Thursday, June 30, 2016

Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen


Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14 

Many Are Called

Raised hands and swaying bodies
caught up in the spirit of the time
praising God so freely and easily
darkness and failure our silent ghost.

In the chills of the darkest night
alone and in the mist of sleeplessness
we groan aloud feeling so cast out
when we ourselves have walked away.

Our hands reach high in the daylight
then we slap away the beggar's hand
we shun  and imprison their dirty children
gloating about our own good deeds.

At night alone we seek solace and forgiveness
we rarely change, we rarely forgive
living so selfishly and acting so justified
as we lay to waste our planet, our homes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Vineyard


 ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’
 Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
“The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone;
*
this was the Lord’s doing,
   and it is amazing in our eyes”?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
* The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’*
 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet. Matthew 21:33-46.

The world is often a challenging place, where our skills and faith are tested. The hardest challenges to face are often those from within not without. I can remember times when I have been terribly hurt by those I trusted, some within the church. We are all stewards, temporary tenants of this vineyard, sent here to serve the world and not control others. We are call to be gentle gardeners, humble leaders, not seeking our own benefit but the blessing of others.

Jesus is being attacked by the religious leadership, the same folks who had been entrusted with the care of the faith and the community. They were more interested in status and control, in wealth and power rather than caring for their people. Jesus knew their ways and his parables stung them intensely, as they were meant to do. All of us in leadership need to be reminded how easily it is to become enamored with power and control, how dangerous we can get when we think we are somehow more important than the people entrusted to us. God invites us all today to examine our words and our behavior.

Today I ask God to help me be a good steward, humble and gentle with all I encounter. May we all hear this parable as a nudge to examine our hearts, minds and behavior. May we lead with compassion and gentleness, land giving again ourselves to the direction of the Divine.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Believing



 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. Matthew 21:23-32

Believing

None of us gets out without trails
none can follow a path and not doubt
none can hold a new baby and not wonder
how must I believe so I can understand.

We stumble and fall asleep on the road
we miss understand our own companions
we get lost in the dark and often turned around
even when love stands right beside us.

Believing calls for the homeless to see home
believing gives the foolish to gain great wisdom
believing grants compassion to the heartless
and showers the painfully afraid with courage.

We are at once far from home and settled
simultaneously terrified and ferocious
constantly finding ourselves hot and cold
and yet divine love beckons us onward.


Monday, June 27, 2016

My House a House of Prayer


Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
but you are making it a den of robbers.”

The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,
‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise for yourself’?”

He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” Matthew 21:12-22 

Today is the feast day of Cornelius Hill. "Holy Women, Holy Men" write the following about him.  "Born in 1834, Cornelius Hill was the first great Oneida chief to be born in Wisconsin, after the United States government had forced the Oneida peoples west from New York State.
As a young man, Hill spent several years at Nashotah House, where the Episcopal priests educated him and formed him in the faith, worship, and tradition of the Church. Hill was greatly respected among his people for his intelligence, courage, and ability to lead, and by his teenage years, he had already been made an Oneida chief, named Onan-gwat-go, or “Big Medicine. When land allotment became a legal reality under the Dawes General Act of 1893, Hill turned to the Church, and in 1895 he was ordained an Episcopal deacon. In 1903 he became the first Oneida to be ordained a priest. At the ordination, he repeated his vows in the Oneida language." Cornelius Hill understood that his land and people were holy and worked throughout his life to retain their dignity and way of life - to keep their place and his people, a House of Prayer.

Jesus encounters the abuse of the Temple, turning a Holy place into a market place. He was revolted by the practices of buying and selling religion. He taught his disciples that faith brought about great deeds and that cheapening faith trough the buying and selling of people, land and property was not holy business. God invites us to make our business prayer, faith and service.

Today, in honor of the witness of Father Cornelius Hill, I ask God to help me recommit my life to a life of prayer and service. May we all live lives of faith, and may our words and actions serve to bless the people with hope and renewed faith.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Face Set to Jerusalem


When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:51-62

There are easy roads and more difficult ones. When I first acknowledged my call to priesthood, and began "the process", I really wanted to find a way out. I had two small daughters and saw my future as a clergy person as impossible. My husband was incredibly supportive, so much so, that I wished he would be less so. It seemed painful and hard for me as a mom to fulfill this call. And in truth, it was a real challenge that also came with extraordinary blessings. But I had to face into my pain, anxiety and challenges to follow Jesus. And I have never looked back.

Jesus knew that ahead was incredible pain and testing. He also knew that he had a mission to fulfill, nothing short of making God's love available to the whole world. We are invited to follow this Jesus, not looking back but facing our pain and challenges knowing blessings and strength will also come to us.

Today I ask God to renew my commitment to follow Jesus, to face my pain and challenges, and live into the blessings to come. May we all turn our face to follow him who sacrificed all to bless all of us.




Collect
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Tell the Daughter of Zion


When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:1-11

Tell the Daughter of Zion

Humbly entering the Holy city
a God among us moment\
viewed as a political stunt
set off troubles unimaginable.

If we walk with the homeless
feed the hungry, provide compassion
it too may be seen as an act
staged to get attention and press.

A God among us moment
often goes unseen by most
a back alley gift of housing
and a hug to a child of trauma.

The world wants to enflame
hangs on excitement and thrills
God's love moves on a whisper
a touch of healing unannounced.

They came to welcome God
without any warning or publicity
their hearts moved by love
they knew the heart of God with them.

So may we today lead with love
return with love and sing out loud
for God has arrived in our humble places
and made them a holy city forever.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Ransom for Many

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:17-28

A Ransom for Many

The mother wanted privileges for her son
and the others were incensed and angry
none of would choose to be servants
all of wants to be seen as star material.

In God's eyes we are star material
each of equal value and precious
the most precious are the ones bent
for the care and feeding of others.

We ache to lead the festive parade
when it is holy to follow behind
when it is a gift to clean up after
all the messy and needy children.

We are built for love and caring
not built for war and destruction
we are made for following the teacher
not for overthrowing with hate.

God's love is more than enough
for each and everyone of us
challenged, gifted and differently abled
we live to be made whole by love.