George Herbert, “Easter Wings” [Poetry for Easter]

Each week during Lent I posted a poem that I have found helpful for deeper engagement with Jesus’ journey to the Cross (see “Poetry for Lent“). Because that was so meaningful for me, I will continue into Eastertide with a similar “Poetry for Easter” series. Each week I will post a poem that helps me engage more meaningfully with the message of Easter. Here is George Herbert’s poem “Easter Wings” from The Temple. George Herbert was a priest in the Church of England and one of the most significant poets of the 17th century metaphysical poetry movement.


Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poore:
                        With thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne
      And still with sicknesses and shame.
            Thou didst so punish sinne,
                  That I became
                        Most thinne.
                        With thee
                  Let me combine,
            And feel thy victorie:
         For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

The Dawning of Real Life

After Jesus’ brutal death there is the quiet and stillness of the tomb; Jesus’ dead body was laid in the tomb. We read:

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.” (Matthew 28:1)

But there was also the quiet and stillness of the sabbath. The Jewish followers of Jesus entered into the sabbath, which means to cease. There was no activity to distract them as they waited in their griefs and loss. 

I’m sure that each one of us has at some point been in a season of waiting. We’ve all felt the pressure of waiting in one way or another; waiting for that phone call about the job, that letter of college acceptance, the news from the doctor after the test, the anticipation before the child came home, and so much more. Waiting is a common experience in life.

But seasons of waiting can be difficult, particularly when we cannot see that anything is happening. It’s not easy to wait for your body to improve while undergoing medical treatment or after recovery from a surgery because you cannot always see the difference on the surface.

It can be difficult to wait for that breakthrough in a friendship or marriage relationship when you still feel the tension even after long conversations or counseling.

Waiting is hard.

Here are these women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the honored and favored first arrivals at the tomb.

What they, and the other disciples, don’t know is that while they were waiting, even while they were asking those “where is God?” questions, when the stone was rolled in front of the tomb, God had not abandoned them. In fact, God was working and was already ahead of them.

In our hunger for real life, even for God to break into our seasons of waiting, the promise of the empty tomb is that even when we cannot see it, God’s work has already begun. Even when we are asking, “where are You, God?”, God is already ahead of us…we often just do not see it. Our eyes are closed, or we are looking in the wrong direction. And then…the stone rolled away…an empty tomb…God was there all along.

Real life is dawning.

The resurrection promises us that even in our waiting God is at work. In fact, while the two Mary’s are walking to the tomb in dread and grief, Jesus has already left the tomb.

The Weekend Wanderer: 27 March 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.even sharing it with someone who you know struggles in this way.


Holy Week & Easter“Suffering and Glory: Meditations on Holy Week and Easter” – Here is a great resource for Holy Week and Easter to encourage us in our faith: “How does Jesus’ triumphal entry and his cleansing of the temple speak to critical cultural issues today? What does Christ’s prayer in the garden teach us about suffering and submission? How can Christ’s journey to the cross help us learn to die to ourselves? In Suffering & Glory: Meditations on Easter and Holy Week, a book co-published by Christianity Today and Lexham Press, we feature some of the best Holy Week and Easter articles from the last half-century of Christianity Today magazine. Here is a sampling of some of the articles featured in Suffering & Glory. May these reflections help you draw ever closer to Christ as you journey with him to the cross and rejoice at the empty tomb.”


chad-madden-xWohP8D-i0M-unsplash“A Country With No Name: Living in Liminal Spaces” – Here is Prasanta Verma, a friend and congregant at Eastbrook Church, sharing her experiences: “We were out on the softball field for recess. In the outfield, no one else could hear our conversation, well out of earshot from the teacher on duty. It was another typical hot, sunny, Southern day, and I could feel the red clay burning like hot coals beneath my feet. My classmate turned to me, hatred and bitterness seething in her eyes. ‘Go back to Indiana, or wherever it is you came from!’ she hissed. Sound travels faster in humid air, stinging the ears more quickly than normal. I said nothing in response, but knew what she meant. Her use of the name of a state, Indiana, instead of the name of the country, India, made the meaning undeniably clear. My family was, as far as we were aware, the only Indian family within a 45-mile radius, and my classmate had never met (or presumably seen) anyone else before from the far-off land of ‘Indiana’.”


Atlanta March killings“The Atlanta massacre is yet another reminder we desperately need race-conscious discipleship” – Ray Chang of Wheaton College at RNS: “My phone started lighting up with notifications. By now, when this happens, it’s usually because an incident involving race has occurred. As I picked up my phone, I saw the words, ‘8 shot dead in Atlanta.’ My stomach dropped. All I could say to myself was: ‘Lord, have mercy. Not again. No more.’ At the start of the pandemic, anyone who had even a basic understanding of how race functions in society knew the rhetoric of former President Donald Trump would lead to discrimination, targeting and violence against Asian Americans. This is why we at the Asian American Christian Collaborative wrote the ‘Statement on Anti-Asian Racism in the Time of COVID-19.’ As we watched the number of incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate, we knew that we were about to see another spike of anti-Asian racism. What we hoped was for efforts like ours to get the church to speak up against anti-Asian racism.”


