by Matt Sapp

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to share ten of my favorite books on Facebook. As I browsed through my bookshelf, I came across some favorite collections of poems, including one volume, Ballistics, by poet Billy Collins that I shared as one of my ten favorites.

As I flipped through long forgotten books, I was reminded that we need more poetry in our lives. Poetry is music on the page; the words dance with a creative energy that all but the most evocative prose lacks.

Poetry is more freedom and less structure.

Poetry is more unexpected surprises and less routine. More laughter. More tears. More feeling. Less seriousness.

Poetry brings words to life. Poetry brings us to life.

We need more poetry in our lives. Melissa Dickson Jackson is a poet and a member at Central. In one poem (Hermes Psychopompous:The Triumph of Constantine) she half laments the way the soul begins to find its way by “words not wings.” True, perhaps, but the poet gives wings to words.

We need more poetry, more creative energy in our lives. More Mozart on our record players. More Auden on our nightstands.

Or maybe we get more poetry and artistic energy than we even realize—those of us who go to church.

We sneak it in on Sundays. In hymns and offertories and litanies and scripture readings. In things that can reach into the deep places of our hearts in ways that the prose of the sermon can barely touch.

Poetry is the language of faith. It is the language of God.

A few weeks ago, Anne Cronic played a portion of a Brahms requiem, How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place, as our offertory. As I sat there listening, I knew that God was in the moment and in the music, because I felt God stirring inside me, too.

Or what about the poetry of scripture:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23).”

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant… (Luke 1).”

Or the poetry of our liturgy:

“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen”

Or the poetry of our hymns:

“Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him.
Let the Amen sound from his people again,
gladly forever adore Him.”
(“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”)

“Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold Him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the God-head see. Hail th’ incarnate Deity.
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
(Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”)

This Sunday at Central, as we worship on a holiday weekend, our entire service will given over to the poetry of music and scripture—to the energy and creativity of artists from thousands of years ago in collaboration with the creativity of musicians and readers in our own congregation.

In all of it we will be reminded that our creative energy comes from God and that our need to experience creativity is at its heart a need to connect with God.

After all, God’s first identity in scripture is as Creator.

See you Sunday.