Monday, October 17, 2016

Bonus Poem: Islamophobia, and Many Others

(Please page down or click to the right for poems for October 23 and before.)

Islamophobia, and Many Others

How quickly we can judge
A tribe, a faith, a race,
By actions of a few
Which we believe debase
The whole, whom we don't know!
What we don't know, we fear;
And yet, what's worse is those
Who fan the flames with sheer
And outright lies, and tie
Their own prestige to hate;
They're good at firing up
The crowd, and thus create
A toxic brew to drink,
Like war, where enemies
Must be destroyed, e'en though
It's peace we all would see
Within our hearts, so none
Would be afraid; and all
The better angels of
Our nature might enthrall.
To love sincerely means 
To risk, for right to stand,
And know your chance to make
A difference is at hand.

Scott L. Barton
(For Jim Wohlgemuth, warrior for peace)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bonus Poem: The Enemy Within

(Please page down or click to the right for poems for October 23 and before!)

The Enemy Within

A Presidential candidate,
An embarrassment to mankind
(And I mean that literally),
A narcissistic psychopath,
A pacing megalomaniac -
Is that how they saw Cyrus,
King of the Persians and the Medes,
An instrument of God's cleansing
Of those called to love and to bless,
A big, belligerent blaster?
God save us! Call a spade a spade!
Turn now, and avert disaster!

Scott L. Barton

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost (C), October 23, 2016 - Joel 2:23-32 and Luke 18:9-14

Michelangelo Buonarroti: The Prophet Joel
1508-1512, Sistine Chapel

Joel 2:23-32

Lord of the Harvest

O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice,
The LORD has poured down for you, rain;
The wine vats and threshing floors all will be full,
And no one will be put to shame.
There soon will be plenty, and all satisfied,
The LORD still does wonderful things;
I'll say it again: no one need be ashamed,
The praises of heaven you'll sing!
Now grace comes to all - even slaves will receive! -
The women and men, young and old
Will see, after judgment, the spirit come strong;
Such harvest will surely unfold!

Scott L. Barton

O children of Zion, be glad 
and rejoice in the Lord your God; 
for he has given the early rain for your vindication, 
he has poured down for you abundant rain, 
the early and the later rain, as before. 
The threshing floors shall be full of grain, 
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. 

I will repay you for the years 
that the swarming locust has eaten, 
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, 
my great army, which I sent against you. 

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, 
and praise the name of the Lord your God, 
who has dealt wondrously with you. 
And my people shall never again be put to shame. 
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, 
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other. 
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; 

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, 
your old men shall dream dreams, 
and your young men shall see visions. 
Even on the male and female slaves, 
in those days, I will pour out my spirit. 

I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lordshall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
+  +  +

Luke 18:9-14

Remedy for Chest-Thumping
It is surprising, is it not,
How righteous we can stay?
Shenanigans in Washington
Are just Exhibit A
Of how some folks perceive themselves
As better than the rest,
While calling out, "Full speed ahead!"
As if, alone, they're blessed
With knowing what is right and good!
But they are justified
- As we - when knowing all we have
The Lord our God provides!
This might change how we see ourselves,
And all the world, as well,
When it's no longer "me" or "us,"
Since faith in God propels
Our looking out, not in!  That is,
These days, God's mighty deeds
Will show, when taxers and those taxed
All know it's love we need.

Scott L. Barton

[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost (C), October 16, 2016 - Jeremiah 31:27-34 and Luke 18:1-8

John August Swanson: Celebration
Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.

What We Might All Know

In time to come, there'll be no blame,
One generation to the next;
To save one's pride, none will inflame,
Claim by another tribe they're vexed;
But all will know within their hearts,
A common humanness believe;
Such is the covenant for which God yearns,
That we perceive, conceive, receive.

Scott L. Barton

Jeremiah 31:27-34
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. In those days they shall no longer say: “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge. The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
+ + +

Better Than a Calm Façade

It's quite all right to bother God!
That's better than a calm façade,
Or resignation of your lot;
For Jesus says the one who's got
The gumption not to knuckle under
Exhibits real faith and wonder
That justice, always, God intends,
Although we may not comprehend
The schedule! Thus, the widow's might
Is in her cry the judge make right -
Which teaches us to fight despair
By voicing what becomes real prayer.

