Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 7, Yr A)

(Matthew 5:38-48)

O Healer of all brokenness,
help us repent of vengefulness
and send your mercy as the sun and rain.
Giver of all gentleness,
lead us away from selfishness
that we may walk with all who dwell in pain.

Creator, grant us vision
to see beyond division,
seeing even enemies as beloved too.
May we with bold decision
bring forgiveness to fruition;
and by your gift of grace our selves renew,

that we, our own hearts mending,
to others your love lending,
embrace your kingdom coming into view.
Use us, and in our sending,
the seeds of peace thus tending,
we’ll lift a new world’s joyfulness to you.

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 6, Yr A)

(Matthew 5: 21-37)

Built of the leaky wood of our imperfections,
nailed together with hopes and best intentions,
sails of prayer hoisted into baffling wind,
our ship small, but committed to begin

its journey of faith, we steer into the waves
toward goals of love and justice Jesus gave.
Misty as distant islands they might seem,
and though the waves and winds across our beam

sometimes toss us backward, and our tack
sometimes so wide we struggle to stay on track,
our little ship will sail on, held together
through all calm or stormy weather

by the merciful grace of God. For it’s Christ’s
work we’ve set ourselves to do, Christ’s
course of sacrificial love we sail –
our guiding compass the cross. It does not fail.

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 5, Yr A)

(Matthew 5: 13-20)

The city set on a hill
is a sanctuary city,
is built of strong bricks
of compassion,
is grounded on the bedrock
of justice,
has opened its gates
toward mercy,
and its windows are wide
to the sunrise of love
that blesses the city
every morning.

The city set on a hill
is a shining city,
is ablaze with the fireflame
of kindness,
is lit with the radiance
of forgiveness,
lights up its nighttimes
with hopefulness,
and its rooftops reflect
the warm glow of love
that spills from the city
every morning.

The city set on a hill
is a populous city,
is as wide as God’s grace
in Christ Jesus,
is peopled with those led
by God’s Spirit,
has walls that are not walls
but God’s welcome,
and its tree-bowered streets
lead to peace, in the love
that is the city,
singing in the morning.

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 4, Yr A)

(Matthew 5: 1-12)

These words a path
that winds to flowing streams
These words the stream
that grows to form a sea
the sea of kindness
in whose depths there gleams
becoming what we’re meant to be.

These words the soil
in which new life may root
These words the roots
from which grows a tree
a tree of peace
whose healing fruit
holds the seeds to set loving free.

These words the rays
that bring the newness of dawn
These words the dawn
that flames into day
the day of rejoicing
with the singer and song
whose words are life, and truth, and way.

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

A Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 7)

(Matthew 5: 38-48)

“An eye for an eye” – it sounds so right.
Someone injures you, you fight
back, hurt them too. They take
something that’s yours, you make

them pay. There isn’t too much
that could be simpler, and such
a relief when you’re really mad
to let rage have its way. Right? Too bad

it makes more grief, more rage
that escapes like a dropped page
in a hard wind; the sad results
often manic, beyond words – insults

becoming wars which at all times
are tragic: from bullets to landmines,
blasted houses to dead kids.
The challenge, then, to put a lid

upon violence. . . Recall the blessed meek?
Maybe we inherit the earth by turning the cheek:
standing firm for justice, but without repaying
violence with violence; not just praying

for a kinder world, but creating one too
with the words we speak and things we do
that show generosity and grace –
the image of Jesus in a compassionate face.

(And if we succumb to anger’s temptations
see Christ’s foregoing call to reconciliation.)

A Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 6)

(Matthew 5: 21-37)

Imagine we’ve never left Eden.
Imagine the wide Earth is the garden
and we’ve never tasted bitter exile,
enjoying for more than just a while

the miraculous abundance God has granted.
And imagine here, among all the planted
flowers and fruits, grasses and trees,
room enough to do (mostly) as we please

for Cain and Abel and me and you and
others; no need for anyone to lift a hand
against another. No need for jealousy,
resentment, bitterness or envy. . .

What do you think? Would it be
that way, would there be harmony,
no broken relationships, no feelings
hurt, no joys crushed; in all our dealings

only fairness, caring, kindness;
no greed, no self-centered blindness
to the needs of the neighbour? Could
that be us, living in our Eden? Or would

it be the case that even so the heart
would show itself to contain many parts,
like closets hidden behind different doors,
and in those shadowed corners

the usual sources of human pain –
such as the self-will that again and again
through time has been indifferent to love
and justice: that when push has come to shove

there is me and there is you, and you
just have to move, will have to lose. True?
And if so, then our separateness
from one another, this awful brokenness

that inhabits so much of daily life
would haunt us still, the sources of strife
found not in our surroundings, but inside
ourselves. Which means nowhere to hide

when the squabbling breaks out
that’s banned in the garden, the shouts
of anger or hurt, the salt tears flowing
(or hidden in pride), rifts growing

worse. . . and the spiral down beginning,
each side claiming right, unaware of sinning.
How easy it becomes for retaliation
to be tried; how hard for reconciliation

to occur. Yet that is what Christ
stands for, of course: reconciliation, the price
(in cross-shaped currency) to overcome
injustice’s hurt and whatever’s wrong

between others and ourselves.
Oh, it’s difficult – tough shells
of distrust and defensiveness
may need to be breached, forgiveness

may not be granted. But the effort
must be made.   Enter the desert
of vulnerability displayed. Take
the risk of the open heart. Rake

the coals away from the fires of pain.
And offer thanks for a healing gained.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 5)

(Matthew 5: 13-20)

Because there is a girl who walked to school today
with her stomach empty of food.
Because there is a boy who hears the bombs today
with his stomach clenched in fear.

Because there is a man who looked for work today,
his heart withering in despair.
Because there is a woman who looked in the mirror today
touching scars that once were breasts.

Because there is a parent sitting beside the bed today
of an illness-stricken child.
Because there is a gun in the hand of a boy today,
crack in the hand of a girl.

Because there is an old man alone in a hall today,
watching the hands of a clock slowly move.
Because there is a bully in a school classroom today
– and in some bedrooms and boardrooms too.

Because there is a woman sleeping on a grate today,
everything she owns in two green bags.
Because there is a child listening to hate today,
being told why the other guy or group is so bad.

Because like cities set on hills, we can’t hide today
from the only world we have.
But mostly because we are given God’s gift today:
The salt and the light that are love.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 4)

(Matthew 5: 1-12)

The grieving widower sat at the restaurant table.
His wife of 43 years had died
the previous week.
The young couple at the next table
were strangers to him,
but somehow
they reminded him of happiness
he and his wife had long shared.

The widower signalled to the waitress.
The bill for the couple’s meal
was delivered to the widower’s table.

On a napkin he wrote a note.
He told of dining alone
for the first time in 43 years.
He wrote
that paying for their meal
would put a smile on his wife’s face
and make him happy, too.
And he wished them a happy new year.

There was the kingdom of heaven.

For blessed are the merciful, the meek.
Blessed are the peacemakers, the pure.
Blessed are those who mourn
yet whose ongoing love
comforts themselves and others.
And blessed are those whose joy
in doing right creates
nourishment in this hungering world.

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

They’re the kingdom of heaven.

(By the way, this story is true.)