Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Matthew 21:42
I am the rubble destroyed left
behind honor songs whining through
nights filled with hope's loss gray
great hole where heart once was.
I am those who you won't see shadows
mysterious needy and silence hunger
a known quantity a regular visitor
hollow and aching for you to see.
I am the child alone on the street shoeless
shuffling humming a memory incantation bringing
forth an image of love the dark taste deep
in a dream sad and aching to sleep.
I am that which was ripped from the beams torn
away shattered and obliterated shards
of lives and love scattered across a city dusted
with hate that strikes from afar.
I am the one you left behind God
leaves no one behind sought me
in a shallow grave and pulled me
from the ruin and waste.
And here I stand holding the world
an orb of blue and green pining for love
spinning for shelter aching to settle
into the arms of God.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. Matthew 21:28-32
I remember being small and having some real excitement about going to the doctors office. Some real genuine enthusiasm until my brother, three and a half years older, told me all of the horrible things doctors did to kids, including shots and other painful treatments. He described them in gory detail and I panicked. I climbed to the top of the refrigerator and stayed there. It took the whole family a great deal of coaxing to get me down. We often have the desire to be positive and do the right thing and can get thrown off course by simple teasing and fear mongering. Of we can get lazy, and decide that the work is for some one else. We can hide ourselves away and pretend that God is talking to another and needing another besides us.
Jesus was dealing with critics who would send his disciples into panic and confusion. They were so jaded by life, that they failed to see that God was calling them and reaching out tot hem in new ways. They hid behind their sophistication to avoid being changed - to avoid growing spiritually and serving others. The let fear and caution dictate avoiding God's joy and challenge in their lives.
It is easy, especially when the heat of summer comes on, to slough off God's call and direction in our lives. Summer is a time when many don't go to church, as if justice and caring in community can take a vacation. Today, I want to be strong and fight the urge to run from challenge and problems, but rather take on God's call, and work the field as I have been given. God promises to be with us as we serve others. May we all be empowered to work in the fields and give our lives to God in the service of our communities.
Monday, June 28, 2010
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”Matthew 21:12-13
In the life of every parish and every religious institution, there are times when folks get very anxious about money, usually with good reason. The past few years have been very hard on many churches and cut backs and limited program seems to be the norm in many places. Others talk about doing more with less and others have become the experts at fund raising. None of those things are troublesome in themselves. The problem comes when the money and income (or lack thereof) becomes the primary focus. People and their real spiritual needs are lost. How many places have wonderful buildings left by previous generations of financially shrew investors to have no community of faith and support in their midst? God wants us to be good stewards of our resources, yet we often forget our primary resources is our relationship with God.
Jesus entered the temple during the normal bazaar hours which were a daily thing. He realized that people were buying and selling sacrifices, rather than concentrating on their love of God and care of their neighbor. It is very easy to get distracted from the commandments of God.
Today, I want to live my life remembering why this church is here and who it is to serve. I pray that my life and my service might be a relationship and not a transaction. May today I trust God for the needs of this community and use my gifts and skills for the care of the people.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62
The other day I was traveling home from Raleigh, North Carolina and checked in at the airport. The crowds there are small and there was little wait going through the security screening. I had a carry on bag for my laptop and some books which with everything else I sent through the machine. All of the sudden I was pulled out of line, told to stand to one side and not to touch my bag. They were going to do a search of my bag, (they thought I had a concealed weapon, it turned out) and maybe search me also. I was in a hurry but just the usual level of annoyed. The TSA officer searched my bag and drew out a large silver and turquoise cross of mine. He said, "see what trouble Jesus has caused you today?" We had a good laugh. And walking away, I couldn't help but think that the man didn't know the half of it.
Following Jesus isn't an easy road. And sometimes the troubles and challenges are huge and we are tempted to turn back, go home and crawl back to the safety of what we know. Following Jesus is living on trust, going without and sometimes being ridiculed for the faith we have. The disciples had a hard time with this and so do we.
