Tag Archives: grace

A PRESENT PARTICIPLE (“ing”) POEM By Rev. Dr. Ralph Quere, WTS faculty em.

A Present Participle (“ing”) Poem
Telos
How goes this conversing with death?
Is death at the end to be befriended or upended
By a dreaded enemy’s defeating by the spirit’s working
Often when in helplessness, hopelessness or pain’s distress
Death comes as respited releasing, awaited with eagerness
Tempting us to euthanasia or suicide: both rob God’s hands!
Scripture is clear: human life is enslaved by fear of death1
But there is an antidote, not a medicine, but a person
Called Resurrection and Life2 who killed killer-death

By dying—like many soldiers—dying to win a battle
And saving others, like Christ dying & sharing His kingdom
With others. Like the dying thief and offering it to all!
For many baptizings that begin it in God giving pardon,
New birth into new living that is lasting into the ages of ages
Linking us with Christ’s dying and living, kept by the spirit
Working faith & love toward the living word named Jesus.
St. Paul admits desiring departing and being with Christ!
A suicidal death wish? No, a longing for consummating Faith,
Hope and Love through the victory won by Jesus, swallowing
Death & defanging evil! This gift just keeps on coming
From the Father’s on-going so loving the world—

Rooting in the Son’s once-for-all-self-sacrificing and,
The undercover working of the creating spirit
Bringing the redeeming power of love3 & liberating truth
Of the triune deity’s trialogue displacing death’s dialogue
With the triune deity’s trialogue of
Christ, Grace & Faith!

The Dialogue with Death recommends that the dying “befriend” death. I agree that it is important to accept death when it is clearly approaching. The “Death and Dying” movement followed the literature about the “American Way of Death” the way the funeral industry helped in physical and psychological tools to mask and in effect deny death. Many psychologists recommend that funeral services should be “grief management.” The current fad in the “celebration of life” – a half step in the right direction. However that is understood and usually performed as celebration of the life of the deceased and paints plaster saint out of one whom the family and friends knew was quite the opposite. Even the best of the saints need to be remembered as “a sinner of (Christ’s) own reddeming (ELW p. 283).

So the one whose life should be celebrated at funerals is Jesus whose death and resurrection are our new life and sure hope for eternal life. Handel’s Messiah draws from Revelations 5:9-14 for the final chorale: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.”

Scripture makes it clear that death is a defeated enemy – it’s not a warm fuzzy friend (see the notes in the poem).

1Heb. 2:15
2John 11:24
32 Cor. 5:19-21

JONAH’S SONG by Rev. Peter Heide, Baraboo, WI, WTS, 1996

“It is not fair!” I cry overcome with rage,
That I, in darkness, must proclaim the light;
That I, sightless, must proclaim the vision;
That I, without sight, must see the goodness of creation
And bear witness to the forest of walking trees,
With grafted branches of cross-purposed fruit
That, lifted high in Easter light,
Know only self-gratified comfort in succulent wholeness given
Not seeing the bruised compassing their island fortune
Or windfalls, grounded, split and broken.
“It is not fair!” I cry overcome by rage
That I, in uncharted spaces and fearful of misstep falling,
Must walk into the void, cane feeling, disabled,
No thanks to God for life and being,
Only thoughts of murderous envy
Of the ables, who freely move, not seeing,
Speaking ridiculing laughter, lamenting of pessimistic fate
And burdened lives of privileged living,
Insensate, offering aid of demeaning condescension,
Unintentionally stripping personhood and accomplishment without question.
“It is not fair!” I cry overcome with rage,
That I, cast down from judgment gate, must stand
And go to be swallowed up in color prejudice,
neon sirens’ calling, fashion statement wearing, and icon branding,
It rolls like building waves upon the shore.
To be spewed up on alien land, this Nineveh, to proclaim favor, restoration.
Far better would be shame and ashes—bended knee humiliation,
But your judgment hangs with grace
Forgiving even their unknowing
And my own empty railing.
“It is not fair!” I cry overcome with rage outside the walls of your embrace,
Away from challenging interaction and site of restoration relationship;
And I am angry enough to die.
Yet you continue to speak creation into being;
You surround me with spirit breezes blowing,
Song bird singing, wheat grass growing, grape vine clinging,
And words of forgiving interaction:
“You and all people, for the forgiveness of sin,”
Claiming me as justified partner, including me as one of them,
In conversation of mutual need.
“Thank God! It is not fair!”