Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm 85:8-13
  • Romans 10:5-15
  • Matthew 14:22-33

Shalom

The Lord restored the trickster Jacob
and the Israelites who bore his name
whenever they fell into trouble and woe
time and time again.

Whenever the people went astray,
wrath begot forgiveness.
How sweet it was to be restored,
receiving loving kindness!

Life is more than staying alive;
the wholeness of life is shalom.
Peace is more than the absence of war;
the presence of God is shalom.

Restore us now to full communion
and save our generation.
Show us now your steadfast love
and grant us your salvation. 

August 9, 2020

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

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Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 32:22-31
  • Psalm 17:1-7, 16
  • Romans 9:1-5
  • Matthew 14:13-21

Hap

A lost transcript was the origin
of a life-changing event when I hoped to go
up the interstate to the University of Oregon.

I enrolled instead at a smaller school in Idaho.
The break from home was my firm desire,
but little did I know

this chance course correction would square
the circle. I was a nobody in the kitchen crew
at Sun Valley when the school year

closed out, and was quite sure
my floating world would persist.
But then, there she was, traveling through

as a guest. Fifty-seven years have passed
since we met at the Lodge.
Who knows which moment is meant to last?

Who knows! From the vantage point of age,
I could be looking back with ruefulness
at a listless river in a featureless landscape

or a hellscape of conflict or a life of emptiness
like the wave-polished shell
abandoned by the creature who used to dwell;
or enjoy a different contentment with someone else.

Devil-may-care at the time of first action,
my initial moves belong
to a thousand-piece puzzle near completion.

We make informed decisions, but life is long.
For happiness, there is no map,
and often it is simply the result of hap.

August 2, 2020

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Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 29:15-28
  • Psalm 105:1-11, 45
  • Romans 8:26-39
  • Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

The kingdom of God began
with a solitary man.
The solitary man
was a tiny seed of one.

Growth began the hour
Jesus revealed his power.
The kingdom of God grew
when Jesus added two.

The kingdom grew some more
when followers numbered four.
There were twelve until the day
a follower fell away.

A handful grew into thousands
and thousands into millions.
Nothing on this earth
is fully formed at birth.

From a tiny seed of one
a mighty tree was born.
We rose from the garden sod:
behold the kingdom of God.

July 26, 2020

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Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 28:10-19
  • Psalm 139:1-11, 22-23
  • Romans 8:12-25
  • Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Embraced

Front and back, up and down,
side to side—embraced in a warm wave,
I am floating forward from cradle to grave.
God is present in all six directions.

July 19, 2020

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Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 25:19-34
  • Psalm 119:105-112
  • Romans 8:1-11
  • Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

The Parable of the Sower

He sowed the seed on the barren path.
The seed on the path was trampled down,
trampled down and plucked by birds,
plucked and eaten by birds of the air.

He sowed the seed on rocky ground.
The plants sprang up between the rocks.
The quickening plants had shallow roots.
They withered and died in the rising sun.

He sowed the seed among the thorns.
The thorns grew up and blocked the sun.
The thorns took over and choked the crop.
No yield was there at harvest time.

He sowed the seed on fertile soil.
Because the soil was deep and rich
and free of weeds, the yield was good:
thirty, sixty, a hundredfold.

A sower went out to sow his seed.
Each seed is the trusted word of God,
but how it grows depends on you.
How it grows depends on you.

July 12, 2020

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Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
  • Psalm 45:11-18
  • Romans 7:15-25
  • Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

The Yoke

The yoke you wear is the load you bear.
Who will make the yoke you wear?

The yoke you wear is yours alone.
Will you design and build it on your own?

Will you fashion failure for your load?
Will fear burden you on the darkened road?

Will you shoulder anger on the morrow
or shoulder some remembered sorrow?

A worker in wood has a better way
to lighten your load in every way.

You can trust the carpenter’s son.
He knows why and how it’s done.

Jesus knows the grain of oak.
He will make you a gentle yoke.

His heart is humble—learn from him.
Take his yoke and walk with him.

NOTE: These lines are lyrics for an anthem. Kerry Lewis composed the music. Click this for the sheet music.

