So Long, Saddam

The slaughter of the innocents revisited

So long, Saddam. Your rope was short.
And all because a Baghdad court
determined you deserved to die
for heinous crimes you did.

Like old King Herod long ago
who slaughtered babies row by row,
your ego was most satisfied
when you were murdering.

And though confronted by wise men
you quickly put an end to them.
When threatened in your leadership,
your blood ran cold as ice.

But, nonetheless, one babe I see.
A fragile life. Democracy.
You could not kill what longs to live.
It was the death of you.

May God have mercy on your soul
for in the end your life long goal
left countless mothers childless.
Both in your land and ours.

A New Years Prayer

A month by month glimpse ahead;
With Praise for a Reliable Ford

In January as I think
of Dr. King’s sweet dreams,
I pray that peace and brotherhood
won’t ravel at the seams.

Come February when I see
young couples that I know,
please use me as a Valentine
to help their love to grow.

And then in March when old St. Patrick’s
faith is called to mind,
arouse my will that I might serve
the homeless, bruised and blind.

In April when the rains of spring
awaken winter’s sleep,
please let the truth of Eastertime
to help my faith go deep.

When May recalls the men that died
in bloody wars long past,
assure that what they fought to win
will somehow live and last.

In June when school is ended
and vacations have begun
convince me that I need a break,
some leisure and some fun.

And come July when on the Fourth
I praise my Uncle Sam,
please prompt me Lord to give you praise
for living in this land.

When August comes and hurricanes
start threat’ning folks down south,
don’t let me gripe about small stuff
or get down in the mouth.

And in September when I get
to rest on Labor Day,
remind me that my work’s a gift.
I’d hate to always play.

In dark October when your paintbrush
brightens dying leaves,
please move my heart with wonder
as they dance upon the breeze.

And then in bleak November
when I feast with family,
receive my thanks for all the ways
you prove your love for me.

And in December when I string
the lights and feel you near,
accept my gift of love, dear God,
for what you’ve done all year.

With Praise For A Reliable Ford

Remembering a model we’ll never forget…

He wasn’t a Cadillac, Chrysler or Cord.
Our 38th President was only a Ford.
Reliable, steady, as plain as can be
but Gerald, by Golly, had integrity.

He came from a car lot on Capitol Hill
where all makes and models knew Jerry quite well.
He stayed on the highway obeying the speed
not guzzling petrol. His tank had no greed.

His mileage was average. Not bad, though not great.
But Ford was our ride to get past Watergate.
He carried our nation a couple of years
but then came a Jimmy with a clutch and new gears.

Ford lost his momentum and ran out of gas
as Carter gained speed to successfully pass.
And leaving the Beltway, old Gerald went west.
The once Michigander liked Palm Springs the best.

And thirty years later his engine still ran.
The term geriatrics was named for this man.
But vintage old classics can’t always go on.
We turn on the news and we learn they have gone.

And that is the case on this St. Stephen’s Day.
The angels of Christmas took Gerald away.
But though I am saddened to hear what’s transpired,
our nation is stronger by what he inspired.

O Little Town of Where-We-Live

A musical prayer of confession

O little town of Where-We-Live
you surely know the score.
We give to those who give to us
and overlook the poor.
The homeless and the widows
don’t have much Christmas cheer.
How can they when they live without
the basics through the year?

But we who live with all we need
take all of it in stride.
The holidays are good to us.
We rarely are denied.
We bake our Christmas cookies
and gather with our friends.
A concert here, a party there
and then the season ends.

But somehow something’s missing
in spite of what we do.
If honest, we’re quite empty
and joys it seems are few.
We end each year resolving
to break with old routines
and yet come next December
we’re like we’ve always been.

This Christmas may God give us eyes
to see what makes Him cry.
And hearts to feel the pain he knows
when plans for justice die.
As shepherds left their livestock
we’re called to leave our flock
to seek the place where Christ is found
uptown or down the block.

These lyrics can be sung to the tune of O Little Town of Bethlehem

Survivor Lessons

What I learned from a power outage and reality TV

Wind through the evergreens
loudly did blow.
Trees fell and power lines.
Look out below!

Both heat and lights went dead,
yet we survived.
Huddled by candlelight,
feeling deprived.

Food in the fridge went bad.
Not much to do.
Starbucks was dark and locked.
McDonalds too.

Cell phones were on the fritz.
No internet.
Down coats and stocking caps.
Indoors? You bet!

Yet looking back I’d say
those days were good.
Stoking the fireplace
with scraps of wood.

I was reminded of
and all that matters most.
My fam-i-ly.

The above was written in the midst of several days without heat or lights in our Seattle home following a windstorm that left more than a million people without power. It can be sung to the classic Christmas carol “Long, Long Ago.”

Surviving a natural disaster does indeed draw family and neighbors together. Meanwhile, being the last one standing on Survivor has its own reward. A check for a million dollars.

What follows is a reminder that winning a jackpot this time of year (or any time for that matter) doesn’t necessarily equate to having joy fill your world. As Jesus taught us long ago, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Acts 20:35

You’ll be envious of what Yul got.
It brought him Yuletide joy.
This sole survivor claimed first prize.
He is one happy boy.

A million bucks is no chump change.
Think what this champ can buy.
Immunity from Scrooge-like blahs.
He’s such a lucky guy.

But is the check that Yul Kwon cashed
what makes for Yuletide peace?
Our world is filled with wealthy folks
whose ulcers never cease.

This month of envy, want and greed
brings many people down.
Depressed in spite of having much,
they’ve furrowed brows and frowns.

But there’s a way you can survive
this season of Christ’s birth.
You gauge your joy by what you give
instead of what you’re worth.

Christmas Soldiers of Compassion

Why the Salvation Army deserves our support

You are soldiers of compassion
on the front lines of despair.
You are armed with love and mercy
with an aim to truly care.

You’re a band of brothers, sisters
marching to a different drum,
making music with your service,
giving hope to helpless ones.

You are General Booth’s descendents
with a uniform desire
to reach out just like the Savior
to the poor, displaced and tired.

When we go about our shopping,
we can hear the bells you ring.
But as coins clink in your kettles,
God himself begins to sing.

May you sense the Father’s presence
as you serve in Jesus’ name.
Let the Spirit crown your efforts
though the world denies you fame.