Bless This House

“The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.” – Haggai 2:9

With Zerubbabel and with Joshua
imagination stands and weeps to see
the scattered blocks of stone once standing proud,
now scattered with the blackened ruined beams.

A few would then recall those stones erect,
those beams above, a roof embellished with
a gilded glow. No doubt they wept and wept
to see their memory cast down in ash.

Imagination, yes, but also I
have seen the ruined churches, heiau – razed
sometimes by accidental flames, sometimes
by hands’ deliberate destructive force.

I turn to Zerubbabel and I turn
to Joshua, and part of me, so up
to here with things to fix and clean and paint,
the bulbs and window glass and water spouts,

Cries out, “Do you not see how you are blessed
to have no structure to maintain, no house
exacting so much toil, so much gold,
demanding much more worship than our God?”

Then silently and softly, Haggai’s God
replies, “Take courage, child of mine, despite
the costs and worries, for these houses make
a home for those who join their hearts in prayer.

“These spirits seek a shelter from the blast
of circumstance and ill intent, and so
we raise these walls of stone and wood and glass
to make for souls a refuge and a home.”

A poem/prayer based on Haggai 1:15b-2:9, the Revised Common Lectionary First reading for Year C, Proper 27.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

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.

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.

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.

11,317 Days

Should I not be like the experienced
apostle, offering encouragement
to the uncertain youth? Should I not be
the one to bless the faithfulness that they
received from mother and from grandmother,
to summon them to bear the shame and cost?

Should I not be the one to suffer for
the gospel as a herald, teacher, and
apostle, bearing up despite the shame
of disregard, dismissal, and distress?
Should I not be the one to offer truth
in sound and faithful speech to one and all?

Yet after thirty years, eleven months,
and four and twenty days since hands were laid
upon me, prayers proclaimed, and I was raised,
now set apart, a minister of Christ,
my heart still skips a beat to think that God
has given power, love, self-discipline…

To me.

A poem/prayer based on 2 Timothy 1:1-14, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 22.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

At the Gate

Can God forgive what I will not repent?

“And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores…” – Luke 16:20

Silently hungry, silently suffering,
there at the gate.
Silently sick, silently homeless,
there at the gate.

They are the gates of nations.
They are the gates of cities.
They are the gates of families.
They are the gates of… me.

Silently hungry, silently suffering,
there at the gate.
Silently sick, silently homeless,
there at the gate.

Lay there, Lazarus, lay there.
Hold your silence. Hold your peace.
Hold your hunger. Hold your illness.
Hold your need. I…

I will hold my greed.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 16:19-31, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Proper 21.

The painting is the Parable of Lazarus by Fyodor Bronnikov, ca. 1886 – http://etnaa.mylivepage.ru/image/411/12132_ПритчаоЛазаре._1886.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9882122.