Monday, June 24, 2019

Increase and Decrease



After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:22-30

Increase and Decrease

I lose so many  things all the time
misplacing keys and needed glasses
wandering around blindly looking
yet I never lose the ones I love.

A brief moment in a crowded shop
stopping everything to seek the one
little and curious who has taken off
love demands we decrease for others.

Stopping and slowing for the elders
lifting up and carrying the young
our brillance is not dimmed at all
when we give ourselves for others.

The birds stop singing for the rain
the mother accepts pain for the child
we are all becoming less for love
joyous every more day by day.





Saturday, June 22, 2019

When Pigs Fly

                            Second Sunday after Pentecost June 23, 2019


Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me" -- for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39

Some folks don't like to hear that there are consequences from any behavior. They particularly don't want to hear that healing can be painful, challenging and life altering. Anyone who has spent time in Physical Therapy knows that to get better one has to be willing to strain and learn new habits. We change and change the world around us as well get well, no longer accepting the limitations, and embracing a new way to be in the world.

Jesus healed a very ill and tormented man. The family and the community had given up on him years before. He was a threat to everyone, including himself. After the healing, they were terrified, not just because the pigs were terrorized and died, but because the world as they knew it had changed. They had to learn new habits and new understanding. That is hard for all of us. God promises to give us the strength to be healed and live into our new selves and new worlds.

Today, I ask God to help me take hold of the healing that is present and live into the new world being made. May we not be afraid, but embrace the changes around us and see God's love in those around us.


Collect
O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Signs



Jesus said, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:20-28

Signs

The sun reached it's zenith
the summer has truly begun
whether warm or drizzling
we know the season's here.

A mother with birthing pangs
a child with school jitters
stores full of bright decorations
we know how to read these.

God within us is harder to know
the flutter of love for a stranger
the impulse to feed the hungry
this joy is the season of the Holy.





Friday, June 21, 2019

Endurance


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 have been a swimmer since before I can even really remember. Several years I swam for swim across America, a long distance swim to raise money for cancer research. Long distance requires strength but even more, endurance. Speed is less important than pacing yourself and keeping a positive attitude throughout. My daughter Emily has done long distance swims in the Hudson River, fighting currents and all the flotsam and jetsam found in that body of water. It is easy to endure in calm waters, much harder, in dark, murky and dangerous place.
Jesus is sharing with his followers the truth about the faith lives we lead. It won't ever be easy. That is true for much of our lives, since it is easy to be positive and move forward in good times. When people turn on us, when we are abused by systems that should protect us,well, that is when our faith need to be firm. We are promised that God is protecting us, no matter how the world treats us. We are loved and cared for beyond measure. 
Today, I ask God for an extra measure of strength to endure. May we, in our darkest times, hold on tight to the promise that God is with us, and shine our light for those who need the strength to endure.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Giving All



Then Jesus said to them, “How can they say that the Messiah is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”‘ David thus calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” In the hearing of all the people he said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 20:41 – 21:4

Giving All

A big heart in a small frame
is not limited by funds or means
not bound by practice or culture
but remember forver in stories.

She walked slowly to the basin
to pour her lfe savings within
she was grateful for all she had
full of love despite her looks.

Some might have not noticed her
others would send her shamefully away
never would the welcome her
nor invite her to their fancy banquets.

Yet it is she who took the Savior's notice
she took the heart of the livign God
she gave from love and thankfulness
she becomes love's daily model and icon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

God of the Living


Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” Luke 20:27-40 
The religious and civic leaders have often argued over marraige throughout history. Who can marry whom has been the subject of much debate throughout the ages. As a child of a mixed race marraige, I know all too well about the discrimination and laws that prohibited many from marrying. Marraige was most often about money, property and power and never about love. Rarely were the hearts of the people considered.
Jesus is being tested again, with the knottiest question about marraige. I imagine this was a standard test given in law school, without the reference to the afterlife. Jesus answers that God is about love and the living. When we are resurrected we are complete and love binds us all in a way we are not able to comprehend in this mortal flesh. We are invited by God not to puzzle too hard on knotty questions, but rather let love and faith be our guides.
Today, I ask God to help me live love and faith, first and always. May we not worry about the tests but live for love and compassion.

Monday, June 17, 2019

One Coin

When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.
So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. So they asked him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, ‘Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?’ They said, ‘The emperor’s.’ He said to them, ‘Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent. Luke 20:19-26

One Coin

One coin tossed in a fountain
wishes, prayers and dreams
other tossed in for a toll
more collected by little children.

One coin cannot change the world
yet one plus one and more can
tell a story of love or deceit
demonstrate where is one's heart.

Tightly held coins do not grow
refusing to pay taxes and levies
leaves the children to starve
stubborn hearts breed broken ones.

Let us not dispute where God is found
love does not grow from wealth
the source of all that is goodly grown
asks us to live as holy signs.

One coin tossed in a fountain
another handed to a small child
others given to hungry beggars
there will love be again found.