I set myself the task of writing songs for Lent based on the readings in each service’s lectionary. Here are my results.
Poems for Lent (based on Lections for Year A), A Series — “Lenten Questions and Answers”
Ash Wednesday (3/5/14) – Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 (Blow the trumpet in Zion . . .for the day of the Lord is coming near) • Psalm 51:1-17 (Have mercy on me . . . wash me thoroughly of my iniquity) • 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 (Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.) • Matthew 6:16-21 (do not store up for yourself treasures on earth . . .) — Love and Meaning (What should we treasure, and how? Where should we find meaning?)
Grace and Mercy (drawn from Matthew 6:16-6:21 and 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10)
What should we cherish? What should we treasure?
How can we know where the best will be found?
Do we value work or do we work for leisure?
Answers and questions go ‘round and around.
We can break down every answer, doubt our every turn;
hold in question our very capacity to discern,
Or we can be grateful for what gifts we have and know we could never earn
We can find meaning in what we can touch,
What we can know, what we can see,
and in the one whose grace brings all to be.
*For God is grace and mercy.
His anger is slow and His love is steadfast.
God relents from anger.
Return to God, return at last.
Life is in giving. Life is a present.
There’s so much we can’t earn, more we won’t know.
We could be so rich or could each be a peasant.
Still, hardships will come, good things will flow.
We could tarnish the good with our worries and and our fears,
or choose to see light even through the worst of our teats,
and we can know through all the ups and downs the love that has been with us through the years . . .
The love only God is capable of.
Faith is the grace that bears us on;
God’s love is the mercy that is never gone.*
Return to God and be returned in full.
Push yourself to Him and feel His pull.
Lord, let me find meaning in you,
place all my being in you.
Yes, return to the Lord,
and find all your treasures stored
for you in heaven.
First Sunday 3/9/14 — Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 (Adam and Eve disobey God) • Psalm 32 (You are my hiding place.) • Romans 5:12-19 (by one man’s obedience the sins of all can be forgiven) • Matthew 4:1-11 (the temptation in the wilderness.) – Love and Error (What if we’re wrong?)
Take a Chance! (Drawn from Genesis 2 and Matthew 4)
we all make mistakes
and then we bear the aches
of all the things gone wrong.
We all feel the terror
over possible error,
crashing our way along.
through the walls, past the barriers, blurring all the lines;
we find ways for new errors; we do it all the time.
* take a chance, the voice says.
don’t you know that effort pays?
why take stones when there’s bread?
leap down; fall like lead!
all the world, you could take.
or worship God for good’s sake!
don’t leave any day hollow!
you know who to follow!
we all know what life takes
and when we make mistakes
we know we need forgiveness.
it’s not only for us
but to rebuild trust
in all that our life is.
take a chance! Go with God knowing He can’t fail.
sin falls away, east, west, and abroad, . . . His light won’t fail.
temptations will always be out there,
waiting for you just ahead.
life is meant to be lived fully and well,
and God is the one who has said
take your chance, your life, and follow me.*
Second Sunday 3/16/14 – Genesis 12:1-4a (Abram is sent by God to a far country.) • Psalm 121 (The Lord will keep your going out and coming in . . .forevermore.) • Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 (faith is recognized as righteousness.) • Matthew 17:1-9 (the Transfiguration.) — Love and the Nature of Change (Why must we change?)
Follow On (Drawn from Matthew 17:1-9, Psalm 121, and Genesis 12:1-4)
I gave every sign of going;
you should not have been surprised.
You saw the changes coming
when I stood there in the skies
with the promises around me,
when the doubts should have been gone
I gave you every clue as I led you.
It’s up to you now. Follow on?
*It’s not that I am leaving you.
I’ll just lead you further on.
You can be where I have gon.
Some people follow where I lead
and their stories ring for years.
Love rings out through their vict’ries,
and sometimes through their tears.
Abram went to a far country
but turned his sister to a pawn.
I’ll show you a still better way
if you’ll only follow on. *
Don’t you remember God said to us He’d keep us coming and going?
Isn’t His presence in our lives enough to enlighten your knowing?
It’s not enough to merely go when God promises a dawn.
You must shine as His light does shine. Come, follow on.
Third Sunday 3/23/14 — Exodus 17:1-7 (Moses strikes the rock for water.) • Psalm 95 (Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah.) • Romans 5:1-11 (suffering produces endurance . . . endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint) • John 4:5-42 (the Samaritan woman at the well.) — Love and Our Circumstances (What happens when we are the wrong sort of people?)