Today, I want to take every step knowing that I am following Jesus and not having to lead the way. I have only to do my part and be faithful- one day's journey at at time. May we also each trust God on the road, knowing the hard scrabble journeys, the uphill climbs and the inclement weather are par of serving the one who has our lives in his hands.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,“Say to the daughter of Zion,‘Behold, your king is coming to you,humble, and mounted on a donkey,and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” Matthew 21:1-5
I remember a summer day when I was a child and folks came to my parents house unexpectedly. We were all dressed in bathing suits, having run home from the beach because of a quickly moving thunder storm. As the rain poured down we played games and ate snacks, my mother absent-mindedly drawing silly tattoos in pen on my father. When the door bell rang we were all startled. My Dad sent us little ones to answer the door while they threw on something more respectable. The only thing at hand were rain coats. We always wondered what these dignified and sophisticated people thought of my parents sitting around their living room in rain coats. They talked about national church matters, carrying on for a good hour and went on their way. We kids, who had been hiding, spilled out laughing, rolling on the living room floor. My parents could not contain themselves either. Family life is regularly humbling.
We find ourselves at the place where Jesus id beginning his last days, entering Jerusalem to the roar of the crowds. He knew how false and changeable people are and how constant and faithful God is. Pride and dignity are not the currency of God's love, rather the humble and simple gifts of life. So Jesus entered his greatest public moment on the humblest of beasts and the most lowly of routes. God invites us to live lives that offer access and healing to the humblest and broken in our world.
Today, I pray that God will help me to be humble, to fill me with laughter at my own humanity, and give me perspective on the important things in life. I pray that God will use me to be a conduit of God's love and grace this day.
Friday, June 25, 2010
And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord,have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34
The dust swirls around nose
and moth sting from the hot breeze
we are fixtures on this road
and the crowd goes by.
Our ears catch their feet before
their smell and sounds reach us
we have been told God
is coming but we had sat for so long
and the crowd goes by.
Electric murmurings thundrous hope
we stand up slowly reach
calling out for God to hear
but the crowd goes by.
They hurl insults and apple cores
push us down and tell us we are
unworthy broken vessels debris
on the side of the road.
Our lungs twist with our cries God
come near me help me
set me free.
Suddenly silence then footsteps
sweet smell of incense and lily
our tears begin as he touches
our soiled and tense faces light
begins and the world explodes
in color and the crowd stares
in rapt silence, no one
passes us by.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:20-28
As a mother of three grown girls, I would do anything, really anything, so that they can thrive and feel complete in their work and lives. I prat constantly for them, asking God's blessing and protection on them. When people have mistreated them and over looked them, I have had to hold back the urge to go on the attack. There is a mother bear protectress in all human mothers. We want the best for them. I know their beauty and their capacity and want the world to celebrate them.
The mother of James and John knelt at Jesus feet and asked that her sons would be provided for, since they were so special and so long suffering. There isn't a mother I know who might not do the very same thing. And yet, Jesus, who loves them both completely, knows that their reward will be in service, in life given for others. He knows that we will always remember and honor this lady's sons. But they would know God's love most completely in their service and self-offering.
Today, I ask God to help me be a servant in hard times. When tempers and anxiety flare, it is easy to take authority and dictate. Help me to listen and to serve this day that I might be showered with God's love, as are all the people in my care.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ Matthew 20:1-4
After a long day of traveling, on a very hot and muggy day, I could not help about all those people who toil day in nights in hot fields picking our food, bringing in the valuable fruits and vegetables. So many people and so much of the world has no relief from the heat, no shade to cover them and no clean water to quench their thirst. And yet everyone I spoke to on my trip today spoke of the weather and complained about their discomfort, including me. And yet I get to come home to a home, a family and a shady, cool place to lay my head.
Jesus reminded his disciples about the way God works and how generosity and kindness as the currency of the kingdom. How God cares for everyone who shows up in the field and there is plenty enough despite the greed which pervades the world. God's kingdom has a place for us all, even the ones who complain and think otherwise
Today, at the close of a very long day, I am grateful to God for a home, a family, and a wonderful community that is strong and supportive. A place in the kingdom and a job in the fields. I pray that this night I might measure up to God's call.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Matthew 19:29-30
End of the Line
I am on the platform grit
blowing in my face heat
beyond describing waiting
for a seat on the train.
I am standing rocking
persistent motion falling
on some annoyed commuter trying
to stay upright wishing for one
seat, one friend, one smile, one time.
I am going to the end of the line another
station many exit to tree lined roads sweating
no air in the car now too many departed
no breeze left for the end of the line.
I am alone except for another singing
softly humming perhaps while reading
smiling patting the seat as invitation
turning to me not away carefully
I approach, gently I acknowledge welcome.
