Monday, July 25, 2016

Lead Away


 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

Lead Away

We are daily put aside, lead away
the voices of the innocents and aliens
sidelined by power and greed
sent away hoping to silence love.

Love voice stronger than death itself
was not heard by the executioners
the weeping and fallen specatators
felt deep within them the roar of justice.

The powerful will entomb the weak
but love breaks through enormous stones
rolls away the oppression and the doubt
exposing the vicious for who they are.

Love does not bend to punish rulers
instead makes it case daily for the poor
can be found on the margins and in camps
where food is shared and nothing hoarded.

Let us hear the voice of love today
let justice run down like the rain
may we set free the prisoners of the greedy
working with kindness in killing fields.



 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Teach Us to Pray

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, `Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:1-13

In the last few days, I have had a hard time praying. It isn't that I haven't tried, and it isn't that I don't desire to talk to God. The pain and barriers are not in my relationship with Christ but rather with those who profess to be Christian and scorn the needs and realities of others. They have closed the doors on friend and family. And my heart is breaking. I keep asking for what I can do and meanwhile wait in silence for direction.

The disciples asked Jesus for help in their prayers and he gave them an immediate answer, an immediate model, a prayer will still all pray. He then invites them to understand that this prayer is just a beginning to understanding our relationship with God. We are invited to know God as one who is more generous than we can imagine, more abundant than we have witnessed, and more respond than we are to ask. Our prayers might often seem unanswered, but indeed God is willing and able to bring about unseen answers and abundant miracles.

Today I ask God to help me continue to listen for answers and direction. May we never give up our hope in the possibilities that God has before us and never loose hope in answered prayer.


Collect
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Going to 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 15:47-16:7 



Going to the Tomb

There were not guards or politicians
no lords or lawyers or physicians there
only several heart broken women
tears spilling down exhausted faces.

The important people the governors
sat satisfied in their soft linen seats
knowing they pulled off an impossible task
proud of their legacy and control.

They were not out at the crack of dawn
did not gather spices and weep all night
they proudly danced and fully feasted
resting in their warm and soft beds.

The dark early morning was silent
they might have sung an ancient hymn
they solemnly went to pay loving tribute
and were greeted with an outrageous miracle.

Miracles are not for the powerful and set
resurrection withheld from the overlords
healing does not come to the proud and vain
but to outcast women, rejected and the scorned.

The price of our freedom is our pride
our offering of self for others and the world
our humility in the hardest task of life
the care with which we go to the tomb.
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Come Out With Swords


 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’ At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26:47-56

Come Out With Swords

From a very private agonizing moment
praying alone in the night garden
to an agitated and violent mob scene
we are found in the midst of drama.

From this very intentional kiss
from a long time friend and colleague
to battle and blood in minutes
and we lean in to the thrill of it all.

God stands in the center of the battle lines
along the perimeter of the angry crowds
beside protestors and frightened guards
cradling the bruised and the bloodied.

God would come willingly and yet we won't
the incarnate One would dwell among us
we would barricade love behind steel bars
we would limit the possibility of God's presence.

We are created all of us from the same cloth
blood and sinew, rage and tenderness interwoven
brought forth and nourished by tender parents
destroyed by angry and hurting humans.

Let us return to the crime scene again
wondering what part we would have played
betrayer, runner or wounded slave
torch bearer, soldier or terrified onlooker.

Let us see the God in our midst today
in the midst of our violence and rhetoric
in our worst present terrifying moments
on the borderlands where aliens and God dwell.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Let This Cup Pass From Me


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 

There are things I really rather not do and some which are so painful and hard they seem impossible to face. I wish that God would take away the responsibility and the pain, the impossible tasks and the betrayals. I have been searching for a way out of a very hard and complex situation that is directly before me. Today I have decided to pray for the courage and strength to face what is ahead with God's love and compassion.

Jesus has celebrated with his disciples their traditions and is full of food, drink and anticipation. Nothing will be the same after this night and he knows it. He would rather, like all of us, continue in the love of friends and in the fellowship of community, but it is not to be. He pleads, very humanly to have the cup taken away, and finally asks for the strength and courage to see God's will complete. We humans wisely run from danger and conflict, but there are times we need to face it head on. God is inviting us to know we are never alone in what we face, and we will be guided and strengthened as we seek to do God's will.

Today I ask God to help me face what is before us and to seek God's will in every moment. May we, who have been running away, turn and face the places we are called, knowing we will never face what is ahead alone, but will be surrounded by God's mighty love.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Poured Out



While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples. Matthew 26:26-35 

Poured Out

No one likes to consider giving up
letting go,  turning away, poured out
spent for the life of other people
we all imagine ourselves be conquerors.

Lost and change constantly surround us
like waves continuous and unpredictable
life defined by adaptation and innovation
days defined by loving the present only.

We want to be heroes of our own devising
cringe when we need help to cross over
small little diversions confuse us
we ache to return to a home long gone.

We  are poured out daily and remade
shaped anew by loving hands pulling
gently stretching us ever upward
tenderly molding nearer to the earth.



Friday, July 15, 2016

Betrayal


On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”  Matthew 26:17-25 

Last evening, as the whole of France was celebrating their independence, one person betrayed the revelers by driving a truck into a crowd innocent people. It was a wondrous celebration turned into a nightmare of horrific proportions. One individual betrayed the goodness of people, took his anger out on the undeserving, used by violent people who hide behind their faith. Sadly, we live in a world where one person can destroy the joy of so many.

Jesus knew he was to be betrayed, as he knew the heart of humanity. Greed and celebrity were no less on Judas' mind than any other weak human heart. We are too easily persuaded by violent and selfish people, who hide behind their righteousness and their faith to perpetrate evil and betrayal. Jesus knew that God's love could not stop the actions of one angry man. But God's love is conquering the evil in our world, day by day. The betrayal by Judas is not the end of the story. We are invited to live, not giving in to the weaknesses and greed which we are offered, but rather live so that love is all we do, love is all we know.

Today I ask God to help us all take a moment to clear our hearts of all greed, envy and anger. May we not be swept up in retaliation or justification in the face of betrayal, but rather find new ways to serve the people who need love desperately today.