Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Cup of Water

John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." Mark 9:38-50

Today we begin a new relationship with the people of St. Peter's Sitka. I am here to be their interim and we will walk together for a while. We will have much to learn about each other, since we are from very different parts if the country. I may do things differently from them, as they might from me. And yet we are all in this together, as we help imagine the future for this wonderful congregation together. We will look at all of the gifts and challenges, and prayerfully, together, begin to shape the coming weeks and years of their ministry in this place.

Jesus and his disciples are having great success and responses from the people. The disciples worry that others who have received the good news might not be following them exactly as they should. Jesus reminds them that their reward is from God and that God honors all offerings of service and generosity. God asks they we not hold back or hinder others, but rather encourage and use they gifts we have. God invites us today to not stand in the way of love and healing but rather to be agents of love's growth and the healing of the world.

Today, I ask God to help me offer what I have in service to God for the sake of these precious people. May our gifts and skills be used to God's glory and the healing and renewing of us all. May God's love shine through this earthen and inadequate vessel. May people receive what they need from God this day and may we never stand in the way of healing and love.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sent to Serve

And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.
Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. Luke 4:38-44

We arrived in Sitka last evening to the welcome arms of our warden and his wife. The skies were full of rain. We had a quiet supper and went to bed tired but happy to be here. I woke rested this morning full of joy and expectation. We have a job to do, we have been sent to help the wonderful folks here move from one era to another with increased faith and deepening trust in God. We were sent to serve and in so doing show the light of God's love in new ways.

Jesus healed Simon's mother and she jumped up and served them. She was so thrilled to be whole again that she offered what she could - her love and appreciation in service. And Jesus, despite the challenges and complaints that were hurled at him, offered what he had come to do - to bring good news and heal the people. He was the light of God brought into the world, to serve and heal the people. We are all invited, in our own unique ways, to reveal God's love through our service and care of others - not because we have to, but because we are grateful for the love and healing we have received.

Today, as we empty our bags and set up our new home, may we not lose sight of what we have been called to do. We have been called to love the people and to carry the good news among them by serving with great gratitude. May we all find that exuberance and joy, those true gifts from God, which make us so ever thankful for the love and support we have in our lives.


Friday, September 28, 2012

In Transit

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region. Luke 4:31-37

We drove from home with a loaded car on Wednesday to overnight with our daughter, son-in-law and grand daughter so that we could fly out yesterday to our new home in Sitka. We are as far as Seattle, overnighting here. so that we can make the final journey today. We are like people possessed, trying to fit all our needs in our luggage, trying to find our way in unfamiliar places, and full hope and heartache for all we've left behind. Being neither here nor there but in transit,can make us anxious and frustrated, forgetting God's promises and commitment to us all.

Jesus heals a man of his demons and the people gathered around finally realize that the prophet they have dismissed is truly powerful and full of God's spirit. They have ignored and denied him for so long, acting like he was a stranger and an unwanted traveler, even in his home land. Now, God's power is seen and realized among them and they are curious and anxious to draw near.

Today, as we make the final flight of our journey to our new home, I ask God to help us hold fast to the powerful love we have been given. May peace and joy surrounds us all as we go through unfamiliar and confusing time, trusting that God walks with us and has gone this way before. We are not strangers or outcasts in the city of God, no matter where we find ourselves today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tempted and Tried

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13

Tempted and Tried

The day is our last on this island
tomorrow we will sail across a continent
and find a new cooler island home.

Looking back with ache and regret
wishing there was more time to linger
more tender moments and sweet sunsets.

We are tempted to remember fondly
and to look ahead with fear and trembling
worrying and not trusting God.

The devil in the details despairs us
so much to do and little time
we wish for magic to whisk away the overload.

God is in the wind and rain
the storms that rattle our bones as we move
and holds us in the darkest night 'til all
the trembling is in the past.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:15-22

With two days away from flying to Sitka, I am filled with expectation. There is worry about getting everything packed away and making sure my mother is provided for properly. And there is the excitement and expectation about joining with the people of St. Peter's and having new experiences and adventures. As one chapter closes and another begins, there is much expectation and much we will not even imagine or know until we get there.

