Sunday, July 23, 2017

Good Seed

Jesus put before the crowd another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Good Seed

What come from heaven is good seed
beauty and brilliance in everyone
the spark of loving kindness and forgiveness
a creative heart of hope and possibility.

There are days when all we see are weeds
the world can be a place of horror and anger
this day can turn from sweet to sour easily
we feel the weeds choking out the sun.

There is rain enough for all the gifts given
soil that will invisibly feed even at night
sun that will find a way to burn the gloom
and wind which will carry the new generation.

There are days when the weeds seem to win
they take over and choke the most vulnerable
justice and peace are the blessings from heaven
the holy will always bends towards justice and peace.

We are being led away from the daily trauma
into the richest land the clearest sky views
rich valleys are rising up around us now
these weary children will find some tender rest.

The Collect

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Stretch Out Your Hand

One sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 2:23 – 3:6

Stretch Out Your Hand

We are bound by pain and loss
imprisoned by fear and anxiety
jailed by our own inadequacies
threatened by all our human rules.

There is no judgement in heaven
there is light eternal love unbounded
there is forgiveness aplenty for all
and room for the worst with the best.

God living on earth brought healing
fed the hungry, tarried with the worthless
found treasure in the least of us
and nobility in every wretched beggar.

God walked among all of us then
and walks among all of us even now
we are bound and broken by humanity
freed daily by the source of all love.

Come stretch out your hand
lean into love, let go of judgement
you were made royalty and blessed
children of the God of boundless love.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Again Beside the Sea

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:13-22

We are spending a few days with Mark's mother, the last surviving parent between us.  She is a brilliant, witty and strong woman in her 91 year. She is also a strict Catholic and has clear opinions on many topics. It is hard to convince her that things should be different. All of us as we age can get stuck in a certain way of living and thinking. Getting out is hard for her, yet getting out, whether by the sea and just to the store, change radically change one's perspective.

Jesus ventured out and gathered disciples, friends and a community. For the religious leaders, his approach seemed like folly. He reached out to those who we hurt, wounded, ill and outcast. He spent a good deal of time by the sea and in market places, among the people. He made room in God's kingdom for the least and rejected among us. God invites us to celebrate the love we have today, not trying to make it a nostalgic affair, but rather a present moment love of our present facilities.

Today I ask God to help me rejoice and love in these moments. as complicated and confusing as they may be. May we all celebrate the good gifts and relationships we have, knowing that God is always in the midst of us.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stand Up

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12

Stand Up

Too often the pain keeps us down
the strength to get up again has left
we are broken by our disease and fear
we have lost our courage and fight.

The friends who love us go all out
we know there is no future in hope
learning to live with what we have
not looking at tomorrow for a thing.

They carry us around and try to help
we put up with their kindness daily
inside we are jealous of their health
inside we curse our feeble frames.

A voice tells us to stand up and move
to take the mat that has companioned us
to let go of a name we have been called
and hear that we are loved by God.

Monday, July 17, 2017

I Do Choose

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. Mark 1:29-45 

I Do Choose

Life is only limited by fear
bodies curtailed by sickness
minds turned by a myriad of hurts
heart broken by great loss.

The Creator of all life chooses
life and healing for us all
we are often broken by this world
and lifted up in scared dreams.

The artists who formed your body
also fashioned a heart and soul
woven with holy threads of joy
finished with threads of delight.

Life unlimited is the promise
no mistake or shame can remove it
we are knitted together by love
and love will bring us back again.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sowing Seeds

Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

We have some raised beds and planters that we have filled with vegetable and herb plants. Everyday we go out and water and look them over. We are not great gardeners, but we are enthusiastic. Enjoying fresh produce from our own garden is a delight. It doesn't really matter if it's a bumper crop or if we only have a few, it always is joyful. The whole process is a delight.

Jesus is teaching the crowd and he tells them a parable about seeds that fall in different parts of the field. So often we think this is a story about how we must be good soil, good seeds and excellent crops. In fact, all the circumstances are gifts from God. The abundance and the rocky ground, the drama and the joy are all parts of our lives lived here now. God invites us to be as rich soil as we can be, and to give thanks even when we find ourselves in shallow communities and situations which don't foster life. God invites us to see love manifested in all our days and seasons.

Today, I ask God to help me live grateful for where I am sown. May we all find joy in the challenges as well as the abundance,  as God is daily giving us a sure foundation of love.

The Collect

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Casting Nets

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “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!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:14-28

Casting Nets

Knee deep in a gentle incoming tide
the sun is setting such muted light
whether I gather enough fish or not
I can be fully satisfied today.

Waist deep in my private thoughts
suddenly interrupted by a voice
come follow me this very day
I want to show you how to fish for real.

Over my head in confusion and fear
this is my place mired in the sand
why would I want to journey from this sea
this source of life and all I know.

Again and again I am called by name
the water sings along, the birds do too
they know I am destined for another place
all creation asks me to turn from my home.

I am sinking into these possibilities
the sun has been swallowed today by water
I am taken up by the notion of following
casting my nets in very different seas.