This month: 190 - Legalism & Progressivism
Exploring the Heart of Restoration

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Latayne Scott

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This month I’d like to think about the various kinds of freedom we have. Having recently lost both my beloved mother and my husband of 47 years, the first devotion and poem pay homage to their freedom.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

~ Hebrews 6:17-20a

In Memoriam: A Saint Passes

Passing:
Like a little bird breaking
From small confines
Into limitless light, shimmering sun;
Breathless, wings beating,
Blinded by light, impatient,
Exhilarated;
And then
the joy of
Recognition
(waves of translucent luminance like foam on the
Ransom
Reunion
Rest–
(and eternity stretching as far
as the untroubled sky)

A promise Jesus made, which is the hardest to understand, was His assurance in John 11:25. He was standing outside the tomb of His friend Lazarus, speaking to Martha who, though disappointed in Jesus’ delay, still had faith in Him. She’d accepted the fact of her brother’s death, and when Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise again, she assumed He meant in the resurrection of the last day. “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus responded. “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Then Jesus confronted all her beliefs. He had just told Martha, in essence, that she herself would not die, and then He asked her, “Do you believe this?” We can’t fault Martha—we have trouble believing this ourselves! But Christians don’t face death the way others do.

For a Christian, it goes like this: you get really sick, or in an accident, and suddenly you go from intense pain into eternal life. Death? It’s just a passageway.

But for the soul which will not bend to God, the pain of illness or the trauma of injury is followed by a permanent condition we call death. It is eternal separation from God.

Jesus doesn’t want this for anyone. He wants eternal communion and fellowship with us, and gave His own life to achieve that end.

——————————————–

We live by faith, not by sight.

~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Tramride
This thin thin wire
Sways in generous bulging arcs
From breeze to breeze
Like a child’s jumprope
Or the rippling undulations
Of a lustrous serpent
Moving through thick waters.

We are suspended under
This snakerope
And we are pulled along
By it. There is no escape:
The mountain floor beneath us
Is frighteningly distant.
The trees are miniature layered fans
And its boulders a pebbled mosaic.

A ridge rises before us.
Our eyes tells us there is no
Way over it, and yet
The cable passes through a crevice.

This, then, is faith:
We know we must follow where the cable has
Gone, and let our hearts
Finish the ride,
Finish the ride.

Biblical faith is based not upon what we can predict in the future, but what we can read about in the past.

It’s a risky business, trusting God in this dangerous way.

It means turning over the control knobs of our life, the steering wheels of our directions, to an unseen Guide.

Only by trusting Jesus—someone who’s been the route before—can we have any confidence that we are doing the right thing, for we surely cannot be doing the “safe” thing if we are to follow an unseen God to the death. 

***************************************

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 several informational  websites, including Latayne.com and Representationalresearch.com.

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.

This month, in view of the theme of “Relationships,” I have chosen poems that exemplify four of the koine Greek words that depict the idea of love in the New Testament: eros, agape and philia and storge.  C. S. Lewis described these in his book The Four Loves (which, by the way, exists also in audio form as one of the few examples of his recorded voice.)

Philia, Brotherly Love

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
~ Hebrews 12:1

The Race

Like two children
In a three-legged race
We are bound together
As we run
The wind around us
Doesn’t matter
The shouting of the crowd
Doesn’t matter
We are consumed by
The rhythm of our striding,
By what lies ahead
All that really matters now
Is that we keep step
With each other

Paul recognized the importance of unity—not just at the level of the Body, but also harmony between individuals. He taught that the way to achieve that harmony was not through compromise with one another, but by compliance to God’s way of doing things. In Galatians he told us, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (5:25). We will keep step with each other to the exact degree that we keep step with God.

Storge: Parental Love

    I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers,
   because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,
   because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

~ 1 John 2:14

Unborn Children

This writhing inside me entreats in silence,
Groping for words through lips that have never spoken.
Child of few yesterdays and all tomorrows:
Through the muffled stillness of the waters,
Only the echo of my blood rushes through
Hollowing chambers to you.

