Archive for August, 2012

In the midst of the storms of life: Remember the miracle of the bread

August 21, 2012

Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating and destructive storms in recent memory, occurred in August, 2005.

Not too long ago, without warning, a series of severe storms swept through the heart of the nation, leaving millions without power in its aftermath.  In thinking about “Storms” I recall a number of original poems that focus on that subject.  In longer poem “A Prayer to Know the Fullness of Your Grace” is this short piece:

Protect Me

 As a child runs to safety in his father’s arms,

 So I, too, run to you, “my shelter from life’s storms.”

 Lord, I long to dwell with you in the secret place,

 My buckler, my shield, deliverer, my fortress,

 Strong tower, defender, who responds to my prayer.

 For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish me

And protect me and deliver me from evil.

Another related work that references storms is also inspired by Psalm 46:

Be Still and Know

Psalm 46

Be still and know that I am God, that I am the eternal one.

Though your cherished dreams have faded and long since gone

The way of all flesh, my divine plans you shall see,

As I weave the tapestry of eternity.

Though you seem forsaken, you are never alone,

Even when the burden of dark sin cannot atone,

And the hearts of men have hardened and turned to stone:

Be still and know that I am God.

Though storms may overwhelm and friends may abandon

When diseases surface to assault flesh and bone.

These scenes will reveal the man I thought I could be,

As words of the Psalmist comfort and remind me,

When this life is over and all is said and done:

Be still and know that I am God.

The accompanying video by Steven Curtis Chapman is likewise inspired by Psalm 46:10:

In thinking about the storms of life, I recall the words of Dr. Aaron Parker, who spoke of the cycle of life, whereby, as believers, we are either in the midst of a storm or coming out of a storm and preparing to go through another storm.  The statement was made following one of the most devastating and destructive storms in recent memory, Hurricane Katrina, occurring in 2005. My sister, Cheryl, who lives in Atlanta, sent me the tape series of sermons focusing on storms, by Dr. Parker, her pastor, each of which inspired the following trio of poems:

This Ever-present Truth 

For He commands and raises the stormy wind,

which lifts up the waves of the sea.

They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths;

Their soul melts because of trouble.

He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.

Then they are glad because they are quiet;

so He guides them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107:25-26, 29-30

As we navigate through the stages of our lives,

Mild breezes that caress our days are soon transformed

Into wild gales and floods, as one more storm arrives.

Despite this ever-present truth, we are alarmed

And unprepared for life’s torrential winds and rain,

As the raging storm center races toward our shore,

Gathering force and mounting into a hurricane.            

We find ourselves near the eye of the storm once more.

The whirlwind soon passes over and leaves behind

Rising flood waters that would overwhelm the soul,

But through prayer and strong faith we know that we shall find

Courage to endure, though each storm exacts its toll.

God prepares us to go through howling gusts and rain,

With strength between storms, ready to go through again.

 The Prayer Directive: Strength between Storms

 Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation,

 continuing steadfastly in prayer;

 Romans 12:12 [NKJV]

 When it seems that we have reached our outer limits

 Of exhausted options and can no longer cope,

 Wrestling with unbelief, our foe that inhibits,

 God’s Word reminds us to keep rejoicing in hope.

 We know that in patience we possess our soul.

 In the midst of life’s pressures, we remain secure,

 Assured that in Christ Jesus, we have been made whole,

 Watching and waiting with renewed strength to endure.

 As stately palm trees, we yield and bend in the wind,

 And pray in the spirit, with requests that never cease.

 As sweet-smelling incense, our fervent prayers ascend

 In greater measure, as our petitions increase.

 Though storms may overwhelm, we are still in God’s care:

 Therefore rejoice, be patient, continue in prayer.

 Walking on the Troubled Waters of Life   

Matthew 14:22-33

In the fourth watch, long before the sun begins to rise,

A tempest attacks my ship with waves that overwhelm.

My vessel seems abandoned with no one at the helm

When a vision of the Savior appears before my eyes:

Jesus comes walking on the troubled waters of life.

As storms of our times bring conflict, confusion and strife.

May I not be fretful, anxious, cowardly like some,

But like Peter say, “Since you are my Lord, bid me come.”

And step out of the boat to walk on the storm-tossed sea.

While battered by fierce waves, tormented and tossed about,

In the time of my distress I cry out, “Lord, save me!”

