Christmas

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[I’m sure no real poet would call this a poem, but I suppose that is part of the point…]

I’ve done some bad things. Words have
Spilled out both with and without intent to harm.
It’s true, though I try not to dwell on it.
I wish I’d kept my mind and body pure,
Sure, but I look back now and see, well,
I didn’t and didn’t want to.

There must be some people who live upright lives, never riding the
Bumper of a senior-citizen driver, stealing stuff, wishing harm, drowning
In resentment and bitterness, or secretly hating
This or that group of image-bearers.
Maybe you’re one of them, but I don’t know, I guess I wonder
about all of us, just a little, based on experience.

You know how we love more by giving money than serving our neighbors?
And it’s not that systems aren’t broken, but if we’re
Speaking plainly here, sometimes we like working on them
To the exclusion of all things. Because so much of the time
we’re driven not by love—not really—but by habits, fear, and a desire
To feel safe and right even though we know it’s not safe
And it’s possible, although doubtful, we’re not always 100% right.

We say mean things on Facebook (especially in the comments)
because we’re frustrated and believe humans should be getting
Better. ‘Course we know from Facebook and Twitter
That for sure they are not. Still we just can’t figure
Out why everyone else is so wrong especially when
We’ve demonstrated so clearly how right we are.
Well, maybe next year.

I don’t know, our souls don’t really
Glorify the Lord or rejoice other than once or twice
A year, maybe. And far from being humble, we are strivers,
wanting top-spot. We try, especially around January 1st,
A new year, a new attitude and resolutions, but
When so much has gone wrong by February,
We just wear down and stop altogether.

I guess what I’m saying is that we really need
Christmas. And I don’t mean the lights and garland
and family cheer and eggnog, but Christ Jesus,
the one who came though he knows all this about us.
It’s never so evident as it is when we’re talking
Politics and family history around the table, you know?
We really need Christmas, and the Resurrection, for that matter.

 

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Two Poems for the Waiting

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Let Us Be Poor Again

We are overrun
by idols and pride and fear.

So let us be poor again.

Hollow us out to be filled
with your holiness.

Oh, let us be poor once more.

What We’ve Forgotten

“Again He will come,”
we tell all who will listen.
Our mouths are so sure.
Yet our hearts and hands forget.

By our words and deeds,
Who would know we are waiting?
Who would say our hope
Lies in this one yet to come?

Soften us, O Lord.
Soften us in this waiting.
So our love declares
He will return in glory.

We are waiting now.
Our hands reaching out to all.

Fear Is Our Oar Now

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Fear is our oar now.
Thrown overboard is love.
And we are sinking.

The cracks spread below
The surface of the water.
Hate slowly fills us.

Sharks surround, waiting
To feast. We don’t lift our eyes.
“Fight for what you have!”

Love asks for too much,
I guess—to open our hearts
And loosen our grip.

We would rather be
Great instead of brought low and
Now we are sinking.

A Lament in Haiku

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They will know us by
our love, he said. But we are
known by who we hate.

Go and do likewise,
he said. But we have gone and
done the opposite.

You are the light of
the world, he said. But we spread
darkness and judgment.

Love your neighbor, he
said, and your enemies too.
But we say, Not them!

And Jesus weeps for
what we have done and not done.
May his kingdom come.

Lord! Lord!

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–A reading of Matthew 7:21 and 25:44

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean the bread on my shelves, did you?
The food pantry does great work.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean the water from my faucet, did you?
The wells in Africa serve hundreds.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean my room, my bed, did you?
The Syrians believe different things.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean my shirts, my jeans, did you?
The racks at Goodwill have all sizes.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean placing my hands on fevered heads, did you?
The hospice workers and nurses are trained.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean face-to-face with a criminal, did you?
The mailed Bibles will bring lasting change.

Lord! Lord!

New Mercies

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New mercies always seemed like supernatural,
hard-to-miss displays of souls coming out
of darkness and bodies coming into healing.
Look at that! How amazing!

But then I caught the brave dandelion heads
waiting for the noon winds to render them
stems to spread their life;

And a tiny sparrow pick a buried twig out
of overgrown grass to surround
her marbled eggs, beginning to crack.

And I filled my cupped hands with cold, clean
water, lifting them to my mouth to drink.

Look at that! How amazing!