Last Sunday Of Epiphany – The Transfiguration

TO LIFT FROM SHADOW
(Matthew 17: 1-9)

I
The shadow fell six days before: he’d talked
of suffering death. His words so worried
Peter – the one just named by him the Rock
beneath the church – that Peter had hurried
to halt such ill-considered speech, bringing
a stiff (“You Satan!”) rebuke. He, the Christ
as Peter confessed, was just beginning
to teach them that to follow had a price:
a cross of their own, the sacrificial
love that was his way. If dreams of power
had spurred them, or other superficial
goals, they were soon to face with him the hour
of powerlessness and loss, of his pain
and death – and of a greater, lasting gain.

II
To lift them from shadow he has them climb
a mountain to a solitary place,
a peak where the wide air and slower time
could make for clearer views, an open space
for thought and prayer. Clouds draw near, sun grows
dimmed, but a stronger light begins to gleam:
Christ himself begins to shine, clothes to glow,
as if a veil has been raised on unseen
glory. Glazed in splendor, a stranger sight:
Moses, Elijah, speaking to Jesus
as to a friend. Amidst the blaze of light
a voice from the cloud that briefly freezes
the men with fear. They hear: “This is my son.
Listen to him.” – And the vision is done.

III
“Keep what you’ve seen”, Jesus says, “to yourselves
until after I’ve risen from the dead.”
And while it seems the case that no one tells
the tale – despite wonder filling their heads –
before his death and resurrection, we
have the story now. . . preparing to make
our own journey to the cross and empty
tomb. Darkness will fall again, but we take
the bright vision with us for strengthening
faith: the moments on mountain top a gift
to all we valley-bound, where lengthening
shadow can sometimes remind us to lift
our head:  To find the way that’s joy to live,
the light that leads us – within us – he gives.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King

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A Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 7)

IT SOUNDS SO RIGHT
(Matthew 5: 38-48)

“An eye for an eye” – it sounds so right.
Someone injures you, you fight
back, hurt them too. They take
something that’s yours, you make

them pay. There isn’t too much
that could be simpler, and such
a relief when you’re really mad
to let rage have its way. Right? Too bad

it makes more grief, more rage
that escapes like a dropped page
in a hard wind; the sad results
often manic, beyond words – insults

becoming wars which at all times
are tragic: from bullets to landmines,
blasted houses to dead kids.
The challenge, then, to put a lid

upon violence. . . Recall the blessed meek?
Maybe we inherit the earth by turning the cheek:
standing firm for justice, but without repaying
violence with violence; not just praying

for a kinder world, but creating one too
with the words we speak and things we do
that show generosity and grace –
the image of Jesus in a compassionate face.

(And if we succumb to anger’s temptations
see Christ’s foregoing call to reconciliation.)

A Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 6)

THE PRICE
(Matthew 5: 21-37)

Imagine we’ve never left Eden.
Imagine the wide Earth is the garden
and we’ve never tasted bitter exile,
enjoying for more than just a while

the miraculous abundance God has granted.
And imagine here, among all the planted
flowers and fruits, grasses and trees,
room enough to do (mostly) as we please

for Cain and Abel and me and you and
others; no need for anyone to lift a hand
against another. No need for jealousy,
resentment, bitterness or envy. . .

What do you think? Would it be
that way, would there be harmony,
no broken relationships, no feelings
hurt, no joys crushed; in all our dealings

only fairness, caring, kindness;
no greed, no self-centered blindness
to the needs of the neighbour? Could
that be us, living in our Eden? Or would

it be the case that even so the heart
would show itself to contain many parts,
like closets hidden behind different doors,
and in those shadowed corners

the usual sources of human pain –
such as the self-will that again and again
through time has been indifferent to love
and justice: that when push has come to shove

there is me and there is you, and you
just have to move, will have to lose. True?
And if so, then our separateness
from one another, this awful brokenness

that inhabits so much of daily life
would haunt us still, the sources of strife
found not in our surroundings, but inside
ourselves. Which means nowhere to hide

when the squabbling breaks out
that’s banned in the garden, the shouts
of anger or hurt, the salt tears flowing
(or hidden in pride), rifts growing

worse. . . and the spiral down beginning,
each side claiming right, unaware of sinning.
How easy it becomes for retaliation
to be tried; how hard for reconciliation

to occur. Yet that is what Christ
stands for, of course: reconciliation, the price
(in cross-shaped currency) to overcome
injustice’s hurt and whatever’s wrong

between others and ourselves.
Oh, it’s difficult – tough shells
of distrust and defensiveness
may need to be breached, forgiveness

may not be granted. But the effort
must be made.   Enter the desert
of vulnerability displayed. Take
the risk of the open heart. Rake

the coals away from the fires of pain.
And offer thanks for a healing gained.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 5)

CALLED TO BE SALT AND LIGHT
(Matthew 5: 13-20)

Because there is a girl who walked to school today
with her stomach empty of food.
Because there is a boy who hears the bombs today
with his stomach clenched in fear.

Because there is a man who looked for work today,
his heart withering in despair.
Because there is a woman who looked in the mirror today
touching scars that once were breasts.

Because there is a parent sitting beside the bed today
of an illness-stricken child.
Because there is a gun in the hand of a boy today,
crack in the hand of a girl.

Because there is an old man alone in a hall today,
watching the hands of a clock slowly move.
Because there is a bully in a school classroom today
– and in some bedrooms and boardrooms too.

Because there is a woman sleeping on a grate today,
everything she owns in two green bags.
Because there is a child listening to hate today,
being told why the other guy or group is so bad.

Because like cities set on hills, we can’t hide today
from the only world we have.
But mostly because we are given God’s gift today:
The salt and the light that are love.