Saturday, July 21, 2018

Take and Eat

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples. Matthew 26:26-35 
A traditional meal that will never be the same. We have all had them. One year a beloved parent was with us and then, the next year they were not. Nothing was the same. Yet, during that last meal, we behaved as we always do, laughing and arguing, praying possibly or singing, and probably eating and drinking too much. We remember it later with certain details that seem incredibly important and which we will hold on to forever. At the time, we were as nonchalant and frivolous as ever.
Jesus is with his disciples for their Seder meal. They all had participated, year after year, at home and abroad, as was their tradition, much the way American still celebrate Thanksgiving or July 4th when living in a foreign country. And at a family gathering, the usual suspects turn up and the usual antics and behaviors are seen. Later on, we called it the Last Supper, but the it was just another traditional religious meal that they knew by heart and took to nonchalantly. Later, we would hang on each word, for this was our first meal, the indication that we were all invited to God's table.
Today, I ask God to help me remember that the table, the meal is meant for all and that food and love are best shared. May we share our food and our love freely, knowing the Source of Life will surely renew and remake us as we do.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Surely, Not I?

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.” Matthew 26:17-25 
One of the hardest hurts to recover from is betrayal by a friend, particularly when it is someone you have shared hard work, years of comradery and the secrets fears and joys of one's life. It is also painful to be called a traitor when you know you are doing the right thing. The small dramas of our lives cannot compare to the big drama we call the Passion, yet our little passions and pains can give us some little tactile glimpse into the drama that was unfolding around that table.
Jesus understands that these are truly his last days and although he has been very direct with them, they refused to think anything but the best. His teachings had been very harsh and direct. Judas motivation was unclear to us but he might have been convinced he was doing the right thing. He too might have thought this would not lead to death. We cannot know, but we do know the drama and death that followed changed the world forever. We are invited today, to imagine the humanity of everyone including Judas, to be a loving presence to it is hard to love. For God so loved us first, even the betrayers.
Today, I ask God to help me let go of betrayals and hurt and to love as we are called to loved. May we all let go of the pain if the past so we can see the humanity and need around us and respond with the love of God we are called to carry to everyone, everyday.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

In Remembrance of Her

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.” Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:1-16 

In Remembrance of Her 

They saw her in the store
remembering her kindness
when they were very poor
they wrapped their arms around
the one who fed them as children.

They knew the face of an angel
one who loved them completely
a stranger who dared to come in
to the pain and sorrow of children
parents locked away from them.

We will remember always
the ones who returned our joy
who filled our aching bellies
who washed us clean and saw
the goodness in each of us.

If you would know holiness
seek the old poorer women
whose laugh and hug as they
find the ones in need feeding
them as their very own family.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

To One of the Least of These

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46 
We live in a time when some leaders consider it okay to use the most vulnerable as pawns, to get their way and to make a point. This has always been the case throughout history. It is no more right than it was in the past and folks will look back and wonder how this could be allowed. It is not a crime to seek sanctuary or to flee violence to save one's children. Yet, in the US, some leaders call themselves Christian while ordering imprisonment for children.
Jesus continues what can seem like very stern teaching. It was delivered to his followers and was about their lives after he was gone. Jesus was very clear about our lives today. We need to be about caring for the hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison. Christ is alive in the least, and we who ache to find our spiritual grounding are called to seek out and serve the least, who will look, sound and pray in a different way than we do. We are invited to stop worrying about the right words for liturgy and move towards the least outside our elaborate doors.
Today, I ask God to help me be a servant, even during this long time of recuperation. As followers of the Incarnate One, may we have the courage to see him in those least, the most vulnerable and the abused and rejected political pawns of our day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Buried Talent

Jesus said, “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Matthew 25:14-30 
I often struggle with this parable, as I know many people who have been given a talent or means and have faithfully tried to offer what they have only to be rebuffed, laughed at or ignored. It is what we as humans shrink from the most - getting up and doing our best then being ridiculed or shamed. Fear is the worst enemy of faith in my life. Life can feel too often like the gong show. And the fear of being rejected keeps many of us from offering something, offering more. 
Jesus is instructing his followers about how they are to live their lives when he is no longer around. They do not believe that is going to happen, so he has to be very descriptive, very direct about their behavior. Harsh in other words since they have been acting very dense. He wants us to hear as well. What we do with what we have been given is important. It is the work of faith. We humans don't like sticking our necks out or putting ourselves in the spotlight. Yet, what we have been given we must use. Our one pitiful little talent might save a life, redirect someone floundering and give hope to the hopeless. Our one little bit might just be the tipping point for enormous change.
Today, I ask God to help me use what I have despite my own fears and limitations. May we give what we got, knowing that God with use it for the healing and renewal of this world.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Keep Awake

Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13 
I loved being a girl scout, loved all the preparations for camping and the responsibilities we had when we were out in the woods. Being prepared was all an essential for being a good scout. I grew up by the ocean, and we always had preparations for the storms that might whip up with little warning. There were kerosene lamps, flashlights, jugs of water and canned food in endless supply if we were without power for a time. As a mother of three, I had to be prepared for every disaster as well. My children would kid me about the size of my purse, which was often a backpack, but they were glad for all the various supplies they could find within the same embarrassing bag. Being prepared takes away the anxiety of living through the day and it offers the opportunity to help other anxious people.
Jesus continues his teaching on the "end times". He wants us all to be prepared, so that we can be present for the needs and relationships that come up every day. The bridegroom (the return of the Christ) will come at a time which no one knows, so we are called to be awake and prepared so that we can focus on love rather than running around looking for help and for supplies. We are invited by God to have our hearts ready, our prayers said, and our lives prepared so that we can be of service to those around us, bringing the light of God's love to the darkest, most terrorized people and places.
Today, I ask God to help me prepare, body, mind and spirit for the days ahead. May we all be prepared and woke, so that we can be the beacons of love when there is crisis, overwhelming terror and when life's storms take us by surprise.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Greed and Anger

 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’
 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:14-29

Greed and Anger

Poor John, poor John
doing God's work and
losing his blessed head
presented on a platter.

Poor Mary, poor Joseph
carrying God's child and 
banished from home to
live seven years as refugees.

Love is recharged by love
power is fueled by greed
anger burns like forest fire
the innocents pay the price.

Poor Consuela, poor Juan
separated from their babies
paying the price for asking
that freedom be shared with them.

Poor rich ones, poor greedy ones
for the fruit of selfishness is
not what you think to receive
life is never full while scheming.

Love encourages others flourishing
the work of God is love, more love
winning is never the goal of love
making a safe harbor for all is holy.

Poor Salome, poor King Herod
they could order an execution
they were showered with gifts
yet they never knew love's wholeness.