Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | December 15, 2021

Psalm 2020/2021

Psalm 2020/21 – How Long Until?

How long, O Lord?

     How long until

          our lives are no longer disrupted by protocols,

          and travel is no longer a burden, a challenge,

          the infected no longer gasp for breath,

          and breathe their last—

          and their loved ones are devastated,

          and their bodies are ravished,

          and their lungs destroyed by a wild, deadly, raging virus,

               one that should have been tamed by now?

     How long until

          science wins,

          and the willful, stubborn, misinformed, misled, foolish, get vaxed—or die—

          and treatment or cure slams the door on death?

How long, O Lord?

     How long until

            we, like lamb before lion, child at hole of asp,

                   no longer have to fear one another,

            and the deadly weapons are laid down,

            and the weapons are kept out of the hands of children and youth,

            and the weapons are reserved for those trained to use them,

            and the weapons are restricted in a land already armed to the teeth,

            and the weapons are forged into instruments of peace—

                  and so are we?

How long, O Lord?

     How long until

          we stop pumping carbon into the air,

          and the icecap no longer melts,

          and the waters recede,

          and the rain forests are preserved,

          and the skyline is no longer brown,

          and the lakes and streams are clear,

          and habitats are restored,

             and this groaning creation erupts with beauty, life, and joy?        

How long, O Lord?

     How long until the politicians

          end the divisiveness,

          and restore civility,

          and reject the Big Lie,

          and stop the repression

               of women,

               and people of color,

               and people who are LGBTQ?,

               and the poor, hungry, and homeless,

               and anyone else who is not




                     and, especially, wealthy,              

          and stand up for democracy,

          and say “no” to lining their pockets,

          and say “yes” to serving the republic,

          and prefer the common good above their own power?

How long, O Lord?

     How long until people of color no longer fear and mistrust

          their neighbors,

          and the police,

          and their employers and co-workers,

          and the politicians,

          and strangers,

          and the bigots and haters?

     How long until

          their vote is no longer suppressed,

          and their economic power and opportunities are no longer limited,

          and their people are no longer disproportionately incarcerated,

          and their rights are upheld,

          and they can jog, sleep, shop, drive, work, play

               and live to tell about it,

          and diversity is no longer perceived as a threat

                but celebrated as an asset?

How long, O Lord?

     How long until your beloved, broken church—

          broken by political entrenchment,

          and a sense of entitlement,

          and racial and class divisions,

          and apathy,

          and intimidation,

          and manipulation,

              and blaming,

          and bullying,

          and bondage to tradition

                while oblivious to the Great Tradition—

     How long until your beloved bride, your church

          radiates, beams with her gifted beauty,

          and fully reflects your Light,

          and values mission above survival,

          and celebrates abundance rather than fearing scarcity,

          and treats her leaders with respect,

          and fully embraces the call to discipleship,

          and joyfully tells the story of Jesus,

          and rejects the death-dealing values of empire,

          and strives tirelessly, passionately, relentlessly for justice and peace?

How long, O Lord?

     How long until my cold, hard heart—

          hardened by cynicism,

          and hardened by disdain for those with whom I disagree,

          and hardened by anger at the anti-mask, anti-vaxers,

          and hardened by disgust for leaders who mislead,

          and hardened by my own, self-centered sinfulness—

     How long until that heart

          is softened,

          and melted,

          and molded,

          and reshaped,

          and transformed

          by your love,

          and by your mercy,

          and by your Spirit?

How long?

How long, O Lord?

     How long until

          your compassion flows freely,

          and your justice prevails,

          and your love triumphs,

          and “life,” not “death,” is the last word?

     How long until

          your gentle reign is revealed,

          and creation is healed,

          and all people kneel,

          and your praise is sung,

          and your will is done,

          and your kingdom comes?

How long, O Lord—until?

Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | February 17, 2021

As the Days Lengthen

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting longer. Hurray! Spring is coming. Hurray! And, on the Christian calendar, Lent is beginning. The name “Lent” comes from an Old English word, lencten, which refers to the lengthening of days and the arrival of Spring. So, I offer this poem for Lent with my prayer that, if you are one who observes this season, you will be blessed in your observance.

