Monday, May 31, 2010
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. Matthew 13:47-49
This is the last day of May 2010. And it is Memorial Day. And it is a time when certain things are coming to an end and other things are beginning. Anniversaries, graduations and new eras and jobs starting. And evidence that once was is no longer viable. New models of living are emerging, but they will have to be built, dreamed and inhabited. They will have to find flesh and sustenance in a new age. Today, I feel a need to say good bye to May and the former things and begin again to renew the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Things have come full circle for many of us and it is time to imagine anew.
Jesus used parables because he stands as the door from one era into another. Full nets, pearls of great price, and a invaluable field are the images Jesus uses. Things will never be the same and somethings have to be given up to enter a new way, a new relationship with the living God.
Today, I a simply asking God to help me to dream into this new era and to let go of those things that need to be dismissed for the new age to come. May we remember that God is in the midst of us however hard these transitions might be. May we invite God's imagination and live with courage as we enter this new age together serving the people of God where ever we are planted.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Jesus said to the disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." John 16:12-15
I had a dream last night woke
hoping that I was invited to dance dust
rising on the pow wow grounds shrill song
spinning for lips young and old
ancient with the old hurts born anew
with hopes flying for my young.
I had a dream that courage pulsed fearless
joy for a new beginning for an old dance songs
on lips morning light revealing creation
opening a day with an of God imprint on my heart.
I had a dream that a complete people free
of crutches and addictions baggage off loaded
symptoms eradicated by radical love streams
of clear water renewing fleshing out hidden
skin, tender places no longer.
I had a dream and heard you dreaming and God
dreamed a people free songs rising on our lips
morning no longer mourning light no longer shadow
day full of spirit renewed, reconciled dancing
on our sacred ground where God is found.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. Matthew 13:37-40
I have been thinking a great deal about the end of certain times and eras. At this gathering I am attending, we have listened to past leadership from across Indian Country and particularly in the Episcopal Church. We heard a lot about seeds that were planted and programs that were started. We have also heard about well meaning bishops and others in authority who have blocked forward progress. We have talked about the Doctrine of Discovery, paternalism and racism. Lots of people have done great work and have seen little fruit. Some were obviously hurt and frustrated at the end of their time, or, have been saddened that no one has taken up the torch.
And yet, seasons change and we have to see the harvest that God envisions, not the harvest we think we are due.
Jesus has been telling stories and is explaining as he goes. And even then, the folks gathered around, didn't really understand, even if they nodding their heads, and smiled in acknowledgment. How could they know, since they could hardly imagine their children, let alone know my children. And I who have watched my children grow up can't still imagine how God will work in their lives in the days to come. How can we really understand the final harvest?
Today, I want to give thanks for this one more day. A day not to harvest but to plant seeds an nurture young plants. God is lord of the harvest and I want to enjoy the gifts of tending and nurturing without a worry about the end of the age. Today I want to rejoice where I have been planted and ask God for the increase.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:31-33
I learned to make bread from my mother. I can see even now her arms at work and I can hear her tell me, "it's like a small child, it takes time and some consistency." I was a young teenager then, in a big hurry, especially around her. When I was nearing the end of high school, I started making organic and whole wheat bread for my "hippie" friends. My mother's large dazzling white loaves were so old fashioned and not hip. The organic loaves I made were small, dense and dry. I was still in too big a hurry and not willing to nurture.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a woman who took leaven and put it in three measure of flour until all was leavened. What Jesus didn't say is that it takes time. Yeast is a wonderful substance but can be pretty fragile. If you rush it, you can stifle the yeast which needs air and food and a good measure of coercion through kneading. It takes a kind and patient heart to bring out all the best in the flour.
Today as we begin Oklahoma IV here in Tennessee, I ask only for a kind a patient heart. We are working together to build Indigenous leadership for the present and future church, and it will take leaven and a good measure of gentle coercion and lots of patience and love. May we all take this day tenderly knowing God will use us for the growing of the kingdom.
