Still Here

Reflection on Ascension Day and 7th Sunday of Easter, Year A

 

Textual focus: Acts 1:1-14, Psalm 47, Luke 24:44-53, John 17:1-11
Click here, and here, for biblical texts

 
Hurry!
Limited time only—offer will not be repeated—
must liquidate all merchandise
Sale ends at midnight tomorrow!

Is this it, Lord, is it the time
You will restore
the kingdom to Israel?

Oh the questions they asked
as if he appeared on Fox News
to outline the latest theory
of how the world will end
or at least the Roman Empire.

When Jesus left the disciples—
modern minds wonder about Ascension,
what principle of physics allows it—
they looked up, what else can they do,
we too thinking God is above,
heaven and all angels
dancing on high.

And God is up, but also down,
nowhere God is not
can pray everywhere—
where is your upstairs room,
or woods, office, hammock,
mountain top, backyard, busy avenue
to wait for God
who is already here?

Prayer and much else comes to those who wait,
not filling the air with our words
as God prays in and through us;
all is gift, Jesus says
everything You have given me I give to them,
no special Easter sale,
we, living in post-Resurrection time,
look up, down, around, world without end.
He’s still here though he rose.

Christ has died.
Christ has risen.
Christ is here.
Christ will come again.

Oh yes.

 
About this poem . . . In the church’s calendar, it is still Easter, although the hoopla has ended. And finally Jesus rises not only from the dead but from the earth, the disciples’ mouths agape at the sight. But is it so? Do we also only look up, or can we look within and around at others and know he remains, seeing him perhaps even in ourselves? Can we pray and wait and know there is always more, for the asking? Often even without asking? 
©Robin Gorsline 2017 FaithfulPoetics.net

Always

Reflection on Holy Saturday, Year A

 

Textual Focus: Job 14:1-14; Matthew 27:57-66; John 19:38-42
Click here for biblical texts
 

 

Can we pause today, take stock
of how we feel after watching Jesus
bleed to death on the cross?
We know he will come back,
we prepare for the feast to come
tomorrow, but today
can we find a way
to do as Joseph of Arimathea did,
care for the dead body,
or sit shiva as Jews and friends do?
Or do we, like some who opposed Jesus,
post a guard around our hearts
so he cannot touch us from the tomb?

This is the day God has made,
we may not wish to rejoice,
and yet cannot our tears water a tree
cut down that it may sprout again,
emerging from the womb of our soul,
leaking like tremors of pure sunlight
against tides of death and destruction,
reminding us in the quiet of desperation
that God is always more—
keep watch
bear witness.
 

 

 

About this poem . . . . I will sit quietly in this space today.
 

 

©Robin Gorsline 2017 FaithfulPoetics 2017

Eden Again

 

Reflection offered on January 1, 2017
at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C.

Focus texts: Psalm 8 and Eccleasiastes 3:1-13
for New Year’s Day, Year A
Click here for texts

God gives us so much.
With the psalmist we give thanks and praise,
but the singer also knows we may not be all we think we are.
What are human beings that God cares about us?
Is it because we are created to be divine franchise agents,
with everything at our feet–presumably God knew what She
was doing, but polluted lakes and streams, endangered species,
stripped-mine hillsides, fouled air, war,
poverty, and group hates and ugly stories about those not like us,
may create skepticism in parts of heaven
not to mention earth.

There is a time for all that, of course, but so much more,
or maybe less, I mean the simple ways of living in peace
and hope and love and joy that God intends which
could take up all our time if we accepted the gift of God:
that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results
of their hard work. It seems so simple, and it is,
but not easy, never easy when every day in so may ways
we are tempted by the siren calls of those who claim
to have something better: building walls to keep people out,
a bigger house or better car and internet to go faster,
private schools to increase odds of Ivy League admissions, 
droning, bombing everyone who looks at us wrong, making sure
there are enough guns to shoot every person, adult and child,
at least once, and kill as many of them as necessary
to keep stocks rising along with income gaps widening
between rich and poor at home, even slowing the climb
of other nations out of the rut of domination.

But its not too late. It is never too late with God–that is what
makes God, God. She, or He, or They, refuse, despite ancient testimonies|
to the contrary, to give up on us, you and me, too, and the others,
even those whose agendas seem foreign and evil.
No one is a hopeless case with God.

