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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

We spend a second week reflecting on my experiences doing mission work in Ugandan and Kenyan villages.  I was there to bring some formal theological education to local pastors who lacked the opportunity to attend Bible school.  We would gather them to a centrally located village and spend all day for a week on methods of Bible study, hermeneutics (the science of interpretation), sermon construction, etc.    Then on Sunday I would preach in as many of their churches as I could reach so that hopefully they could see me doing what I had been telling them to do.  In the evenings there would often be an evangelistic crusade—where I would be expected to play the evangelist, even though they were more effective in that role than I am!  But there was a method to their madness.

Village Evangelism

“But I’m a teacher, not an evangelist.”

“No, the muzungu must preach at the crusade.  That way, everybody will come.”

The stars shone on the hills of Africa

And on a sea of eyes that shone in wonder

At the generator-driven cinema,

Another sky of stars that spread out under

The temporary platform we’d erected.

They’d never seen a video before.

The younger ones had never once inspected

A white man.  I can’t say which held them more

Enthralled, the flashing images or my skin.

It was the skin that made them pay attention

When, once the “Jesus” film was at an end,

I rose to preach.  And now, what new dimension,

Stranger than moving pictures on a screen

Or ghost-like skin in health by some strange art

Could possibly be waiting to be seen?

Christ crucified and raised; the human heart

Made clean.

Remember: for more poetry like this, order Dr. Williams’s collected poetry, Stars through the Clouds, 2nd edition (Lantern Hollow Press, 2020) at https://smile.amazon.com/dp/173286800X?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860!

THE LIGHT

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

We pause today to remember Good Friday in anticipation of Easter.

THE LIGHT 

And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it” (Jn. 1:5).

There is no deeper darkness.

The rattle of the dirt upon the lid

Must cause some sound waves, even in the close

And muffled air; they fall on a deaf ear.

No light wave even tries to tempt the eye.

The rasping of the rock that rolls to close

A cave would have a similar effect,

Though louder—just as futile for the ear

And just as good at cutting off the eye.

An earthquake opened this one up again,

Which should have made no difference at all.

But when the rising sun stooped and looked in,

Its photons found the night already fled.

A Light that dawned before there was a dawn,

A Light too light and subtle for the eye,

Had flashed already.  The more garish sun

Came later, just to let the eye catch up.

The women brought theirs first to gaze upon

What sights the sun was competent to show:

The grave clothes folded and the body gone,

Two men in white who simply made no sense,

A gardener who—but no, that could not be.

Their hearts stopped cold—then started up again.

They blinked their eyes and suddenly could see

The empty cave now gaping in the garden,

The road out to the village of Emmaus,

An upper chamber in Jerusalem,

A campfire on the beach in Galilee

Saw many cold hearts starting up again

And heavy eyelids blinking into vision.

Once let loose, it could not be contained.

The Light leapt forth: Jerusalem, Judaea,

Samaria, the far ends of the earth.

To eyes invisible, from heart to heart

It traveled.  Darkness could not overcome it.

Deserts, oceans proved no barrier.

Murderous opposition only served

To fan the Flame.  It shines around us still,

Still pointing to the Cave beside the Hill.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)! Order from the publisher or Amazon.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Palm Sunday

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Like George Herbert and Edward Taylor, I found the pastorate highly conducive to following the secondary calling of Poetry.  Pastoral ministry rightly pursued keeps you focused on big ideas (Theology) mediated through concrete story (Scripture) and applied to the real lives of real human beings (your congregation).  A number of these poems come out of that matrix.  Preaching surely should be an attempt to elucidate and focus the impact of Scripture; and the distillation of that attempt can’t help but generate poetry too, in those so called.   This one is an appropriate meditation for Palm Sunday, which is only three days away now.

LUKE 19:41

The crowds cried out, “Hosannah!”

As his humble mount drew near.

The waving of the branches,

The excitement of the cheers,

The strewing of their garments

Kept their thoughts from being clear;

But the Savior saw the City

And saluted it with tears.

 

Still they echo through the years!

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Ugandan Choir

Sharing worship with Africans in a church with mud walls and a thatched roof that you had to reach by 4-wheel drive is an experience few Americans have had.  If you ever get the chance to do it, you should.

Mukama yeba si’ bwe” means “Praise the Lord” in Luganda.  “Chetibwa cha Mukama” is “Glory to the Lord.”  A kanisa is a church.  “Soli Deo gloria” is “Glory to God alone” in Latin.

Ugandan Congregation

Kanisa

The voices shout, “Mukama yeba si’ bwe!”

The drums are pounding, and the bodies sway.

Hands clap, feet shuffle, and a lady’s voice

Leads out to set the song; hers is the choice.

She sings a line; the people sing it back

With zeal and harmony.  There is no lack

Of  joy.  The cry, “Chetibwah cha Mukama!”

Resounds through the Kanisa.  Thus the drama

Of worship is played out in Africa.

And we, whose “Soli Deo Gloria

Is more sophisticated, less intense,

Might profitably pick up a couple hints.

Praise Band
Praise Band/Worship Team

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

The original Fundamentalists were so known for their defense of the “Fundamentals” of the Christian faith.  They needed defending (and still do).  Some of their defenders even embodied them.  Others sadly defended the truth about Christ in a decidedly un-Christlike manner, and they bequeathed their reputation to the movement and the the connotations attaching to its name.  If only we could recapture what was right about fundamentalism without bringing along the unfortunate baggage they added!  Could this sonnet be a start?

J. Gresham Machen–a Fundamentalist who avoided the movement’s pitfalls

THE RISE AND FALL OF PROTESTANT FUNDAMENTALISM

Christ’s virgin birth, His deity, His cross,

His Word, His resurrection, His return:

Could these be given up without the loss

Of Christian faith itself?  was the concern

Of those first known as “Fundamentalist.”

If their descendants’ words have proved uncouth

As if their mind had closed up like a fist,

At least they started caring for the Truth.

It’s one of mankind’s greatest tragedies

Beyond the power of the tongue to tell,

This hardening of mental arteries

Within a movement that began so well.

What they forgot should be like hand in glove:

Truth is not Truth unless we speak in love.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.