Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Praise the LORD!
   Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals,
    in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs,
       they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
   whose hope is in the LORD their God,
who made heaven and earth,
        the sea, and all that is in them;
    who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
    who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
    the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the strangers;
        he upholds the orphan and the widow,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion,
    for all generations.
Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 146)


late last night,
           while we were
                 wrapping presents
                 and putting together toys
             (too distracted to notice),
        you put glory's garment
                            in the closet,
            and came
                    to be wrapped,
                 not in silver foil
                 with a big red bow,
                                   but in the bands
                                   of our lives;

to keep an eye on all
                            we overlook;
to put back on their feet all
                             we knock over;
to open our hearts to all
                              we refuse to love;
to make a home for all
                              we have cast aside;
to keep faith with all
                              who have forgotten how;



© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and
blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”
   Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf
unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the
speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and
streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty
ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:1-10)


when the grinchies
   would steal the season
   right from under us with
            their sad mournful
            songs about the
            state of the world,
                 Hope stands
               on the corner,
         her sweet soprano floating
            above the carolers
         in the silent night;

when the fearmongers
   keep their stores open 24/7,
          rattling sabres in
             front of wide-eyed
           opening up their stockpiles
                 of might so all may buy,
                   Peace wanders
         the world, its light
             piercing the shadows
           drawing all people closer

when despair stares
                  us in the eye,
         daring us to find any
            reason to step outside
               of our worries
               and doubts,
                  Delight throws
           the front door,
              grabs us by
              the hand,
         sits behind us on
             the sled
   and wrapping his arms
   tight around our waist,
      pushes off from the
               top of Zion Hill,
        singing, 'Joy to the
              world . . .'

(c) 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Fourth Monday of Advent

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
(Luke 1:67-80)

heavy and wet,
covering the walks and streets,
temptations fall quietly
drifting up to our doors
and window sashes,
yet very early, you are
shoveling and clearing
the road for us
to go;

the indifference
of our hearts
seeps out,
glazing our relationships
even with (no, especially)
those we don't know
with that permanentfrost
that causes us to slip
and slide through life,
until your tears' saltiness
melts the thickest layer
of ice imaginable;

as you prepare that
for us
to your kingdom,
illuminate it with your
so we will have no trouble
finding it.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Third Saturday of Advent

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day - and there will be no night there.
(Revelation 21:22-25)


we would hire extra
to screen the crowds
to make sure the
can't slip into the party
but your invitation
in bold-faced large print:
we spend so much
time and energy
playing the board game,
         jots and tittles,
watching to see
who tries to bend the
while you insist
that in your game of
everyone gets to play.

we go around
rattling every door,
double-checking every
making sure that
your house is
locked up tight
after the service,
but you send word that
the gates of the city are never shut,
your arms are wide enough to
embrace us all,
and the chambers of your
heart have room for

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 21, 2012

Third Friday of Advent

Shall not Lebanon in a very little while become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest? On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off- those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit, who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate, and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right. (Isaiah 29:17-21)

       these days

now come the days

when the bleak
of our lives
blossoms with
wonder and peace;

when those who have
turned a deaf
ear to the
sounds of the broken,
will hear their
songs of
and become their

when those who see only
will look in the mirror,
and see the little
the last, the lost,
the least
gathered around them,
and turning, will embrace
them as family;

when the scoffers will
read the Story,
when the mockers will
write new carols,
when all will
struggle for justice.

how can this be?

on that day,

you came.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Third Thursday of Advent

Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement; when the overwhelming scourge passes through it will not come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter"; therefore thus says the Lord God, See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: "One who trusts will not panic." And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet; hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter. Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; (Isaiah 28:14-18b)


sitting in the
having read all
the fine print and translated
the legalese,
we are prepared to hand
over the check
to guarantee a plot
in the Pit,
when you stick your
head in the door,
saying, 'put that away; I've
got a place for you,
closer to me.'

when death shows up,
contract in hand,
ready to enforce all those
we agreed to
so long ago,
you pull up, jump out
of the car,
run up the sidewalk,
and hand Grim
a document, telling him,
'I'm invoking the 3-day
notification clause;
my covenant
supersedes any
and all deals
previously agreed to.'

slamming the door
in his face
you turn to us,
'are those sugar cookies
I smell baking?'

