Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 4, Yr C)

RETURN
(Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32)

The shadow of a cloud moves over the road,
over the fields, passes the distant house.
You shade your eyes from uncovered sun,
your brown hand holding dirt
under brittle nails.

There in the fields your father’s workers
are bending. Your empty stomach moans.
You’ve rehearsed your speech. Shuffled the words
in your mouth like dusty pebbles – the taste
of shame, bitter, sharp as stone.

How frail those words seem now as you pause
on your oh-so-weary feet, the smell of the sows
still on your clothes, stuck like the memory
of other words: the ones you used that day
you demanded your inheritance –

as if your father, to you, were already dead.
Now you wonder what there will be
in those eyes, what words will come
from his mouth. Your brother you know:
strict, unbending, rigid as the tools

that work the crops; his words will be iron blades.
And you feel you deserve nothing else
from the ones you insulted and deserted.
But your hunger today overpowers your fear
and you start your feet on the long dirt lane

that leads to the house of your father.
There is a stir in the field. A figure shouts,
a man is running toward you. And suddenly
time seems to speed all motion as the earth
tilts down toward that figure, the familiar face,

the arms so strong, the arms that now reach
to enfold you; and the voice you’d forgotten
calls for a robe and a ring and a feast prepared;
and the world itself is blurring, it’s blazing,
as light through your tears begins dancing;

and there is your brother, last to come in,
and rather reluctantly smiling; but
the music plays, and you think what you hear
is all heaven and your father singing,
and the words to the song are all the same word,

for it’s love that you need:
love that you left,
love you have found in returning.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 3, Yr C)

HOW THE TREE WAS SAVED
(Luke 13: 1-9)

We can go there, to the vineyard,
where it’s still and green and lovely
in the luminous morning.

We can walk through
the tidy rows of vines,
to that corner with the leaning tree.
We can stand together
in the shadows of the leaves,
long and lush and fragrant.

We can touch our hands
to the gentle bark,
ask our bodies to sense
the hidden pulse of its life,
to hear the song of its veins.

I can show you the places
where the gardener turned
the sod that parted like flesh,
the dirt dripping from the shovel’s blade,
dropping like a kind of blood.

We will know how the gardener
mixed in the manure,
aromas rising
with the heat of the sun,
mingling with sweat from hot skin.

Imagine the roots newly hungry –
imagine them drinking, their thirsty tongues,
seeking the life-giving food.

Our gazes will lift and find
the ripening figs,
the fruit to be harvested in fall.

We can go there, to where
it’s green and lovely,
where the gardener does his hard work.

There is his spade.
See the wooden handle.
See its shape. So like a cross.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 2, Yr C)

TODAY, TOMORROW, AND THE THIRD DAY
(Luke 13: 31-35)

Today where sun rises on hills of fresh sorrow
          tomorrow where stars set upon fields of old pain
we will do the day’s work to bring comfort and healing
          for this is Christ’s labour, fulfilled the third day

Today where souls suffer, despairing and fearful
          tomorrow where whole lives are crushed under strain
we will do the day’s work to bring peace, to bring courage
          for this is Christ’s labour, fulfilled the third day

Today where the parched and scarred earth yields no bounty
          tomorrow where war-weary ground gives no grain
we will do the day’s work to bring hope to the hungry
          for this is Christ’s labour, fulfilled the third day

Today where the foxes of evil still threaten
          tomorrow where tenderness so often is maimed
we will do the day’s work to bring love and compassion
          for this is Christ’s labour, fulfilled the third day

Today where the forces of greed rule the kingdoms
          tomorrow where powers of death hold their sway
we will do the day’s work to bring justice and caring
          for we are Christ’s labour, fulfilled the third day

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 1, Yr C)

TRUE BREAD
(Luke 4: 1-13)

We, with our stomachs so full of stone
dug from the deserts of apathy and dread,
our souls shrinking down toward skin and bone,

often miss much of that which is bread,
the things that would tell us that life is more
than what can be written in black or red

on a balance sheet. While we’re keeping score
of wealth won and lost – and fixing our eyes
on this world’s thrones, wishing for ever more

power or approval – to our surprise
sometimes, the richest blessings may be found
in service, in giving, in sacrifice.

The world’s high pinnacles provide poor ground
for standing – grand is the view, great is the fall –
but God’s love, not needing such testing, surrounds,

nourishes, guides us into a higher call:
to serve others and not only self. This
the true wealth, bliss, bread: love. For all, is all.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King