Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Syriac Orthodox, Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Quad Centum (Issue 400) Souvenir Edition

Volume 7 No. 400 March 1, 2017
 

Chapter 24: Poems

Thomas

An Encounter With God

Greatest Gift

In Honor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Whispering Hope

The Greatest Wonder

I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say

Orthodox Poetry Of Gerondissa (Abbess) Xeni

Chapter 24: Poems

Thomas

by John Piper, Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Jerusalem lies in a black and bloody heap. The doubting apostle Thomas is preaching the gospel in India when news of the fall arrives. He rends his clothes and with his face to the floor asks "Why?" The answer comes through the wisdom of a little boy: "I AM the Whence and How and Why of all events that ever were or will take place." "Thomas" is a faith-building poem for all us "aged skeptics."

Jerusalem had fallen to
The Roman torch, and Titus slew
Ten thousand fearless Jews, and burned
The holy city black and turned
The house of God to ashes. "No!"
He snapped, "I don't believe it's so."
The news had taken eighty days
To reach, along the Persian ways,
The coast of India. The old
Apostle Thomas had been told
The story by a caravan
From Babylon. "One Arab man,"
He thought, "could get it wrong." But then
The ships arrived and all the men
From Egypt said the same: "Rome crushed
Mount Zion like a fig, and hushed
The Zealot bellowing for war."

The old apostle pushed the door
And stepped inside the quiet room,
Where Christ had come and lifted gloom
And doubt for twenty years gone by.
Ten hundred times the question Why
Had risen - like a lust - inside
His mind: Why his friend Judas lied
And killed himself? Why James the son
Of thunder died when he had done
No wrong, and Simon who denied
The Lord went free? Why Stephen cried
Out truth like Gabriel and got
His head crushed in, and not
One person went to court? And why
One night a brutal band should tie
His hands and gag his mouth and sell
Him as a slave to Gunabel,
A Hindu Chief in Vindahi
Four thousand miles from Galilee?
And every time the question rose
In Thomas' mind, the Lord who chose
Him came, still living from the dead,
Stretched out his hand and said,
"Come, my beloved skeptic, put
Your finger here, or feel my foot,
Or touch my side, and do not doubt.
If I was dead three days, burst out
The tomb, slew death, defeated hell,
Turned gore into a gushing well
Of everlasting life, then I,
Dear Thomas, know the answer Why.
And even more: I AM the Whence
And How and Why of all events
That ever were, or will take place,
The golden seal of sovereign Grace:
My friends bear this insignia
From Galilee to India."

The little servant boy stepped in
Behind and stood, as he had been
Instructed, quietly to see
If there was any need that he
Could meet for Thomas as he prayed.
The old apostle knelt and laid
His forehead on the black dirt floor,
Took hold his only shirt and tore
It with such force the little lad
Began to shake that something bad
Had happened to his lord. And then
He heard the old man pray, "How can
Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth, when godless Rome has won?
What has become of Matthew, James,
And Simon, Philip, John - such names,
O God - and then five thousand more
That gathered at the temple door,
Not with a lamb to sacrifice
But in the name of Jesus Christ?
Are these all burned and slain,
And I alone of all remain?"

The little servant boy was so
Distressed to hear his master's woe
That he forgot himself and said,
"O Papa Thoma, they're not dead!"
The old man lifted up his head,
His wrinkled face was wet and red
From weeping. "Come here, boy, how do
You know they are not dead?" "It's you,
And all the stories you have told
Us. Like the one where you were bold,
And said to Gunabel, I will
Not serve your feeble gods until
The whole Arabian Sea is dry
And every star falls from the sky.'
And he put you in jail, and there
The Lord came down and showed you where
The nail went through his hand, and gave
You hope and God-like power to save
The jailer's son from his disease.
And Gunabel, who never frees
A prisoner, brought you out and said,
If you can heal my wife who's red
With fever here tonight, I'll give
You life and let you preach and live
Your Jesus anywhere you please.'
And when you prayed for her and laid
Your hand on her red face, God made
Her well and spread the Gospel all
The way from here to Veraval.
O, Papa Thoma, don't you see,
If Jesus did all that for me
In India, I'm sure he'd do
The same for boys in Rome, aren't you?"

The aged skeptic marvelled at
The boy. "Young man," he said, "combat
With unbelief has been my food
Since I was just your age. You're good.
Nobody showed me how to fight
When I was young like you. One night
My brother couldn't get his breath.
I never will forget his death
Beside me in the bed. I screamed
And screamed for daddy till it seemed
The sky would crack. He never came.
Since then, it seems, I have been lame:
My faith walks with a limp; I trip
More easily than most, and slip
On less; and stand upright again
With help - like you. You know, most men
Don't have a gift like yours, young man.
Can you hold out your hand?" "I can.
But why?" The old man smiled, "The Lord
Has met me in this room, restored
My faith a thousand times with truth.
This time he came near as a youth,
And I just thought I'd like to see
The nail prints in his hand."