At the Well (Drawn from John 4:5-42)
everyone needs water
and so i come for water
i too am jacob’s daughter
though few will call me so.
every day i wait ‘til
the others have had their fill,
knowing how they always will
berate me as i come and go.
you, Jewish man with the piercing eyes,
you know things much to my surprise,
but i don’t understand this ‘living water’ you speak of.
it seems to me like a promise,
or like something i’ve missed,
or the memory of my mother and her love.
are you saying their is constant, renewing love?
at the well, they come and gather
but they’d leave if i’d bother
to join them as they blather.
their hatred is their life.
what you promise seems to be
impossible for such as me
but i will follow, i will see
your water, which bears life.
i, the one who should never be here
would walk far to find a place that’s clear
of judgment, pain, and this abandonment i’ve known.
if you’re the door i exit through
then i will go, and follow you,
or i will do your bidding here on my own
for this hope of love is more than i have known.
Fourth Sunday 3/30/14 — 1 Samuel 16:1-13 (How long will you grieve over Saul?/choosing David)) • Psalm 23 (shepherd) • Ephesians 5:8-14 (the fruit of the light is found in all that are good and true.) • John 9:1-41 (the man called Jesus healed my eyes.) — Love and the Giving of Gifts (What if we are undeserving?)
Blind (Drawn from John 9:1-41)
If the blind can see, why can’t you?
It’s hard to understand, but so easy to do.
Just look at what’s in front of us without predetermining.
Just look, and your soul might sing.
If a hand can heal, take that hand
even it it’s not exactly what you had planned.
Give up yourself and all the ways you wanted you plans to win.
Give up, and going on can begin.
Let those who wake in the morning
in the arms of a loving God
go out giving that love to all,
spreading it far and abroad.
Otherwise we are keeper
of a load we cannot bear.
Undeserving though we may be
there’s a hope for us out there.
If a soul can rise, let it go.
Don’t be chained to your ways, anyone can grow.
If you were truly flying, you could hold no one to the ground.
Fly now, and let your songs resound.
Fifth Sunday 4/6/14 — Ezekiel 37:1-14 (‘Can these bones live?’) • Psalm 130 (Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord.) • Romans 8:6-11 (the mind that is in the flesh cannot please God, but you are not in the flesh you are in the Spirit.) • John 11:1-45 (the resurrection of Lazarus.) — Love and Death (What happens to us?)
Bones (Drawn from Ezekiel 37:1-4 and John 11:1-45)
“Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice.1
I can’t carry the weight of these lonely stones,
these lifeless bones,
the ioul, my own
so I cry to you. What will become of me?
I ask of you, Lord, can these ancient bones come back to life?
Can this charnel house around me take bloom
and make perfume
in the dark room
deep inside of me? How could this ever be?
What happens to us when our lives are shattered?
What becomes of us when it seems all that mattered
is dried up and gone away?
I don’t know the answers for every person,
but one of the few things I know for certain
is that where we stop isn’t always where we stay.
Sometimes, there’s another way.
I don’t find light by studying the dark. Lord, hear this truth.
I don’t find a way out by staying within;
no, i must begin
to love again
better than before. What will become of me?
We’re all broken vessels waiting for mending,
hoping for loving, healing hands to come tending
to our every cut and sore.
What happens to us when we need a new spark
to bring us new life when all lights have gone dark?
Lord, you made all things and you can recreate me.
Set this broken spirit free.
1. Psalm 130:1
Sixth Sunday (Palm & Passion) 4/13/14 — PALMS — Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 (His steadfast love endures forever.) • Matthew 21:1-11 (The parade of palms.) PASSION — Isaiah 50:4-9a (I have turned my back on them .. He who vindicates me is near.) • Psalm 31:9-16 (Deliver me from the hands of my enemies.) • Philippians 2:5-11 (He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave.) • Matthew 27:11-54 (Jesus before Pilate — Are you the King of the Jews . . . Barabbas.) — Love and a Greater Gift (What is love and how does it work?)
Love Is a Gift (Drawn from Philippians 2:5-11)
I always wanted to know that fairy tale
to have a boat to sail
out on to the seas of the deepest love.
I always dreamed of that one in whom I’d find
a match, and then i’d bind
myself to her and it would be enough.