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”Matthew 13:24-30
I have been thinking a lot in the past few days about motherhood, and how quickly my children have grown. With our youngest graduating from college, I wonder whether I equipped them with everything they need. Phoebe will be starting a new life in Boston next week and I hope she had all that she needs within her to thrive. A parent plants, gives the best that they know how. And yet, we are human, and have seeded some negativity inadvertently, and fostered some anger and self-doubt unintentionally. Being a parent, is never being perfect and reminded all the time that more could have been done. And life is never sweeter when we see them smile, and accomplish great things.
Jesus told stories to the disciples because they always wanted clear rules and their teacher knew that life was more complicated than that. Loving others and growing good relationships and compassionate, just and faithful people is an impossible task. Weeds and missteps surround us. We are broken and human and the good grows right along side the bad. And yet we need not worry because God is in charge and the bad will be rooted out in the end.
Today, as I travel to Tennessee for what could be a very historic meeting, I want to remember that in every human effort, every human field there will be good and evil growing side by side. And I want to trust God to be the one who makes the final determination, and I am there to offer my best, learning and growing along with others. May God grant us the strength, no matter what our endeavor today, to leave off the judgment and work hard at growing good and strong for the love of God.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:47-50
My face a shade paler dark eyes
smiling across generations suffering
the same misunderstanding displacement
families rent asunder.
I stumbled in alone voices raised eyes
downcast and humble proud people
fierce warriors women laughing tears
piercing cries taking the night.
Our shame isolation language lost regalia
long hair fallen by the wayside family
scattered and separated walking concrete
steel alone in the world.
Creator reached down wind reminding
ancestors calling never alone never
family-less, eyes and hands of brother
sister found in those who walk pray
this sacred circle this holy red
road of love and service.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37
There is a fruit and vegetable market we used to frequent when we lived in North Jersey. Right off of the Garden State Parkway, Carrado's had fruits and vegetables of every sort, some of which I had never seen before and had to learn how to use. The place was overflowing with ripe, inexpensive fruit and people of every nationality and culture pressing in to purchase. It is a cacophony of sounds and traffic jam of shopping carts. One has to be careful not to buy more than you can use, since most of the fruit and veggies are very ripe and need to be used immediately. Ripe fruit is a wonderful thing and spoiled, rotten fruit is a disaster and a waste. Even among abundance, one must choose carefully.
Jesus was among those who had the capacity to produce good fruit - the compassion and love for others. And he understood how tempting it is for us humans to use the gifts we have been given for our own gain and for others' destruction. Even good fruit can go bad, and we all have a choice to make daily.
Today, I want to choose to use the gifts I have been given for the good of others. May we all this day be willing to produce good fruit in gratefulness to God's abundance in our lives. "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14
Monday, May 24, 2010
“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand." Matthew 12:25
Yesterday, the Smith Street Society Jazz Band played for our Pentecost worship service. I had worried the days before that people would not like the idea as we have a pretty traditional group and generally they hear fairly traditional music on Sunday mornings. We decorated the sanctuary with red balloons -some of them escaping during the set-up - and put on a festive and playful tone for the day. My fear melted away as we processed in (swaying slightly to the New Orleans style music) smiles lit up on every face and radiated all through the service. We heard the Gospel in many voices and processed outside at the end of the service to continue our reverie to everyone's delight. We witnessed a house united by the spirit and the music for a time.
Jesus knew that together his disciples could change the course of people's lives through the love of God. And he knew how hard it was for us humans to be a people united, needing to keep our egos and feelings in check while we work compassionately together for others. And yet Jesus also knew that Gos gave us all the power to be united and God will continue to do so.
Today, I want to rejoice in a community that can be so complicated and multi-faceted and still be joined together for the good of others. I want to be an agent of the spirit today which aches for our divisions to end and our lives to be a united force for healing and restoration. May God grant us the spirit's power to love even the unlovable today.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." John 20:19-23
Years ago, I was working with some Sunday School children and talking to them about the feast of Pentecost. I was reading them the story and then we were going to plan a little skit to present in Church on Pentecost Sunday. They listened intently. When I asked them what we should do about tongues of flames, they told me we should call 911. Call the fire department and "stop, drop and roll!' All of them had been trained by right thinking teachers and parents. So when we presented our skit, they came running out with fire helmets on, waving red and yellow flags to represent the fire. Someone was also carrying a hose.
