Lead Me Not into Temptation

(First Sunday in Lent, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

Lead me not into temptation.
I go there all the time. Jesus
went too into the wilderness
forty days with only water  
and how much water do you find
in that part of the world
must have been dehydrated and
don’t think that was the only time
his throat and soul were dry.
He was full human as we say
surely he was tempted
to avoid horror of Calvary

but he did not and wilderness devil
failed to snare him. So what
does it mean to say no
to a tempting proposition– 
How about some nooky
your spouse won’t know,
I have a deal for you
no one will know but us,
So what if the ad is a lie they all
do it that’s politics.
Can it be as simple not easy as
putting God first– which means
to seek our personal wellness,
commonwealth’s righteousness
first–not to sell out for snake oil
no matter how pretty sexy
alluring fun profitable it seems?
Jesus did it and we can too
that’s what he says check John
chapter fourteen and know we can
avoid easy answers that hurt
others no walls against strangers
denying health insurance to poor
people or shoot first ask later.
We heal by believing
tell the truth even when it hurts
we can pass the test like

Abram going into Egypt,
the psalmist trusting the
God refuge a mighty fortress,
Paul walking the talk all the way.
When temptation beckons
leading us into wilderness
with ringed finger and charming smile
incantations of temporal pleasure
whose end is injuring loved ones
abusing our common humanity
denying our holy beauty,
go there but then
claim the shelter of the Most High and love the Lord
bring Holy One to the party and watch
how the game changes instantly,
led home whole loved and free.

©Robin Gorsline2016  lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . As I encounter Jesus in the wilderness, I think of my own each day, when I am tempted by something, someone, to act, think, speak in ways that are not whole. So often, it is a personal thing, what tempts me may not tempt you, but in another way it is all the same, pulling me, pulling you, out of our God selves. Loving Jesus, we face the truth of how often he shows us just the way to go, heading right into our wilderness and coming out the better for it.

It’s That Time Again

(Ash Wednesday, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

It was just Christmas and Epiphany
seems almost a race to Easter but now
it’s that time again to fast pray
celebrate ashes dust to dust
give something up maybe
or just pray and prepare
to receive new life forty days
hence and beyond and even now
opening ourselves to quiet contemplation
giving away what we no longer need
turning around away from sin
what keeps us distant from God each other
confessing the hurt we do our neighbors
the hungry ones we do not feed
hands out on busy street corners
shivering ones we do not clothe
huddled outside train bus stations
the shackles we do not remove
still more Black men in jail
and then to call on God
to be reconciled heart to heart
life to life with God and all God’s people
to enter God’s courts with praise thanksgiving
even joy, no sackcloth no groveling
but honest truth-telling
not for show but for soulful health
restored inside out to give more
of ourselves sharing all God gives us
trusting the Holy One to provide more,
accounting for all our blessings
as we yield more storing up less
rending our hearts not our clothing
living a holy sacrificial blessed Lent
to the glory of The One who is all in all.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

©Robin Gorsline2016  lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . .Lent of my youth was such a somber affair, laden with guilt, and I am sure wearing the ashen cross on my head was a sign for others to know how good, perhaps even superior, I was. But we can see Lent another way, as a time for introspection not show, as a time to truly change directions from the inside out. May the Lent deep inside you find expression this year!


We Glow

(Transfiguration Sunday, Year C; see biblical texts here)

Prayer changes us even our faces
like Jesus with Peter James John
on the mountain we glow
when a devotion catches us
a song sends us reeling soul-ward
preacher pronounces profound truth
we rise shout wave Hallelujah!
But do we see Moses and Elijah
can we even imagine them
together our being there too?
Find our own mountain climb
to sit with Jesus talk
listen more to this holy trinity
receiving in one moment more
than we know to ask for in a
lifetime, hearing heavenly voice
tell us what we now know even
more than before: Follow this Son
My Son you his siblings in Me
our holy family united in healing
the children hungry sick lonely
afraid dying Love the loveless
Bring hope Undo despair Raise up
the lowly Free the prisoners
Cast out demons our own
and others. So as we come down
we glow, others seeing what we cannot,
like Moses changed on mountaintop
inside out upside down
never again the same.
©Robin Gorsline2016  lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . .As with other stories about transcendent spiritual experiences—Jesus, Moses, Elijah, others—our postmodern minds can often get bogged down in questions of “fact.” Did this really happen or perhaps it is simply the imagination of devoted,  awed disciples? But, do we then fail to see the glow on faces, maybe even on our own, during mountaintop experiences? Do we understand we are members of the holy family, and glowing runs in the family?

Elder Wisdom

(Presentation of the Lord, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

Elder wisdom carries authority beyond its years
we sense more than passing of time
deep joyful gravity unafraid to speak whole
a word a paragraph a book to testify when asked or not
it needs to be said I will speak even if forbidden so says
the ancient wise one to remind the rest of us that modern facts
cannot replace aged sagacity to stretch horizons well past prime
time as Simeon and Anna proclaim in the Jerusalem temple
what they see in Jesus circumcised as a boy
the promised Messiah in the flesh before them,
even as our postmodern minds wonder how can they know
such profound spiritual truth from a baby.
How did it come to the gospel writer
Did Mary recount the story later or Dad Joseph
maybe writing it in his baby book Jewish parents recording
Important moments in the life of their precious son
Yes he was a Jewish boy a rabbi teacher
growing up to speak unconventional
ideas. Did he learn to speak power
from Simeon and Anna at eight days
their spirits passed to him through Adonai
touching his soul to grow strong with wisdom
beyond his years the one who did not survive to
elderhood yet touched and spoke as one blessed
beyond all around him with truth alive today
still changing lives upending old ways even as others
use him to enforce their narrow rules.
So we need descendants of Simeon
and Anna elders for this day to speak
breaking open new wisdom wine
that we may drain the cup of truth and live
the love and hope and joy and peace
of God in all we are and do.

©Robin Gorsline2016  lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . Biblical stories sometimes challenge our credulity as people living in the age of science and cynicism, and yet it is not the details that matter so much as the deeper truth. I have known elders who make strong statements about the soul, the future, of young people. Sometimes the prophecies come true, sometimes not. But I have come to trust their knowing even if life, circumstances, outside forces, stand in the way of fulfillment.  



The Next Prophet

(4th Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C; click here for biblical texts)

Now the word of God came telling Jeremiah
I appointed you a prophet to the nations
But prophets are more numerous speaking
unstoppable truths no matter some try to bury them.
God testifies from unlikely places a southern white
matron organizes spy ring to  undermine the Confederacy
a rabbi speaks for whole justice for Palestinians
Jesus pokes at ancient insularity by harking back to
Elijah and the poor unnamed widow at Zaraphath
in Sidon Elisha’s healing the leprous Syrian army leader
Naaman while white people march with Dr. King heterosexual couples
refuse to wed until their lesbian gay friends can be married.
Prophets often pay dear especially when some perceive
them breaking social rules undermining the status quo
that protects their shared group.
Membership carries privilege conditional at best
the price often too high we look the other way
keep heads down but there are always some who are reached
by God even those who do not believe.
Their bravery changes things us the world
saves lives even as it may cost them theirs.
And they like Jesus walk through angry crowds proving
once again divine truth love peace joy hope will not be stopped
always another day another voice the next prophet
could it be you?

©Robin Gorsline2016  lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . We tend to think of prophets as the ones with big names—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Dr. King, Mohammed. We don’t usually think of Jesus precisely in that way, but in Nazareth, among his home folks, he learned that telling too much truth can land you in hot water (and then he just kept doing it). Many people, even ones of lesser note, throughout history and today have done or are doing the same thing, sometimes on a grand scale, sometimes smaller. It’s how things change.  

Hear the Word of God

(3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

The reader stands at the pulpit
opening the book before the people
Hear the word of God she exclaims
a poignant echo of Ezra opening Torah
before the Hebrews returning from Exile
shivers up and down many spines
as she  reads Isaiah
proclaiming release to captives
good news to the poor recovery of sight to the blind
freedom for the oppressed
in the mouth and person of Jesus
homeboy in Nazareth
channeled in the modern sanctuary.
We feel the drama in those fateful long ago words
Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
Do we hear them today do we respond
Do we proclaim release to anyone
black men herded into prisons
Good news for folks trying to cross the tracks from the wrong side
Syrians Mexicans Salvadorans Muslims everywhere
Recovery of sight and life to those forgotten on the margins
ghetto kids sick African babies
Freedom for those held down in our very neighborhood
down the street across the globe
woman wanting control of their bodies.
We know the glory of God the heavens tell us every day
if and when we listen and watch
but what of the justice of God
peace that passes all our wisdom
Does reading by Ezra’s today daughter
cause us like the ancient Hebrews
to weep and more to act
push the world into peace justice
by moving ourselves more into wholeness.
Hear the word of God she exclaims
Hear it now says Jesus
Make it happen here.

©Robin Gorsline2016 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem……

This poem was inspired by the powerful reading of Scripture by a lay woman at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C. recently. It was a different text, but as she proclaimed the word I thought of Jesus in the temple in Nazareth. When later  I encountered the text for this Sunday, and remembered her reading, I realized it is possible for us today to bring God to life in the word just as Jesus and Ezra and Isaiah did.

Love Songs of Life

(2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C; click here for biblical texts)

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent
for my beloved I shall speak
love without end
my heart pouring out extravagantly
like wine at Cana when Jesus
called out by his mother
began to serve and lead.
Can we not understand
this metaphor God pours
the best from first to last
no holding back
no matter who you are
what you have done not done.
No accident that the first
miracle a wedding
what God wants all the time
a marriage made on earth
as in heaven uniting us
soul to soul brides and grooms
of Christ without borders
saying yes to living
trusting the One who loves
no end everyone invited
to the feast dance.
Don’t know the steps
does not matter
listen watch try
God will show you
Spirit will spin you
Jesus grabs your hand
asks may I have this dance
for life for love for joy
away you go heels high
heart higher groovin’ with the Lord
Glory Halleujah!
for Zion’s sake I will not keep silent
singing dancing
love songs of life
©Robin Gorsline 2016 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form