Any More

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“Brood of vipers”? Now isn’t that a little harsh?
I only bite a little, and I hardly bark at all…
any more.

What shall I do to demonstrate
that I will neither bark nor bite
any more?

Give from my abundance? Sure,
I’ll give the coat away I don’t use
any more.

Don’t overcharge my creditors?
That’s easy! I don’t even bill my clients
any more.

Don’t line my pockets by abusing
my position? Easily done! So John, got
any more?

No? No more? You’re pretty gracious
for a prophet. I won’t fret about vipers
any more.

Now, Jesus, with his softer words,
he’d ask more. He’d say I’d know no safety
any more.

He’d say to leave my family, all
familiar things, and have no home
any more.

I guess that I won’t call you stern
and terrible, sweet Baptist,
any more.

Ah, John. We are alike, we two. We chose
to follow Jesus, and we are not the same
any more.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 3:7-18, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Advent 3.

The image is “Saint Jean Baptiste prêchant devant Hérode Antipas” by Pieter de Grebber.

The Way of Peace

IMG_4846What do I know
of a “way of peace,”
O God? I know
of competition,
games and grades,
measuring my salary
(comparing it with others’).

I know who wins.
I know who loses.

What do I know
of a “way of peace,”
O God? I know
of violence and power,
stern coercion,
strict adjudication
of all faults and crimes.

I know who wins.
I know who loses.

What do I know
of a “way of peace,”
O God? I know
poverty and wealth,
health and illness,
racism and sexism,
tear gas on the border.

I know who wins.
I know who loses.

What do I know
of a “way of peace,”
O God? I know
these many ways
of strife, and grief,
and harm, and death.
And one thing more, perhaps:

If everybody wins,
If not one person loses…

That is the way of peace.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 1:68-79, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Advent 2.

Photo of a Hilo sunrise by Eric Anderson

Besieged

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O would I have the courage, Holy One,
arrested and confined by order of
a king whose patience I have tried again,
again, again; awaiting Babylon’s
revenge against this king I criticize;
now scorned by the religious leadership
who prate of Your assured deliverance
when I have thundered of your certain wrath —

O would I have the courage, Holy One,
to do as Jeremiah, change my tune,
and speak of righteous branches ripening
beyond my straining sight, to speak of hope
while watching the fulfillment of my words
in armies, soldiers, fire, blood, and death.
O would I have the courage, Holy One,
to testify to hope within the gloom?

A poem/prayer based on Jeremiah 33:14-16, the Revised Common Lectionary Hebrew Bible reading for Year C, Advent 1.

Photo by Eric Anderson

What is Truth?

DSC_0238If You should say,
“I come to testify
and tell you what is true,”

And were I to say
just, “What is truth?”
and walk away,

I would know
nothing more of truth
than I had before.

So why, O Lord
of truth, do I do
exactly that?

A poem/prayer based on John 18:33-38a, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading (though it actually stops at verse 37) for Year B, Reign of Christ Sunday.

Photo by Eric Anderson

 

[Placeholder] for Thanks

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If I were to thank you, God,
(I guess I should)
I’d be specific.
“Thank you for [this].”
“Thank you for [that].”
“Thank you for [this other thing].”

Like that.
Explicit.
Clear.
“Thank you for [my stuff].”
“Thank you for [my life].”
“Thank you for [my loves].”

If I were to thank you, God,
specifically,
as I guess I should:
“Thank you for [joy].”
“Thank you for [rescue].”
“Thank you for [success].”

Just wait, O God,
and I’ll sum up my blessings
(your blessings, come to think of it):
“Thank you for [today’s sunrise].”
“Thank you for [today’s lunch].”
“Thank you for [last night’s rest].”

Specific. Clear. Deliberate. And…
All about me, isn’t it?
Where are others’ joys?
“Thank you for knowledge.”
“Thank you for strength.”
“Thank you for food.”

More general, for sure,
but Hannah raised the thanks
of all creation with her own:
“Thank you for children.”
“Thank you for life.”
“Thank you for justice.”

And since I thank you, God
(as well I should),
I thank you for…


all.

A poem/prayer based on 1 Samuel 2:1-10, the Revised Common Lectionary Hebrew Bible reading for Year B, Proper 28.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

As We Embrace Destruction

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Holy One, God of life,
as we your living images
embrace destruction,
worshiping the tools
of death, counting cartridges
and corpses…

Please do not leave us to
our tragic, evil ways.
Embrace the fallen, comfort the grieving,
and wash away our willful sin
with Your angry tears.

Amen.

A prayer in sorrow for those killed at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, on November 8, 2018.

I Don’t Want to Light Another Candle

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I wrote this song in October 2017 after fifty-nine people died, slain by a lone gunman in Las Vegas. Interfaith Communities in Action sponsored a prayer service at Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo. We read every name. We lit a candle for every life taken.

Just last week we held a similar service, remembering eleven killed at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And today, twelve have died in Thousand Oaks, California.

I don’t want to light another candle.

I Don’t Want to Light Another Candle

I don’t want to light another candle.
I don’t want to spark another flame.
I don’t want to curse the crushing darkness
remembering another body slain.

[Chorus]
For the world is all aglow with candles
as bright as the noonday sun appears,
and we can see the swelling of the ocean
overflowing with the rivers of our tears.

I don’t want to light another candle.
I don’t want to read another name.
I don’t want to shout into the halls
of magnificence and power,
“Why must it always be the same?”

[Chorus]

I don’t want to light another candle.
I tell that my grieving days are done.
I don’t want to count the dead and injured
when the number that’s too high…
is one.

[Chorus]

Let me look up and see
God’s rainbow sailing through the sky:
a promise made of rain and sunshine
that all will be well by and by,
all will be well by and by.
Oh, God, may all be well…
by and by.

Copyright © 2017 by Eric Anderson