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.

I Could Use a Star

Twinkle, twinkle…
Where’s my star, O God?
Where the heavenly beacon
guiding me across my unmapped life
to wonders and to glories?
Where, in all Your heavenly wonder,
is my star?

And perhaps God replies:

Look up, my child.
Look within. You can perceive it.
Seek and find.
My star for you has led you
to this place and time.
It has led you over sea and mountain.
Look, my child. Where your footsteps
run, that is where I led you.

And I reply:

Twinkle, twinkle…
Have I truly followed
this ephemeral guiding star
of Yours? Do not my footprints
wander more than stride?
And where, in all Your wonder,
is the Christ to worship?

And perhaps God laughs:

You wandered? Does that mean
you did not follow the guiding star?
The magi, after all,
first went to the wrong city.
Yet truly you, as they,
seek first awry. For you will find
the Christ is always with you:
always with you in your heart.


A poem/prayer based on Matthew 2:1-12, the Revised Common Lectionary Psalm reading for Year C, Epiphany.

The image is the Bethlehem Star that has adorned Church of the Holy Cross during the Advent and Christmas seasons for many years. Photo by Eric Anderson.

The Proud

IMG_3925 (1)I confess uncertainty, O God,
in coming to you with this ancient prayer
of Mary’s, scattering the proud.

I look upon this world and see
a glaring need for scattering the proud.
Perhaps a table turned or two.

Yes, scatter all the proud, O God,
as Mary saw, unless: one of
the proud you’d scatter would be me.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 1:45b-55, the Revised Common Lectionary Psalm reading for Year C, Advent 4.

The image is “Saint Jean Baptiste prêchant devant Hérode Antipas” by Pieter de Grebber.

Any More

JohnPreaching_Musee_de_Lille_P._F._de_Grebber

“Brood of vipers”? Now isn’t that a little harsh?
I only bite a little, and I hardly bark at all…
any more.

What shall I do to demonstrate
that I will neither bark nor bite
any more?

Give from my abundance? Sure,
I’ll give the coat away I don’t use
any more.

Don’t overcharge my creditors?
That’s easy! I don’t even bill my clients
any more.

Don’t line my pockets by abusing
my position? Easily done! So John, got
any more?

No? No more? You’re pretty gracious
for a prophet. I won’t fret about vipers
any more.

Now, Jesus, with his softer words,
he’d ask more. He’d say I’d know no safety
any more.

He’d say to leave my family, all
familiar things, and have no home
any more.

I guess that I won’t call you stern
and terrible, sweet Baptist,
any more.

Ah, John. We are alike, we two. We chose
to follow Jesus, and we are not the same
any more.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 3:7-18, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Advent 3.

The image is “Saint Jean Baptiste prêchant devant Hérode Antipas” by Pieter de Grebber.

The Way of Peace

IMG_4846What do I know
of a “way of peace,”
O God? I know
of competition,
games and grades,
measuring my salary
(comparing it with others’).

I know who wins.
I know who loses.

What do I know
of a “way of peace,”
O God? I know
of violence and power,
stern coercion,
strict adjudication
of all faults and crimes.

I know who wins.
I know who loses.

What do I know
of a “way of peace,”
O God? I know
poverty and wealth,
health and illness,
racism and sexism,
tear gas on the border.

I know who wins.
I know who loses.

What do I know
of a “way of peace,”
O God? I know
these many ways
of strife, and grief,
and harm, and death.
And one thing more, perhaps:

If everybody wins,
If not one person loses…

That is the way of peace.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 1:68-79, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Advent 2.

Photo of a Hilo sunrise by Eric Anderson

Besieged

IMG_4831

O would I have the courage, Holy One,
arrested and confined by order of
a king whose patience I have tried again,
again, again; awaiting Babylon’s
revenge against this king I criticize;
now scorned by the religious leadership
who prate of Your assured deliverance
when I have thundered of your certain wrath —

O would I have the courage, Holy One,
to do as Jeremiah, change my tune,
and speak of righteous branches ripening
beyond my straining sight, to speak of hope
while watching the fulfillment of my words
in armies, soldiers, fire, blood, and death.
O would I have the courage, Holy One,
to testify to hope within the gloom?

A poem/prayer based on Jeremiah 33:14-16, the Revised Common Lectionary Hebrew Bible reading for Year C, Advent 1.

Photo by Eric Anderson