Weary travelers all today the Creator
rides with us on these hard journeys
taking the last seat in the car
exiting at the end of the line
love making room for you.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. Matthew 19:13-15
I was running a little late for a meeting last night and flustered and overheated, I entered a room where a social hour was going on. A professor from Virginia, from my former diocese, it turns out, stopped me to tell me the story of the first time we met. He was my bishop's chaplain and he had a 3 year old daughter at the time. When all the children came in from Sunday School at the peace, the rector told them to join their parents. His daughter came up to the altar and sat with him, as his wife was away at the time. He was so upset, but remembers clearly that I leaned over and talked with his little daughter, asking her questions about favorite colors, her friends etc. I don't remember the incident but they do, because I did not keep the child away as was their expectation. I learned early on in my life, from my parents and elders, that welcoming a child was welcoming God. And I realized how often in life, no one has welcomed the children, no matter how old they are.
Jesus is confronted by rules and regulations, and holds up a child. The disciples and everyone else wants firm rules about who is out and who is in. Jesus reminds them that to welcome a child is to welcome God, something very counter-cultural in his world, something not done in the religious circles.
Today,I want to remember that our job is to welcome, the smallest and least among us with the same welcome we would afford a dignitary or celebrity. In doing so we welcome God and usher in the family of God. I ask God to make us welcoming in every moment, so that the world might receive the love of God, the welcome of God through our hospitality and need.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me" -- for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Luke 8:26-30
This time of year is full of transitions. Graduations, people moving and vacations beginning, all indicate a time of great transition. And even when transitions are all for the good, many people find positive change hard to navigate. How many parents are thrilled as their child graduates, only to ache for the small child they once knew - even if that child made their life a living hell? How many of us, making a positive move in our lives, still ache for the old days, when we knew what to expect? How many of us would rather live with the familiar disease than learn to be whole?
A whole community had lived for years with the wailing and screaming of a severely ill young man. He tormented his community and tormented himself. He was possessed by the sickness, and no one had a solution for him. When Jesus came and healed him the whole community was afraid and asked Jesus to go. They were more comfortable with the disease, the demons than they were with the possibility of change -even positive change. They clung to their fear because it was a constancy which defined them, rather than rushing to the love of God which was changing their lives for the better.
Today, on the Fathers' Day, I want tot remember all those who taught me to walk bravely into the world God has made, embracing the healing and change, not hiding in the familiar disease. My Dad was a great teacher, and taught me to move always forward expecting and embracing the healing that is given. May we all acknowledge our human need to hold on, while we trust God, moving forward into the transitions, into the life of healing and renewal which is a gift from God.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.Psalm 136:23-26
I grew up every summer with a constant reminder of my safety and care. When we would first arrive at our house, after school was done and the bikes packed, we would drive in the night to our home in Cape May Point. Often arriving in the dead of the night, we would fall into a bed, often unmade and stale from the winter's closure, and be again asleep. There was also some moment in the middle of the night when I would wake and wonder about the strange light. Was there someone on the lawn? And then I would remember the constancy of the lighthouse, spinning slowly, hour after hour to guard us "waking and sleeping." As far as I have strayed from that light, and as many mistakes and failures I have known, that light always reminds me of God's steadfast love, repeated over and over again, until I remember how much I am loved, and how God cares tenderly for each of us and makes a way for us, despite the cruelty and criticism of this world.
This Saturday, I want to remind all of those who are riddled with self-doubt, all of those who don't feel like they fit, all of those who are teased and mistreated despite your beauty and brilliance - God made you very special and God's love is steadfast and constant, even when all confidence and faith is gone. Today, I want to remind us all to hold on, the light is coming. God is in the business of bringing about good things for us despite the ways and evils of the world. Your light is coming, God's light is here. God is actively working for our healing, reconciliation and success, despite all of the challenges we face.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-2221 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
When I was a kid I loved to ride roller coasters and feel like I was falling over and over. The pressure and the panic were something to behold. I lobed rolling down hills, head over heels, over and over again. The speed and disorientation were so life giving. Giggles and breathless hysterical laughter was always part of this. Now, I don't roll as well and roller coasters aren't nearly as much fun. They bounce and bruise and don't give that thrill anymore.
peter is one of us - he wants to know the limit of forgiveness. He must have a sibling or friend that drove him up the wall, using all his belongings and taking no responsibility. Forgiven over and over again, and yet this brother was unrepentant and obnoxious. And Jesus tells him there is no limit, we are to forgive over and over again.
