Monday, April 27, 2015

Walking through the Cornfields

One sabbath while Jesus was going through the cornfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ Jesus answered, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?’ Then he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’
 On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:1-11

 Walking through the Cornfields

There is nothing in the field this Sunday
snow like powder shaken over it
the field awaits more sun and heat
this early spring field awaits it's courage.

The broken and the sorrowful wait
the winter's over now they show themselves
but the cold and bitterness linger
and they wonder whether there is an answer.

We have looked over the sore spot all winter
wondering if life can ever be restored
we have hidden from the constant storms
tenuously venturing again outside.

There is birdsong on the morning breeze
and the cold tree limbs are brushed with color
life is coming again to this now barren land
and there will be plenty abundance.

We will listen in the night and not fear
for the spell of evil has been broken
God's loving warmth draws ever near
and blankets us against all cold.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Know My Own

Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away-- and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father." John 10:11-18

I have had the privilege to go to sheep camp several times with my dear friend Cornelia.  The labs and ewe in the picture are her sheep, which she cares for with great tenderness. Several years ago she had me bottle feed a little lamb who had a crooked back and whose mother had rejected. I worried the little guy would never get straightened out but now he is strong and healthy. We are known by named, loved and cared for ever so much.

Jesus uses and image that his listeners can relate to. Sheep were the mainstay of the region where he lived. Few people had much more than their sheep, which were their food, their clothing, their livelihood. They understood how essential sheep were and at the same time they knew how challenging, ornery and difficult caring for sheep could be. And yet they understood the love and care given. We are invited to hear that we are each called by name, known and love beyond our challenges and our oneriness.

Today I ask God to feel safety in the arms of the loving shepherd. May we know we are cared for and led, protected and guided in every pasture. May we find solace in the life laid down for us and offer that same love to the world around us.

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Upon The Mountains

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the LORD to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God. Isaiah 52:7-10
Upon the Mountains

From this height the fragile world
is soft, rounder and ever so quiet
crystal water and thin sweet air
we see for a moment with God's eyes.

The songs we sing as morning breaks
float through the air and catch in trees
water rushes from white melting snow
we are renewed so close to the sky.
Gathering the strength and courage
to descend to the depths of brokenness
we carry the new songs of love's promise
to fragile people starving for good news.

We wish to linger in the thin sweet air
and keep our hearts unsoiled and strong
but we are here to gather love's blossoms
and to spread the petals across our world.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Through the Roof

Once, when Jesus was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean." Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do choose. Be made clean." Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. "Go," he said, "and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them." But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, "Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Stand up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home." Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today." Luke 5:12-26 

Most of my life, as soon as make plans, things fall through. It can be very frustrating to hit barriers when trying to do something very positive. We can all lose hope at times, when our best timing, our best hopes are crowded out by necessities of life or by the limits of others. I often think of the man who was paralyzed a lifetime and how many times his hopes for healing were dashed, only to be lower through a roof, and not only be healed but strong enough to pick up the bed and walk. Even when disappointment, barriers and changes surround us, love is breaking through the roof, making space for our healing and renewal.

The crowds followed Jesus because they wanted healing. The religious leaders crowded in because they were afraid and confused. A crowd of hopeful people in pain and religious who were in crisis. Into this crowd drops a very broken man, who was so loved by his friends that they broke through the roof.  Love made them push on when there was no other way, and love broke through the crowd and healed their friend. We can be those today who are in pain,hopeful, yet afraid and confused. To all of that God's love says to us, don't give up, love in on the way!

Today I ask God to renew my perseverance and my hope. May love break through all the barriers set before us today, mending all the broken hearts and broken spirits we encounter today.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Deep Water

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.Luke 5:1-11

I love swimming in deep water. The light is fractured and filtered. Diving deep there is both a sense of being lost and being held at the same time. Deep water can also be very rough and dangerous both for the swimmer and those on a boat. The deeper the water the higher the swell and the greater likelihood of being capsized. The deeper water also promises more abundance, a swarm of fish hidden from sight. Going to deeper waters always demands courage and faith.
Jesus seeks out companions in ministry. He finds himself in a crowd watching two small boats laboring for their livelihood. On his word they set out into deeper waters. This took courage and faith since they had labored all night and come up empty. Moving beyond our empty demands that we move with courage and faith. God invites us to live with courage and faith despite our discouragements and failure. We are called to try again with God's blessing, trusting the Creator's abundance and love for us.
Today I ask God for an extra measure of courage and faith. Each is a gift from God. May we venture out today in deeper waters, knowing we are guided by the loving hand of our loving Creator.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

At Daybreak

After leaving the synagogue Jesus entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea. Luke 4:38-44 

At Daybreak
We wake to find the fire cold
the wood damp the frost returns
just beyond the horizon's edge
a pink shimmering light begins to break.

Light trickling at first then bursting
like raging water over a falls
we tumble to our feet and stretch
leaning in to a brand new day.

The mountains begin to take shape
now that the muddied horizon is clear
those who followed us here will come begging
and there will always be more to do.

May I linger in the filtered light
and hide deep within early mornings' cover?
I would remain here forever my friend
but we are all called onward, you and I.

We will bundle up our hopes and dreams
sharing our goods with others
we have been blessed here in this place
we have been fed and now we arise.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Power and Authority

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, "Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, "What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!" And a report about him began to reach every place in the region .Luke 4:31-37 
 I heard a Ted Talk recently about Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard business school, who was recommending that folks take two minutes a day (or more) to stand in the "Wonder Woman pose". She is an expert at body language and her research shows that this type of power stance helps woman particularly overcome feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and fear of failure. It also sends a message to the brain to stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. We all need help overcoming and ridding ourselves of our demons. For too many of us, low self-esteem can keep us from being courageous and being who God has called us to be.

Jesus confronts a man possessed, and the demon knows who Jesus is. The poor suffering man wants to be rid of his demons and to feel safe in his own skin. Jesus takes authority over the demon and rids the man of all his suffering. When this kind of change happens, people take notice and they did. God wants us all to be whole, strong and courageous, and so many people have challenges that seem too great. The good news for all of us today is that the Creator is ready and willing to take charge and rid us of our demons, if we are willing.

Today I want to be willing and courageous to make positive changes in my life. May we trust that God has the power and desire to rid us of our demons, our fears and our weaknesses today.