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Book Review: Kneeling In Jerusalem

Updated: May 14, 2019

Reviewed by Jenn Sauer

New to our church library is Kneeling in Jerusalem, by Ann Weems. Published in 1993, the book is a collection of seventy-one inspirational poems by Christian writer, speaker, liturgist and workshop leader Weems. The book is structured as a “journey” from the hope and joy of the manger in Bethlehem to the despair of the cross. A brief coda ends the journey and the book; titled “Easter”, these five final poems celebrate Jesus’s resurrection and call readers to seek resurrection in their own lives.

I found these poems most meaningful when I thought of them as short meditations or prayers, rather than poems. In the majority of these pieces, her language is more conversational and plainspoken than figurative and poetic, and several times I found myself wishing that she had chosen to explore a particular idea with a short prose piece instead. That said, after reading the whole collection, I found myself returning to a couple of poems that stood out to me because they made connections between Jesus’s journey and our own that required a bit more interpretation by the reader. “Journey to Jerusalem” is one of these powerful poems:

Our Grandfather’s house

was filled with death,

and we didn’t want to feel it,

so we stayed at home

in snowfall and laughter.

She went alone

and wept without us.

We’re sorry, Mama,

but it’s not supposed

to snow in April,

not in Tennessee.

If you’re looking for a resource to focus your personal Lenten devotions, I think you’ll find this collection to be accessible, prayerful, and well suited to brief daily reflections. Bonus: you may not need your reading glasses, as Covenant’s copy is a large-print edition.

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