I am reminded today how inflexible we can become when as we get older, and how much we need to do to remain flexible and able to forgive -over and over again. I pray that God will give me an extra measure of forgiveness and flexibility, so that I can actively forgive, no how matter how often I am called upon. May we all stretch and grow as we forgive each other, for God's love sake, over and over again.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." Matthew 18:10-14
Slumbering the night air moving trees
dreams slide through the quiet startling me
awake with fear for my little ones.
Did I hear a cry in the night rising
slowing approaching heart fluttering bravery
lost to concern for these little ones.
Daylight and they wander off brave
with no brains or fear as yet darkness
settles and our nightmares begin.
I creep to the crib and all is safe breathing
lifts the sweet small chest and the breath
of an angel sour milk and freedom dreams
permeates the air.
I awake to know the heart of God beating
within mine aching to protect and shield
harboring the little ones
from those who would snatch and destroy.
Tonight the little ones are nestled warm
and snug in the heart of God and known in
a mother's trembling heart and grateful sigh.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:1-4
The other day we celebrated the last day of Sunday School with a wonderful service that our children lead. They came up front and talked about how hard it is to be good, and how embarrassed we all get when we make mistakes. They told about feeling like no one loves them sometimes and how they cry alone sometimes. But they also told that someone always came for them, hugged them, wiped their tears and helped them feel like they were loved and treasured. How being forgiven for our mistakes and shenanigans is a sign of love. And then they took flowers around (oh, these are fake! cried one bright little girl) to everyone in the congregation and told them one by one that they were a treasure.
Jesus held a child in the midst of his disciples. He often used stories or parables with them. This time he was very blunt. Here's a kid. Runny nose, wiggly body, giggling and cavorting, shy and aching to love and be loved. Be like a child.
Today, I pray that I can be strong and humble like a child, willing to offer and receive love at every turn. We adults want to be right and in charge. Kids want to be loved and accepted. May this be a day where all our efforts go to offer love, accepting all sorts and varieties of people as the family of God.
" When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” Matthew 17:24-27
Yesterday, we spent the early evening in Boston with our daughter Phoebe, helping her find an apartment. She started a job recently and is staying in a temporary set-up but needs something closer to town. It felt an awful lot like fishing - putting a line out and hoping for a fish with a treasure in it's mouth. We flushed toilets to check water pressure, opened up closets, asked about the neighborhood and did all the things one is supposed to do. But it felt like fishing, casting a line into a darkened sea, hoping to pull up just what was needed for that time. And it is hard to do these grown-up things, especially for the first time. Even when you have done them for years, we both felt exhausted from the experience. Delightfully, she found something that was perfect, so now there is just paperwork - the taxes of the renting process.
Jesus was questioned about paying taxes and realized how we humans grieve so much about the cost of living and our daily needs. He wanted his disciples to trust him, as we can trust God, but it is a hard thing for us to do. We worry ourselves to death about taxes and mortgages, tuition and necessities. And to all of that, Jesus sent them fishing, asking them to trust God to fulfill even the most basic and taxing needs.
Today, I want to trust God completely for the things I need. For the words to say at the right time. For the strength to complete the tasks at hand, which today, seem almost overwhelming. I will promise to fish, to send my prayer line out into deep, dark waters, waiting for the tug at the end with the treasure and strength that is needed. May today be the day when we trust God for our every need.
Monday, June 14, 2010
And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions." Luke 12:42-44
The world cup is on and sweeping the globe with fever. Even if you are not a soccer fan, somehow it has caught many people's imagination. Our youngest played soccer, as did her Dad , so we like to watch soccer from time to time. But now, it has hit big and we find ourselves checking scores and the like. With all the eyes focused on the talent in the field, I am reminded how essential a wise manager is to the sport. Hoe little great athletes can do without constant coaching and consistent management. Great management is serving as well as leading, being a steward of the resources you have and being humble enough to know who is really paying the bills.
Jesus told his disciples about our role here on earth. We are managers, stewards, not owners of what we have. In Cherokee tradition, this is a very normal way of seeing the world, but in the present day competitive marketplace, we sometimes can forget who really is in charge. God gives us great gifts and great riches and we are humble managers of a sacred trust. The oil spill in the gulf seems to me to be a sign of those who forget that they are but managers, stewards and faithful servants of the abundance of our Creator God.
Today, I want to remember that all the abundance and gifts I have are from God and that my job is to love and care for each tenderly, not holding too close, but bringing out the best in all. If I am to be a good servant, a good rector, a good manager then my job will be to honor all the people and resources I have been given and help them to thrive and blossom in their fullness. And to share God's abundance with those in need. May we all remember to be wise and humble managers of the great gifts from God, our Creator.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Luke 7:36-38
I remember as a child the joy with which I saved my money to buy my mother or father a gift for their birthdays or other holidays. Sometimes I would make them something fabulous and they would always receive it with great joy as if I had given them a new car or an all-expense paid world cruise. They knew my heart was in the gift and so it was a real treasure. I also know that when my girls made me something when they were young or saved up their money and bought some great gift, I was moved to tears of elation. I felt like a queen and no gift could make me happier. They gave their all out of love and nothing can be finer.
The woman who anointed Jesus' head and feet, gave her all out of love. In an opulent setting, where servants ran about and food was in abundance, love and gratefulness were no where to be found. But in the heartfelt gift of the woman who had been transformed by love, we see God's love and design for us. We can be so wealthy and never appreciate what we have or we can be bowled over by the smallest treasure and know how blessed we are.
Today, I want to give thanks for the love that is so abundant and evident in my life. I pray that I can truly treasure every day and every one who reveals God's love in my life. May I never take these treasure for granted. May I never even want for more or judge these gifts as inadequate. For God dwells in love, and in the treasure of our hearts.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Matthew 17:2-8
It has been a long day which started early as there was a 10AM wedding scheduled. A couple who had known each other since they were young, who had gone their separate ways and found each other again, decided to tie the knot in our little church. Life had brought them both some challenges and yet today, they could not have been more radiant. Love has a way to make people radiant, shining like the sun. They might as well have been very young for the smiles radiated and all the weary world was somewhere else.
The disciples were with Jesus and saw him transfigured, radiating, glowing from the near presence of God, who is love incarnate. Love close us changes us, transforms us and joins us to the family of God, the sons and daughter of a loving and ever living parent, one who is not worried about the tux or the flowers, but the love and justice in our hearts.
At the end of the day, I am grateful for the chance to solemnize love, to celebrate a real gift of God made manifest in the lives of others. May we all celebrate the love that God has given us and know that we are transformed daily by the love of God.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26
Years ago, I was visiting London (for the first time) with a group of clergy and lay people from the diocese of Delaware. We had been invited for the 300th anniversary of the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (in Foreign Parts)), to attend a service in St. Paul's Cathedral. When we weren't going to church we were madly touring around trying to take in as much of the local flavor as possible. One rainy day we went to Portabello Road, ducking in and out of the antique and junk shops. We came upon one shop which had stacks and stacks of processional crosses and other church goods. They told us the C of E (Church of England)has an office of redundancy and closes churches that are dubbed redundant. They buy their unwanted items. All the silver and gold objects, along with stacks of stained glass windows were from closed churches. As we looked over the beautiful, ugly, arcane and every sort of religious art, I couldn't help but think about the generations people, young and old who had carried that cross and tried in their own way to follow Jesus. So many lives unrecorded and yet a pile of stories for each cross, and a thousand prayers said in the process.
Jesus told hid disciples that they would have to deny themselves to follow him. To walk on the Jesus road, we are expected to put God and others first and carry the burdens of our community for the good of all. We are asked to walk God's love road with a humble heart and a sacrificial way of life. A heavy burden for anyone.
Today, I want to take up whatever God has given me and follow on that humble and loving path. My cross is as unique as the situation I find myself in, and yet this is the cross I bear willingly for love and for God. May we all rejoice in the crosses we have been given, knowing Christ walks this road with us and makes all of our burdens light.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:14-19
Identity is a big issue for all of us, no matter where and how we were raised. For those of us who are Native, being people from tribes and clans, it is even more critical to know who one's family is. I am always amazed when people attend an Indigenous gathering and note that everyone begins a talk with a very personal story and shares who they are and the people they come from. It is so normal for me that when I am at non-Indian gatherings I find myself wondering who these people are and how they got here. Two different ways to approach the world. Identity and relationship are the grounds of our being, so central that we cannot help but begin from there.
Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is, not because he doesn't himself know, but because they are struggling to understand. His tribe and people, his grounds of being, identity and relationship, are very confusing to most since he is really not like them. Peter, the blundering, blurting, strong headed fisherman, blurts out the truth as he knows it. He has taken in the importance of identity and relationship and honors what he knows to be true about Jesus.
