New Year's question: Are you poor in spirit?

New Year's question: Are you poor in spirit?

Story and Verse: This is the sixth in a Thanksgiving-to-Epiphany series.

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve have been busy for the Rev. Harry Howe. In addition to building a handicap ramp for a needy neighbor, the physician’s assistant finished training with the health department so he can help vaccinate patients against COVID-19.
His poem, “Good News to the Poor,” was written several years ago when Howe the preacher wanted to challenge a congregation to understand the poor aren’t always the people “outside the church.”

Today, Howe the missionary and health-care provider believes the poem speaks poignantly to the world and situation in which he serves.
“The New Year is when we look ahead to start the year by making changes, so that we can hope for a better year than last,” Howe says. “We buy up toilet paper, hand wipes, and foodstuffs so we can take care of ourselves, while complaining that our rights have been violated because we are required to wear masks in a pandemic. We might have worldly riches to endure through the pandemic but have failed to truly love and care for our neighbor.”
Howe says Christians often associate being poor with not having enough money to provide for one's daily needs, but Jesus often referred to poverty in a spiritual sense. “We might know scripture, but we don’t live it daily,” Howe says.
It’s the beginning of a New Year. As we continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we also celebrate the hope and promise he brought into the world, says Howe. “The good news for us is that we may no longer be poor in spirit, but we can find our riches in the love and grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Then we can share the richness of God's blessings with the world daily.”


Good News to the Poor

Have you not heard the truth revealed
    When the scroll of life is read
And felt the burning of the soul
    By the words the Master said
This is scripture that’s at the heart
    Of the life that God imparts
We are the poor, in need of grace
    Transformation of our hearts
For we are captives of ourselves
    Because of pride and selfish ways
That separates us from our God
    And His world our greed betrays
We are the blind who cannot see
    Who have lost our sense of sight
To see the world as God does see
    That the darkness may be light
We’re the oppressed who have become
    What the world would have us be
Live in bondage to our choices
    Who’s souls that long to be free
We hear with pain and troubled heart
    To what Jesus came to share
About the truths that God bestowed
    Of His selfless love and care
He calls us forth from what we hear
    To a change in heart and mind
To proclaim the year of jubilee
    And within His presence find
Be truly free to walk with Christ
    See the beauty of this earth
Be the children that God created
    His image in our rebirth

-- Harry Howe

Coming next week: The Starfish Thrower


Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.