Friday, January 10, 2020

canticle 29

give God your praise, all creation,
pay attention to what God does.
place God's name on your lips in love;
set your sights on God's glory all around you.

we hear God's voice in the rain on the roof,
we hear God's booming laughter in thunder,
we hear God's word tumbling over the rapids.
God's voice gives healing to the broken,
God's voice offers hope to the forgotten.

God's voice shatters our pride,
God's voice knocks us off our pedestals.
God calls, and children turn cartwheels,
God sings, and old folks remember the refrain.

God's voice illumines the shadows
so we can find our way home.
God's voice shakes us out of our apathy;
God shakes us out of our silence towards injustice.

God whispers, and trees begin to dance
in great circles of joy,
and all creation shouts, 'hallelujah!'

God is in control of every drop of water,
especially those that baptize us.
God gives grace in every moment,
in every moment, fills the beloved with peace.

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 04, 2020

canticle 72

give our leaders justice,
God of mercy;
not the justice which
seeks revenge, or condemns
others simply for who they are
or where they come from, but
that justice which lifts
the fallen to their feet,
which offers food to the hungry,
hope to the despairing.

give our leaders time,
God of every moment:
not those moments
to enrich themselves
or those closest to them,
not hours of self-adulation
or basking in cult-like cheers,
but days of service to others,
seeking the best for those they don't know,
leaving a legacy of kindness not indifference.

give our leaders awareness,
God of imagination:
so they might listen
and be willing to change their minds;
to see the struggles creation faces
and to set aside politics
in order to end all that damages
the gifts of all life around us.

give our leaders compassion,
God of the broken:
to care for the vulnerable
more than they do victory laps;
to notice the poor
more than they do polls;
to seek peace every chance given
rather than send troops at the drop of a hat.

give our leaders hope,
God of the open heart;
give our leaders grace,
God of endless wonder;
give our leaders humility,
God who became one of us:
so we may respect them
as servant leaders of all,
so we may join them
in being just, open communities,
so be may remember them
as those who were transformed
by your goodness and mercy
not by the shifting winds
of political fortune.

and we will bless you,
God of every place,
for the gifts of leaders
who bring the blessings
of grace, hope, peace, and love
to the people they serve.

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 27, 2019

canticle 148

shout to God 
from the farthest galaxies
to snow-capped peaks!
let it rip, bass note singing frogs;
twitter away, birds at the feeders!
sun and moon in eclipses' embrace;
bright stars in brittle skies, echo the songs!
sing out loud, clouds drifting across the sky;
join in the refrain, whitewater rapids!
everyone, everything, everywhere, 
join in the choruses composed 
to honor Imagination's heart!
God turned emptiness into wonder,
building bridges across rivers,
tearing down walls of resistance.
everyone, everything, everywhere,
shout from the rooftops, the sea floors,
the blistering beaches, the silent forests -
grizzly bears and giant squids,
campfires and snow families, 
soft gentle breezes and window rattling gusts
all telling of God's delight!
sure-footed mountain goats, orange groves,
cocoa bean plants, ornament bearing trees;
kittens tiptoeing after sunbeams,
sheep offering their wool for warmth,
tortoises seeing the finish live,
and puffins bobbing in the seas!
know-it-alls and students fretting over exams,
teachers and tellers, buyers and seller;
babies holding on to grandparents' pinkies,
little girls dancing with their feet on their dads!
planets and parrots, sea lions and sparrows,
the voiceless and those with perfect pitch,
the wise, the wealthy, the needy, the foolish,
let all join hands and hearts, hopes and dreams,
speaking with fingers and sighing in the silence,
for no one has a monopoly
on telling God of our great love.


(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, December 12, 2019

canticle 146

our souls rejoice in you,
God of wonder and grace!
we sing carols of joy
in this season and in all
the days to come, until
there are no more!

help us to learn not
to trust politicians
be they right-wing,
left-wing, wingless; or
those who could care
less about others.
their words turn to dust
just as they do, and their
plans drift away like chaff.

but our hope is in you,
God of our faith grandparents;
hope which comes, not
just once a year on a holy night,
but is ours every breath we take,
a gift from the One who
flung galaxies into the heavens,
who never breaks a promise,
who lifts the forgotten to their feet,
who places extra chairs at dinner
until everyone has a place.

