November 9, 2019

Gray

Posted in Despondency, Light of the World, Prayer at 7:01 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

I’m weary of these clouds that will not rain,
That loom and doom to amplify my pain.
I long to feel the sun’s warmth on my face,
To glimpse the rays that turn the gray to grace.
Even the night is better than this hazy ache,
For darkness brings assurance of daybreak.
But where’s the promise that this fog will cease?
Where is the healing rain that brings release?
When clouds will not disperse, I must ascend
On wings of prayer my downcast soul to mend.
The throne of heaven brooks no shades of gray,
And plaintive souls are never turned away
From the presence of the Lamb in robes of white.
The Fount of Life, in whose light we see only light.

Copyright © 2019 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


Psalm 36:5-9 (KJV)

5 Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.
7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

November 18, 2018

Thanksgiving Frost

Posted in Hope, Liturgical Calendar, Suffering, The Great Physician, Trinity at 10:42 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

To see them now you would not realize
That in the longer days they were consumed
By green bathed in the tears of summer skies
And flowers bursting forth in fragrant bloom.
Then vibrant buds gave way to sumptuous fruit
That harvesters brought safely in for food
Before they turned the plants up by the root,
Abandoning the fields in quietness to brood.
But on November mornings cold and brown,
The fields yield harvest of a different kind:
As frigid air descends on fertile ground,
A cloud of glory blankets for a time
The naked fields forgotten and forlorn,
In witness of the life that they have worn.

Copyright © 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


The last half of my drive to work runs through a rural area with fields on both sides. Over the past ten years I have enjoyed the beauty of this land in each season. There is something holy about the fields after the harvest has been taken and the cold begins to settle in. Almost every morning they have breathed up a cloud of fog as though they are giving up the ghost.

 

November 12, 2018

The Great Physician

Posted in Hope, Liturgical Calendar, Suffering, The Great Physician, Trinity at 11:06 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

His healing touch had made a leper clean again.
He raised a servant with the power of His Word
And stilled a storm and cast out demons from two men.
Then driven from that place, forgiveness He conferred
Upon a paralytic and a publican.
Chastised for breaking bread with sinners He proclaimed
That mercy is God’s greatest gift to fallen man.
Then to his knees a troubled ruler fell unshamed
And heard the blessed news his child would live anew.
Meanwhile, a weary woman followed silently,
Half mad with fear yet holding onto hope that grew.
And though unclean, she pressed in close enough to see
His garment’s fringe, which she in eager faith took hold.
Dispelling fear, His words spoke healing manifold.

Copyright © 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


This poem loosely follows the narrative given in Matthew 8:1-9:22. The portion about the woman with the issue of blood was the Gospel reading for the 24th Sunday after Trinity, and although I wanted the main focus to be on that moment of healing that the woman experienced, I thought it was important to see what had led up to this event, which was multiple instances of healing, administered in various ways, as well as a demonstration of His control over His creation in the calming of the storm. In each case, Jesus gave the petitioner exactly what was needed. His healing power was not distributed through some magic hocus-pocus formula. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and His solutions were as varied as the problems.

But what was also varied were the responses to His grace. He had driven out demons, and for His trouble was driven out Himself. And though it was not recorded that this dear woman spoke a word, her grasping the tassel of Jesus’ prayer shawl spoke volumes of the faith she bore in the Christ who could heal when He would and as He would.

Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.

 

May 20, 2018

Gravity and Grace

Posted in Grace, Grief, Hope, Spiritual Warfare at 12:23 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Gravity is so ponderous some days
It rips the flesh down to the very bone.
Even the air is heavy with a scorching haze.
Till joy—and sometimes life itself— is overthrown.
The birds and butterflies have wings of lead;
Cut flowers wilt beneath the crushing weight
Of being in the presence of the dead
And sparring far too long with cruel fate.
But most days hope prevails despite the pain,
And shafts of light pierce through the murky gloom.
New fragrant buds are fed by gentle rain,
And with them happiness begins to bloom.
Grace resurrects the soul, releasing it to soar,
Undoing gravity and death forevermore.

Copyright © 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

March 27, 2018

The Seated Angel

Posted in Creation, Eastertide, Hope, Resurrection, Spiritual Warfare at 6:42 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

First light of dawn upon the first day of the week—
Twice begun but for the mourners doubly bleak,
The morning rumbled with a loud and dreadful roar,
An aftershock rekindled from three days before.

The women, bearing spices to anoint the dead,
Were startled by an angel and would soon have fled,
But then they heard the angel’s reassuring tone,
“Fear not, for I can tell you where your Lord has gone.”

The angel spoke no peace to Pilate’s soldier-guard,
Who fell as dead before the entrance they had barred
When heaven shook the earth to roll the stone away.
And then, his work complete, the angel sat in bright array.

Since time began he had stood ready to attend God’s will,
Yet never had he seen such woe as that on Calvary’s hill.
The conflict finished, his the glorious task of setting free
The Holy One who set sin’s prisoners at liberty.

And yet, the heavy stone could not have kept our Lord constrained,
But for our sake discarded linen cloths within the tomb remained.
The angel rolled away the stone so that the world could see
The empty tomb, for it revealed our Savior’s sovereignty.

