Mary

Merry Christmas! And a big Thank You to all of you who have followed me throughout my Advent journey,and if you are new here, welcome!

I must confess that I really struggled with the following poem compared to the previous four poems of my Advent series.  I finally wrote a draft yesterday that I decided to share, but wasn’t quite satisfied with it…and then I woke up this morning with an idea that I think worked better.  I have decided to share both versions of the poem with you

~~

Earlier version:

God’s holy angel came to visit you
and said that you were favoured by the Lord
perhaps you wondered how it could be true
that you would bring to flesh the Living Word

You asked the angel, “how can this all be,
for as a virgin how can I conceive?”
“For God Himself will place in you His seed”
the angel said. And Mary, you believed!

Although you knew you were of David’s line
of late, no kings had sat upon the throne
your child, though, would be a King Divine!
and through your son God’s mercy would be shown

You said, “through me let God’s plan be unfurled
and so you bore the Saviour of the world!

Final version:

A messenger from God came down to you
and said that you would bear an infant son
this news: how could it possibly be true?
for you were not yet wed to anyone

what will the people think? you might have thought
an unwed woman pregnant with a child!
you might have answered him, “no, I cannot.
Would not my reputation be defiled?”

you might have thought of him you were to wed
he’d have the right to cast you from his life
and so you could have turned away and said
“I cannot risk not being Joseph’s wife”

Instead you said, “I’ll be God’s servant girl”
and so you bore the Saviour of the world!

~~

First poem based primarily on Luke 1:26-38.  Reference to Jesus as the “Living Word” based on John 1:1-18.

Second poem was also based on Luke 1:26-38, as well as my own speculations about some of the things that Mary might have thought about when the angel Gabriel came to visit her.

Advertisements

Bathsheba

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent, so here is my 4th Advent poem based on women listed in the genealogy of Jesus (as listed in Matthew 1)

~~

When pharisees brought that woman to Christ
and said that adultery was her crime
did he think of you, then write in the dust
“please consider Bathsheba. Take your time”?

you sinned with a “man after God’s own heart”
even though you were another man’s wife
on that day, morally, you both fell short
the law was clear: you should both lose your life

You lost your son, David lost even more
So in humility, you sought God’s face
Your crime had consequences, to be sure
but greater than punishment was God’s grace

When he saw that woman in her distress
Did Jesus think of you: his ancestress?

~~

Scripture does not record how Bathsheba reacted after her affair with King David.  I like to think that her response would have been confession and repentance just like David’s had been. Of course, one must wonder what choice she even had in her affair with the King.  When the king summoned her to his bed-chamber, did she have the option (or did she even think that she might have the option) of declining?

In this poem, I have also made reference to the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus to test him.  In this story, no mention is made of the man who must have also been caught in the act: a clear double-standard on the part of the pharisees. One must wonder in both of these stories if the woman was at least slightly less guilty than the man?  Scripture does not tell us what Jesus wrote in the dust.  My suggestion that he wrote about Bathsheba is probably not accurate…but who knows?

To read the original stories:
Bathsheba’s story can be found in 2 Samuel 11:1-12:25
The story of the “woman caught in adultery” can be found in John 8:1-11

Ruth

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, and so here is my 3rd sonnet dedicated to the women listed in Jesus genealogy as recorded in Matthew 1.  Today’s poem is dedicated to Ruth.

You would have been safe in your father’s house
In your brothers’ home, they’d have cared for you
But you followed the mom of your late spouse
Though your prospects in this new land were few

Without thought of your self, you chose to care
for one who had lost her husband and boys
giving up your comfort, you planned to share
Naomi’s many sorrows…and few joys

Then God surprised you with the love of one
who’d care for you and Naomi. And then
The Lord gave you and Boaz your own son
God took your grief, and gave you joy again!

you gave up your self for another’s best
but in that giving, you found yourself blessed!

For the full context of this poem, you might want to read the book of Ruth (it’s only 4 short chapters, so don’t be daunted by the word “book”)

In the notes on my first Advent poem, I described the concept of a “kinsman redeemer”.  This is what Boaz was for Ruth.  This goes much further than simply a man doing a duty for a deceased relative, but this is a true love story!  Naomi (Ruth’s mother-in-law) had lost her husband and sons, and was too old to have any more children to take care of her in her old age.  Ruth had lost her husband before having children, and so she had no-one to care for her.  Instead of worrying about herself, she chose to follow Naomi in order to take care of her!  She did this by “gleaning” in a field.  By God’s providence, she ended up in the field of the kind Boaz.

Speaking of “gleaning” – Jewish law stated that when workers were harvesting a crop, they were not to go over the field a second time (in case they had missed anything), and they were not to harvest all the way to the edges of the field.  This “left-over” crop was intended to provide for widows and orphans.  Boaz not only followed this law, but when he saw Ruth, he instructed his harvesters to leave even more behind than required!  He had heard of the kindness of Ruth towards Naomi, and desired to return that kindness.  Of course, as things turned out, Boaz ended up marrying Ruth and providing much more than the gleanings to Ruth (and by extension, Naomi).  Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed.  Obed became the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of King David – the most famous of all of Israel’s kings.  Jesus was a direct descendant of  the Davidic line.

