Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +22, Yr C)

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

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Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +8, Yr C)

THE TRAVELLERS GIVE THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY
(Luke 10: 25-37)

 THE PRIEST:
The sun was cruelly hot that day,
it lay like weight on the skin;
and yes, I saw where the body lay,
naked and bloody and thin.
But my robes are long, I might have tripped
if I had bent to lend a hand,
and so I passed by. But I said a prayer –
I’m sure God had a plan.

 THE LEVITE:
You know how rough the road is there;
the robbers could have been near.
His condition for certain delivered a scare –
there’s a lot of crime around here.
I lead an upright life, you know; it’s why
God has blessed me with being rich.
So I hurried past, giving thanks to God
that it’s not me in that ditch.

 THE PRIEST:
I’m a busy man, I’ve many tasks
that occupy my mind.
My day is full from first to last,
there’s never enough of time.
I might have stopped, but my schedule
has to keep me rushing on.
Since it’s God’s work that I do, you know,
I don’t think I was wrong.

 THE LEVITE:
Perhaps we should question why this man
was chosen for being robbed –
could it be that he was a sinner, and
that this was the will of God?
And if it was indeed the man
himself who was to blame,
then I do not think by passing by
I’ve cause to be ashamed.

 THE SAMARITAN:
The sun was cruelly hot that day,
lying like weight on the skin,
and yes, I saw where the body lay,
naked and bloody and thin.
My heart was moved within me;
I felt pity for his pain.
So I stopped on the road to help him,
what more need I explain?

I don’t think I was being heroic
when I offered merciful aid.
And I’m not just being stoic
when I say I’ve been repaid.
The humble thanks he’s given
for having his life restored
is the blessing of God’s own heaven.
And kindness is its own reward.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +3, Yr B)

PARABLE
(Mark 4: 26-34)
Dedicated to the United Church of Canada on its 90th Anniversary today, June 10th, 2015

The sower has pared
her hope down
to tiny seed.

Is it able
to grow?
she wonders:

Is there arable
soil? Rain enough?
The seed itself
is so small.

Small as a drop of joy
in a field of despair.
Small as a gesture
of love in a
hostile plain.

At night the sower
dreams of
a flowering shrub.

Sheltering there
are birds
of every kind.

Their songs have
wings, wings
the colours
of rainbows.

She wakes to find
the shrub begun,
life beginning
to blossom.

And as the days
roll into weeks and months
the shrub
grows green and strong.
The sheltering birds
lift up their songs
and the dream seems
brought to fruition.

But the rains dry up
and a harsh wind blows;
the green begins to fade,
and boughs of the shrub
are broken.

The sower’s heart
is stricken
for the life-giving plant.

But see – within
the surviving branches,
upon the battered boughs,
new seeds of life
still form.

Singing songs with wings
the colours of rainbows
the sower gathers
the precious fruit.

And the sower again
continues to sow
the small brilliant seed
of hope.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Christ The King)

IS THAT YOU?
(Matthew 25: 31-46)

The jittering snow flakes chase one another
in flight from the knuckles of wind

that sway the abandoned branches of trees
in their inaudible dirge of loss

and scatter the dust that lines the street
where blank windows stare at the gray.

A fragment of newspaper rolls by, revealing and hiding
its jumble of pain under clouds the colour of bruises.

And the torn creation seems to live in the lines
of the face of this solitary woman,

old coat buttoned high and frayed hat pulled hard
on a forehead furrowed with years,

eyelids pinched from the chill of the air
as she shifts, from one hand to the other,

the heavy weight of two bags that might
carry all that she cares about today.

See how carefully she opens her thin wallet
at the counter of the McDonald’s.

How each coin is cradled like a departing child
by wrinkled and shaking fingers.

How, when she lifts her face to yours and you
smile, and she smiles in return of your greeting

something crosses the space between you
like a bridge spanning unseen waters

and across that bridge moves a gentle light,
a glow of kindness, of friendship, of grace.

Is that you in those eyes, O Beloved Redeemer,
in that smile, in that bridge, in that light?

Is that you in the lines on all our weathered faces,
in all our hands that count out life’s coins?

Grant me grace to see you looking back at me
with the love you have for all creation,

to see you, O King, in all of your glory,
beneath the folds of each old hat, worn coat.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +23)

“I WAS AFRAID. . .”
(Matthew 25: 14-30)

It could be me, standing there with the spade,
the crate of money beside me on the ground,
thoughts as bleak as the late-day twilight’s fade,
house lamps all lit but the darkness around

growing within, where fists clench my soul
and I know by the claws the cold-boned fear
that scrapes from my heart’s slender soil a hole
of its own, and leaves there, hidden but near,

shadows of despair. It’s fear of defeat
brings the shovel here, the fear of failure
that digs traps for faith on so many streets,
causes the loss of so much that is treasure.

Faith that fears loss and fails to try, can’t see
that such fear, not loss, is the enemy. And
this too I know: sometimes that has been me.
But maybe the story does not have to end

there – the one with dirt still on his fingers
standing alone in the darkness, the only
thing left to him regret, raw, lingering . . .
What if there’s One who pities the lonely,

the lost, the defeated; who, loving the failed,
the fallen ones, the ones who are broken,
allowed himself to know darkness; was nailed
to the cross; and who rose again, token

of a new day? In the shine of his light
we see all our sad failures overcome;
treasure – a buried soul – redeemed . . . and life,
once again, and not death, will have won.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +18)

R.S.V.P.
(Matthew 22: 1-14)

I thought I had it here a while ago,
the invitation to the wedding feast.
I’m busy, but I think I’d like to go.

Priorities have swamped me, as you know;
a banquet invitation’s just the least.
I thought I had it here a while ago.

The king’s included both the high and low,
which seems to me a rather foolish piece.
I’m busy, but I probably can go.

I’ll bet this generous king would give out clothes
to all for whom good robes are out of reach.
I thought I read it here a while ago.

But I’ll go as I am, thank you, to show
I’m fine, I’ve need for no one’s saving grace.
I’m busy, but I think I’d like to go.

They’ll tell me it’s an honour, I suppose.
I guess I could take my invited place.
I thought I had it here a while ago.
I’m busy, but perhaps I’ll try to show.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +16)

TO FULL FRUIT
(Matthew 21: 28-32)

Perhaps we say no because
we are weary.
Perhaps the work seems
overwhelming,
life too full of woundedness,
the vineyard too difficult to care for
as it struggles to grow to full fruit.

Perhaps we say no because
we take for granted
that our Father will find someone else,
that someone else’s “yes”
will meet the need,
doing the work that leads to full fruit.

Perhaps it is because we take for granted
that harvest will come regardless,
that the vineyard has no need
for our labour –
our mercy, our love, our caring –
in order to reach its full fruit.

Or perhaps it is because we forget
that the life we inhabit
is also where work is needed,
that we ourselves are a vineyard:
our souls in need of nurture,
spirits in need of cultivation,
our lives in need of the pruning of wisdom,
before we can reach full fruit.

Whatever the perhaps,
whatever the reasons,
may “no” become “yes”,
and words become deeds.
For we are God’s “yes”
Christ’s caring in action,
Christ’s presence
in the vineyard which God so loves
and which God is bringing
to full fruit.