Monday, July 28, 2014

Mocking


So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.” Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:24-31 

Mocking

I bent the rules and didn't heed
the fashions and the times
I did not bend to popular rules
nor lend my name to support tyrants.

What I did, I did to heal and feed
those who came to me bleeding and afraid
I fed the lost and those outside the gate
and for this they will crucify me.

The brave bullies gathered round
a defenseless and gentle man
the incarnate God is in their midst
they beat with reeds and struck his head.

Their weaker brothers and sisters
trembled outside the gates crying out
wondering if violence wins today,
does humanity stand a chance?

Those who will not fight are mocked
those who would beat plowshares
are mowed down with ridicule and lies
and little children are expelled from the border.

In the mocking is all humanity
our worst and horrid selves
in the savior of the world bent down
 we find our best incarnate selves and love.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

God's Treasures


Jesus put before the crowds another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

"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 13:31-33,44-52

I had the extraordinary blessing of being in Philadelphia Friday and Saturday as people across the Episcopal Church gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women. These were "irregular" ordinations in 1974. Eleven brave women (4 more were ordained in DC in the fall of 1974) laid their lives on the lines for all those who would follow behind them. It was an extraordinary event, and I was brought to tears over and over again, by seeing dear ones, young and old alike, as we were thanking God for where we have been. We were also challenging one another to be seed and treasure for those who follow after us.

Jesus wanted us to understand how often the most extraordinary blessing is found in the smallest of seeds, and hidden away among the most" irregular" of circumstances. If we love boldly, we will find God's treasures in our midst. The places  and people on the margin often bring the most fruit and the outcast and frail bring forth the most blessing and strength. We are invited by God today to rejoice in the blessings we have been given and seek God's abundance in the out of the way, overlooked places.

Today I ask God to help me turn my heart and mind to the hidden blessings, to the treasures that I might not see on the near horizon. May we never lose hope, as God is using us to bless those around us, and to be strength and support for those who follow behind.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Along the Sea


Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea - for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Mark 1:14-20 

I have grown up and spent much of my life by the ocean. We had neighbors who were commercial fisherman, their whole livelihood depending on the sea. After nearly two years in Sitka, Alaska, a place which relies on the abundance of the sea and the catch of those who fish for a living, I can tell you how hard the work is and how essential the work is to the life of a whole community. Leaving family, nets and boats is an impossible request. Boats are passed on in families, and many can tell you the lineage of a boat before they can tell you their own heritage.

Jesus calls these fisherman and asks them to do the impossible. They remarkable thing is that they did it. They immediately left their boats and followed him. We cannot imagine what truly transpired on that day, but we can imagine what kind of force, what kind of presence might draw us from all we know and love. They must have been moved by a love bigger than anything they had known, a love which propelled them to change their lives completely. And today, God invites us to be ready to change our lives completely. A love so big calls us to get up and go, following the one who is love incarnate.

Today, I ask God to help me be ready to follow Christ and go where I am called. May we remember the example of those fishermen, willing to leave everything to follow. May we rise up when we are called and go where we are sent, today.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Weeping Bitterly


Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:69-75 

 Weeping Bitterly

The clouds are hanging low
and the morning is barely breaking
cowardice and fear surround me
I have again denied the one I love.

They look at me and expect strength
they call me brave, steel and rock
a woman accused and I am subdued
I fall to the floor a wail like a child.

How can God love our humanity
our broken, selfishness and egos
our need to spare ourselves 
sacrificing love for our safety?

My savoir and friend looks at me
a heart and mind forgiving even me
knowing my weakness and my sin
love lets me begin again.

And so I will be made over, reformed
still this fragile human, lumpy clay
imbued with the promise  of forgivenness
love that knows no bounds.

 I will let the nail pierced hands mold me
into a new vessel marked with my sorrow
able to hold more than ever before
equipped to pour love into our broken world.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Testing


Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’” The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you,
From now on you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of Power
and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?” Matthew 26:57-68 

There are times in our lives we feel tested, sometimes tested beyond our capacity to hold it together.  I never liked tests of any sort, whether physical or academic. Tests also made me very anxious and often tongue tied. I remember auditioning once for a chorus, it was our annual auditions, and failing miserably at singing the music. This was music that I supposedly knew but everything got scrambled in my anxiety. My throat tightened in my nervousness. Even in presumably safe and friendly situations, we can be overcome by fear. Fortunately for me, our conductor let me sit with the chorus that night. He listened in while we were in rehearsal and finally popped me on the top of the head, saying, "you know this music, silly!"

Jesus was being tested for his life. He could be nothing but authentic, nothing but who he was completely. Calm and settled in the face of threats, taunts and violence, he found a peace that let him walk through the pain and testing that was before him. He took our humanity on, facing the cruelest and inhuman treatment people can devise. He took this on so that we might all live closely with our Creator, trusting in power greater than humans can imagine. God invites us today to seek Christ's peace in the face our testing. Whatever we face, we are not alone and have a companion as we walk through anxious and dangerous times. God is calling us to walk on, knowing our need and our humanity.

Today I ask God to give me an extra measure of peace as I face the coming days. There is much to do and many changes to embrace. May we have the peace of Christ as we face the testing before us. May we remember that there is more beyond the challenges of today. God's love and peace are poured out in abundance for us all today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Very Early


Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 15:37-16:7 

Very Early

This trauma, this loss
we are overwhelmed
and bound together
our compass, our stay is gone.

Very early we set out unseen
the tears that flow are hidden
the new light barely shows
the depth of loss and greif.

We set out to do the impossible
to anoint his body locked away
our need to salve wounds
that can no longer be mended.

Finding an opening where none should be
screams muffled by our fears
Light and life poured forth from where
only death and rot should be found.

Very early in the morning
three women set out on a humble errand
a moment that rocked their world
as death blossomed into life.

Very early in the morning
when we least expect new life
God is breathing possibility into
the hidden broken bodies we hide away.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Let This Cup Pass


Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46

Sometimes we feel as if we have burdens too great to bear. We are human and there are times when we are so overwhelmed that we drop from exhaustion, sleeping and yet still un-rested and feeling all the more undone. These past few weeks, after our return from Alaska,  have been a joyous time seeing family and friends. These weeks have also been hard with my mother being so critical and so needy. Sometimes we just want this cup to pass, the burden to be lifted. And if it cannot be lifted, well then maybe strength enough to see it through.

Jesus was with loved ones and family. In a few hours all hell would break loose, and everything they knew and understood would change. The greatest and most powerful drama was about to unfold. Nothing they had expected, nothing they were equipped to deal with. The only way even Jesus could steal himself was to pray. He didn't want the role he was given but would ask God to see him through.  We are invited by God today to throw ourselves into God's loving arms in the midst of our crises. God beckons us to rest and trust, that the Divine who raised Jesus will see us through our toughest struggles.

Today I ask God for the strength I need today. Empower us all to pray in these challenging times and to know God is holding us close against all that assaults us. May we not fear or run from our roles but know God is with us every moment.