A Poem on the Cuts at Carmel

The heathen gladly cut themselves while to their gods they cry –
It gives their spirits courage, as they give and groan and sigh;
Though human praise and accolades is all the prize they’ve won
It gives their left hand pleasure to see what the right has done.

The judgment of the gods no single heathen understands
Must lie within the clutches of the works of their own hands;
And if there is no answer, then to speak they’ll be compelled,
After going to the bathroom, where their silence is expelled.

You Christians, do you long for heathen to behold your deeds,
Do you fret that what your right has done the left hand never heeds?
You children, is the God to whom you cry so far away
That you can still not trust Him to bring darkness into day?

Is not the love of God still hidden in the Word we preach?
And is His grace so meager that its power fails to reach
The depths of heart and soul and mind from which good works should come,
Or must we look for good where all the heathen make their home?

They do not know the death in which the water buried us
With Christ, whose perfect righteousness is hidden on the cross.
Here let the pain of those who try to earn the grace of God
Be cast aside as rubbish by the saints washed in the Blood.

The Father took the knife, the Son was passive all the way
When all the good of man had only caused all men to stray;
Then fire fell from the throne, yes, from the Father’s righteous right,
It poured down on the Son in flesh, and darkness hid the sight.

The left hand did not know the Lord of Glory suffered there
Where righteousness was won for which the left hand doesn’t care.
The heathen have no care for glory that they have not earned;
Unless the left hand knows the right hand’s works, its good is spurned.

And so it is today, as always had been for God’s own –
Their good that men don’t see is still displayed before God’s throne,
Where at the right hand of the One who made both hands to love,
The Son, to whom all judgment has been given, sits above,

And He will plead to Him who loved us when we loved Him not,
And He will judge us righteous whom he died for and he sought,
And on the Day when silence on the guilty is imposed,
The works of all the heathen for their evil are exposed,

How pride and selfishness infected all their love and pain,
And after judgment’s fires no single good thing shall remain,
Except those in the body of the One who is our Head,
Who once in love for all mankind felt fire for sin and bled,

And washed us clean apart from any good that we had done,
And reconciled us to the God who gave his foes His Son,
And freed us from the burden that our love could make us good,
And gave us works to do that without faith we never could,

And on the robe of righteousness that Christ has donned on us
Will be the works he gave us which we did alone by grace,
And then, with all our sin purged from the bodies He will raise
For every work that we have done we’ll give to Him the praise,

And nevermore shall there be pride that leads but to our fall,
But we shall boast in God alone, who is our All in All.

About Pastor Mark Preus

Mark Preus is pastor of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center in Laramie, WY. He graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne with an M.Div. in 2008 and then obtained an M.A. in Classics at the University of KS in 2010. He was ordained at Faith Lutheran Church, Wylie, TX in August of 2010. He has been married to Becky since 2005. God has graciously given them two daughters and five sons. Pr. Preus loves to read and write poetry, especially Lutheran hymns, and talk theology with anybody who has an ear to listen. He also likes coffee too much and tobacco too much, as well as microbrew beer. He can also prove with reasonable certainty that Paul Gerhardt wrote most of his hymns while smoking and drinking beer.

You can find more of Pr. Preus's writings at his blog.

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