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

HERE WE COME, JOHN
(Luke 3: 1-6, Luke 1: 68-79, Malachi 3: 1-4)

Here we come, John, to you in the wilderness
walking hot sands in the empire of death

carrying our hope like a child in its weakness
carrying our need like a babe seeking breath

our souls weeping tears of the griefs of the ages
our hearts bleeding pain of the stress of our years

yearning like birds seeking freedom from cages
for newness and fullness of life free from fear

and facing the mountains that tower with injustice
and dreading the valleys grown deep with despair

and craving the dawn of a new day upon us
and wondering how current God’s promise of care

we come to you, John, and you preach repentance
and wash us in Jordan in refreshment’s release

that we might experience the joy of forgiveness
and on the world’s roads walk a pathway of peace

so speak to us, here, in or out of wild places
that our lives like gold or silver refined

mirror God’s goodness as we lift up our faces
to follow the Coming One with new heart and mind.

Copyright © 2015 by Andrew King

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

ON A STORMY SHORE
(Luke 21: 25-36)
  with some words of W.B. Yeats

In a dream I walked on a stormy shore
where the nations were ships caught in wild waves,
tossed in the heave and the dark curling roar

of a blood-dimmed tide while frantic crews, brave
but confused, fought the loosed anarchy, scanned
the gyrating needles. But though the grave

loomed hungry and the violence at hand
filled many with foreboding, on each ship
some lifted heads in hope, as if the planned

harbour were near, safety waiting at trip’s
end, storms overcome and peace unfolding.
On land they’d seen the trees, the brown leaves slipped

off as if in death, naked limbs holding
only air, life seemingly departed.
But the leaves budded again, strength growing

green as summer, life and joy re-started,
winter past. Thus these hopeful ones grasped
lines on each ship, held sail firm, strong hearted,

grounded in faith, sure of One whose arms clasped
theirs in love: love greater than fear, than death;
in whom and by whom they would stand at last.

Copyright © 2015 by Andrew King

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

BEHOLD THE MOMENT
(Luke 1: 26-38)

Behold the moment that is not of time’s evolving,
nor of history’s wandering choice of destinations,
placing as it had into memory’s darkened pockets
the shadows cast by years of loss and pain,
the endlessly cycling wars, the many defeats,
hope itself a distant memory from a time before
nostalgia, before the longing for a fallen line
of kings, the promises made by prophets seeming
porous, fragile, fragmented as a broken wall
that crumbles to the relentless press of time.

Behold the moment that is not of human making,
not a product of political manipulation
nor of the powerful’s careful calculations,
coming as it does to a woman on the margins
of a society and a world where oppression
was a fact much like the night: implacable,
unassailable, and surely as eternal as the hills.
Behold the moment that is not of human choosing,
selecting no one who would offer any power
to shake the rulers, mighty, secure upon their thrones.

Behold the moment that is a doorway, a threshold
upon which history itself has paused its stride,
poised to take a new unguessed direction, sensing,
like someone whose eyes have seen dawn coming
on a different horizon, that this moment is God’s creation,
the earth turning as it did before but light appearing
where it did not, sounds of a distant song of joy
beginning where song had not; and from beyond the rim
of the shadows of grief there rises like the first day’s sun
a new day’s gleam, new life’s birth, a new way, new world.

Copyright ©2014 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Advent 3, Yr B)

VOICE OF JOHN
(John 1: 6-8, 19-28)

Voice of John,
die not away.

Among us stands one
we do not know:

still point the way.

In our world of dread,
in our world of death,
in our longing lives

still point the way.

Where love is lost,
where anger soars,
to tear-stung eyes

still point the way.

Where peace is not,
where joys are few,
in our broken cries

still point the way.

In our search for truth,
in our search for hope,
amid the world’s lies

still point the way.

Among us stands one
we need to know;
our questions rise.

Still point the way.

Voice of John,
die not away.
Be heard today.

