statuesque she stands!

The snows melt away

before her charming aroma,

her radiant joy,

and the musical glory of springtime

she sends forth heavenward.

The father longs for the times

his tulip was in garden near;

yet gives thanks that Another

cares for her so well.

~~~~~

The last flower, a fading red rose,

has drooping head

and slowly dropping petals.

The cruel winter

has been so […]

The Trinity Hymnbook (Part 3)

In the first post in this three part series, we looked at how the Psalms, authored by our Triune God, contain many references and allusions to the Trinity. In the Psalms, often we are reading and singing of the Father, Son, and Spirit without perhaps the awareness we should have.

With the second installment, we saw how these songs were prepared especially for Jesus Christ by the Father to guide and comfort him in his atoning ministry as our Mediator.  Then, as we live in union with Christ, the Psalms lead us, as David Murray says in his work Jesus on Every Page, to sing of, in, and with Jesus.

In this final segment, we’ll consider seven of the ways the seven-fold Spirit of God is found in the Psalter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Spirit’s authorship is apparent.

We know that all of Scripture is “inspired by God” (II Timothy 3:16) or, as is closer to the original meaning, “God-breathed.” The Bible contains the breathed-out words of God through his Spirit.  In all of Scripture men were moved by the Holy Spirit to give us the very thoughts of God (II Peter 1:20-21).

As one of the thirty-nine Old Testament books, clearly the Psalms […]

Drops of Nectar

At summer’s end, at perfect time,

   Hosta shoots reach up high;

As the purple cups, hanging down,

   Beckon those flying by.

 

With whirring wings and slender beak,

   Colors catching the sun,

Humming birds feast as they hover,

   Always amazing one.

 

Yet on this day, the lumbering

   Of those inside the cup,

Fumbling, tumbling, the bumblebees

  Rouse this watching one up.

 

For while drinking drops of nectar

   Prepared in flower’d jar,

The bees, unknowingly, bear gold,

   Life that’s spread near and far.

   

 So too we receive His blessings

     Not seeing as we taste, 

Others touched as we’re becoming

    The vessels of His grace.

 

The Pilgrim’s Psalter

Within the Book of Psalms, certain collections or groupings of thematic psalms can be found.  One of the most easily identifiable is the fifteen psalms known as the Song of Ascents, Psalms 120-134.  As you can see in your Bible, each of these psalms has translated the title “A Song of Ascent” above it, as this title is actually the first verse of each psalm in the Hebrew manuscript.  They were given this name because they were sung as the Jewish people journeyed up to Jerusalem during their three annual feasts.  One could title this collection The Pilgrim’s Psalter.

That these psalms chronicle and encourage the Christian’s journey in this world was first brought to my attention by Pastor Paul Faris.  Paul was a long-term minister in the RPCNA, grandfather of Gentle Reformation author James Faris, and one who served with me and mentored me in my early years of church planting.  This faithful pilgrim finished his course in this world and is now enjoying the fullness of the lessons he taught me and others below.

Paul saw the Song of Ascents as capturing three stages of our spiritual journey.  We first begin our walk with God by leaving evil behind (Beginning), make progress in […]