Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” Luke 22:63-71
Children can be very cruel to each others as they mock and tease one another in school. Having been on the receiving end of much teasing and taunting as a child, I have come to disagree with the old adage - "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me". The violence generated by cruel words is hard to calculate, but between self-abuse in all forms and the acting out that results, we are a society of bullies, who like to abuse others. Folks who are in control like to maintain control. When control is maintained by abuse, whether physical, psychological or verbal, everyone suffers.
Jesus is the target of violence and abuse. His captors can control him finally, and so they heap on indignity after indignity. Jesus bore the worst of human pain and suffering, the ugliest of our human society's fear. The need to control made them fear him, and the continuity of their control became the excuse for crucifixion.
Today, I ask God that we might all be tender and sensitive with our words. I pray that our hearts might reflect the awareness of how we can chose to honor or destroy another, how we can free them or bind them with our words. "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer."
Monday, June 27, 2011
Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:52-62
Today is my oldest sister Sherry's birthday. As children growing up, I looked up to her. She was ten years older, beautiful, talented and elegant. When our youngest sister Betsy was born, Sherry was in high school and loved caring for her as a second mother. We were four sisters, Sherry Pegi, Carol and Betsy. My brother Don was wedged in between two girls on each side. Even when we got to the awkward years when we really would like to deny a sister or my brother, we look too much alike to deny them. Teachers would know who I was because of my sister Sherry. Years ago, when I went to Manitoba for research, people said I looked and sounded familiar. When I told them who my sister was, they nodded and laughed. "Of course, you are so much alike!" Sherry had a program on cable about Native issues for many years. The gift of family is that we are always identified as part of a larger unit, related to, in this case, a wonderful whole.
Peter was terrified and found out. He had been with Jesus and the others so much, they had become a cohesive group, a family unit. When approached in the terrifying early morning, when the violence and anger were at their height, Peter was afraid, and denied who he was. He was one with the Jesus family, but his humanity and fear, momentarily turned him inside out. The good news of the Gospel, is despite our momentary denials, despite all the trips and falls we made, the selfish, shallow moments when we want only to be independent and not family, we are still the family of God. Despite our denials, we are God's own beloved family, part of a larger wonderful whole.
Today, I give thanks for my beautiful sister, who taught me so much and keeps love burning where ever she goes. I give thanks for all those who love us, with warts and denials and all, with their love lamps burning in every age. May we rejoice that are part of a loving, larger family, forgiven and welcomed always.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple-- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward." Matthew 10:40-42
We have been in Honolulu since Thursday night. Two bedraggled travelers were welcomed with leis, hugs and kisses. And the welcome hasn't stopped. People I know hug and kiss us, people I barely know likewise and those who are just meeting us hug and kiss us also. There are genuine smiles across their faces. Our welcome, as part of the Hawaiian understanding of aloha, has been tender, profound and deep. There is a sense of being drawn in to a familial setting, a place and a people who strive to live hospitality.
Jesus was teaching his disciples, and teaches us today, that the holiest and finest thing we can do is make people welcome, truly welcomed. Not just invited in, but fed, and not just fed but listened to. Folks who are like us are easy to welcome. Folks who are different, those who scare us, those who we rarely see - these are who we are to welcome and feed, making them a part of our lives.
Today I want to learn more from our hosts about their hospitality - the culture, the church, the people. And I want to grow with them as we stretch ourselves as we are taught by Christ to welcome the least and the most foreign among us. May we all offer true welcome and hospitality this day, in the name of Christ and for the sake of the world.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow,and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Luke 22:39-51
The life of faith is often filled with great joy. And likewise can be filled with great sorrow. I know many people who have great burdens to bear - illness of a loved one or themselves, betrayal by former colleagues, loss of employment, death of a dear friend or family member - and it can seem as if God has abandoned them. Our hearts ache with the desire to be faithful and our eyes run with tears in the pain which seems never to go away. And yet, even in our darkest days, we can take heart, since Jesus too knew this burden, asked for the cup to be passed, and found himself with the help of angels to strengthen him, even when his dearest friends fell asleep.
This passion story from the Gospel reveals both the best and the worst of humanity, and our foolish desire to make violence the answer to the pain and abuse we have received. Undesired as the arrest was, and undeserved as was the betrayal, Jesus had move from fear to conviction for the sake of us all. He swam in deep rivers of sorrow and found strength in God's love that would see him through.