The people we full of expectation with John's preaching and the arrival of Jesus in public ministry. So many had suffered so much and they were waiting for the world to change through the strength of God's hand. After Jesus was baptized a voice proclaimed him the beloved son of God and declared God's pleasure. I am sure those who were present for this moment were transformed and hoping for an immediate change. And yet, God invited them and invites us today, to hear the heavenly voice name us all as beloved children of God, and to trust God with our needs and wants. Our expectations and hopes can be pinned on God, who offered Jesus so that we might all be children of God.

Today, as the tasks and expectations overwhelm, I ask that I will trust God in everything. May God bless our labor this day, and bring peace and calm to our worries. May we know we are loved and cared for in God's loving arms, who looks upon each of us as beloved children and whose work is always to transform and heal our world.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Prepare the Way

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:1-14

We are in the final stages of packing for our move to Alaska. It is hard to decide what to take and what to leave behind. Preparing our own way forward is tough, despite the fact that we have moved many times. It puts me in mind of John's challenge. We have to get rid of the things that will impede us, the things that will weigh us down and hold us back.

Luke's Gospel tells of John's ministry as preparation for the ministry of Jesus. The people asked what then shall we do? And he told them very simple things in preparation of meeting God face to face. He told them to share what they had, to be fair and honest and be happy with what you have. Simple answers for complicated times, which is what we all need. In the midst of challenges and changes, God invites us to remember the basics we learned early on, maybe even before kindergarten. Share, take turns, be far and enjoy the people and things you have right here and now.

Today, as the challenges and changes stare us down, may we be given an extra measure of patience and grace. May we delight in the giving away, in the sharing and in the people of our lives. May we greet the changes as a new way to encounter the living God.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome One Such Child

Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." Mark 9:30-37

Indian Boarding School

The took away the little children
cut their hair and gave them hard shoes
made them speak a foreign tongue
and tried to make them in their image.

They tried to take away custom and language
but we still dreamed in Indian
dreaming of home prairie grass
songs sung in the moonlit hills
and our mothers soft warm arms.

They buried shame deep within us
and we tried to understand how God
could love us and not like us
making us over as if we were mistakes.

The Creator welcomed us formed us
gave us ancient names and breathed life
and sacred songs deep into our lungs
and in our hiding place we hummed them again.

They tried but God was watching
our grandchildren pried the stories from our lips
and we remembered again our language and the love
which has always been the drum beat of our lives.

Sound you drum, my heart beats with God
who sought a frightened broken child
and lifted such a one into loving arms
and directed the leaders to welcome this stranger.

The Collect

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Not to Judge but to Save

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” John 12:44-50

Recently, as we traveled, I noticed two young women commenting about another young woman. They were talking quite loudly and cattily judging her. A beautiful young woman and these others, also smart and attractive seemed to need to put someone else down. They were strangers to one another. I was tempted to say something to the judging women, but held back so as not to embarrass my family. It is so easy to judge, so easy to hurt, and words can do damage to the sensitive and secure alike.

Jesus is telling about his relationship to God and how he does nothing alone, but rather in connected and in relationship with the Creator. In that role and relationship, the one who came to earth as living God in the flesh did not consider it his job to judge. His job was to save the world - through love, healing and compassion. What if we all considered our true calling to be saving the world one relationship at a time in order to honor God? What if we all saw our mission as that of living fully honoring others with love, compassion and forgiveness?

Today I ask God to help me do my part to save the world through love, compassion and forgiveness. May we set aside judgment, may we give up on criticism and gossip, and turn our attention to offering hope and solutions where there were none. May our hands be busy with embrace and welcome and may our hearts be full of compassion and forgiveness.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Love of Glory

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:36-43

We have had a great time in Colorado visiting with old friends and seeking out old haunts. Much has changed, and the world has expanded so much that little is the way it once was. The dear friends have not changed though. We were talking to musician friends last night about how easy it is for some people to lose themselves to their stage persona and revel in the glory of all that attention, while losing their real self. How easy it is to believe the hype and forget our humanity...and we all agreed that true wealth and fame is in honest relationship and the strength of humility.

Jesus is encouraging folks to be faithful while realizing the political tugs that kept them from faith. He quoted the prophet Isaiah as a lament for their loss, and their unwillingness to see their own blatant needs. They would rather be with the in crowd, the ruling class, the cool kids, the club, the winners, the wealthy and famous - rather than have their hearts and minds transformed in a living relationship with a loving God. Our human frailty is subject to such vanity that we believe that being with the in-crowd will make is happy. God offers us healing and love and we would toss it aside to be temporarily accepted by mere mortals.

