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 +10, Yr C)

SONNET FOR AN UNFINISHED GROWER
(Isaiah 5: 1-7; Psalm 80: 8-19)

She steps among the briers and the thorns,
her grieving heart unsure of what she’ll find.
The ruin of what once were luscious vines,
the wreck of so much love: it makes her mourn.

Here and there among the tangle of weeds
a lonely vine still shows, and small clusters
of green globes defiant; and she musters
hope that it can be saved. She knows the need

will be for sweat and toil and tears, love’s pain.
She sighs, her bent knees touch the soil, fingers
reach and tug. Is thus how God’s love lingers
to till our hearts and tangled world again?

Perhaps this vineyard yet can grow as meant
the fruits of justice, leaves of peace unbent.

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 Reign Of Christ, Yr B)

PONTIUS PILATE POSTS TO HIS WEBLOG
(John 18: 33-37 (38a))

Had someone before me today
who some claimed
that he claimed
to be a king.
Some kind of Jewish messiah.

He did say he had a kingdom,
but one “not from this world”.

For a moment – a moment of weakness –
I wondered what that could mean, and if,
whatever it meant, it could be true.
Or partly true, or, of course, not true at all.

But then I remembered
I don’t care much about truth –
though lies can be a really useful tool.
But I don’t believe
that much truth really matters.

What matters is domination.
Power, however you keep it.
The legions I command.
The fear I can inspire.
The crosses I can nail my enemies to.

So who cares what kind of kingdom
this Jesus fellow has –
not I, unless
it comes backed up with swords.

He’s on a cross right now.
As I write this, he’s dying.
I doubt for him
any truth
could matter more.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +26, Yr B)

PRAY FOR US, HANNAH
(1 Samuel 1: 4-20)

Pray for us, Hannah, in our bleakness, our barrenness,
God’s realm in us slow in coming to birth.
Pray for us here in our struggles, our brokenness,
yearning for justice to come to the earth.

Pray for us, Hannah, in the world’s night of lovelessness,
around us the hurting so often unheard.
Pray that all those who cry out in their helplessness
receive for their cries an answering word.

Pray for us, Hannah: the foundations are shaking
that underlie hope for a new world to come.
Pray that we discover God’s will in us waking,
calling forth faithful response to love’s drum.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

For a poem on the Gospel lesson for this Sunday,
may I suggest “With Painful Groans

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +25, Yr B)

CHOICES OF GOD
(Ruth 3: 1-5, 4:13-17)

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” 1 Cor. 1:27

How foolish of you, God, to choose
these weak ones, these widows,

these powerless in their poverty,
these vulnerable, so needy,

migrants seeking refuge,
landless, needing shelter,
hungry and hurting for food.

What use can the weak ever possibly be
to your hope for an earth made new,
your will for a world transformed?

What use can they be, so often ignored
by the rich, abused by the strong?

But we see these seemingly
insignificant women
become agents of your power in the world,

agents of history, progenitors of change,
contributors to our hoped-for salvation.

How foolish your choices
may seem to us, Holy One.
Yet how wise and how mighty
in the end.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Reign Of Christ)

SONG FOR THE CRUCIFIED KING
(Luke 23: 33-43)

The king has no castle, just a piece of a tree,
and there’s a crooked sign hanging for the world to see,
and his friends have all left him,
like the light of this day.
It’s a strange kind of kingdom
if it’s going to be ruled in this way.

There is justice denied, and the Christ betrayed.
There was a new world coming but I guess it’s been delayed,
and the dreams that we held,
looks like they’re slipping away.
It’s a strange kind of kingdom
if it’s going to be ruled in this way.

He came preaching mercy, and healing he gave.
He saved the lives of others, now he too will know the grave;
yet his words are love,
as if it’s here to stay.
It’s a strange kind of kingdom
if it’s going to be ruled in this way.

The warplanes are screaming, the children are lost;
The planet is heating, and at what kind of cost;
and the hungry are hurting
while they kneel to pray.
But God’s strange kind of kingdom
shows the world there’s a different way.

It’s darkness when cruelty and greed show their face.
It’s darkness when our hatreds crucify God’s grace,
but the love of the Lord
brings to light a new day.
It’s a strange kind of kingdom
and it’s going to be ruled in this way.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King