(“Eye hath not seen nor ear heard. . .”
And yet, I know you.
Why can you not speak as I speak?
Will your love ever match mine?
Will the light of birth open
Your unused eyes to my yearning?)

I, too, move restlessly through terrestrial waters
As conscious of self as a child
Struggling against a mercantile world.  Above, a
Father waits for me
Reaching through beating waves of sound
And senselessness;
Patiently waiting for me to
See as I have been seen, to
Know as I have been known;
Wanting me to
Push my way out of this dark world-womb
Into His light.

How He waits for us to come to our senses, to truly embrace our reborn status, to see as we are seen, to know as we are known!

Eros: Sexual or Romantic Love

 Sustain me with raisins;
    refresh me with apples,
    for I am sick with love.
His left hand is under my head,
    and his right hand embraces me!

~ Song of Solomon 2: 5-6

The Truth

It is not flesh, nor beauty
Nor strength nor flashes of any sort.

And now it is not, can not be
Hope or possibilities or potentials,
For their time has passed.

It is not flesh nor beauty
Nor weaknesses nor thunders.

And, that it is not now,
And, that it has endured:
It never was those things.
And only now can that
Unmistakably be seen.

It is a hook in a heart
And a hook in a heart

And ligatures between them
Where pain is only relieved
When one rests
Against the other.

In an almost paradoxical way, eros love which is so bound up in the body’s needs and sensations finds its fullness, fruition, and perfection when it endures for years, for decades, even past the time of the body’s call and finds its home in agape love.

Agape: In the Best Interests of Others

Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.  For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

~ Luke 23:28-31

They are singing, all around me,
Blithely of
A cross that is old and rugged.
I am speechless, songless,
Stunned by a thought I can hardly bear:
What if the wood were new,
And His blood mingled with
The sap of that tree
Which itself was alive the day before,
Each one dying
For the other

The interconnection of Christ with the world He’d created should never be taken lightly. He told us that no sparrow, no flower of the field (and by extension, no created thing) is beyond His notice. His sacrifice for us didn’t cost only Him—the earthquakes at His death, the anguish of the Roman soldier who watched, the despair of the disciples—all mourned for Him. And even though we know He’s risen, we must mourn as well for the sin that put Him on that cross.

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 three of these poems appear, she lives and writes in New Mexico. She maintains two websites: Latayne.com and Representationalresearch.com.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:20

This is no vengeful deity
Who cuts off the outstretched hand
This is no capricious idol
Who plays chess with men’s souls;
No eternal checkmate
This is no prankster god
Who twists words and
Impales them upon intents
This is He
Who knows needs before they’re perceived
Who grants favors as they’re verbalized
Who invites us to believe
In what is not
Just so that He can make it
So:
This is the mighty God
of the perpetual
Yes

In times of crisis we tend to re-evaluate our concept of God based on how He is answering our prayers. That is always a mistake. He doesn’t want to be judged by us, least of all on the basis of how we perceive His “performance.” He chooses, instead, to be known by two characteristics from Psalm 62:12 that are rock-sure: He is strong (strong enough to bring about whatever He chooses) and loving (which means He wants the best for His people). So when it comes to our spiritual welfare, to our deepest needs, He is always ready to say, “Yes.”

——————————————————-

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
~ John 4:13-14

I read today of the convolute,
That tiny seaside creature
Who at birth gulps down a single algae-banquet:
Never to eat again, it lounges
Always in the sun
And feeds off its internal garden
For the rest of its life.

My life began when once I feasted on
Your unbelievable riches;
And their self-perpetuating bounty within me,
Nourished by limitless light,
Assures me that I will never hunger
For anything else again.

God has designed us as marvelously-engineered contrivances that must have periods of inactivity and fuel on a regular basis in order to function. In this way, we learn that we are dependent upon Him who commands rest and provides food. But the one thing most essential to our lives—a relationship with Him—is provided free and perpetual to anyone who simply asks. There is no effort involved, only that of submission.

