Morning Star

This poem took some time and comes from my recent season of walking through grief to new hope, which I have written about here and here.

A word about the imagery: For those familiar with the Bible, you should know the morning star depicted in this poem is not necessarily Jesus. Instead, it is something that comes to us in our lives that reflects God’s providence.

Scientifically, a morning star is usually the planet Venus, which literally is reflecting the light of the sun which is about to rise. So the morning star here is the thing in our lives that represents a promise God has given to us, and also the fingerprints of God throughout our lives which reflect a Kingdom “whose increase has no end” like the morning daylight.

But in a sense God’s fingerprints are not mere reflections; they are first fruits, representing the fact that the veil between us and God, and Heaven and Earth, is now torn asunder, and we are now (not one day) partakers of the divine.

P.S. I am in Ireland at the present moment. Pictures to follow 🙂


Morning Star

In the early hours after a dark night
while blackness still clung to silhouettes
and I could still see my breath
I saw it from afar

just above the horizon glistening,
with all the silent morning listening,
with hope the newborn daylight christening:
A bright and morning star.

My heart stirred
and whatever loss of light
had accompanied those darkest hours of night
Was lost upon that heavenly body before me, burning bright.

But knowing well how lines get blurred
in the early hours of twilight
where thin is the celestial veil
and ordinary things take on divine reflection

And the night upon my heart still clinging
in those early hours of dawn,
with all the hope that solitary star was bringing
I feared I could not go on.

But then that lonely wanderer on its course
with one small glimmer showed me it derived its source
not from itself but from a greater Light reflected:
One veiled by momentary night, now being resurrected.

And so I watched in silent admiration
among the shadows around me already shifting
my twilight companion toward its final destination
declare an end to darkness already lifting . . .

O soul: No matter what dark night
or place or thing has momentarily eclipsed the light
of His unconquerable grace,
or whatever tomb now hides His face

Know that nothing can keep the break of day
from those belonging to the One who’s rolled the stone away:
We who dwelled in darkness now walk in the light of new birth
in Him who’s torn the celestial veil, bringing Heaven to Earth,

Whose blood and body cover
in a victory that’s already won:
Your life is far from over.

No, it’s just begun.


Photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash

The Women of Bethel Music

In the past several weeks I have found myself listening to a myriad of worship songs. In the process, those that have been most meaningful (life-changing actually) have come from Bethel Music.

And of those, interestingly enough, nearly all were songs with —as the movie industry likes to say — strong female roles. That is, the lead vocalist and worship leader was a woman.

Now I am in many ways rather orthodox in my view of men and women compared to what passes as modern views on gender roles. Put simply, I believe men and women are different, and they are created different. And that difference is, for lack of better words, by design and beautiful.

But I also believe women were created to lead. They simply lead differently. That is, when they enter the world of society (be it corporate America, church or otherwise), they do not lose their uniqueness.

By saying this of course I have touched upon the primal fear of our modern culture. We are really afraid if we recognize any differences between men and women, it will be used by men as basis for oppressing women. And so what we find is a desperation to claim, and portray, women to be just like men, and men just like women.

But uniqueness does not mean oppression. I hope we can slow down our modern brains long enough to recognize this. That is to say, women were not uniquely created by God to be oppressed, nor were they created to be men; they were uniquely created by God to be the full and complete expression of who they are.

I mention all this because in the modern climate of debate over women leadership, what has arisen within the revival church culture especially in the area of worship is a strong presence of women leading with the full expression of who they are. And to be honest, I am not sure any man could lead as they have led. And their contribution in this area has had a tremendous impact upon me personally in this season, so this is my tribute.

The Women of Bethel Music

I think of Gretzinger
Carrying the presence more than anyone can handle
Lit up like a Roman candle
Reckless as the love of God
Tearing God knows what darkened worlds apart
to take us deep into the Father’s heart

Or Helser, declaring a child of God
Am I: No longer slaves,
With an audacity — like Cooke — with David to go
Out beyond the shores into the tossing waves

Or Dimarco, who can tell
us there is a love hidden deep inside waiting
to be set free, a hope realized
And through it all to trust and let go
for they still know His name: The wind and waves
And no matter what my present situation: It is well.