These romantic musings, they held me for a while;
they kept me up, they kept me strong. How they made me smile!
But there’s poison n the apple I took down;
and there’s evil around,
and all those hopes and dreams can’t prevent it.
I slammed to a stop on that road I’d made;
and i was sore afraid
where nothing was how i would intend it.
Romance and poems have their pow’r; they’re a gift to me.
But it’s the Giver I need now! Lord, please come to me!
Love is a gift from one who has no other reason to give
than all the things He is and all the reasons He’d want you to live.
Love is a free grace, a great race, a source of unending peace.
And love is the path to take when all your doubts beg for release.
I found that true love is not a fairy tale.
It’s more than a boat to sail;
It’s wider and deeper than the sea.
My dreams are now full of much greater things
and my love can take wings
and carry the weight of my soul to the greatest heights.
Lord, help me shine that others may rise. Help me be a light!
Maundy Thursday 4/17/14 — Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 (the Lord explains the nature of Passover.) • Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 (I am your servant.) • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (Paul explains the practice of Eucharist.) • John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet.) — Love and Power (Who serves whom?)
What I Do (Drawn from John 13)
If we follow, we will be
at the head of all we see.
For the first shall be last
and the future will pass
The last shall be first, and then
the dead are sure to rise again.
Come, all come to the feast!
Where the greatest and the least
all join as one.
*And if I bow to wash your feet, don’t be shaken.
For what I do for you I do for all.
And what you do for others won’t be taken
As any less than answering God’s call.
The towel of service is mine
and you can take it as well.
My example, like wine,
shall age well and compel
that you shall share.
If I wash your feet, you’ll know
your soul is cleansed by God above.
Come, for He won’t let you go!
Come and partake of His love!
You’ll feel HIs care.*
Good Friday 4/18/14 — Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering and acquainted with grief.) • Psalm 22 (My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?) • Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 (Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.) • John 18:1-19:42 (Jesus arrested and before Caiaphas and Pilate, the Crucifixion.) — Love and Blame (Are you our King?)
Can’t Go Back (Drawn from John 18)
I promised them a kingdom,
but now I only have the strain
of expectations unmet,
non-acceptance, and pain.
If they are looking at me
and seeing what I have come to,
they’ll forget all the parades
and go look for something new.
*If you’ve ever tried to please the world, you’ll know
some are threatened by the way things go.
If you show them the way that the past has led
there will be denial instead
And you can’t go back — can’t go back to where you knew
all the rules and standards that saw you through.
We can’t make gods of our familiar ways.
There’s still a God to whom we owe our praise.
Praise Him. Praise Him. Praise HIm.
Don’t wait for the light.
Praise Him in the darkest places.
And He’ll see you through the night.
I offered them a doorway,
a gate where each voice would be known.
As darkness hangs heavy now
I will be raised up alone.
If they say I’m not a king,
I’ll remind them of the thorny crown
they put on me to subject me –
the king of whips and crosses
shall be the one to set them free.
Easter Sunday 4/20/14 — Acts 10:34-43 (Peter preaches about Jesus.) • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (Open to me the gates of righteousness . . .) • Colossians 3:1-4 (Set your mind on the things above.) — Matthew 28:1-10 (Mary Magdalene sees the resurrected Christ.) — Love and New Life (Who can expect new life?)
About You (Drawn from Matthew 28)
How can this be? How could you say
that you know my name and speak to me this way?
Rabbouni, wait! I cannot see
how what you promised has now come to be.
We called you the Messiah, but we walked
a somewhat different road than the one we talked.
I believe. Help my unbelief!
I struggle to see new life through my grief.
* I vowed to praise you, but I let that go.
Lord, help me find that new way I should go.
Praise you that you have come back to me
and given me new life where I can be
more than I’ve ever been without you.
Jesus, I want to make my life about you.
Show us your face, show us your ways.
Lord, we need to get swept away with your praise.
You’ve come to us, now help us go
out to the world to say you love them so.
We will follow where you lead, we will rise
and reflect your gifts to the earth and to the skies.
Give us life. And let us be
a gift to all who need you so badly.
Let us sing the songs that praise you!
Let us share our gifts and raise you
before every eye and into every land.
Your you’ve been our heart, let us be your hands.*
These poems were written by Chris Weitzel and posted on 4/19/2014. They are not meant to be reused, and any reprinting or other use of them must be approved by the author.