Today, I ask God to help me live without vanity and pride, and to seek first my relationship with my Creator and with all of creation. May all of us be accepting of our humanity and grateful for the love and healing given by God. May we not be distracted by shiny, short lived glory but be made whole by our humility and service in the love of God.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Children of the Light

Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” John 12:27-35

Children of the Light

Walk while you have the light
the winter stands breathing nearby
shadows deepen to darkest blue
lingering shadows hint
what is to come.

Dance while you have the light
and sing with lungs full of joy
love surrounds you with warm arms
and holds you close against all attacks.

Sing while you can still see the notes
harmonize with the sweet voices around you
regret nothing that you do today
and laugh loudly from deep inside.

Darkness and shadow will come
and God will light our darkest alleys
feed us in the gloomy shelters
and find us as we wander alone.

The light is never far off
deep within us buried deep
like seeds aching to be broken
and burst forth reaching for the sun.

So walk and dance and sing
for your light has come
never to leave you alone or abandoned
though shadows creep in and fear
screams in the deep of the night.

The light of the world is among us
no loss of power or place
will ever shake that light
by a brilliant night star
and a sweet fingernail moon
we will find our way home to God.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Loneliness and Relationship

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:20-26

Yesterday we traveled from South Jersey to Denver. We then collected a rental car and madly drove down to Colorado Springs. Our friend Mick, who we have known for more than 30 years was playing with his band. Although we have many of their CDs, we have only seen them perform once live. I was exhausted and cranky by the time we arrived. But choosing to stay and listen, and see old friends was the best thing I ever did. The music and the laughter healed the weariness and the ache. Seeking out others and their gifts brought new, unexpected joy and renewal.

Jesus is challenging his followers to understand that if they prize their own comfort over relationship with God and others, they will always be lonely and isolated. Relationship with God and others costs us a giving of ourselves, a willingness to put others first, and a letting go of control that is so hard for us humans. And yet the reward is great. God promises to be with us and even more, honored by the Father. As we give ourselves away we find true joy and true music. We find God right with us as we go with God.

Today, I ask God to help me let go of my need for control and to set aside my expectations and comfort. May my life with God and others take precedence over all. May our walk with God this day be a gift to those around us. May our lives be filled with sacrifice and offering, so that we may truly know that we are not alone, but held, ever so tenderly, in the arms of God.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On a Journey

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” John 12:12-19

No matter how humble or fancy the journey, there is always an element of excitement and anxiety, of anticipation and hope. Journeys challenge us to move beyond our familiar places and people to encounter the larger world. Early tomorrow morning we set off for Denver. We used to live there, so we are taking a few days to reconnect with old friends, be nostalgic visiting old haunts and finding out how a familiar world has changed completely. The scars from the Aurora shooting are still fresh and weeping. There is a good deal of ugliness in all these beautiful places.

Jesus entered Jerusalem humbly, on a donkey, and was greeted as royalty with shouts and fanfare. His ministry and his healing had transformed their world. The people gathered knew someone whose life had positively changed because of a chance encounter with the living God. And yet, Jesus was on a journey that did not end with the triumph of that day, but took him deep into the wounds and scars that are humanity. We are invited by God to go on a journey too, to enter the dark and unknown places, caring love and hope as we go forth. God is willing to go to the hardest, meanest places with us. God in Christ has traversed the worst journey and is willing to go with us into our darkest roads.

Today as we set forth may we remember that all of life is a journey, with days both good and bad, full of darkness and light. We are never alone as we move towards others, offering love and hope in their shadowed, fearful world. God goes with us because every one of us is precious and valued in the sight of God.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Filled with Fragrance

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8

On Saturday, after Emily's swim, we headed for our favorite orchard to pick apples. The aromas of fall were heavy in the air - falling leaves and fallen apples at the base of the trees. We delighted in the open air and our wandering in the orchard. We often forget how powerful and evocative aromas and odors can be. They can conjure up good and tender memories as well as fearsome ones. A perfume or a scent on the breeze can bring up vivid pictures and sensations of people and places long ago forgotten. They can change our mood, calm and excite us and stir visions and creativity in the right context.