He then asks, “O, you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

In the midst of turbulent times, may I “get a grip”

  And walk hand in hand with the Master back to the ship.

I recall also lyrics related to storms, such as the following song:

I Will Deliver You

I will deliver you from the snare of the fowler.

As a bird escapes from the cage, so I will release you from captivity.

I will lift you up, out of the hand of your fiercest enemy.

I will draw you to myself and hide you under the safety of my wing.

I will deliver you from the raging deep waters.

The sea shall not overwhelm you, but I will bring you through the storms in peace.

I will lift you up, and bear you up on the wings of an eagle.

I will provide for you and hide you in my secret dwelling place.

These lyrics bring to mind a song of great comfort “You are my hiding place” offered by Selah”: 

Finally, a teaching by Apostle John Tetsola entitled “The Miracle of the Bread” was one of the highlights from Transferring the Mantle, a 3-day conference hosted by Equip U Ministries of Columbus, Ohio. Apostle Tetsola taught on the power of consistency in overcoming adverse situations where there is overwhelming lack of provision during seasons of difficulty, in the midst of the storms of life. He covered a number of accounts whereby Jesus performed a miracle of feeding the multitude with the fishes and the loaves, having an abundance of “leftovers” afterwards. The life changing ministry of the Word inspired this poem which is also the title of his teaching:

The Miracle of the Bread

 For every single problem that you have, 

the answer lies in the miracle of the bread.

Apostle John Tetsola

 

I will trust in the Lord and will not be afraid.

When the storms of life arise and seem to prevail,

When my strength is gone, and I seem destined to fail,

 In these tough times I recall words that Jesus said:

“O you of little faith, tell me, why did you doubt?”

No matter how midnight-black my nights seem to be,

I still access the power of consistency.

Although the world says no way, God will bring me out.

I learn never to elevate facts over truth

But recall past victories and bring them to my mind

When thousands were fed and abundance left behind

From two fishes and five loaves given by a youth.

In times of lack, I will not doubt but have faith instead

And always remember the miracle of the bread.

 

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Ordination: Reflections on my calling

August 11, 2012

On August 11, 2012, I begin this day with a time of grateful reflection upon an event taking place thirty-eight years ago when I was first ordained to the Christian ministry. For me this was one of the spiritual highlights of my life, and I commented upon the significance of this event in one of the first articles that I wrote as Columbus Christian Spirituality Examiner for Examiner.com, an Internet publication. Click here to read Ordination: Responding to the call.

In celebration of the grand occasion, I would like to share this poetic, pictorial portrait, as I continue to echo the lyrics to an old gospel song sung countless times as I grew up: “How I got over, How I got over, My Lord/My soul looks back and wonders, How I got over.” And so we begin by looking back, as the opening line of this poem suggests:

Strengthened for the Journey

 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,

 and he shall strengthen your heart;

 wait, I say, on the LORD!

 Psalm 27:14

Let us pause to reflect upon the past,

Not with longing to relive bygone days.

Though some were fine, such moments cannot last

A lifetime. The budding rose never stays

The same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

Let us linger to absorb the essence

Of this moment’s triumph. Another phase

Of growth we note within our lifetime since

We first began the quest toward excellence.

Let us look ahead with vision and strive

Toward greater goals, for each day we commence

To grow toward our perfection, as we thrive.

May we see clearly where our paths have led

And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

The inspiration for the following poem is statement by Elijah Pierce, renowned minister of the gospel, internationally acclaimed woodcarver, and local barber. Rev. Pierce took the statement and carved it into a magnificent sculpture that profoundly impacted me when I first viewed it more than ten years ago. I published an Examiner.com article based on that unforgettable experience. Click here to read it.

Your Life is a Book 

Your life is a book, and every day is a page. 

You cannot deny the pages of your own book,

because you’ve already written into the pages of life. 

And that life will be open in the eyes of God.

When the book is finished, you cannot deny it.

 Elijah Pierce

Your life is a book, and every day is a page.

We all write our story, whether fool or sage.

Printed words in boldface impress to curse or bless,

Revealing measures of both failure and success

In applying hearts unto wisdom as we age.

No one knows the future nor can anyone gauge

The impact of one life with its living message.

Every word of our history continues to stress

Your life is a book.

Work heartily as to the Lord–forget the wage.