As the days lengthen may our resolve strengthen,
Following our Lord wherever he leads:
To love one another--make this our intention--
To care for creation and all in their need.

As the days lengthen may our hearts be opened.
Praying for cleansing, joining God's mission:
To give self and substance, much more than a token,
To channel our Savior's forgiveness, compassion.

As the days lengthen may our hope be freshened.
Resisting the darkness, we trust in the Light,
To overcome hatred, division, oppression,
To shine in, glow through us, restoring our sight.

As the days lengthen may our faith be deepened.
Returning to God, let us lean into mercy.
Renew us, transform us, God--now, God, please hasten!
Pour out your abundance on hungry and thirsty.

Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | December 6, 2019

Come to Us, O Christ, This Season

Come to us, O Christ of history

As you once came, long ago

Cradled in a manger lowly,

Born of Mary, pure and holy.

God-filled, how you loved us so—

Gracing world with healing mercy.

Come to us, O Christ of history.


Come to us, O Christ of mystery,

Hidden in this world so dark.

Though sin, greed, violence, would repel—

Here you are, making well.

Be among, within, a spark

Of light, of hope, of joy—our certainty.

Come to us, O Christ of mystery.


Come to us, O Christ of majesty,

As you promised long ago.

End forever war and strife!

Grant peace, pardon, perfect life.

King of All, your glory show.

Rule with justice, Eternal Royalty.

Come to us, O Christ of majesty.


Come to us, O Christ, this season.

Fill us, shower us with your love.

Teach us, hold us, lead us, mold us.

Stir our hunger for your justice!

Turn our hearts to you above.

Be our purpose and life’s reason.

Come to us, O Christ, this season.

Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | April 20, 2019

Silent Saturday

Silent Saturday.

Jesus is dead.

Dead in a cold, dark, lonely tomb.

My Lord is dead.

Betrayed, denied, crucified, buried.


Destroyed by the world’s thirst for dominance.

The lust for power.

The urge to control.

Destroyed by the world’s evil.

My evil.


Silent Saturday.

I wait.

I wait in grief.

Grief for my Lord.

Grief for my own sin.

Grief for my mother, now ten months in her grave.

Grief for my father, no longer himself,

lost since he lost our mother.

Grief for those whose lives are marred by violence, injustice, and oppression:

20 years since Columbine—

and the litany of gun violence goes on…and on…and on…

when will we come to our senses?

Families at the border—

No safe place to call home.

Desperate.  Terrified.  Separated.

Families—too many—shattered by suicide.

And countless more…

So much grief.

So much despair.

So much darkness.

So much death.

And I wait, wondering—

Will there be healing?

Can there be hope?

Will there be light?

Will be life?

Is it possible?

Silent Saturday.

And I wait.


Silent Saturday.

The church waits.

Broken and beautiful, the church waits.

The palm fronds, dried up, green-become-brown, discarded.

Feet and hands dried after washing.

Bread and wine removed from the table.

And Jesus is dead.

Our Lord is dead.

It is dark.  Very dark.


Silent Saturday.

The church waits.

The church waits for…?


Silent Saturday.

The world waits.

Violence.  Warfare.  Refugees.

Fires—Notre Dame and black churches, torched, in the south.

Children dying of hunger and disease.

Fear and hatred of the other.

Division and hostility between leaders.  Between citizens.

Despair.  Darkness. Death.


Silent Saturday.

The world waits.

The church waits.

I wait.


Will there be good news—maybe tomorrow?

Is Despair the last word—or Hope?

Darkness—or Light?

Death—or Life?


And if—if—if there is good news,

Will the church tell it?

Will I tell it?

For the life of the world.

Silent Saturday.

We wait.




Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | November 3, 2018

Remembering Mom

On this All Saints’ weekend, my mind and heart are drawn to the most influential saint in my life–my mother, who died this past June.  What I offer may not be great poetry, but it is offered in great love.  Miss you, Mom–and thanks for your witness, love and profound and lasting impact on my life.

My Mother’s Faith:

An All Saints’ Remembrance

My mother’s faith was gift to her,

Sustaining her through life

In times of joy and celebration,

Challenge, woe and strife.


She held it fiercely in her grip—

Or, rather, it held her.

The comfort, promise, hope she knew

Were rooted deep and sure.


