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Preaching Poetry

There isn’t much
that makes me think that writing
in free form
short
sentences
deep indents
staggered
lines
of
thought
will actually make my sermons any better.
Because when it comes right
down
to
it
I’m not slamming
(not that I was ever good at that when I tried)
in the pulpit
any more than I was when
I fancied
myself a poet far
far
from any
pulpit.

Last week
I sketched
my sermon
in some sort
of weirdfreeform
that I hoped would
break it (you know, the Word)
free
if only for me.

And I smiled when I thought about standing
before these nice, church folks,
spitting out words
in a rhythm
of stops
and starts
starts and
stops, then walking away to sing
the hymn of the day.

Then I swiveled
my chair to face the computer
and I typed long sentences
that
flowed together and broke only when the margin butted in and made them
jump to the next line as if scared that God’s grace really couldn’t
flow like the Gospel promised.

Some time ago I saw a bumper sticker taped to a car, and I got to thinking about our ideals and the permanence (or impermanence) with which we hold to them. What messages would you be willing to affix to your life forever? What messages come and go with the times?

Bumper Stickers

ah, dear driver of the hulking black metal,
you “Imagine Peace” in earnest black letters
on a wide strip of white—
and you trumpet your sentiment with
four careful pieces of tape,
tape that will dissolve into gunk,
but easily disappear with goo-gone
purchased at the hobby lobby.
where’s the commitment?
do you think Peace is justsoclose,
so easily imagined, like the song
on the tip of your tongue, then YES!
that nothing of yours need be peeled away
in the process?

This month we feature two pieces on baptism from two of our young clergy women. They convey very different, yet equally striking, aspects of the sacrament, as you will see.

 

Photo contributed by Sunny B. Ridings, who writes:

“The blessings of doing ministry in rural Tennessee are abundant. One of the richest blessings for me is getting to baptize the young people I work with as Associate Minister. The lake is a meaningful spot for those in our congregation, so these three church friends decided to be baptized in the lake. I love the look on the girl’s face who has just come up out of the water, with her two wet friends behind her. I can just imagine God saying, “These are my children, with whom I am well pleased.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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This month we feature two new poems by a pseudonymous blogger who writes at Pink Shoes in the Pulpit.

 

Words

You remind me of words
I said long ago
Words that I’d forgotten
and scenarios
I had scrubbed clean away.
You make me laugh
and somehow sad,
not knowing what
this is all about.
I scanned over some
pieces today
that represented
more than the black and white
on the page,
and that conjured up places
I’d allowed to gather dust.
Tile by tile
Piece by piece
Creating a bit of
wholeness.

_____________

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This month we are pleased to offer visual art and poetry together from two different artists, Mary Allison Cates (who created a series we featured in Advent) and Heidi Koschzec.

by Mary Allison Cates

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This month’s Christ and Creativity feature…

Storytime

They thought I was one of those teenage mothers who turned out all right.
But the county health department nurses didn’t know
that the young tornadoes in their waiting room
were only mine occasionally.

Both settled on my lap,
sister on one leg, brother on the other,
and I breathed unwashed blond hair
with every page of Berenstein Bears.

Home stayed home.
Hyper, Punch, and Kick took the afternoon off.
I was the Mama and Papa Bear hug that ends every story.
“Read us another one,”
tamed cubs chanted.

Occasionally, heaven visits earth for an hour.

The nurse told them how lucky they were to have a mom who reads to them.
“She’s not our mom!”
they yelled as they raced out.

But I could’ve been, wasn’t I?

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christmas ornaments and lights on Christmas tree

christmas ornaments and lights on Christmas tree

May Christ be born anew in you
this Christmastide!

inspired by “The First Noel”

they looked up,
and saw a star shining

in the east

beyond them

far—

it hung fat in the
sky

and taunted them
for days.

when they moved,
it slid alongside,

when they stopped
and turned, it halted too

and winked like an
idiot.

no-

eloquence

in its message: approach.

no-

elegance

in their response:
buzz off,

swatting it;

but a few sighed:

all right.

we’ll go that way,

just to get you

off our backs.

so they turned,
faced off with the light,

and walked a
lingering day and night,

but the further
they traveled, the more the beckoning star

remained far,

far beyond them.

___________

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