Accept this–it is futile to wrestle and rage

Against God’s divine plan that we know and express

His purpose, for each day we write as we progress.

From infant to elder, through each unfolding stage,

Your life is a book.

This picture of me taken when I was about six years old brings to mind fun-filled, carefree summer days from childhood when life for me was one grand adventure, expressed in this poem:

Man-child . . . Giddy-up, going on the great adventure

 “Here they beheld the man-child to someday reign as king. . . .”

 The Wise Men 

I leaped out of bed just after the sun came up;

I could not stay cause I had to be on my way.

Life overflowed like a fountain and filled my cup.

“Be back in a minute” was all I had to say. . . .

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up, going on the great adventure.

I was laughing and loving every good news day,

Running with abandon into the blazing sun,

With my heart wide-open and tender, pure for sure,

All that really mattered to me was having fun.

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up, going on the great adventure.

One day a white-haired man spoke as he looked at me.

“Say, little man, when you grow up to be a man,

Tell me, little fella, what do you want to be?”

His question made me think, just for a little while

Then I nodded my head, and I began to smile,

“That’s a real long time away, far as I can see,

But when I grow up to be a real grown up man,

“A man-child, man-child, is what I still want to be,

Man-child, a man-child, is what I still want to be.”

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up, going on the great adventure.

In the sixth grade I recall that I committed to memory Psalm 1, a passage of scripture that I still recall by heart and keep close to my heart. Mrs. Little, the undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and told us to memorize the First Psalm, which I did and still recall by heart to this day. For me it was “the first Word,” a term used in the following poem with that title.   

 The First Word                  

When you’re in a difficult situation,

go back to ‘the first word.’ It still works.

 Apostle John Tetsola

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.

Just like Samuel, I clearly heard God speak to me:

I still remember the power of “the first word.”

The desire to read and to learn by heart God’s Word:

Planted deep within my soul seeds of destiny.

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.

Early years of famine and drought God has restored.

My Shepherd ever sets a table before me.

I still remember the power of “the first word.”

From an early age God became my shield and sword,

As the Psalms enflamed a passion for poetry.

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.

The sound words of the First Psalm could not be ignored:

“Planted by the rivers of waters, like a tree. . .”

I still remember the power of “the first word.”

Striving toward the finish, ever pressing forward,

I now fondly recall glimpses of God’s glory.

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord:

I still remember the power of “the first word.”

I graduated from Froebel High School in Gary, Indiana, as valedictorian, in June 1960, and as my academic career has unfolded, I recognize that I have always desire to excel. The epigraph to the following poem expresses my heart’s desire:

To Graduate with Honors

I desire to be a straight-A student in the University of Life.

Lonnell E. Johnson

 

To graduate with honors, the first in my class;

Once more “to pioneer a new and living way.”

To rise above the mundane, striving to surpass

Past limits, still moving toward a more perfect day.

In reflecting on bygone years, I recall

These words: “The Lord is my light and my salvation,

Whom shall I fear?” words implanted to strengthen me,

Learned by heart, this prophetic declaration.

Though my thoughts may stray, Your presence is always near.

Hand-in-hand, while walking toward my destination,

With my ears still near your lips, ever listening to hear

Words of life that endear, words of exhortation.

I ponder the winding path that my life has turned,

With deepest gratitude for all that I have learned.

                                                                                                                     We are soldiers in the Army

                                                                                                      We have to fight although we have to cry

                                                                                                   We have to hold up the blood-stained banner

                                                                                                              We have to hold it up until we die.

                                                                                                                         Traditional Gospel Song

Upon graduation from high school in June 1960, I enrolled as pharmacy student in Purdue University in September of that year. In 1965 I graduated with a BS degree in Pharmacy and worked as a hospital pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Gary from 1965-67 when I was drafted into the US Army, where I embarked upon another phase of my journey of discovery from January, 1967 through December, 1968. While I was a pharmacy instructor at the Medical Field Service School in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I rode the crest of the Jesus Movement, a national revival impacting the lives of countless young people and others.  I experienced a powerful conversion that introduced me to the transforming power of God through receiving the Holy Spirit and studying of the Bible.  I began to write poetry and continued to write once I was discharged from the Army.

