Category Archives: Depression

The Empty Place

Amid the festive smells, and bells

From the steeple sweetly chiming;

And as the winter’s cold silence

Warms the heart with expectation

Of the swift-set sun, and feasting

Together ‘round the banquet set,

I look to see an empty place

Where once your face, bright and beaming

With happiness, delighted all,

Delighted me.

                        But now you’re gone,

And I, beloved, feel the sting

Of days and weeks, of months and years,

Without your laughter, sans your sighs,

And harmless, confiding whispers.

The children sing of Christ the King –

At once my heart is stirred to see,

That ‘round another table set

We yet together eat and drink

The bread, the wine, for Christ is mine,

And yours, and we are ever His.

Until the shadows flee the earth,

And glory fills her like the sea –

Until the empty place is filled,

I’ll eat the Supper here, you there,

And wait, in love, to be renewed.

My tears may flow for now, I know,

But, even so, not forever.

Lucernarium

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5

We gather all to meet the night,

And sing of Christ Who bore our sin;

With warm hearts we, in lantern’s light,

Amongst our blood-bought baptized kin,

Now hear our Father’s Word anew,

And are invited in to pray.

We stand beneath the fading hue,

Awaiting here the longed-for Day –

That morn which marks the darkness’ end!

O come, our King, make sorrow flee,

And comfort us, our Dearest Friend!

Until Your Dawn our own eyes see,

Let us endure this night in Thee.

Let us endure this night in Thee.

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The title of this poem, “Lucernarium”, is essentially an old word for Vespers, the evening office when the lamps were lighted and the brothers gathered to pray and hear God’s Word. The inspiration for this poem is a wonderful lady who has just gone to be with the Lord. My dear sister Bertha was a great encouragement to me, and I wish I had been able to know her longer; she loved poetry – a favorite topic of conversation between us – but much more, she loved her Lord. I spoke to her a couple of days before she died, and she told me that she was looking forward to stepping out of the night and into God’s glorious morning. I praise the Lord for her faith and witness!

Sojourn: A Brief Meditation

The world is quiet around me. And yet it’s not. The bright white of the falling snow, the underlying ice that has frozen the earth, the occasional sing-song chatter of hungry birds, the icy crying wind, and the passing of those who will not be deterred by the winter’s stormy countenance – I see, feel, hear all of these. And yet, there’s something quiet about a snowy day. It is as though, under its milky blanket the earth silently and eagerly awaits the thaw. It may be a cliché that has long been played out, but it is one we do well to remember: winter is awaiting its end, and even in its stillness it presses on to the spring, when the pure white will give way to brilliant greens and the multitudinous colors of God’s gardens, just as light shone through a prism reveals itself to be more than what we first saw. I am an exile, a sojourner to a home I’ve never yet seen, to a spring that will not end. This home is promised to me, the city of wholeness and peace, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-27); I wait, and at the very same time, I press on. I wait… for the Lord must come again and consummate His kingdom. I press on… “I journey to find the place where I will be resurrected,” as the missionary disciples of Columba said. I am a knight of heaven, a son of the King, in this world and in the next. This winter will end; it will not always be this way. In “this world with demons filled” (Luther), we are the church militant, the church sojourning; but the Son will come, and with this winter past, we shall be the church victorious, the church at rest at last. Let us wait for His salvation; let us press on to know Him, to do the works He has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10), and one day to see Him with our own resurrected eyes.

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:12-25

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:13-16

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” Psalm 62:1

“Toil passes, and rest will come; but rest only through toil. The ship passes, and you arrive at home; but home only by means of the ship. We are sailing the high seas, after all, if we take account of the surges and storms of this world. The reason, I am convinced, that we are not drowned is that we are being carried on the wood of the cross.” Augustine, Sermones ad populum, sermon 104.

Prayer: O Lord, God of sojourners, Who brought His ancient people from slavery in Egypt through the wilderness and to the Promised Land, and have in Christ vouchsafed to bring Your church unto Yourself in the New Jerusalem, protect us as we journey on, and strengthen our waiting faith that the homeland we behold with the eyes of faith now will be the homeland we see in joy with our resurrected eyes when Christ returns to judge the world. We ask in the name of Him Who bore the winter that He might bring His people to the everlasting spring, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.