Lost and Found

(Lent 4, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

If you’ve ever been lost—scared out of your mind lost,
so lost you despair coming out alive, maybe unsure if you are really you—
you know how good it feels to find your way or to be found,
almost as good as, maybe better than, arriving in the Promised Land
or the welcome given the wastrel son embraced by his father,
robed, feted, made whole again.
Most equate ourselves with the virtues of the non-prodigal son number one,
loyal responsible no blame no shame, but the real center of Jesus’ story
is the father who loves both sons, perhaps seeing himself in each of them.
Are we not both/and rather than either/or?
Yet Pharisees among us delight in judging who can be found
or invited to a celebration of the finding. 
Think what they would do if we held parties to welcome immigrants
escaping from tyranny, violence, abuse in their native lands–but why not
celebrate their finding new homes with us?
They say sinners need not apply except who would be left if we are excluded? 
It is so easy to get caught up in blame, judgment, setting rules for who will
get into heaven, who will not, a game we play often, amusing
God who long ago decided on one gate only, unless there
is a crowd then two gates open, same rules apply: all are welcome
to this place that is not somewhere else but right here and now
up to us to live whole, faithful, hopeful, eager to open the gates of our hearts
as wide as God’s, grateful when loved ones find their way back and more so
when we don’t have to climb the fence because the gate again
again and again swings open
wrapping our bodies, spirits in everlasting
embraces of love and welcome.

©Robin Gorsline 2016 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . This parable is so well-known, but it can yield nuggets each time we ponder it. Henri Nouwen and others have helped us see it is really the parable of the generous father more than the prodigal son (as many of us were told when growing up). We still see so many “fathers” who seem ungenerous, stingy even, no matter who the lost may be (and if you are like me, you have been lost in a big way at least once).  Jesus never turned any of the lost away, just as God does not, in fact, we are welcomed.  

In the Garden

(Lent 3, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

Gardening requires a generosity of spirit
a willingness to invest in unlikely specimens
seeing potential where another sees failure
taking a chance on a gangly fruitless tree
when the sure bet says cut it down.
To be a gardener is to know God
at least the God who patiently nurtures
without being certain of the outcome
but does not back away from the challenge.
God’s like that with us over and again
taking chance after chance on us,
playing against the cynic’s house,
not listening to the naysayers and gossips
prattling on about sin and lost causes—
she must have sinned a lot to be so sick,
hurricanes are because men marry men,
Muslims are mostly terrorists, Black men are dangerous—
tossing judgments around like rice
on the brides and grooms leaving church.
When we brood over or proclaim divine judgment,
it is good to remember God’s mercy—
sinners are always in the hands
of a loving God, despite Jonathan Edwards
and those who feel the need to tell God to punish
the others who break rules they tell
God He needs to make for our good.
But God does not love us because
we are good, She loves us because
God is good, the Master Gardener
who knows when our roots are dried out
our leaves shriveled and limbs drooping
even before we do, providing spiritual fertilizer
and living water—spigots are everywhere
always in the on position. Just pray and drink deeply,
the flow that never ends.

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

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . The parable of the unproductive fig tree always feels a little incomplete to me; what will happen if the tree does not bear fruit even after the gardener digs around it and gives it nutrients? The gardener tells the owner he can cut it down then, but we do not know for sure that will happen. Might not the gardener ask for yet another year? I know God gives me more time to get right all the time.

Blessed Is the One

(Lent 2, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God!
but not always by those who speak
plot design rules for living for the rest
machinations on high to channel us
into our assigned roles despite
what God may say or want.
Pharisees think maybe Jesus
needs to be warned
but Jesus knows the score about Herod
and he knows that Jerusalem
then as now is subject to political
jousting ego-driven
territorialism rather than the
care of those who love her
who want eternal peace
within her walls and her people.
How can we who listen
or at least claim to hear
God’s promises renew
the vision of a land
with people of peace as
numerous as the stars
helping each other cast
out demons personal
political religious ending violence
honoring prophets inside walls
welcoming more beyond
no more stoning killing—instead children
protected under angels’ wings
living to ripe old age loving
all as one people God’s people
saying over again over again
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God!

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

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . .Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem feels so current; it is as if nothing has changed except the names of whomever is the reigning Herod and those who seek to overthrow that power. And the promise made to Abram feels somehow never completed or if it was once it now needs new life, new commitment to create peace in place of constant fighting so the stars on the ground will not die before their time. We wait and pray for someone to come to fulfill our yearning, even as we know he is already here.