Poetry

Lectionary Poetry – 9th Sunday After Pentecost ( Year B )

With the dawn of a new church year, we have launched a new feature on our website, a weekly post of poetry that resonates with the lectionary readings for that week (Revised Common Lectionary).

*** Revised Common Lectionary ***

Lectionary Reading:
John 6:1-21

 
 

 CLASSIC POEM:

Whence Shall We Buy Bread?
Edward Hayes Plumptre

THE AFTER-GLOW lies purple on the hill,
And o’er the listening crowd,
There falls the boding of the evening chill,
And mist of thickening cloud.

Where shall they go who all day long have stood
Hearing the news of joy?
Where in this town, that village, gather food
For woman, man, and boy?

Weary, and sad that journey through the waste,
Half-fainting by the way,
Through darkness pressing with bewildering haste,
Down sinking ere the day.

And some are lame, and palsied, deaf or blind,
Still waiting for His hand;
Or, healed that very day, can hardly find
Their strength to walk or stand.

Rumour had told that once before He fed
Five thousand in the wild,
And satisfied the hungry souls with bread,
And all their fears beguiled.

Oh, was it true that He a feast can make
When man’s resources fail,
And spread His banquet by the lonely lake,
In grassy upland vale?

Can He, with one poor fisher’s scanty store,
For all that crowd provide,
The bread and fish still growing more and more,
Till none are unsupplied?

Yes, He who gives the full corn in the ear,
The olive oil and wine,
Who guides the seasons of the circling year
Through every changing sign,

He can compress within a moment’s space
The magic of the spring,
Seed-time and harvest in one act embrace,
And home the full sheaves bring.

Yes; evermore He feeds the hungry souls
With bounties full and free,
And calms the waters when the thunder rolls,
And storms-blasts sweep the sea.

Our souls were faint; we deemed no helper nigh,
When lo! He gave us bread;
Calm breezes lulled the waters surging high,
And all our terrors fled.

The fragments of God’s store are bounteous feast
To weary souls and faint;
They gather round, the greatest and the least,
The sinner and the saint.

He can refresh, and bid His servants take
The fragments that remain,
And peasant’s meal, if He but bless and break,
Whole thousands can sustain

From out the fulness of His bounty free,
We treasure what is left;
His joy, once known, can never wholly flee,
Though we’re of all bereft.

Through the dark night we journey o’er the hill,
Not knowing where we go;
That food sustains us through the dark hour’s chill
Until the morning glow.

*** This poem is in the public domain, 
  and may be read in a live-streamed worship service.

 
 

CONTEMPORARY POEM:

Logos
Mary Oliver

Snippet:

Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.

READ THE FULL POEM ]

 
 

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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