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Third Wednesday of Advent

Praise the LORD!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
    for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted,
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.
The LORD lifts up the downtrodden;
    he casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
    make melody to our God on the lyre.
He covers the heavens with clouds,
    prepares rain for the earth,
    makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the animals their food,
    and to the young ravens when they cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.
(Psalm 147:1-11)

       umpteen dumpties

there is not enough
    in the world
       to put together
             those dreams
          laying shattered
          on the bottom
                       of my heart;

all the advice
    all the techniques
       all the steps
    from all the counselors
             retie those broken
          between those i
                care most about;

no doctor,
          no pill,
     no medication
              can keep that scab
       from being
                  ripped off the festering
                      i have inflicted
    upon others;

but with that balm
    poured out at Bethlehem,
with that patience
       which does not weary
       from tough tasks,
with that grace which
             binds your heart
                          to ours

you can

so come.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Third Tuesday of Advent

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:10-15)

       what to wear?

i've looked everywhere,
from the discount chains
to the high-end stores,
but cannot find that
section filled with
'Footwear for Peace' -
who knows,
maybe they have been discontinued,
or are on back order somewhere.

or maybe

they are
those paper booties
put on by those
who spend their
holidays providing
medical services
in places where such care
is extinct;
they are
those sneakers
worn by coaches
putting together
a multicultural, myriad faith
football team;

they are
those cement-spackled,
paint polka-dotted
worn by weekend
at affordable housing sites;

good news shoes
just waiting to be
pulled on at
a moment's notice.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 17, 2012

Third Monday of Advent

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the
disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, "Pray
that you may not come into the time of trial." Then he withdrew from them
about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, if you are willing,
remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done." Then an angel
from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed
more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down
on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and
found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, "Why are you
sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial."
(Luke 22:39-46)

    a stone's throw

so weary my soul
longs to pull the covers
up over my head
to stay in the shadowed
cocoon until . . .
you are down
in the kitchen
spooning the steel cut oats
into a bowl,
cutting up some fresh fruit,
pouring a hot cup of tea,
and putting it all on a tray,
make your way up the stairs
to me;

on this journey
which seems to come with
more fraughts
every day,
i pause at the intersection of
Questions and Fear, not
sure what to do,
you wait,
around the corner,
ready to walk with me,
reaching out your hand
to mine;

driven to my knees,
by the unutterable,
struggling to put the
jumble of emotions,
doubts, and worries
together into something
that resembles prayer,
you are just
a breath away,
the only Word
i need.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Third Sunday of Advent

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he
spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at
Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming
and were being baptized- John, of course, had not yet been thrown into
prison. Now a discussion about purification arose between John's disciples
and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, the one who was with
you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all
are going to him.' John answered, 'No one can receive anything except what
has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said,
"I am not the Messiah,* but I have been sent ahead of him." He who has the
bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears
him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. For this reason my joy has
been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.
'  (John 3:22-30)

       best man

after the party,
he got up the
next morning,
straightening furniture up,
putting the bottles in the
recycling bin,
carrying the trash to
the curb;
then (for the 3rd time),
he yelled up the stairs,
'Pete, Andy, Jack, Jimmy,
it's time to get up; the
limo will be here to
take you to pick
up your tuxes;
get the others moving!'

early that evening,
after checking out the crowd,
he went back to the
room just off the
and dusting the lint off
Jesus' shoulders and
checking his tie
once last time,
he took him by the hand,
looked him in the eye and
"don't forget to smile
as she comes down
the aisle. you
don't want her turning
to you in 2000 years, asking,
why didn't you smile
at me on our wedding

and as the organ
swelled with the
he stepped back
into the shadows,
grinning broadly
as the tears ran down his

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Second Saturday of Advent

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalm 90:1-2)

Once again, we are reminded about the meaning of this bleak midwinter we call Advent. For God did not come to create a greeting card industry, nor so we could string lights on houses and trees. God did not become one of us so we might have office parties and give people things they don't really need. God was not born so songs could be written and sermons preached.

God came for such mornings as this, after the long night of anguished tossing and turning, with visions of horror dancing in our heads. God came to walk with us as we wander the streets of our hearts asking, 'how? why? when?'

