Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 1, Yr A)

THE CROSS CASTS ITS SHADOW
(Matthew 4: 1-11)

Pressured by hunger’s insistent immediacy
the test is to resist mere expediency.
He tosses a stone from his dusty hand.

Urged to consider an evident mortality
the test is to embrace the human reality.
His feet stay firm upon the patient land.

Confronted by power’s alluring temptation
the test is to live out a servant’s station.
He chooses to reject an earthly command.

O needy ones, humble ones, mortal and frail,
consider the Saviour’s sacrificial scale.
See the cross cast its shadow on the desert sand.

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

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Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 1, Yr C)

TRUE BREAD
(Luke 4: 1-13)

We, with our stomachs so full of stone
dug from the deserts of apathy and dread,
our souls shrinking down toward skin and bone,

often miss much of that which is bread,
the things that would tell us that life is more
than what can be written in black or red

on a balance sheet. While we’re keeping score
of wealth won and lost – and fixing our eyes
on this world’s thrones, wishing for ever more

power or approval – to our surprise
sometimes, the richest blessings may be found
in service, in giving, in sacrifice.

The world’s high pinnacles provide poor ground
for standing – grand is the view, great is the fall –
but God’s love, not needing such testing, surrounds,

nourishes, guides us into a higher call:
to serve others and not only self. This
the true wealth, bliss, bread: love. For all, is all.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 1, Yr B)

AND HE WAS WITH THE WILD BEASTS
(Genesis 9: 8-17, Mark 1: 9-15)

Jesus knows God loves the earth,
its beasts: he thinks of Noah,
the families of animals
patiently gathered, the deluge
survived, looking wearily
out of the ark onto
what was left
of what he’d known,
wreckage all around,
the twisted bits of wood
that had been trees, rubble
that had been houses, mud
covering everything, mud
and the stench of decay,
his eyes filling with tears;
and God — like Noah
grieving the ruin
and memory of beauty —
sorrowing, repenting
of destruction, declaring
“never again, never again”:
a covenant made,
its sign displayed
in brilliance in the clouds,
hovering somewhere
over the animals that,
scattered from the battered hulk,
begin their search for food
on the shattered ground.

*

Jesus knows God loves the earth,
its many peoples,
he knows God wants
to take them into an ark
of compassionate love,
to save them from destruction
of their own making.
So he carries the brokenness
of the world into this
pathless place of longing —
as he is with the beasts
in the wilderness,
in the hungering and searching,
so he is with us in our hungry
search for love;
as he is with the beasts in needing
shelter from the sun and cold,
so he is with us in our need
for peace and joy.
And as the angels minister to him,
so he will walk love’s paths among us,
he will feed us in our emptiness
and comfort us in the wasteland
of our sorrows.
A fresh covenant of love
is waiting to be displayed,
and he has come
to be its sign forever.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 1)

DESERT LESSON
(Matthew 4: 1-11)

It is the empty time just before morning,
the light just beginning to touch
the tops of the hills,
just beginning to palm the skins
of the desert stones.

First one stone and then another
begins to change colour as
in slow grandeur
the sun lifts
into red-orange sky.
First one stone and then another
emerges from shadow,
small solitudes of darkness
in the solitude of wilderness
in the emptiness of early morning.

Jesus is awake, blankets clutched
to keep out the cold
while he sits and watches stars
fade in the spreading dawn.
Hunger gnaws at his belly
like a dog chewing a bone.
Looking at a stone, he thinks,
How like a loaf of bread
this rock appears.
How comforting such
food would be. . .

Lifting his head in the direction
of the Holy City, Jesus pictures
the sunrise on the rooftops
of the Temple,
gleaming in the light like
the spires of marble mountains.
He imagines his feet astride
that proud building’s pinnacle
and himself not weak but mighty,
not being hungry but full,
not vulnerable,
not breakable should I fall. . .

The wind begins to rise, stirs
the dry and scrawny grasses.
Jesus ponders the passage
of time, the rise and fall
of kingdoms, the tides
of marching armies,
the endless quests for power
that sweep up people and nations
like sands in a desert wind.
He imagines himself
at the head of
a host of armoured thousands,
lands and nations to serve me
like the Pharoahs, like David,
like Caesar ruling from Rome. . .

Jesus sighs, and stands and stretches,
a solitary and hungry
yet somehow satisfied man,
and folds the dusty blankets.

He will not bid the stones
turn to bread today
to ease his pressing hunger:
for the hungry and poor
of the world cannot,
and he is in the world
to bear their burden.

He will not evade
frail humanness today,
or deny his utter mortality,
for even the mighty
of the world cannot,
and he is in the world
to bear their burden.

He will not seek
the throne of a kingdom today,
selfish wealth or glory:
for the outcasts and hurting
of the world cannot,
and he is in the world
to bear their burden.

Day has come to the wilderness around him.
The sun is full and blazing.
Saying, “Get away
from me, Satan,”

Jesus starts to walk from
the desert testing
toward the towns and the cities
where his ministry of love
will begin.

His feet leave firm prints in the sand.