Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 6, Yr. C)

(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

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary, Epiphany 2, Yr. C

(John 2: 1-11)

Sometimes, through no particular fault
of your own, the accumulated cares
of life build up and the storage vault
that holds your strength and hope goes bare.

Sometimes you gaze in longing east
to see the light of the dawn breaking
but clouds block the sun. And that feast,
that celebration you intended making

of life: sometimes the songs won’t come,
laughter fades, and like wine run dry
the jar of joy stands empty, a hollow drum.
But what if God knows this, and why

Jesus came to the wedding feast that day
was to show that God is with us in those
times of barren dryness, when what may
fill our heart’s jar are only tears, lid closed,

and lost the way to hope’s refreshing well. . .
What if Jesus comes that day expressly to spill
into that void his fresh and living water, telling
darkness to roll back for light, filling

the waiting jar of the empty heart
with Love’s own Presence: finest wine indeed.
Yes, Christ comes that life’s feast may truly start —
Love both source and goal, our deepest need.

So fill us to our brims, life-giving One;
may we be sharers in your earthly story.
May we spill love and joy ‘til that realm has come
that fills this precious world with all your glory.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary — The Baptism Of Jesus (First Sunday of Epiphany, Yr. C)

(Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22)

They’re nearby, those waters,
the waters that bathed
the feet of John, the feet of Jesus.

Those waters long ago
went down to the Dead Sea.
And left there,
caught up by the sun’s hands
to the wide and warm welcome of sky.
And left there,
moving on wind’s wings, carried
like a ship seeking haven in the
bays of an undiscovered world.

And dropped again, those waters,
from vast jars of gray cloud
onto the iced slopes of tall mountains,
the green grasses of deep valleys,
dampening the brown dusts of dry plains.

And they left there
to travel the silver streams of high mountain highways,
to hurl the white spray from the teeth of wild rapids,
to draw gentle curves under bent branches of willows,
to rest in blue lakes or to join at last
the oceans’ long shore-washing songs.

And the waters leave there
on their journey unending, these
holy waters that bathed Eve,
that Adam drank in Eden,
that stood back from Moses
and the slaves fleeing Egypt,
these waters
that ran down the face of Jesus, that
washed over his skin, that glittered
in the bounced light from the Jordan
while torn open heavens declared
how beloved is this blessed Child.

So come, let us seek the same waters.
We find them in the places that are holy,
all the places God made to receive them —
the brown pond where the geese gather their numbers,
the quick river where the trout flashes its fins,
the quiet lake where the crying gulls circle,
the hands you cup under the faucet
to splash cool wetness to your face —
every place
where to all who have ears to hear it
a voice on behalf of heaven still proclaims
how beloved, how beloved forever we are.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

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

(John 4: 5-42)

How often have I come here,
Jesus, to this place of
old faith and fresh neediness,
bent down with the burden
of my failures, stumbling
in my thirsting for hopefulness,
the cracked vessel of my heart
leaking grief. . .

how often have I come here
not expecting you in the heat
of my pressures,
not expecting you in the stress
of my confusion,
yet meeting you
who offers water to the helpless,
who quenches the raw thirst
for acceptance,
who gives the deep sustenance
of kindness without payment,
the nourishment of love without limit. . .

how often have you met me,
refilling my heart, leaving me
astonished again in the depths of my being
that you waited here
for me, even me?

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 3)

(John 4: 5-42)

You can’t hide from your need for water.
From the others – the ones whose eyes
are like their words, whose words have felt

like bones, like stones in the chest –
from them you hide till noon, the heat
as hard as earth baked by the sun:

from that too there is no hiding,
like your shame, the cindering pain
of your mistakes, the regret of every

failure, the ruined relationships
lying heavy on your heart
as a jar full of water in your hands.

You can’t escape that weight.
You have carried it and carried it,
the freight of shame that shrinks you

in your attempt to hide from even
your need for the acceptance
that your heart craves like water,

that deeper need that will not let you go.
And neither do the eyes of the man
who meets you at the well this heated

day: his eyes that hold to yours with
no hostility, with no judgment;
that are gentle, calm as waters

in a deep well. Your habitual distrust
of men, strangers, the Jews
is hard-baked, yet – how strange – you

feel no need to hide, no sense of danger,
just curiosity when he asks you for water
just as if no gulf exists

between you to cross. Stranger still
his words that follow, promising
a gift of living water which will

satisfy forever, gushing up into life
that is eternal. How his words echo
within you, as in an empty well

where unhealed ache lies parched
like withered ground, where your deep
need for love has gone unfilled.

How quick your answer in reply: Sir,
give me now this water, that I
may no more need this well – and

that the well of need within me
may be filled.
And here it is, in the way
he gives it – he opens up your pain,

he confronts with you the shame
that has held you prisoner, but
from him no condemnation

of the failures that have fractured
your life. How like a flowing river
is this unflinching acceptance,

how like a thirst being quenched
this taste of love. Now there is
no more need for hiding; and let

the jar you took to the well be left
for later. That other weight you carried
has been left there too, and in its

place this lightness, this freedom
of breath, of being, that from now
will be carrying you in words of call:

The Christ who meets you at your well
is for the world.