Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When the Saints Go Marching In

Thank God for annoying people getting together on Sundays
for the tone-deaf weirdos filling uncomfortable pews
singing poorly written songs
for wandering sermons with vague points
and for U2 obsessed musicians equipped with acoustic guitars
and a knowledge of 3 and a half chords

Thank God for the old couple glaring
at the teenagers with nose piercings
for the men in their late 30’s
with bic’ed heads and goatees
and for prayers that go on too long

Thank God for finger picking and ugly carpet
for the gauntlet of smiling middle aged men
handing out programs and shaking hands
and for free bad coffee

Thank God for announcements about potlucks
and youth group ski trips
for the signs that tell the parents of child 278
to go to child care as soon as possible
and for the pastor who tells the same story
about his daughter every other Sunday

God blessed the awkward church
He breathes his into the church with dysfunctions
too great to be ignored
He comes near the church filled with uncomfortable people
making uncomfortable conversation with other uncomfortable people
He sits in the back with the people complaining about the worship
He stands with the smelly people raising their hands
He even kneels beside those who go to the altar
because everyone else was going forward

Who is like Him? And who can fathom His ways?
He fills his kingdom with the obsolete and irrelevant
and with those without understanding
All thanks to Him who counted me in that number.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

God Questions Jake

Then the Lord answered Jake out of the storm
“Now, stand up like a man,
I’ll ask you a question—
Where were you when I laid
the foundations of the earth?”

I was at the 7-11
buying a slurpee
and eyeing the dirty magazines
behind the counter.

I was half-asleep
on my mothers couch
watching Maury Povich.

“Where were you
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God cheered them on?”

I was at the end of the bar
half-way through my third tall-boy
singin’ Billy Joel’s Piano Man
vaguely eying a rugby match
I didn’t understand.

I was comfortable
under a flannel blanket
in Simpson’s pajamas
in an air conditioned room
surrounded by stuff I don’t need.

Who are you that you would call Me out?

I’m nobody,
but if you want an answer,
I guess I’m the guy
in the third row, on the aisle
listening to a sermon on Job
feeling nothing
but confused and uncomfortable.

The Misinformed Hip Pastor

In thick rimmed black glasses, white slip-on shoes, and tattooed forearms
the hip pastor tells the congregation “God is not weird “
he is long-winded, speaks passionately, and makes nuanced points
but misses his mark when he drills home the point “God is not weird”.

The word weird is relative
a cultural construct
accurately describing
different behaviors
in different societies
but if it wasn’t
and the Creator
was in fact
not weird
I don’t think
I could trust him
I’m suspicious
of “normal” people
and I’d be even more
suspicious of a “normal” God.

But fortunately [if weird were a concrete term]
the young pastor with his half beard
is misinformed about God’s weirdness.

If God is God, He is weird
and so are we, His followers.

We eat the body and drink the blood of a carpenter who taught that people should be re-birthed in order to enter into a kingdom that no one can see, a man who was prophesied about by another man who cooked his food over a fire of shit. A man who came from people whose most holy day commemorated a time when their ancestors covered their doorways with the blood of a sheep, specifically a one year old male lamb with no broken bones or scars.

So if the urban pastor with his seeker friendly sermons
is going to use the word weird in a discussion of God
he ought to drop the not from the statement
and testify that God is weird, His plans are weird
and we, His people, are most definitely weird.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Otter Pops and Wombats

These Otterpops got me feeling all sorts of nice. I’m double fisting purple and orange day dreaming about talking wombats. I imagine their advice being the same as the voice I’ve learned to ignore. Summer days are like that, all orange cream sodas, sun shine and optimism.

Those wombats are whisperers. They tell me about her—they don’t even know her name, but they know more than enough. “It’s just the Otterpops talking. How many have you had today? Could you step out of the vehicle sir.” They shine their fancy Maglites in my eyes, leaving me seeing red and blue blotches that tell me to come back down, have a cup of coffee and pay my bills on time. If they weren’t wombats, I swear I’d shoot them. But they're wombat and I love wombats. Besides I think they’re on the endangered species list, and I don’t want that on my conscience.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Eye of a Needle

She tells me the boys at school are rude
they tell her about their 20 inch members
she is thirteen and they are upperclassmen
she tells me one unzipped his fly
asked her to get in

I comment on the impossibility of the suggestion
a 5’7 girl fitting through a six inch zipper
because humor relieves tension
because I can’t believe someone would say that to her
because I’m not used to feeling the urge to castrate teenagers

She says it like it’s nothing
a minor annoyance
a mosquito bite
a creaky door
a parking ticket

The conversation moves on
she’s telling me about the rabbits she raises for the county fair
I’m trying hard
to remind myself
what Jesus said about rich men going to heaven
trying to remind myself
if camels can fit through the eye of a needle
maybe pervy teenagers can fit too.

The Wink

Hey You,
in the gray-ish Saturn!

I though you should know that
I winked
when you passed me
in my blue Corolla.

I winked
because. . .
you’re hot,

and I thought
you might be lonely?

Maybe After my Coffee

Light falls between Redwood branches
bouncing of bay leaves on it’s way to me
while the birds are still gossiping

I’m hoping I can make to my first cup of coffee
it’s too early and I’m too dead to reflect on anything
beautiful, alarming or confusing

Maybe when I wake up I’ll remember something about this
or maybe I won’t—I’m not sure how much it matters
when I have my coffee I’ll give it more thought
I hope

I’ll probably have things to do by then
things always need doing
I hardly have time to think about all the things that need doing
let alone early morning light, trees and birds
but maybe after my coffee. . .

What Dogs do on Hot Days

A beagle pees on the sidewalk in front of me.
The stream runs over the hot concrete into the gutter.
The little girl walking the small dog looks back at me.
I think she is looking for my reaction,
there’s a tinge of pride in her eyes.
I squint and watch the dog walk away.