Saturday, November 30, 2019

new year's eve

“My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night”  Psalm 63:5-6

as we celebrate
the end of another year,
may we nibble on hope’s bread,
drink deeply of life’s water,
dance the Spirit’s steps,
and sing as we watch
peace and justice embrace
and grace drifts gently down
to journey with us
in the coming days

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, November 29, 2019

sing us songs

 “From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
    of glory to the Righteous One.
But I say, I pine away,
    I pine away. Woe is me!”  Isaiah 24:16

when i would choose
misery as my guide,
and not mercy;
when i would feast
on a slice of bitterness,
and not the bread of goodwill;
when i would make my bed
with fearmongers,
and not curl up in your lap,
sing me the songs of hope,
God of my heart,
sing me the songs of joy.

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


“Once you were not a people,
    but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
    but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:10

you turn your workshop
into a bedroom for us, and
and put an extra place setting
on the kitchen table, while
we put more bolts on our doors
and locks on our pantries;
you cradle us in grace
and forgive us for every
dumb thing we’ve ever done,
yet we hold tight to our grudges,
and remember every slight
every whispered (or imagined)

Lord, have mercy
(once again, please)

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, November 25, 2019

alive and well

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”  1 Peter 1:3

in the mother
who reassures her son
that everything will be fine
(even though he forgot
to turn on the oven after
putting the turkey on the rack);
in the teacher
who patiently goes over
the math problem
for the nth time with
the struggling student;
in the stranger who stops
by the side of the road
and waits with the stranded family
until the tow truck arrives,
hope is alive and well,
dancing all around us

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 24, 2019

awesome sauce

“Come and see what God has done:
    he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.” Psalm 66:5

in the teenager who rakes
the older neighbor’s lawn
while they are away;
in the little child
who hands a flower
to the refugee classmate;
in the stranger who
walks into a store
and pays off all the
Christmas layaways;
we discover that sometimes
comes in unexpected

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.”  Revelation 21:25

you take the gates
that could have been
slammed shut and,
setting them on sawhorses,
make your Table of grace
and inclusion large enough
so everyone (and you mean
EVERYONE) can gather
and rejoice in their life together
with you

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

distressing news

“’and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.’ And they were greatly distressed.  Matthew 17:23

of course, we’re distressed,
having to spend
so much time trying
to explain (as well as
your resurrection rather
than living out this
good news

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


“And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’” Revelation 21:5a

my bones creak louder
than the floorboards at night,
my eyes become so cloudy
i risk losing the words i love so much,
my ears seem to be stuffed
with more and more cotton
in each conversation,
my fingertips, toes, and feet
tingle as i move through the day,
remind me
you are making all things new,
even ancient me

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, November 18, 2019

drop by drop

“You withdrew all your wrath;
    you turned from your hot anger.”  Psalm 57:3

when your anger was so hot
it even burned your
fingertips, you
tossed it into the deeps
of mercy’s crystal sea
as it cooled into droplets of
you pulled it out
and sprinkled it upon us

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 17, 2019


“No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”  Luke 16:13

as we check our portfolios,
count on the raise,
shuffle our funds into
the accounts with
the best interests, we
become more and more
convinced that this is
one of those verses
where you are misquoted,
or at least had words
put into your mouth . . .

Lord, have mercy

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, November 14, 2019


“The disciples said to him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?’”  Matthew 15:33

of course, we
cannot offer hope
to those in despair,
give a drink of peace
to the broken,
welcome all those
who are despised, when
we turn our souls into
saharas of scarcity, and
our hearts into dust bowls
of compassion

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


“Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.  Psalm 4:5

in trust,
we seek justice
for the forgotten,
we share hope
with the grieving,
we pour out compassion
on the broken, all
greater gifts than
what we put in
the offering plates
once a week

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

and yet

“And yet, because your mercy is great,
    you did not forsake or destroy them.
You are a gracious and merciful God!” Nehemiah 9:31

you could hold a grudge,
but gift us grace;
you could stay constantly frustrated,
but choose to remain patient;
you could close your ears,
but always listen to our brokenness;
you could be as hard-headed as we are,
but you melt your heart
and pour it unto us over and over.

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, November 11, 2019


“it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Matthew 15:11

when we could
offer words that heal,
we break hearts with our anger;
when we could
whisper of peace,
our words became weaponized;
when we could
condemn injustice,
we give shout outs to bullies;
when we could welcome the forgotten,
we tell them to go away

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, November 09, 2019


“Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’  Matthew 14:28

if it is you (we proclaim
loud enough so all can hear),
call us to end injustice,
to wipe out poverty,
to offer compassion to all,
to create peace rather than war,
when you say, “okay, have at it,”
our knees begin to knock
our feet begin to shuffle,
our hands begin to sweat, and we
sink beneath the waves
of our bravado

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, November 08, 2019


“When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.”  Matthew 14:14 

when we could pay off
school lunch debts,
build more homeless shelters
than fancy sports stadiums,
work for environmental integrity
than buying larger carbon shoes,
we prefer to stay in the boat
gently row, row, rowing away
from the shoreline

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, November 07, 2019


“He grants peace within your borders;”  Pslm 147:14a

you would send caravans
of peacemakers to us, so
we might find comfort and hope
in the Community you are creating,
but we take our fears which mean more
than any thing else to us, and
continue to build walls

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, November 06, 2019


“Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;” Psalm 1:1

when we come to the
threadbare road leading
to the abyss of foolishness,
may we notice the faded,
hand-painted sign to that
uneven path called faith,
lined by bushes filled with grace’s
plump and juicy berries,
trees shading pilgrims with hope,
and fresh pools of cool water
for the thirsty and weary.

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, November 05, 2019


“These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:”  Psalm 42:4a

i remember
the little kid splashing
with abandon in the puddles;
the teenager standing between
the bullies and the trans kid;
the grandmother teaching
other retirees how to whistle,
and i fall asleep, pouring
my soul into your heart

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, November 04, 2019


Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    give heed to my sighing.”  Psalm 5:1

words are easy to toss
in the direction of your ears,
the rumors of
my wandering faith;
the trickles of compassion
that harden in my frozen heart;
the murmurs of anger
i harbor towards others;
the tinkles of discordant hurts
that i cannot turn into lullabies;
i can only hope you hear their echos,
even as i try to silence them.

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 03, 2019

seek ye first

“Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”  Luke 12:31

all of our energy, time,
stress, and faith are spent
in all the wrong places and people,
and so we miss finding
your Community of grace
in the grandparents who still
hold hands after 60 years,
in the little kid who fills a neighbor’s
empty bowl with his own candy
on Halloween, so others won’t
be disappointed, and in
the immigrants who show us
what hope, love, and persistence
look like

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, November 02, 2019

defuncts’ day

“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9

i open a book, and
my mother is at my side,
tracing her finger under the words;
i hear a certain song
and that college custodian
has picked up a friend’s guitar
and plays ‘Wildwood Flower;”
i see a group of folks
standing up for the voiceless,
the forgotten, the demeaned,
and there is Robert in their midst;
out of the corner of my eye,
just out of reach of my hand,
whispering to my parched soul
when i most need a drink of hope:

that multitude of souls
who are still with me
even now, ever now

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, November 01, 2019

all saints

“Open the gates,
    so that the righteous nation that keeps faith
    may enter in.”  Isaiah 26:2

as you open
the gates to
your community, we find
the expected ones
waiting to enter, but
you hold up your hand
the broken and the bedraggled,
the grieving and the gobsmacked,
the forgotten and the foolish,
the weary and the wiseacres
may go in first

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman