Messiah’s Temptations

Cliff edge on Hawai’i Island

I’m hungry, but…
I know that I’ll find bread
a step or two away.

I’m arrogant, but…
I can’t be sure
I’ll rule the world
any better than Satan.

(Isn’t that a kick in the head?)

I’m courageous, but…
I’m hardly likely to
accept this gracious offer
for a heavenly bungie jump .

(At least not without a harness
and a springy cord.)

They may have tempted you, Messiah,
but they don’t do much for me.

So I guess I’ll live in gratitude
you could resist the miracle,
the earthly power, the heady taste
of Godliness – and give yourself to me.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 4:1-13, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, First Sunday in Lent.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Booths

It’s good to be here.
I know what to do.
A booth for Moses.
A booth for Elijah.

And Jesus, a booth for you.

We’ll know who’s who.
We’ll know who belongs.
We’ll know where you are.
We’ll know you’re confined.

See, Jesus, a booth for you.

Don’t worry, Moses.
Don’t worry, Elijah.
We’re the booth-makers, and
we’ll be the booth-gatekeepers.

Look, Jesus: we’ll keep them from you.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 9:28-43a, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Transfiguration Sunday.

Color-adjusted photo of Mauna Kea by Eric Anderson.

Except…

Oh, yes. I see. Yes, this could work.

You see us here, all level on the plain,
and You, Yourself, are standing right with us.
You stand no higher than the lowest one,
and You look up to none.

Imagination strains, for sure, to see a world
that looks like this imagined plain,
a world where no one stands upon my toes
and claws my shoulders to step on my head.

And yes, You’re right to tell us how this comes about:
Abandon hate, do good to those who harm, bless those
who offer curses, pray for those who concentrate their power.
For certain, any violence we offer them will fail.

Far, far a surer thing to shame them, Jesus, yes.
They think, they say, believe they’re in the right
to pay so little for a day of labor, make us choose
between a tank of gas and visiting a doctor.

They’re wrong, but in their sense of righteousness is this:
They have a sense of shame. When we refrain
from violence, they pause, at least, and think.
“Am I so clearly in the right?”

Yes, Jesus, this could work.
Except… It… Almost… Works.
Come, Savior.
Your people need Your love.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 6:27-38, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, 7th Sunday after the Epiphany.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

That’s a Laugh

Fumes still rise in Leilani Estates, Puna, Hawai’i.

Blessed are the poor, you say?
I turn to shroud my laughter.

Blessed are the hungry now? Indeed?
I pop a snack into my mouth to hide the grin.

Blessed are the weepers?
Sure. No doubt. Except for… not.

Blessed are the hated and reviled?
Then you, Humanity’s Child, are the most blessed of all.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 6:17-26, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, 6th Sunday after the Epiphany.

January 2019 photo taken in Leilani Estates by Eric Anderson.

Net Gain

I think he saw it coming: Simon Peter did.

I think the groaning nets, the slapping water,
the skittering fish, the creaking hull,
awoke his dazed awareness of the future,
of the streams of time.

No wonder he so quickly knelt and sought
to have You go away. To heal a mother-in-law:
that’s well and good. A lingering prophet, though,
demands a change of course.

Of course he saw it coming, Simon Peter did.

As fish strained hopelessly for their last watery breath,
he held his own as hopelessly he waited.
You knew, he knew, and Andrew, James, and John:
You’d caught the fisherman.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 5:1-11, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, 5th Sunday after the Epiphany.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Stop Reading My Mind, Jesus

No! I wasn’t thinking that! Get out of my head, Jesus!

“Physician, cure yourself”? No: I didn’t think that,
at least I didn’t if you judge quite narrowly.
I might have thought – just might, you know –
that here you are, enlisting me
to help redeem the world, and who, I want to know,
was left in charge, and left so great a mess!

No! I wasn’t thinking that! Get out of my head, Jesus!

“Do here the things you did in other places”? No,
or well, perhaps. OK, I thought it. There. So there.
But who would not consider such a question, when
the days build on from days, absent miracle,
filled with suffering, maladies, and pain.
So yes, I’d like to see the wonders others have.

No! I wasn’t thinking that! Get out of my head, Jesus!

I’ll honor you, for sure. My home town is not Nazareth,
so you are not the local wonder, raised from penury
to power. You are not one I’ve known for years,
a face familiar to me as the mirror’s gaze.
Except, of course, you are: Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
hamstrung for my comfort’s sake.

Stop reading my mind, Jesus, or I’ll bring you to the edge of my cliff.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 4:21-30, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, 4th Sunday after the Epiphany.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

In the Parking Lot

The rest can argue, argue, argue, God
(My God, how they can argue!)
about the preaching son of a carpenter,
about the son of Mary.

But I will not forget, my God,
the way he read the ancient words:
good news to those oppressed,
broken hearts restored,

the captives’ roar of freedom,
the prisoners released.
He spoke, and I heard him proclaim
the acceptable year of the living God.

Good news. Healing.
Freedom. Release.
Your acceptable year.
I will not forget.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 4:14-21, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany.

The image is “Jésus enseigne dans les synagogues” by James Tissot. Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2008, 00.159.81_PS2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10957358