Allegiance or Admiration?

Third Sunday After Epiphany

Isaiah 9:1-4

Matthew 4:12-23

I am generally protected by my choice of media from the glamour and gossip side of the news. I don’t consume all that much of it and what news I read and hear is limited, mostly, to the websites of the established newspapers or the carefully worded renderings of NPR. But on occasion a story that is clearly the domain of the grocery store magazine rack makes its way even to the most serious news outlets. Such has been the case with “Megxit,” the leaving behind of the British royal family by Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle.

There is just something about royalty that worm its way through even the most disciplined journalistic standard. Perhaps it comes from our childhoods where all the best stories are replete with kingdoms and palaces. There just aren’t that many fairy tails, ancient or modern, about the deliberations of democracy.

Perhaps our curiosity about formally recognized royals is also born from the truth that we are all in fact kings and queens of a kind, with power over a realm all our own. As the philosopher and spiritual teacher Dallas Willard has put it, “Every last one of us has a ‘kingdom’–or a ‘queendom,’ or a ‘government’–a realm that is uniquely our own, where our choice determines what happens.”

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Mere Prayer

Second Sunday After Epiphany/Winter Ordinary Time

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 40:1-11

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

John 1:29-42

Winter Ordinary Time (or the Season of Epiphany as some traditions have it) is a good time to pause, following the great feast of Christmas, and the celebrations of Epiphany and Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan. We have a few weeks to consider the implications of God becoming one of us, and to make that part of our Christian life together. Today’s scriptures help us to begin Winter Ordinary Time. Read more

Tania Runyan, “Angel at the Nativity”–Lectionary Poem for Epiphany 1A

With the dawn of a new church year, The Englewood Review of Books is curating a weekly series of classic and contemporary poems that resonate with the themes of the lectionary readings. Here is one of the poems for this coming Sunday (Epiphany Week 1– More poems for this Sunday can be found here)

Angel at the Nativity
Tania Runyan

 (to accompany the lectionary reading: Psalm 29)

(Editor’s note: With the nativity fresh in our lectionary memories,
this poem is a fitting link between that and the Psalm for this week. )

Oh, God, I am heavy

with glory. My head thunders
from singing in the hills.

This night will come once.
Enough bright lights.
Enough shouting
at the shepherds in the fields.

Let me slip into the stable
and crouch among
the rooting swine.
Let me close my eyes
and feel the child’s breath,
this wind that blows
through the mountains and stars,
lifting my weary wings.

 

Published here with the permission of the poet.
(c) Tania Runyan, 2010.
Published by FutureCycle Press, Lexington, Kentucky, 2010.


Tania Runyan grew up in southern California, where she studied creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. She went on to receive an MFA from Bowling Green State University and an MA in Secondary Education from Roosevelt University. After working in educational publishing and teaching high school English, she began her own tutoring business and now works with students on reading, writing and college admissions testing and applications. She is also an editor for Every Day Poems and the poetry editor for Relief Journal.  Runyan is the author of the poetry collections Second Sky (Cascade Poiema Series), A Thousand VesselsSimple Weight, and Delicious Air, which was awarded Book of the Year by the Conference on Christianity and Literature in 2007. 

Nine Miles from Jerusalem

Christmas 2/Epiphany

Matthew 2:1-12

Isaiah 60:1-6

This Sunday our church will read scriptures of Epiphany, celebrating the visitation of the magi to Jesus. Although no manger scene would be complete without these exotic strangers from afar, Matthew says that they showed up some time after the birth of Jesus, and found Joseph’s little family in a house at Bethlehem. Read more

Inhabiting a Politics of Faithfulness

First Sunday after Christmas Day

Matthew 2:13-23

Christmas Eve, we huddled up in a back parking lot in Houston’s east downtown warehouse district, our congregation pushed out into the night by a blown transformer in the space we rent an hour before the service. As we made a semi-circle lit up by headlights and the Christ candle, a child lay belly down on the asphalt, coloring in his coloring book as if it were any other Sunday morning. We sang through all the carols in our bulletins as a makeshift liturgy, while a hundred yards or so away was a large homeless encampment under an I-10 overpass. We said our closing prayer over the rumble of a large freight train before sending folks to their homes.

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Henry Vaughan – Christ’s Nativity – Lectionary Poem for Advent 4A

With the dawn of a new church year, The Englewood Review of Books is curating a weekly series of classic and contemporary poems that resonate with the themes of the lectionary readings. Here is one of the poems for this coming Sunday (Advent week 4– More poems for this Sunday can be found here)

 

Christ’s Nativity
(to accompany the lectionary reading: Matt. 1:18-25)

Henry Vaughan

 

AWAKE, glad heart ! Get up, and sing !

It is the birthday of thy King.

