An Unlectionary Poem For The Ending Of A Year

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE NEW YEAR’S . . .
(Suggested Texts: Genesis 1: 1-5; Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)

‘Twas the night before New Year’s and all through the nation
people celebrated with great festive elation
the end of the old year, the start of the new,
hoping for good cheer and of blessings, a few.

All through the nighttime in boisterous bunches,
friends and their families were slurping pink punches
and munching on sweets with the utmost of urgency,
taking on treats like it’s some kind of emergency;

mommas and poppas, and uncles and aunts,
in their glittery dresses and their glossiest pants,
laughing and dancing in houses and halls,
in funny hats prancing as at a grand ball;

some drinking, perhaps a bit more than they should,
but taking a taxi and trying to be good;
determined in turning from all thought of sorrow
to make from their yearning a happier tomorrow.

Well, up in God’s heaven the angels looked down,
and God could detect on their faces a frown.
“What’s the matter?” God asked, out of kindly concern.
“I am hearing you chatter, and why your downturn?”

“It’s their problem with time,” said one, after some thought.
“Your children seem to feel time’s an enemy plot!
For instance, they’re making those famed resolutions
of things to try changing: some problems’ solutions,

“and things they would like, this year, to be better;
like a smaller waist size, and to fit smaller sweaters.
Some have higher hopes than just improving their look:
dreams with wide scope, like writing a book

“or taking a trip to some exotic new place;
remaking their home with new colour and space.
And it’s all very well that they’re hatching these plans,
for they’re aware that they dwell in mortality’s land.

“For them, time’s a challenge; too often, it’s feared;
an enemy, a dilemma, a mystery unclear.
And so they have made this rather frenzied occasion
to mark one year’s fade, and the next one’s invasion.

“But underneath,” said the angel, “beneath all the gladness,
we believe we detect a few notes of sadness,
as if the calendar’s page that they now have to toss
is some kind of stage in an ongoing loss.”

“I think you are right,” said God in reply.
“Too many people greet the days with a sigh.
For some, days are quick, the time fast to go.
yet for some, if they’re sick, it’s too long, too slow.

“For some, time’s so short the years flash out of sight.
For others, days drag, and the dark, lonely nights.
For those in distress time’s a burden to bear;
but for those at their best, it’s a gift they can share.

“Yes!” said the angel, “that’s how you meant it,
when to the young world the first light you lent it.
‘Twas you, God, separating the dark and the light,
who created time, making the day and the night.

“And you kept to that rhythm as the world was warmed:
one day at a time was how everything formed!”
God nodded, agreeing: “Life progresses in stages,
ever in my keeping through eons and ages;

“and that’s how my people should look at time too:
one day at a time is the steadiest view.
For I am God-with-them each night and each day,
around them, within them; their companion, I stay.

“Time’s my creation, where with them I dwell;
and for the whole world I will make all things well.
Yet I know they grow weary for a new world to come;
I know their tears, hearing them cry out, ‘How long?’

“The first followers of Jesus were exactly that way,
begging to know when he’d bring the new day
that would end all oppression, mend the world of its sin.
Surely no more digression — when would that day begin?

“I know it’s not easy for humans to be patient.
But I am still active, my love’s not complacent.
As the world at the start was not instantly complete,
so my goals for all hearts may take time to meet.

“But as they hold hope for a more peaceful earth,
as they pray, work and strive to bring justice to birth,
I, with them in their caring, am countering hate:
I, with them, also bearing the long patient wait.

“So here’s another thing my children should recall:
that time comes for summer, and time comes for fall;
the season for reaping follows that which is sown;
there’s time for stones’ keeping, or a time they are thrown.

“Time means things happen like decay in the wood;
but time also means the chance comes to do good.
Time means: look not just at that which is frayed,
but see also in trust when repair can be made.

“In other words, the truth is that people must choose
the way they will fill up each moment they use.
Will they be helpful, and gentle, and kind;
or will they be hateful and bitter of mind?

“Will people choose justice; compassion, not greed?
Or will they be selfish, ignore others’ needs?
Each hour and each day of the time they’ve been given,
will they choose love’s way, the way of Jesus and heaven?