Then he
Stood up and put his arm around
The boy and walked out on the mound
Beside the deep Arabian Sea,
"You're right, the Word of God is free!
And far beyond this ocean deep
The Lord of all the earth will keep
His promise. You are right. This Word
Will run triumphant till it's heard
In every nation on the earth. And then
The end will come, and God knows when."

This is the light of candle one.
It spreads like fire from sun to sun.
Lord, let our children fuel the flame
And even doubters spread your fame.

About The Author:

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

An Encounter With God

by Jim Lake

When I choose to set affection
On the things that are above,
I am led, by God's direction,
To the thoughts He's thinking of.

When I cast my cares before Him,
He speaks comfort to my heart.
I just love Him and adore Him,
As I sing, "How Great Thou Art."

When I'm stressed or sad, or worried,
He's my Calm within the storm.
He brings peace. He's never hurried.
What He shares is kind and warm.

When I doubt, complain, or wander
Things just seem to fly apart.
As I look and think, and ponder,
God reminds me where to start.

I start by stopping what I'm doing
And I feast upon The Word.
No matter what the world is brewing,
I must practice what I've heard.

When God, Jehovah, takes my hand
And stirs me in my soul,
It's then I come to understand
What's meant by prophet Joel.

The prophet said the Spirit brings
Great gladness, hope, and joy.
For, God, The Lord, has done great things
That nothing can destroy.

So, have a meeting with your God.
He will renew your mind.
While angels stand and now applaud,
Just seek and you will find !!!

2005 by Jim Lake
http://www.jim-lake-poems.com

Greatest Gift

by Jim Lake

There are gifts we highly treasure,
Things we value most of all.
These are gifts that bring us pleasure.
They're not placed on shelf or wall ...

Gifts like Freedom, Faith and Family,
Health and Strength, and so much more.
Friends who care and treat us grandly,
They just make our spirits soar.

There are gifts that aren't expected,
Precious things that come our way.
By His Spirit we're directed
To The Strait and Narrow Way.

Then, there's Joy and Peace, and Laughter;
Hope and Love in large amounts ~
Not to mention what's comes after.
That's the Gift that really counts.

For the Gift is Life Eternal,
Found in Jesus Christ The Lord.
When we drop what's just external,
There is Grace and great reward.

Gifts from God are such a blessing,
Showered down from Him on high.
Nothing's left to chance or guessing.
All our needs He does supply.

So, be ready and be waiting
For The Trumpet and The Call,
As the saints start celebrating
With God's Greatest Gift Of All !!!

2005 by Jim Lake, Jim Lake Poems
Author of "From the Pen of the Poet to the Beat of the Heart"

In Honor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
Prayer/Hymn in Honor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus - Iesu, Dulcis Memoria

Iesu, Dulcis Memoria is a celebrated 12th century hymn attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor Mellifluus. The entire hymn has some 42 to 53 stanzas depending upon the manuscript. Parts of this hymn were used for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which was formerly celebrated on the Sunday between the Circumcision and Epiphany, or failing such a Sunday, on January 2. The part below was used at Vespers. In the liturgical revisions of Vatican II, the feast was deleted, though a votive Mass to the Holy Name of Jesus had been retained for devotional use. With the release of the revised Roman Missal in March 2002, the feast was restored as an optional memorial on January 3.

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus' name,
The Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus! our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity. Amen.

---Roman Breviary

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954

Whispering Hope
Soft as the voice of an Angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word.
Wait, till the darkness is over,
Wait, till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow
After the shower is gone.

Whispering hope,
Oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart
In it's sorrow rejoice.

If in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then, when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over
Watch for the breaking of day.

Whispering hope,
Oh, how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart
In it's sorrow rejoice.

The Greatest Wonder

by Jo Ann Kelly

I've never seen all the wonders of the world,
Which men declare greatest of all.
But, I have seen the miracle of salvation,
When on the name of Jesus we call.

The buildings, tombs, or famous monuments
Have not stood the test of time.
But, the miracle of the empty tomb
Is a great wonder and a sign.

The wonder of His resurrection,
The stone which was rolled away,
Makes our heart ponder on his great love.
We see prophecy fulfilled, a miracle on that day.

