Monday, May 2, 2016

Greater Things


The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” John 1:43-51 

We live in a world where the miraculous has become common place. We have devices and use tools daily that we couldn't have imagined ten years ago. And we have an African American president, who has been the an icon of inclusion and grace. We now live in times when people are accepted as they are and there are laws to protect their place in society. Yet, we also know that the backlash against inclusion by race and gender are terrible. And the devices that we use daily are also used to bully people and destroy lives. What humans have created, the seemingly miracle devices always have down sides, great cost and challenges.

Jesus calls Philip and Philip in turn, invites his friend to meet Jesus. Nathanael is a plain talker and shoots from the hip. He wonders how Jesus could have seen him and known him. Jesus promises him great things ahead as disciples. The promises of God differ from the promises of humanity. There is no downside in the miracles and gifts God gives to us. There is no exclusions, fine print or cost. God always moves us to justice and inclusion, no matter how hard the world fights back. We are invited to imagine what is possible when we live the love of God everyday.

Today I ask God to help me follow Jesus. May we live the love we have been given, forgiving everyone and making room for the excluded, the different, and the confusing. May miracles work through us as we get out of the way and let God bring love and justice forth in our time.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Ask, Seek and Knock


Jesus said, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:1-12 

There are times in my life when it has been hard to see ahead and feel confident.  There seem to be so many barriers and so much politics that can get in the way of serving God. Powerful people can set up big walls to climb, shut doors on difference and limit those who they don't like or understand. It is hard to be judged and found wanting and it is easy to accept human barriers and  judgments. Giving up often seems the only response to constant rejection, but the impulse and love of God is still stronger than the world.

Jesus is teaching folks the basics of following him. We are invited to see that God's love is even greater than any perfect parent, always working for us when we ourselves have given up. We are simply to ask when overwhelmed, search when we feel lost, knock when we have been locked out. God is truly with us, we are never alone even if the fight seems to great, and if we are willing to seek, we will know that God has already found us. When the times overwhelm, we can give in to throwing ourselves on the mercy of the one who is already with us and renewing our strength daily.

Today I ask God to take away all of my doubts and fears. May we all live as children of this loving God, who will fight our battles with us and through love will lead us through to the other side where there is light and a clear path ahead.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lilies of the Field


Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:25-34 


Lilies of the Field


We worry and work and toil
losing sleep and patience
we toss and turn and plan
forgetting how truly loved we are.

We are children in arms
babes who think we control life
the one who loves us best
has our thriving and survival at heart.

We are not embedded with the enemy
but set free in verdant pastures
feed and tended when we barely see
guided and protect though we know not.

Our Creator has made a place for us
the storms have passed and we rise
though we think we must work so hard
yet love has a better solution for all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Treasure



Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”  Matthew 6:19-24 

When I was a child I was totally captivated by treasure maps and pirate stories. We lived by the ocean and my imagination ran wild with all the stories of coastal pirates and shipwrecks. My friends and I would scour the beach, looking for great prizes that washed up. We would find some treasures, old toys battered by the surf, fishing tackle, buoys and other great prizes. We would delight in every found object and make up stories of how they had washed up. We weren't really worried about wealth but more we were fixated on the possibility of exotic adventure.

Jesus is teaching his disciples about the true value of life. We can easily get caught up in winning, in earnings to make ourselves comfortable, of being the best in our generation. We can obsess about all sorts of things from fashion, to looks, to the symbols of status - houses and car - to the complete detriment of our souls. He reminds us that out focus is to be about love, for God, neighbor and self, so that we can have treasure both in earth and in heaven. It is so easy to get off track and we are invited to invest and reinvest in the true treasures of life.

Today I ask God to help me live in gratitude for the treasures I truly have - love from God which blesses me in so many ways, with dear family, friends and colleagues. Let us not pine for romantic notions of wealth but rather be saturated in the love that surrounds us and makes us truly blessed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Praying


Jesus said, “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:7-15

Praying

The sun rises and we are thankful
we have been given signs and wonders
eagles rising on the winds and calling
all of us to pray.

The road is dusty and our feet weary
we see no end to our journey
our load is too heavy for this time
and we bring ourselves to pray.

The heat of the afternoon sun burns
we find shelter in the tall spruces
find shade among mountain shadows
praying in gratitude of it all.

The still of the night as wind sings
we lie on our beds and remember
all the faces of love we encounter
speaking prayerful words of thanks.

We might find ourselves hurting
angry as the greedy world harms innocents
our Creator gives us words of forgiveness
and we pray we can live humbly within.

In every time and place we dance
and pray thanksgiving, forgiveness
may our lives be dedicated to service
and our hearts always be in prayer.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Love One Another


At the last supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:31-35
Today is our daughter Ariel's birthday, our second oldest. I started in labor with her while sitting in the pew on a Sunday morning and she was born quickly early that evening. Each of our daughters have brought another measure of love in to our lives, a depth of abundance and blessing that daily overwhelms me. She, like her sisters, is beautiful and brilliant with a compassionate heart and the sweetest smile. From her and her sisters I have learned a depth of love and forgiveness I never imagined. God is truly made visible to me in their laughter, their songs and even their tears.

Jesus is getting ready to depart from his dear friends and wants them to remember the gift they are to one another. He wants them to understand that God is in the midst of them when love is there and nothing else will bring them closer to the presence of the living God. In their song and their tears, and their care for one another, God is made visible.

Today I give special thanks for the gift of love in the form of Ariel. May we all know the living presence of God as we love those who God has blessed us with. May we rejoice that God is made visible in our loving.


The Collect
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Going the Second Mile


Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:38-48 

We often want what's easy
a soft bed and a warm home
folks who agree with us
who talk and understand us.

The extra mile is where trouble is
honesty and exhaustion converge
our true selves brought to the edge
leaning on the one we were helping.

We often want patience
when we are unwilling to bend
we want to be lifted up
when we have fallen down.

It is that extra mile that brings
a test of true loving hearts
where we are able to find ourselves
again as we let ourselves go.

Come walk the extra mile
without being asked give in to need
climb the rough path a little further
and see the smiling face of God.