Friday, May 20, 2016

The Second Sunday after Pentecost (C), May 29, 2016 - Luke 7:1-10 and 1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39


Adam Camerious: Jesus Heals the Centurion's Servant
(bet. 1644-1665), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Color Me Surprised!

In the eyes of the centurion,
His slave was worthy to be healed;
In the eyes of Capernaum's elders,
Their centurion was worth Jesus' doing it.
But what's worth seeing here
Is a Jesus who is amazed.
Don't be blue about all your calculations:
Turns out, it's divine to be surprised!


Scott L. Barton


After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.


Mendelssohn's "Elijah," part I
I cannot read this text without
The strains of Mendelssohn
Reverberating through my head
In many-layered tones;
Elijah taunts the prophets,
"Call him louder" his refrain,
I smile as he sarcastically
Keeps singing his disdain;
"Perhaps he's on a journey,"
Euphemistic'lly he goads,
"Pursuing!" Maybe Baal's off wooing
Down amorous roads!
"Or peradventure," (quietly)
"He sleepeth," Eli mocks,
I have to say, of all the prophets
Old, Elijah rocks!
But not just for his anger, or
Dramatic, forceful zeal,
But for his tenderness, as he
Goes on with this appeal:
"Draw near you people, come to me,"
The prophet soothes in song,
Then prays, "Lord, God of Abraham
"...This day let it be known
That thou are God, and I'm thy servant,"
Thus his tone is changed;
For all his bluster, still his doubts
Reveal he's not deranged
But waits to see if God will act
According to his word,
"Oh, hear me, Lord, and answer me"
He prays that he's been heard!
"And let their hearts again be turned,"
Is what he deeply craves;
The love Elijah knows, and has,
The people, always saves.


Scott L. Barton


http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/05/second-sunday-after-pentecost-june-2.html

So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel.

Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.” All the people answered, “Well spoken!” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”;with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed.Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water. At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.”

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Trinity Sunday, First Sunday after Pentecost (C), May 22, 2016 - Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 and Romans 5:1-5

(Unknown source)

All This Mommixity and Foofaraw

"All this mommixity and foofaraw,"
The book I'm reading said about a place*
Where people of all nations and all stripes
Once lived in harmony, all interlaced.

It was so cosmopolitan you could
Not let yourself be proud, too serious,    
But rather, see the humor in each day,
That none might find themselves imperious.

Pride has its place, and yet anxiety,
When stoked, can fan a fire, and heartache give;
Instead, rejoice in neighbors, and delight -
True wisdom's cry still comes - so all may live.

Oh, who can understand "The Trinity?"
Be honest, does it baffle or confuse?
All doctrine, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, too,
Still points to peace and joy it's wise to choose.

Scott L. Barton

*Istanbul, in Louis de Bernières: "Birds Without Wings"


Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.



Since We Are Justified By Faith

Since we are justified by faith,
We are at peace, through Christ, our Lord,
That is, he shows that grace is ours
And hope of glory, our reward;
Why boast in hope - or suffering?
Well, it's for others, don't you see?
God's glory means God gives, and gives,
And even suffers, willingly -
Endures although endangered - that's
The character we might impart,
When through the Holy Spirit, God
Keeps pouring love into our hearts.

Scott L. Barton
Also at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/05/trinity-sunday-first-sunday-after.html

The phrase, "Endures although endangered" is from a poem by Thomas John Carlisle that you can see at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/03/resurrection-of-lord-march-31-2013-luke.html

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Bonus Poem: Quite an Earful (of spring peepers)!

(Please page down to the previous post for lectionary poems on Pentecost.)


Quite an Earful!

Driving down Route 1,
hearing chorus after chorus 
of spring peepers,
for whom it must be like 
one of those restaurants 
where everybody talks louder and louder
until you give up trying to hear 
the person across the table,
and just try to enjoy your meal,
we slow down at one of them,
roll down the windows,
listen in, and are glad 
that they, at least, 
keep on trying:
"I'm over here!"
"I'm over here!" 
"Pick me!"
"No, me!"
"I'm over here!"
"Pick me!"
"Pick me!"
while, yet again, we get to enjoy 
this delicious, springtime feast.

Scott L. Barton

The Day of Pentecost (C), May 15, 2016 - Acts 2:1-21

In St. Mark's cathedral, Korčula, Croatia

Grace in Croatia

I understood nothing,
In St. Mark's Cathedral,
Korčula, Croatia.
Some two hundred had come,
Despite buckets of rain,
Five in the afternoon.
I'd call their hymns praise songs,
Repeated, known by heart,
Yet beautifully faithful.
Their songs of mystery -
And love - and sacrifice -
And, I think, gratitude,
Almost moved me to tears,
Everything understood,
Though no words known to me.
How could this be, given
My inability
To say anything back
About that which filled them?
I, too, was full of grace.

