Monday, April 11, 2011

Forty days with the book of John: a poetic response.

As part of our meeting’s Lenten experience, we are reading through the book of John in 40 days. I’ve made a commitment to write a poem a day, something that rises up from my time of meditation on the passage for the day. It’s been a deepening, if somewhat uneven, experience. (I plan on taking a day’s writing retreat next week to write the poems for the days I’ve missed.) The poems are turning into prayers and I find myself being both challenged and stretched. And some mornings, moved to tears. That’s good.  Here are a few of the prayers/poems.

Day 1, John 1:1-18

You were there.
You called forth all things,
Maker and Namer and Poet.
And you come now and stand among us
call us daughters and sons,
out of your fullness
give grace upon grace.

Unspeakable glory,
give us strength to bear the joy.

Day 4, John 2:13-25

This harsh angry Jesus alarms me.
He makes a weapon,
lifts it against both men and beasts.
He even attacks the furniture.
He throws money about
in what looks like a first class
temper tantrum, the seeds of war.
He yells and commands, casts
people out. Apparent pride
and a complete lack of trust
in his fellow human beings
round out this ugly portrait
of a man who scares me.
His Father may have
“so loved the world”
but his son doesn’t appear
to even like it.

Day 6, John 3:22-36

Teach me to step down, my Lord,
to rejoice when I see your Spirit
poured without measure
on other writers, speakers, teachers,
on my children and grandchildren,
on those much younger than me.
Teach me the joy of praying
from the sidelines, “Thy kingdom
come. Thy will be done.”
Let me move with grace into
my changing role. Let it be
all joy.

Day 11, John 6:1-24

This reads more like a Marvel Comic
than the Bible. Multiplied food,
walking on water
through a storm, no less,
followed by laser travel
to a distant shore.
Who are you anyway?
Don’t you see why
people have trouble
swallowing more than
bread and fish?

Day 21, John 10:22-42

I’m not sure I like
being called a sheep
but I do want to be one
who recognizes your voice,
listens and follows you.
Work in my life, Good Shepherd,
Sweet Jesus. Do what it takes
to sharpen my sense of hearing.
Help me to live on tip toes,
alert, attentive, eager
to hear you tell me, “come.”

Day 23, John 11:38-57

Forgive me, Lord,
if the re-telling of this story
has made it so familiar
I lose the amazement.
I should gasp, scream,
cover my face, flee in fear.
Faint, at the very least.
Restore to me, my Lord,
the terror of resurrection.

Day 27, John 13:18-38

As night comes on
and Jesus knowingly faces betrayal,
crucifixion and death, he prepares
his disciples by giving them
two commands: serve one another,
love one another. As though
this is what is needed to face
the dark.
When light is gone,
when the wind howls and
the temperature drops, I’m to
wrap a towel about my waist,
bow down before my peers
and wash their feet
with love. Not the poor,
not out in the streets or
on the mission field. My peers,
my colleagues, my team members.
And after those, all the rest.
Lord Jesus, why is this sometimes
the hardest of all?


  1. Don't stop posting even if sometimes we simply drink from what you've written. Thank you.

  2. But I do love it when someone out there in the void says something back.