Too often, we fear things getting out of control. As Episcopalians we like everything in order, with restraint and proper behavior at all times. And Pentecost is the time for us to remember that God's spirit is live in each of us and that we are all empowered to reach out in compassion, across all sorts of barriers in the name of God. The spirit's work is pentecostal compassion, a compassion that refuses to be restrained by proper etiquette and cultural norms. The spirit's work is love that sees the face of God in the other.
May today be a day for being set ablaze with love. May we honor the spirit of God in our lives by demonstrating active compassion to those around us. May we love beyond borders and know that fire which is God's love, God's compassion working in us today.
Friday, May 21, 2010
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Matthew 9:9
I didn't write the blog on Friday because we were en route to our youngest daughter's college graduation. We just arrived home, exhilarated and exhausted. Before I go to bed I thought it was a important to take a moment to reflect on today and big transitions in life. Today was a huge transition day for Phoebe and her classmates. And for us as parents too. Phoebe will begin a job in Boston in a little over a week. We have packing and unpacking and some repacking to do. She will begin her working life, fortunate to be employed in this economy, days after she has thrown her cap in the air and paraded across the stage. She is brave and smart and beautiful and very capable of facing all the transitions and challenges ahead. I am not sure I want to let her go yet. Being a Mom, I want to revel in her closeness, want to explore the women she is becoming in a slow and gentle time frame. But that is not to be. Some times God says "follow me", or "go there" and the time has just come.
Matthew sat at his bench unsuspecting. He was a tax collector among tax collectors sitting among the shops, chatting through the day. And yet the time came and Jesus called him forth. He wasn't ready, really, and there was no time. But he answered and followed and live to tell us stories of Gods goodness to us all.
Tonight I want to give thanks for the gift of family and children. Each one is a gift, each one a treasure to be held close when possible and set free when it is time. May we all have the courage to follow and to go when we are called, and to let others we love go when they are sent forth.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:1-3
I have been lying here so long burnt
by the sun and rain soaked waiting
to put my legs under me and run.
When I dream feet and legs fly
through forest winged fast night running
I am movement and fearless.
Waking I see the sorrow in you eyes shaded
lifting me from this stained palate washing
away grim and foul dark emissions dependent
on other I smile silently weeping.
I am broken yes not dead others
pass by afraid to look fearing becoming
frozen to the bed like me.
I ache to be touched
told a story
sung a song.
I wish to hold you
tell you my dreams
and sing you my secrets.
I am more that this shattered pot this
saggy wreck of a structure grace and
balance still within me rattle around
looking for a foothold.
You look at me and know tender
and broken I am fiercely strong
my heart jealous of the movers legs
I covet muscle I would steal.
You come and touch forgiving my angry
heart made whole sensation returned
tears cascade for life is returning
I have no voice but my feet sing your song.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. Matthew 8:32-34
We had a friend when we lived in Denver who frequently used the phrase, "when pigs fly", to talk about an impossible situation with no resolution in sight. It was just one of many colorful phrased he used, some of which cannot be repeated in polite company. Pigs are not designed to fly, although they can jump and move pretty fast when needs be. They are also some of the smartest in the animal kingdom although most people write them off as smelly and dirty. Pigs are impossibly misunderstood and pork was a forbidden meat among faithful Jews. And yet, we can indeed find ourselves in impossible situations without a resolution in sight, where the demons and mental illness, the physical and emotional breakdowns are too hard to bear. Situations that demand miracles.
Jesus finds a man who has been kept in chains and cast out of his community for his own safety and theirs. Everyone is afraid and has given up on the man. Jesus has compassion on him and sets him free but in doing so, frightens the community so much that they ask him to leave. The impossible has come to fruition and they are ill equipped to deal with it. They would rather return to the illness because it was familiar than to learn new ways to live in community.
Today, I pray that God can continue to make miracles happen in the lives of this community and that we would be able to stretch and grow in order to embrace those miracles. I ask God to give us all the strength to welcome the miracles among us and to make room for the power of God in our lives.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:25-26
It is stormy today, dark and rainy, barely warm enough to truly call itself May. Safe inside strong walls, it is easy to want to curl up and go back to sleep, avoiding the rain and the wind. Having to go out and face the storm is a whole other matter. Braced for wind and rain, there really is no way to avoid getting wet. And not a time to be caught out on a boat. As a child, several times, I was caught out in a squall with my Dad on our rickety small boat. It is truly a frightening thing, when the sight of safe harbor is gone in the deluge, and the boat is rocking violently and taking on water fiercely. My Dad always managed to guide us home, but not without great effort, prayer and brute human force.
The disciples are caught in a storm and Jesus is sleeping. How often are we caught in a storm and wonder if God is sleeping? Or just ignoring our pleas for help? Did God roll over in bed after looking outside and seeing the dark and windy storms of life? The good news of the Gospel reading this day is that God is right there with us in the midst of the storm, and acting to overtake everything that is blowing hard against us, counteracting those forces that would take us down.
Today, as the storms arise, I want to trust that God is in the midst of them with me, calming and diverting the worst of what life can bring. God is acting to bring calm and peace in the midst of the worst challenges. May we all remember that even the strongest winds and the highest seas obey, and we can trust God in the most turbulent of times to be with us, bringing us peace.
Monday, May 17, 2010
And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. Matthew 8:14-15
We were recently given a wonderful gift. The stove in the rectory had been on the fritz and although we had appliance people look at it, it was too old to repair properly. For months we have been getting by, sometimes the oven would work ok and other times we would have disasters. Sometimes the burners warmed and sometimes that had to be coaxed. A member of our congregation decided that she would like to give a stove to the rectory in honor of her mother who had passed away last fall. Joanne's mother Ronnie loved to cook and serve people. It made her happy to have her house full and her table groaning with food. I feel the same way and both Mark and I love to cook and love to feed others. What a delight and a joy to receive such a gift in honor of a woman who gave her life in service to others.
Jesus came and healed Peter's mother who was overcome with a fever and in the process of dying. When she is healed she sprang p and began to serve them. Some people might hear in this Gospel a subjugation of women, a life of servitude for women in the Bible. But as a mother and wife, I hear her joy and her delight at being well enough to do what she knew best - cooking for and feeding others. It was her sign of life, her way of being part of God's story and honoring her renewed body that was healed and restored. Too often we project our present understanding on people in the past, and have no connection with their lives. But I understand Peter's mom - I would rather be up and cooking and serving than having others use my kitchen and serve me.
Today, I want to remember that service is the highest form of thanksgiving and when I am able I will gratefully serve others in God's name. It is what I love to do, to hear people laugh around a table, full and lively with food and company. May we all share in the service of God so many may know that joy of love offered around the table.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
"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 17:25-26
Yesterday, I did not write this blog - it was our 35th wedding anniversary and we were traveling overnight. It was a truly wonderful day and when we arrived home it was even better (if that is possible) - our daughters were preparing a delightful seafood feast in celebration of our anniversary. We sat around the table and laughed, telling stories and sharing our old and new tales of adventure and challenge. After thirty five years, I am more grateful than ever to be married to Mark. God has blessed us in so many ways and we have had more adventures and more delights than I could have imagined all that long ago. Love flourishes and laughter and forgiveness continues to flow.
In his last days, Jesus was praying for his disciples and those who would follow after them - well, us. His prayer was that we would know love and that we would have such care for one another that we would be one family. That we would be one with love at our core. Looking across the church these days, that prayer is still necessary, still central to our aim. As divided as we might be, God's desire for us is to be one - to forgive and to renew as a people, a family together.
Today, I want to be an instrument of God's desire for unity. I ask that through me others might find and seek forgiveness, might learn new ways to live in community and might seek reconciliation rather than perfection and power. May we all be instruments of God's peace. the peace and love which make us a family despite ourselves, and which is always inviting and including others.
Friday, May 14, 2010
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock." Matthew 7:24-25
Today would have been my Dad's 93rd birthday and tomorrow we celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. We will be taking off very soon for an over night trip but I want to take a few moments to give thanks to God for the gift of a rock solid and faithful father. He was strong in the face of adversity, tender in times of grief, able to reach hand across sharp divides in turbulent times. Everything I know about ministry came from him, despite what my seminary education might indicate. He was a pastor and a father, a friend and a dreamer. He wasn't perfect, of course and he was able to admit to his flaws, most of the time. And he was a tireless servant of the community, where ever he found himself. When he retired he was chaplain of the fire department, the police department, the hospital auxiliary and disaster chairperson for the local red cross. When he died he was serving as supply for several different churches as well as running a conference on healing.