Today, I am reminded some more how important identity and relationships are to all of us and how important it is to be honest about who we are. God finds us in relationship and we find each other in our relationship to God. May we honor and rejoice in the wondrous and unique people we have each come from, and celebrate the gifts we have from God in our relationships to one another.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14
I don't normally have a personal relationship with certain saints, but St. Columba is an exception. When Mark and I traveled to Ireland several years ago, we went to visit Columba's shrine on a cold and wet February day. It was a rocky and muddy place, and the footing underneath was uneven and shaded. We did our best ans were passed by more vigorous pilgrims who were wearing shorts. Somehow I lost my balance and went tumbling some distance. We never did get to the shrine itself. But I will always have a close relationship with St. Columba because of that day.
O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant Columba you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland: Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show our thankfulness to you by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
St. Columba was born on December 7th in the year 521, at Tyrconnell now called County Donegal, Ireland and died on June 9th , 597, Iona or Inner Hebrides, Scotland. He was considered a great abbot and missionary and was traditionally credited with the main role in the conversion of Scotland to Christianity.
Columba studied under Saints Finnian of Moville and Finnian of Clonard and was ordained priest about 551. He founded churches and the famous monasteries Daire Calgaich, in Derry, and Dair-magh, in Durrow. Columba and his 12 disciples erected a church and a monastery on the island of Iona (c. 563) as their springboard for the conversion of Scotland. It was regarded as the mother house and its abbots as the chief ecclesiastical rulers even of the bishops. Columba gave formal benediction and inauguration to Aidan MacGabrain of Dunadd as king of Dalriada. Columba accompanied Aidan to Ireland (575) and took a leading part in a council held at Druim Cetta, which determined the position of the ruler of Dalriada in relation to the king of Ireland. The last years of Columba's life appear to have been spent mainly in Iona, where he was already revered as a saint. He and his associates and successors spread the gospel more than any other contemporary group of religious pioneers in Britain. Three Latin hymns may be attributed to Columba with some degree of certainty. Excavations in 1958 and 1959 revealed Columba's living cell and the outline of the original monastery.
St. Columba's manner of living was always most austere. He lay on the bare floor with a stone for his pillow, and never interrupted his fast. Yet his devotion was neither morose nor severe. His countenance always appeared wonderfully cheerful, and bespoke to all that beheld him the constant interior serenity of his holy soul, and the unspeakable joy with which it overflowed from the presence of the Holy Ghost. Such was his fervor, that in whatever he did, he seemed to exceed the strength of man; and us much as in him lay he strove to suffer no moment of his precious time to pass without employing it for the honor of God, principally either in praying, reading, writing, or preaching. His incomparable mildness and charity towards all people, and on all occasions, won the hearts of all who conversed with him; and his virtues, miracles, and extraordinary gift of prophecy, commanded the veneration of all ranks of people. He was of such authority, that neither king nor people did any thing without his consent.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. Matthew 15:29-31
Years ago, I had knee surgery to repair an on-going problem with my right knee cap. Mark and I were married then but we had no children yet. Dr. McIntyre, who did the surgery, was a wonderful surgeon and often did he surgery at Children's Hospital, later Kernan's. He scheduled my surgery there and the operation went smoothly. The staff were lovely and patient, as they had all sorts of challenging children there to care for. I remember how painful it was the first time they had me stand after the surgery, I thought I might be sick. And then, as I had regular therapy and things progressed, it just felt like mild torture to walk. One day, a theater group was coming to entertain the kids and they thought it might be nice if I went too. I was feeling pretty glum and sore but decided to go along. My choices at that moment were pretty limited. When they wheeled me into the room, I found myself surrounded with children, so damaged from illness and injury, that I was ashamed of myself. One child was strapped into a frame that was regularly rotated so that she could only see the performance straining to look down or up. Others were in full body casts, in tiny cribs with limbs suspended above them. And they smiled at me and enjoy the performance completely.
After taking a walk along the sea, Jesus sat down on a hillside and people came from all around. They brought their injured, their sick, the children, their treasures, somehow knowing that he would cure them. The lame walked, the blind saw and all sorts of healing took place among them. I can't begin to imagine the relief the families felt and the freedom the healed must have felt in those moments. Life restored, life to be lived and enjoyed! We cannot know how glorious and precious the ability to enjoy life is, until that is taken away from us. And the moment of restoration and healing must have been like an explosion of joy. There must have been crutches and all sorts of sick equipment littering that hillside.
Today, I want to thank God for the life and health I enjoy - and for the health of my family and community. It is so easy to find things to complain about and pains to hold us back, and yet, to be complete and able to move is a great gift in itself. May we rejoice in our God, who loves the perfect and the broken alike, and who is constantly acting to restore life and health.
