If a person’s theology cannot be retold in hymnody then it may captivate their thoughts but will never capture their heart. And a theology that does not capture the heart, though it be true in one regard, will never be true enough. True theology is always beautiful for it brings us to the majesty of God.
In a recent assignment I was given the task of explaining the apostle Paul’s theology of adoption and its implications on worship. But rather than give a brief lecture, I wrote a poem about a story Jesus told. The poem is a re-telling of that story through the lens of Paul’s theology of adoption. It’s also an autobiography.
That hurtful road from home
As a son sets far in the west
With pockets full of hunger and money
Restless to find drink and breast
But bottle and whore need buying
And coins cannot get unspent
As a son becomes an orphan
Under the weight of his discontent
Even slaves are of good account
And dogs eat full of table’s crumb
To the house where he killed his father
He would return but not as a son
Laden with rags and repentance
Weeping a prayer he’d not end
As shame interrupted by mercy
Running farther than ever his sin
Held strong in the arms of this man
For which tryst with flesh he had fled
Yet with sandal and robe and signet
The son rose, the orphan dead
And table was set before him
With bounty like none other
Brimming with song and deep pleasure
Yet missing the joy of a brother
To whom song sounded like taunting
And fat smelled like Abel’s own
As the rage of Cain beheld him
Who himself became orphan at home
“Why have you withheld from me
Even less for the sake of my joy?
But this wretch who’s broke with his whoring
You adopt as though he’s your boy!?”
“I know you have always been with me.
I have not that which is not yours.
Delight in the feast of your Father
And let Sonship replace your chores.”