Monday, January 15, 2018

A  Poem a Sunday
Epiphany III – B
January 21, 2-17

St. Mark 1:14-20 - NRSV

The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news[a] of God,[b] 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;[c] repent, and believe in the good news.”[d]

Jesus Calls the First Disciples
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

[a] Mark 1:14 Or gospel
[b] Mark 1:14 Other ancient authorities read of the kingdom
[c] Mark 1:15 Or is at hand
[e] Mark 1:15 Or gospel

A Poem a Sunday
Epiphany III - B

Epiphany Litany

“The time is fulfilled, 
and the kingdom of God has come near;
repent, and believe in the good news.”

O God,
When mudslides engulf homes,
When Puerto Rico is left alone,
When immigrants are political pawns,
Thy Kingdom come.

When silence gives voice to bigotry,
When leaders malign those in poverty,
When the wealthy receive tax cut welfare,
Thy Kingdom come.

When church bells ring hollow,
When worship becomes adult day care,
When prophets are nowhere,
Thy Kingdom come.

O God,

When a teen is rescued from a mudslide,
When volunteers work in Puerto Rico side by side,
When Senators insist on DACA,
The Kingdom comes.

When citizens unite exposing bigotry,
When soup kitchens feed those in poverty,
When the common good challenges the wealthy.
The Kingdom comes.

When church bells ring a freedom song,
When worship is love in action,
When prophets shout redressing wrong,
The Kingdom comes.


Copyright 2018 @ A Poem a Sunday
May be used with permission.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Poem a Sunday
Epiphany II – B
January 14, 2018

St. John 1:43-51 - NRSV

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, [a] you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”


[a] John 1:51 Both instances of the Greek word for you in this verse are plural

A Poem a Sunday
Epiphany II – B

Wisdom Tree

Sitting under budding branches
streams of light that will prevail
dreams from wisdom’s great expanses
a voice is heard amidst the gale:

“Come and see the Word Incarnate
Sophia’s child and first born son.
You in whom there is no guile
will receive the blessed one.

And new visions of God’s reign:
the Jubilee, the Shalom.
Come and see Eden’s tree
blossoming on Calvary.

There is love.  There is home
at the hill called Golgotha.
Where Wisdom plants her new tree
budding outside Jerusalem.

Fruit of the tree at Calvary
Take and eat; your eyes open
to compassion that now heals
longing hearts once broken.

In the shadow of Wisdom’s tree
God begins a new creation.
Adam’s curse
will be reversed.”

Copyright 2018 @ A Poem a Sunday
May be used with permission

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Poem a Sunday
Epiphany I – B
Baptism of Our Lord
January 7, 2018

Mark 1:4-11 - NRSV

4 John the baptizer appeared[a] in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with[b] water; but he will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Jesus
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;[d] with you I am well pleased.”

[a] Mark 1:4 Other ancient authorities read John was baptizing
[b] Mark 1:8 Or in
[c] Mark 1:8 Or in
[d] Mark 1:11 Or my beloved Son

A Poem a Sunday
Epiphany I – B


The ever present question is:
“Oh, God will she cry?”
presented for her baptism
by dear parents with deep sighs
of longing for their child
to be saved for heaven’s sake
but little do they realize
it may be a mistake.

Sponsors, Godmother and Godfather,
look on with loving hearts
but they, too, may mistake
the experience
of which they are a part.

And congregants
in padded pews
look on
with kind admiration
as another sweet innocent
increases members on the roll.
Do they, too, mistake
what’s happening
as the church bell
gently tolls?

Death and life meet at the font
and it is neither cute nor kind
for the infant dear is initiated
into a cruciform sign.

Dying daily to the old
rising up to the new
named and claimed in Christ
is a lot to go through.

So, dear parents and sponsors
and congregants, too:
behind, in, with, and under
the water and the Word
is a promise of new life
that needs to be heard.

New life will not come
until a drowning takes place
and the infant dear
in Jesus the Christ
joins a new human race.

Copyright 2018 @A Poem a Sunday
May be used with permission

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Epiphany Parable

Pine needles on a white sheet brought back the smell of Christmas.  Mary carefully laid the tree on the white sheet.  She wrapped it as though she were wrapping it in swaddling clothes.  The season’s celebration had ended and now it was time to bury the remains.

Lifting the tree was like lifting a body.  A flood of memories poured through her mind:  Uncle Jake’s last Christmas with the family when he was diagnosed with leukemia…the time her best male friend, Henry, moved into town and they sang together in the Children’s Choir on Christmas Eve…the high school concert where Helga began to sing and forgot the words.  Then there were the boxes of candy given out each year at Christmas time after the church’s Sunday School Program.  She laughed as she thought of the year of the silver aluminum Christmas tree shining with colored flood lights.

