Send Another, Please

I am perfectly content
to rest pious
in my righteousness.

I am perfectly content
to pray scathingly
for all those unwashed “them.”

I am perfectly content
to draw the narrow line
between the I and thou.

I am perfectly content
to forgive my little stumbles
and condemn everyone else’s.

I am perfectly content:
so don’t send me,
you troublesome Spirit.

I am perfectly content:
until, of course, you shatter
my complacency.

Dammit.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 11:1-18, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Fifth Sunday of Easter.

Image is Peter’s Vision by an unknown artist, found in The Story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation by Charles Foster, published 1873. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59771251

[Placeholder]

The Raising of Tabitha

Oh, what if they’d called me?

They sent for you, dear Simon,
Cephas, Petros: You’re the Rock.
They sent for you, dear Simon,
when their dear Tabitha had died.

Oh, what if they’d called me?

My heart would have been pounding in
my chest so loud the village could
have heard. Why send them all
away (except to miss my failure)?

Oh, what if they’d called me?

A prayer. A tender summons: “Tabitha,
get up!” That heart whose love so
overflowed is beating even louder
than my own. Look, she lives!

Oh, what if they’d called me?

Did you feel you were holding Jesus’ place?
Did you ache for the Master’s steady poise?
Did your heart falter before hers revived?
How did you dare to call her name?

Oh, what if they’d called me?

A poem/prayer based on Acts 9:36-43, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Fourth Sunday of Easter.

The image is the raising of Tabitha in the Cappella Palatina in Palermo, Italy, a 12th century mosaic. Photo by Rmsrga – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31666134.

Tumbled

The Conversion of Saint Paul by Caravaggio

Strike me down, Jesus.
Strike me from my certainty.
Strike me from my patriarchy.
Strike me from my privilege.

Strike me down.

Strike me down, Jesus.
Strike me from my violence.
Strike me from my power.
Strike me from my rectitude.

Strike me down.

In the dust of the road,
With my eyes full of tears,
With my pride in its ashes:
Demand justice of me.

Strike me down.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 9:1-20, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Third Sunday of Easter.

The image is Conversione de San Paulo by Caravaggio,
Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. Photo by Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44143233.

I Know Where I Stand

The Arrest of Saint Peter

When the council summoned Peter and the twelve,
when the elders and the priests reviewed their crimes,
I know that I was there.
O Jesus, I was there.

When authority demanded explanation,
why apostles disregarded their commands,
I know that I was there.
O Jesus, I was there.

When the fisherman replied, “We must obey.
We must obey the words of God, not your demands,”
I know that I was there.
O Jesus, I was there.

I know that I was there among the elders,
an authority and leader in the land.
I know that I was there.
O Jesus, I was there.

So now I listen closely to my own words
and the the words of prophets You have called.
I know that I am here.
O Jesus, I am here.

I listen for a heavenly defiance,
for questions of an evil status quo.
I know that I am here.
O Jesus, I am here.

Pray guide me, Holy Spirit, in discerning.
Bring wisdom to my seeking for Your will.
I know that I am here.
O Jesus, I am here.

I know that I am here.
Yes, Jesus, I am here.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 5:27-32, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Second Sunday of Easter.

Photo by Dick Stracke – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31956813.

From the Wikimedia Commons description of the photo: “The Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus (ca. 330-335, Palazzo Massimo, Rome): Detail, The Arrest of Peter. Peter is taken away by two soldiers in pillbox hats. On the left, the person pointing to Peter is most likely Herod, who orders his arrest in Acts 12. Or possibly the rolled-up scroll in his hands signifies that he is the high priest who orders all the apostles imprisoned in Acts 5.”

In Shadow

In shadow I approach you, Lord.
Though other times, I would embrace the light
this morning I will seek the dark
avoiding watching hostile eyes.

An alleyway for shelter, then
moon shadow of an overhanging roof.
Step slowly, lest a watcher spot
the motion of my furtive form.

I make this journey into shadow, Lord,
as you embraced the darkness not three days
ago, and gasped that it was finished
to the broken beating of my heart.

And now, one shadow still remains,
a deeper blanker blackness that
should not be there. My heartbeat
hammers in my throat to see

an open tomb.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:1-18, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Easter Sunday.

Photo of the lunar eclipse of January 31, 2018, by Eric Anderson.

Holy Week 2019: Saturday

Tossed aside.

I’ve been used so many times,
endured the burden
of enduring agony.

Now my grain is cracked,
my edges splintering.
I cannot grasp a nail.

Tossed aside.

If I had sap to weep
I’d weep. Instead, the blood
congeals in jagged rust.

I’m not alone. The man
whose life I finished last
now lies nearby:

Tossed aside.

His brow no longer bleeds.
My sap no longer flows.
We wait alone together.

We wait a day that I can bloom.
We wait a day that he can run.
We wait a day we are no longer

Tossed aside.

Photo of ‘ohia lehua by Eric Anderson.

Holy Week 2019: Good Friday

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
– Isaiah 53:7-8a

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
– Luke 23:34

Silence, Jesus? Excuses, Jesus?
In truth, I want a louder Savior.
I want a firebrand, I want a chief.
I want a voice that echoes from the hills.

I do not want excuses.
I do not want a suffering servant
satisfied with our perverted justice,
consenting with your silence.

For heaven’s sake, shake the heavens!
For earth’s sake, rattle the earth!
For the oppressed’s sake, break the bonds!
For humanity’s sake, do something!

Don’t – don’t – make excuses.
Not for them. Not for us.
Not even – dare I say it?
Don’t make excuses for me.

I do not need excusing, Jesus.
No, I need forgiving.
Excuses will not change the world:
Repentance and forgiveness might.

Suffering Savior, keep your silence:
but do not keep your peace.
We who witness your great love
weep for your peace.

Photo by Eric Anderson