Today, we all face burdens and challenges. I ask God to strengthen us all to face the tasks ahead with joy and faith, putting violence, anger and retribution aside, knowing God's activity is always to transform our sorrow into joy and our burdens into lessons of strength and renewal.
Friday, June 24, 2011
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” Luke 22:31-38
I am sifted like flour
shaken through mesh ground
by a hammer, twisted and beaten
punched down and covered up
only to rise again.
We are best when leavened
moistened with tears and experience
kneaded over and over again
and fed but a little to increase
our ache to stretch and breathe.
These tough times are certain
unbearable and fleeting a momentary trial
a fork in the road and a turning up
of the heat.
We will bake and sweat
and God has molded us loaf after loaf
for the feeding of the world.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. Luke 22:14-23
These days we spend a great deal of time around my mother's kitchen table. We sit and talk over various meals and she tells us about her childhood and our family. Sitting with those you love, over a meal, is a great act of intimacy. We use cups and plates that generations have used. We harvest from our garden with new and ancient tools, and cook with ancient pots and pans which have been in the family for generations. All around us the living and the dead gather at the table, through story and old relics of bygone eras. None of us are alone at the table. We are surrounded by the witnesses, ancient ones, and by the voices though dim which remind us of the love we share. The Lilies in the garden that bloom so profusely are a reminder of those who planted so that we might still enjoy them.
Jesus sat at table and share bread and wine. This act of intimacy, which we share in our various communities, is our presence at that first table, that Passover, that was wracked with anxiety and betrayal. We know our own and yet in the midst of all of the scars and burdens we might bear, we are surrounded by throngs of witnesses to the abiding love of God in our lives, intimately tied to our Creator and Redeemer.
Today, I want to live as a child at table, absorbing the great lessons of love and charity that are here. Acting on God's mitzvah to share the meal and remember the love that would sacrifice everything so that we might live. May all our acts of love and charity this day be offerings to God in thanksgiving for Christ's willingness to share at table, intimate love and care that never ends.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. Luke 21:37-22:13
When you go to the movies, it is the music that gives away portent and danger long before the film reveals the danger. In the movie Jaws, there was a low throbbing beat added to the music before everything turned bad and long before the water churned with blood. In daily life though, there is no score, no music to warn us that things are going bad, that people are jealous and plotting, or that an accident or injury awaits us. We carry on because if there was indeed a score, with a low throbbing beat on our worst days, we would never go out the door.
In the gospel story, this would be the time that the music would change and the low throbbing beat would begin in earnest. Jesus has offended the religious leaders by opening his heart to the people and sharing with them. People would come out before daylight and sit with him, absorbing every word. And he would teach them all no matter who they were. This kind of behavior is a threat to folks who need to control, and authentic power is infuriating to those who would have it all. Jesus was doomed because he wouldn't play the politics of the religious leadership. He told the truth with love and it brought the house down.
Today, I want to remember that despite all of the things that can go wrong, and all of the accidents and plots that can be anticipated, we are invited by God to trust and move on caring for the neediest among us. We cannot worry about tomorrow, for all of us are in God's hands, whatever the day. May we rejoice that despite darkness and plotting we are tenderly held and are invited to share that love where ever we go.
Monday, June 20, 2011
And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:29-36
Yesterday, I went out in the garden and harvested peas for the first time. My Mom and I sat on our back porch in the late afternoon, opening the pea pods, laughing and talking about the uniqueness of each and how like a group of siblings they were. Each pea so similar and yet individual and different from the others. A few days ago these peas that we picked were only flowers with a few pods. Now they were full grown and ready for harvest. We had a magnificent salad with our dinner and enjoyed the bounty of God's creation as we sat on the porch, having our dinner, laughing and sharing some more. It was a cool evening and full blown summer is at hand.
Jesus is sharing with his disciples and using images that help them understand the challenges of faithful living. We are asked to be alert and awake and to understand the signs of the season. We have to go out in the garden every day, checking the plants, watching them grow, watering, weeding and nurturing as we go. You cannot plant and then walk away. We have to be watchful and alert. Likewise, our journey of faith is one of watering, weeding, nurturing, watching and trusting God for the strength to endure the hard times.
