2018 Sonnet 74

Pray for the pretty. Isn’t she lovely?
Don’t you love Jesus? Share it with your friends!
Prayers for the pretty soaring above me.
Prove you love Jesus by following trends.

Pray for the pretty. She thinks she’s ugly.
Cry for hurt feelings, rejection, and loss.
Prove you love Jesus. Sentiments tug me
To call her slight trouble an old rugged cross.

Pray for the pretty! Have you pity?
It will have killed her some five years ago
When this spam began. Wasn’t she pretty,
This stranger who suffered heartache and woe?

Pray for the pretty, now just a rumor:
Post-mortem prayer requests for good humor.

2018 Sonnet 73

Family Reunion. Yes, I know you.
You look just like what’s her name. Guess you’re kin.
You were here last year. No? Well, maybe two.
If it’s any longer, where have you been?

What was your name again? Oh, that’s right, yes.
Your father knows my mother. Oh, guess not.
You must be Daddy’s cousin. No, I confess,
I don’t remember you, don’t know from squat

How we might be related but I know
That we are second cousins from way back.
Mama’s sister’s son-in-law; goes to show
That blood’s as thick as water; that’s a fact!

Wish you’d wear a name tag so I can tell
Where from the family tree your apple fell.

2018 Sonnet 72

Stand aside! Leave the floor. Climb the bleachers.
Do not get stomped in the elephant dance.
Is it courtship or fight? Call the teachers.
This does not look right. We can’t take a chance.

What a mess this is! One hell of a brawl!
Nothing else matters now. All the rage. Right?
Watch this crazy biz spill into the hall.
This is not chess game; it’s a cage fight!

What? There’s more? Bar the doors and call the cops!
Break out the tear gas! Don the riot gear!
Wait! Someone’s sore to the core, and where it stops
No one knows, but count the blows. This, I fear

Is the end; Majority decision or a knockout?
Depends; will it be fair fight or lockout?

2018 Sonnet 71

Have we at last no decency? Guess not.
“Rudeness is cool. It shows courage and spunk.”
Buffalo bullies, they rule! Take their best shot
Tripping sissies at school. “Make my day, punk!”

Kindness and courtesy? Namby Pamby.
Humility? My side? Don’t make me laugh!
Thumper stew! Bring me the head of Bambi.
Throw in his children; that’s better by half!

Have we at last no decency? No time
For questions like that, and how dare you ask!
Everybody’s a cynic. The new crime
Is daring to take your leaders to task.

Boldness, once daring to preach holiness,
Now wanting honesty over success.

2018 Sonnet 70

Water on Mars! Too salty for freezing
Satellite radar hears sloshing beneath
The Red Planet’s chilly south pole, pleasing
Scientists hell bent to find and bequeath

Some sign of extra-terrestrial life
To students and teachers eager to school
Mystery Martians to use Occam’s knife
As a paperweight instead of a tool.

Water on Mars! Too salty for fishing
And besides, one would need a tiny hook,
A wee tiny worm, a lot of wishing
And luck to catch microbes found in the Book

Of Life. Little microbes cross the life line
Buried in Mars dust and pickled in brine.

2018 Sonnet 69

Late night TV is better than sleeping,
It’s good for the brain to be coasting instead
Of tossing, turning, dreaming, and keeping
A fidgeting soul confined to a bed.

Papa’s recliner, off-balance and worn,
Attempting to cradle this foreign frame,
Like trying to line-dance a waltz, reborn
In the day of flyers walkers are lame.

This is the hour of disjointed thinking,
Bone-on-bone cracking beneath twisted spine,
An hour that drives others to drinking
To chase evening cocktail with midnight wine.

Oh how the mighty have fallen to crews
Who document failings on late night news!

2018 Sonnet 68

I see your wrinkles but can’t see my own,
Your hair growing gray and thin and brittle.
I see me as young; I see you as grown,
As if you were big and I was little.

I title you “sir”. I preface you “m’am”.
I keep thinking you must know more than I.
Quite deferential; that’s just who I am.
But I’m older too and wondering why

I put you in charge and I bowed to you.
Because you are bolder, just a bit older,
I crowded you, must have seemed loud to you,
Presumptive to think that you could shoulder

The weight of my world, a dog to my pup,
My reason to follow and not grow up.

2018 Sonnet 67

I’m hearing voices from the other side.
And colors: pink or blue? Is it a boy?
A girl. That’s right. I see her take a ride
On horseback. No? No, wait. A bike. Some toy.

Her name is Cindy? Catherine? That’s right; Sue!
I see her wearing skirts and shirts. She must be
Very dear to you that she would find you
Right here. Today. Of course; she speaks through me.

She seems to oft go barefoot; sometimes shoes.
They’re black and leather, cloth, maybe vinyl
Heels or flats. Sandals? Flip-flops. Now, here’s news:
She loved them so, those shoes, and here’s what’s final:

She used to be but now knows she is not.
She wants to say she still loves you a lot.

Sheep Without a Shepherd

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

— Mark 6:30-34

When I was associate pastor in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, one of several hurricanes missed us and crossed the state a few miles north of us. One Sunday, a very weary woman came into our service. She introduced herself as a Disciples minister, then broke down crying. She was from San Diego and had come here to help with the destruction from the hurricane.

She told heart-wrenching stories about people living in their storage sheds, with plastic tarps for roofs and wood fires for cooking. She told us about her work with the physical needs of the people she met, but also about the extreme emotional toll the storm had on the people. She was from out of town, so she did not represent an area church.

We discussed ways that we could help in an already crowded field of volunteers. She suggested that if we volunteered, we might be able to recruit people into the church.

I’m sure you know that Disciples churches aren’t exactly evangelical. My senior pastor and I had a sense that although there were no Disciples churches in the affected area, there were plenty of churches where people could and perhaps should attend. Besides, we were too far away. We just had a sense that it would be taking unfair advantage of a natural disaster if we used it as a platform to gain members.

Her response was, “Well, SOMEBODY should bring them in!”

I will never forget that event. We were convicted of finding an excuse to avoid recruiting new church members. Our excuse sounded legitimate – that there were other churches closer, that the people probably had a different denominational background, and so on. But while we were making excuses to not evangelize, apparently so was everybody else. In the midst of the destruction, the people were like sheep without a spiritual shepherd.

I bet we have excuses for not evangelizing. There are a lot of churches in Guyton. A lot of people have backgrounds and families in other denominations. We aren’t big enough for some people. We don’t have a big singles group. We are too liberal for some people and too conservative for others. But the lesson I learned is that if we are not shepherding people into the kingdom of God, they are likely to be sheep without a shepherd.

In today’s Gospel story, Jesus has taken His disciples by boat to a solitary place. Jesus had sent them out two by two to evangelize, and they had returned to report on their success. Jesus was suggesting that they all take a break in a solitary place. But the people figured out where they were going, and when they landed the boat, that place was not so solitary. It was full of people looking for answers, looking for a teacher, looking for a shepherd. Jesus and the disciples needed a break, but the people needed a shepherd. So Jesus forgot about his needed break and started teaching the people.

This story comes just before the feeding of the five-thousand, which comes before the event of Jesus walking on water and calming a storm. Between those two events, Jesus was praying alone on a mountaintop. That was His time to recharge.

The story says that Jesus had pity on the people, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. The same phrase is used in Matthew. Let’s look at that, in Matthew 9:35-38:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” There were plenty of people working the field after the hurricane, but there was nobody harvesting those who were ripe for spiritual revival. In John 4, Jesus has so impressed a Samaritan woman that she brought the whole town out to hear him. It was another time that Jesus needed a break.

The disciples had gone to get food. “Rabbi, eat something,” they said. Jesus answered, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest.’?” How is that a saying? It must have been that when one person says, “We can’t take a break,” or “Why are you doing nothing?”, the person resting might say, “It’s still four months until harvest.” It’s kind of like saying, “What’s the hurry?”

Jesus goes on to say, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

We all tend to make excuses for why we aren’t out inviting people to church, or testifying about the Kingdom of God. There’s lots of time, we say. What’s the hurry? The people aren’t ready. Somebody else will do it. Our barns are not big enough.

Meanwhile, lost and hurting people are looking for a shepherd. It doesn’t matter that we aren’t good enough, big enough, rich enough, loud enough, contemporary enough. It doesn’t matter if we need a break. No excuse matters, because we are not the shepherd; Jesus is.

Here’s the question: Are we going to go another week without inviting someone to church? Why? Do we really think everybody has a church, or are we just afraid to ask? Look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest! There are workers in the field who really have their hands full, and they are asking the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers.

Guess what? We are more workers. We are those who are too often sitting on the sidelines, waiting for instructions or for the ideal opportunity. Meanwhile, there are people who are lost and confused – Matthew says they are harassed and helpless – and they are like sheep without a shepherd.

You can be an answer to prayer. We can be workers in the field, gathering the harvest, bringing in the sheaves. We may need rest, we may be few, we may be busy, and none of that matters. Look! The field is ripe for harvest! Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send workers into His field! I pray that when He sends us, we will go into the field, harvest the grain, and introduce those harassed and helpless sheep to the Good Shepherd who leads this church.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

2018 Sonnet 66

I take no offense; I make no excuse,
But I wonder if more people would buy
Sonnets invaded by children of Zeus
Than those hinting at Christ. I wonder why

Egyptian/Tibetan Books of the Dead
And Bhagavad Gita don’t get a rise.
The Koran owns the Rubaiyat instead
Of the Holy Bible, considered wise

Though more for poetry, language and plot.
Not rare, as I think of it, just passé.
I live in the scriptures, use them a lot.
I wonder: Am I out of step with today?

It would be great if my sonnets would sell.
Better yet to steer someone clear of hell.