        Awake ! awake !

        The sun doth shake

Light from his locks, and all the way

Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.

 

Awake, awake !  hark how th’ wood rings,

Winds whisper, and the busy springs

        A consort make ;

        Awake ! awake !

Man is their high-priest, and should rise

To offer up the sacrifice.

 

I would I were some bird, or star,

Flutt’ring in woods, or lifted far

        Above this inn

        And road of sin !

Then either star, or bird, should be

Shining, or singing still, to Thee.

 

I would I had in my best part

Fit rooms for Thee !  or that my heart

        Were so clean as

        Thy manger was !

But I am all filth, and obscene ;

Yet if Thou wilt, Thou canst make clean.

 

Sweet Jesu !  will then ; let no more

This leper haunt, and soil Thy door !

        Cure him, ease him,

        O release him !

And let once more, by mystic birth,

The Lord of life be borne in Earth.

 


Henry Vaughan (1621 – 1695) was a Welsh metaphysical poet, author, translator and physician, who wrote in English. 

Birth at Mount Gilboa

Third Sunday of Advent

 

 

 

Isaiah 35:1-10

Psalm 146:5-10

Luke 1:46b-55

James 5:7-10

Matthew 11:2-11

Have you ever smelled a railroad tie burning?  Picture hot asphalt, Marlboro Reds, and a touch of polecat rolled up together and you’ll just about have it. It’s one thing to get a whiff of, passing by with your windows down in July. It’s another thing altogether to have to breathe it day in and day out on your back porch under a thickened December sky.

Companies that want to produce energy on the cheap and make a good profit by doing it realize that it’s in their best interest to build their plants way out where “those rednecks” don’t have the infrastructure or capital to resist them. At the far edge of a big open field about a mile from where my husband pastors in Colbert, Georgia, an outsized box glows and pumps smoke 300 feet in the sky. Last year this biomass power plant quietly switched over from burning wood chips to creosote soaked railroad ties. At a similar plant right up the road, the creosote was only a gateway drug before burning used motor oil. And it’s not just the air here that’s a commodity. The chicken factories have started leasing land from ex-farmers to bury their beaks and byproducts six inches out of sight but not near deep enough to hide the stench they give off. Read more

Gerard Manley Hopkins – Patience, Hard Thing! – Lectionary Poem for Advent 3A

With the dawn of a new church year, The Englewood Review of Books is curating a weekly series of classic and contemporary poems that resonate with the themes of the lectionary readings. Here is one of the poems for this coming Sunday (Advent week 3 – More poems for this Sunday can be found here)

 

Patience, hard thing!

Gerard Manley Hopkins

to accompany the lectionary reading: James 5:7-10

Also pairs well with Wendell Berry’s poem, Whatever is Foreseen in Joy

 

PATIENCE, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,           

But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks          

Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;    

To do without, take tosses, and obey.    

  Rare patience roots in these, and, these away,       

Nowhere. Natural heart’s ivy, Patience masks    

Our ruins of wrecked past purpose. There she basks       

Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.      

 

  We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills             

To bruise them dearer. Yet the rebellious wills           

Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.          

  And where is he who more and more distils     

Delicious kindness?—He is patient. Patience fills

His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.

 


Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. ( 28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889) was an English poet and Jesuit priest, whose posthumous fame established him among the leading Victorian poets.

Malcolm Guite – St. John the Baptist 1 – Lectionary Poem for Advent 2A

With the dawn of a new church year, The Englewood Review of Books is curating a weekly series of classic and contemporary poems that resonate with the themes of the lectionary readings. Here is one of the poems for this coming Sunday (Advent week 2 – More poems for this Sunday can be found here)

 

St. John the Baptist 1
St. John’s Eve

(to accompany the lectionary reading: Matt. 3:1-12)

Malcolm Guite

Midsummer night, and bonfires on the hill

Burn for the man who makes way for the Light:

‘He must increase and I diminish still,

Until his sun illuminates my night.’

So John the Baptist pioneers our path,

Unfolds the essence of the life of prayer,

Unlatches the last doorway into faith,

And makes one inner space an everywhere.

Least of the new and greatest of the old,

Orpheus on the threshold with his lyre,

He sets himself aside, and cries “Behold

The One who stands amongst you comes with fire!”

So keep his fires burning through this night,

Beacons and gateways for the child of light.

 

— Reprinted here with the permission of the poet.
 This poem (and another St. John the Baptist sonnet) can be found on
Malcolm Guite’s blog
They also  can be found in his book:  
Sounding the Seasons: 70 Sonnets for the Christian Year


Malcolm Guite
is a poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge. He performs as a singer and guitarist fronting the Cambridgeshire-based blues, rhythm and blues, and rock band “Mystery Train”.