Monday, August 21, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 12 – A
August 27, 2017

Matthew 16:13-20 - NRSV

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[a] the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter,[b] and on this rock[c] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was[d] the Messiah.[e]

Matthew 16:16 Or the Christ
Matthew 16:18 Gk Petros
Matthew 16:18 Gk petra
Matthew 16:20 Other ancient authorities add Jesus
Matthew 16:20 Or the Christ

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 12 – A

Caesarea Philippi

Why this mountain, Jesus,
Caesar’s Fortress?
Why here where
Peter declares you;
‘Messiah, Son of the living God.’?

That is Caesar’s name;
that is his first century claim:
‘Divine Emperor – Son of God.’

Have we through the years
missed the point
layering Peter’s confession
with spiritual ointment;

taking away
the sting of treason?
is not that the reason
you were executed
on the

How oft we collude
with our country’s powers
hesitating to confess
allegiance to you
at critical hours.

We’d rather align
with Caesar
and our Empire.

Yet you aspire
to defy Caesar
and all empires
with your cry
from the cross.

Liberation marks the Church –
Ekklesia – the called out community –
given birth to liberate all people,
to live in God’s reign,
a Kingdom of justice
toppling Caesar’s domain.

Dare we preach and defy the Empire;
shout from Caesar’s mount
and inspire our faith community
to live the Kingdom now;
to be the community of liberation
freeing those in bondage in our nation?

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May be used with permission

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 11 – A
August 20, 2017

Matthew 15:10-28 - NRSV

Things That Defile

10 Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12 Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind.[a] And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16 Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

The Canaanite Woman’s Faith

21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.


Matthew 15:14 Other ancient authorities lack of the blind

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 11 – A

The Dogs of God

Who are the dogs of God
seeking crumbs from above?

Compassionate Canaanite
yearning for healing
for her daughter;
desperate, crying, kneeling?

The least of these
with no voice
making a choice;
meds or bread?

The undocumented immigrant
wondering what’s next
with no rest;
ICE all around?

Those with disabilities
mocked by a President
losing their residence
and Medicaid?

A nameless refugee
longing to be free
not welcome in our country
yet yearning for a morsel?

The Sudanese in famine
perpetually unnoticed?
Deaf are we to the voice
crying from the desert.

Who are the dogs of God
seeking crumbs from above
while we feast on the whole loaf?

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Monday, August 7, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 10 – A
August 13, 2017

Matthew 14:22-33 - NRSV

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,[a] for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind,[b] he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:24 Other ancient authorities read was out on the sea
Matthew 14:30 Other ancient authorities read the wind

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 10 - A

Night Passage

Hear the drumbeat of the waves
echoing through the mountain caves
as the mystic poet prays
upon the precipice

near the edge that overlooks
the vast sea winding through the nooks
and crannies of the dark.
A small boat embarks.

Dear motley crew of fishermen
brave the sea at night again.
Haunted, lost seeking a Savior
through fog and mist – divine behavior.

Fear grips the crew as they now spy
a ghostly figure in twilight’s sky.
Unhinged in awe they stare in wonder
through lightning flash and mountain thunder.

Cheer-ful they recognize the Master.
Now they can avoid disaster.
Amidst the dark, the threatening waves,
the Rabbi speaks and now will save.

Rear in the skiff below the sail
Peter speaks and will prevail
to walk the waters, dare the deep.
Is this a vision?  Are they asleep?

Near the dear crew a voice is heard:
“Be not afraid.  It is I, the Word.”
Peter steps into the dank sea.
Fear sinks him, a body falling free.

Clear in sight he sees the Master
and is saved from this disaster.
“O little of faith, why do you doubt?”
The divine promise bails him out.

Dear followers the wind will cease.
Embark in faith with God’s peace
for the Spirit leads over rough seas.
Baptized anew we’re free to be.

Copyright 2017 @ A Poem a Sunday
May be used with permission

Monday, July 31, 2017

Illustration by Dan Erlander

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 9 – A
August 6, 2017

Matthew 14:13-21 - NRSV

Feeding the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Pentecost 9 – A 
Common Table Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus be our guest,
but don’t disturb us with the rest
of sisters and brothers
who go without water and food,
lest we find out that they, too,
are guests at your table.

