Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When You 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

When You Pray

Early in the morning as the universe awakes
I silently pray to the Creator of all life
that this day might be filled with kindness
that I may walk with care and compassion.

As I pray at the days end and sun's setting
I am thankful for all the blessings of life
for children's laughter and elders's wisdom
for enough food and a table to share.

I dream that I am praying healing and blessing
those who have walked on are praying with me
they are singing ancient and new songs
smiling on us confused and anxious children.

I wake again to know that holy blessing
only the Creator has made the world new again'
has renewed me with tender sacred rest
the world gives gratitude with bird song.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Take Up Your Cross Daily

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:18-27 

It had been a very busy week as we celebrated the last graduating class at my seminary EDS and had our last Alumni days in Cambridge.  It still reverberates withing me, a deep sadness and a deep gratitude for an education and formation that is part of every thing I say and do.  At times, it is a cross to bear when the church treats one as an alien and outlier, although that is something I was before going to seminary. I saw the mark of Christ in each and every person there and ache that we are being dispersed, as it were, to the four winds. And my cross to carry from here on out, is that while on the wind, we scatter the seeds of love and inclusion wherever we go, with great joy and thanksgiving.

Jesus is praying with his disciples and a conversation erupts as it sometimes does when at prayer. He tells them to take up their cross and follow him, although they really had no idea what he was talking about. They closed their eyes to the violence in front of them. They closed their ears to his death and coming departure. They didn't want to know. Just like us, they didn't think they could bear being part of the diaspora and not part of the tight knit group of disciples. But to sow seeds, to carry God's love, we must be scattered and sent to the four winds. We are never alone, despite the burdens we might carry. And we can carry our burden with joy, for we are knitted into the heart of God.

Today I ask God to help me carry this new cross with joy. May being scattered become a mark of great promise for us all, knowing that we are bound in love to God forever.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blessed and Broken

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see him.
On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:1-17 

Blessed and Broken

I cannot help but hear the birdsong
nor see the bright green on spring
I am broken and torn apart
waiting for the blessing to go on.

Birthing a child means facing death
facing pain, tearing and dislocation
this new birth that is promised to me
is barely a prayer on my lips today.

There is abundance coming soon
life in the bounty of God's grace
on this side with the waiting crowd
starvation looms closer that being filled.

We are all this aching crowd today
standing still and looking very sad
we are all a kind young child
who has had his only food taken away.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Sick and Dying, Healing and Rising

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.
As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:40-56

Sick and Dying, Healing and Rising

My human eyes can only see the grave
the ashes scattered and the mourning
my human heart can only despair
and weep as glorious things come to an end.

I was forever changed by so many
turned around and transformed here
this place of learning will be no more
yet no one can take what is in my heart.

They will rise again and stand up
they will resist the wilting diseases
they were committed to a loving God
and their loving God will hold them fast.

Creator as we sorrow at these endings
may we know you hold the future close
life beyond this grave is surely coming
love beyond measure is coming to stay.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nothing is Hidden

 ‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’
 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’
 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’ Luke 8:16-25

Today I go to Cambridge to attend the final commencement at my seminary , Episcopal Divinity School. The board, of which I was a member, decided to cease awarding degrees at the end of this academic year. I voted against the move and resigned from the board. Much they have done has been done in secret, and their relationship with the students and faculty has not been positive. Today I go to stand with those who, over the generations, have taught and learned together, becoming a community of light and support. We will see how the new iteration, as part of Union Seminary in New York, will be a light to the church and world. My prayer is that it can be so.

Jesus is teaching the disciples and the crowd. He has brought light into a world of darkness and shadow, and has brought healing and promise to a people in pain. Everyone from his family to the crowd and including the disciples in the boat, struggled to understand who Jesus was. He was real. He was the living presence of a loving God, light of the world, related to all. And he was honest with them and with us. We cannot crave power and abuse others and remain in relationship with God. We cannot secretively try to be the ultimate authority, when the winds and the waves know who is truly in charge. God, the source of love and power, had become family, and within all relationships we must be light, honesty and the family of God bringing love at all times.

Today, I ask God to help me be an agent of God's light. May we all carry love and compassion to the darkest, most broken places. And may we share our light with those who have been broken by power, crushed by injustice and know them to be our family in God.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sowing Seeds

Soon afterwards Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.” Luke 8:1-15 

Sewing Seeds

With all hopefulness we plant
as the world warms and we turn
to the sunlight and spring rains
we look up in great expectation.

Weeds will grow and drought will come
parasites and small creatures will ravage
we can then give up and turn away
from the tender shoots we once loved.

We must nurture despite the challanges
keep faith in the midst of calamity
pray despite the dire predictions
and keep watch in the darkest nights.

God hovers over this tender garden
creating growth and endless potential
bringing dew in arid and fragile moments
sending fruit in time to nourish us all.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Shown Great Love

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50

Today we celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. Mark was 23 and I was 19. We have never understood ourselves to be the perfect couple, the most likely to succeed, or those who make the celebrity pages of the magazines. We never tried to be that it couple or do things "right". We are simply those kind of people who have tried to love well, and forgive always. We have tried to demonstrate and live love large. We never tried to be anything but ourselves, honest about our frailties, our quirks and our great joys. We welcomed three girls into the world, and they were and are our hearts' desire. And they too love well and completely. We are grateful in everything because we have been blessed beyond measure in love.

A woman of the city anoints  Jesus. She pours our her precious oil and her love in the sight of the religious leaders. They ache to be perfect, while she aches for love and healing. She is perfect in her love and humanity, and they are still puzzled in their need to be right. God invites us to be like the woman, fully human, fully loving and completely grateful for the love we receive.

Today, I ask God to live every moment in gratitude and thanksgiving for the love I have received. May we observe the good gifts that love has brought us today and forget being perfect or right so that we can be forgiven and free.