Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

Poetry Corner

Poetry Corner: Adult Advent Announcement Advent Announcement

O Lord,
Let Advent begin again
In us,
Not merely in commercials;
For that first Christmas was not
Simply for children,
But for the
Wise and the strong.
It was
Crowded around that cradle,
With kings kneeling.
Speak to us
Who seek an adult seat this year.
Help us to realize,
As we fill stockings,
Christmas is mainly
For the old folks —
Bent backs
And tired eyes
Need relief and light
A little more.
No wonder
It was grown-ups
Who were the first
To notice
Such a star.

David A. Redding

(Thanks to – find their Advent poetry page here)

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Poetry Corner: First Coming by Madeline L’Engle Coming

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Madeleine L’Engle

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Poetry Corner: Benedict, Blessing us Just North of Schuyler

Blessedly bold
of the outstretched, upraised arms,
though your bronze robe doesn’t billow
in the Nebraska winds you reach to welcome,
your rising up seems to beckon
even the ripples on the pond
over which you now preside,
to reach out for the full moon,
replenished in its mysteries,
to embrace in the late and silent night
the jet flights winging toward Omaha,
offering perhaps a gift of precious space
to passengers cramped in pressurized cabins,
as in some measure are we all,
to find joy in the spraying jetties
springing up to either side,
poised there to greet our tomorrows
as they who, in watchtowers of the night,
anticipate like saints,
you host of the hosts of God,
bold in that spirit that blows where it will,
the dying embraced and healed in its wings.


Fr. Chuck Peek
May 2000
Schuyler, Nebraska

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Poetry Corner: The Summer Day by Mary Oliver Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?



Mary Oliver
From The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays. © Beacon Press, 2008.

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Poetry Corner: At the Gates of Heaven…by Chuck Peek the Gates of Heaven, Facing the Crowds, Searching Desperately for the Ways to Measure Grace on Judgment Day

once if memory served
     there was a table of equivalencies
                    but now no one can seem to

lay their hands on it
               so possibly the remembering will have to do

     will (to get down to business) count the dirt under Sister Gardener’s nails
               as a novena

o.k., possibly a no brainer (unless you spoke with her Superior)

but then we can imagine the high pitched sound
     off the amped guitar chording hopes and losses

is surely godspeeding something
     no matter at 36,000 feet or a ground zero

what then the wounded tongue of
          the woman at the clinic,
     bitten repeatedly
        each time she’s accused
                       of killing babies

or the witness’s go-to-hell refusal to testify against his friends
                while the cameras flash
     his inquisitor’s photo for mass consumption

                  another song you could write, another hell to pay

was there anything in the book for those who
          stand (add the usual prepositions: up or with or by)

               can we count the stretching of the figures fading on the cave’s walls

must we protract the perimeters of the circles
                               of hell
                  how far do the outstretched arms reach



Chuck Peek
Kearney, Nebraska / November 6, 2014

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Poetry Corner: Love’s Endeavor, Love’s Expense


Morning glory, starlit sky,
soaring music, scholar’s truth,
flight of swallows, autumn leaves,
memory’s treasure, grace of youth:

Open are the gifts of God,
gifts of love to mind and sense;
hidden is love’s agony,
love’s endeavor, love’s expense.

Love that gives, gives ever more,
gives with zeal, with eager hands,
spares not, keeps not, all outpours,
ventures all its all expends.

Drained is love in making full,
bound in setting others free,
poor in making many rich,
weak in giving power to be.

Therefore he who shows us God
helpless hangs upon the tree;
and the nails and crown of thorns
tell of what God’s love must be.

Here is God: no monarch he,
throned in easy state to reign;
here is God, whose arms of love
aching, spent, the world sustain.

W.H. Vanstone

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Poetry Corner: New Publication by Fr. Chuck Peek

Fr. Chuck Peek's new collection of poetry:  Breezes on Their Way to Being Winds

Fr. Chuck Peek’s new collection of poetry: Breezes on Their Way to Being Winds

TNE is proud to share a new collection of poems published by Fr. Chuck Peek, Breezes on Their Way to Becoming Winds. The poetry collection is available from Poet/editor Susan Swartwout says: “poems…accessible yet challenging…entertaining and gracefully connected in heart and mind.”  [TNE ed. – What could describe our beloved Fr. Peek better than that!]

Today’s poem, just in time for Palm Sunday, is from this new collection.


Branching Out: Palm Sunday in Changchun

There were palm trees in Shanghai,
but here the bare-branched trees
offer little to the passers-by.

Off the hill to the north, kites
catch the strong currents and soar,
their tails banners in the dusky skies.

Below, along Xiyou Da Lu,
the way is strewn with the usual debris
from where today’s vendors had set up shop.

We come and go through the narrow gate
through which students bike, or parade
to waiting rows of buses and taxis.

Now, in our rooms, above the street,
below the hill, we believe we can feel
some heat in the radiator along the wall.

We have moved the flowers Mary brought
to the table where bread and wine
will make a miracle of being anywhere at all.

She was painfully shy, explained in an email
it was her bad acnes, her bad English,
but this did not alter where her face was set,

like another’s she’s never heard of, who,
burdened by different streets and hills and skies,
too trudged on till what was willed was finished.

Changchun, China
March 20, 2005

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Poetry Corner: The Valley of Vision

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett.
Thanks to

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A Prayer for the Nation on the Event of Another Shooting



Good and Gracious God,
Yet again,
our nation grieves.
Yet again,
the life of a child
has been cut
dreadfully short.
Yet again,
we all rally to our
political centers
to cry out
for our guns,
for our rights,
for our safety,
for rational thought…

we forget.

We forget
that a child
who should be here
with us…
is not.
We forget
that a family,
a community,
a nation mourns.
We forget
that our decisions
impact lives
and that impact has
a ripple effect.
We forget
that life is
more important,
more central,
more valuable,
than anything else
we have.

we are far too ready
to hand life away.

We are far too ready
to miss the emphasis
to which you call us.
We are far too ready,
to let our political allegiances
distract us from
the things you desire.
We are far too ready
to turn to our TVs and internet
for what to think
rather than to the love
too which you call us.
we are far too ready
to hand life away –
the lives of others –
and even,
the life to which you call us.

we must change.

We must change
our focus.
Let us no longer
focus on others
as the target of our
but rather
let us
focus on others
as the target of our
and caring,
and love.
We must change,
the national dialogue
from one of
and disingenuous “debate”
to one of
truly listening,
thoughtfully considering
and deeply loving
those we may have once
seen as “the other side.”

we must learn.

We must learn
that there truly is
only one side –
the side of humanity,
the side of life,
the side of love.
We must learn
to bracket out
all of the voices
that ask us to focus
on anything other than
each other.
We must learn
that love is
the only thing that can
cure this illness
that plagues our nation.

we must act.

We must act
Not after another death.
Not after another leader
is injured.
Not after another misguided child
hurts themselves and others.
Not after another family
spends a lifetime mourning.
Not after another survivor
struggles for full recovery.
We must act

we must do it
in love.

Not divisiveness.
Not political posturing.
Not disrespectful dialogue.
Not parroting
the talking heads on TV.

We must do it
one on one
with open hearts,
with open minds
and a willingness
to see the humanity
of those with whom we disagree.

Only then
can this illness
which has a grip on our nation
begin to be treated.

So we ask
that we might be filled with the Spirit
and that from all of us
there might come
a great outpouring of love
on a scale like never seen before –
because our friends matter,
our family matters,
our children matter –
your children matter.


Rev. Mark Sandlin, Vandalia Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, NC
Used by permission
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