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!

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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.

Clean

I thank you Lord that I am clean
and that my clothes are white
That I don’t walk in places dark
but only in the light

God sent his Son into this world
a stinking stable stall
was where the Saviour of the earth
came here to start it all

I thank you Lord that I am clean
and that my clothes are white
That I don’t walk in places dark
but only in the light

With fishermen he spent much time
and when the catch was done
he helped to clean those stinking fish
this man who was God’s Son

I thank you Lord that I am clean
and that my clothes are white
That I don’t walk in places dark
but only in the light

And near his final days on earth
they crucified the Lord
with whips and nails they bloodied him
then pierced Him with a sword

I thank you Lord that I am clean
and that my clothes are white
That I don’t walk in places dark
but only in the light

The Saviour came and said to me
“my son I love you so”
and then he tried embracing me
Appalled I shouted “NO!”

“My Lord, I’m clean! My clothes are white
Your garments are a mess
if you would touch me in your state
I couldn’t stand the stress!”

“My child, hear me when I say
don’t be too pure for me
for only washed in my red blood
can you be truly clean

I thank you Lord that now I see
I’m neither clean nor white
You came to save me from my dark
I fin’ly see Your Light

~~ 

Today in church, our pastor spoke about some of the things that that can quench the fire of our relationship with God. The first thing he spoke of was pride. The poem above was inspired by what he said.

Song of Fire – Part XV

And here, at last is the final segment of my Fire Sonnet Cycle (including a few breaks of far too long duration, I finished this cycle in just under 3 years).   If you wish to read the complete cycle from start to finish, click on the “Elements” tab above, and then select “Fire” (The “Water” cycle is also complete if you wish to read both of my completed cycles.  I hope to eventually add cycles for Earth and Air as well)

Without further ado…here is Part XV:

When it’s dark, and there’s a chill to the air,
come gather by the dancing, flick’ring light.
With friends around, and a stump for a chair
let the flames drive away the cold of night.

As the embers fade and then glow anew
we find ourselves in a delightful spell.
While those around speak a story or two,
even the flames seem to have tales to tell!

After a time, the fire starts to die
around the circle a silence descends.
One by one we bid each other goodbye,
we’re richer for the time we’ve spent with friends.

Somehow, now, the night seems less dark, less cold
After spending time by the flames of gold

Song of Fire -Part XIV

After spending time by the flames of gold
we are keenly aware: there is a surge
of sadness that comes from parting. We’ve told
our tales and sung our songs, and though the urge

to remain might be strong, the time has come
to say goodbye and take our leave. Around
the circle, hugs are shared, and there are some
tears in almost every eye. A profound

silence now inhabits the space where song
and laughter were so recently heard. Go
now in peace. Although it might seem a long
time before we’ll see our friends again, know:

Soon we’ll meet again by the fire’s flare
When it’s dark and there’s a chill to the air