Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.Jeremiah 6:16
This week’s poem, “The Call,” was written by the Welsh-born poet and priest, George Herbert, in the 17th century. This poem, obviously influenced by Jesus’s words from John 14:6, has been set to music and continues to be a hymn sung in many congregations, including mine.
One of the reasons I find this poem both moving and helpful is because of the surprising choices that Herbert makes. To take but one example, “Such a way as gives breath.” Breath? Why breath? Is that what Jesus gives us by serving as our way? Not direction or guidance, or the “ancient paths” that we should follow? I have never thought of the way that Jesus offers as giving breath, but now I do. Every line of this poem has a way of doing that, of making something familiar sound new. Poems can do that, and often do.
Here is this week’s devotion, using the psalm and scripture assigned for this Sunday:
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. In you, O God, I place my trust. Help me now to quiet myself and listen, that the thoughts and prayers of my heart might be pleasing to you. Amen
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
Scripture Reading: John 14:6-7
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Silence for reflection and prayer.
Devotional Poem: “The Call” by George Herbert
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life: Such a way as gives us breath; Such a truth as ends all strife, Such a life as killeth death. Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength: Such a light as shows a feast, Such a feast as mends in length, Such a strength as makes his guest. Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart: Such a joy as none can move, Such a love as none can part, Such a heart as joys in love.
Come, my Lord and my God, my way, my truth, my life. When I find myself at life’s crossroads (and am I not always finding myself at a crossroad?), I seek the good way; I seek your way. Teach me your paths, O Lord, and help me to travel them with you, until I find that unending feast – where my hearts meets its true joy and its unending love. Show me this, and I shall be satisfied. And until you do, help me to remain unsatisfied. Into your hand I commit my spirit; for you have redeemed me, Lord, and redeem me still. Amen