Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 6, Yr. C)

STREAM BY WHICH WE’RE NOURISHED
(Jeremiah 17: 5-10; Psalm 1)

See the dry shrub growing weaker
parched within the desert waste.
See its leaves, how soon they wither
for no streams flow to its place.

But the tree that’s by the water,
planted on the river’s shore:
see its branches growing stronger,
leaves abundant, fruiting more.

In our search for wealth, for power,
cruelty, greed parching life,
withering souls: where will flower
hearts so meant for love, not strife?

Spirit, stream by which we’re nourished,
grace that feeds our thirsty roots,
in your love our hearts can flourish,
grounded in your mercy’s truth.

Grant we plant our minds in kindness,
grant we seek that river’s flow
where compassion issues justice:
where you mean our lives to grow.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

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Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 4, Yr. C)

ON THE BROW OF THE HILL
(Luke 4: 21-30)

Nothing against you personally, Jesus,
this edge of town to which we’ve taken you,
this place from which to shove you —
nothing against the way you spoke,
the way you read from the scroll,
(which wasn’t bad for a carpenter’s son)
and nothing against the deeds we hear
you’ve done in little Capernaum
(which again is kind of surprising
for one of Joseph’s boys) — it’s just
those things you said about
the old-time prophets caring for
foreigners
ahead of our own people,
your suggestion that God
would have love for strangers
that might come before love for us.
That kind of talk, that kind of idea,
well, it just goes against our core.
We’re sure God’s priorities
are the ones we choose
for taking care of ourselves.
We’re sure God’s behind us in keeping
our privileged place secure.
So it’s nothing against you personally,
just those radical things you say
that obviously must be punished, that
must never be allowed.
Now if you would step a little closer
to this cliff edge,
let’s not make this
any messier than it really has to be.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary, Epiphany 3 (Yr. C)

THE LAW OF GOD
(Nehemiah 8: 1-3,5-6,8-10; Psalm 19)
“The law of God is . . .sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.” – Ps. 19: 7,10
“All the people wept when they heard
the words of the law.” – Neh. 8:9

The law of God is the hand held out
to embrace the one who is grieving.

The law of God is the cup held out
to give drink to the one who is thirsty.

The law of God is the ear that is turned
to the voice of the one who is hurting.

The law of God is the feet that move
to walk a while with the lonely.

The law of God is the candle lit
in the dark for the one despairing.

The law of God is the burden shared
with the one who stumbles, weary.

The law of God is the laugh of the child,
the light in the eyes of the dancing.

The law of God is the smile on the face
of the feasting, who once was hungry.

And should we weep to hear this law
in the midst of our world of harshness,

should it burn our hearts and wound our souls
to think of all our selfishness,

let that salty sting become sweetness poured:
love’s honey, healing, saving us.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary, Epiphany 2, Yr. C

FOR THE JAR OF THE EMPTY HEART
(John 2: 1-11)

Sometimes, through no particular fault
of your own, the accumulated cares
of life build up and the storage vault
that holds your strength and hope goes bare.

Sometimes you gaze in longing east
to see the light of the dawn breaking
but clouds block the sun. And that feast,
that celebration you intended making

of life: sometimes the songs won’t come,
laughter fades, and like wine run dry
the jar of joy stands empty, a hollow drum.
But what if God knows this, and why

Jesus came to the wedding feast that day
was to show that God is with us in those
times of barren dryness, when what may
fill our heart’s jar are only tears, lid closed,

and lost the way to hope’s refreshing well. . .
What if Jesus comes that day expressly to spill
into that void his fresh and living water, telling
darkness to roll back for light, filling

the waiting jar of the empty heart
with Love’s own Presence: finest wine indeed.
Yes, Christ comes that life’s feast may truly start —
Love both source and goal, our deepest need.

So fill us to our brims, life-giving One;
may we be sharers in your earthly story.
May we spill love and joy ‘til that realm has come
that fills this precious world with all your glory.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary — The Baptism Of Jesus (First Sunday of Epiphany, Yr. C)

THE WATERS
(Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22)

They’re nearby, those waters,
the waters that bathed
the feet of John, the feet of Jesus.

Those waters long ago
went down to the Dead Sea.
And left there,
caught up by the sun’s hands
to the wide and warm welcome of sky.
And left there,
moving on wind’s wings, carried
like a ship seeking haven in the
bays of an undiscovered world.

And dropped again, those waters,
from vast jars of gray cloud
onto the iced slopes of tall mountains,
the green grasses of deep valleys,
dampening the brown dusts of dry plains.

And they left there
to travel the silver streams of high mountain highways,
to hurl the white spray from the teeth of wild rapids,
to draw gentle curves under bent branches of willows,
to rest in blue lakes or to join at last
the oceans’ long shore-washing songs.