Today, I pray that my life might be an offering to God and a tribute to my father and all those saints who have gone before. He was willing to give his life in God's service and in service of others. I pray that I can do likewise.
"On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand."
Thursday, May 13, 2010
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Standing on the platform you
radiant and shimmering with life we
heavy with endings and change all
shaking with the coming move.
Speaking words golden and strong you
empower change and terrify and we
silent and trembling feeling change
rattling through our feet.
Shaking ground holy and bright you
exit and we go forth trembling hearts
leaden arms fluttering spirits
the road ahead is not clear.
Traveling your words echo
in foreign tongues and exotic fruits
common water, common family we welcome
your family and are never at home.
Our voices quaver with age yet strong
the end of our age coming children born
across the world babbling joy without exclusion
a willing loving home for all.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:4-10
When I think of time the words from an old Dylan song comes to mind, "the times they are a changin'". And how often we have have talked about positive, forward change and how quickly folks move from forward community growth to self protection in hard economic times. We draw in and fail to open out hearts to the needs of those around us. We think of brothers and sisters as only those who are belonging by blood and connections and leave all positive change to the future unfolding of God. We worry about borders and exclusion rather than exclusion.
I struggle with Paul when I hear the words of predestination to be included in God's family when I walk the streets of any city and see the face of God in all sorts of people, who dress, speak, look and think very differently. I struggle to know how God would use me in these turbulent times, and how God would use the church in order to spread love, rather than division and exclusion.
Today, I pray that God will use me to make these changing times - times of positive change in our many communities, here and around the world. I pray that I will be granted an extra measure of strength and compassion. Now is the time, this unique time of change and challenge to be agents of God's love in this broken world.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
"As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:22-23
I am sitting in a meeting and we are discussing human rights around the world. And I am thinking how abundant the earth is and how very few people share in that abundance. This parable of abundance when we find and produce good soil, is littered with thorns throughout the centuries of the church. How much the faithful have been abundantly provided for, and how unwilling we often are to share that abundance. Thorns all over the place.
Jesus explained this parable because his disciples did not or could not understand. And it is so familiar to all of us and yet we often fail to understand. The work of the faithful is both to be good soil and to be productive. It is also clear that sharing the productivity is part of our common work and where we often fall among the thorns. Our worldliness gives us access and also can trip us up.
Today, I want to take this Gospel to heart. I want to ask myself the hard questions about my own productivity and learn in new ways to weed out the thorns and be honest with the deceptions in my own life. Hearing this old familiar parable ignites a new openness in me to listen anew to the needs of others. May we all invite a new passion for the care of others and know God's abundance in our time.
Monday, May 10, 2010
"Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:8-9
We could hardly wait to get the seedlings in the ground. We have a large yard but only a very small part of it is sunny, so we bought raised bed kits and set them up. The weather had been warm all week and we expected to get everything planted this weekend. And then the weather changed. What had been a typical, mild May has become frigid and wildly windy. The soil would have blown everywhere if we had planted everything and the cold would have frozen the tender little wisps of plants. Our excitement has to be tempered by the weather and the seasons. God's timing is not always our timing. Our enthusiasm can break the more fragile if we are not paying attention to God's timing. And our reticence can inhibit God's urgency when we fear ridicule for our planting.
Today I am on my way to DC for the Standing Commission meeting for International Peace with Justice Concerns. It is the first time I will meet with my colleagues in person this trienium. I was not able to be at our November meeting since this was when I was being installed. I felt bad for not being there, but I do have to trust God's timing in all of this. And so I ask your prayers for safe travel and good work - that our work will increase peace and justice around our church and the world. And that in God's timing these increases may come very soon.
So this week, I will try to be especially attuned to God's timing. Both for pateince and for the courage to step forward when it is right. May we all be good soil and faithful followers , so that God's peace may reign in our time.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. John 14:26-27
There is no peace dishes
keep piling voices raising needs
unending silence only
in the dead of night.
