Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tested


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.”
 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
   and serve only him.”

 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you,
   to protect you”,
and
“On their hands they will bear you up,
   so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13

Tested

The kiln is hot and soft melts
the colors run down like water
my clay dug out of river beds
will stand up to all refining.

The pushing and the pounding
spun on a wooden wheel
pulled up by wetted skilled hands
shaped into a vision beyond me.

The testing is always to the limit
the push and pull to the edge
shoved beyond what is imaginable
to become a rare thing of beauty.

Let me now never fear the testing
the rough skin of the potter's hands
the places where I am pushed and prodded
will become an invitation for others.

Friday, April 28, 2017

You are My Beloved


As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  Luke 3:15-22

You Are My Beloved

Did you miss the signs in the sky
the beautiful rainbow of promise
the parting clouds and the birdsong
telling you how precious you are?

Did you not know that I spoke your name
at the beginning of creation breathing
love and life into the fabric of your being
aching for you to know my love?

Have you not seen these mountains
as the faint light in the morning rises
to her brilliant zenith illumining
all the rocks and trees in every crevice?

Did you not hold you child close
smelling their sweet breath as they slept
marveling and the mystery and beauty
of all that is gracious and good in life?

Did you not step into the watery font
and die and rise again with me forever?
life remade with spirit and hope
never alone and always, always loved.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Be Satisfied


In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” Luke 3:1-14

Today we celebrate the life and work of Christina Rossetti, poet and writer who composed my favorite Christmas carol - In the Bleak Midwinter. She was born to a refugee father in England and used her words to liberate her heart and soul from tragedy and depression. She found satisfaction in her love and devotion to her family and to expressing her soul through her writings and poetry. Her life was not easy but she found her spiritual satisfaction as she expressed her heart. She has blessed many of us down through the ages.

In our Gospel we hear about John's ministry and his direction to the crowds on living fairly and with compassion. He is very direct in his language, always ready to teach and remind people of God's promises. John invites us today to live fairly and compassionately, expecting always the presence of the living God.

Today I ask God to help me prepare my heart anew for the living God. May we used the gifts and blessings we have for the good of others and be satisfied where we have been placed. May we all find God right where we are today.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

That They All May Be One


Jesus prayed, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26

Being One

She stands in a darkened harbor
raising her torch to the sky
we look up and smile at her words
give me your tired, your poor.

She stands aside at the border
looking on the guns and the razor wire
her relatives waiting on the other side
praying for one more kindness.

Our words are holy when we talk unity
we think we are so hospitable
as we demonize the recent stranger
who days ago were our people.

Love seems in short supply
meted out to those like us
welcome for the thoroughly vetted
the lighter skins the familiar languages.

Jesus bends in prayer over us
asking us to see our brokenness and need
knowing that others ache like us
reaching to be embraced as a lost sibling.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Good News Everywhere - St. Mark's Day


Jesus said to the apostles, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. Mark 16:15-20



Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist. His was the first gospel, the sparest gospel, and the most profound in its simplicity. Mark is said to have founded the church in Alexandria, the present day Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It is speculated that Mark, was actually John Mark, one of the seventy Jesus sent out and present at the last supper and in other places. He wrote and in his writing people believed. Mark's symbol is a winged lion. He gave the church his gifts, shared his story and forever changed the world of faith.

Today we read the end of Mark's gospel, a very simple account of Jesus' ascension. He put the disciples to work, sending them out into all the world. When he had ascended, they seemed to get right to it. And the "Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by signs that accompanied it." Our work as servants of God, as evangelists always comes with the promise that we are working alongside God, alongside the risen Lord.

Today I ask God to help me use the gifts I have been given to carry the love of God to the world. May we all know that we are never alone as we go forth but that we are accompanied by the Lord working alongside us all.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Peace Be With You

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31

Peace Be With You

There are always scars
even after great healings
the remnant of tearing pain
lingers as a tangible reminder. 

There are always places and times
when we feel like an outsider 
when we feel we are being laughed at
there are always those scars.

There are always those scars
which hold the truth of the pain
that we can touch and remember
giving thanks for that cruel past.

There are always important scars
that take all the doubts away
of life offered and taken away
of life restored and reborn anew.

There are always those scars
but there is also always peace given
reminders of things that were done
washed away by love beyond measure.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Take Courage - Earth Day 2017


Jesus said, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” John 16:16-33 

I plan to spend some time in  the garden, getting things ready for planting and imagining what we can grow this year. We don't have a lot of space, and less with good sunlight, but I try to have a garden where ever we are. It's a small thing to do, to dig in the dirt, planting and tending, helping things to grow. I will not go out and protest or make a statement. Instead, in my very small way I will stand and encourage life, reusing, composting and nurturing this living space, this planet earth, our mother and our island home. The seeds I will plant are not just for beauty and food, but for the soil and the birds, and the other living things that love to eat our vegetable leaves. We share this place, all of us, and it takes great courage to love every bit of it and care for it as family.

Jesus is trying to help his disciples prepare for a life without him. Every day he has been teaching them by words and example. He has taught them to love the least among them, to be light for the world, to be strength in the face of greed and persecution. It has become normal for them to have the teacher with them and to rely completely on him. Now, they will have to use the muscles, the hearts and the love he has instilled in them. They will face great danger. Most of it, as it is for us, is our own fear and anxiety. He calls us all to have courage, we do not have to be in charge, He has conquered the world and we are never alone.

Today I ask God to help me rely on the loving Conqueror for all my needs. May we be caretakers together of the planet and the people who are in our care. May we build up and restore. And may we be courageous as we to stand in up to the presence of greed, abuse and waste in our world today.