Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +23, Yr C)

(Luke 18: 9-14)

You can stand by a river, admire its freshness,
yet never dip foot in the stream.
You can come to the temple with prayer high-sounding,
yet be untouched by all it might mean.

You can stand in the light, blink your eyes in the dazzle,
yet never feel its warmth on your skin.
You can open your purse, give a tenth of your treasure,
yet never feel mercy within.

You can fast twice a week and yet still go hungry
for a taste of God’s life-giving grace.
You can live by the law, apply all the rules, yet
miss the love that fills all time and space.

Though proudly I lived, and sternly I judged,
there is something I’ve late come to learn:
and that is that I, too, am among those in need
of the mercy that cannot be earned.

I realize, now, how wrong I was in my judging
of the tax collector offering his prayer.
And now I give thanks that all are included
in God’s acceptance, forgiveness, and care.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +22, Yr C)

(Luke 18: 1-8)

Here you come again, old woman,
holding your hands out in pleading,
your worn hands, your wrinkled fingers

that have endured through such long holding,
holding the broken-hearted,
your back bent to carry their burdens,

your face so lined with compassion,
your eyes so calm yet piercing,
gazing steadily into our own

as again you plead your case to us,
asking us for justice for your little ones,
for the suffering and for the powerless,

for the hungry and hopeless and fearful,
pleading with us to enact the mercy
that fills your own heart forever,

while we in the robes of our self-importance
examine all our options,
consider our many excuses,

consider perhaps an adjournment
to get ourselves a coffee,
to look up the legal loopholes,

but unable to get you out of our minds,
you with your stubborn persistence,
your dogged determination,

your unwillingness to be silent or to let us go
until we, too,
have been saved.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +21, Yr C)

(Luke 17: 11-19)

is the leap of the heart to the notes of a music
discovered at the center of creation

is morning light spilling through the windows of the soul
and sometimes best experienced at evening

is the tasting of the fruit you have found because your journey
just now passed through a hidden orchard

is the fragrance of the perfume that your spirit pours out
when it opens in both sun and rain

is the depth of the moment when you awake to healing
and a thing that helps you get there

is the voice and the words and the song they bring
when joy is released to the world

is breath in the lungs of all that is love

is the life of a healthy soul.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +12, Yr C)

(Luke 12: 32-40)

Not yet is that kingdom come upon us:
not yet the peace that is God’s loving will;
not yet the swords turned into plowshares;
not yet the wolves lying down with lambs;
not yet the lands where refugees
may dwell in joy and safety;
not yet the bellies of children
unswollen from their hunger;
not yet the world’s enslaved going free,
not yet the poor finding lives of fullness,
the cities where the gun no longer sounds.

Not yet.

And so not yet can we turn our eyes from duty,
not yet can we turn from service to others,
not yet can we cease from seeking justice,
nor cease from a wide compassion;
not yet can we rest from kindness, from mercy,
from pursuing peace, from lifting up
all those who are trodden down.

Not yet.

Not yet that banquet table,
not yet that feast of the kingdom’s
completion where all are guests of love.
Not yet the time to extinguish our lamps
in the rays of a new day’s sun.

Not yet.

And yet –
hear what unwearied hope says:

Maybe soon.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +8, Yr C)

(Luke 10: 25-37)

The sun was cruelly hot that day,
it lay like weight on the skin;
and yes, I saw where the body lay,
naked and bloody and thin.
But my robes are long, I might have tripped
if I had bent to lend a hand,
and so I passed by. But I said a prayer –
I’m sure God had a plan.

You know how rough the road is there;
the robbers could have been near.
His condition for certain delivered a scare –
there’s a lot of crime around here.
I lead an upright life, you know; it’s why
God has blessed me with being rich.
So I hurried past, giving thanks to God
that it’s not me in that ditch.

I’m a busy man, I’ve many tasks
that occupy my mind.
My day is full from first to last,
there’s never enough of time.
I might have stopped, but my schedule
has to keep me rushing on.
Since it’s God’s work that I do, you know,
I don’t think I was wrong.

Perhaps we should question why this man
was chosen for being robbed –
could it be that he was a sinner, and
that this was the will of God?
And if it was indeed the man
himself who was to blame,
then I do not think by passing by
I’ve cause to be ashamed.

The sun was cruelly hot that day,
lying like weight on the skin,
and yes, I saw where the body lay,
naked and bloody and thin.
My heart was moved within me;
I felt pity for his pain.
So I stopped on the road to help him,
what more need I explain?

I don’t think I was being heroic
when I offered merciful aid.
And I’m not just being stoic
when I say I’ve been repaid.
The humble thanks he’s given
for having his life restored
is the blessing of God’s own heaven.
And kindness is its own reward.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +7, Yr C)

(Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20)

Dust of a million miles of hurry,
dust of the wheels of a billion cars,
dust of the greed and the grasp and the worry,
dust of the age of unending exhaust,

dust of the pyramids, towers, cathedrals,
dust of the plowed and the killing fields,
dust of the sweat and the blood of the battles,
dust of the plastics, cosmetics, the pills,

dust of the hungry, dust of the thirsty,
dust of the cruel and the cruelly wronged,
dust of the grieving, the weeping, the weary,
dust of the run and the struggling on,

dust of the questions, dust of the mystery,
dust of the best and worst we’ve become,
dust of the ash of our anguished history,
dust of mortality’s beating drum —

shake off the grime of it, wrap it in rainbow;
shake off its hurting, heal it in light;
leave only hoping that helps us to let go
of all that would keep us from tasting new life.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +6, Yr C)

(Luke 9: 51-62)

There you go, Lord, setting your face for Jerusalem,
setting your face for the cross of self-giving love,
there you go down
the road of self-sacrifice,
giving up a place to lay your head

to sit through the night with the sick ones,
to sleep under bridges with the homeless,
to sort the cans at the food bank,
to talk in the tent with the refugee,
to keep vigil with the hurting and grieving,

speaking to the darkness with your candle of hope,
speaking to the darkness with your light of love,
stirring the uncaring into action,
calling us to follow you on the difficult road,
calling us even though we stumble,

even though we’re not sure of our direction,
looking backward as so often we do,
reluctant to leave the familiar,
reluctant to leave our routines and traditions,
reluctant to give up our comfort,

but still hearing you,
still longing to journey with you,
still turning toward the sound of your voice
as you disappear around another corner
on the way

to the cross that lies just ahead.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King