Friday, February 27, 2015

Living and Active

Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:11-16 

Living and Active
Buried beneath the snow nothing moving
seeds hidden beneath the crusted ice
reaching down to the forgotten soil below
life and breath are moving despite our present vision .

The holiness and fruitfulness is not long gone
resting for a newly hoped for blossoms
nights are shorter days stretched beyond our sightlines
underneath our despair is life making ready again.

The Creator is neither asleep nor resting
but singing, rehearsing new love songs
whispering the possibilities and creations
that are breaking now through the crusted ice.

Come let us listen again ti the Word
the voice of God's love impregnating all that was cold
a lullaby, a reel and a jig to dance to 
breaking forth unexpected but surely welcome.
 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Joy has Been Fulfilled

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
Now a discussion about purification arose between John's disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath. John 3:22-36 

The true joy of a parent is to privately smile while your child does something amazing. Our three daughters have always amazed us, always and continually given us reasons to smile. We were put on this earth to give them life, strength, safety and a home while they need it. We know also that it is our great joy to step out of the light and exit offstage as they move with great agility through the world. When you love someone, when you have had the privilege to  nurture them and watch them grow, it is the ultimate joy to watch them fly, and to fade into the distance with a smile on your face.
John knew his time of preparation and nurture were coming to a close. He always understood it was not about ego, competition nor accomplishment. He knew God's call to love meant to nurture, set the stage and get out of the way. True love is never about ego or competition. Genuine love is pure joy in the joy of others. We are invited today to live as John did, getting out of the way of God and letting love shine through us all.
Today I ask God to help me get out of the way, and find joy in loving completely. May we be like John, who took great joy in paving the way, and in so doing, made room for God's transforming love incarnate in Christ. May love transform us all this day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

By Night

When Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
"Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." John 2:23 - 3:15 

By Night
When the brightness of the day leaves us
and we are on our very own alone
it is then the darkness seeps in
and fear deep in the stomach's pits arrives.

We like Nicodemus fear we do not understand
we are not faithful or bright enough
we are no match for the world's temptations
and we sink to our knees in worry.

 At night we return to childhood
haunted by our inadequacies and faults
jealous and desirous of other children's gifts
wanting to be accepted and special too.

The Creator in the deepness of night
hears our shallow breathing and our tears
gave us hearts to hear hope in the dimness
and made us new as we give into sleep.

We are made new in the deepest dark
remodeled and caressed for the newer day
restored as a child in loving arms
made whole despite all the night's terrors.
 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Laborers in the Vineyard


‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’  Matthew 20:1-16

Farm labor is hot, back breaking work. The harvest demands multiple hands working efficiently. Very few of us realize how physically demanding this kind of work is, nor do we have experience with the field bosses. Some are kind but many are harsh and pay by the load or poundage harvested. We are not talking about gentle bosses, but cruel and intense with few protections for the workers. Life in the fields is a hard life. It makes folks either cruel to each other sometimes, and sometimes a camaraderie develops that  is a world unknown to the field bosses. Although the product down the line -fancy wines etc- might fetch a big price, the people who bend and sweat to harvest, see the least of that money.

In to an harsh environment of filed bosses, competition and abuse, Jesus comes to turn the tables. He tells us that God's justice treats all fairly and equally, and even those who came late will have enough to take home to feed their families. It seems almost unjust, to not get credit for hours of labor. But we also know that many don't always have the same opportunities, the same skills, the same capacity. And yet we are invited to be humble, like the last, to understand that we will be provided with enough, and even plenty. God's justice is for all at all times.

Today I ask God to help me put aside any jealousy or competitiveness and to take delight in the gifts given. May we all rejoice in knowing that there is enough for us all, and no matter when we show up, God will provide a place for us and enough for the day.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Water to Wine

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
There are very few good things about being sick. I have been laid up for a while but I have been blessed to have my family around. We have laughed so much, done a puzzle together, and talked at length. Embedded in a loving family or community, even when you're not feeling well, you can forget all about the discomfort and the challenges. Family can bring the best out in us all.
Jesus' first miracle happened within the context of family. He was with his family at a wedding, most likely a family wedding. It was at this event, where his mother encouraged him, almost nagged him, into his real role of Messiah. He resisted, as we all might resist the push of others to step out in faith. Often those who love us can see what is possible in us when we cannot. Mary saw the potential in her child and knew it was time for him to act on it.
Today I am grateful to God for a loving family and a community of supportive friends. May we be those who encourage the gifts and the blessings that others have. May we help them know they are blessed by God and feel confident about their gifts. And may we make it our business today to see the miracles that are the family of God which surrounds us all..

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Following

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 
Following
In dance class the teacher would lead
and we would try to follow the steps
some student took to it quickly
and others went in crooked ways.

Awkward and attempting to understand
the Teacher tells us to follow and we wonder
whether this will be another failed attempt
to draw near to grace.

We are seen under our fig tree hiding place
we are known in our late night wakefulness
we are known in our fearfulness and anxiety
and as we are known we are called and loved.

Come on and follow the one who loves
the awkward, the friendless and the poor
who dances with the lame and the weak
and calls all of us into the center of the circle.

 

 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Come and See

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!"
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). John 1:35-42 

Transitions are always hard. Moving from one self understanding to another is always challenging.  A new job, a new home, a sudden move or illness - all of these can stress us to the max. We are in a new home, I have a new job, and there have been many changes in our daughters' lives, We are all coming to terms with new ways of being. It is hard sometimes, in these transitions, to imagine what is ahead, or what a stable future might look like,
The men who were following John, encountered Jesus and knew that changes were before them. They were in the midst of a transition and were faced with questions. Jesus asked them what they want and they reply they want to see where he is staying. Seems a silly question. But they were seeking a deeper understanding of their  own lives and what it meant to be standing at this critical intersection, this massive transition in their lives. What they had been waiting for had come and now they had to imagine themselves in new ways, The good news is that Jesus took them to his place and made them welcome. And in our days ahead, we will also be shown safe places and made welcome. We are always welcome to come and see.
Today I ask God to help me to ask for what I need.to be shown. May we trust that God is always making a place for us and welcoming us all along the road, no matter how confusing or rocky it may seem. May we trust that we are held firm in stable and loving hands that likewise hols our futures, secure and welcoming, always.