Daily Word of Grace #198 (December 17, 2020)

One of my favorite poets is John Donne (1572-1631) who is not only one of England’s greatest poets but was also a priest.  In his poem “A Hymn to God the Father” he writes about his need for God’s forgiveness: “Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun, which was my sin, though it were done before?  Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run, and do run still, though still I do deplore?  When thou hast done, thou hast not done, for I have more.”  In the second stanza he acknowledges not only our proclivity to sin, but also its ripple effects: “Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won others to sin, and made my sin their door?  Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun a year or two, but wallowed in a score?  When thou hast done, thou hast not done, for I have more.”  In the third and final stanza he appeals to God’s eternal mercy: “I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun my last thread, I shall perish on the shore.  But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore; and, having done that, thou hast done; I fear no more.”  This is brilliant and moving portrayal of the comprehensiveness of God’s forgiving love, a forgiving love we all need all the time, just like John Donne.  God’s forgiving love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), so that even at the hour of death when we “shall perish on the shore” we can echo John Donne, “I fear no more.”

Love and Prayers,