Today, I ask God to give me the strength to be every watchful. May I be a nurturer for the tenderest of the faithful, awake to the changes that will come, and prayerful at all times. May we all be tender gardeners of our faith and of the faith of our communities, so that when hard times befall us, and they do and will, we may know God's tender touch in the roughest of storms.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt 28:16-21
We are so different your words
are guttural and mine lilting, vanishing
our skins pale and dark, dry from weather
soft from sand, water and wind
we face east, west, north, south
all our gifts are welcome
all are understood.
We are formed of the earth
formed of the breath of God
and called good by our Creator.
Our children run wild and are carried bound
we cut our hair in morning walk urban streets
blend with the culture and dance with the tide
and dream of family gathered round a shared fire
a common plate, a common bowl, a common cup.
We are formed of the earth
formed of the breath of God
and called good by our Creator.
Our elders tells the stories in ancient tongues
through cracked lips and deep set eyes,
they laugh at our worry and anxiety
speak of loss and removal and vanishing words
and they hold the babies close and sparkle
as they sternly look over the great grand children.
We are formed of the earth
formed of the breath of God
and called good by our Creator.
Our songs are strange to one another and to others
the stories they tell known by heart, felt deep
we honor and pray, we laugh and dance aching
to be made whole and complete in God's design
walking in beauty and singing in the night.
We are formed of the earth
formed of the breath of God
and called good by our Creator.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:20-28
Years ago, when I was newly ordained, I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil for an Anglican Women's Conference. It was an amazing experience, ordained and lay women from all over the world gathered together to share common experiences despite land and langauage differences. We had many bishops with us who were supportive of our many ministries. My roommate, a dear friend and extraoridnary native woman leader, had terrible trouble sleeping. She asked me one morning how I could sleep through it. I answered, "sleep through what?" We were in a hotel next to the ocean, and the surf pounded on the rocks all night. To me, it was a lullaby, living as I have, all my life by the ocean, I don't even hear it. It is a part of who I am. She was brought up inland and near mountains. Her life is full of very different sounds.
Jesus talks further about facing end times. The end times are always talked about, prayed about, predicted regularly in every generation, but the end times have yet come en masse to all of us at once. Some ache for it, others laugh at them, and yet others have a reverence for nature and the destruction that it can wage. Jesus invites us all to a posture of trust -"straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." No matter what the weather or the circumstances, we are reminded that we are held in loving arms, and God's plan is for the safety and redemption of the world.
Today I want to give thanks for the blessing of the waves, the crashing seas and the dangerous and fragile beauty of our world. May we all rejoice, that whatever befalls us, we are held in loving arms, whose aim is always for our redemption and safety. May we all straighten up and raise our heads this day.
Friday, June 17, 2011
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. Luke 21:5-19
I grew up in the church, and my life has been spent in the church. I have been in many church buildings, both ancient and modern, many with problems too many to number. All of us, whether we worship in a Cathedral or in a humble chapel, have a soft spot in our hearts for the buildings that house our worship. The music, the smells, the sounds, the signs of the seasons are often sacred to our memories. Often folks get so wrapped up in the building, the rectory, the grounds that they forget why they are called together and money for the bricks and mortar, the upkeep becomes more precious than the people of their community. Sometimes in our anxiety to care for what we have inherited and what is holy, we find ourselves focused on the facade and not on relationships.
Jesus was faced with folks who held the magnificent temple in Jerusalem as the symbol of the strength of their faith. Jesus told them it would fall, and all sorts of other things they held dear would crumble. They must have been devastated and terrified. And yet he promised that despite all of this, "but not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives." He invited them to think of the rock solid, everlasting trust in God as the firmest and most reliable structure in their lives. He told them despite it all, they would be protected and tenderly cared for in the midst of destruction and chaos.
Today, I want to accept the invitation to trust completely in the love and protection of God and to let go of all my petty worries about brick and mortar. I want to let go of the concerns for the facades of life and pray without ceasing about the needs of the people where I am. May we all let go so that God can do God's work, promising that not even a hair on our heads will perish.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David's son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,“‘The Lord said to my Lord,Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.’David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?” And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 20:41-21:4
When we were children, if we ever ate out at a restaurant, and it was rare, my Dad would lead us in prayer. Never silently either. As a child I was mortified by his public display of faith and often found myself wanting to slink under the table. We always did things writ large as a family and the public prayer was just one of the public things we did. But, to my father and mother's great credit, what they did in public, they did in private. They walked the walk and talked the talk. They were generous to a fault and were always giving to others and the community with everything they had.
