Tag Archives: life

ADVENT POEM By Will Layton, 2nd Year M.Div. Student

Prepare the way, O Zion! Ye awful deeps, rise high;
Sink low, ye lofty mountains, The Lord is drawing nigh.

The wise man in the pulpit says,
“This isn’t going to be easy.”
His white hair and his reputation for truth-telling
(A prophet, maybe?)
Make us all suspect he’s right.
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

That night, in a bar downtown, a woman sings:
“A change is gonna come.”
She sings as if she knows
The change will be right,
But we suspect it won’t be easy.
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

A young woman, expecting
Watches out the window,
As the streets of Detroit boil
Rebellion, riot, protest,
Change. Suspicion.
A people divided,
Uniformed bodies
And uninformed arms.
Her little boy—will be a month late–
Not easy, coming into a world like this.
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

On the too-familiar bench outside the courtroom,
Already suspect, easy to condemn,
Another one waits for judgment.
Something needs to change.
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

Beneath the throne, the saints cry out,
“How long, O Lord, how long?”
Do they think this will be easy?
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

These things must come to pass.

On the morning the stars fell,
It caught us off-guard.
We were all afraid,
So we all went outside together.
And as Jesus Christ passed by on the street,
We suspected things wouldn’t be easy,
But there was a rumor of peace.

VIGIL FOR A HOMICIDE VICTIM poem by Carina Schiltz, Intern, Milwaukee, WI

Just up the street from the old
stone Norwegian Lutheran church
sits a dozen candles set in a cross

a few beer cans and tomatoes at the
makeshift altar where a small group huddles
in the cold, the wind whipping the ladies’ skirts,
words coating the watchers and wonderers:

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ “

Blood and ugliness has been erased,
washed from the street,
but the pavement will never be fully cleansed
or innocent again.

Perhaps the group is standing on the very place that he died.

His body on the pavement, unable to sustain the beating.

And somewhere in this city a wife
and two children sift through grief.

The produce company where he worked
has a newly sharp vacancy.

The unassuming neighborhood,
houses with sagging porches,
windows covered in shades and shutters
looks on.

A few curious cars creep by,
wondering at the group of church-goers
who look at the ground,
anywhere but each other,
because death is just too close right now.

The Bible-reader feels like giving up,
but something bubbles up in her voice,
pushing back despair and helplessness
so that the words continue to drift over the
hearers.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The pastor prays for God
to embrace the victim, the human, with mercy and peace.
“I’ve been waiting for him to come home,” the victim’s neighbor stutters
as the pastor pulls her into an embrace.

A breath, a pause, and the people
walk back down the
cracked sidewalks that have seen more violence
than they ever should.

 

SENSING MISERY By Terese TouVelle and Teri Wagner, M.A. in Diaconal Ministry Students

How does one recognize misery? These are our images of misery.

  • When the blankets in a nursing home resident’s room smells like urine and there is feces on the wall.
  • The couple crying over their new born who will not survive the night.
  • The cancer patient who knows she will not live long enough to attend her daughter’s wedding.
  • The elderly person who has no dentures because they lay broken on the floor and there is no money to replace them.
  • The old man who talks about his war years because they were his glory days when he felt alive.
  • A husband who must decide to remove life support from his wife of 62 years.
  • The wife of a stroke victim who hasn’t heard her husband speak her name in twelve years.
  • The prisoner who is admitted to the hospital to die but his family never shows up.
  • The teen who attempted suicide because he believes he is worthless.
  • The family surrounding the bed of their dying mother.
  • The oncology nurse who is tired of losing patients.
  • The young, gay man who is beaten up by classmates.
  • The daughter whose mother no longer remembers her name
  • The woman whose husband tells her that it is her fault that he beats her.
  • The doctor who must tell a family that he has done all he can.
  • Seeing and hearing your child whipped.
  • The woman who trusted police because they were supposed to protect and serve and then was treated horribly.
  • The child whose only meal today will be what is served at school.
  • Having barely enough money for bus fare and getting to the clinic to find they have closed.
  • The sound of too many empty liquor bottles rattling together in a garbage can.
  • A mother whose autistic child won’t let her hold him.
  • A married couple sharing a house filled with angry silence.
  • A woman who can’t take enough showers to wash away the touch of a rapist.
  • The single mother who works two jobs but still can’t afford to buy her children a birthday present.
  • The fifty-year-old man who wonders how he will provide for his family now that the mill has closed.
  • The millions of people who wonder if there really is a God.

KINGDOM? by Craig Nessan, WTS Academic Dean

Kingdom?

Just on the other side of the road.
Through the thin place.
Knock on the door.
Across the limen.
In the face.
Caring word.
Lending hand.
Taking time.
Interpret generously.
Choosing not to take offense.
Including.
Jesus breaking and entering.
Guilty as charged.
Alive again.

A CONVERSATION WITH GOD by Jennae Giles

Are you here?
I AM

Were you there?
YES, I WAS … I AM … I WIL BE.

The whys … the how’s … they overwhelm me.
I AM THE BEGINNING AND THE END … THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA

I cannot see you.
LIKE THE STARS OF NIGHT THAT ARE ALWAYS THERE, HIDDEN BY THE LIGHT OF DAY, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS.

It’s too hard … too much.
LEAN ON ME, IT WON’T ALWAYS BE EASY, BUT WITH MY HELP YOU CAN MAKE IT THROUGH THIS DARK VALLEY.

I don’t know what to do … where to go.
I WILL LEAD YOU AND SHOW YOU THE WAY OF LIFE.

THE VOICE WITHIN by Tammy K. Barthels, M.Div. Junior

 More often than not we fail to embrace who God created us to be and instead view ourselves through the lens through which society and culture see us. We search for a love–that only God can give us–in things that are not life-giving and we are left empty. We allow society to strip us of our authenticity until we can no longer recognize the unique individuals God has created us to be. God, however, invites us daily to go within and seek the goodness God has created. Allowing ourselves silence and solitude, we will begin to hear God’s voice speaking to us, telling us that we are beloved children of God.

This poem was written in the reflection of God’s love that is calling us from within.

Remain still.

Breathe.

Embrace the Divine,

Within, daily.

Do not forget,

You are a Child of God.

You carry within you,

Everything you need.

Live with passion.

Discover.

Celebrate who you are.

Rejoice, be glad.

Embrace all you are.

For the Divine created you,

And you are good.

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!”