The divine calendar is not ours,
so there has been only one new year, how many
millions of years ago we do not know,
and God is not counting,
but this is the moment of our latest attempt at renewal,
and in truth we can make the most of it—yes, with resolutions
of self-improvement if we must, but even more powerfully by a simple,
again not easy, commitment to listen to our individual
and collective souls where rests and rises the voice and hope
and love of God. And justice, too.

Let us not forget justice, divine justice which is not to punish or even chastise
but to repair, heal, move us to change, to do differently, better than last time.
Self-care is important, essential, but with God the we is as
important as the I, and the test of fealty to our holy parent
is how well we treat the rest of our human family, the ones God loves
as much as God loves us, not more not less, often
in different ways but still with an arm around all and each of us
at all times, everywhere without end.
World without end.

Don’t we know not to fear what is coming,
because of what God has given, and continues to give,
even when we don’t earn it? If we truly know and savor and trust
what God has provided, can we not share in the bounty
willingly, freely, joyously, generously,
so that no one goes without, no child is hungry,
no refugee is turned away from some safe place,
no young Black men and trans women hunted
and slaughtered on our streets,
no body is without health care,
no holy prayers cursed regardless what God or gods
or heavens are invoked.

This is the year God is making, again, for us, with us,
so let us rejoice and be glad in it,
and show our gratitude by making this the Year of Our God
and All God’s people, taking care of each human other and
all the rest of Creation, too, finally rising to meet
the divine challenge issued, earthly opportunity given,
at dawn on the first new year long ago,
to be Eden on earth again,
and forever.

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . . Two biblical readings without a real story presented a challenge for me, but I soon realized that the gratitude, reality, and hope present in them fit for today. This is of course the gift of Scripture, and indeed in some way or other all inspired writing (whether called “holy” or not). And as I finished the earliest draft, I remembered poem inspired by Judy Chicago’s famous art installation, The Dinner Party, with its evocation of Eden. God must keep hoping we shall yet understand, accept, and celebrate the gift of life caught in that ancient story.

©Robin Gorsline 2017 LectionaryPoetics.net

Who Does Our We Include?

A Meditation for Thanks-giving and Thanks-grieving

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,
the first line of a favorite Thanksgiving hymn
sung over and over year after year,
but these days I wonder, who is the “we” in that sacred song?
I have known for years it does not include turkeys,
as a vegetarian I am not joking,
the right of animals to live is very important to me,
not to mention how if we ate less meat
there would be more grains and other foods
for starving children and even adults.

But does our “we” include Native peoples
whose ground is no longer theirs, belonging
now to us, the white descendants of those
who took the land for a few beads or over dead bodies,
gunfights, cavalry charges, and disease
all playing a part in creating many trails
where tears and loss were, and still are,
markers on the way to landlocked prisons,
somebody’s so clever idea of fair trade:
after all, we’re civilized, they are not.

Does our we include these?

Or what about those grieving for dead sons, daughters,
brothers, sisters, friends, lying in blood on our streets,
victims of drive-bys and of trigger-happy cops
not to mention those still living who walk in fear,
holding their black and brown bodies hard and ready,
swaggering perhaps to hide the terror inside,
or the transwomen, especially those of darker hue,
who rank so high on the dead-to-be list,
and those lying in pools of their own lost identities
begging when they can for a scrap, a bottle, a kind word.

Does our we include these?

And what of those from away who journey here,
to this land we call ours,
seeking safety, work, and education,
a chance to break out of stifling, dangerous
roles and hierarchies, to breathe free air
we proclaim is the birthright of all God’s people
even as we continue to say some are more godly
than others, and their children told to dream,
but will it be deferred, even denied?

Does our we include these?

Queers, too, those who love differently,
their bodies performing outside the gender rules and roles,
for whom sex is an active language of desire
not merely a way to catch someone else’s eye
(though maybe that as well, in joy and fun and hope)
or snag their money in a purchase claiming to create
sexiness or success more than ever seemed possible—
sex workers as well–all who impudently challenge what others
claim is God’s unchanging law that only one man on top
of one matrimonial woman is ever allowed?

