Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Fourth Sunday in Lent (C), March 6, 2016 - 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Jean Louis Forain:
The Return of the Prodigal Son (1925)
For my poem on the Luke 15 text for March 6, "Prodigal Son, Prodigal Dad," please see my poem from March 10, 2013 through the archives on the right or at

Meeting with the Pastor Nominating Committee

Jeff Curtis asked me in the interview
Which verse of scripture meant the most to me;
I said the one where everything is new,
And where, in Christ, we're from the past set free. 

What made this verse pop then into my head - 
One I believed, but never called it best?
Perhaps in worship, I had often said
Those words, which now, in being asked, expressed.

The old was when we thought we had it planned,
A place for everything, and all in place;
Out of the blue, and on the other hand,
God's newness may be right before your face. 

Paul calls us to be reconciled to God,
That is, be acclimated to the news
Which, in our daily life, we find quite odd:
You cannot stop the love which God pursues.

Scott L. Barton

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Third Sunday in Lent (C), February 28, 2016 - Isaiah 55:1-9

The bicentennial logo
of the Port Hope, Ontario, United Church

Note: For a poem on the Luke 13:1-9 text for this Sunday, please see my poem from March 3, 2013, "I think, perhaps, we miss the point"  in the archives at the right or at

This Isaiah text below means a lot to me. It was the Original Testament text at my ordination to Presbyterian ministry in Sackets Harbor, New York, in 1976. My father read it. I like to think he would have liked this poem that's basically a retelling of Isaiah's.

For Heaven's Sake, I'll from You N'er Stray

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come drink,
Though you be poor, come now and eat!
With all your money, do you think
Your spending makes your life complete?

Just listen up, and you will see
The food that's good which I will give;
Incline your ear and come to me,
Filled with delight, so you will live!

My steadfast love for David shows
My love for you will never end,
And people everywhere will know
You're blessed, and run, and you befriend.

Now seek, so that the  LORD, you find,
Forsake the wrong in mind and deed,
Because the LORD is always kind,
And pardons all who come in need.

I'm not like you in thoughts and ways,
For heav'n's sake, I'll from you ne'er stray.

Scott L. Barton

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; 
and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! 
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, 
and your labor for that which does not satisfy? 
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, 
and delight yourselves in rich food. 
Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. 
I will make with you an everlasting covenant, 
my steadfast, sure love for David. 
See, I made him a witness to the peoples, 
a leader and commander for the peoples. 
See, you shall call nations that you do not know, 
and nations that do not know you shall run to you, 
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found, 
call upon him while he is near; 
let the wicked forsake their way, 
and the unrighteous their thoughts; 
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, 
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Second Sunday in Lent (C), February 21, 2106 - Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Sorry; I don't know who did this, but I like it!

For a poem on the Luke 13:31-35 passage for Lent 2 (C), please see my poem from 2013 at

The Big Delay

Oh, why did Abraham believe,
When God said, what was up God's sleeve
Was Abraham would have an heir,
And of the promise, had a prayer?
It's so important here to see
The promise long-delayed as key
To what this text to us declares:
That Abram's yearning now compares 
To all our hopes for justice, peace,
While faith, though questioning, not cease.
The stars, God's generosity, declare,
And still, unceasing love, God dares.
There's still a vision for this time,
It speaks of peace, and does not lie,
If it seems long, we still need wait,
For come it will, and not be late.

Scott L. Barton

(The concluding four lines is the message of Habakkuk 2:3. Remember that this Gen. 15 promise of God's to Abram wasn't the first; it was given way back in chapter 12 and still has not appeared. So Abram questions God, wondering if God really, really meant it. Holding in tension that problem of unresolved promise is always the nature of this faith of ours. But "standin' on the promises," as the old hymn goes, is the only way to live and so invite such promise into being.)

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The First Sunday in Lent (C), February 14, 2016 - Deuteronomy 26:1-11

These Syrian refugees make me think that maybe the phrase,
"A wandering Aramean was my ancestor" was meant to remind
the people of where they'd been, and how far they had come.

Note: Please also see my poem from Lent 1, 2013, "He Departed from Him Until an Opportune Time," based on the gospel text, Luke 4:1-13, at:

(Also - for a little fun - page down (or click on Bonus Poem, "I Want to Say" on the right) for the previous daffodil post.)

Why Go to Church?

Our forebears knew how great their need
To say their thanks with such a creed
As this, reflecting whence they came.
They gave their ancestors a name:
Not smarter or more powerful 
Than those who sheared them for their wool;
Not self-reliant, needing none,
When by themselves they'd been outdone;
Not conqu'ring heroes who were pure,
And strangers made them insecure;
Not brave, or strong, or hardy stock,
But "wandering!" - like some lost flock
Where someone had to show the way!
That someone was the LORD, portrayed
By how they thanked; and still it's true,
And still why we should sit in pews.

Scott L. Barton

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lordyour God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

Bonus Poem: I Want to Say

Pelham, MA, 2/7/16

I want to say, "Go back! Go back!
This is a momentary crack
In winter's shell! You'll freeze when snaps
Of cold return! Go back and nap!"
And yet, who knows? The daffodil's
Less daffy than a ducky bill,
And flowers whensoe'er it wills,
And soon I'll dig out Wordsworth's poem,
While hosts of yellow bloom at home.

Scott L. Barton