Go Down, Death (a poem/sermon)

After writing about death on my blog I decided to post the poem that I posted there. It is one of my favorites and I would love to go to God in this way. blog

Go Down, Death

James Weldon Johnson1871 – 1938

 (A Funeral Sermon)

Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband--weep no more;
Grief-stricken son--weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter --weep no more;
She only just gone home.

Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell on Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God’s big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.

And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death!--Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.

And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold,
But they didn’t make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God’s command.

And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She’s borne the burden and heat of the day,
She’s labored long in my vineyard,
And she’s tired--
She’s weary--
Go down, Death, and bring her to me.

And Death didn’t say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven’s pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
on Death rode,
Leaving the lightning’s flash behind;
Straight down he came.

While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn’t see;
She saw Old Death.  She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn’t frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I’m going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.

And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn’t feel no chill.
And death began to ride again--
Up beyond the evening star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.

And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest.

Weep not--weep not,
She is not dead;
She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.

From God’s Trombones by James Weldon Johnson. Copyright © 1927 The Viking Press, Inc., renewed 1955 by Grace Nail Johnson. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.

Lord Jesus, let us find the faith to know you will be with us in our hour of death. AMEN

God First

Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul. ——————Henry Van Dyke
It is easy to get lost in ourselves. We can’t help it. Self seems to be the only things we have. It is understandable that we put ourselves first. However, we are called to put God first. It is a difficult thing to do but we have to keep trying. I don’t know if we will ever achieve it until we are united with God but we have to try.
god first
God of the universe, keep reminding us that you come first. Help us to keep trying. AMEN

Things can be idols

Why is life sped up so? Why are thing so terribly unbearably precious that you can’t enjoy them but can only wait breathless in dread of their going? ——Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I sometimes think that things have become more important than God. Things have become our idol. If we aren’t concerned about the things we have we are longing for the things we don’t have. TV is telling us every day that there is something else we must have.

pencils

We have to learn to enjoy what we have now. We have to appreciate the life we have and give thanks.

Giving God, you have given us so much. Help us to know that it is enough and be thankful. AMEN

The light of life

When the soul is troubled, lonely and darkened, then it turns easily to the outer comfort and to the empty enjoyment of the world.  ————–Friedrich Froebel

When things don’t go well for us it is easy to try to find solace elsewhere. Some find it in a bottle, some in drugs, some in sex, some in parties and high living. The problem is that none of these things light the dark space where the soul resides. Only God can do that.

light of life

 

Patient God, you wait for us to discover that our only light is in you. Help us to turn to you in our dark times. AMEN

The Lord’s Prayer

The following is a version of the Lord’s Prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book. There are so many reasons why I love this form. It’s description of God moves me to tears. “Loving God, in whom is heaven:” makes me sit and ponder on its vision. “In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.” We are hurt and we hurt others. It is so easy to see it in this version. I encourage you to read and think about the prayer. You may love it or you may hate it but it will help you think.

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.

just listen

Love is come again!

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

Wheat Seedlings

I love this hymn. I love the music but the words really speak to me. The last verse is amazing. God’s touch can heal us and bring our hearts back to life. The love of God is incredible!

Thank you God for your amazing love! AMEN!

Happy Easter !!

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
I have always loved the fact that Jesus first appeared to the women. I think that he knew that they would believe what they saw before them.
Lord bless those of us who believe without seeing. AMEN
easter

God with us

scar

God never promised that life would be free of problems. There is no magic wand that can be waved to banish our troubles. Our strength to survive each day comes from God’s promise to be with us. Each struggle that we get through gives us the wisdom to survive the next. God helps us to learn and gain the strength to fight the next battle.

Intimate God, we give you thanks for your love for us and your healing presence in our struggles. AMEN

Lift us

From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
I often feel like I’m getting caught in a flood. Things become overwhelming and I’m sinking. We are so busy in today’s society that we take on more than we can manage. Then we can feel ourselves being buried.
When we feel this way we need to call on God to help us slow down. He is the only one who can lift us out of the mire onto the rock that is higher.
lift me
Faithful God, we take on more than we should. Help to make us wiser about our limits and when we fail and are sinking lift us to the rock that is higher. AMEN

Afraid?

It is human to be afraid. It is what we do about it that matters.……….Suzanne Boyd

Sometimes we can’t help being afraid. Sometimes if we are not afraid then we can’t see the situation clearly. The question is what do we do when this happens?

afraid

We often have to begin with a deep breath and another assessment of the moment. In the next moment we must turn to God. Prayer asking for his aid and  sitting quietly just letting God surround us helps. Picture yourself held in his arms. Seek his peace.

This may not solve the problem but it will remind you that you are never alone. We are always in God’s care.

Intimate god, you have promised to be with us no matter what. Help us to see you. AMEN