God came to huddle with terrified children in closets where school supplies are stored, and to give teachers the strength not to show their worst fears. God came to cradle the wounded and the dying, so they would know they were not abandoned in that loneliest of moments.

God came to give the first responders the courage to walk into the unspeakable, willing to put themselves between danger and little children. God came to gather the parents and grandparents up into the divine lap of comfort and hope, even as their arms would no longer be able to embrace their child. God came to have that most compassionate heart broken as many times as ours are, to weep with us even when we have run out of tears, to stand next to us with the same look of horror and disbelief.

God came for mornings such as this, with the same haggard face, with the same questions, with the same anger, with the same sense of loss and hopelessness, but with deep wells of grace from which we can drink, with compassion which will never end, with comforting arms which will not grow weary, with hope which stretches from everlasting to everlasting.

God came, and is still with us.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 14, 2012

Second Friday of Advent

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded
as the greatest. But he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it
over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not
so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest,
and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at
the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am
among you as one who serves
. (Luke 22:24-27)


who is
the superstar paid
to bend a ball,
the coach who tells
her players, 'every one
on this team
the same amount of time
each game'?

who makes
more of an impact:
the band that commands
hundreds of dollars
for a single ticket,
or the grandfather who,
in retirement,
spends time with his guitar
making up songs
for children?

who really
really changes lives:
the television PhD
whose sole focus
is ratings,
or the doctor who
travels to Central America
for a month every year
to treat folks without

when it comes to
greatness, we still use an
measuring stick,
don't we?

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion   for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems   for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Second Thursday of Advent

   Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
   Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.' They asked him, 'Where do you want us to make preparations for it?' 'Listen,' he said to them, 'when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, "The teacher asks you, 'Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' " He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.' So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal
. (Luke 22:1-13)


in the sacred space,
cocooned with so many
others, it is easy
to pray without ceasing,
to whisper your name in awe,
to find just the right words,
at home,
when the hammer hits my thumb,
when the bills fall through
the slot in the door,
when the shadows lengthen,
ah, how i use your name in a different way!

in the small group,
with those i promise to
share my deepest, darkest,
piety comes as part of the
book study,
earnestness is the pin in
my lapel,
faithfulness is always
the course of action,
at work,
in the cubicle, with only
the screen to monitor me,
it is easy to wander
into those sites
which shouldn't be found.

in the choir,
harmonizing with all
the other voices
in praise, wonder, joy,
and adoration, how can
i keep from singing
driving home,
in the anonymity of the car,
what fun to crank up the speakers,
boost the bass,
shout the demeaning, degrading,
rapping lyrics, until
i rattle the souls
of all those around me.

with no
around, how many

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Second Wednesday of Advent

Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early
in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and
he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought
a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of
them, they said to him, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of
committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women.
Now what do you say?' They said this to test him, so that they might have
some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger
on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and
said to them, 'Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw
a stone at her.' And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When
they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and
Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened
up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She
said, 'No one, sir.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go your
way, and from now on do not sin again.' (John 7:53-8:11)


we would
continue to build
our fortifications
(stronger, bigger,
sturdier, taller)
to protect us from all
who threaten
our way of life . . .
. . . but you would
pull us down beside
to teach us the
art of making
sand castles in the kingdom;

we would
take out our chisels
to carve
all our rules into
stainless steel
so everyone might know
where we stand . . .
. . . while you sit on your
haunches, tracing
in the sand, 'greater love
has no one. . .'

we would
grumble and argue
with you for ages
without end about
how many times we need
to forgive . . .
. . . and you hand us
a bucket and tweezers,
challenging us to
count the grains
on the beach
so we might discover
that grace is simply


© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion   for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems   for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Second Tuesday of Advent

But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work.  Be at peace among yourselves.  And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.  See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.  May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. (1st Thessalonians 5:12-24)


we could continue
      to ridicule others,
   cutting them down,
   putting them in their places,
         this year, we
      could lift them up,
      praise them,
            give them the honored

we could grumble
our way
              through the season,
         humbugging each day,
      muttering to ourselves
            as we stand in line,
         this year, we
        could sing a few more
            hug a few more
      share joy with everyone we

we could keep
   feeding that grudge
           we hold against
      our neighbor, letting
      it grow bigger by the day,
we could write letters
               to the editor,
   complaining about all the
   calls and mailings asking
      for helping the poor,
                the hungry,
              the homeless,
             this year,
   we could put up a peace pole,
      instead of that inflatable
          so others
         might find the way
            to Bethlehem.

