Barabbas

As we enter the Easter season, I thought I’d share a look at Jesus’ sacrifice from the perspective of the murderer whose life was spared because if Him.

CROWN OF THORNS ULTRA MODERN

My heart pounded
As they dragged me out.
They stood me close beside Him,
And I looked about.

The crowd was frenzied:
With rage and raw disgust.
I wasn’t sure the real cause —
Why they fumed and cussed.

I glanced beside me
To catch a glimpse of Him,
But what my eyes saw in His
Convicted me within.

When the guards shouted,
“Who’s it going to be?”
Then I understood they’d choose
To set one free.

“We want Barabbas!
Set Barabbas free!”
I could not believe my ears:
They chose, not Him, but me.

“But what of Jesus?”
Pilate asked the crowd.
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
He is not our God.

My shackles fell off:
By law a free man.
Pilate called for water then
And there he washed his hands.

The day grew darker
As He was hanging there,
Upon a cross with thieves each side;
Then He said a prayer.

He prayed, “Forgive them.”
Did that include me?
Then He cried, “It is finished!”
I thought, how can this be?

For suddenly I knew —
He’d died to save me too —
Even me — Barabbas.

+++

(Scripture Reference: Matthew 27)

~~~

~~~

Christ Is Born, and All Is Well

madonna-child-color-negative

Man walked in light – God’s light of life –
And joy beyond the words to tell,
With his Creator, fellowshipping;
Peace and harmony excelled.

But then a shadow breached that light,
And two lies did the serpent tell:
“You can’t trust God,” his sly suggestion.
“Eat, and you’ll be god yourself.”

So from his God man turned his love –
Obeyed the enemy: rebelled –
Turned from the heart of his Creator
And ate. Then sounded his death knell.

Alas, the Father’s heart was saddened,
But knowing far ahead, full well,
That Satan’s ploy would hit its mark,
And man against Him would rebel,

He’d strategized before all time
A perfect plan that would dispel
That sin and all its evil fruit,
And see the serpent bound in hell.

He then revealed His mystery
To prophets so they would foretell:
“The time will come when God Himself
Will pay the price sin to dispel.”

Then came the day of grace unbounded.
Choirs of angels’ anthems swelled:
“The Babe has come; the ransom tendered.
The Christ is born, and all is well.”

Still today we shout the message.
Gospel words tell and retell:
He’s come to give His blood to save us.
The Christ is born, and all is well.

***

Christmas Cinquain

christmas-trees-7-header# 1

Carols:
Floating music,
Making merry sound waves,
Singing happy tidings from God
To man.

# 2

Stockings
Hung with great care.
Tots on best behavior
Wake on Christmas morn to find them
All filled.

# 3

Kissing
‘Neath mistletoe,
Icing Christmas cookies,
And hanging lights with tinsel bright –
Great fun!