We find Jesus and his disciples observing in the temple. Jesus is instructing his disciples, as if they were on a field trip, simply showing them the difference between true faith and public display for attention. The widow, with all of her limits and lack, was more of an example than any of the religious leaders and political celebrities gathered in the temple.
Today, I want to thank God for those who taught me authentic faith begins with a humble heart and is demonstrated through generosity - acts of love and service. May we all seek to live a humble life of faith and service today, knowing God honors that in all of us.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question. Luke 20:27-40
We are all tested in many ways. I was never fond of standardized testing, hating the #2 pencils routine and all that goes along with it. General Ordination Exams gave me a fright, as did qualifying exams for my PhD and the dissertation defense. Being able to answer well under pressure seems to be something that we are all expected to do, and yet none of us revels in the experience - except for maybe those who are doing the testing. My patience has been tested in the past two weeks as we have had an internet connection less than 20% of the time and all of that during non-waking hours. We humans are sorely tested by many things, and even though folks say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", I am of the opinion that many have welcomed death rather than take another test or call for the internet repair service one more time.
Jesus is tested by the intellectual elite of the religious leaders. These were the guys who spent their days dreaming up tough questions to entangle small minded religious leaders and to ferret out those who didn't know who God was, let alone understanding the mind of man. Jesus answers well, in the opinion of the testers. He gets to pass go, go onto the next level (whatever they were drumming up for the next round), and have a moment of peace. Unfortunately, his well answered question about marriage ended up becoming a defense for clergy celibacy many generations later. Testing is cruel enough, making more of a good answer than anyone can know, seems rather incomprehensible.
Today, after struggling we many things, we can all admit that we are put to the test in many ways. Throughout our lifetime we find our selves facing challenges - welcomed and unwelcomed. But the good new is that we are never alone during testing. God stands with us as we experience all types of challenges, including the ones that rock us to our core. May we trust that we are never abandoned in these times, rather God is drawing ever closer and holding us tenderly as we struggle on.
Monday, June 13, 2011
And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. Luke 20:9-19
Among Native communities in this country prior to European settlement, land was held in common as a tribe or community and private ownership was not considered an option. I have several friends who will not buy and sell land as it seems to them as dividing up something precious. They consider themselves caretakers, stewards, those who take care temporarily, knowing that the land is holy and part of the Creator, so priceless and tender.
We hear this parable from the Gospel which reminds us of how easy it is for us to assume ownership and control of things that do not belong to us. It reminds us of how quickly we divide up and sell land and property and how quickly people in previous generations divided up families and sold humans. Human trafficking still goes on to this day. And yet the land, and the people are precious to God, and we are to hold all of life in trust for the Creator, in trust for God, the ultimate owner and provider.
Today, I ask God to give me a new measure of reverence for life, for humanity and this "fragile earth, our island home." We are but temporary tenants, small time stewards given charge of things for an instant. May we all hold life tenderly and carefully, knowing we all come from and belong to God.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
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
Another one of my favorite movies stars Graham Greene and Val Kilmer and is called Thunderheart. The young FBI agent (Kilmer) is sent to the reservation to investigate a murder because he is native. He wasn't brought up on the reservation and isn't interested in staying. The tribal police chief (Greene) is annoyed with the young agent and his lack of respect for their common history and culture. As the movie progressed we find out that the agent is the grandson of a revered and famous medicine man and the agent himself is having visions. The police chief utters my favorite line -"I have waited all my life for a vision. You are here two days and you have yourself a vision!" Some of us wait life times for pentecostal moments, where clear voice and spiritual power find a place and a community. Others are blessed to have those moments often.
The disciples had received the Holy Spirit from Jesus in that closed room during the week after his resurrection. It took time, encouragement and the right circumstances for the gift they had been given to make itself evident. We have all been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that same spirit finds the time and place for us to each be empowered to use our gifts. At Pentecost, we have a vivid moment of the disciples empowered to speak across nations and languages -to speak to the heart of all gathered. This pentecostal gift is for all of us, to empower each of us to reach out across boundaries of race, class and clan in order to bring God's love into the world.
