An Unlectionary Poem For The Ending Of A Year

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE NEW YEAR’S . . .
(Suggested Texts: Genesis 1: 1-5; Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)

‘Twas the night before New Year’s and all through the nation
people celebrated with great festive elation
the end of the old year, the start of the new,
hoping for good cheer and of blessings, a few.

All through the nighttime in boisterous bunches,
friends and their families were slurping pink punches
and munching on sweets with the utmost of urgency,
taking on treats like it’s some kind of emergency;

mommas and poppas, and uncles and aunts,
in their glittery dresses and their glossiest pants,
laughing and dancing in houses and halls,
in funny hats prancing as at a grand ball;

some drinking, perhaps a bit more than they should,
but taking a taxi and trying to be good;
determined in turning from all thought of sorrow
to make from their yearning a happier tomorrow.

Well, up in God’s heaven the angels looked down,
and God could detect on their faces a frown.
“What’s the matter?” God asked, out of kindly concern.
“I am hearing you chatter, and why your downturn?”

“It’s their problem with time,” said one, after some thought.
“Your children seem to feel time’s an enemy plot!
For instance, they’re making those famed resolutions
of things to try changing: some problems’ solutions,

“and things they would like, this year, to be better;
like a smaller waist size, and to fit smaller sweaters.
Some have higher hopes than just improving their look:
dreams with wide scope, like writing a book

“or taking a trip to some exotic new place;
remaking their home with new colour and space.
And it’s all very well that they’re hatching these plans,
for they’re aware that they dwell in mortality’s land.

“For them, time’s a challenge; too often, it’s feared;
an enemy, a dilemma, a mystery unclear.
And so they have made this rather frenzied occasion
to mark one year’s fade, and the next one’s invasion.

“But underneath,” said the angel, “beneath all the gladness,
we believe we detect a few notes of sadness,
as if the calendar’s page that they now have to toss
is some kind of stage in an ongoing loss.”

“I think you are right,” said God in reply.
“Too many people greet the days with a sigh.
For some, days are quick, the time fast to go.
yet for some, if they’re sick, it’s too long, too slow.

“For some, time’s so short the years flash out of sight.
For others, days drag, and the dark, lonely nights.
For those in distress time’s a burden to bear;
but for those at their best, it’s a gift they can share.

“Yes!” said the angel, “that’s how you meant it,
when to the young world the first light you lent it.
‘Twas you, God, separating the dark and the light,
who created time, making the day and the night.

“And you kept to that rhythm as the world was warmed:
one day at a time was how everything formed!”
God nodded, agreeing: “Life progresses in stages,
ever in my keeping through eons and ages;

“and that’s how my people should look at time too:
one day at a time is the steadiest view.
For I am God-with-them each night and each day,
around them, within them; their companion, I stay.

“Time’s my creation, where with them I dwell;
and for the whole world I will make all things well.
Yet I know they grow weary for a new world to come;
I know their tears, hearing them cry out, ‘How long?’

“The first followers of Jesus were exactly that way,
begging to know when he’d bring the new day
that would end all oppression, mend the world of its sin.
Surely no more digression — when would that day begin?

“I know it’s not easy for humans to be patient.
But I am still active, my love’s not complacent.
As the world at the start was not instantly complete,
so my goals for all hearts may take time to meet.

“But as they hold hope for a more peaceful earth,
as they pray, work and strive to bring justice to birth,
I, with them in their caring, am countering hate:
I, with them, also bearing the long patient wait.

“So here’s another thing my children should recall:
that time comes for summer, and time comes for fall;
the season for reaping follows that which is sown;
there’s time for stones’ keeping, or a time they are thrown.

“Time means things happen like decay in the wood;
but time also means the chance comes to do good.
Time means: look not just at that which is frayed,
but see also in trust when repair can be made.

“In other words, the truth is that people must choose
the way they will fill up each moment they use.
Will they be helpful, and gentle, and kind;
or will they be hateful and bitter of mind?

“Will people choose justice; compassion, not greed?
Or will they be selfish, ignore others’ needs?
Each hour and each day of the time they’ve been given,
will they choose love’s way, the way of Jesus and heaven?

“For, each evening’s sunset, each morning’s sunrise,
each touch of beauty as light kisses the eyes,
each breath that is breathed, each hand’s loving lift
— each day that’s received — is God’s precious gift.”

The angels grew quiet as they pondered God’s words.
From around the wide earth the usual sounds could be heard.
They could see stress and worry in many folks’ faces,
and much frantic hurry in most of earth’s places.

How they longed for the world to experience God’s peace,
that it might be shared, among all and to each.
And especially, at the dawn of the calendar year
they hoped would be gone much of sadness and fear.

“So it’s about what they choose every day,” they sighed.
“Praise God, that God is with them to help them decide!
And may they from God’s table of love shared, divine,
spread joy, as they’re able, one thankful day at a time.”

(Yes, God is with us, beloved,
and ever will be.
Therefore: “Happy New Year”, many blessings
to all of you, and to me.)

