Sample pages from BIBLE POEMS (with reader doodles)
The creativity of Donna Marie Merritt, poet and author of Bible Poems for Reflection and Responseextends even beyond her poetic word pictures. She had the idea of giving her readers the opportunity to not only reflect on her poems (which themselves are reflections on the Bible) but to allow space on the pages, including 17 blank pages, for readers to respond with their own poems, thoughts, prayers, drawings and doodles. The book released this month (September 1, 2020). What we’ve already heard from readers tells us this book is encouraging reflection:
“These jewels, these pearls each carry a small glimmer of truth, wisdom, stern instruction, and unconditional love.”
“I am delighted to take away thoughtful pieces … to meditate on further.”
“The questions raised throughout the book help me evaluate, repent, and respond with worship.”
One reader sent us photos of the reflective/responsive art she created on the book pages. You can view those colorful doodles in this short video:
As a publisher I love to bring authors and readers together, and especially I love it when they are reflecting together on God’s truth, creation, and the life of faith. In this way, writing—and reading—a book of poetry can lead to worship expressed in words, art and action.
“We are committed to describing the world not just as it should be, not just as it is, but as—by God’s grace alone!—one day it will be. And we should never forget that when Jesus rose from the dead, as the paradigm, first example, and generating power of the whole new creation, the marks of the nails were not just visible on his hands and his feet. They were the way he was to be identified. When art comes to terms with both the wounds of the world and the promise of resurrection and learns how to express and respond to both at once, we will be on the way to a fresh vision, a fresh mission.” –N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope (Harper Collins, 2008, p.224).
Years ago my husband, our son, and I were traveling through several regions of France. We spent one night in a farmhouse on the edge of a misty, green village in Brittany. We had walked through grand cathedrals in large cities. But here our host gave us a private tour of a small, rustic chapel.
A diminutive, sweatered Breton woman took us into the dimly-lit chapel. Our son spoke French, and so through him we could communicate with our guide. She explained in detail the colorful stained-glass windows made, in centuries past, by artisans from Italy, Spain, and Germany. Each window told a story from the Bible and church history for the country parishioners who, in olden days, often could not read the scriptures for themselves.
The historic chapel—still very much in use today—was built by Breton ship builders, our guide explained as we walked down the narrow nave. The ceiling was curved and ribbed like the hull of a ship. Traditional craftsmanship also showed in the wooden carvings—displayed above the chancel—representing the Trinity and each of the apostles.
Inside the village chapel we visited in Brittany
Surrounded by such reverential art, my eyes were drawn again and again to one particular piece—a wooden carving of “God the Father.” How had the artisans captured such a look of loving strength, knowing, and gladness?! The Father was depicted sitting on his throne. His arms were outstretched and holding, face out to the people, Jesus—also carved in wood, but in a smaller scale.
The devout Breton woodcarvers depicted the Father offering the supreme Gift. I could almost hear the voice from Heaven say, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Truly, God offers us his Christ to be our savior, our sacrificial lamb, our friend, our example, our victory, our hope, our way to eternal life.
We receive him. He changes us. And we begin to ask, “What should we do for others?”
The Father answers, “Show them Jesus. Through your words and actions, hold him out for the world to see.”
Who is this Jesus we are to show the world? He’s not a statue for us to display. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15, NRSV). He came as a helpless baby, lived an earthly life, and suffered death in order to give us the gift of life.
“He is the … beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:18-20, NRSV).
I pray, “Father, fill us with your love and your joy that we may hold Jesus out to the world through our faith, our words, and our actions.”
And that must be the underlying reason we publish books and hold them out to the world. To show them Jesus.