Scott L. Barton


Pentecost, Pope Francis, and the Lightness of Being

It used to be that when the Pope
Would speak, he didn't speak to me;
He's always been the voice of judgment,
And of high authority;
Plus, as a pastor, I had seen
The damage done unto his flock,
When people to our doors appeared,
Cast from their church right down the block;
But this Pope speaks a different line,
The Spirit has him in its grasp;
The lightness of his being shows
A man (like God?) in on the laugh
Of Christ, who doesn't spare the truth,
Yet always sees the world with grace.
All understand! And at his faith
And hope and love I am amazed.

Scott L. Barton
http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-day-of-pentecost-b-may-24-2015-acts.html



Oh, What Would They Do?

A sound like the rush of a violent wind
Filled the whole house with all of them there;
These tongues, or this ruach, this fire, appeared,
Like an answer to all of their prayers;
Oh, what would they do, with their Lord up and gone,
Out of sight, vanished, gone, disappeared?
Thus, fire from heaven, like Sinai encore,
All their doubts of the kingdom then cleared:
The news of salvation is not some obscure
Or exclusive thing meant for a few;
All manner of folk, of all nations on earth
Now are given the love that makes new.

Scott L. Barton
http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2014/06/day-of-pentecost-june-8-2014-acts-21-21.html


How Odd

How odd/ of God/ to choose/ the Jews
I used to like to say;
It was a favorite axiom
I might say some Lord's Day
To help the congregation see
These texts are not obsessed
With moral goodness all around,
But rather, how God blessed
A motley crew of liars, cheats,
And folk like you and me!
Which is, of course, good news today,
For, though we don't agree
On points of doctrine, song or style,
The Spirit gladly speaks
So people hear within their hearts
(Despite our own techniques)
That blessings far and wide abound;
Such things still come from God!
So go proclaim the love you have,
Not like a drunk - but odd!

Scott L.  Barton
http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/05/day-of-pentecost-may-19-2013-acts-21-21.html


When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Seventh Sunday of Easter (C), May 8, 2016 - John 17:20-26 and Acts 16:16-34




He Asks That They Be One

He asks that they be one just as
The Father and he are one;
It's not an idle prayer because
It seems we've only begun
To realize just what he means -
He never meant to divide;
The love that opens you to harm
Is love which is bona fide.
The day will come when you and I
Will never, by faith, condemn;
But each will know the other just
As Christ made God known to them.

Scott L. Barton

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”


(The following poem can also be seen through the archives to the right for 2013, or at http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/05/seventh-sunday-of-easter-may-12-2013.html)

Blessed Be the Tie That Binds

We sang it yesterday with gusto;
The old timers love it,
 - and the new ones will;
What, do you suppose,
Did Paul and Silas sing,
Bound with ties, as they were
To the walls of that Philippi jail?
Perhaps you, too, have read
How Bill Coffin sang in a D.C. jail,
After marching for peace on the Capitol steps,
"Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people,"
His Messiah in his heart,
Encouraging the others there,
And probably himself, too,
Binding them together in the same One
Who set free that slave girl,
And who re-binds us still,
Re-ligaments us all,
So our re-ligion, at its best,
Is the song we have to sing,
No matter what.

Scott L. Barton

Acts 16:16-34

One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Sixth Sunday of Easter (C), May 1, 2016 - Acts 16:9-15

Source: https://revgeary.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/easter-6-lydia-starts-a-church/

For my poem on John 14:23-29, "Remember how, two weeks ago, 'The Father and I are one,' he said?" also for Easter 6, please go to the archives at the right for May 5, 2013, or go to http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/04/sixth-sunday-of-easter-may-5-2013-john.html


A New Normality

Why do you think that they supposed
A place of worship was where clothes
Were washed? The women, there, would be!
- Down by the river, where you see
Still, those who for their families care,
In third world countries everywhere.
There, Lydia, by Paul baptized,
And her whole family, then comprised
The founding members of the Way
In Macedonia, arrayed
Not just in royal fabric's hue,
But were by love and prayer imbued,
Which wove their hospitality
Into a new normality.

Scott L. Barton


During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

The Fifth Sunday of Easter (C), April 24, 2016 - Revelation 21:1-6


Icon of the Revelation to St. John
(source unknown)

For my poem on Acts 11:1-18, "How Interesting Their Minds Were Changed," also for Easter 5, please see the archives to the right for April 28, 2013, or simply go to http://lectionarypoems.blogspot.com/2013/04/fifth-sunday-of-easter-april-28-2013_22.html

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Christ is the alpha and omega,
The beginning and end,
The be all and end all,
The whole ball of wax.

Christ, the bride adorned,
Forsaking all others,
For better, for worse;
Nothing do we lack.

Never out on a limb,
Or up a creek without a paddle,
Or at a complete loss;
Christ has your back.

All things new,
Trustworthy, true,
Your meat and your drink,
Love to the max.

Scott L. Barton

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.