God picks the locks on
every fear and anger
which imprisons us;
God tilts up our heads
from  our devices, so
we can see the needy;
God teaches us justice
as the basic skill we need.
God keeps an eye on those
we have turned our backs on;
God cradles the lonely mourners
and sits in doorways with kids
who have been locked out
of the homes they grew up in;
God holds each of us accountable
on how we treat the vulnerable.

God's love, hope, grace, peace,
wonder, joy, welcome never become
our souls rejoice in you,
God of grace and wonder!

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mary's canticle

as i push the cart
down the hallway
to clean the next room,
i sing wonders to
the One who works
at my side in every moment.
God watches the care
and love with which
i serve others, even
though they look
right past me, for
God will share my life
with those who follow me;
God does amazing things
for those who are forgotten,
yet who continue to trust
they are cradled in God's love.
God strengthens those worn out
by three jobs a week, while
the supervisors forget what
they are supposed to be doing
to impress the CEOs.
God knocks down the stone
monuments to power abusers,
building homes for those
relegated to crowded shelters.
God spends all night
cooking a banquet for all
who wonder about their next meal,
while giving directions to the food bank
to folk who could skip a few dinners.
God supports all who
visit the prisoners, care for the vulnerable,
gather in the abandoned,
in thanks for God's grace
in their own lives,
just as the stories of what God
did for our grandparents in the faith
are told over and over
until they become seeds
which bring forth a harvest
of hope, grace, peace, inclusion
for all of God's people.

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, August 16, 2019

canticle 80

hear us, Tender God,
who gathers us
like a border collie!
you sit on a park bench
built from the songs of angels,
smiling as you watch us
swing high up into the sky, and
when we scrape our knees,
run to pick us up,
kissing our boo-boos!

run quickly, our Parent,
to sweep us up in your arms!

when we speak hollow words
to you instead of our hearts,
our soup is flavored with your tears,
and our bread tastes stale;
even our playmates know
how foolish we have been,
giggling behind our backs
with one another.

run quickly, our Parent,
to sweep us up in your arms!

you took a runner of strawberries
from your garden,
so it might take root
wherever your children live.
it slowly spreads over the lawns
and curls under the trees,
it sneaks towards the sides houses,
and creeps down to the ponds.
when we would make preserves
and keep the jars for ourselves,
you invite everyone to come
and fill their baskets for free,
letting little children get the juice
all over their faces and clothes.

take another look, Gardener of our hearts,
see how the runners might offer
food and joy to so many,
your gift becoming precious to others.
yes, we aren't good caretakers,
yes, we let the weeds creep in,
but you can teach us the right way
to care for all you have offered us,
taking us by the hand, so
slowly, carefully, we may become
master gardeners just like you!
then, we won't make the same mistakes
over and over, but share the bounty,
telling everyone who taught us
how to be good strawberry farmers!

run quickly, our Teacher,
to sweep us up in your arms!

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, August 08, 2019

canticle 50

God has had enough;
no more standing in the wings,
no more waiting for us
to do what we know we should do.

God has had enough:
no more keeping silent,
hoping our prayers will take shape,
that our thoughts will lead to action,
that our brokenness will bring healing.
calling us into the living room,
God holds a family meeting:

i have had enough
of your kowtowing to the powerful,
your idols made of steel,
your worship of angry words and hearts;
you don't care about the air and water,
the creatures who are dying,
the species that are going extinct!

if you hand me another plate
piled with thoughts and prayers,
i will throw it against the wall!
show me your hands and hearts,
how you have fed the hungry,
welcomed newcomers,
taught children the ABCs of grace.

"listen, knuckleheads!
don't twist my words to suit
your political agendas;
don't promise hope with
your fingers crossed behind your backs!
if you see someone bullying another,
get in their face till they stop;
if someone invites you to party
instead of practicing justice, turn them down.

you open your mouth and
an avalanche of bile pours out;
you mock the most vulnerable,
you call the stranger vile names,
you think because you sing
praise verses on Sunday, you
can heap abuse on others, and
that i am okay with that
the rest of the days of the week?!

now you are going to listen:
to my heart which is shattered,
to my soul which groans in anguish,
to my whispered tears which
flow freely throughout the day.

"enough is enough!
it is time to make justice for others,
to bring healing into division,
to rebuild crumbling neighborhoods,
to live the good news rather
than putting it on church signs:

those are the gifts you can offer to me,
and to your sisters and brothers
who cry out to you for hope."

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman