Sunday, September 21, 2014

Desiring Mercy

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard this, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."Matthew 9:9-13

Desiring Mercy

Obviously at fault and completely broken
sitting in the booth of shame
we are called despite our shattered lives
we are beckoned here by God.

Divine mercy breaking through
light piercing the deepest gloom
our storms an invitation for mercy
the holy at out table to linger and abide.

We know our faults, our scars, our limits
none the less God would have us now
broken fragile servants loving a wounded world
God's mercy flowing through cracked vessels.

We who would be disciples most human
must be daily forgiven daily mended
fragile and completely foolishly human
God desires mercy for us all.

Laborers for the Vineyard

Jesus said, "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 marketplace; 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

 It has been a wonderful and full day here in Taipei. I was blessed to attend the cathedral with other bishops and to enjoy the incredible warmth and welcome of the people. Bishop David Lai presided and Presiding Bishop Katharine preached. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a good deal more about the church here. We learn about the challenges they ha ve and how they thrive despite of those challenges, being a tiny minority in this country and often rejected by family for being Christian.

God invites us to be laborers in the field, despite the challenges we might experience. We might be
torn up by the cost of following Christ or we may be reluctant because of the hardships. We are called to accept the wages we have been given and get on with serving others from the heart of God. The people here have demonstrated that despite the challenges, God is always providing more than enough and joy overflowing.

Today as our day comes to a close I ask God to help make me ready for the tasks ahead with joy. May we not worry about the cost nor the pay, but readily run to the place where we are called,  amongst the people, ready to labor for others. May we be known by God's love and joy where ever we go.

The Collect
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Take Up Your Cross

 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ Mark 8:34-38

Take Up Your Cross

I did not understand your burden
a minority among your people
cautious, loving and inviting
always respectful often misunderstood.

This cross you carry for God
a deep love for the people
a heart that would bear the heavy load
of living beyond these bounds.

Serene in the face of misunderstanding
you make these pilgrims glad
we come so far with such ease
because you carried us along the way.

You offered your life and your time
committing all with hope and joy
this road we trod together is light
you make us sing as we toil along.

God in the stranger in misted darkness
a holy land of radical welcome
may we lean in and learn from you
you who have suffered so all can live.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’Matthew 8:23-27

As we are gathered here in Taiwan, we found out that we are in the possible path of a typhoon. Anyone who has spent time near the ocean knows the threat this time of year of severe storms. It is that season and the storm that might come this way is not supposed to be too dangerous, but it reminds us how fragile life is and how easily storms arise.

Jesus was asleep and his disciples were in full fledged panic. The winds and the waves were swamping the boat and they thought themselves to dying. They were skilled fishermen and sailors, so they must have known this to be a very dangerous storm. They called out and Jesus calmed the wind and the waves. We often rely on ourselves and our perceptions of the storms of life until things are beyond our control and understanding. Jesus stayed with them despite their fear and stays with us in our worst storms. We are never alone facing the worst, no matter what we see or feeel.

Today I ask God to help me to rely on Christ alone and not on my own understanding. May we know as the storms increase we are never alone in the wind and the waves. May we find ourselves embedded in the heart of God as we wait out the worst and rejoice in the one who controls even the wind and the waves.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Treasure Hidden in a Field

Jesus said to his disciples, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
"Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." Matthew 13:44-52

Over the past few days we have learned a great deal about tea. Our wonderful host, Bishop David Lai, is an expert on tea. Calling him an expert is probably short changing him. He has found a great treasure in tea, in the hospitality and tranquility it provides when shared with others. He has plumbed the depths of the spirituality that surrounds the preparing of tea, the true gift of humbly sharing and finding subtle and powerful beauty in the varieties of tea.

Jesus reminds us how we find joy. We set aside our usual limitations and follow after that which brings us joy. We find our joy and our bliss by embracing and honoring the treasures we have been given. The blessings we have are to be cultivated, honored, welcomed and pried. It is how God acts towards us and how we are to act towards others.

Today I ask God for renewed strength to seek the joy that is to be found today. May we delight in the blessings we have been given and act as God does towards us - embracing and enfolding the joy we have been given, sharing it with others, spreading blessing all around.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

God So Loved

 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’ John 3:16-21
God So Loved

Strange exotic beautiful night
a city bustling lights and energy
ancient and modern intertwined
for whom God loved so mcuh.
Struggling with language and  time
soothed by tea and true patience
lifted by joyful conversation and song
the holy presence in each gathering.
The Divine walks these streets
we will learn from them as we let go
our shallow knowledge will deepen
as we are the stranger and the fool.
God so loved the world 
here too is where he came and died
offering love when evil rose
and gentle kindness while oppressed.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Taipei, Day One

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?’ Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him. Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’John 11:55-12:8

I wake up and it is Tuesday morning here in Taipei. When we arrived last night we were both overwhelmed by the damp heat and the sweet welcome we were given. Our needs were attended to with kindness and an awareness of our exhaustion and that we were clueless. The young woman bellhop told me of wonderful markets to go to in perfect English. I admit I don't remember her advice but will seek her out again for her direction. Here, I am completely reliant on the skill of others. I have to accept their kindnesses and be grateful for all of their help. I cannot do anything on my own here, and must accept my limitations and others blessings with an open and loving heart.

Jesus finds himself back in Bethany. He is greeted with a banquet and such incredible tenderness from Mary. She anoints his feet with expensive perfume, wiping his feet with her hair and filling the house and everyone's lungs with the wondrous sweet fragrance. She is criticized by the greedy but Jesus understands her offering. She offers what she has for love of another, for the care and honoring of another. We are asked by God not to count the cost of the kindnesses and honors we receive but to know the sweetness of the heart that offers them. We rely on the care of others, even when we think we stand alone, and we are called to be grateful for the small (and large) blessings we receive.

Today I ask God for complete gratitude. May the exhaustion and fears that can surround us be wiped away by gratitude and love. May we be grateful for need and even more for the people who help us navigate when we are lost and in a new place. May our hearts be ever thankful for the blessings we receive today.