“For, each evening’s sunset, each morning’s sunrise,
each touch of beauty as light kisses the eyes,
each breath that is breathed, each hand’s loving lift
— each day that’s received — is God’s precious gift.”

The angels grew quiet as they pondered God’s words.
From around the wide earth the usual sounds could be heard.
They could see stress and worry in many folks’ faces,
and much frantic hurry in most of earth’s places.

How they longed for the world to experience God’s peace,
that it might be shared, among all and to each.
And especially, at the dawn of the calendar year
they hoped would be gone much of sadness and fear.

“So it’s about what they choose every day,” they sighed.
“Praise God, that God is with them to help them decide!
And may they from God’s table of love shared, divine,
spread joy, as they’re able, one thankful day at a time.”

(Yes, God is with us, beloved,
and ever will be.
Therefore: “Happy New Year”, many blessings
to all of you, and to me.)

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Christmas 2, Yr C)

TO CREATE A NEW YEAR
(Ephesians 1: 3-14; John 1: 1-18)

It’s the first Sunday of the starting year.
Once more we hear the usual news on
the radio: the deaths by gun and bomb,
the lives awash in pain, the anxious fears

of many an “expert” for tomorrow.
Hatreds rear their ugly heads, raging roars
in the mouths of the powerful, the doors
to chaos swing on oiled hinges. Sorrow

abounds. Where now, we ask, is the newness
of the turned page? Where the fresh beginning?
How may we know that goodness is winning
and that sunrise is rolling back darkness?

We may know by listening well: a song
from long ago is still being sung, ringing
like a bell in the shadows and bringing
hope, both old and fresh as dawn, to the long

patient march of the years toward God’s planned
healing of the human world and hurt earth.
That song is the Word made flesh, given birth
into time and into us; and in our hands

is placed Christ’s grace – grace upon grace – the light
that darkness has not overcome. Despair
may tempt still. But in us, through us, God’s care
for the world flows, song of God’s own delight,

and with the strength of that care always near
in our hearts, faith points our eyes toward joy:
seeing the turned page indeed as new day
for service that will create a new year.

Copyright © 2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Sunday of the Epiphany)

MATTHEW 2: 1-12

Where will our journey take us this year,
we travellers?
Into what vistas of discovery, memory, euphoria, sorrow
will our breath exhale?
What textures of wisdom, sharp or smooth,
will touch our skin?
What light will draw our eyes through
each day’s doorway,
upward into the nighttime seeking beacons,
flashes of strange stars?

We have been searchers, felt yearnings,
felt the power and pull
of the unknown, sometimes fleeing, sometimes facing
its challenges and terrors.
We have travelled alone in hope and ambition,
joined caravans of curiosity and fad.
These have taken us to places
familiar and unexpected, to successes, disappointments,
victories, defeats.
We cannot see where the journey leads, but our yearnings
compel us, and we go.

Come into this tent, traveller. Come join
this caravan of pilgrims.
There are other travellers here, seekers like ourselves.
Called wise by some –
though they have known other titles –
they are the ancestors of all who journey
for wisdom,
for understanding, for experience of something
or someone
they might name God.

They have crossed deserts and rivers,
inhaled the scent of wild grasses,
the perfume of strange blossoms,
tasted the dust of roads of sorrow
upon their tongues.
Their minds are open to possibility, to discovery,
they have watched the fresh sky,
they have scanned the old Scriptures,
they dared the deep questions,
persevering in the journey
until they found One they believed was
their destination:
One for whom prophecies had been written,
for whom new stars had shined,
toward whom their roads had long been bending.

But let us listen to the message of the Magi,
fellow travellers:
The journey is not done. The Babe
will grow, will beckon to newer ways
and to lifelong following.
Finding this One is but a beginning, an awakening,
an opening up of greater doors,
an invitation to horizons, farther roads
that lead to greater understanding –
and to greater challenges,
fresher questions,
and quite possibly to the kind of joy
that outlasts dusty grief.

Come into this tent, traveller. Let us join
this caravan of pilgrims,
follow the One who has given us the journey,
grow on his paths as they lead through the year.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King