Sunday, February 18, 2018

Beloved and Tempted

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
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.” Mark 1:9-15

My mother's voices rings in my ears, "you know you are getting close to God when the devil works overtime!" And, it has held true in my life, as I am always finding myself in a good place, only to have my body or my spirit broken by something or someone. We can live a life of faith, yet we must expect both the mountain top experiences and the deep dark valleys. We can one day be on top of the world, in love with everything, and the next day, be starving for any support or any strength.  

Jesus is baptized and the crowd hears and sees the presence of the living God. God speaks of great love and pleasure in Jesus, and in baptism they are words for us all. Right afterwards, as Jesus seeks to strengthen his faith and spirit for what lies ahead, he is challenged, body, mind and soul. He knows he is loved and yet his journey includes all of the challenges, pitfalls and pains that break our spirits. How amazing is it that God chose to be in the flesh, just like us?  And as long as God is with us, we will often be overwhelmed and saddened by our broken humanity.

Today, I ask God to help me breath when the pressure and pain are too much, knowing that even in the darkest of places, I am not alone. May we all recognize God in the midst of our brokenness, grief and sorrow. May we understand we will be tempted and we will always be surrounded by great love.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

That They All May Be One

Jesus prayed, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26

That They All May Be One

The heart of the Divine, full of love
aches that we might share one heart
desires only our love for one another
seeks only compassion and kindness.

We would all be winners so others lose
we would stoke our anger and violence
we ache to crush those who oppose us
we desire to be separate and superior.

Our blood types may be different
yet our blood is all the same by design
we think it a right to stand on our own
yet we stand only on the backs of others.

There are no crowns so precious
like the crown of thorns worn for us
like the sacrificial love that suffered
so that we might live and thrive.

Honoring those who came before
means seeking out and repairing
all the breaches and divisions
refuting all our past abuse and crimes.

It is the season for seeking out the other
for seeing the face of God in strangers
for feeding the smiling and growling alike
for being one for it is the Creator's desire.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Protect Them

Jesus prayed, “I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:9-19 

I have a mother's heart. For twenty seven months it shared everything with my children and the shared my life blood, the food I ate and every tear I shed.  They are a part of me and my whole being changed forever with their lives. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of them, pray for them, aching for their safety and their happiness. Every breath I take recalls them to me. I can still feel their presence with me, their newborn breath on my skin, their laughter and their tears. My children's lives have been threatened and they have been in danger. I am grateful everyday for their safety. When the news of 911 broke, although I was in a church meeting and we lived far from all of the destruction, I had to get in my car and drive home, to make sure they were all okay.  This mother's heart is breaking for the innocent student and teachers who died in their school. It is unbearable.

Jesus, in John's gospel is overheard praying for his disciples. We glimpse, in this moment, the heart of a parent, a mother, a father, begging for the care and protection of the children. His love for them is complete and familial. His love for us is the same as well. God desires our safety and our thriving and invites us to live for the safety and thriving of others. We are invited to have the heart of parents, who would do anything for those in our care. May we, in these days of destructive self-interest, put down our weapons, our words and our politics, and act for the love of the innocent around us.

Today, I ask God to move me beyond worry and prayer to action. May we remove the walls and barriers that divide us, and see that all of our community is in our care. We have been given to one another. May we love with a mother's and father's heart.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Know in Truth

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” John 17:1-8 

Know In Truth

What begins anew in Lent's season
is an honesty of heart and mind
understanding the destruction caused
in the name of the holy and the right.

Each generation and every individual born
carries the seed of compassion and healing
as well as the germ of selfishness and greed
here today we look at what we have wrought.

Tearing down those who would be tender
building up those who use weapons in anger
covering for the cruelty and deprivation
calling it genius, the right of the powerful.

Yet we are known in truth by our maker
we know in truth how broken we truly are
this season calls us to face the ugly truth
waiting for the easter moment of rebirth.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day

Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 

Love requires humility, not superiority. Love is not an act of aggression but a daily act of hospitality and welcome, the opening of our hearts and souls to the love of God and sharing love with others. There is no conflict of having Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day collide on our calendar. They are two parts of the same faithfulness. We honor those we love, who have given us their love. We humbly honor the love we have been given by the loving Creator, by taking time to reflect and understand deeply the sacrifice made for us.

Jesus points out to his disciples how we are to live (and not live). Humility is a practice that seems lost in our present day, yet is so necessary for joyous and abundant life. Humility is neither self-abuse nor does it require us to be self effacing. Rather, we are invited to deep gratitude for the love we have been given, for the loving sacrifices made for us, for this life which is showered with love we really cannot deserve. God loved us before we understood love, and will love us through and beyond this life.

Today, I ask God to help me celebrate the amazing loves in my life by being humble and grateful every moment. May we all move into this season of Lent, by living every day as Valentine's Day. showering all the people in our lives with love that has no end.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

For This I Was Born

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him.” John 18:28-38 

For This I Was Born

We come to the end of epiphany's season
when all the world has been given light
we celebrate again all the truth we have
knowing more dark and dangerous days await.

We fatten and feast today hearing the durge
beckoning softly in the background here
on the edge of frivolity and deep despair
as we prepare to face humanity's truth.

We were born for this day and tomorrow
born to celebrate and bear love's pain
born to rise above rumors and abuse
made to be more than victims and slave.

Here is Fat Tuesday and there is the cross
always before us as we pretend and play
we were born to know the divine embrace
born to bear the burden of baptism's mark.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Rooster Crowed

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the rooster crowed. John 18:15-18, 25-27 

The Rooster Crowed

Don't deny it now because we were all present
you tried without success to deny  your part
you wanted to weaseled out of the life you love
ached to be anonymous, quiet and unknown.

We all wanted to be there and an essential part
we loved every moment of the exhilerating ride
now, in these deep, sad hours of this long night
you cannot turn away, you cannot deny who you are.

These are dangerous times, foreboding shadows
threats and talk of violence and destruction
you wanted in when it was fun and thrilling
there is no exit now when death rattles near.

Love doesn't quit on the harder journeys
nor does the Divine relent when pain surrounds
the eternal truths become the only steady beacon
they are found in the pain and the open wounds.