Renowned Presbyterian poet and pastor the Rev. J. Barrie Shepherd has penned a new Easter poem entitled “Easter Essentials.”
A native of Great Britain, a Royal Air Force veteran, and a former high school drop-out, Shepherd retired in March 2000 after serving for the previous eight years as pastor of historic First Presbyterian Church in New York City. Prior to that he served for 16 years as pastor of Swarthmore (Pa.)Presbyterian Church, after several years in college chaplaincy and teaching.
He has written extensively in the area of spirituality and religious studies. His 14th and 15th books ― Faces By the Wayside - Persons Who Encountered Jesus on the Road and Between Mirage and Miracle - Selected Poems ― were published in 2012 by Wipf and Stock of Eugene Ore.
Over 600 of Shepherd's poems and articles have appeared in publications both sacred and secular.
The full text of Shepherd’s new poem:
Strip away the perfect lilies
massed along, across the chancel steps,
the bright reflecting sight and sound of brasses,
and the white and gold of paraments and stoles.
Set aside two thousand years, almost, of holy words
and gestures, the jostling flotsam of an epic tidal surge
of global custom and conviction, conquest too.
Try to ignore this new spring sunlight,
the steady warming of the soil, the waking birdsongs,
green and early fragrant air. Reject all this
and you are left with a report, some blood-stained bandages
in a vacated garden cave, several startled temple guards,
a gaggle of bewildered witnesses, and through all this
a dawning hope, so strange yet sure it drives you
to your trembling knees, groping for fresh syllables
and sounds to shape this ever new, yet ancient cry.
The Lord is risen...risen indeed!