Poem For World Wide Communion 2019

THE SURPRISE AT THE TABLE
(Luke 17: 5-10)

Underneath your nails: the dry brown earth,
and on your sweat-streaked brow.
The work in the fields was hard today,
the soil resisting the plow.

Your muscles ache as you approach the house,
thinking of food, a drink for your thirst.
In your weary hunger you long to dine,
but a slave does not eat first.

And the slave expects no thanks or praise
for doing only what must be done.
The master is served before the slave:
the slave’s the unworthy one.

But what is this? . . . From the dining table
the aroma of fresh baked bread.
And is that not the master himself
bidding you take his seat at the head?

Can those be the master’s hands, like yours,
still showing the stain of soil?
Was that the master next to you in the fields?
His sweat joining yours in toil?

Behold him pouring, now giving you the cup:
a drink of his finest wine.
Hear him say: I do this of my love for you.
For all hungry ones, and for all time.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

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Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 6, Yr. C)

STREAM BY WHICH WE’RE NOURISHED
(Jeremiah 17: 5-10; Psalm 1)

See the dry shrub growing weaker
parched within the desert waste.
See its leaves, how soon they wither
for no streams flow to its place.

But the tree that’s by the water,
planted on the river’s shore:
see its branches growing stronger,
leaves abundant, fruiting more.

In our search for wealth, for power,
cruelty, greed parching life,
withering souls: where will flower
hearts so meant for love, not strife?

Spirit, stream by which we’re nourished,
grace that feeds our thirsty roots,
in your love our hearts can flourish,
grounded in your mercy’s truth.

Grant we plant our minds in kindness,
grant we seek that river’s flow
where compassion issues justice:
where you mean our lives to grow.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary, Epiphany 3 (Yr. C)

THE LAW OF GOD
(Nehemiah 8: 1-3,5-6,8-10; Psalm 19)
“The law of God is . . .sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.” – Ps. 19: 7,10
“All the people wept when they heard
the words of the law.” – Neh. 8:9

The law of God is the hand held out
to embrace the one who is grieving.

The law of God is the cup held out
to give drink to the one who is thirsty.

The law of God is the ear that is turned
to the voice of the one who is hurting.

The law of God is the feet that move
to walk a while with the lonely.

The law of God is the candle lit
in the dark for the one despairing.

The law of God is the burden shared
with the one who stumbles, weary.

The law of God is the laugh of the child,
the light in the eyes of the dancing.

The law of God is the smile on the face
of the feasting, who once was hungry.

And should we weep to hear this law
in the midst of our world of harshness,

should it burn our hearts and wound our souls
to think of all our selfishness,

let that salty sting become sweetness poured:
love’s honey, healing, saving us.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For the Sunday Lectionary — First Sunday After Christmas (Yr. C)

AFTER CHRISTMAS
(Luke 2: 41-52)

The tsunami that crushed so many in Indonesia this week
missed my borders by thousands of miles.
The wildfires that destroyed so many homes this year
burned far beyond my horizon.
Guns spilled blood in nearby cities, but no bullets
flew on my street.
Hunger tore bellies in large swaths of the world
while the barbecues cooked in my neighbourhood.

Oh yes, there were struggles, there were
grievings, losses, hardships;
the failures and stumblings
that caused myself or others pain;
yet for me — as for many of us —
life has been the calm of a sun-washed island
around which earth’s storms
have swirled without touch.

And I wonder if life was like that for
Mary and Joseph as they travelled
to the Passover in Jerusalem.

Long past was the drama of the dream
that spoke to Joseph, warning the young parents
of the danger to their son. Long past
was the journey that took them as refugees
to Egypt to escape the hate of Herod
that would destroy others’ lives.

Now in Nazareth they lived
on an island of relative calm,
where the wars fought by Rome or
violence suffered by others
had little or no effect day to day.

Life was now routine,
though perhaps not entirely easy,
troubled only by the challenges
faced by many
to make sure there would be food
for the day.

But if long past was the danger
and the difficulty of fleeing,
if long past was the hardship of being homeless,
long past, as well, were the angels and the shepherds,
the singing and the shining and the smell of manger hay.
And long past, as well, was the visit of the Magi, those
strange travellers from the east with
their amazing, wondrous gifts.

Had Mary and Joseph forgotten so much
with the passing of the years?
Was life now so dulled by regular routine,
by daily business, daily pressures,
that Jesus’ own significance was all but lost?

For us, too, perhaps, the time that follows Christmas
— where once again the very blessedness
of our little islands of safety,
or where once again the daily pressures of ordinary life
dim the joyful memories of the singing and celebration —
is a time where the birth’s significance
is all but lost.

How easy it becomes to lose sight of Emmanuel
— God with us — when our lives
are relatively calm.
How easy it becomes to lose sight of Jesus
in the crowds, in the comings and the goings,
in the swish and the swirl of daily needs.

Where shall we look for him
if we’ve lost sight of what he means?
Where shall we seek the One
born gift of God?

Perhaps we have a temple, a sacred, holy place,
a place where we are opened to glory and to mystery.
A place where we sense the presence of the Divine
touching us and speaking to our hearts.
Perhaps we find Jesus there.

We may find him offering wisdom.
We may hear him asking questions.
We may find him nudging minds
to seek the purposes of God.

And outside in the world’s suffering
we will find him busy, too.
We will find him about God’s business,
pursuing God’s loving intentions,
embracing the wounded and weary
with God’s healing and peace.

I know we are appropriately thankful
for the blessedness of our lives.
I know we give God thanks
for all islands of calm.
But may we not forget, in the time that
follows Christmas,
that we are servants with Jesus
of purposes higher than ourselves.
May we not lose sight in our busyness of the Christ
who is about God’s business,
who goes before us into the neediness of the world.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Advent 3, Yr. C)

THE FLOW OF GRACE IS WHAT ERODES THE STONE
(Luke 3: 7-18)

John has news to tell that’s not well known:
the Coming One redraws the social chart.
The flow of grace is what erodes the stone.

In fertile soil of love is God’s realm grown
that flowers in earthly justice, part by part.
John has news to tell that’s not well known.

God’s reign, therefore, in actions must be shown;
our kindness be the way it makes its start.
The flow of grace is what erodes the stone.

Sharing, compassion, caring: these set the tone;
and from these paths of peace let none depart.
John has news to tell that’s not well known.

Be sure no greed or hate will share the throne;
we know God’s reign by love’s own gentle art.
The flow of grace is what erodes the stone.

So change me, God, within, spirit and bone.
Break the selfish shell around my heart.
I listen for the news that’s not well known:
God’s flow of grace is what erodes the stone.

Copyright ©2018 by Andrew King

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

THE DISCIPLE SHIP
(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)

CITY SET ON A HILL
(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