Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 4)

GLIMPSING THE KINGDOM
(Matthew 5: 1-12)

The grieving widower sat at the restaurant table.
His wife of 43 years had died
the previous week.
The young couple at the next table
were strangers to him,
but somehow
they reminded him of happiness
he and his wife had long shared.

The widower signalled to the waitress.
The bill for the couple’s meal
was delivered to the widower’s table.

On a napkin he wrote a note.
He told of dining alone
for the first time in 43 years.
He wrote
that paying for their meal
would put a smile on his wife’s face
and make him happy, too.
And he wished them a happy new year.

There was the kingdom of heaven.

For blessed are the merciful, the meek.
Blessed are the peacemakers, the pure.
Blessed are those who mourn
yet whose ongoing love
comforts themselves and others.
And blessed are those whose joy
in doing right creates
nourishment in this hungering world.

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

They’re the kingdom of heaven.

(By the way, this story is true.)

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Poem For the Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 3)

ASKING: LISTENING
(MATTHEW 4: 12-23)

Whom shall we ask to explain these fishermen
so strange to us:
their action, their choice so immediate,
our moves so often those of safe calculation?

Shall we ask the endlessly circling gulls
if the fishers at least showed reluctance,
if they, like us, preferred familiarity,
clung to old habits, the comfortable ways,
enjoyed the safe harbour, the known road?

Shall we ask the waters if there were hidden
reasons: if the wind that day was blowing in
and hard, the kind you have to fight against
just to launch the boat; or if they had torn the skin on
their hands again hurling nets into its force; had
simply grown weary and wanted change?

Let the eager grasses speak the foundations:
how winds had whispered of the preacher since
the day John had pointed to his path,
that when he spoke the sun would seem
to lean a little nearer in the sky
as if its light was sinking deeper in their souls,
and they would think:
“Could this be it, the time for which
we’ve waited, prayed: God’s reign begun,
and he the One who brings it?” – pulses
quickened until even the thickened
calluses on their hands would seem to tingle.

And let the rooted trees tell of a call
the unseen stream that dances in your bones, comes
singing down the river of your veins until it turns
your inner compass to a true north of its own –
the call that makes the untried path less fearful,
unexplored horizons new home towns.

Then they, who left their boats that day
might tell how it is with time:
that there is a time to drift, when
wind and wave will bear you on
their whims; and a time to put an anchor down
against the currents’ shift. But then you sense
the call, which means the time is
now to lift the sail, let go
the fastening rope, and let your face
be turned to unknown shores.

And they might say that such a time and way
may come for us as well,
and to all who can listen deeper,
and a little more.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King

A Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 2)

ANDREW AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL
(John 1: 29-42)

I remember that first time he spoke to me,
that first day we met him, I and Simon,
how there had been rain just before
and flowers beginning to bloom,
pink, white and yellow opening to the sun,
fragrances fresh on the air and John saying
look over there,
at him, the one God has chosen
to save the world;

how when I walked over, my eyes squinting to
see clearly against the afternoon sun
the first thing he said to me was that one
sharp, knowing question,
“What are you looking for?” –
how there seemed to be a sudden
knot in my tongue, the hundred things
I could have said all stopped in my mouth:
that even as John’s follower I still felt empty,
restless as a breeze on the lake,
impatient with the unchanged world
hard and hurting, with the way life
pressed in with need all around me
as if I were one of the fish caught in my nets;
the heart of me so hungry, so like an unfilled jar,
the mind in me itself a net 
being cast in unknown waters, uncertain
even of what answers to seek, what to ask –

the hundred things I could have said
coming out instead as this question:
“Rabbi, where are you dwelling?” Where
can I find you if finally I feel
able to sort through my thoughts, when I can speak
of my aching, my hopes, desperate yearnings?
Where can I find you should John be right
and you the answer for a world so struggling,
so suffering in its separation from God?
Am I able to find you when I am lost
in my wandering, adrift as a boat on the sea?

I remember his smile so wide, warm with welcome,
his hand held out like a bridge to cross.
“Come,” he said.
“Come and see.”

How easy it was to be with him, listening and still,
the knots falling loose in my chest,
the empty jar of my heart beginning to be filled.

How brother had to share it with brother.
And how different all the days ever since.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 1; The Baptism of Jesus)

JOHN BAPTIZES JESUS

(MATTHEW 3: 13-17)

He takes the light that dances on the flowing surface of the water.
He takes the dancing water that is filled with the flowing light.
He has waded into the river that is umbilical with life.
He is waist deep in the life that flows umbilical through the river.

He stands with the man whose words are pitchers of grace and light.
Stands with the man whose grace is like life, like a flowing river.
He fills his pitcher with the water, with the light, with the flow of life.
He pours it over the man waist deep with him in the water.

Grace descends, glittering, like wings unfurling in the air.
The air shimmers, it dances with sound, sounds of the river
flowing, the water pouring, the men breathing; the light glittering,
grace flooding, the wings beating, words surfacing: God’s son.

He hears, he sees, he is soaked in the sound and the light and the water.
He rejoices in the gift of it, he rejoices in the grace, in the one
who is standing there with him in the water.
For he knows that all of it is goodness. That all is a new beginning.
That all of it is part of God’s river.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King