————————————————-

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord’s wrath. He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light;indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.

                                                                  ~ Lamentations 3:1-6

The hound of heaven has pursued me
And I coyly hid and cavorted–
Enjoying the chase
Even as I lost a finger or a toe;
Hanks of hair left hanging on
Limbs I’d left
Now
He has cornered me
And He is devouring my arms and legs
And the soft parts
Of my belly
And I have lost
The will to run

Francis Thompson lived over two hundred years ago in London. He was, by his own admission, a failure at everything he did in his early life—in relationships, in understanding life and his role in it, even in his profession as a medical doctor.

He reached his lowest point when he became an opium addict and was reduced to living as a vagrant, searching through the garbage and castoffs of others in order to survive.

“I was,” he reflected later, “a broken waif of a man.”

When he became a Christian, his life changed; but he never forgot how low he’d once sunk. He gave no credit to himself for his salvation, but instead described God as a hound that had pursued him until he caught him.

The process of being chased by Someone stronger and faster than you isn’t a pleasant one.

The only thing that makes such a thing endurable is the fact that God pursues us to save us from ourselves.

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.

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

~ Luke 14:8-11

Court of the Women
I move among these, my sisters
Here in the court of the women
Where the altar smoke
Drifts out from the
Distant and inaccessible altar
This is the place of shes
The blessing-site, the giving-way
I do not strain to see
The lampstands, the bowls,
The sacrifice;
For the light that shines from there
Moves toward me:
The Priest has brought
The rites to me
And together we fellowship
Here,
In the court of women
He knows submission
Better than I

The word “submission” is a hateful one in our society, because people assume that submitting to someone else is an admission that you are in some way inferior.

But Jesus taught just the opposite. We submit to one another to show honor; not because we are wretched, but because we choose to do so. Submission as a choice is a great source of strength and power—Jesus said the servant of all is the greatest of all. When women choose to be silent in worship, they exercise this same kind of power of submission, and mirror the fact that in the Old Testament temple, the court of the women was where all the giving took place.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

~ Matthew 11:28

Polyfacet
Just as He is God
Who is served by
A Spirit
Who is the faces of
Lamb ox eagle lion man

Who is a wheel
Within a wheel
Covered by eyes
All around

I lean now
Upon His breast
Becoming with the church
Millions of ears
That lie just under
His clavicle
Straining to hear
The comfort of
His beating
Heart

 
Jesus made the most marvelous barter of all history. Come to Me, He said, and I’ll take all your messes, all your regrets, all your guilt and pain, no questions asked. In most translations, He is quoted as saying “I will give you rest.” But the word “rest” in Greek is a verb, not a direct object. It’s not something He gives you, it’s something He does to you.  

Come to Me, He says. I’ll rest you.

—————————————————

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

~ Genesis 32:24-27

The Match

Like Jacob and the angel
We face each other warily
Our eyes never releasing their vision-lock
What soundless circling,
Sliding of bared feet
Upon the mat of my life
I have heard the bell
For the opening of the match:
It rings even now in my brain
Insistent, insistent,
Sounded by
My divine Opponent
And I sigh
Because I do not know if I have the strength
I do not know the outcome
(For He with whom I joust
Is also judge)
My crowded consciousness chants:
“Though He slay me
Yet will I hope in Him”
The wrestling match
Begins

The walk of the faithful with God is not a trouble-free stroll. In fact, those who become close to God often find themselves struggling with Him in one way or another. Abraham, for instance, bargained with God over the safety of the people in Sodom, wrangling back and forth over numbers. Jacob literally wrestled with God. Paul asked the Lord over and over to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” and even this great hero of faith was denied his request. Even our Lord Jesus was told that He must drink from the cup He’d asked repeatedly to have taken away. Throughout the ages of Christianity, people have struggled with God. One believer, Teresa of Avila, once wrote a letter to God in which she told him how difficult her life had become since she had attempted to surrender it fully to Him.