(c) 2012  Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 10, 2012

Second Monday of Advent

"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth
distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son
of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things
begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption
is drawing near." (Luke 21 25-28)


looking for signs
            in the entrails
          of the latest politician
              to be skewered,
                         we may miss
          the story
           the homeless fellow
       who pushed a
            family's car out of
                     the snow
          and accepted only
               a 'thank you'
             as his reward;

reading the handwriting
                    on the 'net
            regarding the cliff
                we lemmings
            seem to be running
        we overlook
               the kids lined up
                     at the tellers'
                     windows, emptying
            their piggy banks
                         for their teacher
         battling cancer;

convinced that the warnings
              of that disembodied
                                 radio voice
                  portend the end
                  of our sacred cows,
          we ignore the songs
                       composed in
               the bathtub
            by our grandchildren
                           as they celebrate
                  wonder of
                      the life they have.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Second Sunday of Advent

To you, O LORD, I lift up my
O my God, in you I trust;
    do not let me be put to
    do not let my enemies
           exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for
           you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who

          are wantonly
Make me to know your
           ways, O LORD;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and
           teach me,
    for you are the God of my
    for you I wait all day long.
Be mindful of your mercy,
           O LORD, and of your
           steadfast love,
    for they have been from of
Do not remember the sins of
           my youth or my
    according to your steadfast
           love remember me,
    for your goodness' sake,
           O LORD!
Good and upright is the
    therefore he instructs
           sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what
           is right,
    and teaches the humble his
All the paths of the LORD are
           steadfast love and
    for those who keep his
           covenant and his
(Psalm 25:1-10)
- - - -

         in you
in the frenzied
everyone pushing,
shoving, jostling
for the last item
in stock,
or the best price,
reach out
and take us by
the hand, your
friendship the
guiding us to the
real gift;

at the edge of the
wondering how this
might be the
right road,
the pump truck emblazoned
'YHWH and Family'
pulls up, and swinging the pipe
over our heightened fears,
you begin sealing
the cracks with
and filling the potholes
with steadfast love and
faithfulness, until they bond
so we
might find the

lying awake
in the bleak
running the list of
all the homework
(and office)
that needs to get
you sit
on the edge of the bed,
gently humming a tune,
and then whispering,
"here's the words
to the only thing
you need to know:
'Glory to God . . .'"

in you,
we find
we long

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 07, 2012

First Saturday of Advent

Give the king your justice,
           O God,
     and your righteousness to
           a king's son.
May he judge your people
           with righteousness,
     and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield
           prosperity for the
     and the hills, in
May he defend the cause of
           the poor of the people,
     give deliverance to the
and crush the oppressor.

For he delivers the needy
           when they call,
     the poor and those who
           have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and
           the needy,

     and saves the lives of the
From oppression and
           violence he redeems
           their life;
    and precious is their blood
          in his sight.
(Psalm 72:1-4, 12-14)
- - - -

O give us justice,

not cheap justice,
         but that which costs
       our fears and prejudices;

not shallow justice,
          but the sort with
                such deep roots
    it can not be blown away
             by the winds of
             political change;

not hollow justice,
          but that passion
          for fairness which can
                    fill those who
             hunger for a square

not empty-handed justice,
          but that compassion
                which helps up those
             who have stumbled
              over their mistakes;

not might-is-right justice,
           but that reasonableness
              grounded in

not shout-down-others justice,
           but that quiet patience
                      which insists on
               fair play for all thought
                            not good enough
                   to be on the team.

give us justice,
O gift us with

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.