And the waters leave there
on their journey unending, these
holy waters that bathed Eve,
that Adam drank in Eden,
that stood back from Moses
and the slaves fleeing Egypt,
these waters
that ran down the face of Jesus, that
washed over his skin, that glittered
in the bounced light from the Jordan
while torn open heavens declared
how beloved is this blessed Child.

So come, let us seek the same waters.
We find them in the places that are holy,
all the places God made to receive them —
the brown pond where the geese gather their numbers,
the quick river where the trout flashes its fins,
the quiet lake where the crying gulls circle,
the hands you cup under the faucet
to splash cool wetness to your face —
every place
where to all who have ears to hear it
a voice on behalf of heaven still proclaims
how beloved, how beloved forever we are.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary — First Sunday After Christmas (Yr. C)

AFTER CHRISTMAS
(Luke 2: 41-52)

The tsunami that crushed so many in Indonesia this week
missed my borders by thousands of miles.
The wildfires that destroyed so many homes this year
burned far beyond my horizon.
Guns spilled blood in nearby cities, but no bullets
flew on my street.
Hunger tore bellies in large swaths of the world
while the barbecues cooked in my neighbourhood.

Oh yes, there were struggles, there were
grievings, losses, hardships;
the failures and stumblings
that caused myself or others pain;
yet for me — as for many of us —
life has been the calm of a sun-washed island
around which earth’s storms
have swirled without touch.

And I wonder if life was like that for
Mary and Joseph as they travelled
to the Passover in Jerusalem.

Long past was the drama of the dream
that spoke to Joseph, warning the young parents
of the danger to their son. Long past
was the journey that took them as refugees
to Egypt to escape the hate of Herod
that would destroy others’ lives.

Now in Nazareth they lived
on an island of relative calm,
where the wars fought by Rome or
violence suffered by others
had little or no effect day to day.

Life was now routine,
though perhaps not entirely easy,
troubled only by the challenges
faced by many
to make sure there would be food
for the day.

But if long past was the danger
and the difficulty of fleeing,
if long past was the hardship of being homeless,
long past, as well, were the angels and the shepherds,
the singing and the shining and the smell of manger hay.
And long past, as well, was the visit of the Magi, those
strange travellers from the east with
their amazing, wondrous gifts.

Had Mary and Joseph forgotten so much
with the passing of the years?
Was life now so dulled by regular routine,
by daily business, daily pressures,
that Jesus’ own significance was all but lost?

For us, too, perhaps, the time that follows Christmas
— where once again the very blessedness
of our little islands of safety,
or where once again the daily pressures of ordinary life
dim the joyful memories of the singing and celebration —
is a time where the birth’s significance
is all but lost.

How easy it becomes to lose sight of Emmanuel
— God with us — when our lives
are relatively calm.
How easy it becomes to lose sight of Jesus
in the crowds, in the comings and the goings,
in the swish and the swirl of daily needs.

Where shall we look for him
if we’ve lost sight of what he means?
Where shall we seek the One
born gift of God?

Perhaps we have a temple, a sacred, holy place,
a place where we are opened to glory and to mystery.
A place where we sense the presence of the Divine
touching us and speaking to our hearts.
Perhaps we find Jesus there.

We may find him offering wisdom.
We may hear him asking questions.
We may find him nudging minds
to seek the purposes of God.

And outside in the world’s suffering
we will find him busy, too.
We will find him about God’s business,
pursuing God’s loving intentions,
embracing the wounded and weary
with God’s healing and peace.

I know we are appropriately thankful
for the blessedness of our lives.
I know we give God thanks
for all islands of calm.
But may we not forget, in the time that
follows Christmas,
that we are servants with Jesus
of purposes higher than ourselves.
May we not lose sight in our busyness of the Christ
who is about God’s business,
who goes before us into the neediness of the world.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

Christmas Eve

THE GLORY
(Luke 2: 1-14)

And the glory of God shone around them.
Not because it was suddenly there
but because their eyes were suddenly opened
to what had been there all along.

In the glittering gift of the praising stars,
in the holy hush of the kneeling night,
in the whispered prayers held aloft by the trees,
in the answering song of the grasses and breeze,
the glory of God was already around them.

Around them in the breath of the sheep that were sleeping,
around them in the flames of the fire they were keeping,
around them in the faces of the friends who were watching,
and within them in their hearts as they listened to the speaking
of the messenger of God, opening their eyes to
the Loving Holy Presence,
to heaven already happening,
to the glory, constantly shining.

Maybe it takes something special, something new and wondrous;
or maybe it can happen while we’re just tending to our business
in the ordinary, the daily routines of life,
that we are caught, shaken, wakened

to God somewhere working, to love
somewhere growing, to hearts
somewhere lifting in joyous songs of praise,

and we are moved, we are warmed,
we are opened wide like windows
to the glory that was here, that is there,
that is beyond us and within us,

that is waiting to make us, too, messengers
in the nighttime. Singers of the song.
Part of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
Peace, good will, to this needy and beloved beautiful world.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

And may I also commend you to: “The Flight Of The Heavenly Host