# 4

Christmas:
I wonder why
Some call it by false names.
It’s sole identity resides
In Christ.

~~~

***

 

What Will Christmas Bring?

I wrote this poem a couple years ago, but entering the Christmas season brings it back strongly to my mind today, so I’m re-visiting it.

cross-mngr-message-gold-w-frame

“What will Christmas bring, Mom?”
“Why, Son, ’twill bring you lots of toys and joys.”
“What else will Christmas bring, Mom?”
“Well, fun and games with other girls and boys.”

“But later on in life, Mom,
Will Christmas mean a lot when I am grown?”
“Oh, yes, it will mean more, Son.
For as you grow, a great truth you’ll be shown.

“You’ll learn that Jesus came, Son,
Not just to be a babe in manger sweet,
But to grow up a strong man,
Horrible death and suffering to meet.

“He came to take our sin, Son
And pay the price for it on Calvary.
So God could look upon us all
And shout, ‘From sin and all its curse you’re free!’”

“But I love the little babe, Mom.
I don’t want to think He died for me.”
“That’s what makes Christmas grand, Son:
That Jesus came and died to set us free.”

“You mean, the little baby, Mom?
He had to die and never live again?”
“No, Son, on Resurrection Day,
He rose victorious o’er death for all men.

“This truth of Christmas time, Son –
I now think you begin to understand.
It was the birth of death to sin,
And of eternal life for every man.”

 

 

***

 

 

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Poetry

The past 3 or 4 years, I have written one or two Thanksgiving poems in November. This year, I thought I’d just post the whole collection together.

`

Ah, Thanksgiving, How I Love You!

cover-photo-eating-edited-sharpened-w-textAh, Thanksgiving, how I love you!
Golden crowning jewel of Fall,
Beacon of warmth and camaraderie,
Sending glad invitation to all:

“Gather to worship; gather to visit;
Gather to focus on all that’s worthwhile;
Feast from tables resplendent with harvest;
Feast on the love in a touch and a smile.”

All the year’s labors weigh heavy upon us.
All the world’s problems seem bigger by far.
But out from that wearisome struggle you call us,
And laying it down, we run to where you are.

And whether in cottages, mansions, or churches,
Community buildings, or tables in parks,
We gather with gratitude full – overflowing;
To the Giver of blessings lift voices and hearts.

Then we return to life’s pattern awaiting.
Filled up with joy, we set off on our way,
Warmer and richer and kinder in spirit
For pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

~


 Healing Holiday

Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner,
And I am set to have a lovely time.
First I’ll make a jaunt to church and, kneeling down,
I’ll thank the Lord for all His blessings kind.

And then I’ll journey farther to meet kith and kin.
We’ll hug and laugh and tell each other news.
Then next I’ll help dish up the yummy treats in store;
So many dishes, all from which to choose.

Then after eating more than I could ever need,
And going back again for one more pinch,
I’ll sit by fireplace warm and cuddle little ones,
And soon we’ll be asleep; it is a cinch.

Oh, my, how dear Thanksgiving is to all of us.
It gives us one whole day when we can part
From all that pulls and presses us and wounds us sore,
And give ourselves to healing, loving hearts.

~


What’s For Dinner?

turkey-with-sign-save-turkeysI spot him there, behind the barn,
A full-plumed, regal bird.
He looks up, straight into my eyes.
I speak no single word.

It’s happened thus, in passing years —
At least for two or three:
Each mid-November I’ve set my mind;
He’s been there to greet me.

Now, lifting his head in challenge strong,
He gobbles loud and long.
I lower my gun and heave a sigh:
To kill him would be wrong!

So, wrestling with my double mind,
I trek home to my wife
To explain why, once again this year,
Ham will greet the carving knife.

~


THANKSGIVING

Thursdays come and go; in every month there’s four or five.
Hardly anyone’s attention they demand.
Ahhh, but there’s one month when Thursday is a special day.
November’s got the situation well in hand.
Kinsmen, young and old, along with neighbors, best of friends,
Stop their normal labor briefly and, instead,
Gather close, declare a feast, and celebrate all day
In churches, homes, and civic halls – wherever led.
Voices glad and warm with love fill up the heart and soul,
Inviting those attending to lay burdens down.
Neath autumn’s healthy harvest, tables beckon us – so come;
Giving thanks to God, now let us gather ’round.

~


A Lesson in Thanksgiving

pilgrims-landing-edward-percy-moran
Edward Percy Moran

Pilgrims reached the blessed shore,
But bitter winters were in store.
Death and anguish played their part.
Still, ’twas with a thankful heart
That they gathered to expound
Upon the God whose gifts abound.

We, who in their footsteps trod,
Though they lay beneath the sod,
Now do take the lesson learned
From their lives, and, in our turn,
We prepare to thank and praise;
To that same God our anthems raise.

And just as they faced troubled days,
Through hardships grievous made their ways,
So, now, such grievous times we face,
That ne’er before have taken place.
Yet from their lesson we take heart
And lift our songs with grateful hearts.

We will not bow to troubled thoughts,
Nor in the throws of fear be caught,
We have too rich a heritage.
So with forefathers we engage
To praise and sing and laugh and play
And celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

~~~

Kingdom Cinquain

CROSS & CROWNGOD’S KINGDOM

No votes
And no debates.
No place for protest march.
The King has all control. He rules
Through love.

The form:
Theocracy.
If we do not agree,
We need to pray until we say
“Yes, Sir!”

Peace reigns
Where Jesus rules.
We have no need to fear.
His law of love takes care of all
Our needs.

~~~

No Man Is An Island

The poem below has a title borrowed from the English poet John Donne. It was not the title of a separate poem by Donne, but instead was a line included in his “Meditation XVII,” which was from a longer work entitled “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.” My poem, I hope, gives a modern view of the basic truth of the “oneness” of our human race to which he referred in his own immortal words.

 

public domain ambulance imageA siren wails,
And in our modest town,
From one end to the next,
We hear its cry.

And though we try
To keep our focus sharp
Upon the tasks at hand,
We feel the pain.

We know the strain
Of facing hurt and fear,
Of crisis, loss, and tears,
And wonder – who?

Naught we can do,
Except to pray for God,
Who knows the victim’s name,
To give His aid.

And prayer being made,
We focus once again
On our own lives, until
A siren wails.

 

 

