Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +23, Yr. C 2019)

WHAT RISES FROM THE WRECKAGE
(Luke 21: 5-19, Isaiah 65: 17-25)

It is the Empire that attacks
the walls that support the spirit.
The Empire of greed. Of domination. Of selfishness.
The Empire of scorn
for those of justice who condemn it.
The Empire of contempt
for those of mercy who resist it.
The Empire of hate
for those of love who oppose it.
The Empire that tries to convince us that
there is no possible alternative,
that all resistance is futile,
that its power lasts forever and ever,

as it pulls the stones it hates from the walls of hope,
wields its iron rage against the buttresses of truth,
hammers at the foundations of love.

But see what the eyes of Christ, looking beyond, can see:
what rises from the wreckage of pulled-down stones:
see the faith that will not be forsaken,
truth that will not be abandoned,
see the love that will not be broken,
and the hope that endures like One who has overcome
the Empire of injustice and death.

See the cracks already forming
in the Empire’s own walls.
See a new earth, that is God’s realm, arise.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +21, Yr C 2019)

HERE
(Luke 19: 1-10)

Of course it’s all different here.
No sycamores, mostly maples on this gray street,
the weakened light of pre-winter sun
washing half-bare branches.

But then, you wouldn’t need to climb
to see him pass through town —
there’d probably be video on the Internet.
Perhaps of some reporters holding mikes up

to his face, in hopes of a soundbite
for the news. Perhaps he’d look
into the camera, a kindly smile
on his lips, to say: “I’ll be staying with a friend

while I’m here.” Perhaps he’d board
a transit bus, doors hissing shut.
Maybe that bus, approaching now.
That lone passenger getting off,

right where you’re walking with your dog.
Perhaps that’s his voice asking you
if he can visit for a while. Talk with you
a little, for today.

Of course it’s all different here.
The bus passenger walks by. The voice
could have been just rustling leaves.
Perhaps the leaves of a sycamore, where you wait.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +18, Yr C)

ONE PERSON’S THANKSGIVING
(Luke 17: 11-19)

I have never been blighted by leprosy,
nor lived in a place called Samaria.
I have not known the rejection, the hate
that some people have known
because of the colour of their skin
or because of the way they pray
or the gender of the person that they love.
And for that I am thankful, thankful.

I have never been homeless because of war,
or afraid of my government’s soldiers.
I have never had to carry my possessions
on my back as, desperate, I flee from terror.
I have never been so poor I could not pay rent
nor find food for tomorrow’s small meal.
I have never gotten sick because of bad water,
nor suffered in inadequate shelter.
And for that I am thankful, thankful.

I drink coffee whose ripened beans
were picked by somebody else;
I wear a shirt sewn by hands overseas.
The grain for my bread did not grow
where I live. This keyboard was not made by me.
I am enriched by the labours
of countless, nameless others,
and for that I am thankful, thankful.

Holy One, when I pass by you
in the glory-coloured autumns,
miss you on city sidewalks, the crowds
hurrying past; when I fail to notice
your presence in the day and world I take for granted:
have mercy on my selfish coarsened soul,
and prod me once again to be conscious,
caring. And thus show I’m thankful, thankful.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For World Wide Communion 2019

THE SURPRISE AT THE TABLE
(Luke 17: 5-10)

Underneath your nails: the dry brown earth,
and on your sweat-streaked brow.
The work in the fields was hard today,
the soil resisting the plow.

Your muscles ache as you approach the house,
thinking of food, a drink for your thirst.
In your weary hunger you long to dine,
but a slave does not eat first.

And the slave expects no thanks or praise
for doing only what must be done.
The master is served before the slave:
the slave’s the unworthy one.

But what is this? . . . From the dining table
the aroma of fresh baked bread.
And is that not the master himself
bidding you take his seat at the head?

Can those be the master’s hands, like yours,
still showing the stain of soil?
Was that the master next to you in the fields?
His sweat joining yours in toil?

Behold him pouring, now giving you the cup:
a drink of his finest wine.
Hear him say: I do this of my love for you.
For all hungry ones, and for all time.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

POEM FOR THE SUNDAY LECTIONARY (PENTECOST +9, YR. C)

THIEF
(Luke 12:32-40)

“If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Human One is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Break in, O holy thief.

Break into our guarded home.
Defeat the locks we fasten
against your love.

We brick the gates against justice.
We slam the doors to loving.
Our window drapes are heavy and pulled
to block the light of your peace.

O thief, break into our fortress.
Come while we doze in complacency.
Come while we sleep in our negligence.
Come while our eyes are closed to the world
that so needs us to change behaviour.

Break in.
Break in, and bring the poor in with you.
Break in, and bring the stranger.
Break in, and bring the challenges we fear,
the ones we would rather ignore.

Break in, O thief, break open these hearts
that should have invited you
long ago.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary – The Transfiguration (Yr. C)

AS YOU LEAVE THE HILL
(Luke 9: 28-36)

The cloud lifts. The sky revealed
again is the usual blue.
Your eyes blink against the sun,
but the vision is gone and
all is as before it was
to the dullness of everyday sight.

The figure that shone
is Jesus again: the sun-browned skin
and the carpenter hands
and the feet, like yours, grimed with earth.
Gone the others you thought you saw.
Silent now the voice, the words
a memory like the calm
that follows strong wind.

And already Jesus has turned
and is leading back down the hill,
down to the stone and the dust
and the sorrow and sighs
of the needy and ordinary world.

But you turn once more
as you leave the hill
because you know
that something is different,
that nothing can be quite the same,
for your eyes remember
and your ears recall
and your knees
will never forget

the kneeling in awe
and the lift of your heart
and the flight of something within you
whose wings this once unfolded
will never rest the same again.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

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 — 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