Comparing Zacchaeus and Me

Comparing Zacchaeus and Me
Pentecost 21; Luke 19:1-10
I, too, am a small person.
I have done my share of collaboration
with the invading powers,
but I avoid crowds, can’t climb trees,
don’t as a rule pursue
any visiting guru.

So how did I meet Jesus?
Seems he was always there,
though often I wasn’t.
Somehow he saw me,
invited himself to stay with me.
I served the bread and wine he shared.

Thank goodness, I didn’t have to cook –
I’m always more Mary than Martha.
Sitting at his feet, over the years,
I heard his words,
let myself be changed,
became more truly me.

Writing now, I try to share
the riches I have gained,
the wisdom I still hear from him.
Perhaps someone will recognize
who he is, or who they are,
or, even for a moment, say “Aha!”
	Barbara Messner 22/10/2022

Let the Little Children Come to Me

Let the Little Children Come to Me
Pentecost 20; Luke 18:15-30
The child in me is eager for your touch.
When I am digging earth, admiring flowers,
composing poems, lifting lips to showers,
or cuddling cats, it’s you as well I clutch.
The stern disciples order me away:
those inner voices urging me to work
to earn the kingdom. Stubbornly, I lurk
to greet you, hoping you will let me stay.
The wealthy rulers of the world approach
to seek the secret of eternal life,
although they live where transience is rife.
They claim their actions are beyond reproach,
but they dare not surrender power or wealth
to follow you, the cosmic source of health.
	Barbara Messner 18/10/2022

Faith on Earth

Faith on Earth
Pentecost 19; Luke 18:1-14
“And yet, when the Son of Man comes,
will he find faith on earth?”

If the faithful grow weary in prayer
while the powers continue unjust,
will he find faith on earth?

If we cry out in private for change,
but in public hide out in the crowd,
will he find faith on earth?

If the faithful emancipate slaves,
while others use faith as excuse,
will he find faith on earth?

If women of faith come to lead,
while for some their faith limits their role,
will he find faith on earth?

If some worship in righteous display,
but treat others as sinful or wrong,
will he find faith on earth?

If some think they’re exalted by faith,
and entitled by riches or class,
will he find faith on earth?

So I cry, “God have mercy on us,
when our faith keeps on missing the mark!”
And yet, when the Son of Man comes,
may he find faith on earth!
	Barbara Messner 9/10/2022

Thanks and Praise

Thanks and Praise
Pentecost 18; Luke 17:11-19
Between Samaria and Galilee –
conflicted space –
he made that journey to Jerusalem.
He set his face
to meet the fate the leaders planned for him,
death and disgrace.

Ten lepers cried, “Have mercy on us, Lord!”
(not coming near.)
He told them they could go and show the priests
their skin was clear.
They went rejoicing, finding they were healed:
no-one need fear.

Just one returned – despised Samaritan –
praised God and knelt.
“Of those made clean, where are the other nine?”
This stranger felt
true gratitude and honest praise of God –
distinctions melt.

Of ten made well today, would one be moved
to kneel and praise
the Christ whose death can heal our ailing world
and darkened days?
Let gratitude and awe turn back our feet, 
and mend our ways.
	Barbara Messner 3/10/2022

Growing Faith

Growing Faith
Pentecost 17; Luke 17:1-10
“Increase our faith,” they asked, as though he could
hand them more faith like cake upon a plate.
Their seed of faith was little understood
if they believed great faith would make them great.
They wanted power beyond what’s meant to be;
he mocked their wish to use their faith for gain
with showy tricks, tree planted in the sea,
when greater faith means service, hard and plain.
We work for love and not for a reward,
and kingdom wisdom stirs insights we own.
No riches earned, no brownie points are scored;
we stretch our faith in action, know we’ve grown.
The living Christ works with us, shares the pain;
that partnership restores our joy again.
	Barbara Messner 28/09/2022

At the Gates or Beyond the Chasm

At the Gates or Beyond the Chasm
Pentecost 16; Luke 16:19-31
Are we the rich ones at whose gates the poor
now starve for lack of food we well could spare,
while here our wasting comes from wanting more,
unbridled growth that robs the land and air?
Then will our laden tables soon be turned,
and wasteful plenty fall in the abyss?
Will we then thirst for hope from those we spurned,
and feel the fire consume our barren bliss?
Is it too late to learn new ways to care,
and fill the chasm threatening the Earth?
First Nations’ elders and bold prophets dare
to stir us to bring country to new birth.
It’s time to hear, before our time has fled,
the words of someone risen from the dead.
	Barbara Messner 21/09/2022

Dishonest Managers

Dishonest Managers
Pentecost 15; Luke 16:1-13
He said, “You can’t serve God and wealth,”
but greed seduces souls by stealth.
There’s some that dominate by maleness,
claim entitlement through paleness.

Slanderers are seeking votes,
and politicians turn their coats.
Some bribe, or tout for media fame,
or trade on their ancestral name.

There’s those who purchase plastic beauty,
make a show of faith and duty,
use publicity as lie fest,
build the high rise that is highest.

Returning Jesus to the tomb
for profit’s sake leads on to doom.
To serve the resurrecting power
is Earth’s best hope at this late hour.
	Barbara Messner 13/09/2022

Lost Sheep, Lost Coin

Lost Sheep, Lost Coin
Pentecost 14; Luke 15:1-10
Sometimes you turn around,
when you are lost and know it.
Then you begin to find yourself,
and are almost ready to allow
the compassionate God to find you.
Knowing how you have wandered,
let your pride go and dare to call out,
wanting at last to be heard.
Go to stand on a high, bare place
where you hope to be seen and to see.

Sometimes, despite your value,
you are dropped through a hole and roll
out of reach to a dark, dusty corner.
It takes shifting of rugs and tables
and vigorous sweeping and weeping
to dislodge you from that crack
and out into the searcher’s light.
Then there will be rejoicing.

Can it be true that God prefers
to search for the fallen and lost
than to keep the complacent ones
in their stagnant security?
If God cares to search like that shepherd,
or the woman with broom and lamp,
then rejoice, for all is not lost
in our wandering, blundering world.
	Barbara Messner 7/09/2022

Ears to Hear

Ears to Hear
Pentecost 13; Luke 14:25-35
He bids us listen if we’ve ears to hear.
I spin these words to tune out random noise,
and find good news amidst the static fear,
but contexts change, our meanings mask his voice.
He spoke of hate to crowds he knew were drawn
by love of healings, supernatural powers.
He warned them that disciples might be torn
from loved ones, life itself – mass fervour sours.
Around me I see crowds who might admire
some sports or pop star, but can any hear
that faith might heal, or spirit might inspire?
Our culture’s mindset tunes out priest or seer.
How can our churches estimate the cost
of building towers when space for God is lost?
	Barbara Messner 31/08/2022

All Who Exalt Themselves Will Be Humbled

All Who Exalt Themselves Will Be Humbled
Pentecost 12; Luke 14:1,7-14
To claim a place of honour, people scheme;
ambition may be sourced in selfish dream.
Tycoons and politicians lead the race,
but what’s the truth behind the public face?
Here real humility is seldom seen;
the term “low down” is spoken to demean.
Good life is not a ladder at a wall;
the first to climb risks being fast to fall.
Feet on the ground may save the toppling Earth,
if sharing can become a sign of worth.
So set your sights on what is close at hand,
and don’t build mansions on the shifting sand.
Self-serving hasn’t served this planet well,
for fame and fortune leave a broken shell.
	Barbara Messner 24/08/2022