Better late than never …

Better late than never

That’s what ‘they’ say

But I do feel rather slow today.

In fact, for all of January,

There has been a lethargy

Piggy backing on 2020

But now that February has come into view

I am ready to start the year anew…

To breathe deep and say,

“It’’s ok. I’ll take a day

At a time. I’ll take the pressure

Off me and lean

On Jesus

Who, at the perfect time, came to be

My rescue and hope

To show me the love of the Father

And hold me close.

Copyright E.Henry 2021

Another famous Anna…

We all have our favourite part of the Christmas season and perhaps, like me, you have a favourite character in the actual Christmas story too.

While Christmas Day has been and gone, my favourite character comes into the story eight days after the birth of Christ.

Mary and Joseph bring the new born baby, Jesus to the temple and they meet two extraordinary people: Simeon and Anna.

While I love many things about Simeon’s story, there was something particularly moving about Anna’s story to me this year. Something that has struck me that I had never paid attention to before. I love how God does that!

The thing that struck me anew was that Anna had suffered great pain and heartache – she had been widowed and as far as we know she had not had children in her seven years or marriage either. This would have been a great burden in the time and culture in which she lived. She may have been considered cursed by God. When barren Elizabeth, had given birth to John (earlier in the Christmas accounts), she exclaimed her praise to God for taking away her disgrace among the people.

So Anna had definitely suffered, not only the loss of her husband but the loss of dreams and a future she had wanted.

It occurred to me that there has been a lot of loss in this strange year of 2020 for a lot of people. There has been much pain and trauma. There has been hope deferred. Perhaps, you know something of what Anna felt.

And yet…!

Anna made a choice. A choice to come to the temple and praise God. To worship him and seek his face in her deep pain and she did it without caring what others thought.

She never left the temple.

Powerful words. What must people have thought of her at the time? I know that nowadays she may well be considered an oddball.

She cared more about what God thought of her than what those around her thought about her and she stayed…

She stayed a very long time! She is 84 when we ‘meet’ her. I think of the times I struggle to pray for an hour! And the times when I try to fill the painful places with other things- escapism… comfort eating…

But Anna didn’t. She came to the One who would fully satisfy her and redeem her life and because she did this, she met the very One who fulfils that promise- Jesus- her enough and her redemption.

I certainly could learn from this attitude of pain and praise!

So here is a little poem about Anna, one of my favourite Christmas characters!

Pain and Praise

There is a woman I’d like to acclaim-

A woman perhaps seen as strange

At the time

And now

Of how she was married young

Like many were

And had the complete seven years of ring on finger,

Domesticated wife,

Not a mother as far as we know,

But widowed

Scripture does not show that pain,

Except between the lines we find it

Was a decision she made

To bring it to God in worship.

She came to the temple and night and day she prayed and praised and some may look at her life and say-

A waste!

She could’ve remarried and tried again

But she heard Him call her name in the temple and she concluded it was better for her to be with Him and

In devotion, to bring her pain and praise with raised hands and upward eyes

She gave her all to Him- sacrifice.

So when He came

As a babe to their home

She knew who He was and gave thanks to God-

Redemption had come!

Copyright E.Henry, 2020

The Three P’s

Back in May, I was reflecting on my perceived need for control. Holding on and on… to a fault. Can you relate?

The Three P’s

This sun on my face is delicious

the cool breeze too

Wish it would penetrate right through

To the inner parts

The art

of letting go

Of what? I ask.

Of control.

Heat melting ice

Hot replacing cold

Control of what? I ask.

The outcome.

How things end up

Perfection

And preservation and

Definitely protection of all things sacred.

Is that your job?

The Three P’s Sitting nicely

under each other on the bulletin?

Is that your job?

To perfect?

Or preserve?

Or even protect?

Not one of these is part of your job description!

Not one is asked of you on your God given mission.

Why do what has already been done?

Why try to control the outcome of a battle already won?

Why not leave the winning up to Me?

And you rest beneath the victory banner?

Why not let go … of control?

Copyright. E. Henry, 2020

No doubt

From their perspective

There were easily doubts.

They were stood in front of a tomb. Nothing speaks “The End” better than that, they thought. They had been holding out for Jesus, the healer, to come and make their only brother well. They loved him and they had been troubled at this sickness that had ravaged his body. Their once perhaps strong and dependable brother was seriously ill but they knew someone who could fix him- heal him! They loved him and they knew that Jesus loved them.

In a society, were the male population were expected to provide for their female relatives and family they were also concerned for their futures, if the worst were to happen.

Surely, Jesus would drop everything and come to their aid, they had thought. He had helped so many already! He had given the blind their sight, helped lame people walk confidently on their feet again and restored deformed hands! He was the healer, for sure!

Yes, they had been sure he would come. Besides, he had just left the region recently so he shouldn’t be too far away! They had sent a messenger to track him down and convey the seriousness of the situation.

So they had waited.

The messenger had come back, without Jesus. Without the healer. The only message that he had stayed put.

And now it was more than 4 days later and here they were – standing outside their brother’s grave and Jesus had turned up. If I was Martha I may well have, in grief, uttered the words ‘Better late than never?! Eh, Jesus?!’ When she says how long Lazarus has been buried, I wonder if that was a similar thought?

But Jesus reminded her that if she accepted him as the resurrection and the life like he said he was she would see God show up in His glory. Truth was he was already there!

Yet to show Martha, Mary, me and you that he is not ‘just’ healer but amazingly also the resurrection and the life – the one who gives us our very breath- he said “Roll back the stone” and then “Lazarus, come out”.

Truth is Jesus could’ve have dropped everything straight away and healed Lazarus. Even with a word like he did with the centurion’s son. But then the sisters and, of course, Lazarus himself, would not have realised Jesus’ greater power and authority… over life and death.

I am currently struggling with waiting on Jesus. And many who read this will be too. If not right now you will have in the past or will in the future!

It’s hard because I know and believe certain things about him. He is my guide. He is my provider. He is my healer and he is my friend. But what if he is waiting to show me another element of his character in this? What if he is helping me see him more clearly and evidently then showing me the Glory of God?

“No doubt”

Based on John 11

Two days he waited

They debated

Why?

Bethabara to Bethany was a 20 mile walk

BUT he hardly needed to take stock and consider whether to come or not!

It was his friend, and he loved and respected him

Yet he ‘neglected’ to show up and ‘instead let them down’ when it really mattered

or so they thought…

‘If you had been here my brother would not have died’ was the accusation, the cry

Fact was he didn’t deny it.

Jesus had arrived now but he was ‘late’

And now they couldn’t escape the truth that Lazarus was dead.

Jesus spoke into the grief stricken silence and said…

“Open it up- Take away the rock”

Gasps! Shock!

What? Why?

The smell will be too strong!

Not forget- it’s been 4 days since he’s been gone!

Knowing how long it had been,

His eyes still wet with the sheen of tears, he turned to Martha and calmed her fears –

Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

A silent obedience. They took it away, while Jesus looked up and prayed,

“Father, I thank You for Your listening ear and able hand- Help them all to believe and understand!”

And…

With that he raised his voice and a dead man breathed and the people rejoiced

To see the Glory of God.

Copyright. E.Henry, July 2020

‘Son of Man’

I have been reading through the Bible this year using The Bible Project’s ‘Read Scripture’ App. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and absolutely love their work. I could talk a lot about that!! But I am reading through Ezekiel at the moment and there is a lot of difficult things to read. As usual, God is speaking through a prophet to communicate with his people, who up to this point have done what all humans do and done things their own way, without reference to Him, our Creator.

But in this book while there is warning and rebuke (always out of love) there is this passage of chapter 2 verses 1 and 2 (along with a number of other passages) that stick out to me especially. Places where Ezekiel is given visions of the glory of the LORD. We, who are undeserving, are invited to hear God’s word to us. There is grace for us. And what’s more Ezekiel is overcome by the Holy Spirit and so God Himself empowers His prophet to stand to hear His word to him. More grace.

But there is also a choice. A choice to be obedient to that gracious word.

Ezekiel had some very difficult messages to bring to his people. Messages that included rebuke of their idol worship. Messages of warning for coming punishment due to their scant regard for God and his loving kindness toward them. He had to share the message in some very strange and painful ways. But he did it. He did it because he believed God and took Him at his word.

Ezekiel, who was consistently called ‘Son of Man’ by God in this book, received God’s message because he received God’s heart and trusted His character.

I could certainly learn a lot from Ezekiel. Maybe you could too?

“Son of Man

Stand

Up on your feet

And I will speak

To you”

Before these words reached the ground

Their sound

Was heard by ears bent, head low and face down.

The Spirit moved.

Overwhelming every part of me

Every inch He

Changed my heart

And made it flesh.

To see.

To raise these cells, which are but dust

To stand before the glory of the LORD Himself

To hear his voice

I must hear His voice

To me.

A grace and a choice.

Copyright E. Henry, 2020

I can’t breathe!

Alarm bells ring in my head

In my heart

Another hashtag

Another name

Getting less than the 15 minutes of fame

that others less honourably obtain ….

This is real. This is now. This is 2020

And this is how

NO-ONE should be treated.

Ever. Forever

Full stop.

My skin is pale

His was dark

Why is there a marked difference

…in justice?

A medical incidence?

Or a public murder?

Our words will not cover a multitude of wrongs.

We all have rights

And responsibilities.

Accountability.

Those who lead more so than others

And how do you explain or account for

The mothers

Who have lost sons and daughters,

fathers and mothers,

sisters and brothers

In this ‘quiet’ travesty.

Not that the voices aren’t shouting but rather their necks are weighed down by the injustice of the silence to their words…

I can’t breathe!

The Greatest Person?

The Greatest Person?

After dinner

Full to the brim

yet questions threatened to unsettle them

Discourse of the richest kind

The deepest kind

They find

it confusing and overwhelming to say the least

The greatest person? They ask

Is the lowliest he said.

Then showed them.

In more than one way.

At first with hand and foot.

Washing feet – even theirs

Coming down off his seat

and taking towel and water

he was the example of servant love – the lowest being the greatest.

But again in less than 24 hours he would show them again

What it meant to be great

In a most unlikely way…

He stayed

put on that cross of wood

Nailed to a tree

Reviled and rejected by the very people

He created

Lowering himself

He was lifted high

And everyone who walks by

Scoffs

“He saved others yet he cannot save his own flesh and blood”

Watching on from down below

she knows he can and is doing exactly this-

By staying there and going through with death itself

He would save his people from the same verdict

The perfect one at heavens side

brought down low then lifted high

Blood and water

In their

In my

place.

© Emily Henry, 2020

I wonder…

I wonder … if they know

about Corona

Virus that is

The little ones that hop about on

spindly legs and merrily dodge the

white rippled waves

As they come in to greet them. Their wings happily tucked in and yet moving as freely as they’d like

When they like

They chirp occasionally

without restraint

Without a limit of any kind

The sun shines on us both

But the differences are clear

He gets to stay out here and

I have to go inside.

Copyright E.Henry, 2020.

I was out for my daily short walk by my flat, which I am very grateful is so close to the sea front, when I decided to stop and notice the little birds hopping over the sand and waves. We have become very accustomed to the freedom to go where we like, when we like and perhaps this whole pandemic will help us (myself included) to be more grateful for that freedom.

Have to say though that I was so thankful to actually get inside as the wind would have cut you in two!

Stay safe! Stay home!

Emily x

A Lament for World Poetry Day…

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It’s World Poetry Day. Poetry has long been seen as flowery language expressing trite sentiments that have little to do with the reality of everyday life. Sentiments that only the elite have time to write…

However, one of the reasons I began writing poetry was because I was inspired by the ‘down in the trenches’ horrors of war that Wilfred Owen describes without fear of upsetting his readers. He wrote as it was – the reality of what he saw before him. Unapologetically.

Today I am reminded of this as I write a lament in the midst of what can only be described as unprecedented times. Times we never saw coming. A host of feelings thrown into the reality that things most likely won’t be the same again.

Lately, I have been very much encouraged by Rend Collective and their call to choose to worship especially when it’s hard and you don’t feel anything.

So with that in mind I wrote a lament.

Even Today

O Lord,

I pour out my lament. To you.
Overwhelmed.
I am overwhelmed.
This world just got a whole lot
Crazier
And I don’t know what to do.
I need you.
We need you.
We all do
But the majority of folks don’t accept this
They say things that are empty and unfounded like-
WE will get through this.
WE can.
WE must.
And while it’s true that we should still stick together (at a distance!)
That’s NOT all that will weather
this storm.
There is a warning –
People fail us. there have been those who have lost our trust. Those who let fear get the best of them, stockpiling up and leaving others with out the ‘musts’.
So much is uncertain. So much is unclear.
So much is unknown. So much up in the air.
I think of all those in isolation-
Myself included-
And worry about our mental health and if there’s a solution.
I worry, in addition, about an increase in sin and crime
Of pornography and domestic abuse and the devil working overtime.
I worry that the finances are not secure and that I and others will need to ‘sign on’ and perhaps endure hard times ahead.
Yes I feel overwhelmed, God.
But…
like when David cried out to you in the valley
I will lift up my eyes and say:
My times are in your hands.
Blessed be your name
Even today.
Copyright E. Henry, 2020

Above All

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The world has changed
Completely
instantly
For an unknown period of time
We, who imagined we were in control, have recently received a nasty shock
-we’re not.
We, who assumed we’re immune
Have realised we may be in lock down til June …
Or beyond…
And we push
We panic.
We rush around
In a manic flurry.
To then be sitting ducks.
Control it seems has slipped through our fingers, as we wash our hands. I’m reminded that the sand in the timer is also slipping through
The glass
And so best to put my trust in something/
Someone who will last
Past these days of uncertainty and change
Jesus-
He never fails
He stays the same.
Above all.

Copyright E.Henry, March 2020.

I haven’t uploaded anything for a long while because I haven’t really written much in a long while. This being a ‘sitting duck’ and added to the fact that it’s World Poetry Day on Saturday I want to get back into the habit of writing regularly. It’s one of my many loves.

The times are uncertain but He is not.  Keep trusting. Keep praying. Keep preferring the other. 

Emily xx