Category Archives: Christian Poetry

John Donne on the Trinity

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This is only the first part of a litany by John Donne (my English major moment) that  deals with the trinity.

A LITANY.I.

THE FATHER.

FATHER of Heaven, and Him, by whom
It, and us for it, and all else for us,
Thou madest, and govern’st ever, come
And re-create me, now grown ruinous:
My heart is by dejection, clay,
And by self-murder, red.
From this red earth, O Father, purge away
All vicious tinctures, that new-fashioned
I may rise up from death, before I’m dead.

II.THE SON.

O Son of God, who, seeing two things,
Sin and Death, crept in, which were never made,
By bearing one, tried’st with what stings
The other could Thine heritage invade ;
O be Thou nail’d unto my heart,
And crucified again ;
Part not from it, though it from Thee would part,
But let it be by applying so Thy pain,
Drown’d in Thy blood, and in Thy passion slain.

III.

THE HOLY GHOST.

O Holy Ghost, whose temple I
Am, but of mud walls , and condensèd dust,
And being sacrilegiously
Half wasted with youth’s fires of pride and lust,
Must with new storms be weather-beat,
Double in my heart Thy flame,
Which let devout sad tears intend, and let—
Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim—
Fire, sacrifice, priest, altar be the same.

IV.

THE TRINITY.

O blessed glorious Trinity,
Bones to philosophy, but milk to faith,
Which, as wise serpents, diversely
Most slipperiness, yet most entanglings hath,
As you distinguish’d, undistinct,
By power, love, knowledge be,
Give me a such self different instinct,
Of these let all me elemented be,
Of power, to love, to know you unnumbered three.

Traveling Companions

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This is a poem I wrote years ago to my husband.  It’s my attempt to describe how two very different people become one in their shared journey through life.  It reminds me of this verse from Genesis: “Then the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 

 

Every love is a poem

        in a foreign language

     with two possible translations.

 

Every love is a story

        with two different authors

      narrating the same plot.

 

Every love is a work of art

        molded and perfected

     by two visions of beauty.

 

Every love is a song

       written in two keys

     sung with one voice.

 

Every love is a journey

      through two countries

  traveled together.

Every love begins and ends

With God

Who made us for one another.

And All God’s People Say Amen

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This poem was written for me by a dear friend on a very special weekend:  it was the Via De Cristo Women’s retreat that was held just a few days after 9/11.  I think it’s appropriate to our theme of change and also the Easter season.  Changes can be frightening and unsettling.  They don’t always seem to be good or even understandable;  but God is in control and He has the last word.  Many thanks to Martha Moore, the writer, who has also agreed to become one of the Lutheran lady bloggers.  I hope we’ll be hearing more from her.

In ancient times, at a horn’s blast

The walls of the city of Jericho

Shattered into shards,

And God’s people rejoiced.

In more recent times, in the hands of a jubilant mob

The wall dividing Berlin

Crumbled into rubble,

And God’s people rejoiced.

Today we are haunted by the vision

Of the disintegration of walls

Raining chaos on an incredulous earth,

And God’s people are weeping.

But we believe in the one who said,

“Destroy this temple and I will raise it up”—

The one who died to prove it,

Out of the dust we shall arise–

Out of the dust of our disasters, national and personal,

Out of the dust of our lost desires,

Out of the dust from which we were formed—-

Resurrection comes.  Amen.

Rebirth

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I came across a poem I would like to share by Keri K. Wehlander

We are the locked door,

the stone not rolled away.

You invite us to cross through waters, walk dry roads

look toward transformation in every wilderness.

You believe we can.

We want other gods, other commodities—

depth without the daily searching.

You offer us a simple table

and the words, follow me.

You believe we will.

We choose a meager vision,

hold tight to the catch of our nets,

You tell a story that asks,

Which one was the neighbor?

You believe we understand.

We are perplexed

when you appear in our untended gardens.

You say, peace,

to all our uncertainty.

You show that new life

comes with time, with practice,

and the sowing, however small,

of stubborn hope.

You believe we will grow.

Portrait of a Christian

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Not only in the words you say,
Not only in your deeds confessed.
But in the most unconscious way
Is Christ expressed.

Is it a beatific smile?
A holy light upon your brow?
Oh no, I felt His presence when
You laughed just now.

To me ‘twas not the truth you taught,
To you so clear to me so dim.
But when you came to me
You brought a sense of Him.

And from His light He beckons me,
And from your lips His love is shed.
Till I lose sight of you and see
The Christ instead.

by Beatrice Clelland

Your life is a witness to Christ?   Do others see Him in you?

 

 

Back to Back

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This is a poem I wrote years ago to describe how my busy, overactive brain works.  Maybe some of you will identify!

In front of my house is a busy street

Cars race by

Sometimes the drivers roll the windows down and loud music spills out.

They are all in a hurry to be somewhere else.

I fall asleep to the cacophonous lullaby of traffic

The world never stops.

Behind my house are cool, green trees

Birds sing

I wake early when dark and dawn touch lips in a lingering kiss

Behind my house is the sweet aroma of roses and lilacs

The sun is warm and there is time to rest.

