January 21, 2013

Peace Offering

Posted in Bridegroom, Epiphany, Marriage, Sanctification, Thankfulness, The Church, The Eucharist, Water of Life at 12:12 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Long days ago when sacrifice made conflict cease,
The people brought a perfect offering to kill
And then consumed the sacred flesh and grain in peace.
Communing with both God and man, they ate their fill.

God to His holy people grace and mercy showed.
His goodness showered bounty unconfined
Where in the temple blood and water freely flowed
To purify them soul and body, heart and mind.

Long days ago stone water jars in Cana stood
In silent witness that the people must be purified.
The guests regaled themselves with wine and food,
Quite unaware the host would soon be mortified.

The news was grim: the wedding wine was failing fast,
And powerless, he sought in vain to find a remedy.
The old wine spent, the celebration could not last.
How could the bride forgive such insufficiency?

But then the Great I AM said “Let there be” again:
From stony jars, now purified themselves, flowed better wine.
The feast thus rescued, grateful bride and groom attain
Your better feast in latter days on which to dine.

For from the site of Your sufficient sacrifice
Water and wine now flow to cleanse our hearts of stone.
Our peace is made in You, whose death has paid the price.
The Better Groom supplies His feast from Heaven’s throne.

Copyright © 2013, 2022 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

The Gospel for The Third Sunday after Epiphany (or the Second after, depending on the lectionary that your parish follows) is the beautiful story from John 2 about the wedding in Cana. So much, so very much, is demonstrated in this miracle, but this time the concept that captivated me was that of better wine. I think we miss the point if we just see the surface truth that this wine was tastier than what had been served during the earlier part of the feast. It seems also to be a narrative demonstration of the concepts found in Hebrews 1, where we read that our Lord was better than the prophets and better than the angels. Purifying water flows in baptism, to replace the blood of circumcision, and the Eucharist of bread and wine supersede the Passover Lamb.

I also took some liberties by paralleling the wedding feast with the feast that would follow the Peace Offering. They are not the same thing, I know, but I think in both we see a beautiful picture of the Eucharist, where our peace with God and man is celebrated. Technically, the purpose of the Peace Offering was to invoke God’s blessing, but that could not happen unless Atonement had been made so that conflict would cease. In Christ, the Perfect Lamb, all the sacrifices are fulfilled and all their purposes achieved.

Started on The Second Sunday after The Epiphany, 2013, and completed the next day, 21 January 2013.

February 12, 2012

Weaker Vessel

Posted in Marriage at 2:07 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Call me thus if it reminds you
God did not intend for me to bear
All weight of world or church or marriage,
Full heat of battle, toil, and care.

But say it not if in so doing
You scorn my gifts and mock my mind.
For I who’ve labored long beside you
Should not be slighted or maligned.

Where weaker is, there must be stronger.
So gird yourself with Christ to meet the fight,
And in this battle with the world, beside me
Keep vigil, and defend me with His might.

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

I offer this poem as a counter-cultural challenge as we approach St. Valentine’s Day, a time at which the word love is plastered everywhere. But never was any word used so often with so little understanding. One reason the Church is ineffective in the spread of the Gospel is that the very basic teachings of I Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 5 and 6 are ignored in our lives. Too often, homes which should be inhabited by godly families are instead occupied by independent contractors who see family life as a zero-sum game and therefore compete with each other for attention, wealth, and authority. No one wants to do the hard work of dying to self in order to do the will of God, or the necessary work of treasuring others more than self.

To paraphrase Mark 8:36, what does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your family? Love—true love, godly love—understands the nature of the battle and is willing to do what it takes to obey God, who is Love. When we are obedient to Him, we lose only that which should be lost.

Life is destined to be a battle. The wise man or woman recognizes that if we spend all our time fighting each other or failing to show each other proper honor, we will lose the important battle: the life-and-death struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. How much energy we waste on frivolous things, all the while losing sight of eternity! May God help us. More important, may God help all children who must grow up in such a battlefield.

The original version of this poem was written on 4 June 2002. This revision, completed 7 July 2007, removed reference to a concept to which I no longer subscribe. The choice of words, a turn of phrase, may be so close to the truth that it seems acceptable, yet carry the seeds of destruction. Sometimes the worst lies are couched in noble-sounding words. That is why we must be ever vigilant.

%d bloggers like this: