Sunday, December 7, 2014

A POEM: "Comfort My People" (12.7.14)

Offered in worship: a reflection
on the words of Second Isaiah (40:1-11)

It’s a word, it’s an ache, it’s a hope, it’s awake
In me, it’s alive in me, it’s a part of me.
Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.

And I know the word sounds a little absurd,
Because the hurt’s so huge
And the light’s not bright
That shines in the night.
But it’s a word, it’s an ache, it’s a hope,
It’s awake in me, it’s alive in me,
It’s a part of me.
Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.

The word in me is a word I see
In the eyes of old men who’ve forgotten their names,
In the eyes of old women still fanning the flames
Of peace and justice, and love and kindness.

It’s hidden sometimes in a stranger’s strange face,
Behind his tears, beneath her fears,
But it’s there just the same, this amazing odd grace.
Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.

Such a fragile word in such a fragile world,
But I see it, read it, feel it, hear it
In the shuffling feet of prisoners
Marching off to their own hard time,
In the soaring songs of dreamers
Leaving limits and bitterness behind.
In the choir that finds sweet harmony
Moving and grooving in diversity,
In the soaking rain on the dried out plain:
Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.

It’s a sweet word.  It’s a hard word.
It’s a tender, loving, God word.
So I try to articulate, but it’s hard to enunciate.
What do you do when a word finds you?
In a world so blue, and so tense,

And on edge everywhere, in every sense
Raw and cynical and sad and skeptical.
What do you do when a word finds you?
Do you hold it close, do you turn it over?
Do you push it away for another day?
Maybe it’s doubt you feel,
And you wonder if it’s real, if it’s true,
If it’s yours, if it’s you.
Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.

I’ll simply suggest that you say it out loud
To yourself, to a friend, to the trees, to the wind.
And when you do, when you say it,
When you sing it and pray it,
Comfort’s the seed that grows in the dark,
In the holy land of your spirit, your heart.
And other words push up through the ground,
Imagine the colors, imagine the sound
Of tenderness.  And compassion.
And generosity.  And communion.

There’s no doubt it’s a scary choice
To trust this word, to lift your voice
When the powers that be are dismissive
And grace is out of season and there’s every reason
To think it’ll always be this way,
Because it’s always been this way.

And I know this is true because I feel it here too,
But here’s what I’ll do, I’ll say it with you.
Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.
I need more courage for this kind of speaking
Brothers and sisters, solidarity seeking
Hope and strength in words we love,
And holy chutzpah from God above.

Like a shepherdess, she gathers her flock,
She sweeps up her lambs,
She walks every city block.
Until all of us are home at last,
Every one of us held fast in the arms of love.
Then she spreads a fine table
For every lost soul.
And that’s when we know what it
Means to be whole.
And so we say, with her,
With the shepherdess:
Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.

And we say it to the exiled.
And we say it to the exhausted.
We look in the mirror
And we say it to the lost soul in our own eyes.
And we say it to the young one
Who’s just getting started
And we say it to the grieving
Whose friends have departed
This world, for another, for grace,
For some kind of holy place
We can only imagine.
Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.

See how God works?
How her words open hearts?
See how the tiniest hope like a spark
Can light up the sky like an asteroid shower,
Can bring us new life and surprising new power?
Because the shepherdess is gathering sheep,
Because the love of God is unimaginably deep.
It’s a word, it’s an ache, it’s a hope, it’s awake
In you, it’s alive in you, it’s a part of you.

And sure there are mountains
And they get in the way.
And yes there are valleys
And we often lose our way.
Sometimes the mountains are terribly steep
And oh those valleys, they make us weep
For the harsh, sad world that breaks us, so often.

But now here’s a word
And it comes shining through.
The storm’s passing over for me and for you.
Because God’s love never tires,
God’s love never wavers,
And God’s grace conspires
To heal us and save us
From the cynical and skeptical,
From the dismal and abysmal,
From mountains so high
And the valleys so low.
The shepherdess wants every little lamb
To know
That kindness is the way of God,
Compassion’s in God’s heart.
So say the word and feel the word,
It’s time to play your part.

It’s time for your wild soul to soar,
For the light in you to shine on through.
It’s time to recognize the amazing gifts
That the Shepherdess God has given to you.

Comfort—my people.
Comfort—my people.
The word today is comfort,
The word today is grace,
The word today’s compassion,
And it’s written in your face
Like the poetry of prophets,
Like holy scripture, sacred song.
Go ahead and say it, play it, sing it,
It’s been yours all along