Wednesday, September 30, 2009
A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:18-20
We closed all the windows last night as the chill set in. No denying it, the fall is here. Not winter yet, but the real signs of a change in seasons is upon us. The summer is over and though I still am wearing summer clothes, and still haven't really accepted it, fall is here. I love the fall. Apples and cider and all things crisps and comforting. The air revives me, the colors of turning trees inspire me and it is a season that brings me joy. But letting summer go completely is always a problem. Tucking life inside for the winter is always a little sad. So there's this confused time, for just a bit, when wanting summer to stay and wanting the beauty of fall presence collide and I am torn - as if I could stop the change of seasons.
It is often so in our lives. When things change, when children grow, the world we knew changes its leaves, we are often torn for a while, caught between what was and what is to come. We can linger there too long and not realize the gifts that are to come. We can sit on the steps and defy the changes -for a while. We can try to bear summer fruit, try to be young again, try to be what has passed. And lingering for a while is normal. God invites us to live into the changes, whatever they be and know that abundance is as possible in the future as it was in the past. God changes not, though we wax and wane.
Just for today I want to delight with the world as it changes, I want to dance with the turning of life. I ask God to give me joy in this season, so that I might bear fruit worthy of the love I have been given.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7
Some days I have plenty of stories to tell and other days I ache to find words for this reflection. I have been sitting here asking God for a story and no one story comes - but a million instances of friends and strangers who offer just what I need at a particular moment. Sometimes an helping hand, sometimes a smile or hug and other times the courage to endure. The hymn "Seek ye first" keeps rolling in my mind and I hear many voices of friends and family, both the living and those with earthly journeys complete, singing that hymn - particularly the alleluias.
So for today, I offer this simple reflection. "Which one of you, if his child asks for bread, will give them a stone? Or if they asks for a fish, will give them a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask!"
Today, in this passage, Jesus sums it up completely. We are all very human, but we know how to love and give to our love ones. We are the children of God, broken, needy and human, and God loves us completely. Gods desire is not judgment but delighting in the family. In our human blindness, we might chose to be right rather than enjoyed our family - but not so with God. Ask, seek, knock. God waits upon us, day and night, with love aching to be freed in our midst.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:28-29
We worried about all of the plans we had made and whether it would all work. After leaving home Wednesday, we spent the next few days cooking and sewing, shopping and worrying. The house where we stayed didn't have a TV so we couldn't watch the official weather, and yet we worried. We wanted our daughter Ariel to have a wonderful and simple wedding, and even with a simple affair there is so much to do. And much to go wrong. There were last minute alterations, minor menu changes, and many small details to keep watch over. There were also a lot of lovely people to keep track of and give directions. We kept focused and yet we were anxious.
Saturday dawned and it was beautiful and sunny. When we arrived for setup at church at 8AM, we were all alone. We privately panicked, but fairly quickly the help we needed arrived. Everyone pitched in and despite gathering family and friends from far and wide - we had a wedding. A lovely wedding. A truly gorgeous day, a stunning bride with her beautiful sisters in tow, and not a dry eye in the house. Love was palpable and evident. And suddenly all of the arrangements were of no consequence. When love is there, God is there and all worries seems to disappear.
So today, as we gently recover from a great but strenuous few days, I want to give thanks for an incredible, loving family. A gift beyond cost, a prize beyond measure. More radiant than the lilies of the field. And I want to remember that there is no need for worry when love is with us. When God is with us, there is no need for worry. And may we all live today trusting God like the lilies of the field.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:44-45
Some days I wish I had a pair of ruby slippers. You know they would be indispensable. Dorothy had no idea how powerful those shoes were, but if she had known, her adventure in OZ would have been very different. As it was, all she had to do was click her heels, wish three times and go home with her little dog tucked in her arm. She instead struggled to overcome great evil in her life. Instead she had to collect a bunch of messy and complicated friends to see her through. Instead, she had to learn by doing, growing to appreciate and love even the cowardly, and even what she had at home.
We are told to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I really try to do that. Sometimes, it is harder to love and appreciate those fellow travelers on the road - yellow brick or otherwise. It hard to not get irritated and short tempered with the messy, complicated, wonderful people who are on this adventure with us.
