Fine Print

The calloused, rough-hewn workers heaved
And threw another rough-hewn cross
Upon the growing pile of wood
Flecked with human dross

The timbers all had served their turn
And splintered over time
As one by one they’d pinioned those
Paying for their crime

And when they could no longer hold
A nail to pin the gruesome load
That pillar of the damned, the spurned
Was piled up with the rest and burned

They tossed the last one on the pile
Paused… shuddered at the Reaper’s Tally
Then fired the wooden bones just like
Those bones in Hinnom’s Valley

A worker standing near for warmth
Eyes gazing at the glowing pyre
Caught something strange upon the wood
In the growing flickering fire

Moving close, he grabbed the end
Of one old, rugged stake
Pulled it out, saw the words
And then began to shake…

          …Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews

“Pilate made a sign and put it on the cross.                                                                       It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

— John 19:19


REFLECTIONS

This is a fictitious piece, attempting to imagine the reaction of one who might have been a believer, or at least a curious one, who came across the sign Pilate had nailed to the cross of Jesus. Especially in view of what so many were saying about Him and the resurrection.


B R A N C H

The love of Ruth
Kind and gracious
Eternal truth!
Relentless
The commitment of
The maiden
And the God above

Naomi’s name
Pleasant they said
Drubbed by the world
And left for dead
Ruth refused
To let her fall
Loved her heart… soul…
Mind… strength… all!

Bethlehem
The ‘house of bread’
A love-starved world
That would not be fed
There, the mother
Of David’s mothers went
What a humble, loving Gentile
Heaven sent!

A Moabite!
How can this be?
A sturdy branch
For Messiah’s tree?
Mother of David
And David’s son
From Bethlehem
Would go The One

Love of God
From days eternal
Commitment of
A love supernal
“There…
…because of grace go I!”
For sinful sons
One Son will die

To the House of Bread
The Bread of Life
Came to us
Amid the strife
Going
Where we go
Lodging where
We lodge below

“Your people…
mine!” said He
“Your God too…
Shall mine be…
Where you die
I will too
And I’ll be buried
Next to you

Entreat me not
To leave, forsake
My own, for whom
My heart does ache
Through my church
I will remain
Through hearts like Ruth
I’ll surely reign…
…and make all things new!”

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“Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.’ And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.”

— Ruth 1:16-19

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.
And they will remain,
Because at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.
This One will be our peace.”

— Micah 5:2-5

“…Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king…”

— Matthew 1:5-6
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H O M E W A R D

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The previous piece, Leaving Home, taken together with this piece, is about as big a ‘nutshell’ as I can cram The Story into from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22… The Creator comes to those He made in His image in and as the person of Jesus, the Christ, to show us the way home.
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A rising sun
A new dawn
The Good Shepherd
With shepherd’s clothing on
Truth
An obedient son
God with us…

Before creation
Heavenly plan
God ordained
That wayward man
Be adopted by
The Heavenly Clan
God purposing us…

A girded towel
Unwashed feet
A shared table
Where the sinful meet
Strangers touched
Upon the street
God for us…

Self-sacrifice
Lamb of God
Offered for
The deeply flawed
Exposes
Our proud façade
God beside us…

Eternal Word
Light Divine
Resurrected
What wondrous sign
Fruit of the Spirit
The bread, the wine
God in us…

Second Adam
Who never fell
Chose the Father
Defeated hell
His church
The risen Lord indwell
God through us…

Tree of life
What blessed scene
Prodigals return
Robes washed clean
Greater love
Has no one seen
God waiting for us…

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“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.”

–Revelation 22:13-14
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R E E D

Servant Divine! Who inspired such delight
Who, quiet went about his way to bless
Who was just and brought justice in the night
Who meekly stood with us in our transgress
Who gained the Master’s Spirit for the fight
Who loved us and who shared our dispossess

What Love Divine! Picks up the useless reed
Regards the bruised and broken for God’s end
Does not break but binds, heals to serve a need
The reed becomes a rod that may not bend
And in His hand, now fit for any deed
Blossoms, bears fruit for Him who calls us, “Friend.”

Oh Spark Divine! That flickers oh so faint
Yet crosses swords with lightless foes within
The dimming soul made dark by ill-restraint
No stranger to its tempters or its sin
Breathe gently Lord despite the wretched taint
Enflame the faintly burning wick again!

Now…

To Him who gently tends us lest the Dawn
Break to find that last spark of God has gone!

…we give thanks.

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“Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.”

–Isaiah 42:1–4
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S P I R I T

A rushing, mighty wind is he
Hovering o’er a darkened sea
A breath of life for you… for me!
So wise beyond the knowing

A presence coming to us here
Dispelling doubt and crushing fear
Enabling us to persevere
With power beyond the knowing

A fiery pillar guiding well
A holy presence near to dwell
Offerings… incense… what lovely smell!
And truth beyond the knowing

A gifting presence giving grace
Offering to a fallen race
The likeness of their Father’s face
And mercy beyond the knowing

Helper… Comforter… gentle dove
Descending to us from above
Given to us unworthy of
A love beyond the knowing

But One was Spirit filled and led
The inspired word of God, His bread
The Spirit raised Him from the dead
And we… well…
…we have come to know Him!

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“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

–1 John 5:20

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”

–Philippians 3:7-9

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

–Romans 8:9-11
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K I N G D O M

The blind, the leprous, and the lame
Sought the Gracious One who came
Stretched forth a hand in dire need
And from redemptive curse were freed
In the Father’s name!

Death and demons—all the same
To the Blessed One who came
And made acquaintance with our grief
Stretched forth a hand and brought relief
In the Father’s name!

And now it falls to followers who
Through faith reborn—created new
To show the world a “kingdom come”
A Father’s will that’s “being done”
“on earth as it is in heaven”

And so we stoop to Christ-like serve
Even those who don’t deserve!
For we ourselves were scattered sheep
Over whom our Lord would weep
In the Father’s name!

If we, like Him, who bore our sorrow
Bring help and hope and new tomorrow
Help them touch the Garment Hem
Why, the Kingdom’s surely come to them
In Jesus’ lovely name!

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Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

–Matthew 6:9-10

“Heal the sick… and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near
to you.’”
–Luke 10:9

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G I F T

a poet’s penitential prayer

Father…

You have blessed and gifted me
To glorify and honor thee
But… the gift unwrapped or little used
Little thought about or mused
Turns to dust before it’s time

Father…

Talents that you (loving!) gave
To serve your kingdom and to save
Can oft lie buried and confined
Within the carnal, careless mind
And serve no one

Father…

You have blessed and gifted all
With giftedness both large and small
Would you our petition hear?
And grant us, Father, minds sincere
Take captive every thought?

Father…

Before you come with trumpet call
Grant repentance to us all
Please hear our humble, earnest plea
And help us use our gifts for thee
And for others in need of you

…in Jesus’ name.

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“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons… But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

–1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11
–Matthew 25:14-30

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