Rahab

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent. I am doing an Advent series of poems about the women in Jesus genealogy (as listed in Matthew Chapter 1) Last Sunday, I shared a poem about Tamar. Today’s poem is about Rahab. For full context of the story, please read Joshua Chapter 2.

A scarlet cord was all the sign you used
to show men who it was they came to meet
it said that you were willingly abused
and for a few small coins you’d be discreet

When spies from Israel came to you one day
they knew you might betray them with a call
instead, you helped them hide beneath some hay
then let them leave the city through the wall

So later on when Jericho’s walls fell
and sound of battle rang throughout the night
as promised: in the small home where you dwelt
you found that you had refuge from the fight

A scarlet cord had now become a sign
That you were safe and blessed by the Divine

~~

Rahab’s title in Scripture is “Rahab the prostitute”.  How much more unlikely a person to find in the genealogy of the Son of God?  Yet the “lady of the night” showed respect and fear for God, and was blessed because of it.  If God saw fit to allow a prostitute into his genealogy, I think it’s clear that no one is too much a sinner to be forgiven and redeemed!

Tamar

Today marks the beginning of Advent – the time of year in which Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  In Matthew chapter 1 we can find a geneology of Jesus’ ancestors starting with Abraham.  In the culture of the time, only male ancestors were included in geneologies.  Matthew broke with this tradition by including five women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary). This was clearly deliberate.  If Matthew thought it important to include these women, then perhaps we should pay attention to their stories.

I plan to publish one poem for each Sunday of Advent, and then a final poem on Christmas day to highlight each of these five women – most of whom seem that they should have never been included.

I’m starting with Tamar.  Tamar’s lineage is not known, but it is speculated that she was a Canaanite.  A foreigner.  She was married (by arrangement) to Er (Judah’s eldest son).  Er was “a wicked man in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord took his life. ” (Genesis 38:7 NLT).  For the complete context of this poem, I would encourage you to read Gen.38.  If you are unfamiliar with Tamar’s story, my poem will make much more sense if you read her story before reading the poem.  I’ll include a few more notes after the poem to try to explain a bit of the historical context.

~~

Twice wretched wife of Judah’s eldest heirs
Twice wed and widowed by his oldest sons
Two times denied the chance to bear a child
And thus for offspring you were left with none

To Judah’s youngest son you were betrothed
And promised that you’d get one final chance
But even he was as stolen from your life
You thought you’d never twirl a mother’s dance

Seducing him who stole your chance away
You fin’ly had a child in your womb
And though condemned to death for harlotry
You proved that you’d been wronged and staved your doom

Deceived deceiver, pregnant by a tryst
God’s grace made you an ancestor of Christ

~~

In our modern Western mindset, the idea of a childless widow marrying her dead husband’s brother may seem somewhat odd, but during the time of Tamar, it was not merely common, it was practically a necessity.  As people aged, they relied on their children to take care of them.  Children were, for all intents and purposes, a form of “old age security”.  No children, especially for a woman, meant no means of supporting oneself in old age.  If a woman was widowed prior to having children, it was the duty of the closest male relative of the deceased (usually a brother), to provide an heir for his brother (so that his brother’s estate would be passed down to his own child, rather than being dispersed elsewhere).  The first child of this male relative (also known as a “kinsman redeemer”) would be considered the heir of the deceased, while all subsequent children would be the heir(s) of the kinsman redeemer.  When Onan refused to provide an heir for his brother, he was condemning Tamar to a life of poverty.  When Judah refused to allow Tamar to marry Shelah, he was not only denying Tamar the security that children would bring, but he was also cutting off his own family line!

Tamar may have acted in a way abhorrent to modern readers, but she was providing for her future in the only way she could think of to do…and even benefiting Judah by providing him with an heir.

Jesus came to earth, not to provide us with earthly financial security, but to provide something much greater: eternal life.  I can’t say this with certainty, but perhaps it was partly for this reason of future hope that Tamar was included in Jesus’ lineage.

Faith and Miracles

I prayed to God a while back
and said “I need a sign
some miracle that proves to me
that you’re indeed divine

Some wondrous work is all I want
It’s all I need to know
some thing that science can’t explain
will help my faith to grow”

I saw no miracles that day
no signs from Father God
and so I said “I must conclude
that He must be a fraud

But then I prayed more recently
“Lord help my faith to grow
so even when there is no sign

That even then I’ll know you’re God
and since that day I’ve found
that when I look with eyes of faith
God’s miracles abound!

I don’t understand war

Written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Armistice:

I don’t understand war
I’ve never pointed a rifle at an enemy
Nor faced the barrel of an enemy’s gun
I’ve never felt the impact
of a nearby bomb explosion

I don’t understand war
I’ve never been forced to scramble
For a mask to save myself
From mustard gas
I’ve never felt shrapnel
Bite through my skin
From a hand grenade

I don’t understand war
I’ve never fought hand to hand
Knowing that the victor would live
But the loser would not
I don’t understand war

I don’t understand war
Because there are men and women
Who have faced bullets and bombs
Hands grenades and knives
Gas attacks and more

To those men and women who understood war
So that I don’t have to
Thank you that
I don’t understand war.