And the Lord says,” My son when I saved you I had to find you, for you were running, going your own way, and I mean this in a lovely way. But you were like a wild and a stubborn ass, doing your own thing. And I saved you, and I convinced you intellectually and spiritually that you were mine. And I put the fear of God within you on that day that I saved you, and I told you ‘You can do this your way or you can do this my way.’  And you said, ‘Yes, Sir.’ And you are a man under authority. You understood that early in your Christian career. And you understood that there were people under you, and you understood that there were people over you. And you’ve always understood authority. You’ve always understood that the Kingdom of God is like an army. And you always knew that you had power and power and authority.

 Personal Prophecy from Dennis Cramer, May 9, 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                        

After being discharged from the Army in 1968, I moved to Washington, DC where I worked for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association until 1971. During this time I became involved with The Way International, having been introduced to the Ministry while I was in the Army at Fort Sam Houston. I met Brenda Warren, who worked in the same office building. I also introduced Brenda to The Way International prior to my leaving Washington, DC to join The Way Corps in 1971. Brenda and I were married in 1973, and we were assigned as coordinators of The Way International fellowships in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and a portion of Pennsylvania. I was ordained the following year.

Lonnell Edward Johnson

Ordained

August 11, 1974

Prayer and Prophecy by Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille

Prayer:

Father, for your loving kindness and tender mercy and your goodness, for the great favor that thou hast showered upon us we are truly grateful, and Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I lay my hands upon my Lonnell this night to bless him and to set him apart unto the ministry whereunto you have called him.

Prophecy:

For surely I the Lord thy God hath brought thee unto this day and time. It is I who succored thee and strengthened thee and upheld thee. It is I who have put the burning desire of this Word within thy soul, my son.  Surely, I the Lord thy God have called thee to send thee forth as one who is being sent to hold forth my Word rightly divided in this our time. Surely I the Lord thy God have called thee to teach and to manifest forth my greatness and to be a real pastor to my people, for I have loved you with an everlasting love. And I will under-gird you and keep you, my son. Walk forth in all boldness.

Prayer:

Father, I thank you for your love, and I ordain him this night to this sacred ministry whereunto you have called us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

I was a part of The Way International from 1968-1988. Since that time I have received a number of personal prophetic words that provided exhortation and comfort,  as I continued to seek God’s direction. Here is one of the first such words that impacted me in a profoundly significant way.

Personal Prophecy to Lonnell and Brenda Johnson given by Marva Pharis in Raleigh, NC, September, 1993:

 Oh, Dear God, What a precious gift you are to the Body of Christ.  Oh, you are so precious in God’s sight, and you’re so precious to the Body of Christ.  And God has used you to speak words of wisdom and words of life in years past.  And that is only just a bare, and that is only a small amount of what He is going to use you in the future.  He says you have paid a price; you have paid a price; you have laid down the ministry and walked away and said ‘God, I will do whatever, if it’s scrub the toilets and sweep the floor, I will do whatever,’ and God has said I will honor that, I honor a servant’s heart, and God says I’m going to raise you to new levels of ministry that you have only dreamed about.  My Word is in you, within both of you, and I’m going to use you to teach, to preach, to prophesy, to move in areas that you’ve never even dreamed about because you have been faithful in the little things, and I’m going to make you ruler over much; I’m going to make you ruler and master of many things; and I’m going to use those giftings, and Sister, God is not leaving you behind.  There’s giftings and ministries in you that have not even been tapped into yet.  He’s going to bring forth those things; He’s going to pull those things, and you’re going to speak into ladies’ lives and release them to be all God has made them to be because He’s raising up a mighty army that’s made up of men and ladies. And, Oh, I see in the church that you’re working in, it’s going to start little, and it’s going to get bigger, and it’s a world-wide ministry, and it’s not just to ex-Way people; it’s to the Body of Christ; it’s to the Body of Christ; it’s all over the world, because you are precious in the Father’s sight.

Here is another excerpt from a personal word of prophecy from Dr. Kingsley Fletcher, spoken in April 21, 2001. I have read and reflected upon this word of encouragement countless times:

The anointing of the Lord is upon you. You shall walk through doors, and you shall bring the people of God behind you. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Mighty man of faith! When you declare, it shall be done. You shall affect many through your faith, for out of the faith you shall see my faithfulness. . . . And you shall declare this is the way of the Lord, and they shall follow. For you shall stand and declare just as Caleb declared. You shall stand and say, ‘If God said it, it shall come to pass. If God declares it, I believe it. If God points the way, I will follow.’ And the people of God shall be inspired by your humble faith. For you are a man that has pleased me, and I’m delighted in you. This is the word of the Lord to you, Lonnell. To Lonnell, the word of the Lord. You shall walk in faith and not by sight.                                                                    

The reference to Caleb inspired this poem:

             Like Caleb

But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him,

 and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land

   whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

                                      Numbers 14:24

Caleb, son of Jephunneh, of the tribe of Judah:

The impact of this solitary life who can gauge?