Look up from your bowed head
and see across God’s Table
the least of these and
not out of guilt but out of
love and grace embrace
them as guests.
Save them a place.

So each time you pray
the Common Table Prayer
you are inviting Jesus
and all his hungry friends
to share in the abundant
loaves and fish that God provides.
Food that is shared multiplies.

God’s dream is that no one should die
of want or hunger but as guests
at God’s table be fed and satisfied
enabled to live life full of all
of God’s blessings.

Now you cannot pray
inviting Jesus as guest
without all the rest
of his friends
having a place
at God’s table
of grace.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 8 – A
July 30, 2017

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52 - NRSV

The Parable of the Mustard Seed
31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

The Parable of the Yeast
33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with[a] three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
Three Parables
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Treasures New and Old
51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

a. Matthew 13:33 Gk hid in

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 8 – A

What Now?

Thy Kingdom come…
Really now?

A pesky mustard seed,
that ancient weed
invading the crop?

A little yeast,
from the Middle East
invading the bread?

A hidden treasure
one cannot measure
for a famine field?

A pricey pearl
worth all the world
from the fisherman?

Thy Kingdom come…
Really now?

Invading the way things are?
Upsetting the apple cart?
Turning worlds upside down
with reckless abandon all around?

A disruptive force, the coming Kingdom,
invading our lives and creating freedom
that shows us nothing more to lose.

When God comes near
dare we refuse:
the change,
the new,
the call,
the truth?

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May be used with permission.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 7 – A
July 23, 2017

St. Matthew 13:24-43 - NRSV

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 7 – A

Can be sung to hymn tune
“God of Grace and God of Glory”

The New Century Hymnal #436
Evangelical Lutheran Worship #705

1. God of judgment, God of mercy
show us our complicity
to the evil that surrounds us.
Change our hearts and set us free.

God now sow for the good harvest.
Uproot all that does us harm;
Uproot all that does us harm.

2. Weeds among the wheat we live in,
daily lives amidst the hurt.
Give us insight, give us courage
to confess what we deserve.

3. Rain upon us justice and grace,
hope for change and your new way
to ov’rcome the evil in us
power to stand the disarray.

4. As we join today in worship
shape our lives empowered by grace
to be Christ to friend and stranger
mocking evil’s gruesome face.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 6 – A
July 16, 2017

Commentary:  Preachers, please tell your people that the explanation comes from Matthew.  This is not Jesus interpreting his own parable.  Given the context and the purpose of parables it makes no sense except that it is an interpolation for Matthew’s audience.  It addressed the apostasy of the early Christian community.  A different slant on the text is that it speaks to the power of the WORD.  God’s WORD will have the effect of judgment or harvest – LAW & GOSPEL. 

Matthew 13:1-23 – NRSV

The Parable of the Sower

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears[a] listen!”

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets[b] of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 13 The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
‘You will indeed listen, but never understand,
    and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and their ears are hard of hearing,
        and they have shut their eyes;
        so that they might not look with their eyes,
    and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
    and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it
The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.[c] 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Matthew 13:9 Other ancient authorities add to hear
Matthew 13:11 Or mysteries
Matthew 13:21 Gk stumbles

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 6 – A

On Preaching

What difference will these words flung out
Beating against your eardrums make?
Low tones or volumes that shout
Will they speak life into play?

The Word bottled up in words
Blocked and filtered, edited, staid,
Will trickle like dew drops in soil, unheard,
And penetrate deep in souls today.

There are no words without the Word
Speech is muted, ears are deaf.
But when God speaks a voice is heard
And life is new – the Word is flesh.

Dare we be silent or give It speech?
My bones like wax, my heart burns full.
I cannot help but voice and preach
The truth no matter what I do.

Flung on eardrums far and wide,
Words beat vibrant in the air.
Will they *ex nihilo create
Fleshed out Love Incarnate?

*ex nihilo – Latin, meaning – ‘out of nothing’

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