Saturday, January 05, 2008

What Gifts Will We Bring

The wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh
the shepherds brought their hope, their wonder,
sang praises on high to the world
Herod didn’t go; but projected his fear
What gifts will we bring
to the babe, to the manger, to his altar
what will we do, to thank the creator
for the gift of the son
What will we bring

January 5, 2008
Matthew 2:1-12

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 21,720+ of my poems at Poetry Where You Live.

Beacons of Light

Lights, out in the open,
shining in the darkness
giving direction, comfort,
through the shoals of life,
the storms of the world
the winds that turn us about
the darkness that can overwhelm
We must turn to the light,
project it out into the world
shining in the dark places
hope where there is despair
food where there is hunger
love where there is hate

January 5, 2008
Isaiah 42:1-9

Gifts for the Baby

They brought him
gold, and frankincense, and myrrh
precious gifts carried from afar
gifts worthy of a king
gifts told of in the prophets
brought to the baby’s presence
to his manger bed
Led by the star, by the prophesy
they came, to honor him
a baby shower
worthy of a king

January 4, 2008
Matthew 2:1-12
Isaiah 60:1-9

High on the Mountaintop

God graced human history
moments of relationship
moments of urgency
of epiphany, of transformation
high on the mountaintops
In the burning bush,
the roaring wind, the stunning silence
the stone tablets,
the places of prayer, of retreat
of redemption, of worship
up on the mountains
Closer to the creator, perhaps
wondrous vistas
Pure moments up in the cloud, the clouds
above the troubles of the world
a place to find God
High on the moutaintop

January 4, 2008

After the Manger

Their journey home,
back to the East
to their charts, their maps,
their study of the stars
The wise men returning
to their home country
going home another way
What stories did they ponder
the telling of the gifts
given in the stable
to the babe in the manger
the humble station
of the king below the star
The father, the mother, the baby
under the watchful star
What must they have felt
on their journey home
of the prophesy fulfilled
the questions, the fears of the king
all of Jerusalem, at the coming of the child
blood of Jesse, born of the young girl
What future was there
for the wise men three
at the end of their journey home,
while the babe was taken
into hiding, to save him from wrath

January 4, 2008
Matthew 2:1-12
Matthew 2:13-23

On the Road to Bethlehem

What was their conversation, their thoughts
on the long caravan
the journey to Jerusalem
to the temple, the palace of the king
on to Bethlehem, the city of David
the home of the old line of kings
Hot, dusty road westward
to the land of Israel
heavy-laden animals
uncertainty at what the star
what the star would illumine
the prophesy unfold
Following a moving star
carrying gifts for a king
on the long journey
to Bethlehem

January 4, 2008
Matthew 2:1-12

By a Dove

By a dove
was the anointed made known
the son presented to the world
the savior given the mantle
the crown of glory
Presented to the world,
to begin his journey
after his baptism, of water;
by the spirit he was anointed
like David with oil
imprinted for service,
for his mission of teaching,
of healing, of love
up out of the water
clean from sin
robed with glory
and offered to the world

January 4, 2008
Matthew 3:13-17

Friday, January 04, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Deep in the Woods

The words of the doctor, he is, we are,
“still deep in the woods”
A long way from the safety of home
of health, comfort, warmth
no longer in danger

Cold woods, this time of year
struggle to move, in the snow
the cold, air hard to breath
easy to be lost in the woods

Thankful for the metaphor
the healing in the words
because being in the woods
is better than the depths
the valleys, the desert

Woods, even with bramble,
thick forest, can be traversed
a way found out of the woods
back to home and safety
if we follow the path

So are our prayers, our hope
our faith in times of struggle
in the deep woods
That His plan would be worked out
that we would walk the path
laid out for us
through the valleys,
the shadow lands
following Your light, Oh God
knowing that You lead the way home

January 3, 2008


He was baptized in the River
in the Jordan by Elijah;
but he was anointed king,
not by oil, as the prophets of old,
Samuel anointing David
He was anointed by the voice of God
the Spirit of God
washing down over him,
descending like a dove
a holy anointing
of the child in the manger
the grown Son of God
readied for the testing, the tempting
His ministry
by the anointing, the Son
with whom the Father
was well pleased

