Published by IVP on September 14, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Theology
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But God speaks through wombs, birthing prophetic utterances. . . . Enough of this unbelieving religion that masquerades as faith. Divine favor is placed on what we have disgraced. In God Speaks Through Wombs, Drew Jackson explores the first eight chapters of Luke's Gospel in a new poetic register. These are declarative poems, faithfully proclaiming the gospel story in all its liberative power. Here the gospel is the fresh words / that speak of / things impossible. From the Magnificat (That girl can sing! . . . She has a voice / That can shatter shackles) to the baptism of Christ (I stepped in / Committing insurrection), this collection helps us hear the hum of deliverance--against all hope--that's been in the gospel all along.
I have no other words to describe God Speaks Through Wombs than has a beautiful act of worship from Drew Jackson. Drew is a pastor, poet, and peacemaker from New York City with degrees in political science and theology and he writes like it, infusing his poetry with a robust theology that understands how the Gospel affects and reflects our communities. This debut collection is a reflection on the first eight chapters of Luke, beginning with the birth of John the Baptist, concluding with the resurrection of a little girl, and not leaving out a single verse.
It’s the sort of poetic reflection that evidences a deep meditation on Scripture. These are short poems, filling at most a single page but filling it to the fullest with meaning. Jackson doesn’t offer a rhyming retelling of Scripture but a thematically flowing exposition of it, often noting how the time of Jesus isn’t so far off this time. My favorite, though it’s difficult to pick just one, is “Euangelion (From Below),” a reflection on Luke 4:18:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…”
Mother Fannie told me that I’m not free until you are too.
Brother James told me that this news gives me the courage
to break condition of servitude.
Now that’s good.
I heard Brother Oscar say that this gospel must unsettle and shake.
Otherwise it’s fake.
And Brother Gustavo maintained that the nature of this God is
Save me! Save us. Turn things right-side up! We’ve been on the
bottom. On the edges. Underneath.
Jubilee! A whole freedom! How foolish would I be to believe a word
that is satisfied with my chains?
This kind of news refuses to maintain the status quo.
This right here
is the gospel
This is only one of a 109 poems through which Jackson explores Luke 1-8. Some of them are longer, some shorter. Jackson varies his style and format, ensuring that the reader never feels lulled into a pattern. Some, like above, cover a single verse. Others cover specific narratives. All of them are just as soulfully evocative as the one above, with a cadence that almost requires you to speak the words out loud and not just leave them on the page.
For me, God Speaks Through Wombs is going to be a devotional tool as a I read through the book of Luke over the next month or so. It’s a way of looking at and engaging with Scripture that is different than we normally do and thus opens Scripture up to us in ways we may not be used to. It’s a challenging and inspiring work.