Like an Angel

Speak to me like an angel, Jesus.

If it were me and not the Rock,
not the fearless Sons of Thunder,
I do not think I would have seen the cloud
that in its brightness overshadowed them.

Speak to me like an angel, Jesus.

For me, I think your radiant form
and figures suddenly at hand
would be enough to seal my eyes,
collapse my knees into the dust.

Speak to me like an angel, Jesus.

I might, in fact, have stuffed my clothes
into my ears lest I, lest we, should hear
of things beyond our understanding
said by you or Moses or Elijah.

Speak to me like an angel, Jesus.

That would have offered to
the Voice Divine a challenge!
“Listen to him!” bellowed into my
cloth-swaddled ears.

Speak to me like an angel, Jesus.

Gently lay your fingers on my shoulder.
Brush your fingertips along the seam.
As my grip loosens, lean and whisper,
softly: “Do not be afraid.”

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 17:1-9, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year A, Transfiguration Sunday.

The image is a study of Saint Andrew and another apostle for The Transfiguration by Raffaello Sangio – http://www.topofart.com/artists/Raffaello_Sanzio_Raphael/painting/11317/St.Andrew_and_Another_Apostle_in’The_Transfiguration’.php, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23549876.

Cracked and Worn

I didn’t want a divorce
but I got one, Jesus.
A broken relationship
handed to a judge.
No prison, but
I’ve never been released.

So many gifts I’ve laid
before your altar
never certain whether
there was someone I had hurt.
But no, I lie. There was always
someone whether I knew or not.

To reconcile, though – ah, there’s
the rub. For now I’ll ask
“On whose terms, precisely, Jesus?
I have my injuries, my hurts.
Who’ll make their peace with me?
Who’ll listen to my terms?”

Don’t say it, Jesus. I know
just what you’ll say to such
a question; you’ve no need
to say, “My terms.”
Oh, go ahead. I’ll wait. Just
say it… Oh. You did.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 5:21-37, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year A, Sixth Sunday after Epiphany.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Smoke-Choked Basket

Don’t look this way, Jesus, please.
If you’re looking for light, excuse me.

I’m only gasping underneath this
smoke-choked basket here because…

I’m not certain how much glow You’d get
even if you lift the basket.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 5:13-20, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year A, Fifth Sunday after Epiphany.

The image is “Light Under a Basket,” a 1532 Bible illustration by the Italian Petrarca Master; Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4006971.

Mine?

You can stop right there, Jesus,
after beatitude/blessing/makarios
(Hey! I can pray in Greek!)
the first. You know as well as I
the poverty of my spirit.

No mustard seeds to see,
no pearls beyond appraisal,
no fields a-hundred-fold
to view for you. Just sighs
and bluster nearly equal there.

So you might want to think again
about this notion you would make
the realm of heaven mine. I can’t
conceive of an idea much worse
despite the virtues of the thinker.

For you to give the realm of God
to me is just as ludicrous
as if you gave the keys of heaven
to a fisherman named, “Rock.”

Oh. That’s right. You did.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 5:1-12, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year A, Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.

Photo is of a monument at Our Lady of Peace Shrine, Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. Photo by Chris Light – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53688733.

Whom Shall I Fear?

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
– Psalm 27:1a

Well, God, how about I make a list?

  • Zealots with guns.
  • Leaders of nations unrestrained by law, compassion, or mercy.
  • A changing climate.
  • Greedy self-interest unrestrained by regard for neighbor.
  • Greedy self-interest empowered by injustice.
  • Greedy self-interest.
  • “We can win this nuclear war.”
  • I’m OK with heights, but please don’t drop me into the depths.
  • Greedy self-interest.
  • An asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
  • A plugged snorkel tube.
  • Routinized injustice.
  • And… Greedy self-interest, including my own.

With so many and so much to fear –
including the greed of my own heart –
let me take courage in your light.
May I find strength in your salvation.

Do not cast me off,
do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!

Psalm 27:9c

A poem/prayer based on Psalm 27:1, 4-9, the Revised Common Lectionary Psalm reading for Year A, Third Sunday after Epiphany.

“Earthrise” photo by NASA/Bill Anders – http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/a410/AS8-14-2383HR.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=306267.

You Want to Know Where I'm Staying?

Well, no. I don’t.
Well actually I do. Because it’s heaven, right?
But no. Not now. It doesn’t really matter because
what I really want to know is:

Who you are.

He said to them, “Come and see.” (John 1:39a)

A poem/prayer based on John 1:29-42, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year A, Second Sunday after Epiphany.

The image is The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew by Caravaggio – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1734712.

It Begins

In the manger of Bethlehem, the infant sleeps.
On the Judean hillsides, the shepherds seek their flock.
Which of the parents dozes? The father?
The mother? Neither one? Both?
Love made flesh, power made weak,
Majesty made lowly, will soon awake in tears,
Seeking the warmth of skin and blood and milk.

Let that infant grow within our hearts.
Let that love take form within our purpose.
Let that mercy take shape in what we make.
Let that peace enfold those we embrace.
Let that grace shine forth just like that star:
Let the work of Christmas begin in me.
Let the work of Christmas begin in us.

A poem inspired in part by Luke 2 and in part by “The Work of Christmas” Howard Thurman. This poem was written for the Christmas Eve meditation of December 24, 2019, at Church of the Holy Cross UCC, Hilo, Hawai’i.

The image is The Birth of Christ (between 1570 and 1603) by Joos van Winghe – https://skd-online-collection.skd.museum/Details/Index/888833, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81597171.