Sunday, May 27, 2018

Trinity Sunday - God So Loved the World

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.

“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."  John 3:1-17

In the midst of seep pain and heartache it is hard to imagine, to draw into ourselves, a God who loves us so much. We feel more condemned and punished than loved. When we hurt and are feeling overwhelmed, we cannot even take in the beauty and blessings that surround us. We can be consumed by guilt and anguish that we cannot even accept the love that surrounds us. Yet, God is ever present, with us in the depths of our pain and loss, standing along side of us in our darkest hours. 

Jesus is questioned by Nicodemus. This man has had his assumptions and the rules that he lived by challenged by the loving presence of Jesus. He wanted to understand what Jesus was saying but feared losing the solid ground under him, his power, and his independence. Nicodemus, like us is broken open when the world around us suddenly changes, when we can no longer rely on our strength and intellect alone. Today we are reminded that God is present in flesh, in spirit and in creation. There is no dark place where God will not go with us. There is nothing that can change the way the Creator loves us all - completely.

Today, I ask God to help me seek the love of God in the darkest moments and places. May we all stop trying to put the Creator in a comfortable, known box, and instead let love shower down on every hidden place and every broken moment.

Friday, May 25, 2018

I Desire Mercy

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

He left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. Matthew 12:1-14
I Desire Mercy

You have been created in the image
molded in the  sturdy framework
grown in the verdant garden
of  the Creator's love and compassion.

Each age provides an opportunity
for forgiveness and endless mercy
a chance to soar with new wings
moments of closeness to God.

Judgement and criticism will choke
the beauty that is inherent within
the blossoming garden of grace
the endless streams of kindness.

Seeking the Divine requires seeking
the ones we love so freely, easily
a stranger who completely rattles us
as well as those we would avoid.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

All You That Are Weary

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30 

There is nothing quite like settling in to watch the sunset with toes buried in the sand. The glaring heat of the day has passed and the waves make their twilight dance on the shore. I find rest and comfort by the ocean, her day and night sounds soothe me, and I often dream of childhood days digging in the sand as the waves wash over me. Others find comfort in mountain heights, or the sounds of the city. If we but close our eyes, we can bring to mind those places and people that ring our comfort.

Our Gospel finds Jesus praying for his disciples, much as a parent does for their children - for safety, comfort and a sense of total acceptance. The world may not embrace us, but there are people in our lives who love us and accept us just as we are. And we find Jesus stretching out comprehensive arms of love for those who would simply acknowledge our need. Too often, we try to be independent when we need comfort, afraid to ask because we might seem weak. In God's love we are made brave and strong, even in our limits and weakness.

Today, I ask God to help me seek the loving comfort of the Creator in this created world. May we seek to be comfort as well, to those who are lost and torn.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

You Did Not Dance

Jesus said, “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.” Matthew 11:16-24

You Did Not Dance

So wrapped up in you little world
you could not hear the music
distracted by your selfie pose
you did not see the rolling tears.

Your need to be on top and righteous
has destroyed you ability to feel
to ponder as a nation crumbles
to run as the house is consumed by flames.

Out in the streets our young are dying
they are holding one another weeping
they are singing the songs of hope
despite how we have let them down.

In our homes the babies are hungry
they are not my problem you say
greed has made you blind and deaf
you even think you are the victim.

The time will come when no money
can buy back the soul you sold
no prayer or thought can erase
the guilt that is written on your bones.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
“Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!” Matthew 11:7-15 
A friend has  recorded the sounds of the world around him and found ways to make music from them. The ambient sounds we often filter out became a lovely song. We often shut out the people and words that can change our lives from sorrow and obscurity to beauty and belonging. Instead we listen to the sensational and the bizarre, we rubberneck rather than help. We try so hard to control our world rather than experience it fully.
Jesus invites those who would listen to see the world through the eyes and ears of God. The people listening wanted a way to control and conquer their daily lives. Jesus invited the into the beauty and real chaos of the world. He invited them to see and hear the love of God around them, and he invites us still today.
Today, I ask God to help me open my ears and eyes to God's blessings around me. May we not fear the world but rather love our neighbors, loving and helping them, so that we might experience the living presence of a loving Creator.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Proclaiming Love

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities. When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Matthew 11:1-6
Proclaim Love

The light is rising over the shadows
the sun is lengthening our days 
fear has made room for strength
terror overshadowed by compassion.

Children across our continent
roar fearless and fully justified
our work is love and protection
no one should be sacrificed.

The days are coming when ancestors
will gather like stars in the night sky
they will dance to purify this home
they will sing to bring a new dawn.

We will be the trumpets of love
the symphony of fearless understanding
the doors that open wide for all
the singers who will bring in new hope.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost 2018

Jesus said to his disciples, ”When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to
him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these
things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I goaway, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Pentecost 2018

Sometimes the world changes in a moment
a quick turn, a sudden shock, a clarity arrives
we know something or someone that is brand new
we find ourselves captivated and changed.

As children we watched as frogs became princes
as adults we shunned the fairy tales we so loved
we threw away all the dreams and mysteries
replacing them with calendars and cell phones.

Losing a sense of joy and wonder for so long
it takes a shock, a sermon heard round the world
a brief moment of possibility when there were none
the invitation to love one another on a grand scale.

Too many children have died for no reason
except another child sees no future, no love
too many wander through the world so bruised
wishing for an exit and a relief from pain.

We have been wrapped together in a new spirit
it is chaotic, confusing and quite exciting
maybe just maybe we are all related here
maybe there might be a common heart.