The wonders of this world, made by men,
Will one day all crumble and fall.
But, a heart, designed by Jesus,
Is still the greatest miracle of all.

2002, 2005 by Jo Ann Kelly
J. P.'s Inspirations

I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say

by Horatio Bonar, 1846

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
lay down, thou weary one, lay down
thy head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn, and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
the living water; thirsty one,
stoop down and drink, and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's light;
look unto me, thy morn shall rise,
and all thy day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
in him my Star, my Sun;
and in that light of life I'll walk
till traveling days are done.

Orthodox Poetry Of Gerondissa (Abbess) Xeni

Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes, Boise, Idaho, USA

Introduction by Father Demetrios Serfes

Gerondissa (Greek for Abbess) Xeni, was born in 1867, and reposed in the Lord 1923. Mother Xeni, was chosen to become a Abbess of St. Nectarios (spelled also: St.Nektarios) newly-founded Monastery in Aegina for nuns. This beloved handmaiden of our Lord was blind from the age of 9 months, and although physically blind, she was not spiritually blind. She lived under the spiritual guidance of St. Nectarios, and sincerely developed great Christian virtue, discernment and love. Even before the holy Saint Nectarios officially named her to preside over the Community of nuns in Aegina all the girls and women considered her to be their leader due to her piety, compassion and the great grace which dwelt in her sweet soul. This holy, pure, and chosen woman, though she fully realized the scope of her blessedness, did not "consider salvation a thing to be grasped" (Phil.3:13).

Gerondissa Xeni is mentioned in the "Life of St. Nectarios of Aegina".

During the life of Gerondissa Xeni, she wrote her poetry, which is now becomming more and more well known. We truly discover the secret of her blessed familiarity and closeness both to the Saint, and to our God in Trinity: humility. Gerondissa Xeni poetry is spiritually remarkable, and full of love for God! Her poetry serves to help us, her readers, to be able to reflect on our own path to salvation.

Now I would like to humbly share with you the poetry of Gerondissa Xeni, here translated from the original Greek.

To God

A soul, of lamentations worthy, sorrows and is sighing,
and with a loud and fervent voice, the name of God is crying,
and saying, my God save me now, my God, have mercy on me,
O God, You've seen my darkness now, so shed Your light upon me,
my God, don't turn away from me, but quickly hear my pleading,
enlighten my soul's eyes, O God, with spiritual leading;
because they have been blinded from the sins within my depths.

O wretched self, I cannot see; my God, I lose my steps.
Miserable me, I cannot see, my God, where I am going,
or where I stand, or that I am a stranger, passed my knowing.
Many clouds and mists my soul in darkness shroud and cover,
and without measure I embitter You, my sweetest Savior.

O wretch, within I feel upheaval, mourning pierced my side,
for Your All-Holy Spirit, Lord, to me must be denied;
my soul must weep eternally her poverty of grace,
and without ceasing to lament in tears that woeful place.

I must avenge myself for all the pain sin makes me suffer,
and with the rivers of my tears, my deep repentance offer;
the tender earth to which I will return, with weeping drench,
to cleanse and flood away the traces of my sins' foul stench.

I am no longer worthy, Lord, to hope in Your compassion,
I'm worthy only of hell-fire, and suffering damnation.
But you, my refuge is in You, my God and my Salvation...

Confession of the Blind Woman

People, hear and pity me, for this, my situation,
and pray to God for me, to give my wretched soul salvation.
Believe me, all of you, my brethren, truly I'll explain,
in me is found abundantly the works I now will name.

If you would like to know which virtues I have called my own,
I'll tell you: naked is my soul of good in every form.
Utterly devoid of virtue, sentenced to be damned,
and by every purity most utterly abandoned.

Poverty past bounds is mine, and wounds and ill diseases,
and being lost forever in the folds of death's deep creases.
Severe insentitivity and stupor overcome me,
anger, pride, hard-heartedness and evil have undone me.

To virtue I am cold as ice, but warm to wickedness,
always ready for laughter's lure and for talkativeness.
Instead of being compunctionate I'm totally unfeeling,
instead of weeping constantly, I laugh, the wretched worldling!

But there is something yet, that hides so perfectly these evils.
How long will I so fool the world, though I am like the devils,
with my false piety, fake virtue and hypocrisy?
When the world regards me highly, I rejoice and boast,
but when they criticise me, even kindly, I am sad, and mope.

Whomever of you knows me, I exhort you to feel piety,
and when reminded of me, weep for my iniquity.
Beg our God that someday He enlightenment will send me;
and by your prayers, my brethren, I hope that He will save me,
and from my somber wickedness and evil, He will free me.

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