Saturday, March 28, 2015

Palm Sunday Eve

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God,did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death--even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
The last few days have been overwhelming. I flew east early Friday morning after my brother called and said my Mom was at the end of her life. I flew into Philadelphia from Helena, praying she would live long enough for me to see her one more time. Driving down from there on familiar roads, all our days together passed through my mind. How sweet and complicated it is to be human. How even more challenging it is to love others, knowing that their presence will come to an end. I made it in time to spend her last hours with her. My sister Betsy and I sang and prayed with her, reading to her from Philippians, reminding her of the love that surrounded her, speaking the names of all those she loved. She left us while out of the room, but we were able to pray her on her journey on our return.

We begin a holy walk now through Holy week. Each step takes on a new meaning as we more thoroughly understand the price that was paid for all of us. Jesus steps from heralded arrival as a king to tortured and crucified enemy of the state, remind us of our humanity and the great gift of sacrificial love and salvation. We are loved so much by God that Jesus took the worst of the world on himself so that we might be forever free. Life that will survive the death of our bodies, resurrection that will come to us all.

Today I ask God for peace as we walk the road of grief. May love be the burden we bear for each other and the world today.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tender Sheperd

Again the Jews were divided because of these words. Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?" Others were saying, "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one."
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God." Jesus answered, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods'? If those to whom the word of God came were called 'gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled—can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, 'I am God's Son'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, "John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there. John 10:19-42 
Today is our oldest daughter's birthday. Emily was born on Easter Sunday in 1978 and brought us so much love. She continues to bring us so many gift of love, laughter and life. From an early age she had a gift for music, a beautiful voice, and loved to sing with us. When she was little we would sing "tender shepherd" to her as a lullaby. It was sung in Peter Pan and became part of the musical score of our lives. Despite everything that challenges us, we can still sing  together remembering the tender shepherd who will not let us be snatched out of his hand.
Jesus is surrounded by religious leaders and theologians who want to argue with him and discount the work he has been doing. His answers rely simply on love and relationship - his love for the hurting people and his mission from his father. Love for the world has sent him and that love will keep safe the vulnerable, the needy and the lost. The leadership is worried about power. Jesus is worried about love and care. We are invited to make love and care the score of our life, the map, the way we go as we follow Christ.
Today I ask God to help me along the road of care. May all our work be in the care of others, no worrying about authority or power. May we sing and rejoice in every new day, given us by God, so that we might tenderly care for others.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Annunciation

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

The Annunciation

Oh Mary I am with you
weep as your heart overflows
the weight of God's love
will fill your young body
and change your life forever.

From this day forward never
will you be simply a child
always a mother, the virgin
giving her life for another
who gives his life for the world.

Weep Mary for the great burden
is new life for all the world
and you alone will carry him
you alone will be misunderstood
you alone will ache in the night.

Weep, Mary as you rejoice
the angel visitation in deep night
the hosts of heaven will be your aide
reluctant Joseph will walk with you
and you alone will feel the first kick.

Weep and pray Mary mother of all
for your burden is tremendous and wondrous
your life transformed and hidden
your body completely given to another
the world id grateful for your sacrifice.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lord, I Believe

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." The man answered, "Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him." Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped him. Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains." John 9:18-41 
Years ago, the city of Baltimore took on a campaign of revitalization. B'lieve or Be'lieve Hon was the slogan. In the unique accent and culture of the city, the people were trying to move beyond crime and desperation to find hope  and new life around them. Slogans are easy, real belief which motivates real actions is a true gift. It is to wake up every morning grateful and expecting a miracle. It is seeing the truth in a tough situation and trusting that God has your back, and that there is more than the stuck place we might be in.
The blind man that Jesus healed is on the hot seat, as well as his family. He gets thrown out of the temple for simply being grateful for his sight. He can see much more than the religious leaders. They have lived their lives so long by rules and power, that the true gift of faith has eluded them. To really have faith is a letting go of control. God invites us today to let go a little so that we might receive a new depth of faith, a miracle or two in the making.
Today I ask God to deepen my faith. May we see the world for what it is and open our hearts to the miracles around us. May we trust that God has our back and serve the people we meet today with hope and expectation.

Monday, March 23, 2015

God's Work Revealed

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?" Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man." But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight." They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see." Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet." John 9:1-17 

God's Work Revealed
Driving away, the snow topped mountains reveal
the powerful and touching beauty of creation
the heart of God's compassion and love
painted across the huge big sky canvas.

Who sinned the disciples ask the Teacher
no one sinned he replied and moves to the broken
the blind, the aching and touches the wounds and shame
and gives us sight and new hearts to welcome beauty,

The sinking sun decorates the horizon pinks and reds
we hold our breath with the splendor or it all
the Work of the Creator revealed in a daily moments
when we are mended hearts turn to see.

Wash in the pool for God has touched us all
turn and see so that we might live again
as the beloved children of the artist and deisgner
who decorated all our lives with beauty and wonder.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Draw All People

 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-- `Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. John 12:20-33

Some missionaries who came to bring the Gospel to our Indigenous tribes, considered our traditions satanic. For many Native tribes, the Gospel was a welcome message, even though the methods were sometimes misguided. The people on this continent already knew God, and although our customs and dress may seemed different and disturbing, many wanted to know Jesus.  And we readily understood that we were welcomed as we were, for Christ truly offered himself for us all.

We are drawing close to the Passion, and our Gospel reminds us  of the sacrifice that is to come. We are also reminded that as Christ faced this time of trial, God was blessing him and the people around him. Even when we don't understand what is going on, God is drawing near to us and giving us the strength to face the days ahead.

Today I ask God to give me what is needed for today. May I carry the Gospel as an offering to others and not as something I possess. May we all offer the Good News to all who need a word of encouragement and a sign of hope. May we remember how vulnerable and needy we all are, and that God promises to draw near in all our times of need.

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Listening and Hearing

Jesus said, "Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God."
The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, 'He is our God,' though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:47-59 

Listening and Hearing
The sun is barely up and I hear singing
birds rejoice in a new day and light
we wake to bury our heads in our screen
and miss the songs of the living,

If we would but wake up we too could
hear the ancient rhythms beating drums
voices raise in harmony and unison
the morning song of thanks to the Creator.

But we listen with greed in our hearts
hoping to hear of benefits for us
we have set aside the currency of love
spent it all on satisfying our desires.

And still the morning breaks open
with invitation and song for our hearts
make way for love and new life
hear God's heart as our hearts break open.