Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Testing


Then they sent to Jesus some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that ‘if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.”
Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.” Mark 12:13-27 

Testing

The air has changed ever so slightly
a few leaves beginning to turn
the signs of the season are all around
we are tested mightily by our turning.

These feelings and notions take us
back to our childhood and school
getting shoes back on after months
a new schedule more rigid than summer.

The smell of pencils and chalk appear
the quavering on tummies about this year
will the teacher think I am very good
will there be friends for me to have?

We are never far from our childhood fears
tested regularly by notions of failure
divine love abides despite our terrors
these turning will refine us ever more.

 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rejected


Again Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away. Mark 11:27—12:12

I would like to believe I take rejection well, but I know myself and am often angry, hurt and despondent after being rejected from a position or something I wanted to be a part of. In a very short time, I can hear my mother's voice saying, " Carol Joy, God is protecting you from something, keeping you safe for another wonderful new thing we can't even imagine yet." Of course she was right and there isn't anything good that comes from moping.

Jesus's parable about the vineyard tenants set the religious leader on edge and they want to crush him. They fear him because they want the love, position and power that they recognize in Jesus. The people who are in power can often be abusive to those who threaten their perfect little world. We who have roles of leadership can easily be tempted into holding on to what we have and pushing others away. God invites us today to share the gifts, the vineyards which have been given to our care, and be thankful for the roles we have been given for the time we have them.

Today, I ask God to help me honor the vineyard I serve in by sharing all that I have been  freely given freely. May jealousy and greed be rid from our lives so we can see and embrace the "wonderful new thing we can't even imagine yet."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Asking In Prayer


On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:12-26

Asking In Prayer

I prayed that I might have a sign
I asked for guidance and wondered
is this silence as important as an answer
as the night and day surely need each other.

The moon covered the sun for a time
but the clouds obscured my vision
yet still the event took place as promised
even though I am not a true eye witness.

I know that my parents prayed for me
but I wondered what they prayed for
as I pray for my beloved children
do they know what I ask God for?

Some days the light gets blotted out
we think ourselves unloved, unanswered
yet faithful parents still fiercely pray
a loving God still  acts for all of us.





Sunday, August 20, 2017

Have Mercy On Me

Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.  Matthew 15: 10-28


Have Mercy On Me

I am that Canaanite woman begging
not one of the chosen and exalted tribe
I am outside of the circle yet I too
need the healing that God provides.

We stand together as fragile and strong
mothers who beg for their children's lives 
sisters who fall asleep praying at night
daughters who live our lives for others.

We know the living God within us
life is passed on and born through our kind
we are never far from the divine love
to you we appear as only refugees.

A war never resolved any kind of thing
but a mother's faith has changed the world
no matter our tribe, circle, kin or clan
holy love will find us and renew us again.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Look Around At Everything


When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1-11 

Look Around

A week or two or turmoil
the moon will cover the sun
we are not where we once were
we will not be here for long.

Look around the world as we know it
turns and turns to and from the sun
we cannot stop the turning or change
we can only love who is with us now.

There will be bullies in every corner
tyrants and violence at every turn
change is surely coming soon
like the sun rising to burn away fog.

This moment of terror and pain
will teach us to make love real
taking on the angry with silence
facing the fury with tender prayer.
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Friday, August 18, 2017

Let Me See Again


They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 

One of the things that is most hurtful to those who have been abused, victimized or injured, is to silence them and to take away their voice. Too often, nice well-meaning folks want to speak for those who are hurting, abused and neglected. We often don't listen to them. I am convinced that true healing comes when we listen to the people who know what they need the best. When we know them by name, when we sit and listen, refusing to tell them what to do, then we are Christ's body in the world.

Jesus is in the neighborhood and Bartimaeus calls out to him. Folks tried to silence him in their own embarrassment and awkwardness. They didn't want Jesus to see just how broken their community truly was. Jesus calls out in response, he stops and listens, asking Bartimaeus what he wanted. Once healed, Bartimaeus followed Jesus, and with those restored eyes probably witnessed the horrors and the miracles of the journey that followed. God invites us today to seek out the healing we need and to follow Jesus, being the body of Christ to the world that needs it now more than ever.

Today, I ask God to help me ask for the healing I need, so that I may follow Jesus every step of the way. May we all let the wounded speak, let the silenced voices ring, so that Christ's body may walk again among us in the church.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

But To Serve


They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:32-45 

But To Serve

We fragile humans look for fame
for a lasting legacy and praise
we are shaped to hold one another
we are made for loving service.

The master potter molded each
a unique design and gorgeous image
perfected by a familial gentle touch
formed to reflect divine goodness.

We ache to be set apart and hallowed
yet our biggest use is in our giving
our greatest triumph is a smile shared
our simple song a gift to the world.

Oh sit again by the teacher's feet
love has come your way to stay
our response is not to hoard it
but to serve that love all our days.