I have no ruby slippers, so instead, I ask God to give me the heart to love those wonderful complicated people who so kindly have taken to the road with me - no matter where I have found them. Help me God, to see the strength and the power they possess. Help me to love those who would do me harm, Lord. For those who do harm are acting mostly out of fear and hurt. Help me to love and pray as we begin this trip to the wonderful village by the sea for our daughters wedding. May these days be filled with adventure, companions and the capacity to see the good in everyone. May God bless us all with the power to love and pray for all those we encounter on our journey today.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,and the wonders that he has done.
As we prepare to head off tomorrow for our daughter Ariel's wedding, I realize how unprepared I feel.It feels more like being a child again without good ideas or adult supervision. I have done hundreds of weddings, both as a priest and bishop in all sorts of settings and situations. But I have never been the mother of the bride. I knew one role very clearly, but this is all new, like turning a gem and seeing a whole new range of colors.
I am reminded that many of us, no matter how grown and competent we are, often feel tremendous anxiety and awkwardness when we have to do something we usually don't do. If we have to ask for help, it can feel even more awkward, over even a little like failure. So today, I take courage through the psalms. The constant reminders of God's faithfulness and constancy in the midst of our trembling and inadequacies.
God is completely faithful at all times, loving us through the biggest challenges we face. God doesn't walk away when we feel inadequate. May we all take courage today knowing that the God who was with our ancestors for generations is walking with us, faithful and loving as ever.
Monday, September 21, 2009
And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Luke 3:10-11
I have been saddened by critics who have called our present administration socialist as when I hear the same recommendations, I think of our faith. It seems that embedded in the Jewish and Christian traditions is the requirement and expectation of sharing what we have. Not just our leftovers and our cast-offs, but one of our two cloaks. A rabbi I met recently told me that he community had made arrangements with a farmer to glean a his fields and the produce is given to the needy in the area. They also teach people how to cook with all sorts of produce. Our Native traditions teach that what we have is to be shared, not horded. The term 'Indian giver' came from the new arrivals misunderstanding of what sharing truly meant.
I ask God's strength today, so that I might share half of all that I have, and that I might take this passage to heart. Our advertising tells us what we lack and that we need more. I want to start living with the abundance I know I have and share it with others. May we all be encouraged today, to share with others, so that the world might know the hand of God in our midst.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
"Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." Mark 9:35-37
On this Sunday, I invite us all to remember what it was like to be a child. What were you like? I was curious and creative, quite a tomboy who liked to play cops and robbers, war, and cowboys and Indians. I was the fourth out of five and the third of four girls. My older sisters seemed glamorous. I was just messy and busy.
Jesus held a child on his lap and asked the disciples to look at the child - he said that this child is the greatest in God kingdom, and those who receive the child are great in God's eyes. Those who welcome the young and the vulnerable, the awkward and the innocent, these are the ones who God prizes highly.
May we welcome the little ones today. And may we welcome again our authentic, true selves. The child that we truly are. The one that aches to be loved, held and blessed by God. May we offer our true selves to God today.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5
Yesterday, on my day off, we took a ride on the Taconic Parkway, looking for a way to enjoy the mild autumn day and explore a bit. We had in mind to pick apples but the place we headed to was closed. We were very disappointed after such a long journey. Angry with ourselves for not calling ahead and doing better research, judgmental of them for not providing what they had promised.They are only open on weekends it would seem.
We had the numbers of a few other places, so after we filled up on gas, we called around until we found an orchard. Turns out it was nearby. And we had the place to ourselves. We not only picked apples, jonamacs, macouns and macintosh, but they had red and yellow raspberries. It was a delightful afternoon as we lingered and pick fruit to our hearts content. We laughed and wandered around looking over the pumpkin crop, thinking we might just have to come back in October. Once we had had our fill of picking, we found a little diner and had the best diner food ever. A gorgeous and delicious day.
Sometimes, it is easy for us to rush to judgment and accept failure. We can be dismissive all too soon. God's final judgment are yet to come. And we can wait for another solution and know that God is always providing, even when we can see it or receive it.
Today, I ask God to help me suspend judgment, to let go of my expectations so that I can see God's abundance. I want to surrender my judgment and learn to wait on God. A hard thing for me to do. Just for today, I ask God to help me wait and pray for a different resolution than I can imagine. May we all have strength to wait upon the Lord.
Friday, September 18, 2009
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
This morning early I set out to go to physical therapy. The doctor I have been seeing for pain management for the accident last summer has now decided that I need a stronger core. I don't disagree, I am just tired and rarely a morning person. The physical therapists are all so young and cheerful and so early in the morning. I know in my mind this will be a great help but my body is reluctant. It has been prodded and poked way too much and just wants a little rest. But the stretching and exercise is really good for me, really necessary and yet my sleepy being resists it entirely.
I know that Jesus has said that you and I are the light of the world. And we are to shine our light and God's light shining through us so that all the world can see. I believe it. But some days it is a hard thing to do. Some days I feel like a spent candle - all my wax has dripped all over the floor and picked up a pile of dog hair. Some days, I want to shine and can barely flutter to life. Despite out humanity and our reluctance, God has chosen us to be the light of the world. Despite all the reasons why you and I might be a bad choice, God has chosen us anyway. With soft cores and reluctant spirits - God chooses us to be the light of the world.
Today, I ask for God's strength for all of us. As we endeavor to do good works, or just get through the day, God has chosen us vessels for light and love in this world. An impossible task. And yet, God has promised to provide us with the wattage when we are dim and spent, when we are dull and tone-less. May we rejoice in a God who supplies all of our needs, who supplies the power when ours is gone, and who promises to be with us in every moment, night and day.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:2-5
Last in line
the child overlooked
left behind by busy parent cries
Last chosen awkward
and silent empty hands
no glove way out in the outfield
staring at the sky.
Last to find a place
to sit the cool kids spurn you
the smart kids laugh
you sit alone a thin sandwich
your only friend.
Last to find love aching
for partners and support
not a dancer, no smooth words
but dreams and a tender heart.
Voices on the wind a single
voice clear and mild God among
the multitude sitting on a mountain
stuck in the low valley straining
He looks a sweet faced savior heart
swollen with compassion
Jesus the rough handed carpenter sees
the darkest valley
where you sit.
He walks this valley with us and carries
sweet songs and abundant
overflowing gifts, you laugh surprised
that God would love you
that God would choose to walk
You, who mourned and wept alone
God brings comfort and blessing
and bounty to your dark side deep
Life abundant God chooses to give
you and all the last chosen overlooked
disregarded lowly and discarded
you who were orphans, beaten and abused
have a loving family now.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:18-21
I have spent many a summer day happily fishing and most catching nothing. Oh, usually I catch something, but it is most often a crab or seaweed. Pretty consistently I lose lures and other rigging getting caught on rocks or tossed in the surf. Fortunately for me I not a professional fisherman. Growing up, our next door neighbor was, and he would spend weeks out on a boat, in all seasons, hauling in one catch after another. It is a hard life, and some of the hardship is the time spent away from family. I only fish for fun and the quiet time of watching the sea and sky around me. He made his life in grueling labor that came with great hardship and regular separation.
Jesus called some men way from their nets to be his disciples. He called them away from their livelihood, their income and their families to follow him. They went without question. Peter and Andrew turned their backs on family, income and culture -on all they knew- to follow Jesus.
Today, I want to remember to trust Jesus in my daily life and ministry. Our strength in ministry comes from Christ, and he uses all I bring so that more may know the love of God. I want to remember that the ministry is not mine, but Christs, and everything I do today is a gift from God. I can be a follower of the one who died so I might live . I can walk this day knowing Jesus is teaching me how to fish for people.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
For consider your calling, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. I Corinthians 1:26-29
There was a program for a while, where a person was booted off with the phrase, "you are the weakest link!" Football season is back again and we hear of the power and might of certain people and teams. Most of us never measure up to what our own expectations are, let alone measure up to the standards of others. We are more weak than we want to be, more vulnerable and don't get in all the exercise we should to be fit and strong. Some people do, and some are close to perfect. Some people are stars, famous and beautiful. Most of us are not. We are just trying to do the best we can. Most of us don't get picked for the team. Some feel they have nothing to contribute.
Paul reminds us today that "God chose what is weak". Our service and leadership come not from our power but from our vulnerability and our weakness. God chooses us today - the last in line, the timid, the unsuccessful, the stumbler and the losers - God chooses us today to bring love to the world. None of us can say we don't qualify to be God's hands and hearts in this world, because God chooses people like us, broken and challenged, to be ministers, lay and ordained alike.
Every time we stumble today may we know that to be a sign of our calling. Every time we fail, may we remember that we have been chosen by God. Every time we are overwhelmed with our own failings, may we remember that God is with us, today, for the sake of the whole world.
Monday, September 14, 2009
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:6
For some people it is very hard to ask for help. For others, they want people to help them so much that they over work their relationships and do little for themselves. On a Monday morning, beginning of the week, I am often thinking of how much I have to do and how much I have to carry alone. I know I can ask for help- we all do- but many of us are loath to do so. We would not want to seem weak, oh no. There is temptation in wanting to be strong and independent. There is temptation in wanting to be cared for, to put the burdens of life on someone else. We are, at all times, tempted to be lazy and dependent, arrogant and too independent, separate from others or completely enmeshed with them. Jesus' temptation reflects our temptations - and are at the core of being human.
On this Monday, first day of the week, I have nothing to say but to remind us all how much God loves us. God bears us daily on wings of grace and we are often too blind with our own importance to see it. God offers us love in the voices around us and we are tempted not to hear. God, who dwells with us and fashions our hearts for love, is too often shunned from our lives because we are afraid of being dependent. God invites us today to live in love - love that is always enough for today and which has plenty for all our needs tomorrow.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Mark 8:29-30
I remember the first week of school as a time to find or renew one's identity. Teachers would say things like, "Oh, you are Peggy's sister" or " another Theobald kid". I would cringe at so easily being placed in their minds. On the other hand, I was always trying to change or evolve my identity, to be cooler or more artistic and the like. Being unique and individual was so important. As an adult, I remember the first time some teacher said, "Oh, you're Emily's mommy!" It was a first week of school for her and the teacher was just putting two and two together. I felt I might have lost my identity as a person. I was somebody's mom.
Jesus asks his disciples and us, "Who do you say that I am?" He asks, not out of a personal need to be identified, but to understand their confusion and need. Jesus is looking to be in relationship with us in a complete and personal way, not through others, and not as simply one to rush prayers to in a panic. Relationships are important to God, and we are asked today whether we understand the identity of love and transformation that are found in relationship with Jesus, the one who completely honors our unique personalities. God made us all unique and special, and Jesus Christ honors and upholds us as we walk with him each day.
May we all rejoice this day that love has found us. May we walk with Christ, knowing that we are loved completely just as we are - whether we are cool and athletic,nervous and sensitive, or somewhere in between. We are loved even if we don't fit in anywhere. We fit always in the loving arms of a loving savior.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17
It is a rainy Saturday and all I could think about were the ancient images (ancient for me, that is) from my childhood of Christopher Robin in huge boots carrying an umbrella. When I was a child, I loved the rain, and used to tug on boots and spend hours jumping in the puddles. I imagined myself, like Christopher Robin, out in my own magic world, with cooperative animal friends in tow. I would jump fiercely hoping to make the water splash above my head. I wore an old rubber rain coat, but didn't care if I got wet. In water there is power - all children knows this. We learn it early with bath times and spills. We can make adults scream when wet flies everywhere. We can become clean again while we play with toys in a deep tub. A child with a good imagination can make the tub time last for hours until the water is very cold.
Jesus is baptized by John and his father, God, talks to him and the crowd from heaven. God tells the man, God's child, that God is well pleased. I have often wondered whether God spoke to Jesus as a child and told him to go inside, wash his face. Did God speak displeasure? Or only pleasure? Being a very human child, I wondered at these things all my life, hoping that Jesus jumped in puddles and got scolded just like me. I had proud parents too, who told me when they were proud of me. Not often enough for my liking, of course, but they did speak praise too.
Today, as the rain comes down, I hope we can remember that God looks upon us all as beloved children, sons and daughters all. God wants us to delight in the created world and one another. God encourages us to use the gifts we have been given, and to show the love we have for one another in bright and glorious ways. If human fathers, like A.A. Milne can write praise of his child, how much more does our heavenly parent love and adore us? May we revel in the love showered down upon us from heaven.
Friday, September 11, 2009
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord;make his paths straight.’” Matthew 3:3
Eight Years After
Sirens and screaming we held
our breath, our hands over our mouths, we stopped
in our tracks wishing away the horror we begged
God to not let this be happening.
The Towers, Pentagon and Pennsylvania Field
we held our love ones close we called
everyone for safety are you ok? we tried
every number we knew and some never answered.
The convulsing has subsided
the ache no less real and daily
we are broken people begging God
to restore our lost loves our broken
pieces our skyline never whole.
Hear the prophet crying God
is coming, love is coming walking
as a child, stepping into our shattered
pieces, our broken dreams, our hearts torn out,
walking gently, gazing into our red ringed eyes,
our worn out weariness with out stretched arms.
Hear the ancient mystic from the wilderness singing
strange songs that warm us a little remind us
of home and shelter and all the shattered gifts
so quickly snatched so recently.
God comes on a broken road of sorrow
screaming and silent.
God comes even as our anger burns and fear
is our currency, our stock and trade.
Love comes among the shabby left-overs of war
the tired despair that was agony.
The ancient reaches down through time
whispers again what was once shouted
prepare the way of the lord;
love is coming so uninvited and so
desperately desired in our ash strewn
world of those of us left behind.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. Matthew 2:13-15
In this season of buckling down, returning to a serious schedule and the like, I am reminded how important dreams are. Years ago, I had applied for a job for the summer that I desperately wanted. It seems forever ago, that first year of college. I dreamed I had received a letter and got the job. I went around all day telling people about my summer job and how happy I was. Late afternoon I realized that it had all been a dream. My hopes were dashed and I felt like a fool. A few days later I received the letter that did indeed offer me the job. I would meet my husband shortly after that and the world as I knew it would change its course there after.
Joseph relied on his dreams for the safety of his child. Dreams give us voice to the hopes and fears we sometimes bury. And God can often reassure or prod us in the early morning dream time. Dreams can also help us find our way and know what we offer to the world.
I invite us all to live richly into our dreams in the coming days. God is in the midst of us, in these days of changing schedules, giving us inspiration and direction anew. May God bless us all with dreams that offer hope and possibility. Our world needs dreamers today.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:9-12
The college I went to didn't start classes until early in October, so before I went to college for the first time, I spent September at my parent's house in Cape May Point. My friends and I had spent our August late nights watching the skies, waiting for shooting stars. We counted hundreds that August together. Most everyone dispersed, but a few of us stayed on for September and painted the Marianist retreat house together. We would spent all day on ladders then get on our bikes and ride into town for a movie. There wasn't much going on once Labor Day passed. We would ride by this particular farm on Seagrove which we called Winter Wonderland because in September it would be covered with white flowering vines. They were thick as a carpet and everywhere. We enjoyed every day we had and regularly talked about how lucky we were to have this time - time suspended and free when everyone else was in school or back home at the grind some where. We also knew that there were signs and wonders all around us, stars and vegetation telling us about the coming days.These were rich and potent times, liminal and edgy. We danced on the edge of our worlds for a short season.
September is an edgy and potent time for many. These first days of school, the cooling weather and the changing skies -everything points to great changes in our lives. Whether we are remembering times past or going to kindergarten for the first time, many of us experience the edge, the liminal experience, caught between several worlds or seasons at once. The wise men discovered Jesus on the edge of their world, not right in the palace but at the outskirts of town. The king they had come to find was at the edge with the people who found themselves outside of power and authority. Emmanuel, God with us, still finds us in our border regions, our edgy, tense moments, the times when we feel we don't belong anywhere and are on the outside of everything.
May we seek God today in the center of our edgy lives today. Many who are caught in between too much right now can take comfort in knowing that Wise Men found God at the outskirts of town, in the lowly common place, the anxiety of their border regions. We all find ourselves, from time to time, in the stables among the animals and the manure. May we rejoice to know that that is where God is found - in the midst of our lowly, day to day, edgy experience.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice,but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go-the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
I has all the best intentions to keep up with my regular practice of writing my blog daily. On Friday we headed to my Mother's house in Cape May Point where all our children were to gather, and I would do the services at St. Peter's by the Sea. All went well, really. Except I could never find a place where I could use a wireless connection. My Mom's house is lovely but utilitarian. So, I leaned back and enjoyed our daughters and my family. I loved them well, completely and fiercely, savoring every moment with them all together. So what's attached is Friday's post and today's reading from Mark. All about women loving their children so fiercely that God incarnate had to sit up and take notice. Tomorrow we pack out early to take our youngest to her last year of college. Prayers this night for all the parents sending their children off to school and for all the children trembling in their beds, no matter what age they are. And for the teachers who have such a hard job to do.
We rolled into town late last night and there was very little traffic and no people. A summer town at the end of summer. They have taken their hustle and bustle and gone home, to hustle and bustle elsewhere. There is suddenly more room to move, a sense of getting back some equilibrium and breathing space.
It is startling, when the place that resembles home most is deluged for a season and overrun with strangers. They will never know the crystalline air of deep winter by the ocean. The stark ravaging beauty of the ocean in winter. The sweet isolation where there is time and space to imagine and to dream. When the Ferris wheels stop turning, a whole other possibility comes to life.
This day has been spent enjoying family and friends. This has been a day of visiting and resting. This has been a day that is only possible when the crowds flock elsewhere. A slow gentle burn kind of day that cooks in the best sweetness.
May God bless us all with places and people who invite sweetness. May God grant us all the time to rest and visit. May the crowd part for each of us so that we might all experience, if but for a moment, the sweet light of God.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. Mark 15:21.
An Accidental Encounter
The air was charged soldiers boots
beat a heavy rhythm in the dust
the road from Jerusalem to Calvary
the hill of death bloody punishment
for treason and theft.
The dust was thick and gray voices
mocking cheering on the executioner
a bent man a crown of thorns burdens
too great carrying the world on his shoulder.
The crowd impossible pushing
begging for a glimpse of failure
they spit and curse and I am running
away from the oncoming crowd face
set towards Jerusalem to pray.
The crowned man falls groaning I stop
to look and gaze upon the face of love
the sorrow of denial, rejection and betrayal
he has forgiven already he carries their hearts.
I stand stunned revolted by humanity drawn
to the love that none can hide
tears well up from a deep ache within me
and the face of God turns and sees me.
Soldiers see me, laugh at my tender heart
displayed in this strong solid mass of a man
hands grabs me cajole me push and send me
to the ground falling to the dusty road.
He bellows in agony as they knock him down pulling
his burden a rough wooden cross for the end of him
thrusting it on my shoulders I fall forward
they laugh and pull us both to standing.
Today I walked to the hill with him carrying
my failure and sin weeping for the one
who gladly carries my life and redeems me
by dying by living again.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Not many of you should become teachers, my sisters and brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what they say, they are a perfect person, able also to bridle the whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.James 3:1-5
The air has cooled, if just temporarily, but the calendar cannot be denied. It is September and in some places children have already gone back to school. Teachers have gone back too. These are such potent times, the season of new beginnings, more to learn and more to teach. Here the children will go back to school the day after Labor Day while many of the teachers have already gone back to set up classrooms and prepare for the children. How tender these last days of summer are. There is a great responsibility in teaching others as we teach not only from the curriculum but by what we say and do every day of our lives. We can make a positive impact on many and we can scare some away from ever wanting to learn or to teach.
This passage from James talks about the profound responsibility of teaching. It speaks to us in this season of radical change when our year truly begins again. We all come in from summer with a desire to enter into the world a new way. This passage also challenges us to consider what we say. Are our words lifting others up? Are we boasting with our lips and failing to serve and compliment others. Each of us teaches by what we say and do, and that is a profound responsibility.
I am glad today that I can face this beautiful morning with the image of a tongue as the rudder of the ship. God has given us such capacity and so much to share with others. I am glad to face this morning knowing that I can contribute positively to others lives. I can greet others with words that I also need to hear - God is with us and we have nothing to fear in this season. May my words bring joy and hope this day. May God truly be in our midst.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
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!” Luke 10:2-5
David Pendleton Oakerhater was the first American Indian saint to be added to the Episcopal Church's calendar of saints. He was Cheyenne and a warrior and was also know as Making Medicine. After one particularly awful skirmish with federal troops, Oakerhater and several others were taken captive and imprisoned in Florida. During his time in prison, he heard the Gospel and decided to follow Jesus. After his release he went to Syracuse, NY where he had some training and was ordained a deacon. He then returned to his people, the Cheyenne and served as a missionary deacon among his people until his death. He is an example to us all as he used his warrior gifts of courage and tenacity to serve God in challenging times. For me, who was in seminary when Oakerhater was made a saint, his example of faithfulness and constancy within a church structure and a society that devalued his gifts during his life time, gives me the courage to continue to serve God day after day. I only pray that I can be as faithful to God and my people as he has been.
As I begin September, I am reminded that there are challenges ahead for all of us. There is often too much to do, not enough money or volunteers and stumbling blocks in our path. God knows our challenges and our unique circumstances. He lead David Oakerhater and he leads and walks with each of us as we serve God. There is nothing we have to do alone. We can be warriors for love since God goes with us even into our biggest challenges. God lead Oakerhater and made him an example for us all. May we serve with joy this day where we have been planted, knowing God has done the planting and will make the harvest abundant. May we pray for God's love to flow through us so that we might all be warriors for love and justice.
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.