First Friday of Advent

But you, O Lord, are enthroned for ever;
your name endures to all generations.
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to favor it;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold its stones dear,
and have pity on its dust.
The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For the Lord will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height,
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die;
so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,
and his praise in Jerusalem,
when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord. (Psalm 102:12-22)

in this season of
       you look down to

the endless carols
                and songs repeated
                over and over and over;
not bells jingling
                emptily in the malls
                and stores;
not rhymes about
                reindeer and

the canticled cries
         of children whose
    bellies are full of the
          empty promises
          of politicians;
the whispers
       of mothers, hoping
    that the expected call
    from the doctor will
                 not be their
          worst fears;
the moans
       of people who
    discover that their
               has become
               the latest

in this season of
    you look down to
if we
       are listening
    as well.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

First Thursday of Advent

"When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
     we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
     'The LORD has done great things
         for them.'
The LORD has done great things for
     us, and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
    like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
     reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
     bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
     carrying their sheaves." (Psalm 127)

          the list
i could put down
            a gift card for the
       or perhaps that DIY place;
            there's that complete
          set of West Wing dvds
               which would fill
                  winter drear;
    maybe a certificate for
             a nice restaurant
             i can't afford
       and i am always losing
                          my gloves!

   but while i may not need
                               anything (really),
i can hope for
                     dancing shoes
    too grace these
       two left feet of mine
                so i can gently
          follow the Spirit's lead;

                     voice lessons
    so I will pass the auditions
                     for that great cantata
            of joy called

                     classes in becoming a
       so others can join in
                those great guffaws


© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion   for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems   for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

First Wednesday of Advent

(read Amos 3:12 - 4:5)

     econ 101

after we have spent
         considerable time
      and effort coming up
            with just the
            right formula
        to lower the debt ceiling,
                 balance the budget,
          and eliminate poverty
   (all by 2050, mind you!),
      you wipe the board clean,
      and handing us the marker,
         suggest, 'start over';

when we would
            come up with the
        plans to build a
        mcmansion for our
               golden years,
     (applauding ourselves for
            becoming job creators),
   you hand us the
          for a community
          of affordable housing
        and urge us to 'get to work!'

though we are convinced
     buying government bonds,
        putting more into
           becoming venture
        will allow our sacrifices to
                 trickle down

         would turn on the faucets
    full blast,
            so your blessings
               could flood out
      of the storehouses of our
                hardened hearts,
   becoming a river of
         for all who dwell
         in the financial

(c) 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

First Tuesday of Advent

(read 2nd Peter 1:12-21)

ms. morningstar's class

as we come into
the room, you help us
hang up our coats
in the nooks,
our lunchboxes on
the shelves;

in the morning, we
concentrate on the
multiplication tables,
reciting them over
and over until
we have them memorized,
internalizing the infinite
we are to forgive;

at recess,
you always encourage
the team choosers
to pick (first!) the
ones who are
whispering, 'they are

after lunch and naptime,
we take out our
lined paper
and big pencils, as
you move from desk
to desk
patiently guiding our
as we trace
the alphabet of
over and over until
we can do it with our
eyes closed;

when we begin to
about the boring
of simple tasks,
you smile wearily, 'i
just want you to be able to
what i've taught you when
you need it most.'

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems   for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.

Monday, December 03, 2012

First Monday of Advent

(read 2nd Peter 1:1-11)

          my precious

after church, i remove
    dusting off the lint,
    giving the neat row of
          perfect attendance
             a polish,
    then hang it up in the
       of the closet
                         until next Sunday;

out for my morning walk,
         follows, padding softly
              alongside, stopping
       every few feet to check out
                 the neighborhood's news,
    and when we go back, she
                              looks at me
         with sad eyes, as I head out
                     for the day,
    commanding her to

    when the neighbor picks
                        it up
             off the knickknack table
             at the yard sale, and asks
                 the price of this
                               dusty, dented
                                    old thing,
    i gently take
                back, saying it was
                    there by mistake,
and put it back in my
       where it belongs.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion   for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems   for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

First Sunday of Advent

(read Malachi 3:1-4)

just when

we expect you to
with anger steaming out
of your ears,
you come,

    to sit next to us,
          listening to our deepest

we figure you will show up
to toss us in
the nearest
you come,

          to sweep up
                       the ashes
            of every broken
       refining them
               into the chalice
                     of wonder;

we are certain you are hiding
in the shadows,
ready to leap out
and scare us into
you come,

          to swaddle us
          in garlands of grace,
                  twinkling off and on
    in pure joy.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

'Bearers of Grace and Justice', liturgies with communion   for Lectionary Year C; 'Pirate Jesus', prayers and poems   for Lectionary Year C, are available at Amazon.