Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany, Yr A)

(Isaiah 60: 1-6; Matthew 2: 1-12)

And where have you gone, bright star,
you that shone like an invitation,

like a beckoning, like a summoning,
like a signal of something beginning;

where have you gone in the nighttime,
in the distances of murky darkness

that hides from our eyes the suffering,
the weeping, the praying, the struggling,

our eyes grown weary with watching
for signs of God coming to bless?

We have looked for you again in our hoping,
we have searched for you in our wandering. . .

Could it be, bright star, that we are looking
in wrong places, in the wrong direction,

that you are found no longer in the heavens,
no more in dark meadows of sky,

but instead you rise on horizons
of love’s possibilities within us –

and that we can be the shining signal
for which others are hoping and seeking,

that we can be the radiant beacon
that is sign of God’s presence and caring,

that we can invite the wanderers
toward a warm place of welcome,

as we share with them the journey
that leads to God’s joyful kingdom. . .

Love’s light, bright star within us,
will you rise in our hearts today?

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

For those who might be using the gospel lesson for the Baptism of Jesus, here are some previous posts.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Christmas +1, Yr A)

Matthew 2: 13-23

Hear the broken-hearted weeping
in the blooded streets, see
the frightened family fleeing
the night so gouged and torn
with loss. We cannot forget
the shadow that falls past Christmas.

Sometimes the tree falls down and the lights
are crushed. The car goes off the road
driving home from the party. Storm
sets in, shutting down festive celebration.

Shadow falls past Christmas:
the Herod dark of hatred, shattered
lives and homes, cruelty
and the killing power of greed;
dreams of joy chased down by fear and grief.

Infants dying of neglect and malnutrition,
oppression claiming victims every day,
and so frequently corruption unabated:
the songs of hope that came like dreams
seem easily defeated.

But see the infant Christ
not among the murdered.
Untrapped by hatred’s reach, by
greed’s cold grasp, by the power
of death so constantly pursuing,
infant Love lives on, the hope
and will for justice and peace

Shadow falls past Christmas. But
see the light still shining;
faith and hope still singing; the contest
for the human heart goes on.

May we, as Joseph did, keep
listening to the words of dreams.
Keep moving the feet
toward morning’s hope,
free as a gift of love,
however distant the dawn.

And may the darkness fail to chase us down.

Copyright © by Andrew King
Reprinted from First Sunday After Christmas, 2013

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Advent 4, Yr A)

(Matthew 1: 18-25)

O Joseph, dream for us:
In this world of so much darkness,
dream God-with-us to be our light.

In this world of so much sorrow,
dream God-with-us to be our joy.

In this world of so much fearing,
dream God-with-us to be our courage.

In this world of so much selfishness,
dream God-with-us to teach compassion.

In this world of so much hating,
dream God-with-us to teach us love.

In this world of so much violence,
dream God-with-us to lead us to peace.

In this world of many, many voices
dream God-with-us to be God’s Word.

In this world of so much confusion,
dream God-with-us to be our guide.

In this world of so much despairing,
dream God-with-us to be our hope.

In this world of so much emptiness,
dream God-with-us to bring fullness of life.

O Joseph, dream for us.

And may we awake
to discover the dream
has truly come into the world.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Advent 2, Yr A)

(Isaiah 11: 1-10, Matthew 3: 1-12, Romans 15: 4-13)

See the vision, hear the message:
wolf and lamb lying down in peace,
nothing hurting, nothing wronging,
war and violence all ceased.

Jesse’s stump shall grow new blossom,
from that root new branch and leaf,
come to judge the world with justice,
come to heal the needy’s grief.

          Prophet, can you help our hearts,
          so hungry for the dream we’re waiting for?
          Prophet, can you help us turn
          toward that dawn, toward the open door?

In the wilderness a preacher
burns our souls like desert sand,
calling for fruit of repentance,
says the kingdom is at hand.

There is One, says John, who’s coming,
who’s the One that we desire.
He will bathe you, not in Jordan,
but in the Holy Spirit’s fire.

          Prophet, can you help our hearts,
          so hungry for the dream we’re waiting for?
          Prophet, can you help us turn
          toward that dawn, toward the open door?

Open up the heart to hoping:
Christ the light that leads to day.
Hear the message, see the vision,
as the prophets point the way.

          Saviour, can you help our hearts,
          still hungry for the dream we’re waiting for?
          Saviour, help us now to turn
          toward that dawn, toward the open door.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Advent 1, Yr A)

(Romans 13: 11-14)

I thought I heard a noise just now
like a wind rising, like a sea rolling

I thought I heard a note just now
like metal beaten, like a hammer ringing

I thought I heard a sound just now
like a child laughing, like a woman singing

I thought I heard the world just now
and it was crying, it was pleading

I thought I heard a voice just now
and it was calling, it was summoning

then I knew what I heard was change just now
for night will be ending and day coming

and I knew what I heard was the Lord just now
saying “Now is the time for awaking.”

