Third Sunday After the Epiphany

Year B Readings:

  • Jonah 3:1-5, 10
  • Psalm 62:6-14
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20

Simon, Andrew, James and John

Time is fulfilled; prepare for the dawn.
The Lord enlists his first followers—
Simon, Andrew, James and John.

The law and the prophets have reached an end
as John the Baptist is handed over.
Time is fulfilled; behold the dawn.

The first followers are ordinary men,
unlettered fishermen—two sets of brothers:
Simon and Andrew, and James and John.

The good news is now proclaimed
to a world weary of jot and tittle.
Time is fulfilled; welcome the dawn

as the hinge of history is about to turn.
The suffering servant is in the middle
as Simon, Andrew, James and John

are stunned by the gravity of the Lord’s command,
and drop everything to be his followers.
Time is fulfilled; embrace the dawn
with Simon, Andrew, James and John.

January 24, 2021

If you would like to comment about the poetry or contact me, you can reach me at davebaldwin37@gmail.com.

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Second Sunday After the Epiphany

Year B Readings:

  • 1 Samuel 3:1-10
  • Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
  • 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
  • John 1:43-51

Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth?

The students at Cana High School looked
askance at their boondocks rival, Nazareth High.
Cana was college prep all the way;
the Nazarenes studied the trades as well as books.
Cana derided the neighbors, and it was no surprise
they took to fleering and flaunting, deploying the epithet,
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
As it happened, Nazareth High won a coveted prize
as the best secondary school in the entire state
because it uplifted every student in town
and not just the affluent college bound.
How painful it was for Cana to bend the knee
to Nazareth! The lesson learned is do not denigrate
ignorantly, but follow the counsel, “Come and see.”

January 17, 2021

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First Sunday After the Epiphany

Year B Readings:

  • Genesis 1:1-5
  • Psalm 29
  • Acts 19:1-7
  • Mark 4:1-11

The Lake

Intuitive images of truth
from out of the liquid eye

are writ in stagnant brown
when scuttling winds are shy

or lush voluptuous blue
erotic as a lover’s sigh

or red on twilight orange
where the blood syllables fly.

The poet dreams his life
as the lake dreams the sky.

January 10, 2021

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The Epiphany

Year B Readings:

  • Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
  • Ephesians 3:1-12
  • Matthew 2:1-12

Laozi Advises the Board of Directors

The best manager is a gracious guest in my house.
As host, I am pleased to do my best.
We both get what we want.

The best manager is hardly recognized.
Good results come naturally
and the workers say, “We did it all ourselves!”

The worst manager is known too well:
from below—resentment, hatred, fear;
from above—a ruthless rising star.

Results destroy the worst manager.
Until that day, how many broken lives
will litter the shop floor?

If managers have no further desire
than to embrace and protect, the workers
will have no further desire than to enter and serve.

January 6, 2021

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Second Sunday After Christmas

Year B Readings:

  • Jeremiah 31:7-14
  • Psalm 84
  • Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19Luke
  • Luke 2:41-52

Discovery of Purpose

At his first Passover feast
at the temple in Jerusalem,
Jesus knew.
He discovered who he was
and what he had to do.
Jesus saw the priests prepare
Passover lambs for sacrifice.
He knew, suddenly,
the ritual revealed
the crux of his own purpose.

He was a son of the law
in his Father’s house—
his special purpose found.
But when his parents scolded him,
it brought him back to ground.
The family returned to Nazareth.
Jesus grew to be a man,
ever obedient,
but faithfully aware
of God’s emergent plan.

January 3, 2021

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First Sunday After Christmas

Year B Readings:

  • Isaiah 61:10–62:3
  • Psalm 147:13-21
  • Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-7
  • John 1:1-18

The Power of the Word

The primal power of the word invokes creation:
before language, before the human race,
before the earth was a fiery ball in space,
before the spark that set the cosmos in motion.
The power of the word can wreak an astonishing show
of rare snow, frost, hail, and sleet
to desert places accustomed to withering heat.
He makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
The power of the word makes it clear that no one
in the city of God is ever excluded—except the excluders.
All are welcome; there are no profane intruders.
The Lord’s creation and the Lord’s redemption are one.
The promise to Sarah and Abraham is the power of the word
and it is thrown open to all who love the Lord.

