With the dawn of Advent and a new church year, we’ve revamped our weekly post of poetry that resonates with the lectionary readings for that week (Narrative Lectionary and Revised Common Lectionary).
*** Revised Common Lectionary ***
Lectionary Reading: Micah 6:1-8
Across a world where all men grieve
And grieving strive the more,
The great days range like tides and leave
Our dead on every shore.
Heavy the load we undergo,
And our own hands prepare,
If we have parley with the foe,
The load our sons must bear.
Before we loose the word
That bids new worlds to birth,
Needs must we loosen first the sword
Of Justice upon earth;
Or else all else is vain
Since life on earth began,
And the spent world sinks back again
Hopeless of God and Man.
A People and their King
Through ancient sin grown strong,
Because they feared no reckoning
Would set no bound to wrong;
But now their hour is past,
And we who bore it find
Evil Incarnate held at last
To answer to mankind.
For agony and spoil
Of nations beat to dust,
For poisoned air and tortured soil
And cold, commanded lust,
And every secret woe
The shuddering waters saw—
Willed and fulfilled by high and low—
Let them relearn the Law:
That when the dooms are read,
Not high nor low shall say:—
“My haughty or my humble head
Has saved me in this day.”
That, till the end of time,
Their remnant shall recall
Their fathers’ old, confederate crime
Availed them not at all:
That neither schools nor priests,
Nor Kings may build again
A people with the heart of beasts
Made wise concerning men.
Whereby our dead shall sleep
In honour, unbetrayed,
And we in faith and honour keep
That peace for which they paid.
*** This poem is in the public domain,
and may be read in a live-streamed worship service.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.