She loved her God, she loved her church,

She loved to serve and pray.

It was the Spirit’s work in her

To guide her on her way.


She taught her children to know God,

To trust God’s loving will,

To show respect, be kind and share—

I hear her say it still.


Was she perfect?  “Not at all,”

She’d be the first to say.

But God, forgiving, called her “Child”,

Renewed her day by day.



And when her days grew short on earth,

And memory grew dim,

When life was but an empty shell—

Her God, she still had Him.


Her faith is now made whole by sight

Within God’s grand design.

And may that faith, so dear to Mom,

Be mine, dear God, be mine.

Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | March 20, 2018

A Palm/Passion Sunday Poem

I wrote this poem for Palm/Passion Sunday in 2014, and offered it as part of my sermon for that day.  It seems especially poignant this year, when a massive military parade is being planned at the urging of our President while, at this holy time, we remember the humble parade welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem.

One parade, marked by an overwhelming show of power and might, offers the illusion of secured life–but its ultimate outcome, when the weapons on display are employed, is large-scale death.  The other parade results in the death of Jesus, but when its spiritual weapons of humble, sacrificial love are employed, the surprising outcome is life–life for Jesus, life for you and me, life for all creation!

Which parade will my thoughts, words, choices and actions give witness to?  What about you?


One man rode in on his high horse,

A ruler, entering from the west,

Confident in Roman power,

Certain he could beat the best.


Another rode in on a donkey–

A peasant, entering from the east,

Pure of heart, trusting God,

His simple mission—bringing peace.


The first one filled with arrogance,

Pompous, mighty, and well-armed,

Accompanied by many soldiers

To threaten and to cause alarm.


The second fellow, meek and humble,

Armed with mercy, forgiveness, love,

Joined by foll’wers, frightened, fickle,

Trusting in their God above?


Pilate rode in from the west,

Horses strutting, weapons strong,

Swords were flashing, soldiers seething,

Eager for battle before long.


Jesus rode in from the east,

Battle also was his plan—

Not the kind with swords and weapons—

Fighting for the hearts of man.


Soon they’ll meet, and soon they’ll battle,

One a warrior, one a slave.

The odds appear in Pilate’s favor—

But is God present?  Will God save?


Jesus, humble, is defeated,

Hung to die upon a cross,

Tortured and humiliated—

His mission, it’s a total loss.


But wait—another word is spoken,

“Christ is risen!” is the cry.

Foolish Pilate should have known

That love like this can never die.


Each day still the battle rages,

In our hearts and in our lives—

Will we side with Pontius Pilate,

Or trust in Jesus, humble Christ?


When the choices are unnerving,

When our loy’lty’s on the line,

Will we choose the pow’r of Pilate,

Or Jesus’ love, serene, sublime?


The battle, it was long ago—

Yes, still it lives in me and you.

Who will claim our faith and trust—

Lord Jesus, hold us, keep us true.


Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | December 21, 2017

Lord Jesus, Mangered

Turning a noun, “manger,” into a verb, “to manger” has offered me another perspective from which to behold the mystery of the Incarnation which the church celebrates at Christmas.  A poem, with a wish that you, dear reader, will have a truly blessed Christmas.

                Lord Jesus, Mangered

Lord Jesus, mangered in a womb,

Nurtured by your mother’s love,

Precious gift from heav’n above,

God-in-flesh, a rose in bloom.


Lord Jesus, mangered in a stable,

Fragile, humble peasant boy.

What a wonder, what a joy

That God comes near—vulnerable.


Lord Jesus, mangered in this world

Where sin and greed and violence rule,

Your love and mercy making whole,

Justice, peace, and hope unfurled.


Lord Jesus, mangered in a tomb,

Rejected, tortured, crucified.

There in darkness, dead, you lie,

Yet you are Light, dispelling gloom.


Lord Jesus, mangered in your glory,

Raised to life, you rule on high.

Love like yours can never die!

Disciples, hasten—tell the story!


Lord Jesus, mangered in your church,

Known in water, word, bread, wine

And love, abounding, as a sign

That you are here to end all hurt.


Lord Jesus, manger in my heart.

Melt the hardness there, I pray,

And may I share your love today.

Dear Jesus, manger in my heart.