Mary anoints Jesus,and by doing so fills the whole house with the powerful perfume. As she wiped his feet with her hair and tears, one of the disciples was angered and verbally abusive. He found the sweet perfume stir him to envy and jealousy. At the same time, Jesus, Martha and Lazarus were moved to compassion by the sweet fragrance and the self-giving act. We are reminded today how simple offerings can change hearts, and how that same offering can be terribly misunderstood. Love can provoke jealousy. We humans can find joy or woe in every good gift.

Today, as the seasons change and the air is filled with autumn scents, may we all find joy in the gifts of God's love that surround us. Despite the inevitable decay and loss in our lives, may this be a day to count our many blessings and to act selflessly like Mary. May our lives be sweet and fragrant offering to the Creator who loves us more than we can even imagine.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


For wisdom is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness.
Although she is but one, she can do all things,
and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets;
for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.
She is more beautiful than the sun,
and excels every constellation of the stars.
Compared with the light she is found to be superior,
for it is succeeded by the night,
but against wisdom evil does not prevail.
She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other,
and she orders all things well.
Wisdom of Solomon 7:26-8:1


Carrying the heaviest load
laughing with delight in the sun
she bends for love and children
and breathing for the passing elders
she lights a candle in their night rooms.

She watches and sings lullabies
knowing love and tender nurture conquers all
she leans into the winds and smiles
for God breathes with her morning and night.

Dancing when the morning begins
tears flowing for the fallen
taking aim at all the shallow
truth ignoring power mongers
she huddles with the homeless on the street.

She watches and sings lullabies
knowing love and tender nurture conquers all
she leans into the winds and smiles
for God breathes with her morning and night.

Wisdom dark and brooding she
waits anonymous in the crowd for the clarion
the cry of need and hope to sound
lighting again the torch of joy and peace.

She watches and sings lullabies
knowing love and tender nurture conquers all
she leans into the winds and smiles
for God breathes with her morning and night.

There is no light of morning without wisdom
who teaches us to sleep and rest
who shows us how to skip stones and wait
and holds us as we wail and mourn.

She watches and sings lullabies
knowing love and tender nurture conquers all
she leans into the winds and smiles
for God breathes with her morning and night.

There are kisses on her lips forgiveness
in her heart she is willing always
to make one more journey with another soul
always walking to the light.

She watches and sings lullabies
knowing love and tender nurture conquers all
she leans into the winds and smiles
for God breathes with her morning and night.

Might and power she understands
and setting them aside she sits down
with the children in the dust and dirt
and bends in the field with day laborers.

She watches and sings lullabies
knowing love and tender nurture conquers all
she leans into the winds and smiles
for God breathes with her morning and night.

The Collect

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Knitted together

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:1-17

She goes in the Hudson River in a short time. All the months of training and fund raising. All the work and the workouts, missing weekends for practice. Emily is doing this to challenge herself and so that others might have chance at life. Since she was a very little girl she loved the water and nothing could keep her out. Despite the rough waters and the challenges that are the storied Hudson River, she is ready to give it her all for the sake of others.

The psalmist reminds us today that God has formed each of us, body, mind and spirit since we were in our mother's wombs. In the dark mystery that is life, God brings forth magnificent people, with hearts of gold and spirits of lions. Formed day by day with love and compassion, we are molded and modeled, not for our own pleasure and delight but for the renewing and healing of the world. God gives us such capacity from the beginning. And God goes with us into the fray, into the deep and throbbing river and into all the places in between.

Today, I ask God to help us all remember how loved and known we truly are. May each of us rejoice in our Creator, who makes each of us for the blessing of others. May we use what we have been given this day for love - for the care and feeding of our communities. And may we know, as we give ourselves away, as we share what we have been given, God is truly with us.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:30-44


We wept in each others arm
mother and child a separation
too deep for words
together we face new life
new adventure but not without deep loss.

We ache for the distance
we ache for the change
we ache for the memories
that will have to be made new.

I am no stone angel
I feel your every ache and fear
we are not divided but bound
together we are flesh and bone.

We ache for the distance
we ache for the change
we ache for the memories
that will have to be made new.

These tears are for the love
that we have shared since before birth
the synchronized breathing
the shared struggles and separations.

We ache for the distance
we ache for the change
we ache for the memories
that will have to be made new.

