Monday, October 23, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Reformation Sunday
October 26, 2017
St. John 8:31-36 - NRSV

True Disciples

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

On the Freedom of a Christian

"A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all." Martin Luther

Stands for the Empire’s Anthem;
ancestors never slaves! (to anyone!);
thinking they live in freedom
blissfully enraged.

Kneels for the Empire’s Anthem;
ancestors chained – enslaved;
humbly defiant of injustice
prophetically engaged.

What will it take
for the privileged white folk
to be free?

Only our black sisters
and brothers can lead us
to true harmony.

at the sight
of the Empire.
its ignorance
and those
who lie
to maintain
their privilege
and remain
their unseen

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 20 – A
October 22, 2017

Matthew 22:15-22 – NRSV

The Question about Paying Taxes

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 20 – A

Coin Toss

it hovers
while striped
and padded men
await its response:

Heads or Tails?
Kick or Receive?

it hovers
while robed
and pious men
await a response:

Heads or Tails?
Caesar or God?

And the game

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 19 – A
October 15, 2017
Matthew 22:1-14 - NRSV

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

22: 1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.

7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 19 – A

Grace Spurned

The invitation goes out
to the chosen few
out of spite and jealously
rejecting the new

reign of God
which now gives room
at the abundant table
awaiting the Groom.

The Bride is prepared.
The Bride has come.
God’s people are called
by the Loving One.

The Groom, God’s people,
reject out of fear.
The Bride in love
now is here.

Imagine, O Jerusalem,
God’s heart’s delight,
making light of the invite
with vicious spite.

Grace spurned,
she is a jealous bride.
Now inviting the estranged
to be at her side.

So the Banquet
is open to those who respond.
“Come one, come all
and don the gown!”

Grace marries Mercy.
The Banquet is served.
But those who turn away
desert the living Word.

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May be used with permission

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 18 –A
October 8, 2017

Matthew 21:33-46 – NRSV

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

33 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.

34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;[a]
this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is amazing in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.[b] 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”[c]

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

Matthew 21:42 Or keystone
Matthew 21:43 Gk the fruits of it
Matthew 21:44 Other ancient authorities lack verse 44

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 18 - A


No peace,
no Prophets.
Know Prophets,
know peace.

Cast aside all illusions
and see what God
has in store
for the unfaithful tenants:

Sending prophets at every turn,
God’s deep love constantly yearns
for a people of mercy and grace
infecting the whole human race.

Know the prophets when hearts of stone
either ossify or crack from the drone
of prophetic voices that cry
“Repent, change, don’t live a lie.”

Hearing the cry of repentance and change
the tenants fight back and murder the slaves
sent to announce God’s reign is now
harvesting fruits of mercy, love renowned.

The Divine finally sends the Son,
the final Prophet and hopeful one
who cries out in the dark day:
“Come follow the new Way.”

But rejection, judgment has its sway.
Tenants plot murder that very day
the Son arrives and is unwelcome
“This is the heir, come, let us kill him.”

Grace and mercy a stumbling block to those
who constantly control and enclose the Divine
by creating rules and rows
unchanged for all time.

The Prophet speaks of the ‘Rejected Cornerstone’
that the tenants disown
when they stumble and fall
under crumbling Temple walls.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 17 –A
October 1, 2017


We’ve seen the crisis over Church authority in the headlines, of course, as clergy of all stripes have abused the authority entrusted to them, using it to coerce and injure through sexual abuse, financial misconduct, or manipulative preaching and teaching. Those kinds of abuses of authority are deep and damaging, as clergy too often confuse God’s authority with their own.

Yet there is another, equally pernicious, authority problem in our Church today: one of relinquished authority or abandoned authority. As clergy we have all too often, not abused our authority, but abrogated it.

·         We have toned down our preaching for fear of offending or rocking the boat.
·         We have sought consensus when we ought to have been prophetic.
·         We have bent to the whims of the congregation when we ought to have stood for the teaching of the Church.
·         We have been reluctant to proclaim God’s forgiveness, because to do so is to name first the harsh reality of sin.
·         We have been hesitant to name the Gospel as not just a good story, but the good news of salvation.

Source of Commentary:  Rt. Rev. Scott Gunn, Episcopalian

Matthew 21:23-3 - NRSV

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father[a] went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.


A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 17 – A


“Our family is
a charter member
of this congregation!”

Inerrant Bible?
“The Bible said it!
That is it!”
End of story.”

Imprimatur.  Sealed.
Closed canon.”


By what authority?

Tax Collectors,
and hearts change!

These are the
First Responders;
Called, Authorized
who see and cry out:

“Now I know the
of life
and will work
in the Divine

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 16 – A
September 24, 2017

Matthew 20:1-16 - NRSV

The Laborers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage,[a] he sent them into his vineyard. 3 When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4 and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5 When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6 And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.[b] 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.[c] 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?[d] 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’[e] 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”[f]


Matthew 20:2 Gk a denarius
Matthew 20:9 Gk a denarius
Matthew 20:10 Gk a denarius
Matthew 20:13 Gk a denarius
Matthew 20:15 Gk is your eye evil because I am good?
Matthew 20:16 Other ancient authorities add for many are called but few are chosen

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 16 - A

Go Figure (or Go Ask Alice)

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

God’s Kingdom is like: “Workers in a Vineyard.”
And we want to turn it into labor relations
or that Jesus ‘really did not mean it.’

Should not the working poor
be subject to drug tests
before receiving SNAP?

Should not 800,000
young laborer Dreamers
be deported not afforded
amnesty since they are
so late in working in the vineyard?

How dare we make
sure that all citizens
have health care
when the pre-existent ones
are so late in coming!

Does not this parable
call out our presumed justice
and lack of mercy for the ‘Others’
and the least of these?

How dare the Divine show her mercy
by equal payment for late comers
while I worked all day in God’s vineyard?

How oft we protect our privileged position
rather than live out divine grace and mercy.

Many a preacher has been run out of town
and that first Rabbi crucified for announcing
the radical reversals in God’s Kingdom.

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May be used with permission

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Pentecost 15 –A
September 17, 2017
Matthew 18:21-35 - NRSV


21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church[a] sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven[b] times.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents[c] was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii;[d] and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister[e] from your heart.”


[a] Matthew 18:21 Gk if my brother
[b]Matthew 18:22 Or seventy times seven
[c] Matthew 18:24 A talent was worth more than fifteen years’ wages of a laborer
[d] Matthew 18:28 The denarius was the usual day’s wage for a laborer
[e] Matthew 18:35 Gk brother

By the Numbers

1490 – 1900
Indigenous Americans
slaughtered by the thousands
or herded into Reservations.
Father, forgive…

First slaves brought to America
at San Miguel Guadalupe (Georgetown S.C.)
by slave trader Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon
Father, forgive…

20 people (mostly women)
executed as a result
of the Salem ‘Witch Trials’
Father forgive…

In the Spring of that year
120,000 Asian Americans rounded up
and placed in Internment Camps
Father forgive…

Cambodia ‘Killing Fields’
over 1 million people slaughtered
Father, forgive…

2003 - 2011
Iraq War – no WMD
Yet 210,000 innocent Iraqi civilians
killed to protect USA from a false threat
Father, forgive…

2011 - Present
Syrian ‘Civil War’ - 470,000 murdered
by the Bashar al-Assad Regime
while the world watches…
Father, forgive...

 Father forgive us 
for we know not what we do.

70 x 7

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May be used with permission