Friday, September 30, 2005

if you choose, Lord,
you could wipe out
the poverty in our land.

if you choose, Lord,
you could end the suffering
of children and women.

if you choose, Lord,
you could destroy all weapons
and institute a reign of peace
throughout the world.

if you choose, Lord,
all these things -
and more -
could take place.

like the Hebrews
in the wilderness,
help us to stop our grumbling,
and remember
you have chosen -
to do all these things,
through us.

(based on Matthew 8:1-4)

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, September 26, 2005

Matthew 6:25-34

with a refrigerator
overflowing with food,
i don't need to worry
about food or drink,

but i do worry
about those whose
whose next meal
might come from
the garbage i throw out,
whose water is polluted?

my closet runneth over
with garments,
so i can pick and choose
what to wear each day,

but what about those
whose clothes
would be considered rags
in most households?

you tell me not to worry -
which is good advice,
Loving God,
but i have a hunch
you want me to do something
for those who don't have
all with which I am blessed.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, September 22, 2005

sitting in my dry office,
the sun shining outside,
white clouds drifing on the blue sky,
i can be lulled:
into complacency,
into not caring,
into forgetting.

drum on my window
and remind me of those
who await the blow of Rita;
cast a shadow across
my screen,
so i will pause
and remember those
who serve in harm's way;
pound on my door
and move me to action,
that i might serve
you and your people;

help me to stop drifting
as a disciple
and to get moving
as a servant.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

when we help the poor,
instead of talking about them;
when we comfort the widow,
instead of ignoring her;
when we welcome the orphan,
rather than shutting our doors,
we are blessed with more of your mercy,
Tender Lord,
to offer to others. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 18, 2005

we know how the world operates:

you work hard,
you pay your dues,
you show up early and leave late,
you sacrifice your family, your values,
your self on the shrine of stress.


you come along,
upsetting the applecart
we have stacked so carefully
with all our expectations,
all our assumptions,
all we have been taught

handing every single one of us
the same gift;

and you walk away,
your hands stuffed
into your empty pockets,
softly humming 'Amazing Grace'
under your breath,

as you leave us
with our jaws
scraping the ground.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10)

you bless the poor, Loving God,
when we wish they would disappear
from our sight (and our communities!);

you comfort the grieving,
when we wish they would stop crying
and get on with their lives;

you fill those whose hunger
for your kingdom
will not be filled with platitudes
and whose thirst for justice
is not quenched
by the false promises of politicians;

you cradle the peacemakers in your lap,
when we would laugh at them
for their childlike naivete;

you would bless those
we curse for their idealism,
while you yearn
for the day
we will join their ranks.

Blessed are you,
God of the Different Way.


(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Matthew 4:18-25

why is it that
we are so reluctant
to follow you,
O Lord?

why do we drag our feet
when you invite us
to pull our nets
out of the water
and hang them up for now
to join you on an adventure
that will last forever?

why do we always manage
to find excuses
for delaying our decision
instead of immediately
running after you?

why do you keep calling us
when we are so reluctant
to listen?

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, September 12, 2005

for victims of floods,
and captives of fears:
we pray, O Lord.

for those recovering from tsunamis,
and those healing from terror:
we pray, O Lord.

for children who have lost everything,
and for strangers who would give
them all that they need:
we pray, O Lord.

for those who tremble on beds in shelters,
and those who comfort them in the night:
we pray, O Lord.

Hear our prayers,
O Lord,
but especially
hear theirs.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Matthew 18:21-35

seven times?
i think
i reached that number
by the age of 5 -
but you kept on forgiving me;

seventy-seven times?
i easily surpassed
that figure
before i was
old enough to drive -
but that didn't stop you;

so why
am i so reluctant
to give a dipperful of water
from the river of grace
in which i swim
to someone else?

have patience with me, Lord:
until i learn
that forgiveness
is not a score i keep
but a life i live

and over

and over

and over

until i lose count.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, September 10, 2005

is that a belly laugh I hear,
Wonderful God,
at the vanity in my soul
that assumes it knows all the answers?

is that a chuckle
echoing in heaven
at my latest foolishness
in wanting to do things my way?

is that you rolling
around on the floor,
at my feeble attempts
to explain that mystery
which is You?

Is your gift of laughter
what I am missing
in a life guided by

If so,
then fill me up,
Mirthful God,
fill me up.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, September 09, 2005

When we seek to heal brokenness,
when we put our grudges out with the garbage,
when we are willing to embrace
the one who hurt us terribly,
we listen to you, Tender Jesus,
telling us to forgive
without keeping count.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Keep me moving forward,
not backward,
Cloud of Hope.

