Thursday, October 30, 2008

apprenticeship (matt. 23:1-12; 1 thess. 2:9-13)

if i preached
what i practice

i could be a huckster
with that little chopper,
dicing my sins
into such tiny pieces,
i do not even taste them
in this stew of my life;

i could manage
a kiosk out at the mall,
dispensing that canny cleanser
that removes all the garbage
i spill on myself
throughout the day;

i could be a street peddlar,
reaching into my cart
and handing out
the burdens i picked up
along the way,
being too busy
(and important!)
to carry them myself.

draw near to me,
that I might
apprentice myself to you,
working night and day
to learn how to craft
a worthy life.
(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

play-acting (matthew 22:15-22)

having taken
the Hypocritic Oath,
i can easily prescribe
a treatment of behavior
for my neighbors,
yet proscribe
the same ethics
from my life;

switching sides
as easily as a
changes his beliefs,
i can make reservations
for a pious table,
and gorge myself
at temptation's buffet;

building my image
as a purveyor of peace,
i can dissemble
with violent thoughts
and the WMDs of words;

hold up that shiny coin
which bears my image
so I can see
who I really am,
and discover
whose I might be . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, October 09, 2008


taking my fears,
i jury rig them
into a juggernaut
of false security
to protect me
but you would
sweep it away,
that I might dangle my feet
in trust's river;

all my anger
is poured into the mold
of my heart,
where it cools and hardens,
unbreakable in the face
of your compassion
for those i know would use me,
but you would soften it
shaping it into grace
we can all feed on;

promoters of platitudes
and sellers of certainties
become the icons
on which my life focuses,
but you would turn
my stiff neck
so i can see Jesus
walking sin's side streets
looking for me;

with such a
bull market on idols,
what shall i do?

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, October 02, 2008

persistent, aren't you

confident that the
strategy always works,
we end up tagging on amendments
to your guides for life,
but patiently,
you out-wait us
continuing to reshape us
into your community;

confident that our
pedigree of proud production
will earn us a place
on the kingdom's board of directors,
we habitually clog
the road to your heart,
but grittily,
your grace keeps moving
our stumbling blocks
out of the way;

confident that
what we have learned
(on our own, thank you!)
and taught to others
(you are most welcome!)
is exactly what we (and they) need,
we build a fence walling
ourselves off from your dreams,
but persistently,
you keep sending us servants
(like Theresa, Martin, Roger)
to help us become
better neighbors.

you press on . . .

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman