Tears for Lazarus

300px-'The_Raising_of_Lazarus',_tempera_and_gold_on_panel_by_Duccio_di_Buoninsegna,_1310–11,_Kimbell_Art_Museum

(This poem is based on John 11:35: “Jesus wept,” and explores reasons why the Savior cried at the tomb of Lazarus.)

Why cry for friend laid down on stone
Dead, covered, buried in a tomb
When power to raise does He possess
And restored life with him to bless

Was it for pain of certain knowing
If He had been there for consoling
Sickness would have fled in fear
If only He had lingered near

Was it for hurt to loved ones shown
When Mary and Martha asked Him come
Their words of doubt cut deep inside
“If You had been here, he would not have died.”

Was it for seeing injustice done
The curse of death imposed by sin
A world broken, bleeding, dying
Was this why at his tomb stood crying

Our Savior, Lord of all creation
Whose death would give us entrance to heaven
Whose sacrifice, only, made us alive
Whose love means we will never die

Were they tears of hope and love
That one day the dead will rise above
And join the righteous of all the ages
In singing the praises of the Ancient of Days

Death cannot live within His presence
Life cannot die with Christ ascended
His love is deep and long and wide
Displayed by tears for friend who died

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Christmas Verses – John 1:1-5

Jesus took on humanity in the incarnation, but the person of the eternal Son of God has always existed with the Father. Nowhere in Scripture is this more clearly communicated than in John’s Gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5.

Here we learn that Jesus (the Word made flesh, v. 14) was in the beginning with God, and was God. This shows the unity and diversity within the Triune God: God is one in essence, and yet three persons. Jesus possesses all the totality of the divine nature (Colossians 2:9), and yet is distinct from God the Father.

Jesus was also actively involved in creation (“all things came into being by Him”). He is pictured here as true life and light, bringing life and light to all, and shining light into a dark world. Jesus’ entrance into the world in His birth was the coming of God among men in a human person, bringing life and light, now available to all. The words of the familiar Christmas hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” show the divine and human natures of Christ united in one person. Ponder the words of the second verse especially:

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’ incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Liberty, Wild and Free

BCMVII6673The fourth of July has become my favorite national holiday. I love the sense of nationalistic pride that comes from hearing patriotic songs on the radio. I love the brilliance and boldness of the red, white, and blue of the American flag displayed everywhere. I love the tumultuous sound of military aircraft on display down by the river in our town in the late afternoon hours as we wait for the coming of the dark. And I love the sights and sounds, the lightning flash and thunderclap, of fireworks bombarding the night sky and penetrating into my soul. I love all these things for what they have come to symbolize for me and so many others: freedom.

But what is freedom? What is liberty? Can anyone really possess these things? Are not those who claim to be free simply delusional, ignorant of reality? Can I really be free if I am required to work to earn money to pay bills and eat and cloth myself and my family and stay alive? Is not liberty elusive, deceptive, unattainable, and so unsatisfying? Can anyone legitimately say that they are truly free? Continue reading