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
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
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.
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
Of how she was married young
Like many were
And had the complete seven years of ring on finger,
Not a mother as far as we know,
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-
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
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
of letting go
Of what? I ask.
Heat melting ice
Hot replacing cold
Control of what? I ask.
How things end up
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?
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
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?
Based on John 11
Two days he waited
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”
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!”
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
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
Up on your feet
And I will speak
Before these words reached the ground
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 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
A grace and a choice.
Copyright E. Henry, 2020
Alarm bells ring in my head
In my heart
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.
My skin is pale
His was dark
Why is there a marked difference
A medical incidence?
Or a public murder?
Our words will not cover a multitude of wrongs.
We all have rights
Those who lead more so than others
And how do you explain or account for
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?
Full to the brim
yet questions threatened to unsettle them
Discourse of the richest kind
The deepest kind
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…
put on that cross of wood
Nailed to a tree
Reviled and rejected by the very people
He was lifted high
And everyone who walks by
“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
© Emily Henry, 2020
I wonder … if they know
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 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!
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.
The world has changed
For an unknown period of time
We, who imagined we were in control, have recently received a nasty shock
We, who assumed we’re immune
Have realised we may be in lock down til June …
And we push
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
And so best to put my trust in something/
Someone who will last
Past these days of uncertainty and change
He never fails
He stays the same.
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.