Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Children are Free



As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” Matthew 17:22-27


The Children Are Free

Taxes and tariffs burden the poor
while the rich little children
dance on the floors others cleaned
they eat meals others have cooked
paying no mind to those who serve.

Grace abounds for the least
despite the weight of their work
God draws the harrassed close
shelters the broken ones
seeking out the least of us.

There was a fish with a coin
bursting from its mouth for Peter
for us today if we would be
there are communities ready
arms open wide to embrace.

Can you hear the calling voice
crying still in the dark night
there is abundance if we share
comfort if we embrace
freedom is we unlocks the gates.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Mustard Seed Faith

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’ Matthew 17:14-21

The cat looks at me like she is the boss of all that she sees and I am just her servant. She assumes she will be fed, kept warm and sheltered. Her confidence is often annoying but always amazing. I often wish I had the confidence of a cat.

Jesus heals a young man that the disciples could not. Their faith in themselves and what God would really, actually do for them, was weak. Much like most of us, we want to believe, but we can waver and worry. Jesus promises them and us, despite their insecurities and anxiety, nothing will be impossible. 

Today, I ask God to help me live as one who believes that nothing will be impossible. May we all have faith as a small seed, which grows daily into a mighty source of love and healing.


Monday, November 18, 2019

The Beloved



Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. Matthew 17:1-13

The Beloved

In a mountain top vision
the holy ones gathered round
one clear, resonating voice
announced the Beloved.

Fear and trembling overwhelm
when surrounded by grace
yet love revealed is gentle
making clear what was hidden.

The ancestors know our world
know it more clearly than we
we will be shown the way ahead
one foot in front of another.

The Beloved calls us on
when the skies amass darkness
when the world turns away
then we will hear love's voice.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Endurance




November 17, 2019 Proper 28 Year C
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down."
They asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?" And he said, "Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, `I am he!' and, `The time is near!' Do not go after them.
"When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
"But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls." Luke 21:5-19

I come from a long line of people who are not very fast but who go the distance. There are several generations of long distance swimmers among us. I have always loved to ride a bicycle, and loved to take long rides by the ocean. I am also a descendant of those who walked the Trial of Tears. Removed forcibly from our homelands, we endured government programs made to destroy us, only to rise up again, stronger than ever.

Jesus was preparing the disciples for the severe challenges ahead of them. The world would grow ugly and violent, and they would suffer greatly. These words are hard to hear. Yet, he also promised that he would protect them. Their enduring would find them safe harbor and eternal home. We are reminded that life may, at any moment, turn ugly and dangerous. We are invited to remember to hang on, to endure, for God promises us ever more blessings.

Today, I ask God to give me the strength to endure in the face of great challenges. May we be companions to those who are suffering now, holding them up and enduring with them, trusting that there are more blessings to come.


Collect Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Take Up the Cross

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, 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 will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’ Matthew 16:21-28

Take Up the Cross

I will wrap my ceremony around me
all that I am from ancient times
to follow the Child of the Creator
who has made our circle whole.

The gift of some who destroyed
was a servant God bringing peace
a victim of angry potentates
who feared the rising of the poor.

The one who went to the cross
took the healed and the poor
the broken and oppressed
onto the road of freedom.

We have been those enslaved
but we have also been set free
to carry our own crosses with us
holy into our sacred homelands.





Keys to the Kingdom Heaven


Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20 
When I served in Delaware, the church I served had been founded in 1704. The keys to the old church were monstrously large in comparison to newer buildings. The locks were large as well. Holding them gave one a sense of gravitas, the weight of the years and the people that sacrificed for that community through good times and bad. The responsibility felt enormous at times, caring for both a long legacy and the living needs.
Peter defines who Jesus is for himself and is given the keys to heaven. St. Peter is forever symbolized with keys, and the one who stand at the door of heaven admitting or refusing folks. In reality, the keys are for all of us. The simple acknowledgment of the Son of the living God is enough for us all. We are given enormous power through simple belief. We know Peter was a bumbler, more than once denying Jesus. Yet, like us, he still holds the keys and is still loved and welcomed eternally.
Today, I ask God to help me live life through simply believing each day. May we know we are beloved of God and live with the compassion and forgiveness from the heart of God.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Beware

The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, ‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.’ Then he left them and went away.
When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They said to one another, ‘It is because we have brought no bread.’ And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!’ Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:1-12

We see caution tape and cones in many places as we walk the streets of New York City. Repairs and rehabs are happening everywhere. The city sidewalks are crowded, and one has to dodge and weave the obstacles on the pavement. We have to be careful when we move through the day, through crowds and through unfamiliar places. We also have to be careful not to be distracted or lead astray by big talkers and charismatic characters.

Jesus was continually tested by the religious leaders and the arrogant big talkers who were threatened by his humble, yet miraculous impact. He was aware that they were often more worried about being right than doing good. They wanted fame rather than faithfulness. We are invited by God to hear the clear caution to avoid being swayed by big talkers and self-appointed authorities. 

Today, I ask God to help me be always focused on the love of God rather than the teaching of humans. May we all not bow to big talkers or the powerful religious leaders, but rather to the compassionate heart of God.