And then there is Walker-Smith who reminds
Me how jealous God is for me:
His love like a hurricane, and all my regrets a tree
Which loomed so large but suddenly finds
No more root, cast into a drowning sea.

And McMillan — who among this lineup should
be included — who says You are good, good, good
Like a steady battering ram unending
Reminding us that when the night is holding on,
God is holding on harder still: All my fears rescinding

And Jobe, and Heiligenthal, and so, so many more,
Not least of which Johnson, who from the beginning
Her voice piercing the darkness like a punch to the gut
and for at least ten thousand reasons more —

I thank you. For through it all,
With uncompromising violent voice and song,
You have led us, led us, led us all:
Led us all along.


Photo by Courtney Clayton on Unsplash

 

Reunion

 

I had the privilege of attending a family reunion last week. It was over-the-top good, which is not always easy to say about family reunions.

Below is a poem I crafted to commemorate the event. A few words about it: Since this was Catherine’s side of the family, I believe it is safe to say the backdrop of the event for everyone was the processing of sorrow for her absence and our loss. Continue reading “Reunion”

The Shepherd’s Report on Christmas Night

‘Twas the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen:
The most brilliant light shining bright
Upon white snow and evergreen
As we made our way through an endless pastoral night.

Honestly, I could not tell
(This is no joke) when those angelic praises broke
Whether I’d be caught up to Heaven
Or be sent straight to hell.

But then that celestial figure spoke
And all my fears did quell.

It was like a dream
Or no, like from a dream we did awaken.
The very core of who we were was shaken
And all our judgments not as they now seem.

Like stepping into full color from monochrome —
A realm of blues and greens and reds and vibrant gold,
Ripe with things that have all been foretold,
Unearthly place that we now call our home.

But what about you? Certainly you
Have seen the starlight creeping underneath the door
And in your doubt have known there must be more
And sensed that is was for you, too?

This season know, whether you to fire-lit settings are led (or driven)
Or wander endless pastoral nights forlorn
To us this day a Son has now been given,
To us this very night a child is born.

 


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Memorial

Dear Readers: My sister passed away unexpectedly this past week, so my series on Christian Spirituality this week is on hold. Below, a poem dedicated to my dear sis.

The Memorial

Here we are gathered together
Drawn by unyielding persuasion
Our hearts and our thoughts are united
Before this unwanted occasion

Unfolding like a movie scene
(We take our places with our parts)
In a tragedy which is our lives
Playing out upon our hearts

— At least, that is how it might seem.
But for my part, I rest my head
And close my eyes and dream . . .

I see you just beyond the veil
Burning bright with that same light that
In this life darkness tried hide —
But to no avail.

And there is by your side someone
Whose life we thought had also come
To an end much too soon. But now
I see, in truth, had just begun.

She’s laughing. And with a laugh that
Pierces heaven, causes God to
Miss a beat. And I can tell that
With each laugh she signals Death’s defeat.

And just beyond you stands another
Grinning with that unmistakable grin.
I know (even now) he has been up to something:
His countenance betrays where he has been.

He’s traveled to a thousand distant shorelines,
He’s tasted of adventure high and low.
And in that land beyond this present darkness
There was no place forbidden him to go.

His time lost here has not been lost; even
The cloud could not contain his deeds and word.
His name is known among the courts of Heaven
In places here the foolish call absurd.

“Dear brother, do not weep or mourn,
For those of us whose lives have been reborn.
Mourn rather in that place we all must leave
Who find themselves unable to believe.

“For in an instant — in the twinkling of an eye
The mortal things you know will never die
And every secret lose its hiding place
Before the judgment of His boundless grace.”

. . . Take heart, young child, and do not fear.
Tragedy is but a thing in darkness unexplained
In a place where understanding is constrained.
But things look much, much different from up here.