The months ahead a world away
I will sing the old lullabies
and you will have to remember
when sang I sang them to you.

We ache for the distance
we ache for the change
we ache for the memories
that will have to be made new.

Unbind us and let us go, Lord
we will return with new songs
we will come home with bigger dreams
and new life to share with you.

We ache for the distance
we ache for the change
we ache for the memories
that will have to be made anew.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Going to Meet Them

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. John 11:17-29

We spent the day yesterday, out and about in Boston, visiting old haunts and new ones. We spent part of the day at the zoo with our daughter, looking over all the wondrous animals and especially the gorilla baby. I got thinking about what it might be like to be a captive wild animal and what they think about us looking at them. An older gorilla came right up to window, sat in front of us, as if being very social and curious. We, who can go down the road and meet people, often stayed confined to our very safe places. And yet those who are captive ache to meet others and explore the world they wish to know so well.

Martha and Mary had just suffered a tremendous loss. Their brother has died and Jesus was not there to help them. Martha rushes out to meet Jesus, but Mary stays at home, locked into her own private grief. We humans either rush around or hide when we are stricken with such loss. And yet Martha, in her willingness to go out and meet them, finds her heart and faith transformed completely. She is so moved by the presence of the living God that she can take in his complete capacity, even in the depths of her grief. We are invited, no matter how we desire to hide away from the world due to hurts and losses, to run out and meet the living God, the one coming into the world, even today.

Today, I ask God to help us all move out into the world. May we rise up every morning with the hope of meeting the living God on the road. My our faith be transformed as we embrace others and see the face of Christ in them. May we not be bound and held captive by our grief and our losses, rather, be set free to seek God on the darkest highways. May we not fear the going out, knowing that God will always meet us on the road.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We May Die with Him

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:1-16

Yesterday we traveled to Boston with our dog and cat. Petey and Darla will be living with our youngest while we are in Alaska for 18 months. As we get close to moving day, I am aware how challenging it is to change, move and take up a different place. The animals were agitated at first. They adjusted. We will adjust. There is a tiny bit of fear that comes with every new change which suggests we might die this time through. And yet, where ever we go we are never alone.

Jesus and the disciples learn of the death of Lazarus. He was like family to Jesus. The journey was necessary but the journey would be treacherous. The politics were violent and they feared for their lives. And yet, they could make no other choice but to go with Jesus, to face whatever was before them. Their love and loyalty was so secured that they were ready to face their fears. They were going with Jesus. And when we make that choice, we find that Jesus goes with us too, that we are not alone in the way ahead, and there are still greater miracles in store.

Today as we travel and prepare, may we remember that as we choose to follow God, God chooses to go with us and lead us. May we choose love and constancy today, in the face of great change and loss, knowing that we are held closely to the heart of God.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven Years After

We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
As your name, O God,
so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments!
Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.
Psalm 48:9-14

Eleven Years After

So many gone, along with innocence
we rushed to demonize and judge
but first we ran to embrace the living.

We prayed that some survived
that we would survive such destruction
we leaned together in grief and loss.

God found us broken and undone
filled with anger and bile
aching for our children and our parents.

God found us and compassion
bigger than a celestial orb
surrounded us and we moved together.

We have moved apart and taken sides
but God is always on the side of the down trodden
the loss, the lonely, and the prisoners all.

God is moving again among us
ushering us to a new way of living
where we look upon the stranger as family.

Monday, September 10, 2012

One with the Father


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

I have been thinking a good deal about families lately, about parents and children, and our interconnectedness and interdependence. No matter how far we run from each other, no matter how hard we cling to each one, we are inexorably linked and bound together. DNA science had demonstrated what we knew before by experience, we share blood and traits, strands of behavior and conditions, some inevitable, so not so much. But we are part of the same cloth, fabric from the same loom, people woven together despite all the differences and discord.

Jesus was being pushed and tested again y the religious authority. They wanted to understand his role and his authority, challenging his claims and his relationship to God. Jesus reply was familial and connected - we are one. Jesus knew that his relationship with God was solid and at a fundamental level, not happenstance nor a silly unfounded claim. Like all close family ties, we cannot run from those we are tied to, we are linked together completely. And in this statement of Jesus, we find ourselves inexorably linked with the Creator through him, a people made of the same fabric.

