Arnold Kenseth wrote some wonderful poetry, but he never lost touch with the challenges of having to stand up on your hind legs each Sunday morning and try to make words become the Word for the people. Here he names the impossibility of such a task, a task he and all preachers must nonetheless take up each week, because that is what God has called us to do. This is one of my favorites of his:
Comes Sunday’s hour, and speech hangs itself
On God’s red tree. Preacher, word-monger, I
Defy the interdict, naming dark Yahweh, taking Him
And His fire in vain. O havoc, cry havoc! Sigh
His deep blue breath into phrases and praises.
Still, it is impossible. He will not dwell half
Or anywhere in my capture. Yet I must draw home
The net, try to catch somehow His graces.
For it is by grace we live, and all the people
Must be told. So I could wish my body more
Contained Him, that my walks more shaped, here
And there, His amble. How ill beneath a steeple
I incarnate! Despite me, then, come now,
Let His enlightening strike us row by row.
(Arnold Kenseth, From Seasons and Sceneries, Windhover Press, 2002. Photo by Wilson Poole