Monday, August 18, 2014

Draw Water with Rejoicing

Surely, it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say,  Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 12:2-6

Draw Water With Rejoicing

Daughters there is nothing we can do
except what the day requires
draw water, wash our faces and hands
and turn our eyes and hearts to God.

This troubled earth scattered with broken hearts
we did not make it and only God can redeem
we can swaddled our young and sing outloud
and make each melody and whisper our prayer.

The sun comes up welcome slowly stretching light
we rise up and face the day with the night's tears
the burdens we bear inhabit our dreams
and the light has comes to dry it all away.

Let us draw water and make our teas
dance as the day is long
rejoice despite our constant fears
for the Divine dwells with us.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dogs and Lost Sheep

 Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28

We had a wonderful border collie that my parents adopted while I was in high school. She lived a long time. We had two children by the time Penny passed. All during her life she was herding us everywhere we went. Out for a walk she would push and nudge me to the edge of the road. She would round up the children and not let them stray. We had to stay in tight formation is she was to be made happy. Her love and energy was boundless. These lost and wandering sheep needed her much more than she needed us.

A foreign woman pesters Jesus for the sake of her child. At first, he refuses her claiming his mission was simply to the lost sheep of Israel. But her faith and dogged persistence changed his mind. Her tenacity saved not only her child's life but changed the mission. The interconnectedness of us all became real and substantial in Jesus' ministry. No one gets left out for any reason. And we often need the herding dogs as much as the shepherd. We are interdependent, interwoven and all a part of God's reign here on earth.

Today I ask God to help me be ever more open and inclusive. In changes and transitions we can close down in self-protection but may we open our hearts to those around us and welcome all. May this be a day when those we encounter know that we have been touched and changed by love.

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Do You Want to Be Made Well

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids - blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me." Jesus said to him, "Stand up, take your mat and walk." At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, "It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat." But he answered them, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Take up your mat and walk.'" They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take it up and walk’?" Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
But Jesus answered them, "My Father is still working, and I also am working." For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. John 5:1-18 

We closed on our new house yesterday. It has been nine years since we have been in a home of our own, a long awaited healing to being in storage all over. When one waits for something so long, it can be hard to embrace the healing when it happens. So used to being broken or scattered, it takes a few moments to realize the miracle.

Jesus found a man who had waited years to dip in the pool. His healing was at hand but he did not realize it. Jesus put his waiting to an end. He told him to get up and take up his bed. The waiting was over. I imagine his surprise and shock, his joy and puzzlement. I imagine he was overwhelmed and speechless, stunned and grateful for such a long awaited miracle.

Today I ask God to help me embrace every miracle, every forward step, every moment of love's blessings. May we all be grateful for the small miracles and gifts we encounter every day. May this be the day when waiting is over and we take up our bed and walk.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Oh Woman

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John”—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized—he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” John 4:1-26 

Oh Woman

Carrying the water, carrying the race
despised, rejected and yet clear sighted
God's redemption and love sat with you
oh woman you are surely blessed.

Oh Woman you have been thirsty
oh woman you have been so hurt
oh woman you have been abused and derided
but you have never been abandoned.

Carrying the story the first apostle
the estranged, the enemy heard first
God's love come down to earth
the story told by a very human woman.

Oh Woman you have been thirsty
oh woman you have been so hurt
oh woman you have been abused and derided
but you have never been abandoned.

The desert blooms with living water
she will not lose hope but thrive
the end of the darkest night is done
and the morning heralds new life.

Oh Woman you have been thirsty
oh woman you have been so hurt
oh woman you have been abused and derided
but you have never been abandoned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lord, When?

Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, `Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, `You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:31-46

We sat yesterday in the large room that houses physical therapy and watched my Mom work at regaining her strength. Her arm and leg muscles are returning but her hands are still working at grasping, opening and closing. As I watched, I couldn't help but think of all the meals she cooked with those hands. She fed her family yes, but she also spent more than 20 years cooking a weekly meal for poor children. She reveled in this ministry and hugged and cherished each of those children with these now weakened limbs.She was love and strength to those little ones. And even now, in her weakened condition, I saw the light in her eyes, the light that reveals the fight to regain strength again in order to hug her family,  her grandchildren, and any person that might need her love.

Jesus reminded the disciples about what really counts in this world. He told them that the present and permanent blessings come from seeing the need around us and responding to it. When we serve those around us we serve God. Our actions do not save us, but they can bless us abundantly. We are invited today to open our eyes to the need around us, and to respond to the least as if we can see the face of God in each and every one.

Today I ask God to help me to see. Help us all to see the poverty, imprisonment and pain that is right here in our midst. May we not wait for an invitation but rush to serve the people right her among us knowing God is with them and is inviting us to join them today.

Monday, August 11, 2014

God So Loved

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 3:16-21 

God So Loved
Of course it didn't start with me
child though I could not help myself
loving you came from my very core
implanted by the Creator's breath.

We did not fashion love alone
although we might think ourselves
ignorant Columbuses on new oceans
discovering what is ancient and divine.

From the very beginning before we understood
love ached and overflowed every barrier
swelling all the famished lands and people
making new again the whole creation.

We walk a world we barely know
and yet we are intimately known
despite our foolishness and creulty
God so loved the world for us.

Hanging moon and stars was no feat for love
divine desire created beauty beyond imagining
despite our need to destroy and conquer
love broke through our bitter darkness.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Walking On Water

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."
Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." Matthew 14:22-33

I have always been troubled by how few people learn to swim. When we lived in Sitka, I was told there were so many deaths from drowning that every child has to learn to swim to graduate. I was told by an old fisherman friend that many of those who spend their lives fishing never learn to swim. And an friend who spend a good deal of time sailing told me at least half of the sailors he knows do not know how to swim. Their reasoning is they don't want to prolong the inevitable.

The disciples, who are seasoned fishermen, who have spent their lives on the water, are terrified and at wits end. The wind and the seas that surround them have them fearing for their lives. When Jesus comes to them on the water, they are afraid even more. Peter tries to be brave but still needs Jesus' help. The truth today is we all need God's help and we all come to the end of our capacity to deal with life's storms. God comes to us in the midst of the worst times, in our tumult and failure, our terror and our disaster and bring us resolution and peace.

Today I ask God to help me trust that there will always be a hand in every storm, God's strong arm to lift me when the seas of life are too rough. May we know when we run out of options, God is still ready with more.