Yours

Amos

“King’s sanctuary,” Amaziah said:
“A temple of the kingdom.”

“I am no prophet,” Amos returned.
“I am a herdsman, summoned to speak.”

Which is to say, O Blessed One:
“I am Yours. This place is Yours.

“This house is Yours. This voice is Yours.
Temple, sanctuary: these are Yours.”

And I, even I, for what it’s worth:
I, too, am Yours.

A poem/prayer based on Amos 7:7-17, the Revised Common Lectionary alternate first reading for Year C, Proper 10.

The image is a depiction of the prophet Amos in an 18th century Russian Orthodox icon, found in the Kizhi Monastery. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3232602

Wisdom’s Call

“Gate of Wisdom” by sculptor Ju Ming, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“From the heights I call; will you listen? No?
Beside the road I call; will you listen? No?

“By the crossroad I call; will you listen? No?
Beside the gate I call; will you listen? No?

“Then at the entrance to the portals I cry out:
‘Be wise! Learn! Love righteousness! Grow!’

“Will you listen?

“No?”

Though she should delight
in God’s inhabited world:

Wisdom weeps.

A poem/prayer based on Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Trinity Sunday.

Photo of “Gate of Wisdom” by Chong Fat – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5193511.

Open Gates

The “New Gate” in Jerusalem, ca. 1900-1920

Its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there.
– Revelation to John 21:25, NRSV

Go figure. I was wrong.
I always imagined, yawning wide,
the gates of hell, while heaven’s gates
admitted just a few.

But shuttered gates are not
an attribute of paradise.

A poem/prayer based on Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5, the Revised Common Lectionary second reading for Year C, Sixth Sunday of Easter.

Photo of the New Gate in Jerusalem taken between 1900 and 1920 by G. Eric and Edith Matson, part of the Matson Collection at the Library of Congress. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=464832.

Send Another, Please

I am perfectly content
to rest pious
in my righteousness.

I am perfectly content
to pray scathingly
for all those unwashed “them.”

I am perfectly content
to draw the narrow line
between the I and thou.

I am perfectly content
to forgive my little stumbles
and condemn everyone else’s.

I am perfectly content:
so don’t send me,
you troublesome Spirit.

I am perfectly content:
until, of course, you shatter
my complacency.

Dammit.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 11:1-18, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Fifth Sunday of Easter.

Image is Peter’s Vision by an unknown artist, found in The Story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation by Charles Foster, published 1873. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59771251

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The Raising of Tabitha

Oh, what if they’d called me?

They sent for you, dear Simon,
Cephas, Petros: You’re the Rock.
They sent for you, dear Simon,
when their dear Tabitha had died.

Oh, what if they’d called me?

My heart would have been pounding in
my chest so loud the village could
have heard. Why send them all
away (except to miss my failure)?

Oh, what if they’d called me?

A prayer. A tender summons: “Tabitha,
get up!” That heart whose love so
overflowed is beating even louder
than my own. Look, she lives!

Oh, what if they’d called me?

Did you feel you were holding Jesus’ place?
Did you ache for the Master’s steady poise?
Did your heart falter before hers revived?
How did you dare to call her name?

Oh, what if they’d called me?

A poem/prayer based on Acts 9:36-43, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Fourth Sunday of Easter.

The image is the raising of Tabitha in the Cappella Palatina in Palermo, Italy, a 12th century mosaic. Photo by Rmsrga – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31666134.

Tumbled

The Conversion of Saint Paul by Caravaggio

Strike me down, Jesus.
Strike me from my certainty.
Strike me from my patriarchy.
Strike me from my privilege.

Strike me down.

Strike me down, Jesus.
Strike me from my violence.
Strike me from my power.
Strike me from my rectitude.

Strike me down.

In the dust of the road,
With my eyes full of tears,
With my pride in its ashes:
Demand justice of me.

Strike me down.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 9:1-20, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Third Sunday of Easter.

The image is Conversione de San Paulo by Caravaggio,
Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. Photo by Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44143233.