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +23, Yr. C 2019)

WHAT RISES FROM THE WRECKAGE
(Luke 21: 5-19, Isaiah 65: 17-25)

It is the Empire that attacks
the walls that support the spirit.
The Empire of greed. Of domination. Of selfishness.
The Empire of scorn
for those of justice who condemn it.
The Empire of contempt
for those of mercy who resist it.
The Empire of hate
for those of love who oppose it.
The Empire that tries to convince us that
there is no possible alternative,
that all resistance is futile,
that its power lasts forever and ever,

as it pulls the stones it hates from the walls of hope,
wields its iron rage against the buttresses of truth,
hammers at the foundations of love.

But see what the eyes of Christ, looking beyond, can see:
what rises from the wreckage of pulled-down stones:
see the faith that will not be forsaken,
truth that will not be abandoned,
see the love that will not be broken,
and the hope that endures like One who has overcome
the Empire of injustice and death.

See the cracks already forming
in the Empire’s own walls.
See a new earth, that is God’s realm, arise.

Copyright ©2019 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Epiphany 3, Yr A)

WHY YOU LEAVE YOUR NETS AND FOLLOW
(Matthew 4: 12-23)

Because your hope for that kingdom
has teased the edge of your thoughts
the way waters tease the edge of the shore

because his words stir that hope
in the depths of your soul
the way wind stirs the waves of the sea

because you sense that his love
like a sea without bounds
is as large as the needs of the world

and because he’s called you by name
and the heart in you swims
toward that love, toward joy, toward home

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +25, Yr C)

ON DEATH AND RESURRECTION
(Luke 20: 27-38)

How shall we ask for explanation, for precision
when it is mystery opening into mystery
horizon opening to horizon
when it is silence dancing with shadow
a field holding secrets like snow

Shall we ask the river water of the sea to which it flows
the resting seed of the perfumed petal’s curl
shall we ask the whitened wood of the green leaf of springtime
the moonlit cloud of morning’s rising sun

Can understanding grasp that transcendent transformation
the clay of us breaking into blossom
the wings of us waking to the sky

What we have is the answer that Abraham heard
when he gave up trying to number the stars
what we have is the answer that Moses received
when he bowed before the bush that burned

And the answer will surface from a place deep within us
from the heart where hoping dwells in every beat
and the God of the living whose arms reach to hold us
speaks the answer, is the answer, and will be.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +7, Yr C)

THE DUST THAT CLINGS
(Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20)

Dust of a million miles of hurry,
dust of the wheels of a billion cars,
dust of the greed and the grasp and the worry,
dust of the age of unending exhaust,

dust of the pyramids, towers, cathedrals,
dust of the plowed and the killing fields,
dust of the sweat and the blood of the battles,
dust of the plastics, cosmetics, the pills,

dust of the hungry, dust of the thirsty,
dust of the cruel and the cruelly wronged,
dust of the grieving, the weeping, the weary,
dust of the run and the struggling on,

dust of the questions, dust of the mystery,
dust of the best and worst we’ve become,
dust of the ash of our anguished history,
dust of mortality’s beating drum —

shake off the grime of it, wrap it in rainbow;
shake off its hurting, heal it in light;
leave only hoping that helps us to let go
of all that would keep us from tasting new life.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +2, Yr C)

A PRAYER
(1 Kings 8: 22-23, 41-43, Luke 7: 1-10)

Come through the doors of our house, Lord.
Let us admit you whether we feel
        worthy or unworthy,
             holy or sinful,
                 faithful or wavering.
Come through the doors of our house just the same.

Come to the house of our hearts, Lord,
        our searching hearts, our contented hearts,
             our caring, giving, loving hearts,
                  our needy, angry, anxious hearts,
come to the house of our hearts in joy or pain.

Come to the house of our days, Lord,
        our happy days, our hurting days,
             our bitter days, our bright days,
                  our struggling, sorrowing, sad days,
come to the house of our days in sun or in rain.

Come to the house of our world, Lord,
        our wondrous world, our wounded world,
             our teeming world, our tortured world,
                  our singing, shouting, crying world,
come to the house of our world, and let us be changed.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Easter 6, Yr C)

HOW TO NOT LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED
(John 14: 23-29)

First you make a small opening just above your heart
and then, with great delicacy, withdraw a small part

and hold it to the light for inspection. Are you dismayed
to observe its frailty, its flaws? Just now it made

a sound like the indrawn breath of a child right before
it cries, in that moment it discovers that the more

of the world you come to know, the more frightening
it becomes. And not just fear, but guilt, harsh as lightning,

worry, grief, regret – all add their aching; you want
to hold your heart tighter in its trouble, but can’t

with tighter grip calm down the trembling. Yet just when
you might despair, you recall Christ’s promise once again

that God’s Spirit is with you here, and that Christ’s peace
is yours to claim. It is there like two more hands, each

more gentle than your own, holding your heart with you;
comfort and strength unfold their flower, courage too,

and you feel your anxiety unravel at last.
In the warm embrace of Christ’s love, letting the past

be past, mindful of the present moment alone,
you rest your peace-filled heart in a safe place. You’re home.

Copyright ©2016 by Andrew King