Christmas 2017


Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | December 22, 2016

A Christmas Poem – Don’t Be Afraid

We live in a terribly frightened–and frightening–world. Perhaps the Christmas angel has a message for us, if we put ourselves among the shepherds.

I wrote this poem for Christmas 2015, as my Christmas Eve sermon, and am republishing it for another Christmas in a world that is still frightening.  Perhaps the Christmas message is better sung than spoken; isn’t that why we so love the Christmas carols? Poetry is close as we come to singing without music.

Don’t Be Afraid!


“Don’t be afraid!” the angel said
to us shepherds, who cowered in terror and dread.
“I have good news to share with you!—
news that will thrill you, through and through.

“I sing of a child, born this night
who will put an end to all your fright.
He’s come as Messiah, Lord, and Savior—
peace to all, goodwill and favor!

“You’ll find him wrapped in bands of cloth,
lying in a feeding trough.
He may look small and frail tonight—
but the day will come when you’ll see his might.

“God’s come among you as a child—
poor and humble, meek and mild.
God’s come among you to save you all,
forgive your sin, make you stand tall.”

A choir of angels joined the song,
voices soaring loud and long,
“Glory in heaven, to God be praise!
God’s peace on earth, for all, always!”


But me—yes, me—when I heard this news
shook my head; I was not amused!
I can’t believe what I’ve just heard—
“Don’t be afraid?” How absurd!

Don’t be afraid in this crazy world
where powerful, vicious words are hurled?
Don’t be afraid when there’s so much hate—
words and walls that separate?

Don’t be afraid, when there’s endless violence—
and far too many suffer in silence?
I can’t believe what I’ve just heard—
“Don’t be afraid?” How absurd!

Don’t be afraid when we’re told to fear
the ones who come from there to here?
Don’t be afraid when we can’t clearly see
who’s friend and who is enemy?

Don’t be afraid when it feels so dark,
when it’s not even safe to walk in the park?
I can’t believe what I’ve just heard—
“Don’t be afraid?” How absurd!


The angel replied, “That’s what I said—
there’s nothing to fear, nothing to dread.
For God almighty has come to earth,
filled with love, in a wondrous birth!

“God is with you, here—right here—
right in this place where you live in fear.
God is here, where it’s dark and dreary,
here with a love that won’t grow weary.

“Yes, God is here—and that’s good news!
Good news for all, good news for you!

“This Child will know your pain and distress;
he’ll understand your hopelessness.
He’ll walk with you in frightening places,
and put a grateful smile on your faces.

“He’ll love the poor and sinners, too;
he’ll love the rich—love folks like you;
he’ll heal the sick and raise the dead;
he’ll battle with Satan and come out ahead!

“Yes, God is here—and that’s good news!
Good news for all, good news for you!

“This Child is a love-gift sent from God,
to you and all who feel the rod
of hatred, division and discontent.
Cheer up!—this Child is heaven-sent!

“This Child, when he becomes a man
will die and rise—and that’s God’s plan.
He’ll rise and rule forevermore,
and welcome you through heaven’s door.

“Yes, God is here—and that’s good news!
Good news for all, good news for you!


“So hurry, hasten, go—adore!”
And with that, the angel spoke no more.
And we, astounded, said to each other,
“We’ve got to see this Child and mother!”

We hastened off to see this thing
that made the angels soar and sing.
We found the Child, just as they said—
and, moved to awe, we bowed our heads.

A babe so small and poor and sweet,
with little to warm his hands and feet,
his parents poor and humble, too—
and, yet—Light shined in that crude, bare room.

We began to see what the angel meant.
We know this Child is heaven-sent.
We sense his power, feel his love,
and trust in our hearts he comes from above.

We go back to our lives, but we’re never the same
as we joyfully, gladly praise the name
of Jesus, Child from heaven above—
full of mercy, peace, God’s love!

To all we see, to all we meet,
We bring this message, pure and sweet:
“God is here—and that’s good news!
Good news for all, good news for you!”

Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | December 22, 2016

A Poem for Advent 4

Here’s my latest poem, a dialog  between humanity and God, presented at our contemporary worship on Dec. 18.  In this poem, God hears and responds to our plea for “Emmanuel–God With Us” to come.  It’s based on the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew’s story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1:18-25.