There is no finish day flows
into night homework and games spill
everywhere underfoot tripping
arm loads of wash done piling
There is no peace sweeter
newborn breath asleep arms limp
trusting completely a heartbeat
familiar and constant pounding
with love bursting
There is no terror bigger
than the first permit toddler
grown sitting behind the wheel
heart breaking with fear
hands trembling in prayer.
There is no greater gift
the precious life observed
shared, complicated and challenged,
a child for a mother
peace and joy amidst mess
high volume love unceasing
God presence known, incarnate
love made real.
The Collect for Mother's Day 2010
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit." Matthew 7:15-18
I remember, as a little girl, going out to pick blackberries. The land was owned by my parents' friends but completely overgrown. They invited us to come and take what we wanted since they had so much. My mother would dress us in long pants and long sleeve shirts and we would have to wear gloves as well. I always hated getting so covered up in the heat and sweltering on the way there. But once we were there, it made sense, the thorns being thick and determined, and I would forget the heat caught up in the pursuit of wonderful ripe berries. I also ate as much as I put in the bucket. That only seemed fair to me.
Jesus says to us to beware of false prophets that they would be obvious from their fruit. And I would like to suggest that it is hard to always know good from evil. Some pretty prickly people are often gifts from God and the smooth beauties are very dangerous and cruel. And even their early fruit can be wonderful. Only over time can we tell and even then we need divine intervention on some occasions.
For today, I want to remember that the one we should trust completely does not appear on TV, write movies or have a press agent. God alone knows the heart of each of us, and I am only called to do my best to produce good fruit by having a loving, faithful heart. May God bless us all today with the capacity to produce good fruit - the love and care of others.
Friday, May 7, 2010
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him 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 him!" Matthew 7:7-11
How often have I said to a child when they were small, "what is it?" They would be nudging close to me, pressing in and saying nothing but obviously in need. Their request was usually small and easy to fulfill, but there is always this reticence in humans to ask for what we need clearly and concisely. We want our parents and loved ones to be able to read our minds. To supply be fore we even know we are needy, supply before we even ask. And yet, one can never know fulfillment if we don't know the ache of need, even if it is as simple as a cookie or some juice.
Today's passage from Matthew is familiar and often quoted. And yet, we, the faithful, rarely live as if we believe it. Or we want God to give us what we need before we ask, even though the ache and need are the first steps to fulfillment. God activity is always to be in relationship with us, helping us to thrive and to bless others. We are invited to ask, seek and knock, looking to God for full joy in our lives.
Today, I want to ask, seek and knock with every interaction I have today. I am often too self-reliant and get myself in a big fix. So today, I am going to practice asking, seeking and knocking - expecting God to answer. May we all rejoice today in a loving God who invites us to lay all our needs and desires up front and who promises to bring us the fullest of joy.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? 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. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:27-30
I generally don't lose sleep many nights worrying and being anxious. I am normally pretty calm and laid back, or at least for the most part. I am likely to be impatient - that is true - wishing future things were more clear and more certain. And when it come to my children and my family, well then, I have to admit to worrying and being anxious for them. Not that I don't trust them to thrive, and not that I don't trust God, but rather, I think parents are hardwired to worry about their children. There is a chemical, biological switch that goes off when we become parents, and especially when we become mothers - we instantaneously produce worry.
I think often of this passage this time of year. I am always amazed at how glorious and beautiful the spring blossoms and buds are - and how quickly they fade away. When God incarnate says to us that God clothes them and will take care of all our needs - it is a stunningly powerful promise of love. Living into that trust in God's all-pervading love for us is harder, especially when there are young ones and family to consider. And yet, God promises that richness of care, a care even better than the best earthly parent can deliver.
So today, I will continue to pray for release from all worry. Today I will cast all my cares on the one who cares for us completely. It will be a moment by moment exercise and so I have included a prayer for today.
Dear Creating God,
source of all beauty and light
pour your peace in my trembling heart;
wipe the fear from my eyes,
remove the anxious wringing from my hands,
and make my body and soul
an instrument of your peace.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21
Yesertday I was unable to carve out time to write this blog. Generally, I find time somewhere in my day as it is part of my own spiritual disciple - to study the scriptures appointed for the day and to reflect seriously on them and how they intersect with my own life. Yesterday, I had a funeral and it was my first funeral here in Harrison. The dear woman who passed had lost her husband, "her sweetheart" she called him, and she admitted to everyone she had a broken heart. Her body was taken by cancer but her heart had already gone with her husband in late December.