May I be like Caleb, who grew in faith with the years

That passed, who with renewed courage transformed his fears

Into faith and lived to slay giants in his old age.

May I rise above any adverse circumstance.

As Caleb claimed for himself his inheritance,

May I too seize God’s promises at this new stage,

To remain fruitful in this season of my life.

And may I wholly follow the ways of the Lord,

Teaching by example the precepts of the Word.

As a servant, may I dispel envy and strife.

Like Caleb, may I look at life as one who sees

Not obstacles but endless possibilities.

As I reflect upon the many milestones of accomplishments leading up to and subsequent to my ordination to the Christian ministry, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude to God. I would like to conclude my reverie with a single poem which captures the essence of my heart’s desire at this present time: 

  When All Is Said and Done

  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant;

  you were faithful over a few things,

  I will make you ruler over many things.

  Enter into the joy of your lord.’

  Matthew 25:21

When all things of this life on earth are said and done

And all accounts settled, may this be said of me:

He was a good husband, father, and faithful son,

Who sought to serve the Master with integrity.

May God find a branded bondslave who came to learn

Firsthand that to run to serve is life’s highest goal,

Beyond fame, acclaim, wealth or status one can earn.

That I loved God with all my heart and mind and soul:

A  son who practiced obedience as a lifestyle,

Seeking to please the Lord and follow each command,

With an attitude of gratitude all the while,

Giving praise to Christ before whom we all shall stand.

When I have finished my course, and my race is won,

I long to hear “Good and faithful servant, well done.”

Eight for Twelve on 8-4-12

August 4, 2012

Isaiah 62 with its 12 verses comprises the theme for the New Year: “Twelve for Twelve in 2012.”

At the beginning of the New Year, I posted a blog in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe based on my theme and scriptural focal point for 2012. In this case, I had selected Isaiah 62, a passage that most providentially contains twelve verses. In studying the chapter, I decided to write a series of poems, as I personalized each of the twelve verses, calling the collection “Twelve for Twelve for 2012.” Here is the link to the first installment, published in two parts, inspired by Isaiah 62:1: “One for Twelve”:

I continue the series with the eighth installment “Eight for Twelve,” a personalized poetic rendering of Isaiah 62:8, posted on August 4, 2012.  Here is the verse from the New Living Testament:

The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength:
    “I will never again hand you over to your enemies.
Never again will foreign warriors come
    and take away your grain and new wine.

Eight for Twelve

 Isaiah 62:8

Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work.

The one who began the work is the faithful one:       

Remind Him that what He began is not yet done.

Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work.         

Until He establishes the City of Peace,       

Do not hold your peace but pray for Jerusalem,   

For the Lord’s heart is always turned toward them    

Until He establishes the City of Peace.                 

Until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth,   

Until the whole earth shall marvel at her splendor   

Do not hold back, always pray, never surrender  

Until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.  

 

In anticipation of a forthcoming event or celebration or holiday, children will sometimes incessantly remind a parent that he or she has made a promise, as the children will do all that they can to ensure that the parent does not forget. During the months, weeks, or days prior to the promised event, words such as these seem to echo repeatedly: “Remember what you said. . . you promised. . . Don’t forget what you promised.” In a similar manner, the passage from Isaiah 62 reveals that God promised to restore and redeem Israel, His chosen people. Even though Israel is in captivity at the time of the writing of this passage, God promises to keep speaking and working until His purposes for Jerusalem are fulfilled. Like little children, God’s people are encouraged to give Him no rest, to pray without ceasing, to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.

This message is reiterated in this poem:

As We Pray

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May they prosper who love you.

 Peace be within your walls,

Prosperity within your palaces.”

 Psalm 122:6-7

This week as we pray, we focus on the Kingdom,

Established and grounded on a sure foundation.

As we diligently pursue Godly wisdom,

New paths of this Apostolic Reformation

Unfold as the sun rises on the horizon.

