The New Commandment

By Ruthann Knechel Johansen

The poet Jesus speaks to us
within his words and acts
across his life he points
to the Spirit realm of as
a hidden place of abiding
that changes everything
as lilies in our fields
as branches on a grapevine
as treasures lost and talents
buried out of sight
as rocky parched or fertile soil

The poet asks how often
have I said as to you
a little joining word
dancing through creation
just as I have loved you
unless you become as little children
as much as you feed the hungry
famine-suffering border crossing
clothe the naked stripped
by storm or homelessness
visit fearful soldier-enemies
imprisoned by the murders
or war or hate
invite in the lonely
stranger and estranged
you feed clothe and visit me
love your neighbor as yourself

Who is my neighbor, you ask
you are your neighbors
from you they learn to know themselves
from them you recognize yourself
abide in me as I abide in you
I and you and
yes your enemies
belong to each other
all One in abiding

To Mary in the morning garden
don’t hang onto me
abide in me
I am not found in tombs of
death or judgment
doctrines or theological debates
the fields of right and wrong
meting out privileges
on my right or left

After healings
the teacher-poet often says
do not tell anyone
lest you fix me as an idol
relinquish who you think I was
unknowing opens to humility
the soil of reception
I am Love enfleshed
as you are too
make room for the Christ
from the beginning
awakening the Spirit
indwelling in you
do not be afraid he says always
draw w-i-d-e circles
a covenant of Spirit
I can move in

incarnate my Love
abiding in you.

Metal flowers on a wall
Artwork at the Duke Energy Convention Center

Ruthann Knechel Johansen shared this poem as part of the afternoon Bible study at Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 6, 2023.

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]