I had to think yesterday about the treasures I have in heaven and couldn't help, as we stood in the lush grass at the cemetery, about my loved ones, my treasures who have gone on to their completeness, their reward in heaven. However one imagines heaven, I know my sister Pegi and my Dad are there. I know my dear friend Janie and "Papa" Lamb, along with my Nanny and Gramps and all those who gave love a true meaning in my life. I have buried so many people that I love, and a funeral always reminds me of what treasure means to me - and it has nothing to do with coin and everything to do with love.
Today, I want to fins ways to show those around me that they are true treasures. Love is more a thousand times more precious than gold, and community and lives shared are always a blessing, no matter how messy and complicated they might be. May we all find ways to acknowledge our treasures today, the ones who show us the love of God incarnate, love right in the midst of our lives.
Monday, May 3, 2010
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6
When I whisper in the night
sleepless anxious turning troubled
a world of tomorrows churning
my brain alight with inevitable dangers
you hear my breaking voice and whisper
back in song.
When I shout in agony loss
like a deep flooding river swirling
carrying me down stream to grief city
a dark and fathomless ache
is answered by your warm arms.
When I laugh joy bubbling
a child face dirty and thrilled
small accomplishments beaming
knees and elbows missing teeth
life is full and you are
sunlight and gold May afternoons.
When silent overcome and shivering
in a winter room with frost around
windows bleak with early sunset
rooms shadowed and dusty with remorse
you are a little bell shimmering
sound in the silent twilight.
And when I lay down in final rest
amidst ancestors and enemies friends
all deeds complete all prayers accomplished
you will breath with me in the light
and walk within us prayer as breathing
prayer as light.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
" I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35
This morning, our children and young people will be leading most of the service. It is a busy Sunday and a lively one also. We try hard to include our kids in all aspects of the life of the church, but it is apparent that church is not always loving and open to them. We try too hard to be quiet. We try too hard to have everything in good order. And including children means, loosening some of the order and living in the moment with joy and celebration, no matter what happens. Loving others today invites us to live a life full of ups and downs, a day of noise and confusion. And how wonderful it is to hear and be surrounded by children who want to know God and live in a community of faith!
The disciples wanted to reassurance ans security. So do we. And yet their rabbi, their teacher and their friend told them that love3 was the way to go forward, love was the vehicle of their movement and their ministry. They wanted firm rules and they got a hard lesson - that love would be their identity and their sign. Where they loved each other and the people - God would be there with them.
Today, I pray for God's presence with us as we love. As we move through the challenges and confusion of today, may our priority always stay with our love for others. Without God's love and presence I cannot moved forward. May we all love today so that God's love and mission might be known across our world.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
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
Last night, I saw a wonderful opera composed by Scott Richards " A Star Across the Se" at the Vox Festival at NYU. Scott happens to be my brother-in-law, and it was a real treat to watch his incredible work with a full orchestra. One of his characters is based on Paul Robeson who is singing to the Atlantic ocean "you ain't no river!" Robeson had been to Paris and was welcomed as the incredible artist and hero that he was, but back at home, he was subject to the racism and scrutiny of his time and it crushed him and so many others. And I had to ponder the reality of all the hate that has been released into the world that a once in a century kind of star would be crushed by hate in his home country. Too often folks have to move away to be honored and hatred based on color, creed and politics are still hot currency in our land.
Love your enemies. Love those who persecute you. Jesus tells his disciples that they will be known by their love rather than their hate and that loving is how we are made children of God. How hard it is to love those who have hurt us and how easy it is to imagine a wonderful revenge. All humans ache to set the record straight, to right the wrongs done them, to wipe out the cruelty they have suffered. And all too often, when we get a chance, we use the same violence and cruelty that we were railing against.
Today I want to try to love my enemies. When the ancient or modern hurts come to mind, I want to pray for these people and ask God to help me to love them. It won't be easy. But just for today I want to try, because loving others, despite all is the cost of being a disciple. Love is the cost of knowing and serving God.