Copyright © 2013, 2017, 2018 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


This poem is based on Matthew’s account of the resurrection, primarily on Matthew 28:1-7.  It is a comfort to dwell on Christ’s resurrection, for in His is the hope that we too will be resurrected. A few years ago when this passage was read during an Easter Eucharist service, I became fascinated by the idea of the angel sitting down. Angels are almost always depicted as standing, ready to do God’s will. The Scriptures do not mention such details unless they are important. In this poem I offer one possible explanation of the significance of that fact. “It is finished” resonated throughout creation on the day of resurrection, and we can hear it still.


This poem was started on 28 January 2013, and I thought it was complete at the time, but I’ve revised it twice now.


November 20, 2017

The Advent of the Law

Posted in Advent, Atonement, Bread of Life, Holy Spirit, Incarnation, Lamb of God, Moses, Redeemer, Sanctification, Son of God, Suffering Servant, The Eucharist tagged , , at 11:12 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

On Sinai, Moses held the perfect heart of God
Inscribed on two smooth stones to testify abroad
God’s Law, carved by His very finger on the stone,
Front and back, to fill them with His Word alone.
But stony human hearts can never perfect be,
And Adam’s ruined children yearned to be set free.
Who can deliver us from Death’s unyielding bands?
The Perfect Lamb with nail scars in His feet and hands,
Whose heart of flesh, pierced through by soldier’s cruel blade,
Poured forth sweet mercy even though He was betrayed.
His holy blood transforms our stony hearts to flesh,
His bread, His holy body, will our souls refresh.
The Advent of the Son of God new life imparts,
And His Spirit writes His law upon our hearts.

Copyright © 2017 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


So many scriptures are distilled in this poem; here are a few of the references:

Exodus 31:18

Exodus 32:15

1 Samuel 17:40

Ezekiel 36:25-27

Jeremiah 31:33

Hebrews 8:10

Hebrews 10:16

 

September 12, 2017

Joy in the Mourning

Posted in Grief at 6:50 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Sometimes my prayers become a cloak.
I clutch them close around my heart
So that the rain of tears won’t soak
The landscape where you worked your art.
And then at times they are a shield
Defending me from all who scorn
A love that cannot be concealed,
A soul that cannot help but mourn.
They are a helmet large and strong
To keep my memories in line.
For I must live where I belong,
Pursuing duties that are mine.
Through prayer I seek the loving face
Of God, the blessed Trinity,
Who through great loss has offered grace
To mourners, and has set us free.

Copyright © 2017 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


Dedicated to all who mourn this day, and praying that their hope will be renewed.

December 10, 2016

Even So

Posted in Advent, Faith, Hope, Incarnation, Light of the World, Redeemer, Son of God, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, Suffering Servant tagged at 9:20 am by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Our path meanders through a barren land
Where lowering clouds press in on every side,
With gales so swift that we can hardly stand,
Rain so pervasive that we cannot hide.
Then storms give way to scorching desert heat.
Now parched, we long for mists to calm our thirst
And seek a haven for our weary feet.
Yet though we journey through a land accursed
Despair is not our answer to this plight
For sure and certain hope steadies our gait.
Relentless gloom can never quench the Light.
Unyielding joy belies our sad estate
Because the Son of God who shared our pain
Will come again to heal our every bane.

Copyright © 2016 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


For Advent

November 26, 2016

Dirge at Dawn

Posted in death, Eastertide, Grief, Hope, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering at 6:20 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

I must sit beside the road a while and rest
For I am wearied by this constant fray.
Our warriors are on all sides sorely pressed,
And darkness threatens to devour the day.
Today’s news from the front has torn my heart:
Our leader has succumbed to wounds sustained
By every soldier when the Opposer’s art
Brought down the curse of death and God ordained
We would in enmity live out our days.
Yet from a distant shore a shout resounds
As our courageous leader joins the praise
Echoing in a mighty chorus that now drowns
The noise of battle and the cries of woe.
So I will rise betimes and fight anew
Since Christ has dealt to death a deadly blow
And will restore all things when time is due.

Copyright © 2016 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


This poem is fondly dedicated to the memory of The Most Reverend Royal U. Grote, Jr., a faithful shepherd of the flock who went home from the war on Thanksgiving Day. I have no doubt he heard the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

October 11, 2016

For Susan

Posted in Eastertide, Grief at 8:05 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

O Death, you coward cur, so brave you were
To crush a lovely bloom and try to seal her doom,
To break a porcelain doll and still her hands so small.
Her bright smile you eclipsed; you silenced gentle lips.
Frail creature she, but strong immeasurably
In joy and grace and peace, virtues that shall not cease;
In family and friends, in love that never ends.
Your meddling only served to grant the rest deserved
By one who labored long to make God’s Kingdom strong.
Her legacy outlasts your raging noisome blasts.
O Death, have you not learned you have been overturned?
The Savior’s majesty has set your captives free.
To Easter hope they cling, trusting their risen King
Whose victory is sure, whose promise is secure.

Copyright © 2016 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


 

Today I am in shock at the passing of a third dear friend this year, a dear Christian lady, wife of an Anglican priest, mother of seven, beloved child of a sovereign God. We attended church together for many years, raised our children together, swapped recipes, and encouraged each other in the faith. May our Lord comfort her family until they see her again.

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