Today I ask God to help us all be pentecostal people - those who wait on the movement and power of the spirit to enliven each of us for service. May our heart, hands and voices be lifted up for the love of God and the care and compassion for the world.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Luke 11:14-23
This morning I woke up to a violent thunder and lightening storm. When one lives by the ocean, on a tiny slip of land between the bay and the ocean, storms are amazing and frightening things. Our dog is under the bed and panting heavily as I write. We are living in an old house that has survived many a storm among a family who has survived many a storm too. When safety and storm approach there is no place I would rather be. We often forget who are friends are in good times but in the storms of life, we remember who has sheltered us, who has kept us safe, and where we run when life is overwhelming. A line from Ghostbusters runs through my head, "Who do you call?" We know the ones we trust by who we call when the demons and ghosts descend upon us.
Jesus was doing miracles but some wanted to see them as evil work. Loving, healing, sheltering and freeing others is never evil, and yet human jealousy and need for power can turn on even the most loving. Jesus challenged the detractors to consider where they run for help and who they trust in the darkest days. We each are invited, when we judge others as evil, to consider the source, to consider where we would run.
Today I want to give thanks for a multitude of safe harbors - family, friends, the love of God and many communities of faith who are ready and willing to shelter and heal all those caught in life's storms. May we who are able, by the grace of God, be those who offer shelter and protection, healing and renewal to those who are facing challenges this day.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
I have three sisters, my daughters are three sisters and my mother is one of three sisters. One of my sisters passed away in 1990, and all these years later, her loss is still a deep scar in all of our lives. What I know about sisters from experience, whether we are sisters by blood or sisters by friendships - we women drive each other crazy and yet are more loyal and protective of one another than anyone can imagine. I have always felt for Martha, because I have a sister or two who always wiggled out of chores and hung out with the visitors and the celebrities. And I also know that fussing over the details of life can take us from the joy of the love we all share. Sisters, my sisters, both my blood sisters, my native sisters and all the other women I consider sisters, we are invited by Christ today to set aside the worry and to bask in the light of love while we have it.
Jesus loved these two women and their brother. We see Jesus crying over Lazarus' tomb they were such family to him. We see and know love and raw compassion in his relationship with Martha and Mary. Jesus invites us all to put aside out petty squabbles and enjoy the present love in the present day.
Today, I ask God to help me to enjoy every moment of the lvoe I have been give, in my sisters, my aunties, my daughters and our grandduaghter along we all my relations. We are God's best gift to one another, we are the divine blessing in our midst, so may we all treasure the treasures we have been given this day.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37
My feet are dusty, sweat has dried rivulets
lines on my face marking my passage
stains of the road the rejection judgment
from strangers I don't look like them.
My dress is exotic, my people enemies
born of this land but relocated
a trail of sorrows forced upon us
by greed and arrogance the ache
for expansion and wealth.
Our enemies, those whom we have expelled
from their land will bear our burdens
bind our wounds and bring us home
it we let them, if we let them in.
My body is broken from the journey
set upon by thieves desperate pain and hunger
crying out in pain and shame
needing another to carry me home.
The ones who sat with me at summits
the theologians, the scholars, the priests
they turn at the sight of soiled garments
assumed poverty and failure
someone to step around.
Tender is the touch of the unknown friend
exotic and dark, spicy in smell and earthy
I am lifted from this shoulder where garbage
has been my cover from the penetrating sun
where the noble has turned away and rats have
prayed for my death.
If we would so likewise seeing the broken
as our children our family our relations
huddled along the road homeless forsaken
dirty and dejected we might know God's touch
tender and gentle a balm of sweetness
on this harsh and winding road.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Luke 10:17-24
Because of where we live, daily we encounter people on vacation, struggling to have a good time. Folks who haven't been on bicycles in years, rent them, and we pass them arguing as they ride, exhausted and frustrated. I see people waiting in long lines for a table at a fancy restaurant while locals go into a simple shops and delightfully sit in a shady spot eating their hoagie. I watch as folks bring tons of items to the beach, carefully setting things up, with all the right gismos, only to stomp off after something forgotten. Meanwhile on our early morning stroll the dog delights in a stranded horse shoe crab, frightened and curious at the same time, as we right it and sent it back crawling slowly to the water. Love and life are most enjoyed by simple pleasures by simple hearts and minds.
The disciples return with stories of miracles and astounding adventures. Their hearts and minds are filled with excitement and possibility. Jesus reminds them in prayer that God's love is most known in tender and simple relationships and the willingness to encounter with the eyes and heart of a child, where judgment is suspended and possibilities are welcomed. God is able to demonstrate powerful love in the simplest of places.
