Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +16, Yr B)

AND THOSE WHO LOSE THEIR LIFE WILL SAVE IT
(Mark 8: 27-38)

I opened the curtain this morning:
the sun was giving itself away
with a brilliant smile.

I walked by a stream this morning:
the water was giving itself away
with a gentle song.

I greeted a friend this morning:
joy was giving itself away
with the warmth of touch.

I thought of your cross this morning:
how you gave yourself away
in holy love.

May I become such grain this morning:
living in what is given away
for another’s bread.

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Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 2, Yr. B)

AFTER THE CONFESSION
(Mark 8: 31-38)

You tried to explain it to your brother once,
and to yourself, the sense you’ve had

growing within you since that day
Jesus called you to follow, and you did –

that sense of awe, of something forcing cracks
into familiar walls of thought, like that time

as a child when you first saw the sea, not
the Galilean waters from which your family fished,

but the Mediterranean, vast, blue, the deep waves
rolling in, the ships sailing out, their square sails

growing small as they headed to the horizon
from which the wind blew a salt scent

to your skin, while your thoughts tried to grasp
something big beyond words . . .

and today here is Jesus, asking what people
have been naming him, and you use the word

that comes so easily to your lips, it slips
like breathing from your mouth: “Messiah”,

yet you sense as you say it that you’re trying
to name the sea, but describing

just the beginning of an ocean of truth;
and sure enough: Jesus speaks about suffering death

almost as if it were part of a plan,
which surely can’t be, but he rebukes

your rebuke of him, talks of taking up a cross,
of losing life to find it –

suddenly you are again that young child
on the shore, watching a boat leave harbour

on a deeper sea than you’ve ever known –
and somehow the ship that’s leaning into the wind

has its deck underneath your own feet.

Copyright © 2015 by Andrew King

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +11)

EVEN THE HOLIEST OF LABELS
(Matthew 16: 13-20)

We would have held you in the past, Jesus.
We would have kept you in the jars,
however large, from which we’d already drawn,
the ones with the title of prophet, names
synonymous with speech from the voice of God:

names like Elijah, Jeremiah, John,

and others whose words had rung
through streets and hills,
had challenged our minds and hearts
a while ago.

A little bothersome, those prophets,
thorns to the strong while
comforting the weak,
disruptive to the status quo,
but familiar, understood;
holding few surprises
and therefore somewhat safer
for the following.

We are not easy with the new, Jesus,
we do not readily welcome change.
We prefer our futures to arrive in dress
of the dreams we dreamed in the past,
tomorrow to be today with
freshened dew.

Even the title Messiah,
apparently so daring,
was a word we thought we understood
to mean another David:
the reign of God to mean the reign
of another worldly kingdom.

We were not prepared for the cross.

We were not prepared for the wine
to be new, and to require
such newer skins.

We would have held you in the past, Jesus,
predictable, contained.
But you are not confined by
the fence of our understanding.
You move beyond the boundaries
of preconceptions.

Show us afresh the limits of even
the holiest of labels.
Open us to a God who is
full of surprises.
Show us that there are possibilities
for ourselves
we have not imagined.

Show us anew that there is more,
much more, than we may ever know
about what it can mean,
for ourselves and the world,
that God is really with us:
Emmanuel.