Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 1, Yr. A, 2020)

WILDERNESS
(Matthew 4: 1-11)

How few of us know wilderness,
here in these towns, sprawling cities,
the gray of their streets,
green shrunk down to
dots of lawn, patches of park,
the remnant trees silent
in their memories of an earth
mourning its lost forests
as Rachel would mourn for her children.

Perhaps this is wilderness: this loss
of wild nature, its replacement by
concrete and asphalt and steel,
its thinning rivers, its sickened oceans,
its creatures dwindling like the leaves
of a disease-stricken tree.

Perhaps this wilderness is where
the Christ must come today:
into this new human solitude,
this place slowly being emptied
of all life not our own,
this place where even God
becomes harder to find,
our relationship to the divine
put under hard pressure,
our temptation to be ourselves
the only god we will serve,
tempted to pretend we are invulnerable.

O Holy One, come into this,
our self-made wilderness.
Come be with us in the loneliness of
our cell phones and computers,
come be with us in our hunger
for the meaning of our life,
come into the wasteland we
are making of the earth,
this kingdom of our arrogance where
we so often forget the life-giving love of God.

O Holy One, help us here,
before this wilderness becomes
one we do not
know how to leave.

Copyright ©2020 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary – Advent 2, Yr A (2019)

OLD PROPHET
(Isaiah 11: 1-9)

The wolf yet sees no alternative
to the lamb it’s preparing to eat.
The lion knows no other narrative
but the one that says it must eat meat.

The violent, like vipers, still bite us;
the greedy still coil in their dens;
the cruel and uncaring still smite us
with so many still in poverty’s pen.

But your vision, old prophet, still lures us;
your promise still tugs at our hearts.
For the God that you know still assures us
that God will complete what God starts.

So we’ll go on proclaiming this story
of a hurt world radically new,
when the earth fills at last with love’s glory,
and to all comes the peace that is due.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary – Advent 1, Year A (2019)

ABOUT THAT DAY AND HOUR NO ONE KNOWS
(Matthew 24: 36-44)

The ordinary morning, through the kitchen windows
the sun coming in, the sounds of the waking street.
Your daughter’s hands exploring
her neck, plaintive voice at the breakfast table:
“Mommy, what’s this lump right here?”

It’s the end of the shift, you’re thinking
of home, the softness of the waiting chair.
The foreman has called the entire line
to meet first here in the lunchroom.
His eyes go wet, there’s a quiet whisper.
“They’re shutting the plant,” he says.

The busy afternoon, an acre of papers
upon your desk, your eyes on the demanding
screen. The cell phone chimes,
words in your ear like a distant siren’s wail:
“You’d better come. Better make it quick.
There’s been a terrible accident.”

They’ve given you something for the immediate
pain, from the hall the sound of someone hurrying.
Somewhere a beeping machine.
The doctor stiff beside your bed, her face
as still as the wall. “I’m afraid,”
she begins, “the X-rays show. . .” and
your eyes trace the veins on your hands.

An ordinary day. An ordinary hour.
The earth in its usual turning.
The breath in your lungs,
the blood in your heart.
And suddenly the thief
breaking into your world.
Suddenly the cry. The bell.

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 +19, Yr C 2019)

With apologies, I am re-posting this from three years ago)

OLD WOMAN
(Luke 18: 1-8)

Here you come again, old woman,
holding your hands out in pleading,
your worn hands, your wrinkled fingers

that have endured through such long holding,
holding the broken-hearted,
your back bent to carry their burdens,

your face so lined with compassion,
your eyes so calm yet piercing,
gazing steadily into our own

as again you plead your case to us,
asking us for justice for your little ones,
for the suffering and for the powerless,

for the hungry and hopeless and fearful,
pleading with us to enact the mercy
that fills your own heart forever,

while we in the robes of our self-importance
examine all our options,
consider our many excuses,

consider perhaps an adjournment
to get ourselves a coffee,
to look up the legal loopholes,

but unable to get you out of our minds,
you with your stubborn persistence,
your dogged determination,

your unwillingness to be silent or to let us go
until we, too,
have been saved.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary – The Transfiguration (Yr. C)

AS YOU LEAVE THE HILL
(Luke 9: 28-36)

The cloud lifts. The sky revealed
again is the usual blue.
Your eyes blink against the sun,
but the vision is gone and
all is as before it was
to the dullness of everyday sight.

The figure that shone
is Jesus again: the sun-browned skin
and the carpenter hands
and the feet, like yours, grimed with earth.
Gone the others you thought you saw.
Silent now the voice, the words
a memory like the calm
that follows strong wind.

And already Jesus has turned
and is leading back down the hill,
down to the stone and the dust
and the sorrow and sighs
of the needy and ordinary world.

But you turn once more
as you leave the hill
because you know
that something is different,
that nothing can be quite the same,
for your eyes remember
and your ears recall
and your knees
will never forget

the kneeling in awe
and the lift of your heart
and the flight of something within you
whose wings this once unfolded
will never rest the same again.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

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