Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 6, Yr. C)

STREAM BY WHICH WE’RE NOURISHED
(Jeremiah 17: 5-10; Psalm 1)

See the dry shrub growing weaker
parched within the desert waste.
See its leaves, how soon they wither
for no streams flow to its place.

But the tree that’s by the water,
planted on the river’s shore:
see its branches growing stronger,
leaves abundant, fruiting more.

In our search for wealth, for power,
cruelty, greed parching life,
withering souls: where will flower
hearts so meant for love, not strife?

Spirit, stream by which we’re nourished,
grace that feeds our thirsty roots,
in your love our hearts can flourish,
grounded in your mercy’s truth.

Grant we plant our minds in kindness,
grant we seek that river’s flow
where compassion issues justice:
where you mean our lives to grow.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

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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

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary, Epiphany 2, Yr. C

FOR THE JAR OF THE EMPTY HEART
(John 2: 1-11)

Sometimes, through no particular fault
of your own, the accumulated cares
of life build up and the storage vault
that holds your strength and hope goes bare.

Sometimes you gaze in longing east
to see the light of the dawn breaking
but clouds block the sun. And that feast,
that celebration you intended making

of life: sometimes the songs won’t come,
laughter fades, and like wine run dry
the jar of joy stands empty, a hollow drum.
But what if God knows this, and why

Jesus came to the wedding feast that day
was to show that God is with us in those
times of barren dryness, when what may
fill our heart’s jar are only tears, lid closed,

and lost the way to hope’s refreshing well. . .
What if Jesus comes that day expressly to spill
into that void his fresh and living water, telling
darkness to roll back for light, filling

the waiting jar of the empty heart
with Love’s own Presence: finest wine indeed.
Yes, Christ comes that life’s feast may truly start —
Love both source and goal, our deepest need.

So fill us to our brims, life-giving One;
may we be sharers in your earthly story.
May we spill love and joy ‘til that realm has come
that fills this precious world with all your glory.

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

Last Sunday of Epiphany – The Transfiguration (Yr A)

GOD UNSHELTERED
(Matthew 17: 1-9)

The mind would build its shelters,
its walls, its solid boundaries,

its holding pens for those mysteries
that challenge the edges of thought;

would seek to grasp, to domesticate
the God beyond comprehension;

would seek with dogma’s fences
to keep wonder dulled and distant,

the heart thus safely protected
from the love that burns like fire.

See it consuming Moses on his mountain,
see it sweeping Elijah into heaven,

see it shining like the sun from Jesus’ face,
this love that moves God, unsheltered,

down the mountain, to the road to the cross.

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 7, Yr A)

TO SEE BEYOND DIVISION
(Matthew 5:38-48)

O Healer of all brokenness,
help us repent of vengefulness
and send your mercy as the sun and rain.
Giver of all gentleness,
lead us away from selfishness
that we may walk with all who dwell in pain.

Creator, grant us vision
to see beyond division,
seeing even enemies as beloved too.
May we with bold decision
bring forgiveness to fruition;
and by your gift of grace our selves renew,

that we, our own hearts mending,
to others your love lending,
embrace your kingdom coming into view.
Use us, and in our sending,
the seeds of peace thus tending,
we’ll lift a new world’s joyfulness to you.

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King