Even in turbulent times, we must stay the course.

Aware of consequences of each decision,

We look to God our Father, bountiful resource.

We are new wineskins, flexible, open to change.

With a “kingdom mindset” we now see with new eyes.

Beyond past narrow limits our view is long-range.

We number our days with each sunset and sunrise.

Observing the times and giving meaning to them, 

We ever pray for “the peace of Jerusalem.”

The song “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem” uploaded by Pendelican also captures the essence of Psalm 122:6-7:

These lyrics to an original song were also inspired by the passage from Psalm 122:6-7

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of the City of Peace.

Watchmen on the wall, do not tarry

But carry the message and tell all the people to pray,

To give the Lord no rest, but call on Him night and day

And pray, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of the City of Peace.

Watchmen on the wall, do not tarry

But carry the message and tell all the people to pray,

To give the Lord no rest but call on Him night and day

And pray, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Watchmen on the wall, do not tarry

But carry the message and tell all the people to pray,

To stand in the gap and make up the hedge night and day,

And pray, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of the City of Peace.

Lyrics to another original composition express the same sentiment in another song with the same title:

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of the Land of Israel.

Pray for the peace; let your prayers never cease.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a city, a city that is built four-square.

A glorious city coming down as a bride prepared

Three gate on the North; three gates on the South;

Three gates on the East and three gates on the West.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Someday I shall see the New Jerusalem.

I shall walk upon the streets of purest gold.

I now realize I shall see with my own eyes.

I shall see and be in the New Jerusalem.

I shall see and be in the New Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of the Land of Israel.

Pray for the peace; let your prayers never cease.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Here is another video by Paul Wilbur, relating the same exhortation to “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”: 

A number of years ago, our church participated in a Passover Seder, as Rev. Howard Silverman, leader of Beth Messiah, messianic congregation, conducted a teaching event that illuminated and illustrated “Christ in the Passover.” Following that most enlightening and inspiring event, I wrote the following poem, as I reflected upon the one of the remarks that concludes each Seder: “Next year in Jerusalem”:

  “Next Year in Jerusalem”

In the month of Nisan, the first month of the year,       

We remember forever the first sacred feast 

At Passover, ordained by God to celebrate                    

That Jehovah Jireh provides more than enough.                    

We taste bitter and sweet at the Seder table           

And rise to proclaim, “Next year in Jerusalem.”                                                                                                           

Chosen by God, given His name, Jerusalem,                   

The place where Passover brings great joy each new year. 

First eaten in haste then at the Seder table,              

The Lord God Himself sanctified this holy feast.                 

We partake of fruit of the vine and food enough            

To remember the Lord’s goodness and celebrate.             

 

 

Our hearts flow with thanksgiving as we celebrate,        

While still praying for the peace of Jerusalem.        

To know the love of God it would have been enough, 

But great grace and peace fill our lives year after year.

God declared this to be a perpetual feast                                   

And set in order the first Passover table.            

 

 

In the wilderness the Lord prepared a table            

That His people might know His love and celebrate      

That the angel of death passed over with this feast.      

So they began their journey toward Jerusalem,                 

Where they would come to observe Passover each year                                  

When only an unblemished lamb would be enough.              

 

 

To assemble ourselves for worship is enough.            

In this place no leaven defiles the Lord’s table.                                               

We eat the bread of affliction another year,                             

Recalling release from bondage to celebrate,                                       

Yet yearning for Passover in Jerusalem     

When in His kingdom we shall share this glorious feast.          

 

 

With a new covenant Christ declared a new feast:                  

To eat the bread and drink the cup will be enough.

The peace of God shall seal the New Jerusalem                                   

When God fulfills His kingdom at the Lord’s table                            

When angels gather His elect to celebrate             

All the feasts of the Lord from year to endless year.                           

 

 

The Year of Jubilee shall be a holy feast                    

To celebrate God’s goodness with much more than enough

At the welcome table in New Jerusalem.          

           

Here is a video version of the Jewish song “Next Year in Jerusalem”:

“Next year in Jerusalem,” meaning “See you next year in Yerushalayim for Passover,” has been used as a farewell and a prayer since 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the second Temple. As Christians we look forward to the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Yeshua, Messhiach, the Prince of Peace, when we too shall sit at the “welcome table in New Jerusalem.