July 5, 2020

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Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 22:1-14
  • Psalm 13
  • Romans 6:12-23
  • Matthew 10:40-42

Benedictine Habit

Although I wear the garments of righteousness,
my old clothes of sin
remain in the closet. I can always dress

as I did before. I may put them on
and walk away at any time I desire
and no one but God is the least concerned.

I am given a year to choose the attire—
clothing for the path of sin or the path of piety—
to wear for all eternity.

June 28, 2020

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Third Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 21:8-21
  • Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
  • Romans 6:1-11
  • Matthew 10:24-39

Dorm Room Bull Session

“Where sin increases, grace abounds all the more,”
said Paul to his roommate, the sophomore philosophy major
who offered this devil’s-advocate wager.
“I propose to you: the more we sin, the more

God’s grace shall abound. Thus, we should sin
with gladness so grace abounds all the more.
By sinning more, we are doing God a favor
since he loves granting grace to those who sin.”

Paul frowned and countered the jest with commonsense.
“Once we die to sin, why would we stay
in that condition? Why would the emancipated slave
stay with an abusive master? Does that make sense?

If you were released from prison, would you go back
to your cell or would you choose to live free?
The question answers itself. If you won the lottery,
would you continue to live in an old shack?”

Paul’s interlocutor loved to bedevil and astound,
especially in a deep discussion of sin and grace.
He said, “I just like to see you red in the face.”
Paul was laughing as they wandered out for a round.

June 21, 2020

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Second Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 18:1-15
  • Psalm 116:1, 10-17
  • Romans 5:1-8
  • Matthew 9:35–10:8-23

When Jesus Saw the Crowds

When Jesus saw the crowds,
he felt the world’s pain—
for the sick, the blind, and the troubled
trapped in the grip of demons.

When Jesus saw the crowds,
he felt the world’s sorrow.
He wanted to wipe away
tears from every eye.

When Jesus saw the crowds,
he felt the world’s hunger.
The tired and hungry sheep
looked up, waiting to be fed.

When Jesus saw the crowds,
he felt for those cut off.
He cared for the lonely leper
banished from the village square.

When Jesus saw the crowds,
he felt the world’s bewilderment.
The people, longing for God,
were given rules instead.

The people were harassed and helpless
like sheep without a shepherd.
When Jesus saw the crowds,
he was moved by divine compassion.

The world has greatly changed
since Jesus saw the crowds.
But we still have pain and sorrow;
we still have hunger and loneliness;

and we still have bewilderment.
The Gospel remains the same.
He is moved by divine compassion
for the crowds of the dispossessed.

June 14, 2020

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First Sunday After Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Genesis 1:1–2:4a
  • Psalm 8
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
  • Matthew 28:16-20

Wheel of Water

Grass emerges from the winter snow.
Blades lengthen. Flowers grow.
Trees in the wind sway and sough.
The summer of life is all we know!

Autumn breezes start to blow
and all of life begins to slow.
Brown turf is snuffed in snow.
Life and death come and go.

Clouds roll in over the plain.
The clouds release their drops of rain.
The drops are lost in the narrowing drain
to the sea. Only to rise again.

The wheel of water is an endless chain,
an infinite loop of wax and wane.
The land upholds this loss and gain.
Yet the land itself cannot sustain.

Dust is molded, dust restored.
Not even the land can say: Never.
But for children of light who love the Lord,
the love of the Lord lasts forever.

June 7, 2020

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Day of Pentecost

Year A Readings:

  • Acts 2:1-21
  • Psalm 104:25-35, 37
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
  • John 20:19-23

You Don’t Need To Be a Superhero

No, we are not characters in comic books,
in movies, or in video games
in which the superheroes crack the crooks,

where each character has a claim
to fame—a special superpower that complements
every other character in the gang’s

fantastical array of tools to fight crimes.
No, we are not like that.
All our spiritual gifts come

from the same Holy Spirit—
who gives us knowledge, faith, healing, and wisdom;
who enables miracles; who inspires the prophet;

who grants spiritual discernment to some
and to others proficiency in speech.
No, you don’t need to be a superhero to earn

your place. You don’t need to preach or teach
or do anything. Unwavering faith will suffice
to be a member of the body of Christ.

