August 31, 2011

Daily Bread and Kingdom Come

Posted in Egypt, Incarnation, Kingdom, Laetare, Lent, Original Sin, The Eucharist at 6:34 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Their fathers had craved bread from Egypt’s store
And spurned the manna sent from God above.
Now seeing wine from water vessels pour,
Sons thronged to hear the words of Light and Love.

Since they had stayed till setting of the sun,
He had compassion on their hungry souls.
The Bread of Heaven fed them everyone
With one child’s meal of fish and barley loaves.

He fed them without money, without price,
As with the barley gleaned by faithful Ruth.
He, the better Boaz, made the sacrifice,
Revealed Himself as Way and Life and Truth.

By rolling back the stone of sin, providing
Bread and wine not earned by sweat of brow,
He shows us that in Him abiding
We can glean His Kingdom blessings now.

Copyright © 2011 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

One of my favorite themes is the Eucharist, and having all of the bread themes in the Scriptures pointing to the Bread in some way makes for a broad palette for poetic images. Part of the curse that Adam endured was having to toil for bread by the sweat of his brow, but Isaiah 55:1-3 tells of a time of effortless bread, provided through the “sure mercies of David.” The bumpy ride that the Israelites gave Moses throughout the Exodus is replayed by the finicky followers who clung to the Lord Jesus for as long as He was providing bread and miracles. But in that one child who offered up his food, we see other children (whose faith we should emulate), including Isaac on the altar briefly, Moses in the river briefly, and ultimately the Child who served up the Bread of life even as early as the age of 12 as He stood teaching the teachers in the temple.

Also mentioned is the beautiful love story between Ruth and Boaz, which mirrors the relationship between Christ and the Church. Boaz provided food for Ruth and then stepped forward to become her kinsman redeemer. All of these ideas are bound together in the poem’s final verse, which proposes the Resurrection as the final resolution of the Adamic curse. The poem ends with a reminder that we may abide in Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit (John 15) who connects us to God’s Kingdom here and now. The word glean brings back the image of Ruth, the Church fed by her Boaz until the final redemption is complete. The poem’s title binds all of these ideas in the cord of the Lord’s Prayer, where we ask for daily bread (and daily Bread) and that the will of God be done as perfectly on earth as it is in Heaven. It is only God who can make that happen, which is why the words are given as a prayer and not a commision to us, but we have the holy invitation to participate in the work of accomplishing God’s purpose on earth. May God grant us grace to trust in the work of Bread and Spirit and Father, giving thanks daily that we have been invited to be part of the heavenly Family. The Eucharist is our down payment for better communion to come, when we see Him face to face.

I don’t have much personal background for this poem, other than some dates. It was completed 30 June 2007 and edited 16 February 16 2008. That last date would have been a few weeks after my son’s death, and the one thing I do know is that after we buried him, I buried myself in the Word and in contemplation on the things of this life that have eternal value. For those who know the Bread, there is confidence that we will be fed then as now, and always perfectly. Otherwise, the loss of a dear one would be unbearable.

When I posted the poem, I changed one word in the last verse. It had originally read “rolling back the curse of sin,” but I wanted to reinforce the image of resurrection, so curse became stone.

August 22, 2011

A Mother’s Lament

Posted in Egypt tagged at 9:57 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

I will arise and flee this curséd land
Before my precious firstborn, dying, screams.
I should have run away when bloody streams
Slew fish, and rivers reeked on every hand.

If swarms of frogs and flies and biting lice
Could move me not, then sick and dying beast
Or painful, noisome boils must, at the least,
Stir up desires to end this foolish vice

Of spurning God’s relentless mercy sweet.
But still I watched the hail and locusts fall
Until the dark obliterated all
So that we dared not go into the street.

All this, and yet when time had come to go,
My mutinous feet were firmly fixed in place.
And I, rejecting God’s redeeming grace,
Was baptized in distress too deep to know.

Copyright © 2011 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Beginning in Exodus 10:1 the story unfolds of how God the Almighty One brought His people out of Egypt. It is sobering to realize that the bitter conflict between Moses and Pharaoh is really a battle between God and Satan. What we see may be illnesses and pestilence and unnatural disasters, but it is really spiritual warfare, and the same thing is true in our own lives. This account from Exodus makes it evident that decisions made by leaders, either at a national, local, parish, or home level will have lasting effects in the lives of those people over whom they have authority. Although Pharaoh was the one who openly defied God, the plagues affected all of his people, and the final death blow struck the firstborn in every household that was not covered by the blood.

This poem is written from the standpoint of an Egyptian mother who has watched God’s wrath unleashed multiple times due to the stubbornness of Pharaoh’s heart, yet she has done nothing to protect her children or herself. Although the poem specifically mentions the events in the book Exodus, it has applications in many other situations. Whatever else is happening in our lives, whatever choices that our leaders or others around us may make, we must set our hearts on obedience to God, and we must look to His mercy for protection.

This poem was first drafted on August 17, 2002, just a few days before the ending of a very sad chapter in my life.

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