Flannery O'Connor“Flannery O’Connor’s Grotesque Grace” – Karen Swallow Prior at Think Christian on a recently-released documentary on the work and influence of author Flannery O’Connor, which you can view here: “Nearly nine years in the making, Flannery—a prize-winning documentary on the Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor, debuting in virtual-cinemas July 17—couldn’t come at a better time….O’Connor—who lived from 1925 to 1964, dying of lupus at age 39—experienced ‘the best of times’ and ‘the worst of times’ in modern American history. Accordingly, one of the documentary’s strengths is placing O’Connor’s life and work squarely within the context of the mid-twentieth century crises that informed and defined her writing: the impact of World War II on Americans here at home, the rapidly changing roles for women, the challenge of the Civil Rights movement, and the growth of material prosperity along with an accompanying decline in spiritual richness. Flannery rightly makes O’Connor’s theology of grace and her commitment to the life of the church central, yet portrays these subjects in broad strokes that likely reflect the views of its directors and backers.”


What-John-Stott-Learned-about-Theology-from-Bird-Watching-Recovered-Recovered“What John Stott Learned about Theology from Bird-Watching” – John Stott, the renowned Bible teacher and author, enjoyed birds for their own sake and as teachers of theological truths. In his most unique book, The Birds, Our Teachers: Essays in Orni-theology, Stott takes the reader on an adventure inside his own wonder and theological reflection over the variegated beauty of birds. In his own way, Stott was attempting to live out what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Consider the birds of the air…” (Matthew 6:26). I came across this article by Tim Chester offering his take on this uniqueness in Stott while preparing my own message for this weekend from this same text.


Seemuth-Family-scaled“A Shadow of Your Future Self” – Friend and former colleague David Seemuth writes very personally about resurrection, mental illness, and true hope at NT Wright Online: “For as long as I can remember, my mother struggled with mental illness. Back when I was a young boy, they called the malady ‘manic-depressive disorder’. In the 1960s, the treatment regimen was harsh, given the lack of appropriate medications to deal with the illness. The approach would later be regarded as somewhat cruel and barbaric . Later, the understanding of the illness and treatment protocol changed. My mother was labeled ‘bi-polar’. Fortunately, better treatments were developed that helped her live a fruitful life….As my own theological studies progressed in my adult life, I understood that the hope of a Resurrection Body and a New Heaven and a New Earth, renewed by the Risen Christ, was my true hope. My mother, who trusted in Jesus as her Lord, will be raised up again, but with a renewed mind, no longer tortured by her illness.”


Music: Poor Bishop Hooper, “Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley

Time Touching Eternity: Preaching through the Christian Year

My latest article at Preaching Today went live this week. In it I explore the ways in which preaching can benefit from following the Christian year. What follows is an excerpt, but you can read the entire article here.

When I was a college student, I gave up wearing a watch. I would keep track of time by listening to the clock tower near the center of campus that intoned time at fifteen-minute intervals throughout the day. The bells created a rhythm that punctuated my day, giving order in the midst of my classes, relationships, and activities that reminded me of what I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be going. Having a good sense of the time helped me move in the right direction.

The same is true in our spiritual life generally. The men of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12 are lauded as those “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chr. 12:32). The Apostle Paul tells believers to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). We want to walk through the chronos of time so that we also understand what is happening and seize the kairos of time.

Certainly, we want to do this as individual followers of Christ, but we also want to journey this way as the community of God. In reading the Old Testament we encounter the annual cycle of festivals—Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles—as well as the high holidays and weekly Sabbath, which served to orient God’s people to the story of his work in their life and history. While not bound to this cycle as followers of Jesus and as preachers, keeping time, both chronos and kairos, with Christ is vital to moving in the right direction. One of the best, time-tested spiritual practices to help us do this is the Christian year.

The Christian year, sometimes referred to as the church calendar or liturgical year, is a meaningful way for Christians to mark time not according to secular or political calendars but according to the life of Christ. In a systematic and narrative manner, the Christian year enables us to enter into the life of Christ and the church in a way that is spiritually formative for us. Through the Christian year we literally mold our days to Christ’s days through a series of celebrations and seasons.

[Read the rest of the article here.]

You could explore additional resources on this topic here:

Senior Pastor Video Update in the Time of COVID-19 (April 15, 2020)

Here is my latest video update for Eastbrook Church as we navigate the time of COVID-19. I will continue to re-post these weekly video updates here at my blog for those who have not seen it or who are not part of our church but could use the encouragement. You can watch it here or at the Eastbrook Church Vimeo channel.

In this video update, I reference two portions of Scripture that I’m including below.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)