The prophet Isaiah declares to a reluctant King Ahaz in 7:14, “Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

Matthew 1:18-25: 8Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
 23“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
 and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

And the poem, with God’s speech in quotes:

A Dialog with God About the Coming of Emmanuel

Where are you, God?

Will you ever get here, as promised?

Will you come to us, God?—

come to set the world right,

come to stop our warring madness—

our hatred

our divisiveness

our judging of others

our violent ways

our bullying beating killing slaughter—

come to drive away our fear and terror,

come to heal my sin-sick heart—

cleanse it

transform it

mold it.

O come, o come, Emmanuel!

What are you waiting for, God?

The world has spun out of control,

lost its bearings

discarded its compass

surrendered its soul.

O come, o come, Emmanuel!

“I am coming.

I’m sending a child,

A fragile, vulnerable, infant.

And this is the one who will save you—

though you expect another kind of powerful, mighty Ruler.”

What—this child will be powerful?

How powerful?

Powerful enough to save us from our sins?

“Yes—his name shall be Jesus



Victorious One


Wow!—that’s powerful.

I can’t save myself.

No other human can save us.

Only God can save us!

But, a child—God?

“Yes—he will be Emmanuel.

God with us.”

God with us?

O come, O come, Emmanuel!

Come, be with our dark world—give us light!

Come, be with us sinners—forgive us, make us free!

Come, be with the lonely and poor—give us abundant life!

Come, be with the sick and dying—heal us, make us whole!

Come, be with the whole creation—hold all in your love!

“When you plead with me to come to you,

know this about me—

I am Light.

I am Freedom.

I am Abundant Life.

I am Wholeness.

I am Love.

I am with you—Emmanuel.

I have come—in humble flesh.

I will come again—in majestic power.

And I come to you now, hidden—yes, now.

In your darkest moments, I am with you.

In your fear and terror, I am with you.

In your chaos and devastation, I am with you.

In your death and dying, I am with you.

Now and always, I am with you.”

Emmanuel is here—God with us.

You come.  You come to us, Emmanuel!

Come to cleanse and transform us.

Come to save us from our enemies—

save us from ourselves

save us from our fears

save us from our evildoing

save us, even, from Death.

O come, please come, Emmanuel!

We need you.

I need you.

Emmanuel—God with us.


Posted by: Pastor Rick Thompson | December 5, 2016

A Poem for Advent 2

Here’s my latest poem, written for our contemporary worship on the Second Sunday of Advent, December 4. Just when it seemed like the ancient monarchy in Israel was as good as dead, Isaiah imagined the possibility of hope for something new. Just when it seems as if hope for our world and our lives are as good as dead, God promises something new. May you experience and share that newness in your life.

The poem is based on the first reading for the day, which follows:

Isaiah 11:1-10

1A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

6The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

And now, the poem:

From a Place as Good as Dead

From a place as good as dead,

a people as good as dead—

from a tree stump, from its puny, dry, withered roots

from a shattered, devastated people—

shall come a shoot, a branch.

And he shall be from God.


And he shall be filled with the Spirit of God.

And he shall come to rule—


Son of David—

dressed in righteousness and faithfulness—

to rule with justice

with a heart for the poor,

with a heart for the meek,

with a strong word that destroys evil.


And his reign will be a reign of peace.

Enemies will become friends—

human enemies,

animal enemies—

and predators  will no longer seek prey—

predators animal and human—

and they shall no longer fear each other,

and they shall be reconciled.

Enemies, adversaries shall be reconciled.

And the intimate knowledge of the LORD shall fill the earth

and it shall be glorious.



Life from a place, a people, as good as dead.

Let it be.


Life from a place as good as dead—

from a dying, decaying world,

from a nation searching for its soul,

from parched, undernourished spirits,

from my cold, hard heart—

cold with anger and fear,

cold with disregard for God,

hardened toward the poor and homeless,

hardened toward those I disagree with—

from this cold, hard heart

righteousness shall sprout and grow.


Righteousness shall sprout and grow?

From this dead world?

From my dead heart?


“Why, yes!” the prophet declares.

Of course!” God promises.

“Isn’t that what I do—

bring life from death?”


Yes, God, yes!

Let it be.

Let it be in me.  Through me.


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