~~~

 

Re-Run From Holy Week, 2014: Nathaniel’s Answer

 

NAZARETH, ISRAEL - EDITED

 

Nathaniel was a man who knew no guile.
He walked with Jesus, loved Him all the while.
When first he heard His name, a question posed,
But waited ’til the answer was disclosed.

“From Nazareth can any good come forth?”
He asked of those who knew that city’s worth.
He asked for meditation, not reply,
Yet found the answer true in Jesus’ eyes.

And although from the garden he did run
With others as they scattered one by one,
As Roman guards led Jesus, bound, away,
There came a reckoning after the third day.

As Mary ran to spread the glorious news,
Nathaniel, hidd’n with others, all confused,
Received her words with doubt, and hope, and fear,
And hungered so His Master’s voice to hear.

Then Jesus stood among them, His work done:
Salvation for the world from Nazareth comes.

 

(Scripture Reference: John 1: 45-51, John 20)

~~~

 

~~~

The Return — Cinquain

WHITE SUNBURST - coming of jesus

 

Hey, there.
Are you ready?
Am I ready for what?
Ready for the return of Jesus —
Soon now.

Uh … well …
I’m not quite sure.
What do I need to do?
Just give your heart. Make Him your Lord.
That’s all.

~~~

There Is Sunshine

SATAN CAST DOWN - GOLD LARGER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is sunshine in my heart,
A bubbling river gently flowing,
Soft, sweet-scented breezes blowing
From the Spirit of the Lord.

There is laughter in my soul;
Merry melodies are singing;
Joy bells through my mind are ringing
From the Spirit of the Lord.

Troubles cannot quench the laughter.
Storm clouds can’t put out the sun.
All that threatens to defeat me
Will be gone, no more to haunt me:
The Spirit of the Lord will overcome.

So if the fig tree shows no blossom,
If no flock is in the fold,
I’ll yet rejoice in my salvation:
The Word that brought forth all creation
Is still True. And my faith glistens as pure gold.

 

~~~

12 Days of Christmas Blessings: Day 12 — ‘A True Love’s Locket’

What if on the 12th day of Christmas, some girl’s true love gave her a locket?
And what if she lost it?
Here’s what I hope would happen:

HEART NECKLACE - GOLD

I found a locket nestled 'neath a tree.
It sparkled, and it twinkled, and it surely winked at me.

It looked forlorn, forgotten, skimmed with dew,
And I felt an intruder as I wondered what to do.

At last I reached and plucked it from the grass.
The chain was fragile – I could tell – and had a broken clasp.

A lovely heart, engraved on back and front,
Showed me it was a gift of love that someone still would want.

I opened it with tender, loving care,
And found, all safe and snug inside, a single lock of hair.

The curly tress was of the darkest brown,
And I felt so entranced by this small mystery I'd found.

But I was in a quandary what to do:
How to locate the rightful owner I had not a clue.

Then finally I thought, “I'll advertise,
and if the owner sees my ad, there'll be a nice surprise.”

I tucked it in my pocket, nice and warm,
And, eager to relay my news, I headed quickly home.

I couldn't help but sing a little song,
So happy I could have a part in helping love along.

~~~

As we come to the real close of the Christmas celebration, I hope you and your loved ones have enjoyed a happy, healthy, love-filled holiday season. And may you carry all that happiness, health, and love throughout this new year.

~~~

Success

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I’ve never touched a star;
Never tried to reach that far.
Perhaps my goals are all too short, too frail.

My dreams are all mundane:
Never seeking wealth or fame,
Nor for great contributions to be hailed.

But when all’s said and done,
I’ve loved folks – one by one –
And in the end, it’s Love that will prevail.

 

 

~~~

We Must Be About The Father’s Business

If they could get a look at Hell,
Then would they be convinced?
I doubt it.
The power of self-deception lies
In one’s belief he knows
All about it.

So what is there to do for those
Who tread destruction’s path
To fiery lake?
How do we wean from serpent’s milk
That draws them ever on
In devil’s wake?

Our weapons, mighty, are but two:
The Word and earnest prayer.
Don’t wait.
For time is running faster now;
Be diligent before
It’s too late.

~~~