When the going got tough,
you didn't say to Abe and Sarah,
'my bad, folks; go back to Ur.'

When the wilderness
proved more than your people
were looking for,
you didn't yell at Moses,
'oops, I made a mistake;
turn around and head back to Egypt.'

When the exiles
struggled to rebuild their lives,
you didn't tell them,
'yeah, the road is not as smooth
as I thought it would be;
why don't you move back to Babylon?'

No, with you there is only one gear:

keep me moving in your direction,
God waiting on the horizon
of my life.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

just a morsel, Lord,
that's all i ask:
a taste of the enthusiasm
the dog displays
as she greets her friend,
the sun,

or even a pinch, Lord:
of the incredible patience
the cat has
as he watches the birds
from the safety of his indoor perch,
the tail moving gracefully
back and forth,
back and forth,
serenity in motion;

how about a dash, Lord,
a dash of the energy
the kids have as they wait
on the corner for the bus:
chattering like magpies,
dancing like fireflies,
laughing away the sleep in their eyes.

That's all i want, Lord,
as i begin another day;

but i will settle
for that smidgen of grace
which will sustain me
in the hours that await.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Parent of all people,
you are the Holy One:
choosing to be with us
that we might live
in your kingdom.

You are our Destination:
offering peace to warmakers,
justice to outcasts,
righteousness to the lost,
hope to the broken-hearted;

you are Nurture:
sharing your Bread
with the hungry,
pouring living water
into the deserts of our lives;

you are Compassion,
forgiving us even when
our silence encourages oppression,
our fears foster violence,
our desires harm others;
modeling for us
how to forgive others;

you will not hand us over
but snatch us from the grasp
of the Evil One.

your kingdom is home;
your weakness is power;
your humility is glory.

now and forever. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, September 05, 2005

for dogs
who forget to sleep in
on holidays;
for cats
who think every day
is a holiday
(about them!);

for fireworks
that dance
in the night skies;
for butterflies
that glide
on summer breezes;

for children
bouncing on trampolines;
for wrinkled hands
that caress our cheeks;

for all blessings
that are ours
to give away:

we thank you,
Wonderful God,
we thank you!

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 04, 2005

in sporting arenas
where normally cheers and taunts
are heard,
of thanksgiving,
of need,
of hope
will be lifted.

in schools
where silly songs
are sometimes sung,
psalms will be spoken,

on a beachfront,
where only a floor
and a reconstructed altar
people will meet
with their brokenness
scattered around them
like the bones of the martyrs.

wherever God's people gather
on the Lord's Day,
they will not be alone:

the One who has promised
to always be in their midst
communing with them.

the One whose Breath
calmed the waters of chaos
and comforts the broken-hearted,
gently moves upon them
with healing and hope;

the One who will not let
the orphan and widow
go uncared for,
who will not let
the stranger be turned away,
who will not let
suffering and death
have the last word,

runs toward them,
sweeping them up
into the arms of evelasting love,
and carries them
into the grace of the kingdom.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Wind of God:
move over Katrina's chaos:
create hope
where there is only despair;
bring life
where death stalks the streets;
give birth to love
where anger and violence live.

Breath of God:
blow away
all worries and fears,
all distress and hopelessness,
all doubt and brokenness.

Spirit of adoption:
reunite families that have
been torn apart;
bring communities together
that they might rebuild
their common life;
sweep us together
that we might reach out
to serve our sisters and brothers,
knowing that we are
one Family.

Spirit of God,
Spirit of Hope,
Spirit of Life:
move in our midst
in all the days to come.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, September 02, 2005

God of of the broken-hearted:
the streets of your kingdom
are flooded with our tears,
for we have no other place
to offer them.

Bearer of pain:
you heard the wailing of Rachel,
the loud laments in Ramah;
hear the cries of
our sisters and brothers in New Orleans,
whose babies have no milk,
whose parents have no oxygen,
whose lives have no future.

Repairer of streets:
comfort those who see houses
slipping into the sea;
who watch bodies floating by;
who look for rescue in their distress.

Builder of communities:
give those who have experienced
terror and loss
a vision of recovery and peace;
give those who have lost everything
a future filled with hope;
give those who wander lost and afraid,
a people who will embrace them
and give them life.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, September 01, 2005

we gather in this place,
warm, safe, secure,
trusting and believing
that you are with us.

they gather
on rooftops
waving signs for help;

they gather
in a football stadium
seeking safety and security;

they gather
at the levees
to pile up sandbags
to try to stop the flooding;

they gather
in shelter at schools
reaching out to help
the children and elderly;

they gather,
from all parts of the country,
to offer all that they have
to those who have lost everything.

keep your promise
to be with us
wherever we gather.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman