Friday, November 24, 2017

Take Care

Jesus said, “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:10-20 

Take Care

For us, it was always about the children
on this day after American Thanksgiving
we never deny them a feast or celebration
but we remember how they were taken away.

For us, they are the dreams and the hope embodied
they learn at our hips at our very sides daily
when removed from our homes and our peoples
they were stripped of our language and visions.

For us, seeking out our wandering children
is a daily task and we take care of their waking
their sleeping and their dreaming as a gift
a fragile, hearty, great delight of our lives.

For us, we know the ancestors are watching them
you call them angels and we can understand that
for we know divine light and love abide here
in the hearts of these little ones we are given.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cast for a Fish

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” Matthew 17:22-27

On the eve of Thanksgiving, when many are trying to get somewhere, it seems appropriate to talk about the gratitude we have and the overwhelming blessings we have in our families and in our communities. We may worry about how the feast tomorrow might go, and how the family will or will not get along, but we are all, in so many ways blessed with abundance. Our best response to all we have received,  is to live a life of kindness, honoring all, even those who tax and offend us.

Jesus is making his way to the final drama. His disciples want it to be like it always was. And they want him to use superhero powers to squash the demands of the religious leaders. Instead, he suggests they be kind and inoffensive, paying the tax through a coin from the depth of the sea. Among themselves they could rejoice in the miracle, but he wanted them and us to be humble and kind in all of our interactions. God invites us to see the blessings, even in paying taxes, and the miracles that abound in our daily lives.

Today I ask God to open my eyes to the miracles around me. May we live our lives with kindness and humility, honoring even those who demand too much and who push all of our buttons. May God's love be known in this world as we joyfully participate and lovingly engage the people around us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cured Instantly

When they came to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:14-21

Cured Instantly

I ached to be someone other than me
to fit in to be the right size with blond hair
to never be on the outside but in the center
not to be haunted by painful self doubt.

I thought I was alone in this ache
feeling possessed by demons and desires
wanting to be anything but this oddity
praying for an instant cure to what I am.

No disciple on this earth then or now
had enough faith to change the boy then
and now we often ask for a different self
when God has blessed us richly so.

And faith increased when I accepted all
the demons, the dents and the dimples
the failure that taught me great things
and the solace I found in true honesty.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Entrusted with Talents

Jesus said, “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

We all want to hide and run when life overwhelms us, when what we offer has been rejected and our person-hood is overlooked. We are reluctant and fearful to share after we have been abused and taken advantage of by bullies and cruel people. I am often reluctant to share from the heart because sometimes, even within the church, I have been shamed and set aside. Yet this is the awkward and tender place where God meets us, right in the midst of our fears and inadequacies. 

Jesus tells the parable of the master who leave certain sums with his slaves. We all cringe at this parable, especially on pledge Sundays and during Stewardship campaigns. We are all more like the one who was fearful and buried his share. We are so afraid of losing that we keep back way to much of ourselves, we bury it deep and deprive the community of our gifts. God invites in this season to let go of fear and live generously, understanding that there is always more from God than we can expect in the leaner and anxious seasons of our lives.

Today, I ask God to help me to offer myself and to not turn away from generosity and sharing. May our hurts be healed and our fears quieted so that we can invest ourselves in the places where we are called and with the people who have been given to us.


The Collect

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Take Up Your Cross

From that time on, 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

My cross is made of driftwood
surprisingly light but battered
full of the memories of loss and failure
pot marked by every storm of life.

My cross is found on the sand
in the liminal places of ebb and flow
where the receeding tide discloses all
where forgiveness has been in short supply.

My cross is rough around the edges
like me filled with both pain and joy
trying to pretend that all is truly well
while terrified as a small vunerable child.

My cross is a gift and for me a sign
that my burdens will be lifted daily
my troubles have been buried deep
my failures have been taken out to sea.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Loosed on Earth and Heaven

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20 

Loosed on Earth

When as a child I clung to you
you let me knowing I needed it
you wrapped me tight and swaddled
so that I could one day be set free.

We have the keys to binding and loosing
we often mix them up thinking it love
we want to hold those who need freedom
binding those who are ready to fly.

We memorize their every movement
thinking that we are living love
when we are simply not forgiving them
for growing beyond their ancient need.

May we set free those we love
so they might love beyond our imagining
watering seeds planted in other places
freeing memory space for new delights.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Beware of the Yeast Of Pharisees

The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.
When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They said to one another, “It is because we have brought no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:1-12 

The seduction of power, influence and money are great in our present world. A debate rages that should never even have to happen. A man of great influence and power abused young girls for his own pleasure and not everyone condemns the behavior. Simply said, what poor and minorities go to jail for, our leaders with money and influence (and religious support) seem to think they are beyond reproach. Not one of us is beyond reproach. And God loves to feed, cloth and heal the humble, the victims, the prisoners and the marginalized.

Jesus' disciples are concerned about his words and their own failure. His words about yeast confuse them and they blame themselves. He invites them to trust God to provide and not to put their trust in wealth and power, for they are corrupting influences always. God invites us to deepen our trust and depend on the Creator for all our needs.

Today, I ask God to help me pray in every moment and seek holy guidance in every circumstance. The desire for financial comfort and political influence can overwhelm us, yet we are nestled in the heart of God and our needs will be met, day by day.