May 31, 2020

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Seventh Sunday of Easter

Year A Readings:

  • Acts 1:6-14
  • Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36
  • 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11
  • John 17:1-11

[tanka]

the blacktop road
comes to an end here
at the edge
of the wilderness…
I am not afraid

[tanka]

looking ahead to the past
remembering the future
one datastream
the road from home
is a road leading home

NOTE: What is a tanka? Click this to find out.

May 24, 2020

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Sixth Sunday of Easter

Year A Readings:

  • Acts 17:22-31
  • Psalm 66:7-18
  • 1 Peter 3:13-22
  • John 14:15-21

Perennial Philosophy

Streaming from the prism between the people and God
are seven point seven billion slivers of light.
A stunning diversity of color is flowing from the white.
Each sliver is unique on the limitless color wheel.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue,
indigo, and violet are at one with the original whole.
The rainbow is one continuum, like branches and the bole,
connecting people with people and the people with God.

Extinguish the light source and the colors disappear!
All human diversity is part of a greater unity.
Our sense of a separate self is a functional necessity,
but the focus on the separate self is the cause of suffering.

Focus instead on the infinite divine self,
which represents true reality, and you will find
the source of light for the life of all mankind
beyond the prism between the people and God.

May 17, 2020

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Fifth Sunday of Easter

Year A Readings:

  • Acts 7:55-60
  • Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
  • 1 Peter 2:2-10
  • John 14:1-14

Mettle

Our first martyr defied the Fates.
Stephen was not resigned and broken.
Stephen faced his trial unbroken.
He stood in the docket for the Christian faith.

Stephen Martyr showed his mettle.
He spoke with courage and affirmation
about his faith to a sour Sanhedrin.
His face looked like that of an angel.

Stephen showed us how to cope.
Even after two thousand years,
we look to him to guard our fears.
Stephen’s mettle gives us hope.

No matter how your life is designed,
mettle makes your own renown.
Mettle is how your worth is known
to the men and women you leave behind.

May 10, 2020

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

Year A Readings:

  • Acts 2:42-47
  • Psalm 23
  • 1 Peter 2:19-25
  • John 10:1-10

Job Posting: Shepherd

We have an opening for a shepherd of human beings.
Are you tough enough for the task?
People are not that bright. They are always leaving

the area for greener grass
and it’s your job to track them down
and bring the bumblers back to the home pasture.

People need to be watched: you must be around
at all hours, night and day,
always close to ground.

Like sheep, people wander off and are prey
to metaphoric wolves who wait patiently
for suckers to come their way—

you are constantly correcting for human naïveté.
Compensation comes in the intangible of knowing
you are keeping blameless people from carelessly

endangering themselves. Apply now:
it’s a job fit for a king
if you have a passion for doing the right thing.

May 3, 2020

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Third Sunday of Easter

Year A Readings:

  • Acts 2:14a, 36-41
  • Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
  • 1 Peter 1:17-23
  • Luke 24:13-35

You Have Been Born Anew

Deep grasses choke
the broad path
we used to walk;
our past is lost
in a seamless field of green.

April 26, 2020

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Second Sunday of Easter

Year A Readings:

  • Acts 2:14a, 22-32
  • Psalm 16
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9
  • John 20:19-31

Thomas the Twin

Faith is trust in the things you cannot see.
Love is service to the least who are plain to see.

Faith without love is life without compassion.
Love without faith is life without a mission.

You honor the Lord by giving your best to others.
Do all you can to help your sisters and brothers.

Walk by confident faith, not by sight.
Trust the Lord to bring you into the light.

Faith and love inspire both head and heart.
This is how the saints are set apart.

April 19, 2020

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Easter Sunday

Year A Readings:

  • Isaiah 25:6-9
  • Psalm 114
  • 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
  • Luke 24:13-49

Ordinary

Their eyes were opened with the breaking of bread,
an ordinary loaf in an ordinary home.
Until that moment, Cleopas and his companion
only knew him as an inquisitive stranger.

They could have let him go his way,
but, no, the men invited him to stay
and share with them an ordinary meal.
By inviting him to stay, they made a choice.
You, too, are free to choose.

The communion table is not the only
place where a meal is shared with the Lord.
He is not just the host at the table;
he is the guest invited into the home.

April 12, 2020

ATTENTION: Click this to view poetry from December 2, 2018.

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