Saturday, August 17, 2019

On Fire

Proper 15 August 18, 2019

Jesus said, "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, `It is going to rain'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?" Luke 12:49-56

Yesterday, we received some long awaited salvaged items from my Mom's house. What we asked to have did not appear, instead we got mostly frivolous junk. It hurt. How often do we have expectations that get dashed and hopes that get squash? Our response is hurt and anger and we want to lash out, we want to set the world on fire. Yet we are called to a life of forgiveness. Yet we are human and ache to punish the people who hurt us.

Jesus was very direct in this passage from Luke. Living the love of God, is often living outside of the normal, selfish greedy world and being despised for it. Fire is cleansing, and necessary for life. Endings of old chapters are as important as the beginnings. Jesus ached to clean away the rubbish of cruelty and selfishness, the gathering of wealth while others suffered great need. We are invited to ache, not for revenge but for the cleansing fire, that stirs our hearts to new love.

Today, I ask God to help me forgive with the same fury as I move to hurt and anger. May we be on fire with love, renewed and cleansed to be carriers of God loving fire of hope and new life.

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.

Take A Look Around

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1-11

Take A Look Around

In the madness of our daily lives
time comes to take a look around
surveying the good that we have done
the damage we have left behind.

Do we think our selfishness,  private
or our creulty totally acceptable?
It will be seen and known as ours
we are marked by the deeds we do.

When we shun others and are cruel
when we take from others without care
when we think all of this is for our gain
we are losing, ever losing, for our greed.

Take a look around and see who smiles
take alook and see who runs in fear
this is your shame and your regret
that love has left you, fled to the rejected.

Friday, August 16, 2019

We know His Name

They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 
Yesterday, I had the joy of baptizing a little boy whose grandparents live in Cape May year round. Our granddaughter helped by ringing the bell and holding my book during the baptism. It was a wonderful moment, one that they will always remember. Afterwards, they all went to the beach, ate cake, and watched the children play. Simple joys for a little one named Julius after his long departed great grandfather.
In our Gospel we find Jesus in Jericho, being shouted at by a blind beggar. Many of Jesus' miracles were done for unnamed folks. But we know the blind man by name, Bartimaeus. Why we know is not important. It is important that we are each none, by our name, and not only by our need. We are invited to see God's love for us a personal and knowing, love that cares for us in the darkest moments as well as in the wondreful times.
Today, I ask God to help me embrace the love given, personal, generous and tender. May we care for the named and unnamed with that kind of love, that seeks to uplift and heal every individual in every kind of circumstnace.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Wedding in Cana

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days. John 2:1-12
We are vacationing in the one place I call home, and yet no longer in our family home. Our oldest grandchild is with us and we are showing her all the wonders of this place. It has been an amazing gift for me to see the very familiar through young eyes, beholding each moment as a new experience. It's a small, new miracle to experience things anew. Sometimes, we have to remove ourselves and put ourselves in new circumstances to witness the miracles around us.
Jesus is a bystander, a family guest at a wedding when his mother puts him to work. He doesn't feel ready for his calling but she insists. We know how mothers and parents can be. Yet this first miracle happened out of necessity and in an alien land. Not in the temple, but among the people, the family. We are invited to seek ways to witness and celebrate the miracles around us, in the every day and in alien places.
Today, I ask God to help me see the miracles around me and to celebrate the small wonders of the everyday. May we see the world with the eyes of children, so that we may delight in God's many gifts and miracles.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Last First

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Mark 10:17-31 

The Last First

The ones you fail to notice
who serve in the back rooms
who rise early to provide bread
and who labor with their hands
those worn hands will carry the banner.

Those broken back and worn bodies
the launderers, the line cooks
the garbage haulers, the sweepers
you shunned and scorned in life
will be surrounded by light.

What tasks have you shunned?
are they beneath you, do the bore you?
these are the service we need to do
noticing those who labor without regard
embracing the outcast, the poor.

In serving we do find present joy
peace when we step aside for others
strength when we yield to the weakest
hope when we welcome the alien
faith for the now and treasure forever.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Receiving as a Little Child

Jesus left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:1-16

As a Little Child

Never before had she witnessed
the sun setting into the water
the clouds obscuring somewhat
did not detract from the beauty.

Watching her dive into the surf
digging deep and dance on the sand
reminds me of the simple joys
that child eyes can fully comprehend.

We who are weighed down with problems
with age, pains and the worries of life
forget to see the beauty and blessings
right here before our very aging eyes.

Let us run and embrace the beauty
again being in awe and wonder
seeing and tasting again as a child
loved beyond measure and full of joy.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Salt and Peace

Jesus said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:42-50 
We are vacationing in the place that I call home. For all of my life, up until my Mom passed, this place surrounded by ocean, salt, sand and peace has been home. Our family home was torn down this year but nothing can change the way I feel when I'm neck deep in the water, or sitting on the sand at dusk. That is not too say that, at certain moments, nostalgia and sadness can sweep over me here. Yet, if I am willing, peace will be the beginning and end of every day.
Jesus was warning his disciples to not give their days to the temptations and ills of this life. Jealousy, greed and anger, as well as worry, fear and hate can take the joy and peace from our days. We are invited to set aside those past hurts, jealousies and rgae that can undo us and destroy the goodness around us. We are called to renew and rebuild, not to tear down, to be salt and peace, bringing healing and love to a world which desparately needs them.
Today,  I ask God to help me be salt and peace. Help us all to let go and forgive the past, so that we can be bearers of love and compassion.