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,

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

Holy Week 2019: Thursday

Mosaic of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice

I’m sorry, guys, I’m not in the mood.
For a solemn celebration
I’ve got solemn down, for sure.
Celebration: not so much.

The liberation gained in ancient days
is wonderful. The trials, though,
of my own present day,
have just begun.

You can call me “Debbie Downer”
if you like. It’s fine.
If you knew what I know, well:
how about I share?

But when I share, you don’t believe,
as “It is I?” transforms to “Never me!”
As if it took a prophet’s insight
to unveil your fears.

Can we do this, just this, tonight?
Can I confess my love for you
and you, for once, accept it?
Can you confess your love for me?

Perhaps you can’t. At least
with cleaner feet you’ll sleep
while I am praying:
on cleaner feet you’ll run.

The image is a mosaic in Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice, by Unknown – Web Gallery of Art, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15611336

Holy Week 2019: Wednesday

Judas in a detail from William Blake’s The Last Supper

Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” – John 13:27 NRSV

Take some bread. I’ve dipped it for you.
Take some soul. I’ve offered it to you.

Take some hope. I’ll give you all I have.
Take some wine. I’ll pour it out.

But no, you want my life.
Take my life, then. I’ve given it for you.

Do quickly what you are going to do.

The image is a detail from William Blake’s The Last Supper (1799) – The William Blake Archive, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33553430