Scott L. Barton

Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bonus Poem: You Can Just Taste It

(Please page down to the previous post for the lectionary poems for October 9.)

You Can Just Taste It

I wait in a very long and slow-moving line at the Big E.
It's a free wine tasting, and I'm marveling 

at everyone's remarkable patience, when - 
finally getting close to the front -
A woman hands each person in line a tiny plastic cup.
I stare at the cup and ask myself, 

"Is this all there is? Is this what all these people are waiting for? Because it's free?"
And this sets me to marveling at Christians who, 

all across the world, can be just as patient,
When they wait for the same size cup, also freely given,
But one that turns out to be, not just some local red,
But the cup of salvation.

Scott L. Barton

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost (C), October 9, 2016 - Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 and Luke 17:11-19

In Its Welfare You Will Find Your Welfare

The headline says that "Evangelicals despair"*
And feel, with no one in their Presidential camp,
Their values, these days, really just don't stand a prayer,
Since attitudes about gay rights have been revamped.

Perhaps a word from Jeremiah now pertains
To those who feel in exile in their native land:
If they would seek the good of all where they remain,
Perhaps they'd grow in love that faith in Christ demands.

Scott L. Barton


These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Vie de Jesus MAFA
Why Wait?

He could not wait to have the priests
Declare that he was well;
Besides, as a Samaritan,
The priests would never tell
Him he was clean - and then it dawned
On him that he could shout!
For why hold back? Why keep it in?
Perhaps, day in, day out,
He'll help us realize that life
That's whole, includes loud joy!

When we're surprised at every gift,
Then faith's the real McCoy!

Scott L. Barton

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (C), October 2, 2016 - 2 Timothy 1:1-14; also Lamentations 1:1-6; 3:19-26 and Luke 17:5-10

Edmund Pettus Bridge, "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965

2 Timothy 1:1-14

'Til Every Foe Is Vanquished

God did not give us cowardice,
A timid spirit holding back;
Bystanding's not the mark
Of Christ, whose grace for all, attacks
The powers that would thwart
The love for which he gave his all;
He asks us that we follow him:
Can you stand up, be brave? Your call.

Scott L. Barton

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Esther Epp, Western Tract Mission

Lamentations 1:1-6; 3:19-26 and Luke 17:5-10

"Increase Our Faith!" They Said

I had spoken at my uncle's memorial service,
Saying the things you might expect,
The kind of guy he was, etc.
I referred to an old oral letter
He'd sent to me on cassette tape which,
On the way back to my pew,
I handed to his only child, his daughter, my cousin.
"You will love it," I said.
And then I sat down,
Satisfied that perhaps in some way,
I had increased their faith
(In God, if not in me?)
Then we sang a hymn that I didn't know
(Long before its inclusion
In the Presbyterian hymnal).
But my brother, standing next to me,
Belted it out from memory.
His different theological route from mine
Had taken him to this place I did not know.
"Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with thee."
I can still hear and picture him there,
Even more so as he, himself, dead this past year,
Brings tears to my eyes;
And like to think I learned then,
As maybe the apostles learned,
If they heard, that day,
This new theology
This new analogy
This new hymnology,
Sung way back in Lamentations,
And later served up at table,
In life and in words (which we still play)
By a Master of such increased faithfulness
You can hardly believe it.

Scott L. Barton

How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become,
she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces
has become a vassal.

She weeps bitterly in the night,
with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers
she has no one to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,
they have become her enemies.

Judah has gone into exile with suffering
and hard servitude;
she lives now among the nations,
and finds no resting place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.

The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the festivals;
all her gates are desolate,
her priests groan;
her young girls grieve,
and her lot is bitter.

Her foes have become the masters,
her enemies prosper,
because the LORD has made her suffer
for the multitude of her transgressions;
her children have gone away,
captives before the foe.

From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty.
Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture;
they fled without strength before the pursuer.


The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

+ + +

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"  The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.

"Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here at once and take your place at the table'?  Would you not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'?  Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded?  So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'"