On a Limb

Hi, there, Zacchaeus, come down!

Who are you, Zacchaeus, you active tree-climber?
As a child you scamper up into the branches.
All eager you rattle the leaves with your grasping.
Will you be the last and the least to see Jesus? Oh, no!

Hi, there, Zacchaeus, come down!

Who are you, Zacchaeus, you chief tax collector?
We see through the leaves your elegant clothing.
The gleam of the gold even now catches sunlight.
What need has a wealthy man of this poor prophet?

Hi, there, Zacchaeus, come down!

Who are you, Zacchaeus, returned to ground panting?
A sinner reformed, or the one we misjudged?
Shall we read your salvation as urgent repentance
or sudden reunion with those who rejected you?

Hi, there, Zacchaeus, come down!

Who are you, Zacchaeus, mystery of ages?
Can I turn your lostness to my restoration?
Can I swing from branches and catch Jesus’ eye?
Will he call to me as to you on a limb?

Hi, there, Zacchaeus, come down!

A poem/prayer based on Luke 19:1-10, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 26.

The image is Zachée sur le sycomore attendant le passage de Jésus by James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2008, 00.159.189_PS2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10904526.

I Want to Close My Eyes

Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble?
– Habakkuk 1:3a

I will stand at my watchpost…
-Habakkuk 2:1a

It’s a station at a height, O Holy One.
From my watching post, I see far.
My eyes are aided by a global net
of eyes and ears and electronic tongues.

From my watching post, I see.

I see the separated children.
I see the freedom-seekers jailed.
I see the wealthy celebrating.
I see the wicked circle the righteous.

From my watching post, I see.

I want to close my eyes.
I want to stop my ears.
I want my skin to cease its clenching.
I want to taste no more of evil.

But judgment comes forth perverted,
And so I watch and weep.

A poem/prayer based on Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4, the Revised Common Lectionary First reading for Year C, Proper 26.

Self-portrait by Eric Anderson.

God, I Thank You

God, I thank you
I am not like those
who pray loud prayers in public,
proudly propping up their piety.

Oh. Er. Um.

God, I thank you
I am not like those
who so embrace their righteousness
they loudly judge the evils of the world.

Oh. Er. Um.

God, I thank you
I am not like those
who so approve their faithfulness
they leave no room for… you.

Oh. Er. Um.

God, I thank you
I am not like those
who so applaud their godliness
they ask no grace from you.

Oh. Er. Um.

Oh. Er. Um.

God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 18:9-14, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 25.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Grant to Her

She just wants a home without gunfire.
She just wants a home without force.
She just wants a home without war at the door.
She just wants a home without war beneath the roof…

Grant to her justice, O God.
Grant to her justice
with the speed of the unjust judge.
Grant to her justice, O God,
for she waits.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 18:1-8, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 24.

The image is a section of a 19th century composition “The Parable of the Unjust Judge” found in the Palace of Facets, Moscow. Public Domain.

Grace Greatness

Ocean and shoreline.

Damn you for your folly.
Damn you for your arrogance.
Damn you for your violence.
Damn you for your pride.

You strut and march and shout
and call it greatness.
You harm and maim and kill
and call it greatness.

You entertain the wealthy,
set aside the sick,
refuse the refugee,
and call it greatness.

While I have known a woman
in whose presence every soul
received a lift. Every soul
was lightened by her gift.

Of greatness you know nothing,
and so you damn yourself.
Of greatness you know nothing,
and so you damn us all.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

No Guilt

I feel no guilt, Redeemer, that I took
You at Your word, and took myself to see
the priests, to show Your manifested grace.
You spoke. I did. We did. Except for one.

I feel no guilt, Redeemer, that I ran
to show the priests the signs that would redeem
me to my home, my family, my life.
You spoke. I ran. We ran. Except for one.

I feel no guilt, Redeemer, that I chose
to follow what You said entirely to
the letter. Go. And show. And return home.
You spoke. I went. We went. Except for one.

I feel no guilt, Redeemer, for my acts,
but in my heart burns my regret I missed
the approbation of Your loving smile.
I went. I missed. We missed… except for one.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 17:11-19, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 23.

Image is by an unknown artist – Codex Aureus Epternacensis (ca. 1035-1040), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8480209.

Real Problem

At one time or another,
or many times, in fact,
the ones who serve as pastors
cry, beset with too much evidence
of human triviality,

“Oh, get yourself a real problem!”

And then, we gaze upon the weary brow,
the face so thinned by illness that
we didn’t recognize the sufferer,
and pray, with all our heart,
for triviality.

Photo by Eric Anderson.