Another World

“If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting…” – John 18:36b

O Lord, a disingenuous remark, perhaps?
There was some fighting in the garden when
you were arrested, yes? When Malchus lost
an ear, which you restored with just a touch.

It’s funny how nobody mentioned that
before the Roman governor. It’s like
the movie. “They cut off my ear!” “Your ear?
Your ear is fine.” “Well. It got better.”

In the best taste? Well, no, perhaps. You told
your old friend Peter to re-sheathe his sword,
then he and they decamped while you
were taken to the priests and then to Pilate.

Now, Pilate knew quite well just what to do
with you, Messiah. Crush the serpent’s head;
the rest will follow it to death. What need
a trial for pretenders to Israel’s throne?

What need? The need for truth, of course,
the truth that you defined Messiah unlike those
before, or those to come. You refused
to found your throne upon a frame of shattered bones.

Instead, you said, your reign’s foundation would
be truth itself, and truth its sign, and truth its aim.
To which the governor would scoff, attention gone,
the bitter question, “What is truth?”

Another world you rule indeed, Messiah King,
where those in power seek to rule in truth.
In this our world – and Pilate’s too – the truth
is clay to be reshaped as fits the day’s desire.

May we, unlike the governor who left the room,
his question echoing unanswered, give
the time and concentration to discern the truth.
Truth’s Author waits for us to ask – and learn.

A poem/prayer based on John 18:33-37, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Proper 29 (34), Reign of Christ Sunday.

The image is What is Truth? Christ before Pilate by Nikolai Ge (1890) –, Public Domain,

Weighed Down

“Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” – Ephesians 6:11

“Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, ‘I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.’ So David removed them.” – 1 Samuel 17:38-39

Truth? You want me to wear truth?
That’s a heavy burden to carry on the belt.
My hips are groaning just to think
of carrying the truth. I cannot walk with these.

Righteousness? You want me to wear righteousness,
to face the world with generosity presented
as my face? I can’t imagine feeling any more
vulnerable than that. I cannot walk with these.

Faith? You want me to bear faith?
I tell that, as bucklers go, faith wears a little thin.
The barbed and flaming arrows pierce it through
even as I strain to lift it. No; I cannot walk with these.

Salvation? You want me to wear salvation?
This one sounds good, I grant you, but it bows the head.
I’d rather revel in my sovereignty than yours,
which makes me bow. I cannot walk with these.

The hardest of all to wear are the shoes
that make me ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
Where might they take me? Into what risks?
And what protection do they offer? None.

No and no and no. I cannot walk with these.

And yet… I try.

A poem/prayer based on Ephesians 6:10-20, the Revised Common Lectionary Second Reading for Year B, Proper 16 (21).

The image is Philistine Shields and Spears from The pictorial Bible and commentator: presenting the great truths of God’s word in the most simple, pleasing, affectionate, and instructive manner, by Ingram Cobbin, Daniel March, L. P. Brockett, and Hesba Stretton. Image obtained through the Internet Archive Book Images – Source book page:, No restrictions,

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.