In the front of my mind ideas explode like fireworks, dazzling, sparkling, too high and hot  to touch

tumbling over one another, antlike, impossible to catch and contain.

But in the back of my mind is a still, silent place

God.

 

Find the Fruit

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How many fruits of the spirit can you find in this poem by Martin Luther?

 

I.
‘Tis not too arduous an essay,
To tread resolved the gospel-way;
The sensual instinct to control,
And warm with purer fire the soul.
Nature may raise her fleshly strife,
Reluctant to the heavenly life;
Loath in a Saviour’s death to share,
Her daily cross compell’d to bear:
But grace omnipotent, at length,
Shall arm the saint with saving strength;
Through the sharp war with aids attend,
And his long conflict sweetly end.

II.
Act but the infant’s gentle part;
Give up to love thy willing heart:
No fondest parent’s melting breast
Yearns, like thy God’s, to make thee blest:
Taught its dear mother soon to know,
The tenderest babe his love can show;
Bid thy base servile fear retire,
This task no labour will require.

III.
The Sovereign Father, good, and kind,
Wants but to have his child resigned:
Wants but thy yielded heart (no more!)
With his large gifts of grace to store.
He to thy soul no anguish brings,
From thine own stubborn will it springs:
That foe but crucify, (thy bane!)
Nought shalt thou know of frowns or pain.

IV.
Shake from thy soul, o’erwhelmed, deprest,
The encumbering load that galls her rest;
That wastes her strength in bondage vain:—
With courage break the enslaving chain.
Let prayer exert its conquering power:
Cry in thy tempted trembling hour,
“My God, my Father! save thy son!”—
‘Tis heard, — and all thy fears are done.

V.
Yet if (more earnest plaints to raise)
Thy God a while his aid delays,
Though you don’t now his kind hand feel,
Thy grief let lenient patience heal.
Or if corruption’s strength prevail,
And oft thy pilgrim footsteps fail;
Pray for his grace with louder cries,
So shalt thou cleansed and stronger rise.

VI.
If hapy still thy mental shade,
Dark as the midnight gloom be made,
On the sure faithful arm divine
Firm let thy fastening trust recline.
The gentlest sire, the best of friends,
To thee nor loss nor harm intends:
Though tost on a tempestuous main,
No wreck thy vessel shall sustain.
Should there remain of rescuing grace
No glimpses, no footsteps left to trace;
Hear thy Lord’s voice: — ‘Tis Jesus’ will,
“Believe, thou poor dark pilgrim, still.”

VII.
Then thy sad night of terrors past,
(Though the dread season long may last,)
Sweet light shall, from the tranquil skies,
Like a fair dawn, before thee rise;
Then shall thy faith’s bright grounds appear,
Thine eyes shall view salvation clear.
Be hence encouraged more, when tried,
On the best Father to confide:
Ah! from thy mind extirpate quite
The sickly films that cloud her sight.
See! of how rich a lot, how blest,
The true believer stands possest!

VIII.
Come, backward soul! to God resign;
Peace, his best blessing, shall be thine:
Boldly recumbent on his care,
Cast thy felt burdens only there

A Poem About the Church

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Diary of a Church Mouse

Here among long-discarded cassocks,
Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks,
Here where the vicar never looks
I nibble through old service books.
Lean and alone I spend my days
Behind this Church of England baize.
I share my dark forgotten room
With two oil-lamps and half a broom.
The cleaner never bothers me,
So here I eat my frugal tea.
My bread is sawdust mixed with straw;
My jam is polish for the floor.
Christmas and Easter may be feasts
For congregations and for priests,
And so may Whitsun.
 All the same,
They do not fill my meagre frame.
For me the only feast at all
Is Autumn's Harvest Festival,
When I can satisfy my want
With ears of corn around the font.
I climb the eagle's brazen head
To burrow through a loaf of bread.
I scramble up the pulpit stair
And gnaw the marrows hanging there.
It is enjoyable to taste
These items ere they go to waste,
But how annoying when one finds
That other mice with pagan minds
Come into church my food to share
Who have no proper business there.
Two field mice who have no desire
To be baptized, invade the choir.
A large and most unfriendly rat
Comes in to see what we are at.
He says he thinks there is no God
And yet he comes .
.
.
 it's rather odd.
This year he stole a sheaf of wheat
(It screened our special preacher's seat),
And prosperous mice from fields away
Come in to hear our organ play,
And under cover of its notes
Ate through the altar's sheaf of oats.
A Low Church mouse, who thinks that I
Am too papistical, and High,
Yet somehow doesn't think it wrong
To munch through Harvest Evensong,
While I, who starve the whole year through,
Must share my food with rodents who
Except at this time of the year
Not once inside the church appear.
Within the human world I know
Such goings-on could not be so,
For human beings only do
What their religion tells them to.
They read the Bible every day
And always, night and morning, pray,
And just like me, the good church mouse,
Worship each week in God's own house,
But all the same it's strange to me
How very full the church can be
With people I don't see at all
Except at Harvest Festival.