Monday, March 27, 2017

Nothing May Be Lost

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:1-15 

Nothing May Be Lost

She made me promise as I went out
to take this large basket with me today
I could not possibly eat it all
but Mama has a way of insisting.

I climbed the mounitan with the corwd
so many different kinds of faces and tongues
they sat listening closely to the teacher
he had a way of making us all safe.

I overheard the leaders talking to the side
so many were hungry and far from home
so many without nourishment nor money
but I still had my basket full from home.

I offered what I had with me though small
it was carried to the teacher and he smiled
everyone sat down and the basket went round
everyone was full to a sleepy overflowing.

I looked about and everyone was smiling
the insisted on  basket from my mother
the burden I did not want to carry today
became a miracle feast for this vast multitide.

I wander home down the hill with the basket
once a burden now the story of my young life
a tale of miracle, love and abundance
where once there was  loss and emptiness.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Here I Am

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38

Here I Am

Here I am servant of the Lord
woken and frightened in the night
specters speak to me with promises
I shutter feeling so all alone.

I cannot do but what God has asked
yet shame and heartache will greet me
my neighbors will be friends no longer
and even the faithful will have their doubts.

I will hold the child of God within me
it will feed and grow within this frame
once born I will have to keep him safe
fed and educated in a world of scorn.

How will my family my beloved act?
will they turn away from me in horror
wag their heads and sigh at my delusion
send me away so as not to see their shame?

 Here I am servant of the Lord
weeping in fear and totally alone
I will stay and watch until the morning light
for I can do nothing else but follow now.

Friday, March 24, 2017

You Will Be Free Indeed

The Pharisees answered Jesus, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
“Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.” John 8:33-47

I had the opportunity to lead a confirmation service in a men's prison when I was Suffragan in Southern Virginia. It was a very moving experience for me.  Previously, I had only done services in a women's prison. The prison was maximum security and the prisoner who I confirmed was sentenced to life without parole. As I went to the chapel where we were to gather, a line of prisoners walked by, single file, chained together at the ankles and waist. I could not keep the tears from flowing, knowing that these were someone's brother, father and son. Not that they hadn't committed a crime and been convicted, but my heart broke as to how we see and treat people. The man, who I confirmed told me he didn't mind paying the price for his crime, just that he felt bad his family had to suffer as well. He wanted his heart to be free if his body could not be.

Jesus continues his discussion with religious leaders who question his words and his role. They knew well the rule, regulations and cultural constraints of their world. But they were unable to take in new possibilities, and hear God speaking to them. They were captured by their own ways and behaviors. God invites us to listen and open our hearts, no matter how bound we might feel. God invites us to welcome love and freedom, even while we are chained to troubles,  to know we are free indeeed.

Today I ask God to help me listen and welcome God's freedom and possibilities in my life. May we all recognize those things that bind us and seek God's love and freedom for ourselves and our world today.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Truth Will Make You Free

Again Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:21-32

The Truth Will Make You Free

We build cages to hide our brokenness
put others in prison since we fear them
construct walls around cities and borders
helping all avoid encountering out truth.

We are shattered people in great need
yet we slouch coolly into arrogance
we wrap attitude around our frames
pretending we are better than others.

There is no shame in need or failure
love regards no one as unworthy
the truth of our nature is dependence
we pretend to be completely otherwise.

Speaking the truth first comes as a whisper
but it will echo and resonate through hills
spilling it's song onto the ocean's shores
becoming a song for all the ages to sing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Light of the World

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:12-20

Today is sunny, bright and cold. The first day of spring has happened but the weather isn't cooperating very well. Something happens t me this time of the year, as spring ever so slowly warms the earth and the snow finally melts. Although the snow hasn't melted yet, I start to think about gardening, planting, looking at seed catalogs and dreaming of what we will grow this year. It has something to do with the light. As the earth turns again towards the sun, I am changed, moved somehow by the gift of more light.

Jesus is teaching in the temple and truly pushing the envelope. The people who are listening to him are some friends and some enemies. He speaks boldly of his authority and his relationship to God. He is the light of the world, the needed balm after so much cold, exclusive religious behavior. The time had not come for his arrest, but he knew in his being that the time was coming. His world had turned enough for him to be bold and fierce. We are invited today to be bold and fierce in our love for others and for the world. The earth has turned and darkness can descend all too easily.

Today I ask God to help me set aside judgement and love boldly. May we be aware of the season we are living in and carry the light of Christ to a world that seems to be ever dimming.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Living Waters

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” John 7:37-52 

Living Waters

This cold march Atlantic seems so dead
harsh winds bend us over running for home
the birds circle around and cry out loud
life at a standstill as lifeless as a graveyard.

Beneath the deep gray waters churns new life
we cannot see it but it knows us very well
it sings in the deep where we cannot hear it
life sings new life despite all of our fears.

When broken by life and painful circunstances
we face down towards the cold impersonal ground
we fail to see life reaching out through the snow
readying to burst forth against all the deafening odds.

Water is moving, flowing churning even this very day
rebuilding the spirit that has been spent, the broken reed
distilling new life from the cold heart and shattered hopes
reigniting us, lifting us, planting us on warm fertile ground.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Change of Plans

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 

I have a very detailed calendar that helps me keep track of my busy schedule with all the traveling I have to do. I got upset recently when my husband didn't check our combined calendars when making plans. Strangely enough it was me who had to change my mind and my plans after that conversation. I apologized for my anger and realized how often we make plans that have to be rearranged. Our rational selves figure things out, only to be thwarted by our subconscious, our angels and our fragile bodies. There are many more important voices at times that our small brains.

Joseph was engaged to Mary, and when finding out her truth, wanted to do right by her, and also save face for himself. He came up with a good rational plan that would cover all bases. Instead, an angel appeared to him in a dream, and he changed his plans and changed his life for ever. He would face terrible challenges as well as disgrace, isolation, becoming a refugee and losing all control of his present and future. Joseph's change of heart made room for the Savior of the world. Often times, our rational minds press forward and God has to lovingly, or otherwise, interrupt us, so that we can help change the world.

Today, I ask God to help me listen deeper, to make plans with the understanding that there is always another way. May all that we do help bring God's love into the world today.