Against Penance by Kilby Austin (2010)

There’s no atonement left to make,
not even by remorse.
When God forgives for Jesus’ sake
he settles all the scores.

Nor penitence nor faith nor prayer
pays any of the debt,
for payment Jesus will not share
and less the glory get.

Then why should I one minute wait
thinking I must atone
or get me in some proper state
to come before the throne?

No, halting heart! It’s Jesus’ blood
and only what he’s done
makes me acceptable to God
in the Beloved One.

God Moves in a Mysterious Way by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way
his wonders to perform. William_Cowper_by_Lemuel_Francis_Abbott
He plants his footsteps in the sea
and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
of never-failing skill,
he treasures up his bright designs
and works his sovereign will.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds you so much dread
are big with mercy and shall break
in blessings on your head.

His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
and scan his work in vain.
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.

Luke 23:55,56 by Heidi Zartman

‘The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.’ (Luke 23:55,56)

How sweet, but bittersweet — before the dawn
Of the first day, to have rested
With God while His body lay in
Joseph’s tomb. As earth’s last Sabbath crested

Over Friday’s light, they had prepared their
Spices and their ointments for the
Burial — then wrought with despair,
That tense pause while He slept so tranquilly.

Since time began they had observed the rest
Of God. Now it lay all around
Them, as His Sabbath coalesced
With ours concretely. But how profound

His was — how disturbed, shattered, anxious must
Have been the women’s — til they wished
To wake Him as we waked Him once
On Galilee: ‘Carest thou not we perish?’

So little could they understand how sweet
And singular a thing occurs
When God’s respite comes, replete
To this convergence — for He rested with us

Perfectly. His labor had been finished:
He had only to fulfil our
Sabbath til our night diminished,
And He rose to wake His troubled sleepers.

by Heidi Zartman

Isaiah 11:8 by Heidi Zartman

‘The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.’ (Isaiah 11:8)

Now on my wall, a child gathers gold leaves
Quietly over buried Salem —
Bending where someone grieved,
Unconscious of that history —
Of her strange newness in old pain —
Of someone’s memory gathering her from the debris
Of gravestone, earth’s manifold vein
Of hope.

The graveyard, so I read, is haunted by a witches’ ghost,
Witnessed in images.
And on my wall the spirit of an innocence
Kneels artlessly,
Head bowed, in modern clothes,
Oblivious of her phantom nature
In their centuries —
Gathering from their fall a vivid shape,
Unaware of hers.

by Heidi Zartman

Jamie by S. Dryden Phelps (1860)

sdryden(this poem was written by Phelps’ while he was in Egypt and he found out that his young son died back home, and also realized that on the very day of his funeral, he unknowingly preached a sermon on “God shall wipe away all tears”)

On Egypt’s far famed River, wondrous Nile!
Where many a Pyramid sublime appears,
Crowned with the glory of three thousand years,
While Time still fails to waste each mountain pile,
We sail where Pharaoh’s place rose so fair,
And MOSES was concealed and found in fears,
The Sabbath comes; our boat’s a place of prayer;

My text: “And God shall wipe away all tears.”
We wept. That day my darling boy at home,
Too bright and beautiful for earth and sin,
From midst my weeping flock, GOD’S house within,
Was borne, in form so lovely, to the tomb.
I heard at length— Oh JAMIE! full of charms
How could I give thee up, save into JESUS’ arms!

by S. Dryden Phelps (1860)

The Quidditie by George Herbert

220px-George_HerbertMY God, a verse is not a crown,
No point of honour, or gay suit,
No hawk, or banquet, or renown,
Nor a good sword, nor yet a lute:

It cannot vault, or dance, or play;
It never was in France or Spain;
Nor can it entertain the day
With my great stable or demain:

It is no office, art, or news,
Nor the Exchange, or busie Hall;
But it is that which while I use
I am with thee, and Most take all.