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Sunday of The Epiphany, Yr B)

(Matthew 2: 1-12)

Not every journey toward the Christ
starts like the magi’s in darkness,
but there might come
a time when, in the empty hours
of an otherwise unremarkable night,
you have happened to look up at the usual sky,
and noticed, almost by accident, between
passages of gray beasts of slow-moving cloud
the bright bloom of a strange star flowering,
and something begins to open a little
somewhere beneath your skin,
as if that new wedge of light in the sky
had inserted itself into your soul,
not enough to cause you any hurt, but just
enough that you feel a pang, the twinge
of something like longing, as if your eyes
in the silence have become ears
in the darkness, and you are hearing
a holy summons,
distant but ringing like a silver trumpet
in the chambers of your listening heart,
and you gaze at that star where it stands
in the sky dropping dust on the night horizon,
and you think it might be signalling
a holy Presence in the world
and a road you can take to meet it,
and that such a road, lit with such promise,
might lead to a great adventure,
where life becomes challenged
and changed and as new as the sky
above a better world.
And so you pack, and you leave
on this journey, this journey
where Christ is not only waiting
but walking your road at your side,
and you follow that light
as it closes the distance,
as it reaches deep within you,
touching gifts
you carry in your hand.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Christ The King)

(Matthew 25: 31-46)

The jittering snow flakes chase one another
in flight from the knuckles of wind

that sway the abandoned branches of trees
in their inaudible dirge of loss

and scatter the dust that lines the street
where blank windows stare at the gray.

A fragment of newspaper rolls by, revealing and hiding
its jumble of pain under clouds the colour of bruises.

And the torn creation seems to live in the lines
of the face of this solitary woman,

old coat buttoned high and frayed hat pulled hard
on a forehead furrowed with years,

eyelids pinched from the chill of the air
as she shifts, from one hand to the other,

the heavy weight of two bags that might
carry all that she cares about today.

See how carefully she opens her thin wallet
at the counter of the McDonald’s.

How each coin is cradled like a departing child
by wrinkled and shaking fingers.

How, when she lifts her face to yours and you
smile, and she smiles in return of your greeting

something crosses the space between you
like a bridge spanning unseen waters

and across that bridge moves a gentle light,
a glow of kindness, of friendship, of grace.

Is that you in those eyes, O Beloved Redeemer,
in that smile, in that bridge, in that light?

Is that you in the lines on all our weathered faces,
in all our hands that count out life’s coins?

Grant me grace to see you looking back at me
with the love you have for all creation,

to see you, O King, in all of your glory,
beneath the folds of each old hat, worn coat.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +23)

(Matthew 25: 14-30)

It could be me, standing there with the spade,
the crate of money beside me on the ground,
thoughts as bleak as the late-day twilight’s fade,
house lamps all lit but the darkness around

growing within, where fists clench my soul
and I know by the claws the cold-boned fear
that scrapes from my heart’s slender soil a hole
of its own, and leaves there, hidden but near,

shadows of despair. It’s fear of defeat
brings the shovel here, the fear of failure
that digs traps for faith on so many streets,
causes the loss of so much that is treasure.

Faith that fears loss and fails to try, can’t see
that such fear, not loss, is the enemy. And
this too I know: sometimes that has been me.
But maybe the story does not have to end

there – the one with dirt still on his fingers
standing alone in the darkness, the only
thing left to him regret, raw, lingering . . .
What if there’s One who pities the lonely,

the lost, the defeated; who, loving the failed,
the fallen ones, the ones who are broken,
allowed himself to know darkness; was nailed
to the cross; and who rose again, token

of a new day? In the shine of his light
we see all our sad failures overcome;
treasure – a buried soul – redeemed . . . and life,
once again, and not death, will have won.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +20)

(Matthew 22:34-46)

The soul stands on deck, rain-soaked in the storm,
wind-lashed, anxiously watching the dark sky.
It’s seeking safe harbour, calmer seas, warm
bays. It needs something to navigate by,
some star to break through the clouds, show the way
home. It has tried this long voyage alone,
but weary with the bleak night, longs for day.
Suddenly clouds break, and there in that zone
shines a bright star. It is Love! The command
to love God, to love neighbour – Christ showing
the way – is what guides the soul to good land,
its true home. Now see the star lowering:
becoming ship, becoming sail – both goal
and means. Yes: love leads and carries. Makes whole.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +18)

(Matthew 22: 1-14)

I thought I had it here a while ago,
the invitation to the wedding feast.
I’m busy, but I think I’d like to go.

Priorities have swamped me, as you know;
a banquet invitation’s just the least.
I thought I had it here a while ago.

The king’s included both the high and low,
which seems to me a rather foolish piece.
I’m busy, but I probably can go.

I’ll bet this generous king would give out clothes
to all for whom good robes are out of reach.
I thought I read it here a while ago.

But I’ll go as I am, thank you, to show
I’m fine, I’ve need for no one’s saving grace.
I’m busy, but I think I’d like to go.

They’ll tell me it’s an honour, I suppose.
I guess I could take my invited place.
I thought I had it here a while ago.
I’m busy, but perhaps I’ll try to show.