Mary gently wrapped the tree and carried it to the station-wagon.  A tear ran down her cheek when her arms felt the weight of the tree.  It was like she was carrying little Annie, her first-born, and fastening her into her car-seat for her first midnight service.

The tree was now in the station-wagon and Mary began to drive to the distant field.  The tree seemed to take on the shape of a body under the old sheet.  Passing the funeral home on the way reminded her of the Christmas that the family buried mother:  faithful mother, always present and baking Christmas Stollen, dressing her warmly so that she could use her new sled in the snow.  Mother, singing hymns from the heart, never giving up hope.

Suddenly she approached the open field.  The scent of burning trees was fresh.  Carefully, slowly, like a fine liturgy on Christmas Eve, her ritual continued as she carried the tree, unwrapped it, and placed it on the fire.  She had finally joined the others in this annual event.  The night sky lit up with the pyre of pine as the scent of Christmas filled the air of that small town.  It was the annual Epiphany celebration:  the burning of the Christmas trees.

Everyone in their own way had carried Christmas to this place each year -   remembrances of birth and death and the laughter in between.

The embers of endings glowed in the night, and the fire of new beginnings warmed their cold hearts.  The Christmas tree burning ceremony ended with everyone holding hands in a circle and singing the Epiphany hymn:  “Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning.”  Christ, the Light, was present in the ritual of remembering creating new lives from the ashes of the past.

Copyright 2018 @ A Poem a Sunday
May be used with permission

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Christmas – I – B
December 31, 2017

St. Luke 2:22-4 - NRSV

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b] 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Return to Nazareth
39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

[a] Luke 2:25 Gk Symeon
[b] Luke 2:26 Or the Lord’s Christ
[c] Luke 2:27 Gk In the Spirit, he
[d] Luke 2:28 Gk he
[e] Luke 2:29 Gk slave
[f]  Luke 2:34 Gk Symeon
[g] Luke 2:36 Gk Hanna
[h] Luke 2:38 Gk him

The Sign to be Opposed

God of the margins
we keep reading the paragraphs
while you, since the beginning,
identify with the outcasts.

Born in the raw straw of a stable
on a fateful starlit night
you come to be the downfall
of those who claim the might.

Dangerous love and compassion
confront Caesar’s Empire troops.
A force no power can conqueror
because you expose the truth.

Your life a sign to be opposed,
a prophet disdaining all kings.
You lift the lowly, fell the rich,
give the wounded ones new wings.

Yet, do we really know you
for we are rich, not poor,
as we keep reading paragraphs
and close every open door?

Oh, God of the margins,
we pray for open eyes
to meet you at the fringes
of our daily lives.

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Christmas Eve/Day
December 24/25, 2017

St. Luke 2:1-20 - NRSV

The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,[a] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,[b] praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”[
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

[a] Luke 2:11 Or the Christ
[b] Luke 2:13 Gk army
[c] Luke 2:14 Other ancient authorities read peace, goodwill among people

A Poem a Sunday
Christmas Eve / Day - B


But Mary treasured all these words
and pondered them in her heart.

Stars dust
the lingering shadows
of the eerie night.

Darkness has
its privileges
when shimmering
in the moonlight.

Spotlight on the
stepping stones
that she steps
on one by one.

It is a subversive
journey to another land
where just maybe
her hopes and dreams
will stand
the light of day.

Right now
in dreamy starlight
she welcomes
every step
inching her way
to freedom
from those who oppress
the many songs of justice
she sang with pregnant mirth
when what seems like ages ago
she delivered her first birth:
child who loved the starlight,
loved the shimmering of the night;
child with great compassion;
prophet with insight.

She runs the haunting
forth and back
to Bethlehem.
Searching for
her lost son
rumored to have risen.

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

A Poem a Sunday
Advent IV - B
December 24, 2017

St. Luke 1:26-38 – NRSV

The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”[a]29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”[b] 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[c] will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

[a] Luke 1:28 Other ancient authorities add Blessed are you among women
[b] Luke 1:34 Gk I do not know a man
[c] Luke 1:35 Other ancient authorities add of you

A Poem a Sunday
Advent IV – B

A Pregnant Advent

Advent is a pregnant time
for baby showers and nursery rhymes.
Why Christmas is the Infant’s shower
when gifts are given to praise the hour
when Mary humbly and in great pain
experiences the ache and the awe
of God’s new reign:
a Kingdom forever
of compassion and care
nothing will be impossible
when we all dare
like Mary,
by the Spirit’s power,
cries:  “Let it be!”
at the crucial hour
then we, too,
are pregnant
with God’s own Son
born again
in each and everyone
who breathe in the Spirit
and with a deep
and longing sigh
say: “Here am I.”

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