January 30, 2005

Barbara Nickel - “Writing in the Sand: Poems of Faith”

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Sermon Recording: Download


Barbara Nickel (former member of PGIMF and Abendmusik, and author of books of poetry and children's stories) shared with us a few things a poet notices in hymn texts. Poets are wordsmiths, sometimes searching for days for the right word. Recalling the story of Jesus silently writing in the sand while men were arguing about the woman caught in adultery, Barbara suggested that perhaps poetry is similar to that silent act of Jesus writing. Although poetry may not present a solution to life's problems, excellent poetry can hold in tension that which happens and that which we wish would happen. Barbara then looked at six hymns texts before we sang each. To cite but one, we learned that Hymn No. 587, "Come my way, my truth, my life" by George Herbert, is one of many confessional poems, that "my" reveals intimacy, that we need to reflect on whose voice is being used in the poem (ours? Christ's?), that the punctuation should be colons throughout (not the less powerful semicolons substituted in our hymnal), that the initial colon in each line can be like a doorway and that the following word "such" opens the door. The poem has an amazing economy of words and wonderful symmetry, and is filled with many metaphors for Christ. The poem can also be seen as one simple gesture, "Come". Listen with your hymnal at hand, press pause and reflect, before moving on. Barbara invites us to think in new ways about texts we sing now, but were meant to be pondered. [JEK]


Passage: John 8:1-11
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event:
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: Barbara Nickel
Worship Leader: Janice Kreider
Song Leader: Eric Hannan
Pianist: Cynthia Friesen
Usher: Rovin Karuna
Zoom Coordinator:
Children's Feature Leader: Barbara Nickel


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Coffee Helper:
Sound Helper:


Child Care Volunteer: Danica Thiessen

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