New Oxford Book of Christian Verse as sermon fodder . . .

 . . .  as using George Herbert’s “Redemption,”  — on a platter for the inventive preacher — which 

condenses Christian teaching about redemption in Christ’s death on the Cross into a single image of a tenant seeking a new lease from his lord.

 “Single image,” yes. Every preacher wants that.

In the poem drawing on Luke’s parable of the tenants but with a twist, namely that this tenant is not wicked, but 

recognizes his own fruitlessness, and seeks out his lord.

And, seeking Him out,

journeys to heaven, then to the wealthy on earth, but [only] among sinners finds his lord dying, and receives his new lease.

 On life, yes.

But I have in mind a selective reading of the poem, aiming at driving home a general point — note well, one general point — planting perhaps a seed of wonder at what God hath wrought for those who love Him, letting the poet make that point.

One such point is the most a sermon can do, I hope we agree.

For instance, in the case of “Redemption,”

Having been tenant long to a rich lord,
    Not thriving [in trouble], I resolvèd [3-syllable word here] to be bold,
    And make a suit [put my case] unto him, to afford [grant me]
A new small-rented lease [something I can afford in a landlord’s market], and cancel th’ old.
In heaven at his manor I him sought;
    They told me there that he was lately gone [to see]
    About some land, which he had dearly bought [at such a price!]
Long since on earth, to take possessiòn.
I straight [immediately] returned, and knowing his great birth,  [how great he is]
    Sought him accordingly in great resorts; [where the elite meet]
    In cities, theaters, gardens, parks, and courts; [where great people gather]
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth
    Of thieves and murderers; there I him espied, [saw]
    Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, and died.
Wow.
It’s all about Jesus buying our salvation and us going to Him to cash it in, one might say, in a once-in-a-lifetime transaction, meaning how marvelous it is, taken pure and simple, making no complicated doctrinal statement, nor implying one.

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