Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 1; The Baptism of Jesus)

JOHN BAPTIZES JESUS

(MATTHEW 3: 13-17)

He takes the light that dances on the flowing surface of the water.
He takes the dancing water that is filled with the flowing light.
He has waded into the river that is umbilical with life.
He is waist deep in the life that flows umbilical through the river.

He stands with the man whose words are pitchers of grace and light.
Stands with the man whose grace is like life, like a flowing river.
He fills his pitcher with the water, with the light, with the flow of life.
He pours it over the man waist deep with him in the water.

Grace descends, glittering, like wings unfurling in the air.
The air shimmers, it dances with sound, sounds of the river
flowing, the water pouring, the men breathing; the light glittering,
grace flooding, the wings beating, words surfacing: God’s son.

He hears, he sees, he is soaked in the sound and the light and the water.
He rejoices in the gift of it, he rejoices in the grace, in the one
who is standing there with him in the water.
For he knows that all of it is goodness. That all is a new beginning.
That all of it is part of God’s river.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King

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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

A Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Advent 2)

FROM THESE STONES
Matthew 3: 1-10

If I had come to John back then,
one of the crowd of the curious clothed
in self-satisfaction like armoured vests,

him in his camel skins, sunburned and bearded,
the locusts barely nourishing his stick-thin face,
hands bee-stung from foraging wild honey –

would his flinty eyes find mine as if
seeing into my stung and hungry soul,
seeing my heart heavy and jagged as stone,

as he says “Do not proclaim ‘I’m
Abraham’s child’ with your withered
love, your hopes such sand,

the forgotten good so shrunken inside
your skin…” And would he draw breath
then, seeing my own breath held

like an empty bowl, before those words
from which to make my meal:
“God can raise children of Abraham

from the desert stones.” From
these broken stones? the hardened
chalk that forms my heart? the blown dust

of my tired mind? From the raw dirt of
dailiness I drag around, that drags down me?
Then raise new life in me, good God,

beacon of believing Abraham, giver
of the locust and the wild bee,
God of the silent stones and the
water that changes them.