What We’re Waiting For

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” – Matthew 11:2-3

The clarity that comes with voices in
the clouds soon fades. The vibrant colors of
the golden sun, the azure river, and
the argent billows in the air transmute
to foggy grey as time saps confidence.
So ask the question, John, as well you may:
“Are you the One? Or must we wait to see
One you proclaim as I once proclaimed you?”

With you I bend my ear to the reply:
Look well, stern messenger of God. The ones
who could not see now see. The ones who could
not hear now hear. The ones who, ill, had lost
community and home have been restored.
The poor are cheered to hear good news proclaimed.

And so we see, and so we hear, dear John
the Baptist (caught in Herod’s snares), that one
has come to claim anointing by the One,
and not to seize a throne, or start a war,
or set himself apart from us. He’s come
to heal. He’s come to preach. He’s come to bring
us freedom from the cradle to beyond
the grave – a life for you, dear John, and me.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 11:2-11, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, Third Sunday of Advent.

The image is John the Baptist Thrown into Prison from Le Mont Ste. Odile, Alsace, by © Jörgens.mi/wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31709349.

Inconvenient Baptism

“…they were baptized by [John] in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” – Matthew 3:6

Ah, baptist at the riverbank, I come
to seek the power of the cleansing touch
of water and of Spirit and of fire.
Anneal my harrowed soul. Your words have burned
their way into my heart and mind and I
do not forget. Who warned me, John? Well, you.
You with your party-breaking summons to
the realization – hardly new but strong
in its familiarity – that I
have not kept steadily the prophet’s road,
which is not straight, not even close, but winds
through thickets and through thorns like serpent’s teeth.

I wanted, baptist, to step quietly
into the muddy waters, duck my head
in quick and studied piety, then stand
and melt into my ordinary life
once more as surely as the water dried
upon my skin. The water I might thus
ignore, but not your harshly calling voice.
I shiver and I listen and I plan:
to learn and follow, learn and follow, learn
and follow Christ more faithfully today.

A poem/prayer based on Matthew 3:1-12, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, Second Sunday of Advent.

The image is Saint Jean baptisant sur les bords du Jourdain by Nicolas Poussin (ca. 1630) – Notice sur le site du Getty, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15387068.

Nothing Will Be…

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” – Luke 1:37

I am content with ordinary miracles:
the way my day speeds up and slows
as down or up my foot puts pressure on
the accelerator pedal.

I am content with ordinary miracles:
the way I skip from isle to isle,
sometimes a-soaring o’er the sea,
sometimes with figures on a screen.

I am content with ordinary miracles
compressing space and time, compressing this
small planet into yet a smaller sphere,
connecting over oceans, over time.

I am content with ordinary miracles
that God concerns God’s self with women’s lives,
in resolute rejection of self-centered males,
unlikely to embrace a Savior.

I am content with ordinary miracles
so like the one in which a woman played
her necessary part, to bear and raise and love
a child, a sage, a Savior.

I am content with ordinary miracles
that mean my vision of the future with
its frights and fears and failings is,
most likely, wrong.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 1:26-38, the Revised Common Lectionary Alternate Psalm Reading for Year B, Fourth Sunday of Advent.

Mosaic of the Annunciation from the Cathedral of San Marco, Venice, by unknown author – http://azbyka.ru/forum/blog.php?b=1579, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34067815.