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

AT THE EDGE
(Mark 1: 1-8)

You shuffle your feet at the water’s edge,
shield your eyes with your hand
from the blaze of the sun,
take another glance at the face
of the man in the river
that long ago was the boundary

between an old life and new, and you hear
his word of summons, words
that urge repentance for preparation
for the Anointed,
and he offers the water to flow
over your skin as a sign

that your sins have been forgiven,
and he’s saying there is One
coming after him to baptize
not with water but the Holy Spirit of God,
so that you think, as you stand there
at the edge of the river, how on the edge

you are of something quite powerful
that feels larger than words, than
the mightiest river, washing over and into you,
drowning your heart with something
like joy, like the goodness of a hope
you’re almost afraid to believe in,

but every time you shuffle
your feet as if to leave
they grow a little wetter with the water,
until at last you take a step, and then
another, and again, until it’s you
waist deep with John the Baptizer,

and the sun beating down on the flowing
surface seems to say
“Yes!” to your heart
which isn’t drowning after all,
which in fact, in your chest,
has gone striding into the world,

following the sun past the river to
what comes next on the horizon,
amazed, expectant, praising.

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

NEW LIFE THERE
(Mark 13: 24-37)

From the fig tree learn this lesson:
budding leaves say summer’s near,
sign of joy in time of dryness,
sign of hope in time of fear.

Tree of joy bloom in our sorrow,
tree of hope bloom in despair,
tree of peace bloom from tomorrow;
show us that there’s new life there.

Show us those who wait for justice
will not have to wait in vain.
Show the hungering and thirsting
they will find release from pain.

Word of joy speak in our sorrow,
word of hope speak in despair,
word of peace speak from tomorrow;
point us to the new life there.

Help us stay awake and watching
till the weary night is o’er.
Help us be alert and faithful
to the One who’s at the door.

Lord of joy break through our sorrow,
Lord of hope break through despair,
Lord of peace come from tomorrow;
lead us to the new life there.

© Copyright 2014 by Andrew King


NOTE: If you have interest in this as an Advent song, allow me to suggest further verses for each week, each based on one of the lectionary readings, which could be substituted in turn for the final verse (“Help us stay awake”) above:

See the grass, how soon it withers;
see the flower quickly fade.
But God’s word will stand forever,
faithful to the promise made.
  (Isaiah 40: 1-11)

Wear the garland, not the ashes;
turn your mourning into joy;
clothe yourselves in robes of gladness
for salvation comes today.
  (Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11)

Hear the angel greet the virgin:
“You will bear a holy Son,
he will be a king eternal,
David’s heir, the promised One.”
  (Luke 1: 26-38)

A Poem for the Sunday Lectionary (Advent 3)

To John, In Prison (Matthew 11: 2-11)

We walked with you into the ancestral river,
up to our knees in the noisy past
– feeling the way it constantly
pushes against us – hearing
with you the river retell our story:
the journeys made to new beginnings,
the missteps, the slips, the falls
that overwhelmed us, nearly drowned,
swept away – seeming to regain
just enough of our footing as the tides
of nations surged, as they surge
around us today.

In the hurts we suffered and committed
you saturated us,
in our regrets and in our prayers
you immersed us, lifting us then
not just from the river but
toward the air and the sun.

With you we smelled the freshness of the water,
shook off insincerity, duplicity like dust.
With you we’ve breathed hope, prophets remembered,
promises rehearsing of a joyful day to come.
With you we’ve stood and waited,
even in present imprisonment,
even as stuttering torches spit light at shadows
that seem to mock all hoping, all night long;
waiting to be reassured that justice will be done.

We continue to be with you, John, in the darkness,
yearning for more than another day to dread:
yearning for a sign that old promises can be trusted,
that prophet visions can be touched at last –
that life can be renewed wherever death has entered.
We are yearning for the river to refresh us again.
We are yearning for someone to refresh us again.

Copyright © 2013 by Andrew King