Advent Messages

Comfort, O comfort my people, says God, according to Isaiah.
Do we hear the melodic lift from Handel’s Messiah
and immediately feel better
or do we feel how much we need comforting,
knowing how much trauma is in the world—
not just in distant war-torn lands
but in our own where war rages too,
maybe not a shooting war,
although Black women and men
may have a different view, but war nonetheless,
ugly words, untrue claims, threats of violence
not just one virus but many,
do we wonder if comfort will ever come?

Mark begins by announcing the good news
of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
then repeats Isaiah
to assure his listeners that John the Messenger
will prepare the way for the people in the wilderness—
struggling under the heavy fist of Rome, desperate for a new life—
to be ready for a new reality
made possible through repentance and confession.

But does that sound like good news?
Does it sound comforting?
Repenting and confessing are not easy,
requiring honest examination of ourselves,
telling the truth even when it is not pleasant
facing things we want to forget.

In his own way, John reminds us of the need
to go back, to engage in a searching and honest look back—
being clothed in camel hair with a leather belt
was several centuries out of fashion,
and locusts and wild honey
hardly reflect success and power to lead.
Still, many responded to the gift, yearning for change,
for God who resides in human hearts.

Advent can be a nostalgic journey, even one of cheer,
remembering Christmas pageants of our younger years
now featuring children and grandchildren,
obscuring the unmistakable longing
for what is just out of sight,
the gift of wholeness we are promised
in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Is this not a season of comfort, gratitude, joy
and longing? 

Biblical texts for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B, can be found at https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=49

I would appreciate knowing if you choose to part or all of this poetic reflection.
Please write me at fp@robinhawleygorsline.com 

Something Is Up

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

When rich men pay homage
bear extravagant gifts to honor a baby
something is up
almost as if missing
the baby shower they know more
is needed by new parents funds
for diapers blankets socks
but when their limousine
pulls up in front neighbors
authorities sense more at stake
than needs of an infant and his parents.
What is going on what do they know that
we do not Who is this child Who
are his parents Is he a local boy?
Where do they come from perhaps they
are illegal should we call police
at least demand answers.
Shabby shepherds came last
week now richly dressed men
from away he they must be
something special. We have to know
the secret ask the rabbis priests imams
they have to know but will they tell
danger seems to lurk around him
even as a bright light shines over the
rude birthing bed like a spotlight
protecting the door to a laden barn
calling attention to it too.
Is this Messiah is it time?
But in a cave with cattle straw
how can that be?
Shh! Don’t tell might get them
in trouble with Homeland Security
let them leave quietly
let the baby grow up and then
we’ll know why angels sang
shepherds and rich men came.
©RobinGorsline2015 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

Shall We Sing to God a New Song?

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

Shall we sing to God a new song
becoming angels making joyful noise
listening to hear those high above
hearts ears open to hear
divine music in our souls to tumble
from our holy lips heralds of new birth
in Bethlehem yes but closer to home
our very own manger in which to lay
gifts of ourselves to share hope peace
joy love by which we are marked as
God’s beloved not just one night but
for life giving ourselves away feeding
the world with the symphonic melody
beating coursing in sacred veins
cherub chorus that never ends
divine energy flowing in through around us
touching hardened ones opening once
closed minds making shepherds of all
to proclaim yet again God’s love
for a world too frightened to receive
without shame and preconditions
what is freely given in delirious joy
pondering in our hearts
the gift vibrating still in Holy Land
war zones where mothers continue
to ponder in their hearts the blood
of birth as the sign of heaven’s favor
and fathers look on awed to see
what wildest dreams cannot conceive
hope rising peace born yet again
singing a new song in God’s key
heaven’s harmonics heralding
the chance to start again
where all was lost and yet
is never gone when we listen
watch wait pray hope give thanks
trusting the One we cannot see
right in front of our eyes.
©RobinGorsline2015 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

The Day Is Not Only Coming. It Is Here.

(Advent 1 Year C, click here for the biblical texts)

Moments come in each life
to choose how and if we focus.
Are autumn and winter dying times only or  
long days to prepare for new life?
Will we only mourn the dead or
will our tears renew love for the living
to protect them from dread disease
to find the cure thus far beyond our grasp?
We can read the signs of these times
or we can cling to stories past
like Muzak in a merry mall.
Advent now calls us to decide
Is it presents under a tree
not wrong but off center
or is it about new life—ours–
shaken up when hope sprouts
against odds and we are taken  over
yet again by holy bald truth
of boundless grace
cutting through our defense?
The joy is coming here and now.
Are we ready to go beyond
cards and carols eggnog and stringing lights
to open our lives to the grandeur of God’s gifts
in delicate moments of wisdom as naked
and loving as a babe in a crib in a manger rude
cutting through never ending jockeying
for position against the other to find our
rest in Thee and our deep true life
where it has ever been never apart from us
even as we terrified run and hide?
The day is not only coming It is here
the choice as well. What will it be?
©RobinGorsline2015 lectionarypoetics.org

Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form.