Poetry Column for August 2021

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This month I’d like to emphasize the symbolic heart of communal worship, no matter in which setting it takes place.

The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

~ Hebrews 4:12-16

I have asked
That the sword-word be a scalpel today
And that it incise my heart
And so I open my garments
Exposing my chest
Prying apart the breastbones
Slicing the flesh
And letting the breezes here
Blow across my quivering heart
This chapel has become an
Operating room; the blood and
Bread somehow oddly appropriate.
The covenant I have made is the
Anesthesia that allows me
To undergo this coming experience.
Will He cut into me
Leaving behind an irritant
That I will coat like a pearl–
A thing of beauty out of pain?
Or will it fester inside me
And kill?
Or will He pour in wine and oil
And bind up my wound
And set me on my feet again?

We expect when we come to “church” that the Lord will somehow recognize our effort, see our dedication, and reward us in some way with a “good experience” there. We speak of coming with empty buckets to be filled, of needs like gaping holes in our hearts that are to be bound up with fellowship, love, and instruction. Most of all, we want something from the Lord Himself—an insight, a comforting, a reassurance. We want, in other words, for Him to be open with us. But because He’s a loving Father, He doesn’t just pat us on our heads and tell us everything is all right. Sometimes His words hurt; and we recoil because we find to our surprise that we are the ones who have become vulnerable, not Him. Our eternal praise should be to Him who spares us without spoiling us.

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

~ Matthew 26:27-28

I take the small silver cup
And hold it expectantly
Beneath His fingertips,
The tap from which
The red liquid trickles
I tremble at the cost of
This beverage;
Ever startled at
The sweetness of its taste

What a marvelous time it is, to be able to sit in quietness and peace and think on Jesus without distractions. No matter what the weather, no matter what the political upheaval, we are safe as we contemplate our Lord. This place is a tryst—that which has the kiss of eternity on its brow—and a truce with all outside. 

Dr. Latayne C. Scott is the recipient of Pepperdine University’s Distinguished Christian Service Award for “Creative Christian Writing,” and is Trinity Southwest University’s Author in Residence. Her newest book is Talking with Teens about Sexuality: Critical Conversations about Social Media, Gender Identity, Same-Sex Attraction, Pornography, Purity, Dating, Etc. with Dr. Beth Robinson (Bethany Books.) The author of over two dozen published books, including Passion, Power, Proxy, Release (TSU Press) in which these poems appear, she lives and writes in New Mexico. She maintains two websites: Latayne.com and Representationalresearch.com.

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