January 3, 2008
Matthew 3:13-17
Isaiah 40:3
Malachi 3:1
Malachi 4:5
Matthew 11:1-15

Trimmed with Daggers

For some reason
glinting in the late afternoon sun
the icicles on the gutters,
the edge of the flashings
in the bitter cold today
more sinister than beautiful
though elegant they are
Houses trimmed with daggers
clear fingers of ice
jabbing downward,
hanging heavily in the air
yearning to fall, pierce the skin
the snow cover below
fuse with the earth
once more

January 3, 2008

High up in the Branches

High up in the branches
balls of branches, leaves
homes of the squirrels
covered in snow
one man’s trash another’s treasure
cobbled together beehives
balls to retreat to,
high up in the branches
no longer hidden by
the leaves of summer
even of fall
exposed in icy,
the cold of winter

January 3, 2008

Christmas on the Curb

Corpses piled up on the curb
limbs becoming bare
in the winter air,
shadows of the needles fallen below
on the crystallized snow banks
grayed from the salt,
the sand of the cars, the trucks
Tinsel and icicles,
singing in the icy cold
A few still sentinels
upright in the snow
holding onto Christmas
while still perched as they were
in the warm houses
so few days ago

January 3, 2008


Not just a light for the nations,
not just being a light
the Light shining in the world,
in the darkness.
Lighthouses, beacons,
keeping all safe,
away from the shoals,
the rocks, the hidden dangers
dangers hidden in the fog,
the clutter of daily life.
Leading those out on the seas
safely to shore
to a sheltered harbor
home in the arms of our Lord

January 1, 2008 and January 3, 2008
Isaiah 42:1-9, as translated in The Message,
contrasting to the translation in the
New Revised Standard Version,
(see “A Light to the Nations”)

A Light to the Nations

Clarity in the chaos
example of love, of faith,
clear, clean truth
so He was; so must we be
as his brothers, his sisters
His disciples, followers in the world
An example, a light in the darkness
a message of hope, of love,
to the captives, the prisoners
those lost in spirit
lost in the darkness of the world

January 1, 2008 and January 3, 2008
Isaiah 42:1-9, as translated in the
New Revised Standard Version,
contrasting to the translation in The Message
(see “Lighthouses”)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Another Snow

More snow, falling by my window
accumulating on everything out my view
the oak limbs, the clutches of leaves holding on
the pine needles, bowing to the earth
those still holding strong against the weight
for a few minutes longer
the flakes dancing to the ground
driven by the wind,
rising up as it nears the house
blowing sideways,
building on the land, the cars, the other surface
a white layer once more over the grime
the dirt of the city
enveloped in the snowstorm
quieting the noise from outside
coming in the open window

January 1, 2008

Monday, December 31, 2007

His face set on Jerusalem

After the transfiguration
there was a change in his manner
an urgency, impatience
time was suddenly short, shorter
he had set his face on Jerusalem
the final lessons to tell, the final healings
the training of the disciples
needing to be completed
He moved with a purpose
knowing his suffering to come
hurtling forward to completion
of his work here on earth

December 31, 2007
Luke 9:28-36
Luke 9:51-19:27
Luke 9:51

From Adoration to Flight

After the Magi, the gifts
gold, frankincense, myrrh,
a sudden dream, fear, panic,
flea, fly, go to the land of Egypt
to the home of the pharaohs,
the place of your ancestors, imprisoned
enslaved, until the exodus,
the freedom flight
the parting, the crossing of the Sea
the flight led by Moses
So too would the people be made free
by the babe in his mother’s arms
taken up to Egypt
until the king was no more

December 31, 2007
Matthew 2:13-23
based on sermon,
“Homecoming”, by
the Reverend Lori Eldredge,
Wesley United Methodist Church,
Concord, NH, 12/30/07

Saved by Stealth

Deliverers of the people
each both under a death threat
a dream and a basket
into the land of Egypt
adrift and homeless
at the mercy of the dust, the river
the kindness in the foreign land
the saviors of the people
saved by stealth
to lead the people
to freedom

December 31, 2007
Matthew 2:13-23
based on sermon,
“Homecoming”, by
the Reverend Lori Eldredge,
Wesley United Methodist Church,
Concord, NH, 12/30/07
and Exodus 2:1-5

A Massacre

It was a slaughter
all those of an age
all under two years old
put to death
to assuage the fears of the king
to rest his troubled mind
to give him peace
from a future foretold in scripture
for the people of the book
the nation of covenant
the people of the word
He was ready
to follow the model of Pharaoh
and kill the children
to save him from the king
born in the manger

December 31, 2007
Matthew 2:13-23
based on sermon,
“Homecoming”, by
the Reverend Lori Eldredge,
Wesley United Methodist Church,
Concord, NH, 12/30/07
and Exodus 1:8-22

At the King’s Command

At the king’s command
a massacre of infants
of innocents
The innocent paying the price
for the king’s fear, hatred
Fear of the babe born in the manger
the one visited by Magi
wise men from the East
Fear of the one foretold in the Prophets
the one who would come from Jesse’s root
would come to reclaim Israel
At the king’s command
the order was carried out;
but the one escaped
by the angel’s words
in the dream of his father

December 31, 2007
Matthew 2:13-23
based on sermon,
“Homecoming”, by
the Reverend Lori Eldredge,
Wesley United Methodist Church,
Concord, NH, 12/30/07

Like Children

In the synoptic gospels,
we are told, by the savior,
the first born
of the resurrection,
the first in the kingdom
of human birth
that we are to be like children
like children not of our age, perhaps;
but like the lowly status,
the children of his age,
of the world today
unlike our world
children, not merely innocent,
not humble alone,
the last, the least, the throw-away,
the lost, the ones left behind
thrown into the trash heap
left to die, if the wrong type
or food is short
Put ourselves into their station
their position, not merely servants
clinging to life itself,
How much harder
those words were
to the first listeners,
disciples trying to learn,
to understand new lessons
within the context of their lives
the teachings of old

December 31, 2007
Matthew 18:1-4
Matthew 19:13-15
Luke 9:46-48


After the stable birth
the visit of the Magi
the king was a refugee
a stealthy run for foreign land
away from the land of his people
hidden in Egypt
to avoid the slaughter
the rage of the King
the fear of the King
a refugee
without a home
in a land
where the people
had been slaves
Running for his life
to the land of the pharaohs
to avoid the pawn
of the Emperor

December 31, 2007
Matthew 2:13-23
based on sermon,
“Homecoming”, by
the Reverend Lori Eldredge,
Wesley United Methodist Church,
Concord, NH, 12/30/07

A Peasant King

The first will be last
The first a peasant king
homeless, without a place
to lay his head
Without a bed for his birth
a feed trough a cradle
last, like a young child
unwanted and a burden
an outcast, penniless
without career or home
a model of service
of sacrifice, that is his riches
a peasant king
such is our savior
and it is him
whom we must emulate

December 31, 2007

"The Age of Innocence", a sermon by Pastor Ruth L. Foss, Sanbornville United Methodist Church, Wakefield, NH 12/30/07

Matthew 2:13-23
Hebrews 2:10-18

When I read the scripture from Matthew… I was really struck by verses 16 to 18. The verses read “16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.””

Herod was infuriated… and the children… the innocents… were killed. And this is not the only death sentence that Herod was responsible for. He killed anyone who got in his way… who he thought was a rival…this even included his wife and three of his sons. Herod even had John the Baptist put in prison and eventually beheaded because John disagreed with Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife! Isn’t it funny… how… the innocents seem to be the ones to die.

This piece of the Matthew scripture reminds me of the world… this fallen world… that we live in. The innocents or innocence die every moment…no, every second… of each and every day. Seems to me that things really haven’t changed since Herod’s time… oh the ways they die have changed… but the innocents still die. Murderous behavior by one tribe… or religion… against another is still rampant today. Herod is alive and well… and not just in the “other guy”. In fact… there is a bit of Herod in each one of us when we feel threatened.

Look around us… there are so many ways that the innocent dies… we have abortion used as a means of birth control. These innocent children are dying because they would “cramp someone’s style”… “What would the neighbors think if our 14 year old child has a child?”… the child is “unwanted…a mistake” even before they are born.

There are wars raging all around us. There is the war in the Middle East, there is the war in our streets, there is war within families. In all these situations… the innocent is the one that usually ends up hurt in one way or another. It is the innocent that is dispensable not the ones in control.