 “If this is how You treat Your friends,” she penned ruefully, “it’s no wonder You have so many enemies.”

So take heart, brother, sister: you can’t wrestle with Someone who isn’t at least touching you.

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.

This month the column commemorates the passion of our Lord Jesus.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open… 
~ Matthew 27:51-52a

Did the angels
Those sinew-armed strongmen of the ages
Sweat great drops of celestial self-control

Did tears run down the faces
Of those who continually see the Face

Did holy muscles tremble and twitch
at being restrained
at seeing urgency and being forbidden
at hearing the cries and stopping their unearthly ears

Did eternal eyes flinch and close against the sight
Of a Savior they couldn’t save?

All Creation, we are told in the book of Romans, groans as it awaits redemption. How much more the powerful, unaging messengers of God—those who sang of his birth, who ministered to his loneliness in the Garden—how would they have agonized as they watched, helpless, as their Master’s life seeped away, at the hands of godless men?

——————————————

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
~ John 19:38-39

Joseph and Nicodemus

What a disheveled heap
This bled-out bone bag makes
Crusted with spit and sweat
Entrusted with threats to the two of us

The workman’s wiry muscles, now slack
Are pitiful as they break through the flayed skin
But the blood—it is all gone, tired of flowing
Clotted and forgotten at the dirt footer of
The flogging pole
And of course
That cross

We avert from each other
But we cannot stop our own tears
Squeezed out between our eyelids
That should shield us from what we see here:
The candlewax pallor

The shamed nakedness we wash and cover first
To give the modesty the audience denied
Our towels dipped in the pots
We lugged down the stairs
The water pinks now
In the lamplight

Part by part
Limb by limb
We dampen and rub away
All the vestiges on
The shell of a delivered-over spirit

One of the winding cloths rolls below the ledges
We reel it in and wrap his arms
From the swaddles on our grizzled forearms

We have grown wrinkles under our tears
The weight is almost beyond our old-men strength
We heft and lean
Balance and wrap

The acrid spices
The confined space
Bring more tears
More tears

We find we do not need
The water any more

True friendship means standing by someone in all the stages of life—and in the final stage of death. Even though His lifeless body could no longer bless and heal, His friends treated it with respect, preparing it for a final resting place. Little did they know that it would soon be walking and talking and leaving those grave clothes behind!

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.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” ~ John 17:20-21

I in them (He prayed)
And Thou in Me
That they may be perfected as one

My Jesus
You have been
The answer to my every prayer
May I be
The answer
To Yours?

Jesus came to this earth with very few requirements. His birth was humble, his parents simple people. He never owned a home. At the time of His death He only had one change of clothes. People were always helping Him out—with food, with a bed, even with carrying His cross and providing a loaned tomb. Only from an outcast, half-breed woman and from one of His executioners did He ever ask even for a drink of water. What He wanted from people was not their things, but their thoughts. It’s true that a church is exactly what you think of it. If you look at it as a group of show-offs and hypocrites, you’ll hold yourself above them. If you try to see others as fellow-strugglers, you’ll help—and be helped by—them.

And when you stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. ~ Mark 11:25 (KJV)

Ought Against My Sister
They’re passing the communion bread now.
We must break from the same piece.
It is as if we have been given the same piece of Flesh;
And like wolves with our teeth on opposite edges,
We can only see each other’s eyes
Across the meat of this matter.
Like loaves that reproduced themselves for the five thousand,
Like grace that multiplies itself to infinity:
Love, beckoning and irresistible,
Molds us together
(the eye cannot say, “I don’t need you”
the hand cannot say, “I don’t need you”
We cannot hurt
Our own bodies)
Sister, my sister,
I love you
As myself

A recent attempt to memorize from Matthew the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” in Koine Greek brought me to a shocking discovery. I had always thought that it was quite equitable that I should forgive those who trespassed against me because God had forgiven my sins: a sort of theological tit-for-tat where I’d try to play catch-up for what He’d done for me. But what a surprise to discover that the Greek said something quite different altogether! It actually says, “Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” In other words, Jesus invites us to see the implications of not forgiving others in terms of not being forgiven ourselves. That makes a grudge the most expensive thing our souls can buy.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. ~ 1 Peter 4:7

It is not communion
But the clutter of things
That is here.
It is the clamor of the
Voices of musts
That cloud this place.

