Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Do Choose!

Once, when Jesus was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. “Go,” he said, “and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.” But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.” Luke 5:12-26 

There have been times in my life when I can forget what God desires for my life, as well as for everyone else. God does not want us to suffer or be broken. We humans are broken and sinful, and we are often undone by disease. Often times, well meaning people will tell us that suffering is good for the soul, pain reminds you that you are alive and so forth. None of that is helpful when you cannot get up from your bed, or when your body is wracked with pain and covered with disease.

We find Jesus in two separate instances where his only goal is to bring healing. We find him in these circumstances a good deal. The incarnate God wanted nothing more than to bring healing to the world. The obstacles were put in his way by humans, misguided, controlling and fearful humans.  The ones who loved so well and lowered their friend to Jesus found healing and forgiveness as well. God's desire for our lives is to find healing and forgiveness. Sometimes it happens in very strange times and places, and we are invited to be ready at all times for love does not keep time or scores.

Today, I ask God to help me always be ready for healing and forgiveness. May I let go of being right, let go of the identity the disease has given me and lean in to love and possibility. May we all make ready for the desire of God's heart.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Put Out Into Deep Water

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1-11 

I have spent my life by the ocean and love being on the water. I am not afraid of deep water, as I barely remember learning to swim and am often most comfortable in the water. Deep waters can be very dangerous, though, even for the most experienced sailors, swimmers and fishing folk. A storm can arise and destroy boats and lives. Deep water means losing sight of the shore, too far to be rescued quickly, too dangerous to traverse unless skilled and practiced.

Jesus found himself among the folks who make their living by the sea, the rough and skilled folks who fish for a living. They know their seas and the seasons, they watch the skies and the weather indicators. Jesus, obviously not a seaman, tells them to go out into deep water and put down their nets. They've been unsuccessful and are frustrated. The last thing they need is for someone who knows nothing to tell them what to do. And yet, that is where God meets us, in the midst of our worst frustration and exhaustion, inviting us to go into deep water by faith.

Today I ask God to help me go into deep waters and cast my nets again. May we not give up on love or faith because of our failures, but renew our efforts to wait upon the Lord and live.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

She Got Up

After leaving the synagogue Jesus entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea. Luke 4:38-44 

She Got Up

After all she had been through
she got up and served them
her joy made her ache to serve
her love made a place for everyone.

Near death she had asked to live
aching to only be restored and back
back to the life she knew so well
back to the life of making a home.

No one thought she would live
God brought a new way of being
love brought a new way of seeing
the sick still have potential to rise.

We are often sick and sick to death
God stirs in the midst of our anguish
God moves in the midst of our pain
God moves so that we might serve again.


Friday, September 23, 2016

With Authority and Power

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region. Luke 4:31-37 

Yesterday I was looking at the movies that are out in the theaters. There was a plethora of horror movies, which seems to happen this time of year. As we get close to Halloween, we ache to be terrified, as if there is cleansing, some healing these scary movies provide. We like it best when they are based on true stories, of people beset with horrible houses, horrible children and horrible communities. The problem is, when people are truly beset by unexplained things, we run in terror the other way and are powerless to help.

Jesus was not afraid of the man in the synagogue, nor did he run the other way. He brought healing and freedom to the man, ridding him of the pain and damage that bound him. They people who witnesses this were frightened and amazed, both wonderfully excited and ready to run. In the face of God's loving presence, we often find ourselves feeling this way.  We are invited today to be fearless in the face of things we cannot explain and to call on the ultimate authority and power, the love of God which is ever present and unending. In the face of the worst evil, social and personal, we can count on the ability of God to conquer even the worst that comes at us.

Today I ask God to help me remember to seek God's love and power and not rely solely on my own. May we remember that there is much in our daily lives we cannot conquer alone, and may we completely rely on the power of God's love to conquer that which seems impossible and unchangeable.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Spirit of the Lord

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. Luke 4:14-30 

The Spirit of the Lord

As dawn is breaking the light lifts
the day into being and we breathe again
taking in the Creator's spirit being annointed
for the work we have before us today.

The brilliant midday sun beats on us
our knees buckle weariness blankets us
we wonder whether we can withstand it
we forget that we are never truly alone.

Peace hushes our fearful heart at day's end
we sit still to watch the  coming sunset 
birds lift on wings to dance in the pink orange sky
we bow our heads and find ourselves thankful.

The Spirit if the Lord come on strange ones
folks who ache to serve and heal their nations
it dwells within the feeble and the foolish
who know their blessings both light and dark.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Take Up Your Cross

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "if any want to become my follwers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their  life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful   generation  of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in glory of his Father withthe holy angels." Mark 8:34-38

Some days our work in the  church,  particularly whe  we are mired in intense disagreements and complex problem solving, can seem like a cross. These are the blessing and gifts of our ministries. At least for me, my crosses are those when I feel helpless to do anything. When there is such human suffering get and ugly violence breakso out, that is where I feel drawn to the cross and  you own cross. That helplessness always leads me back in to God'said arms.

Jesus challenges the people to not expect easy road and to embrace
 challenges as gifts from God.  We are never alone in our burdens as Jesusproceeds us to the cross and gave his all for all.

Today as  I sit in another meeting I ask God to help me see the blessings surrounding me. May we be mindful of our manifold blessings which often lose focus due to our personal struggles.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Voice Crying in the Wilderness

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages. Luke 3:1-14
Voice Crying In The Wilderness
It takes a strong heart and faith standing up to viciour cruelty beamingwith a smile and genuine love. 
It doesn't demand athletic prowess or brave physical heroism but rather requires a warrior's spirit zealous for justice. It takes sleepless nights of praying, tears of hope and fear to be a witness for God in this very broken world.
Today we need more Desmonds, more Theresa more Martin, we need voices crying against the destruction of water, lands and dreams. We need more who will stand up to greed and cruelty,more who will defy the powners that be and more who will stand with the broken and defiled. Change the dialogue and scream if you must but be a warrior for God. Let no legacy of love be forgotten, no deed of kindess untold, no tears or laughter, lullaby nor lament go without memory and action.