Today, as I enjoy time with our granddaughter, may I remember that she has much to reveal to us about God's love, and her understanding, despite her lack of language at this point, is deep and full. May I always open my heart and eyes as a child. May we all open ourselves to the daily miracles of life and love that surround us.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum,will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades.‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’ The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’Luke 10:1-17
When I worked in a daycare while in college my kids wanted me to read some books over and over again. They were two and three year olds. Being read to over and over again is their thing. Chanting along with favorite lines in a book is their thing too. A favorite book was called "Marvin K. Mooney". They would shout along with me, "Marvin K. Mooney I don't care how, Marvin K. Mooney will you please go now!" The book was about being sent - no matter the method, Marvin was to go. I often think about this book and those children, all grown with children of their own, when I think about being sent out as disciples. One way or another we have to go...being sent means stepping out and trusting God's grace, whatever the road.
The disciples are being sent out and they are understanding the power and protection that goes with them, despite the challenges and the rough terrain of the journey. Jesus offers them strength and power, along with challenging them to be open to everyone on the road. The ministry, the work of disciples God all along the way.
Today, as we travel to be with our new granddaughter, I want to remember that every road is a missionary road and every travel moment is an opportunity to grow and trust. May we all take every day as a day sent - a day to offer God's love and compassion on the way.
Monday, June 6, 2011
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’* But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village. 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 plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ Luke 9:51-62
A wealthy woman appeared on my mother's doorstep last night with her wet laundry. She is a neighbor and she asked if my Mom had laundy in the dryer. My mother said yes but that it was dry. The neighbor then took the dry clothes out of her dryer and proceeded to put hers in. She stayed and talked but made no motion to help her fold the removed clothes. My mother was kind and shocked and came to tell us later. My mother is the epitome of welcome, often letting people take avantage of her kindness. And yet, I am grateful for her kindness and her welcome. She taught me well how to be a friend, a neighbor and aservant of God. I didn't ever learn from her how to take advantage of others.
Jesus encounters folks who refuse to welcome him. The disciples want to curse the village and bring destruction down upon them. Jesus refused to be unkind and went on to another place. Our human nature is such that we want to return cruelty for cruelty, refusal for refusal. But love demands more from us. A kindness despite others selfishness, a welcome despite their behavior.
Today I ask God for the strength to welcome the crabby, demanding and the selfish as well as friends and neighbors. I ask God to help me be patient with others' humnaityi and selfishness. For love demands that we have larger hearts than the petty world we live in, so that God's glimmer of hope might shine through our courtesy and kindness.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4: 12 - 14, 5: 6 - 11
I got up very early this morning to start my training in cold water. I am participating in Swim Across America, a fund raiser for cancer research in July and will be swimming a mile in the Long Island Sound with a group of many others. I bought a wetsuit for training since the ocean water is still pretty cold. We got up early and onto the beach before anyone was around. I did this on purpose because I really didn't want to have anyone watch me struggle into the suit, let alone try it out for the first time. There was little motivating me except for anxiety. I want to have the endurance to swim the entire mile and I need to start training, but I am very self-conscious about it all. It was just us, our dog and a few mocking seagulls when we got there. Then the dolphins swam by, in their perfectly fitting black sleek suits. I felt encouraged despite my anxiety. With the spire of St. Peter's behind me, I swam in the suit, awkwardly at first, but let myself enjoy the quiet, the muted sunlight and the morning. We are all fragile creatures subject to great anxiety and challenge. This morning I felt the first breath of encouragement, the early nudge of the spirit.
The letter of Peter reminds us that we share in Christ's struggles, and we are tested by people, circumstances and the times, as Christ was. And in this we are blessed, despite how we feel at the moment, despite how unprepared, weak and anxious we might be. God's work for us is always restoration, support, strengthening and establishing. God is always active in the midst of our challenges, and God is always renewing us as we step out in faith.
Today, I ask God to give me the strength to continue to step out in faith and to trust that blessing and strength is there for every day. May we all trust that we are constantly blessed by the Creator's gifts of renewal and support, new muscle, new vigor and a solid foundation. God is always cheering us and supporting us, so may we use our strength and our health for the welfare of others.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, ‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.’ But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’
John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’ Luke 9:37-50
A crisp morning muted light heart
hopeful with lingering dancing dreams
needing only a place to imagine
enough food and loving arms.
