Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +13)

THE COMMUNITY THAT LIES BETWEEN
(Matthew 18: 15-20)

Somewhere between what is
and what will be,
between this present world
and a world redeemed,

somewhere between
the world of resentment and rage
and a world at peace, sharing fullness of life,

somewhere on the journey to
the yet-to-come
lies the community of love in Christ,

where brother and sister
meet one another
as equals in the sight of God,
where the joys of one
are the joys of all,
the concerns of one
are concerns of all,
where acceptance is given
and received –

yet also where
views will painfully diverge,
where desires will differ
and divide;
where our human faults
will hurt and harm,
where we fracture
along fault-lines of pride.

We are redeemed
yet remain imperfect,
united in Christ yet
individuals to the end.
And so we need a little help
in our community of hope:
we need the reminder that where
even two of us meet,
Christ is there,
our Saviour, in our midst.

And his are the words
that can lead to healing,
that guide us to seek reconciliation,
that nudge us toward
God’s peace.

Unity begins with acceptance,
builds on hope,
is nourished by caring,
grows stronger through celebration.
But unity also can require
hard work,
the work of listening
to one another’s story,
hearing one another’s pain,
granting one another forgiveness –
and for that we are given
God’s grace.

Therefore
somewhere between what is
and what will be,
between this present world
and a world redeemed,

somewhere on the journey
to the yet-to-come
lies our community of love in Christ.

May we model to the world, so fractured,
that community gathered at his table.

May we model to a world
so in need of healing
his presence among us to save.

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Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +12)

TURN ASIDE
(Exodus 3: 1-15)

The sun-soaked surfaces of orchard and field.
The wind-swept waves of the glittering sea.
The purple of the pansies jostling in the breeze.
The magnificence of the butterfly and the bee.

The white of the moon in the ink-black sky.
The silence of the clouds like drifting ships.
The music of the robins, cardinals, sparrows.
The soft touch on the skin of morning mist.

The smile on the lips of the face long-beloved.
The festival of song in lifted laughter.
The healing that brings relief from long suffering.
The sparkling light on leaves after rain in summer.

The earth is ablaze, the blue sky is flaming,
everywhere around us is the burning bush.
We are bathed in incandescence,
are awash in fiery radiance,
and we are candles to be lit with a holy flame.

Turn aside, turn aside like awestruck Moses.
Turn aside from the busyness, the burdens and the worry.
Turn aside in our tiredness, in our sadness,
and in our celebrations.
Turn aside in our night-time and our days of hurry.

Turn aside, turn aside like Moses in wonder.
Listen for the voice of God.
Calling our name.

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +11)

EVEN THE HOLIEST OF LABELS
(Matthew 16: 13-20)

We would have held you in the past, Jesus.
We would have kept you in the jars,
however large, from which we’d already drawn,
the ones with the title of prophet, names
synonymous with speech from the voice of God:

names like Elijah, Jeremiah, John,

and others whose words had rung
through streets and hills,
had challenged our minds and hearts
a while ago.

A little bothersome, those prophets,
thorns to the strong while
comforting the weak,
disruptive to the status quo,
but familiar, understood;
holding few surprises
and therefore somewhat safer
for the following.

We are not easy with the new, Jesus,
we do not readily welcome change.
We prefer our futures to arrive in dress
of the dreams we dreamed in the past,
tomorrow to be today with
freshened dew.

Even the title Messiah,
apparently so daring,
was a word we thought we understood
to mean another David:
the reign of God to mean the reign
of another worldly kingdom.

We were not prepared for the cross.

We were not prepared for the wine
to be new, and to require
such newer skins.

We would have held you in the past, Jesus,
predictable, contained.
But you are not confined by
the fence of our understanding.
You move beyond the boundaries
of preconceptions.

Show us afresh the limits of even
the holiest of labels.
Open us to a God who is
full of surprises.
Show us that there are possibilities
for ourselves
we have not imagined.

Show us anew that there is more,
much more, than we may ever know
about what it can mean,
for ourselves and the world,
that God is really with us:
Emmanuel.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +10)

A PLACE AT THE TABLE
(Matthew 15: 21-28)

Do we wish to learn the meaning of God’s love among us?
Let us listen to the words of the Canaanite woman,
who knew she had a place at the table.

The clouds have paused their travelling to listen
to the song, the song of faith Christ hears her sing
in witness to the welcome of the table.

Send the letter to the cities, to the lonely
high-rise dwellers, to the stranger, to the poor.
Tell them they have places at the table.

Dial the telephones of the hurting, the ill and
the despairing; bring them in their neediness
to the healing in the welcome of the table.

The birds have sung their praises to the beauty
of the morning, of a new world beginning,
rejoicing in the bounty of the table.

The words are echoed in the blossoms,
in the sunrise, in the starlight: the words
that welcome us to our places at the table.

Do we yearn to see the face of God, to know
the nearness of the Beloved? We lift
the blindfold from our eyes at the table.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +9)

HERE IS STRENGTH
(Matthew 14: 22-33)

Consider the wild wave, its wet tension,
tissues of torn foam in its curled fist;
contradiction of calm, enemy of evenness,
it says to the stormed soul: fear my strength.

Consider the flinty wind, its walled power,
shreds of white clouds in its biting teeth;
uncaring and unkind to brittle weakness,
it says to the scoured soul: fear my strength.

Consider the fragile flesh, its limitations,
gravity’s slave and tattered by time;
weak against wave and wind’s toughness,
it says to the struggling soul: I’ve little strength.

Consider Christ who walks through storm toward us,
who reaches out, compassion in his hands,
counters fearing with God’s loving faithfulness.
Who says to the yearning soul: here is strength.