I Know Where I Stand

The Arrest of Saint Peter

When the council summoned Peter and the twelve,
when the elders and the priests reviewed their crimes,
I know that I was there.
O Jesus, I was there.

When authority demanded explanation,
why apostles disregarded their commands,
I know that I was there.
O Jesus, I was there.

When the fisherman replied, “We must obey.
We must obey the words of God, not your demands,”
I know that I was there.
O Jesus, I was there.

I know that I was there among the elders,
an authority and leader in the land.
I know that I was there.
O Jesus, I was there.

So now I listen closely to my own words
and the the words of prophets You have called.
I know that I am here.
O Jesus, I am here.

I listen for a heavenly defiance,
for questions of an evil status quo.
I know that I am here.
O Jesus, I am here.

Pray guide me, Holy Spirit, in discerning.
Bring wisdom to my seeking for Your will.
I know that I am here.
O Jesus, I am here.

I know that I am here.
Yes, Jesus, I am here.

A poem/prayer based on Acts 5:27-32, the Revised Common Lectionary first reading for Year C, Second Sunday of Easter.

Photo by Dick Stracke – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31956813.

From the Wikimedia Commons description of the photo: “The Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus (ca. 330-335, Palazzo Massimo, Rome): Detail, The Arrest of Peter. Peter is taken away by two soldiers in pillbox hats. On the left, the person pointing to Peter is most likely Herod, who orders his arrest in Acts 12. Or possibly the rolled-up scroll in his hands signifies that he is the high priest who orders all the apostles imprisoned in Acts 5.”

In Shadow

In shadow I approach you, Lord.
Though other times, I would embrace the light
this morning I will seek the dark
avoiding watching hostile eyes.

An alleyway for shelter, then
moon shadow of an overhanging roof.
Step slowly, lest a watcher spot
the motion of my furtive form.

I make this journey into shadow, Lord,
as you embraced the darkness not three days
ago, and gasped that it was finished
to the broken beating of my heart.

And now, one shadow still remains,
a deeper blanker blackness that
should not be there. My heartbeat
hammers in my throat to see

an open tomb.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:1-18, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Easter Sunday.

Photo of the lunar eclipse of January 31, 2018, by Eric Anderson.

No Palms?

“Luke! You forgot the palms!”

That’s not the shout of “preacher in a panic,” that.
Nor is it Jesus’ commentary on a new disciple who,
all eager, failed to strip the palm tree
of its fronds to deck the road for his approach.

I might imagine, though, the sad and smiling faces
of the other gospel writers who, whatever else
they may have written right or wrong, included palms
upon the road up to the city’s gate.

At least there’s clothes and cloaks to lay beneath the feet
of this strange-sought, strange-borrowed colt,
who probably could do without the noise
and would prefer the eat the absent fronds.

No, Luke, the colt does not awaken my concern,
nor do I worry that its burden misses leaf and branch.
Instead, imagination balks to think
of waving clothes, not palms, upon this Sunday morn.

Oh, yes. Imagination balks.

We’ll wave our palms, dear Luke, not clothes.
But really: how could you forget the palms?

A poem/prayer based on Luke 19:28-40 the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Sixth Sunday in Lent. In Luke’s account of Palm Sunday, he does not mention any palms.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

But Now…

I’ve never worried before, O God,
about the younger son’s repentance.
I’ve always gratefully assumed
he walked the roads of sackcloth
and of ashes. What a shock
his father’s welcome must have been!

But now… I wonder.

Was he another twister of the truth?
Was he another one who turns the world
around his little finger? Did Narcissus blush
with shame at his temerity, his lies?
And did the pounding of his heart betray
his gratitude or hidden glee?

And now… I wonder.

In that Great Somewhere, do you wait for me?
Do you wonder when I’ll lay aside deceit –
delusion sweet for me, unwitting lie to you –
and truly bring my starving soul back home?
Does the pounding of my heart betray
my gratitude or deeply hidden lies?

Yes now… I wonder.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 15:1-3, 11b- 32, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Fourth Sunday in Lent.

Photo by Eric Anderson.