April 7, 2012


Posted in Sanctification, Thankfulness, The Eucharist at 7:17 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Though God had said the rest would be enough,
Eve saw the tempting tree and ate.
Since then, the banished world has in its wilderness
Craved food that cannot satiate.
We ask, “Can God provide?” while looking past
His never-ending banquet store.
Though nothing good is kept from those He loves,
Our wanton appetites seek more.
So choosing husks instead of manna sweet,
We sift through garbage greedily.
While heaven rains its good and costly gifts,
We barter, yet the feast is free.
Preferring pottage to the perfect Lamb,
We seek the now and miss the great I AM.

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

The readings for Maundy Thursday inspired this poem. I’ve written much about the Fall of mankind, and specifically Eve’s part in it, but her act is only the beginning of a long line of ungrateful acts, whereby the fallen heart of man considers all that God has given and pronounces it “Not Enough.” The word rest in the first line deliberately squints. On the one hand, it means that everything else in Eden—all the rest—was freely given to mankind, yet it seemed not to be enough. But the other meaning of the word rest is also at play here. Although Adam and Eve were always intended to work, their initial state would have involved such profitable labor that it would have seemed to be rest when compared with the consequences of rebellion. For both Adam and Eve, God’s rest was traded for difficulty and pain. That is why Jesus offers rest for our souls, rest from sin and rest from sin’s effects.

But the actual reading that started the thought process for this poem was Psalm 78:17-25, which is a commentary on the days that the Israelites spent in the wilderness. God had provided everything they needed, including freedom, and He had done so in an amazing way. Yet their response was not gratitude but bad attitude:

And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they said, “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also?” (Psalm 78:19-20)

Audacity! And yet, if we admit it, that is our response to God’s gifts all too often. God shall supply all our needs, but we doubt His goodness. Like the prodigal son, we leave the father’s fold, where there is always enough, and we waste our days in riotous living. Like Esau, we trade our birthright for a bowl of stew. Because we refuse to be grateful for enough, we are the disturbers of our own peace. Paradoxically, we may seek lesser things forever, but if we seek outside Christ, whatever we find can never be enough. 

Can He give us bread enough? He gives us Himself. He is enough. I think I’ve said that before. It’s still true.

I try very hard to focus on the liturgy and sermon during worship, but when my mind is captivated by a word or phrase in the readings, I have to jot down enough of it to return to the thought later and finish it. As a result, my bulletins are sometimes very messy. So a few lines of this poem were written during the Maundy Thursday service, but the poem did not take its full form until about 6 a.m. on Good Friday. A blessed Eastertide to all.

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