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

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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 An Endangered Planet

(On the occasion of the 2019 U.N. Climate Change Summit)

SCRIPTURE FOR THE DECREATION

Let the white bear hunt a new home.
Its home hold no memory of place.
Let the swelling bellies of oceans sink shoreline
in wild jaws of hurricaned bays.
While hurt whales weep for the coral collapsing
like dust.

Let burning eyes fix on red embers of forests.
The black soil abandon scarred fields.
Let heated plains harden like crusts of old bread
and blossoms cry out for the bees.
While hope fails in houses on highways surrendered
to dust.

Let the meltwater mountains go numb in their nakedness.
Let wind wail the dirges for earth.
In the snap of the bones of the shattering ice sheets
let listeners at last learn the words.
While birds ask of butterflies stricken, directionless
as dust.

Then let those who can, when rain pounds like punches
and marshes march into city streets
to meet rivers gray with the gathered grief,
stagger from stunned vehicles,
cross the drowned doorsteps
and recall, as the split wood its tree,
that they are dust.

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, Epiphany 3 (Yr. C)

THE LAW OF GOD
(Nehemiah 8: 1-3,5-6,8-10; Psalm 19)
“The law of God is . . .sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.” – Ps. 19: 7,10
“All the people wept when they heard
the words of the law.” – Neh. 8:9

The law of God is the hand held out
to embrace the one who is grieving.

The law of God is the cup held out
to give drink to the one who is thirsty.

The law of God is the ear that is turned
to the voice of the one who is hurting.

The law of God is the feet that move
to walk a while with the lonely.

The law of God is the candle lit
in the dark for the one despairing.

The law of God is the burden shared
with the one who stumbles, weary.

The law of God is the laugh of the child,
the light in the eyes of the dancing.

The law of God is the smile on the face
of the feasting, who once was hungry.

And should we weep to hear this law
in the midst of our world of harshness,

should it burn our hearts and wound our souls
to think of all our selfishness,

let that salty sting become sweetness poured:
love’s honey, healing, saving us.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King