We are made of the stuff of childhood welcomes
the souvenirs of teachers, parents coaches
and the wounds of the same and other children turning
dreams into nightmares, possibilities into taunts.
We are never far from child burying our neediness
three piece suit, powerful stride and late model car
cannot hide our want and ache for welcome
for home and acceptance.
We are made for love
denying it with strength training
combat readiness and boot camp
We are made tender and strong
and only develop the strength to stomp
on the weak vine the tender shoot.
Jesus says, "welcome the little ones
and you welcome me".
Friday, June 3, 2011
Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. Luke 9:28-36
There are moments in life when the light changes, however subtly, and what was before takes on new meaning and new shape. We are in New York visiting our eldest and enjoying our time. The day we arrived had been hot and muggy and the oppressiveness seemed everywhere. Trying to keep drinking enough to be well hydrated was a challenge, as was finding a shady spot out of the brutal damp glare. In an instant, in the wee hours of the morning the weather changed, without a storm, without violence. And we could see the world in a new way. How often it happens that we think we know how things are, and that nothing is ever going to change? And then when all delight and hope seems to have faded, the world turns, the light changes, and warmth and love are revealed in familiar and overlooked places? We see a glimpse of God's glory and the love we have been showered with in life and in creation. Our desire is for the moment to last forever, to make it in stone.
The disciples wanted to make that turning point in their lives permanent. They wanted a structure to return to and an altar to reverence. But God has a different way ahead for them and for us. We are to take the moment, the glimpse of love and glory and use it during the journey. We are to take the transfigured moments, the revealed love, the breath stopping beauty that we have been given in the moment and share it on our way. They told this story over and over to reminds themselves and those who follow, that we are never alone, and that Gos strength is with us even in the roughest struggles.
Today, I want to take these moments and hold them in my heart. I ask God to keep me from making sentiment from these rather than empowering service. May we all reflect on the moments of God's love revealed and make them food for the world, sharing what we have had for the strength and renewal of others.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:16-20
Last night we had the great opportunity to take in a game at Citi field, home of the Mets. Growing up in New York with the Mets, I have a very tender spot in my heart for them. When they took the World Series in 1969, the jubilation and happiness seemed to have no end. My husband, who was born in Pittsburgh, has been a life long Pirates fan. Last night the Mets played the Pirates and the Pirates won, to the booing of the crowd and my husband's great joy. As we entered the field before the game, I was swept up by the long rising escalator, and ancient memories from the old Shea stadium and youthful moments washed over me. As we rose to the level of our seats, and entered the stadium area, to gaze on the field as plane after plane ascending over our heads, I couldn't help but wonder what ancient people might think of these experiences. And then the reverie ended as someone shouted, " play ball!"
Today we read Jesus final words to his disciples as he ascended into heaven. I have never been able to imagine this scene without a vision of a heavenly escalator coming down to take Jesus up. It is the technology that my mind gravitates to. And yet, it is easy to lose the real meaning of the moment - the charge to take care of the people of the earth and the promise that he would be with them always. We often get caught up in some reverie and forget about the work and the constancy of Jesus. There is still much to do, and Jesus promises to be with us in everything.
Today, I ask God to help us all to focus on the people around us, those in need, those broken by violence and poverty, by lack of dignity and lack of support. Jesus promises to be with us as we reach out to others around us. May we all keep on loving our neighbor knowing Jesus is among us.He ascended but did not disappear and keeps by our sides as we reach out into the world.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’
And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ Luke 11:1-13
As a parent, it is always hard when a child is troubled, no matter their age. As a child, it is hard to watch your parent age, and lose capacity and clarity. We all want those we love to thrive, and when they can't or don't, our hearts break and we feel helpless. When I was a young mother, I learned the Jesus prayer, and I have found that when things get tough, my voice, silent or out loud, intones that prayer, at any time of day or night. And the Lord's Prayer likewise, comes tripping off my lips, reminding me that my life, all my life and the loves in my life, are in God's hands, safe, protected and cared for every day.
Today, I ask God to help me pray at all times. I ask God to strengthen me, so that I might trust to the Creator's care all that I whom I love, every moment of every day. May we all move to prayer in the weak and happy times, knowing we are help tenderly in our Maker's hands.