You hear about abuse and rape on the news and in the papers. Innocence is lost… stolen… killed in these situations if not a loss of life (which sometimes seems to be the better option for some of these victims of these violent heinous crimes). We wail and cry as they did in Bethlehem… As Rachel wept and still weeps for her children; we refuse to be consoled because they are no more.

There are children out on the streets. They have nowhere to turn. They are not wanted in their homes… they have their innocence taken… stolen… from them by the streets. Where is there hope for a brighter tomorrow? Who will stand in the gap for them?

Even Jesus was an innocent who died for others but in this one, single, solitary sacrifice we have hope. Within this innocent’s death there is life to be found… a new life with a promise.

We are told, in the Epistle reading from Hebrews, that… Jesus is made the pioneer of our salvation perfect through suffering. For the one who sanctifies and all who are sanctified have one Father. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Even though He was tempted… even though He suffered as we do… He remained the pure, blameless sacrificial Lamb. And the scripture goes on to say that “Because he himself was tested by what he suffered… He… is able… to help…those… who are being … tested.”

This statement … this verse… is the very essence of a poem that Ray wrote for me. It is called Tempted:

The final verse of the reading
the lesson for the Hebrews
Jesus was tempted
Other tellings
of the same lesson
say he was tested
An interesting difference
thesaurus needed for the nuance
the related meaning; but a difference too
for he was tempted by the devil
tested by life’s travails
to be the worthy sacrifice,
the humble servant king
the anointed priest
all while fully human
tested, tempted as we are
in trying, fitfully,
doing the Father’s will

It is through His sacrifice on the cross… through this pure life… through Jesus’ obedience right up to and after His death on the cross that we are set free. Free from the death of sin… free from the bonds that hold us down… free to reach out with love and share this good news to those around us. Free to change a life that has broken by the loss of innocence… destroyed by the world we live in and help metamorphous it into a life where there is hope and a future… Give wings to fly to those who have been cocooned by society.

How can we begin to take on this monumental task? We look at the world around us and feel overwhelmed by what we see and hear. Well… all through the bible… we hear over and over again… fear not, I am with you. God is on our side… God is working our His plan… If God is for us (who can be against us). We need to trust in God… we need to reach out to those innocents around us and help them realize there is hope.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say. As with Moses… God will give us what need to be said. God wants ALL of His children to come home and He uses you and me to bring that about.

Another thing we can do is pray. Pray for our leaders, pray for our nation, pray for the parents of the world, pray for the children of the world. Just pray for whatever God puts on your heart!

We need to stop and listen to that still small voice within us. It is there… all we have to do is quiet ourselves in order to hear. The Spirit within us will guide us to what we need to do… our call in the world we live in.

God has surrounded each one of us with angels bearing messages we need to hear – messages that have the potential to bless our lives. We as Christians need to be the “angel’s messenger” to the least, the lost, the forgotten… those innocents around us… giving them the message of love, of hope, of peace. You never know… not only may we bless their lives but in the doing… be blessed beyond measure in being the ambassador of Christ here in the world.

We have a choice to make in life…we can either go through life thinking that these things…these people don’t effect us, that we have enough problems of our own, why should we take on another’s issues…or…we can reach out to those who are the innocents around us and share the Good News of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, we can help them metamorphus into what Christ would have them be…help them find their wings and fly as if on wings of an eagle. We can help make this world a better place if we but listen to that still small voice inside guiding us in the direction we should go.

I would like to end my sermon with a poem that I wrote in Mexico when I went on a Liberation Theology trip there when I was in undergrad. school. It is called “Listen to my Children Crying,” I wrote it when I came back and was thinking about all that I saw there. It reads:

Can’t you hear my children crying?
In your neighborhoods and around the world.
Can’t you hear my children crying?
For justice in their oppression and pain.
Can’t you hear my children crying?
For help from those who know the truth.
Can’t you hear my children crying?

There are children in the street,
With not enough to eat.
Can’t you hear my children crying?
There is injustice running wild,
Can’t you see this my child?
Can’t you hear them crying?

You have been sent on a mission,
To care for your brothers and sisters.
To right the wrongs of those with no voice.
They are there not by their choice.
Can’t you hear my children crying?

Why do you turn away?
They need your help not tomorrow but today!
Can’t you hear my children crying?
Why are they dying?