Resolutely, I do what
Must be done.
I clear the table of my mind
And set it simply with
Wine and bread.
Now,
Now the Guest
Can come.

That first Communion service must have been a study in contrasts. The disciples still had fresh in their memories the excitement of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem a few days before, but Jesus was talking as if something bad was about to happen. Even the group there was a strange combination of personalities and backgrounds: among them uneducated fishermen, a thief, a terrorist, and the modern equivalent of an IRS agent. John reclined on one side, his head on Jesus’ chest, hearing His heart beating. And since Judas took the sop from Jesus, he was probably just behind Jesus. Did Jesus hear Judas’ treacherous heart beat faster when He told him, “What you’re going to do, do quickly”?

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.

I’m grateful for the invitation to write a poetry column for Wineskins, and to share my passion for non-sappy Christian verse (and the connection with Bible passages.)

The most oft-printed poem I’ve ever written appears in the Howard Publishing company hymnbook, Songs of Faith and Praise. I offer it here as a (perhaps familiar) introduction to my poetry.

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. ~ John 18:1

The Conduit

In the temple now they are killing the lambs. There
Two hundred and seventy thousand will die. The air
Of Jerusalem has been filled with their bleating
All day, as red-sleeved priests perform their duty of meting
Out death. One by one, white throats are slit.
The temple has the hot, moist smell of blood about it.
A conduit drains from the great brass altar down
To the brook Kidron.

But in the dusk-light of this Thursday, the leaves
Of the olive trees tremble as the wind heaves
And lunges into them. Men approach the blood-swollen creek
And cross this bridge, hurrying toward the shade they seek.
Why has this lone Man stooped at the Kidron before He crosses,
His finger just touching the red water, and pauses,
Pauses?

We often speak with passion about the privilege we have of “making contact” with the blood of Christ, that point at which we achieve salvation through His blood. We know that it symbolizes something bought at terrible price for us. Just how great that price would have seemed to Jesus, as He made contact with the blood that would symbolize His own death!

I’m also thinking about this month’s Wineskins theme. Perhaps you’re missing in-person worship as much as I do.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

                                                                                ~ Colossians 3:16

A Cappella

And now it begins:
The old widow women
Chirp the soprano
With querulous bird-voices
And the alto is a forgotten heritage
Of nasal hums
The children push the notes
Through rounded cheeks
And new teeth
As the song leader pauses
Poises for the next verse
With sucked-in breath and belly

And now it ends
As gravel-throated old men
Are prodded by their ample wives
Out of
Padded-pew slumber:
Amen,
Amen.

One of the truths of Christian worship is the way it unites people as The Body, worldwide, across geography, even across time as we identify with those at the first Last Supper and anyone partaking today. Perhaps that is why people such as I who are not currently attending church in person because of health reasons can still feel “at one” with the Body on the screen, on the map, on history’s timeline. May this poem encourage you with our united mission of being His Body on earth, now and always, and help you consider our unity in a new way.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”‘ …So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

~ Ezekiel 37:1-6, 10

I had a dream and a vision
I was in a blistered valley
In Ezekiel’s shadow
And when he said
“Sovereign Lord,
You alone know”—

Then he prophesied

And when the rattling began
And bone
Came to
Bone

It was your bone to mine
My wrist joined your hand and arm
My breastbone
To your shoulder

And the sinews that grew
Were the
Power
Of
God

You,
Bone of my bone
And flesh of my flesh
And I
We have become
The mighty army
And we chafe as
We await our marching orders

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.