Monday, September 1, 2014

David Pendeleton Oakerhater

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.'" Luke 10:1-9

I have been blessed to go to the Whirlwind Mission and to see the place where David Pendleton Oakerhater served. As as prisoner of war, this brilliant Cheyenne man heard the Gospel and became a warrior for God's love. He was ordained a deacon and served out his ministry as a deacon, never being granted the opportunity to be ordained a priest. Despite incredible challenges, he served lovingly, faithfully and without complaint or despair. As a Native person, I take courage from his steadfast faith and service.

Today in our Gospel we hear Jesus sending 70 others out to carry the good news of God's love. They were given little preparation, no direction and no income. And yet they went with joy and shared God's love with those who would hear them, who would welcome them and make room for good news. We can find ourselves in times of great challenge and despair and take heart from these 70 and Deacon David who went with joy and built a legacy for so many of faith and courage.

Today may we be warriors for God's love. May we not look at our lack nor count the cost but rather give our all so that many may know the touch of God's presence and healing. May we our anxiety and go forth with the courage of the saints to share what we have been given.

Collect of the Day: David Pendleton Oakerhater, Deacon and Missionary, 1931
O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, you chose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be your servant, and sent him to be a missionary to his own people, and to exercise the office of a deacon among them: Liberate us, who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to you and to the neighbors you have given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Take Up Your Cross

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 Your Cross

Today my faults seem to great
keep me from going out the door
I am flawed and embarrassed
I cannot longer bear this alone.

Once we seemed perfect and brilliant
now we are aged and wiser some
clearer in sight of our limitations
genuinely aware of the broken bits.

We are called to pick up the mess
following where he leads us
promising that we will not be alone
surrounded by others with great shame.

And we can revel in going out together
a broken mass of people loved beyond the faults
cherished as perfect, beloved and wanted
as we struggle through the world of need.

We will be made strong for the journey
given companions on our various ways
we will rest in the arms of a loving God
and our burdens will be lighter each day.

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Light of the World

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf." Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:12-20 (NRSV)

The light here is Helena is different from my East Coast homes, and different also from our time in Sitka. The light at day's end is is fierce and intense across the big sky and big mountains here. The light in the evening is mottled and filtered through deep green trees in my mother's back yard. The light in Sitka was most often soft and shadowy due to low clouds and damp air. Light is different everywhere and yet so necessary to us all.

Jesus is in the midst of a holy festival and on the hot seat. He could have walked away but instead he told the truth of who he was. He knew shedding light on it would make him many enemies among the religious leadership. It would upset the comfortable and the safe. The light of the world was offering to them new life, new hope and reconciliation, and they coveted their comfort more than their healing. We are invited today to let go of our comforts and head into the light. 

Today I ask God to help me explore this new world with an open heart and an open mind. May we all be ready to see the light of the world and be changed forever. May we let go of comforts so that love's light might pour into our hearts today.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Anyone Who is Thirsty

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, "This is really the prophet." Others said, "This is the Messiah." But some asked, "Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?" So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not arrest him?" The police answered, "Never has anyone spoken like this!" Then the Pharisees replied, "Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law - they are accursed." Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?" They replied, "Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee." John 7:37-52


The brown earth brittle and dry
the late August sun unrelenting
high above sea level humidity
I sigh for thirst and need.

He was unwanted and unexpected
drawn forth for renewal of the world
to a dry, arid land of shriveled hopes
to people who shunned the least.

Their rivers had run dry from abuse
their faith was shallow due to disuse
their songs died in their arid throats
their criticism like banners flung wide.

He arrived for all who would admit
to need, ache and sheer isolation
his tools were simple love and faith
his life given for our restoration.

Let us be those who set aside greed and pride
who revel in our humility and our need
let us draw close to the one from Galilee
where came the healing of the world.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Living the Vision

Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon's house and were standing by the gate. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them." So Peter went down to the men and said, "I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?" They answered, "Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say." So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging.
The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. On Peter's arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, "Stand up; I am only a mortal." And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, "You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?"
Cornelius replied, "Four days ago at this very hour, at three o'clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. He said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.' Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say." Acts 10:17-33 

Today I begin a new ministry here in Montana. I will be encouraging and developing ministry and leadership among Native peoples. This is a vision given long ago and now finally becoming a reality. Visions don't often give us the instructions for daily life and structures. They inspire us to follow where God is calling us and go where we are sent.

Peter had an amazing vision that told him that, despite all his religious training, there was no one he should call profane or unclean. There was no one outside the reach of God's embrace. His vision gave him the courage to go where he was called and to do what was asked of him. Despite his training and cultural upbringing he was ready to move across all barriers and boundaries. His vision gave him the courage and the change of heart he needed. We are invited today to remember this dreams and visions God has placed on our hearts, and to know these visions from God as the strength and power to move forward day by day.

Today I ask God to help me live into the vision and be a faithful follower and servant where I have been called. May we all take our callings one step at a time and rejoice in the visions we have been given today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lord, to Whom Can We Go?

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father."
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil." He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:60-71 

It has been a season of ups and downs of stops and starts, with a few breakdowns mixed in for good measure. It can be easy to want to run away and hide, curl up in a ball,basically finding someway to avoid any more trouble or challenges. But life is full of blessings and challenges and if we hide away or run, we miss the blessings that are so often hidden among the dark clouds.

The disciples are hearing and living the challenges of following Jesus. Some grumbled and complained and some turned back. Yes, they missed the challenges and the pain that was to come, but they also missed the miracles and the splendid joy of walking with God. To walk the road of God incarnate means to encounter the rough streets and pains the world dishes out, trusting that there is more than calamity, more than a cross even, in the days to come.

Today I ask God to help me cease complaining and embrace the many gifts and blessings before me. May we who follow the living God, find time to notice and rejoice in all the blessings we have before us today.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Under the Fig Tree Again

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." John 1:43-51 

Under the Fig Tree Again

I will find you under the fig tree
hiding from the heat of day
I will bring you cooling water
and help you to begin again.

You aren't perfect nor alone
an honest heart though broken
I will bring you healing balm
and tend the wounds the world gives.

I will seek you in dark night
when the clouds have gathered
round your head and dreams horrify
I will wake you with a gentle dawn.

I have chosen to walk with you
on this earth so broken and abused
I have chosen to walk withoutcasts
eating meals with enemies and sinners.

I will find you and bring you back
to a place you will call home
I will help you smile and laugh again
cuddling your children to your side.