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

THE RIGHT TIME
(Luke 3: 1-6)

It had lain in the corner of the room,
an old box long unopened, collecting dust.
It had stood upon the top shelf of the cupboard,
a jar almost forgotten, tightly sealed.
But it was time.

The sun had risen as it always does,
people moved through streets, the thirsty fields.
The rulers of the world still issued edicts.
The poor still suffered and struggled.
Aching hearts in shadow.
The empire complacent in its harsh control.

Everywhere the accepted routines of life.

But in this John knew that the time had come.
Time to take down the almost forgotten jar,
to open at long last the dusty box of hope
and set free the contents strong as
pungent clouds of incense, strong as
inescapable swarms of stinging bees.
Time to disrupt the usual routine.
Time to release the remembered promise
of a God who is out to shake the empires
of the trapped and desperately dreamless
sleeping world.
John knew it was the right time then.
It remains the right time now.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

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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 (Easter 3, Yr A)

EMMAUS ROAD
(Luke 24: 13-35)

What do I know of the Emmaus road,
except that I think it passes not far from my church,
runs through the local shopping mall,
runs through the main street of town,
through the neighborhoods where the houses
are so close together;
runs almost anywhere today.

What do I know of the Emmaus road,
except that maybe those who walk on it,
lonely in their grieving, stressed in their worrying,
fearful and anxious and searching for hope,
they look like me in the mirror some days,
and sometimes they look like you,
like just about anybody today.

What do I know of the Emmaus road,
except that the place where Jesus meets us,
where he shows up to walk and talk with us,
to come into our kitchens and break bread with us,
or where he reveals himself to us in the stranger,
in the person we can’t imagine as God’s beloved,
that place could be almost anyplace today.

What do I know of the Emmaus road,
except that I think I have some of the smell of it
soaking through to my skin when it rains;
have some of the dust of it sticking right here
on the leather of my worn-out shoes;
and this morning, in the sanctuary, the light
pouring in, isn’t that Christ sitting next to me
in the pew?

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 3, Yr A)

WHY YOU LEAVE YOUR NETS AND FOLLOW
(Matthew 4: 12-23)

Because your hope for that kingdom
has teased the edge of your thoughts
the way waters tease the edge of the shore

because his words stir that hope
in the depths of your soul
the way wind stirs the waves of the sea

because you sense that his love
like a sea without bounds
is as large as the needs of the world

and because he’s called you by name
and the heart in you swims
toward that love, toward joy, toward home

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

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

THE SHADOW FALLS PAST CHRISTMAS
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
persisting.

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

A Poem For Christmas Eve/Day

THE FLIGHT OF THE HEAVENLY HOST
(Luke 2: 1-14)

They flew over cities of a thousand old sorrows,
they flew over hills of a hundred hard griefs,
they flew over fields of love fallen in ruins,
and over dim hovels long haunted with yearning,
and over bright palaces of the powerful feasting,

and in their old graves the prophets
looked up to see them,
and the brown grasses bent to the rush of their passing,
and the wild seas lifted their waves in adulation,
and the pilgrim wind wept with the joy of their singing,

and the angels flew on to the pivot of history,
they flew upon wings made of messages of light,
and the prayers of the ages rose up to enwrap them,
and they stopped over stones of moss-covered memory
where hope’s moldered bones had lain down to die,

and the night held its breath and the dark knelt to listen,
and the trees brought the stars close with trembling hands
as a baby’s first cries cut the air in a stable
and shivering stunned shepherds
heard praises fill the Bethlehem sky.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King