I have on my desk a framed copy of a very special poem. The poem was written by a famous African-American poet and statesman, James Weldon Johnson.
The poem is extra-special to me because it was copied by hand by my second grade teacher, Miss Evangeline Gerac, and presented to me by Rev. R.R. Branton, the pastor who confirmed me into the faith as a child. He gave this to me from the pulpit of First Methodist Church in Lafayette on the Sunday before I left for my first semester in seminary many years ago. Miss Gerac and Rev. Branton are now in Heaven. I will never forget them.
The poem reads like this: “And now, O Lord, this man of God, who breaks the bread of life this morning, shadow him in the hollow of thy hand, and keep him out of the gunshot of the devil.
“Take him, Lord, and wash him with hyssop inside and out, hang him up and drain him dry of sin. Pin his ear to the wisdom post, and make his words sledge hammers of truth - beating on the iron heart of sin.
“Lord God, put his eye to the telescope of eternity, and let him look upon the paper walls of time. Lord, turpentine his imagination, put perpetual motion in his arms, fill him full of the dynamite of thy power, anoint him all over with the oil of thy salvation. And set his tongue on fire.”
Powerful words. May the words of James Weldon Johnson apply to my life every time I preach, and to every pastor in our community as he or she stands in the pulpit.