December 27, 2020

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Christmas Day

Year B Readings:

  • Isaiah 62:6-12
  • Psalm 97
  • Titus 3:4-7
  • Luke 2:1-20

Cause and Effect

Spirit is the engine that drives grace and love.
Imagine passenger cars in the railway station
tastefully appointed with the finest leather chairs,
gleaming brass brightwork throughout the cabins,
deep pile carpeting with an elegant pattern,

and convivial, courtly passengers at the open bar.
But without the engine, these cars are idle on the track
going nowhere. Passengers are marking time.
For grace and love, the Holy Spirit is the cause;
three effects flow from the fundamental cause.

When the train of grace and love moves forward,
the old rudderless life of error recedes
into a vanishing point in the diminishing horizon.
We leave the shades-of-gray world of the past
and enter a purposeful landscape, full of color.

The grace and love of God gives meaning to the present
and best of all for the faithful there is hope for the future.
Grace and love power the engine that pulls
the train from coast to coast along a set
of tracks designed for you by the Holy Spirit.

December 25, 2020

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

Year B Readings:

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
  • Psalm 89:1-4
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

To Build a House

The Lord lifted the Israelites from slavery in the land
of the pharaohs to settle in the sacred place of their own
promised to Abraham and Sarah; and David, the shepherd,
was lifted from humble pastures to his mighty throne.
King David lamented to Nathan, the prophet,
that he, the king, now lived in a house of cedar
while the ark of God was housed in a portable space.
(The Lord deserves better than a tent or tabernacle.)
Nathan said to David, “Go, do all
that you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.”
But the word of the Lord came to Nathan in a dream:
Go and tell my servant David: Are you
the one to build me a house to live in?
Since the days in Egypt, I have moved about
in a transient tent or tabernacle. Did I complain?
Say this to my servant David: There is no doubt
we will build an everlasting house—but not for me.
I will build the House of David as a perpetual honor.
I will establish a home for my people and plant them firm
that they can dwell secure and tremble no more.

December 20, 2020

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Third Sunday of Advent

Year B Readings:

  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
  • Psalm 126
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
  • John 1:6-8, 19-28

Doing the Work

God does see. God does care.
The needy, the weak, and the poor are blessed
when good people in power press
for equal justice in the public square.

God directs, but people do the work
by flagging injustice to make things right.
It’s up to the righteous to shine a light
on unjust suffering, then get to work.

God does not have the hands
to comfort and succor those in pain,
to lift the burden of the common man.
The just ruler provides the hands.

God does not have the feet
to walk about looking for evil.
Let compassion for the least of us prevail!
The benevolent ruler provides the feet.

In a nation under God, everyone
is joined. There are many beating hearts,
but one body with equal parts,
and the righteous ruler sets the tone.

December 13, 2020

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Second Sunday of Advent

Year B Readings:

  • Isaiah 40:1-11
  • Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
  • 2 Peter 3:8-15
  • Mark 1:1-8

Into a World Without Hope

We come from nothing; we go to nothing.
Our world is a deep darkness. The afterlife is a lie.
Extinction is the end of everything.

Callimachus summed it up, “We perish utterly.”
To think there is no goal
beyond mathematical extinction—individually

and for the world—can sour the soul
and allow us to accept this deep darkness
and crass indifference for a sorrowful cost.

The pilgrim without a destination is lost.
Cherish life with the everlasting Yes.

NOTE: Callimachus (310/305-240 BC) was a Libyan-Greek poet affiliated with the Library of Alexandria. He was one of the most influential scholar-poets of the Hellenistic Age. His ideas were much admired by the Roman poets of the first century. The emerging Christian church offered a distinct contrast to the philosophy of Callimachus.

December 6, 2020

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First Sunday of Advent

Year B Readings:

  • Isaiah 64:1-9
  • Psalm 80:1-7
  • 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
  • Mark 13:24-37

Evening, Midnight, Cockcrow, Dawn

Watchman, wake. Awake and rise!
You must be ready when the master comes.
Don’t let him catch you by surprise

in the evening,
at midnight,
at cockcrow
or at dawn.

Watchman: this charge is yours to keep.
The master comes in a sudden rush.
Don’t let him find you sound asleep

in the evening,
at midnight,
at cockcrow
or at dawn.

Watchman, wake. Open your eyes!
You cannot know the urgent hour,
the hour when the master of the house arrives

in the evening,
at midnight,
at cockcrow
or at dawn.

November 29, 2020

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