Monday, June 7, 2010
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28
Robert Warrior, a contemporary Native theologian writes about the challenge for Indigenous people in the Americas as that we were seen as the Canaanites, the ones who God drove out of the land and killed so that the chosen people could have a "land flowing with milk and honey." Canaanites were the first people of the land and were treated with scorn by the Israelites. They were the conquered locals who were less than equals. And yet, I have found, in my life, great women of faith among Native people. Despite historically horrible behavior by governments and individuals, I have been witness to a tremendous amount of faith among Native women. My mother, for one, prays constantly for her family and for all the people in her life - her extended family and her tribe. She taught me to pray and urges me to pray in every circumstance. And I have been privileged to work with and learn from great Native women in the Episcopal Church including Dr. Owanah Anderson, the Rev. Dr. Carol Hampton, Canon Anna Frank, Canon Ginny Doctor, and Reynelda James, to name just a few. Despite all of the challenges faced in their lives, they pray and push for the full inclusion of Native people in our church. And they spent time teaching and raising up others. I am blessed by their great faith and have been molded and encouraged by it.
Today, I want to give thanks for the people of great faith in my life. For my parents, who brought me up in the church and challenged me to grow in faith. For my mentors, who challenged me to live into my potential and to be a faithful and humble leader at all times. I pray that we can all be persistent in our faith today, knowing that God's love is broader than our divisions of tribe and race. May we be fiercely faithful, willing to reach beyond our human boarders to break forth the love of God.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Soon after healing the centurion's slave, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17
I try to imagine the scene on the street. A young man is being carried out on a bier, surely dead and ready for the open grave already dug or a tomb already unsealed. The thoughts of witnessing such A sight as the dead coming to life would frighten me and I would high tail out of there. A miracle yes, a scene from a scary movie, yes, also. We all want to believe in miracles and God's power to change what is dead. We weep for those we have lost and sometimes wonder whether God is hearing our prayers. And yet God's power, the healing and restoration of the world (and of each of us) is active and alive. God's compassion is still changing lives and their courses, still restoring lives and renewing love. God's love is active in communities small and large. The one's willing to wipe their tears and expect God's miraculous love despite the most desperate of circumstances.
I have three wonderful daughters and had three sisters. Among us we have shed many tears. We weep at movies and when we are angry, when we are afraid and when we are in love. Tears flow with joy at new life and family gatherings. And sometimes our tears, driven by despair can cloud our vision and keep us from seeing the miracles of God's love right in from of us. My Dad used to sing this little song in a very corny Scottish accent. "Cheer up ye saints of God, there's nothing to worry about, nothing to make you feel afraid, nothing to make you doubt. Remember Jesus never fails and why not trust him and shout. You'll be sorry you worried at all tomorrow morning!"
Today, I want to try to set aside the worry and doubt and believe that miracles of changed lives and hearts are right here, in our midst today. I want to greet each person as a possibility rather than a destination. May God grant us all the power to wipe away our tears and be the hands and hearts of God's miracles here on earth.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. Matthew 15:15-18
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me!" If there was ever a more untrue rhyme, reiterated endlessly across school yards, it is this one. Not true, not true at all. What people say does hurt, and names stick like glue and sometimes never go away. A reputation can be ruined with a word. Children can be teased so fiercely and cruelly by others that they believe what they hear and some even take their own lives. Name calling is very destructive and excludes many from trying to better themselves and participate in society. Rumors about good people can sully their honest reputation and keep them from being hired, elected, and honored for the person they are. Yes, what we say can defile others.
What I didn't see and hear until today, was how what we say defiles us. Really when we say something unkind about another, it is really more a blemish on us then on them. We soil ourselves in the attempt to ruin another. The religious watch dogs of the day wanted Jesus and his disciples to eat by the rules, the same religious restrictions and rules they tarnished and abolished by their own cruelty and unkindness. When the **** hits the fan, not only the target get a face full of it.
Today, I want to remember that if my heart is to be loving and kind then my words are to be also. If my life is to be faithful, I must reserve judgment and follow God, rather than criticize others. I pray that my heart can be open enough to reform, and ready to forgive as to be forgiven. May we all be ready to cease judgment and criticism and offer kindness from our hearts this day.
Friday, June 4, 2010
When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:24-32
It was a dream, I thought, seeing you
stepping across the water's surface ripples
and waves marking your hem,eyes bright
with joining us again we are family
we are made of one spirit.
