Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Reign Of Christ)

SONG FOR THE CRUCIFIED KING
(Luke 23: 33-43)

The king has no castle, just a piece of a tree,
and there’s a crooked sign hanging for the world to see,
and his friends have all left him,
like the light of this day.
It’s a strange kind of kingdom
if it’s going to be ruled in this way.

There is justice denied, and the Christ betrayed.
There was a new world coming but I guess it’s been delayed,
and the dreams that we held,
looks like they’re slipping away.
It’s a strange kind of kingdom
if it’s going to be ruled in this way.

He came preaching mercy, and healing he gave.
He saved the lives of others, now he too will know the grave;
yet his words are love,
as if it’s here to stay.
It’s a strange kind of kingdom
if it’s going to be ruled in this way.

The warplanes are screaming, the children are lost;
The planet is heating, and at what kind of cost;
and the hungry are hurting
while they kneel to pray.
But God’s strange kind of kingdom
shows the world there’s a different way.

It’s darkness when cruelty and greed show their face.
It’s darkness when our hatreds crucify God’s grace,
but the love of the Lord
brings to light a new day.
It’s a strange kind of kingdom
and it’s going to be ruled in this way.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

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Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Palm Sunday, Yr C)

CRY BLESSÉD
(Luke 19: 28-40; John 12: 12-16)

Now comes the giver of peace to the troubled,
now comes the bringer of hope to the weak;
now comes the healer with strength for the hurting;
rides on a donkey the king that we seek.

Now comes the hen to the den of the foxes,
now come the gentle wings open and wide
to comfort the fearful, gather the lost ones;
wings pierced with nails, a wound in the side.

Now comes the Word who is good news among us,
now comes the Shepherd who lays down his life;
behold him, the Lamb of God’s saving mercy;
the Light against whom the darkness will rise.

Blesséd the One who brings God’s love and justice;
blesséd the One who calls us to the same;
blesséd the One who can break death’s dominion;
blesséd the One who has come in God’s name.

Lift high the branches, the palm leaves of praising;
cover with garments of praise the hard ground;
soon comes betrayal, too soon the injustice;
too soon the grief and forgotten the song.

Cry “blesséd!” the One who goes through the trial,
cry “blesséd!” the One who suffers the pain;
cry “blesséd!” the One who bleeds God’s forgiveness.
Cry “blesséd!” the One who’s with us in God’s name.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King


For a slightly lighter treatment, may I suggest “The Story Of Palm Sunday (As Told For The Young)”, found here.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Passion Of Christ, Yr B)

THE HANDS OF THE PASSION
(Mark 14:1 – 15:47)

I tell of the hand, its suppleness, strength,
how it performs every wish of our thought:
subtlety to smooth and shape wood, clay, paint;

and by its powers great structures are wrought.
With the hand we salute, we show caring,
kindness; the hand undoes the tangled knot,

lifts the fallen and helps the ones bearing
the heavy load; the hand the instrument
of holding, releasing; keeping, sharing –

whatever it is that our hearts have meant
to accomplish. Consider then the hands
at work in this story. See the pair bent

to pour the perfume on Jesus. It lands
fragrant, filling the still air with rich breath,
gift of tenderness to one whose commands

had healed many, but for whom, she knows, death
looms. From hands flow love. But hands, too, clutch greed,
cruelty in their fists. See Judas, met

by the chief priests in the grip of their need
to be rid of Jesus. Judas’ hands reach
for the coins of betrayal. He will feed,

one of the twelve, at the table, where each
will protest steadfastness. See their hands dip
with Christ’s in the bowl. And what does it teach

when Christ’s hands break bread for us, when the sip
of the cup handed round is his blood? When
his hands wash our feet on their dusty trips

through the roughness of the world? Can we learn
forgiveness from his fingers? Or will ours
be the hands of injustice, those that spurn

mercy: swords waved in the garden, glowers
of fury on faces, hands tearing clothes,
hands striking, abusing him through the hours.

See the guards hang on him a purple robe.
The hands whipping. The ones placing the crown
of thorns. Words and hands conspiring as goads

as he stumbles on his way up the hill. Down
the long years we have seen what they did there,
the hands swinging hammers, nailing his own

to the cross. But see, with the curtain’s tear,
God’s hand at work too: the cross is the way
to salvation.
At last with Joseph’s care

hands are tender again, and thus display
again the heart’s power to love; and so
even a tomb, on this darkest of days,

becomes touched by the presence of grace. Go
to touch with that grace whatever you will.
Be Christ’s hands. Let the redeemed heart show,
that this crucifying world know his love still.

Copyright © 2015 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (The Passion Of Christ)

SESTINA FOR THE PASSION OF CHRIST
(Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 or John 18:1 – 19:42)

He is alone in prayer in the garden, knowing the cost.
His followers care, but flesh is frail and they fail
to fend off sleep as Jesus endures his mortal fear
with faithfulness. This night will bring betrayal,
abandonment, suffering, and ultimately, a cross.
But he will not turn from obeying the will of God.

He is alone in facing trial for blaspheming God.
The religious rulers are determined at any cost
to be rid of this nuisance Jesus. But though they cross
words, set their traps for him, they almost fail.
Judas’ earlier duplicity is matched by betrayal
of truth; and the rest of Jesus’ followers have fled in fear.

He is alone in front of Pilate, but showing no fear.
Is he King of the Jews? Is he somehow from God?
Pilate doesn’t know, doesn’t really care. Betrayal
of justice doesn’t bother him much, the only cost
he worries about is the empire’s peace. Fail
and he’d pay the price; so send this King to the cross,

it’s an easy call. Kill the pest, quiet the Jews. The cross
is just another tool when you rule by fear,
after all, so why be worried about truth? (This fails,
somehow, to ease his mind; but he holds the power of God,
of life and death, so death it will be, at Jesus’ cost.)
And Pilate’s lethal injustice is the final betrayal.

Jesus is alone, crowned with the thorns of betrayals.
He is mocked and whipped and abused, and the cross
is placed on his shoulders, and the high cost
of love mounts the hill of the Skull. Fear
only forgetting love’s suffering; forget not the grief of God,
as the sky grows dark as if the sun itself has failed.

Do the women wonder if faith has failed
as Jesus is laid in the tomb? Is hope’s betrayal
on Joseph’s mind, as he wraps this man from God
in burial cloth? The death of Christ on the cross
for many meant grief, despair and fear;
only later would they understand what was worth the cost:

that we are not alone in times of fear, nor when we fail
– bearing the costs of our small and large betrayals –
nor even in death: for Jesus, God’s Son, died for us on the cross.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King