Carpenter’s Hands

Hi everyone,
Happy Easter! I recently returned from a week-long mission trip to Crisfield, Maryland where I worked with a wonderful, inspired team to help with relief from Hurricane Sandy. The damage in Crisfield is extensive, but in a week we were able to make a big difference fixing homes and giving many weary people new hope to press on.
This poem is a reflection on the work we did in Crisfield and is also inspired by the sermon by Pastor Todd Hurley at Asbury United Methodist Church, where we went for Palm Sunday service. He preached about our hands and how we should think about what kind of work they ought to be doing and how often they hold the Bible to read.
The poem was also inspired by our nightly devotionals. No matter how the day at the worksites had gone, we always took the time to share how we saw God that day in each other, in our environment, or in the people we met – we never ran out of ways that we saw Him working.
God bless!

“Carpenter’s Hands”
The raging storm ebbed away
months ago now.
Down along the shore
you see
buildings missing walls, floors, windows
sitting and waiting in marshy yards
as the cold winds of March
try to rattle their last strength out of them.
     you see
     wounded homes. 
but it is not all there is to see,
     for we see with new eyes
        opened by God’s Spirit in us,
    and amidst the aftermath
we see
hands gripping hammers, saws, screwdrivers 
hands lifting walls back into place
hands pounding in nails, fitting floors,
    wiping soot-streaked walls white,
    clearing out the broken for the new
hands writing cards to those who feel forgotten
hands steadying those shaken by the storm 
hands that hold and hands that are held.
now look even closer
you will see
the touch of a gentle, wise carpenter
guiding each working hand
to build as He did.

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Carpenter’s Hands by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Shaking Hands

Hi everyone,
This is a poem I’ve shared before. It was inspired by a Maundy Thursday service at my church one year. Maundy Thursday is the night that Jesus held the first Communion, and it was also the night he was betrayed and taken away for trial and, later, death on the cross.
The service was a wonderful time for reflection on the night Jesus made a new covenant and a deep, everlasting promise to us—that He would sacrifice all to save us for love. This poem reflects on the communion we had at church that night, where members of the church acted out the roles of the disciples and Jesus at the Last Supper.
God bless!

“Shaking Hands”
hours before You will
    be cut off
brutally from breathing in 
   and out,
You sit at the head 
of a table surrounded by friends,
   a seed of darkness tucked 
      inside one of their hearts.
hours before the ultimate
   test, moment, fear,
You lift bread and wine.
i watch this moment
   reenacted in a church service
tonight. my eyes fix themselves
on the man blessing the wine
   and cup, playing Your role.
his hands shake as
  he pours the wine from pitcher
    to cup. two thousand years ago
did Your hands shake? did You
  struggle to swallow with a dry 
     mouth? take a deep breath
before You turned to Judas 
  and told him to do what he must?
before You beckoned the storm
    to come? 
as this last meal is served 
   for us this night, i watch not
the faces, but the hands 
    of the men and women acting
       as the twelve, the hands
    of the children and elders
college- and middle-aged 
coming to reach out for that
    taste of mercy.
i see dry hands, wrinkled hands, 
   big, small, young, old 
hands curled with arthritis, 
    black, white, brown, red, yellow
willing hands, reluctant hands, curious hands,
    and above all linked and growing hands—
whether those hands be growing
   older and wiser or tougher and rougher,
  more gentler or more soft,
these are hands that change, 
   hands that reach, teach, create
       and hold on.
if Your hands shook, then all the more
   do ours, and i know all the more
You still them, grasp them,
   place the bread of grace
      and courage and hope
into our many palms,
         take and eat,
      take and drink,
          live and be
            children of this table,
                   of my heart.  

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Shaking Hands by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

unexpected sister

Hi everyone,
This poem is about reaching out to others in need, whether we know them or not. It’s important to let the Holy Spirit guide us to give someone the words they need to hear or show them the kindness they need to see to keep going and move toward healing.
God bless!
“unexpected sister”
She sits
one seat next to me in church.
she’s not from here, but smiles in spite of
the whirl of English she can’t always understand.
she’s from far, far south in a country with a language
I have no idea how to speak,
but she knows the prayers, sings the songs,
closes her eyes in the music and lifts up her hands
reaching up for our God who knows no boundary
no country line, no language barrier.
When we pray, she curls over like an autumn leaf.
I have my eyes closed, but I hear she is crying.
I do not know her language,
I do not know her story,
but in that moment, the Spirit makes us
unexpected sisters
and I can offer her a comforting hug.
silent, no words, just the touch
of a person who cares.
I still do not know her story behind her tears.
I do not need to.
In that moment, all that was needed
was the comfort of family,
that quiet presence beside us
to show us we’re not alone.
Someday I may be the one
sitting there lost and fragile
and full of tears,
but I am not afraid of being alone.
I trust in the God who sends
unexpected sister or brothers
to let us know His family
is all around.
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unexpected sister by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.