I was afraid, waiting to wake up, a vision
shimmering in the moonlight, shadow and silence
a spectral glow from turbulent life below
you above, wind pulling and tide rising
my breath stopped and I was afraid
for what I saw.
I was awake and aching to run to you proving
my loyalty, my fidelity, my bravery, oh heroism even
I stepped out thinking I was like you
and the water pulled me down seaweed wrapping
my ankles and my knees sinking
below the surface below all future
I was sinking alone, darkness wrapping
around me fish glistening in the deep moving
water everywhere pulling me, death and abandonment
my lot in life.
I am never alone a hand gentle, forgiving, reaching
life pulsing through one faithful connection
God man reaching for the sinking, the dying, me
in trouble again but never alone.
I was trying to walk on my own believing
in my strength and zeal forgetting that love
is the firm, solid ground centering the wanderer
tying down the drifting boats and mooring
me to the love of God.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Matthew 14:`9-20
When we were young, our parents entertained a good bit, mostly folks from the church and local community. My Mom is a great cook and made special dishes for the crowd. We were in bed too early to be invited to the repast, and were cautioned from eating any of the "guest food" while she was making it. We drooled, and she would laugh and give us more to clean. We would whimper and tell her how hungry we were, and she would shoo us away, letting us watch some rare television so we would stay out of her hair. Our revenge was, early in the morning, we would creep down stairs and eat all of the leftovers we could consume, without getting caught. My weary and exhausted parents would wander down eventually, scold us mildly and hang on tight to their coffee cups. One's abundance shared is some one elses leftovers. We ate the spoils of the feeding of the 5000 as if we were conquering heroes.
Jesus fed the people because he had compassion on them and his disciples were too overwhelmed to come up with a good solution. Like many of us they threw up their hands and went whining to Jesus. They were afraid there was not enough and they would starve along with the crowds. It is not God's nature or desire for people to be without. God's abundance is for us all, and we are invited to trust God to give what is needed, and make enough for leftovers, or for the late and excluded ones.
Today, I want to remember that God's love is articulated in abundance and sharing. God is visible in our giving and sharing and in our compassion for the needs of others. I pray that I can be an agent of God's abundance and work to feed all those who are without. May we all trust God to fill our empty baskets.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.Matthew 14:6-11
Too many people lose their heads, or their jobs, or their status because of some rising star with an ego too big to share the stage with anyone. The politics of human competition is neither healthy nor compassionate. It is always cruel and abusive, smashing the weakest so that power isn't threatened. John the Baptist was already in prison and yet the wealthy and powerful feared him so much that he had to disappear, punished for his honesty and faithfulness. This kind of cruel competitiveness is everywhere in society, even in the church. God can use our cruelty and competition to teach us, but should we really continue to encourage these behaviors? My mother has said that they church is the one place where the wounded get beat up even more.
Today, I want to live as one committed to changing the pattern of power and abuse. We are able to stand in the face of power and protect the vulnerable. We are those who can proclaim today, a life of compassion and mercy for everyone.
O Jesus … grant that, even if you are hidden under the unattractive disguise of anger, of crime, or of madness, I may recognize you and say, "Jesus, you who suffer, how sweet it is to serve you." ~ Mother Teresa
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:53-58
I am constantly surprised at the challenge of living and serving in the community where I grew up. I came here as an infant, when my Dad was called to be the Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in town. I went through all my years of schooling here, and graduated from Harrison High School. I was and am a Husky. And yet as a rebellious and normal teenager, I could not imagine ever returning to this community for work. I didn't think there was a place for me. How delighted I was when I was called here and to a wonderful, loving and inclusive parish. A place that does not take offense but sees faithfulness and capacity in each individual. The barriers for me are as much old memories and limitations. My challenge is to be faithful and to make new memories that are not bound by limits but are creative invitations to trust God and one another more.
Jesus was limited in his own town, not because of his lack of capacity or faithfulness but by the judgments made by old friends and neighbors, who out of jealousy, confusion, or some others old hurt, were offended by one of their own being close to God and honored by others. This happens all too often, when we should be rejoicing in the presence of God in others. We could be learning and growing but we often chose to label others and limit ourselves.
Today, I want to remember that we each have the capacity to invite God's faithfulness and miracles in our lives, or we can chose to limit God by refusing the love we are given each day. May this be a day when I turn from judgment (of myself and others) and open my heart to the invitation of God's love. May we all invite faithfulness and capacity so that Christ's love might flourish in our midst.