Does our we include these?

And homeless ones for whom alcoves and heating vents
become havens during frigid nights, huddled beneath raggedy cardboard
quilts, rickety shopping carts the only storage units
they will ever rent? And the millions even with homes of their own
with little or no health care or fearing the zeal of some
to take what they have by providing credits they can never use?
And those who do not believe, or believe in ways not as we do,
what of them? Do all these give thanks or perhaps they feel other ways,
not sure they are blessed enough to join in our thanks-giving,
instead joining in an unruly, but sacred, chorus of thanks-grieving?

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.
Who does your , and my, we include?
 

About this poem . . . . My dear friend and mentor of sainted memory, Rev. Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé, long ago told me about Thanksgrieving, a time when he, as an Africanibrahim American and Native American man, would join with many others to feel both gratitude and deep pain and loss for being alive on this one day each year when in the United States we pause to give thanks. My people, and many others, he said, paid so dearly that others, people who look like you, Robin, might carve a turkey and feel good about yourselves. I promised him I would never forget, and that I would seek to do what I can to help all of us remember and to give thanks for the sacrifice of so many, and to work to change the present and future so such sacrifice is no longer required.

 

 

©Robin Gorsline 2016 Fatihfulpoetics.net

Praying beside Jesus

A Reflection in Response to Proper 12, 10th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

Click here for biblical texts

Please rise as you are able and join in singing
the prayer that Jesus taught us.
Have you ever wondered as I have what sort of voice Jesus had?
Deep, high-pitched, booming, thin, clear, orotund, reverberant?
Did he sing? Was he baritone(my choice), bass, or tenor?
And why do we sing this simple prayer? Because we love Jesus,
and we love his prayer, surely, and singing connects us all,
especially when we hold hands and even raise our arms
as the tune soars with the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, forever and ever. Amen—
an ending not recorded in either Luke or Matthew,
sometimes seeming unlike the simple style
of Jesus throughout the New Testament.

Jesus teaching 2 obrerofiel com
obrerofiel.com

Can you imagine praying with Jesus, I mean really
praying right beside him, perhaps kneeling, even standing,
silently or aloud or both, feeling the power of his embodied presence,
his breathing, perhaps even warmth of his body,
the smell of sweat rolling down his face or chest in Judean heat,
and as you finish, you ask, as did the disciples, to teach you
how to pray? Can you feel your eagerness, desire to learn
all he has to teach, yearning to hear yet more, be more close
to him, indeed simply be more of the human God calls
you to be? Can you imagine being that close, in that intimacy
with our Lord, whom we call Savior, Brother, Liberator?

This prayer is about relationship with our Holy Parent,
and with Jesus, something we can see in Lucan
verses that follow the prayer, about friends who respond
to your persistence, your reaching out in need, love,
hope and peace, wanting always to give each other
the best we have, even when we are tired or angry or hurt.
Might we want sometimes to say or sing this prayer
not just in massed group but perhaps turning to your neighbor,
taking each other’s hands, offering the sacred prayer
to each other, not closing your eyes but looking deeply
into each other’s eyes so you can see Jesus
in that child of God facing you  as they see him
in the child of God facing them?

Holy One, focus Your truth within us, the light and dark—
Help us use it for You, Your world and people and ourselves. Amen.

 
writing+poetryAbout this prayer . . .  Who does not love the Lord’s Prayer? But what do we do with it? Do we not at least sometimes make it into some sort of triumphant evocation of God rather than the tender, intimate relationship Jesus had with the One he called Abba? I love to sing it as much as the next person, but sometimes I yearn to say it, perhaps to say it really slowly, savoring each word, hearing the holy resonance with which Jesus offered it. And then there are times when I wonder about him, when I daydream about him, when I do wonder how he sounded. I know how he sounds to me, at the few times when I have been blessed to hear his voice, but I do not know if I am hearing correctly. So I know what he really wants is for me to hear him, see him, be with him, with and through you, with and through my neighbors.

 

The pictures representing Jesus are from the Lumo Project, an award-winning DVD presentation of the four gospels. You can check them out here

©RobinGorsline 2016 lectionarypoetics.net
Please use the credit line above when the poem is published in any form