Poem For the Sunday Lectionary — First Sunday After Christmas (Yr. C)

AFTER CHRISTMAS
(Luke 2: 41-52)

The tsunami that crushed so many in Indonesia this week
missed my borders by thousands of miles.
The wildfires that destroyed so many homes this year
burned far beyond my horizon.
Guns spilled blood in nearby cities, but no bullets
flew on my street.
Hunger tore bellies in large swaths of the world
while the barbecues cooked in my neighbourhood.

Oh yes, there were struggles, there were
grievings, losses, hardships;
the failures and stumblings
that caused myself or others pain;
yet for me — as for many of us —
life has been the calm of a sun-washed island
around which earth’s storms
have swirled without touch.

And I wonder if life was like that for
Mary and Joseph as they travelled
to the Passover in Jerusalem.

Long past was the drama of the dream
that spoke to Joseph, warning the young parents
of the danger to their son. Long past
was the journey that took them as refugees
to Egypt to escape the hate of Herod
that would destroy others’ lives.

Now in Nazareth they lived
on an island of relative calm,
where the wars fought by Rome or
violence suffered by others
had little or no effect day to day.

Life was now routine,
though perhaps not entirely easy,
troubled only by the challenges
faced by many
to make sure there would be food
for the day.

But if long past was the danger
and the difficulty of fleeing,
if long past was the hardship of being homeless,
long past, as well, were the angels and the shepherds,
the singing and the shining and the smell of manger hay.
And long past, as well, was the visit of the Magi, those
strange travellers from the east with
their amazing, wondrous gifts.

Had Mary and Joseph forgotten so much
with the passing of the years?
Was life now so dulled by regular routine,
by daily business, daily pressures,
that Jesus’ own significance was all but lost?

For us, too, perhaps, the time that follows Christmas
— where once again the very blessedness
of our little islands of safety,
or where once again the daily pressures of ordinary life
dim the joyful memories of the singing and celebration —
is a time where the birth’s significance
is all but lost.

How easy it becomes to lose sight of Emmanuel
— God with us — when our lives
are relatively calm.
How easy it becomes to lose sight of Jesus
in the crowds, in the comings and the goings,
in the swish and the swirl of daily needs.

Where shall we look for him
if we’ve lost sight of what he means?
Where shall we seek the One
born gift of God?

Perhaps we have a temple, a sacred, holy place,
a place where we are opened to glory and to mystery.
A place where we sense the presence of the Divine
touching us and speaking to our hearts.
Perhaps we find Jesus there.

We may find him offering wisdom.
We may hear him asking questions.
We may find him nudging minds
to seek the purposes of God.

And outside in the world’s suffering
we will find him busy, too.
We will find him about God’s business,
pursuing God’s loving intentions,
embracing the wounded and weary
with God’s healing and peace.

I know we are appropriately thankful
for the blessedness of our lives.
I know we give God thanks
for all islands of calm.
But may we not forget, in the time that
follows Christmas,
that we are servants with Jesus
of purposes higher than ourselves.
May we not lose sight in our busyness of the Christ
who is about God’s business,
who goes before us into the neediness of the world.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

Advertisements

Christmas Eve

THE GLORY
(Luke 2: 1-14)

And the glory of God shone around them.
Not because it was suddenly there
but because their eyes were suddenly opened
to what had been there all along.

In the glittering gift of the praising stars,
in the holy hush of the kneeling night,
in the whispered prayers held aloft by the trees,
in the answering song of the grasses and breeze,
the glory of God was already around them.

Around them in the breath of the sheep that were sleeping,
around them in the flames of the fire they were keeping,
around them in the faces of the friends who were watching,
and within them in their hearts as they listened to the speaking
of the messenger of God, opening their eyes to
the Loving Holy Presence,
to heaven already happening,
to the glory, constantly shining.

Maybe it takes something special, something new and wondrous;
or maybe it can happen while we’re just tending to our business
in the ordinary, the daily routines of life,
that we are caught, shaken, wakened

to God somewhere working, to love
somewhere growing, to hearts
somewhere lifting in joyous songs of praise,

and we are moved, we are warmed,
we are opened wide like windows
to the glory that was here, that is there,
that is beyond us and within us,

that is waiting to make us, too, messengers
in the nighttime. Singers of the song.
Part of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
Peace, good will, to this needy and beloved beautiful world.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

And may I also commend you to: “The Flight Of The Heavenly Host

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Advent IV, Yr. C)

THE CHILD LEAPS IN ELIZABETH’S WOMB
(Luke 1: 39-45)

The child leaps in Elizabeth’s womb
to greet God’s coming gift:
may mothers and infants everywhere
share in that blesséd lift.

May hungry children leap for joy
that hunger soon will end;
that suffering ones, that fearful ones,
find help from heaven’s friends.

In this world so torn by hate, may
each know love’s embrace.
May those who’ve felt the pain of war
know peace is heaven’s face.

The child leaps in Elizabeth’s womb.
In us is there a twin?
May hearts everywhere join in eager response
to God’s love, near, within.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Advent 3, Yr. C)

THE FLOW OF GRACE IS WHAT ERODES THE STONE
(Luke 3: 7-18)

John has news to tell that’s not well known:
the Coming One redraws the social chart.
The flow of grace is what erodes the stone.

In fertile soil of love is God’s realm grown
that flowers in earthly justice, part by part.
John has news to tell that’s not well known.

God’s reign, therefore, in actions must be shown;
our kindness be the way it makes its start.
The flow of grace is what erodes the stone.

Sharing, compassion, caring: these set the tone;
and from these paths of peace let none depart.
John has news to tell that’s not well known.

Be sure no greed or hate will share the throne;
we know God’s reign by love’s own gentle art.
The flow of grace is what erodes the stone.

So change me, God, within, spirit and bone.
Break the selfish shell around my heart.
I listen for the news that’s not well known:
God’s flow of grace is what erodes the stone.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

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

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 (Easter 2, Yr A)

JESUS CAME AND STOOD AMONG THEM
(John 20: 19-31)

Come to us, Lord Jesus,
into locked rooms of hopelessness,
move through shut doors of fearfulness,
show us your power over death,
speak to us your peace.

Come to us, Lord Jesus,
into our grief and loneliness,
overcome barriers of helplessness,
breathe upon us your healing Spirit,
speak to us your peace.

Come to us, Lord Jesus,
into our crouching defensiveness,
break through our walls of selfishness,
show us your wounds of love,
speak to us your peace.

Come to us, Lord Jesus,
into the caves of unforgiveness,
free us from our tombs of bitterness,
remind us of your saving mercy,
speak to us your peace.

Send us from here, Lord Jesus,
into our world of neediness,
the world of hate and unkindness,
send us in the name of God’s love,
send us in the strength of your peace.

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King