Today I want to be grateful for the immediate family I have, but also for the wider family of God. We are not so different in our differences. We are socially, culturally and linguistically diverse, but at heart we are children of a loving God, who aches for us to see our similarities and not our differences, the commonalities and not the boundaries. May we be agents of inclusion, agents of creative solutions and active in the reconciliation of the world.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Even the Dogs

Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go-- the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak." Mark 7:24-37

This weekend our grand daughter Lilly has been here with us. Our dog Petey, who is a mutt and a girl, is very gentle and patient with Lilly. I suspect it is mostly her good nature, but also the fact that Lilly shares all sorts of food with her, dropping crackers, pretzels willy-nilly and often offering to share food with Petey outright. They have a symbiotic relationship, this wise older companion and her young messy provider. They are both members of a loving extended family, who watch out and care for each other.

Jesus was trying to get a rest when a panicked mother sought him out. Her child was tormented and the mother at her limit. Jesus refused initially, since the woman and child were not of the tribe. But she persisted, and pointed out that even the dogs are part of the extended family. Jesus had a change of heart, a learning moment, a growth experience in his ministry. And the frantic mother's faith and insistence, changed the course of his ministry. We learn from this story that even when we are reluctant to ask God, God is willing to heal and transform us, bringing us the faith and abundance we might be lacking. We are part of a world wide, extended family that reaches across time and space in God's love.

Today, may we be more willing to ask God for what we need, and more willing to express our need that we are bound by pride and shame. May we be willing to be a part of the family, seeking to be included in all aspects of the life of God's family. And may we, because of what we have received from God, reach out across all boundaries and barriers, sharing God's love to our extended family far and wide, seeing all as welcome and included at one big table of love.

The Collect

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

One Flock

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:1-18

Today our daughter, her husband and his brother are here helping us move some items into storage while we are away in Alaska for 18 months. Sometimes the tasks seem overwhelming and often, since I can no longer lift and tote, somewhat frustrating. I like being in charge, and strong and setting my own time and agenda. But not, it is someone else's timing, and I have a new opportunity to learn patience.

Jesus moves beyond the religious and doctrinal wranglings to offering a picture of God's reign - with one flock, one shepherd, people, members of one family, all related by love and service. It is not what we always want to hear, particularly those of us who like to take charge and direct things. Those who can see the big picture have a hard time being one of the flock. And yet, we are offered a depth of relationship in God, which, rather than subjugating people, brings everyone to an even place, a safe pasture, and a wide, welcoming table. We can see the challenge to our authority in this very pastoral description or we can welcome the familiar, tender and arms of a God who wants us all in.

Today, as the dust flies and the boxes and bins move, I ask God to help me be full of thanksgiving for all of God's blessings in my life. For strong young muscles and a willing family. For the beauty of the earth and the firm breeze taking away the lingering dampness. May we all rejoice that we are one flock with one shepherd, a family, diverse and talented, spread far and wide with room enough at the table for us all.

Friday, September 7, 2012

One Thing I Know

And they asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
John 9:19-25

The past few days have been oppressive with heat and humidity. Everything clung to itself, everything has been damp and even when the sky lightened for a bit, the damp air never let go. Last night we had a lovely dinner with friends and as we were leaving, stepping into the night air, we all felt the change. The weather had finally broken, a front had moved through and the heavy blanket of dampness was lifted. We all looked up and the stars were amazing and brilliant. As if we had never seen stars before, we stared up, grateful for the change of weather and the beauty of the night.

The man who was healed by Jesus, and his parents were under the scrutiny of the religious leaders. They wanted answers as to why this healing had occurred and by what authority. The healed man and his family really did not chose to be in the center of a controversy. They were just grateful that the healing had occurred and that Jesus touched a man who could only beg before this. They did not know how it happened but they were forever grateful for the miracle, the change in his eyesight and a positive change in all of their lives. We can find ourselves in times when our burdens and diseases are so heavy that we re brought to our knees. God invites us to know the Divine as one who seeks out the poor and the broken, the overwhelmed and the ignored. God is seeking out the ones left by the side of the road, for healing and transformation.

Today, may I live this day in gratitude for all the healing and change in my life. May we, who have received blessing after blessing, remember that there are others still waiting, still begging for the weight to be lifted, the burden to be untied. May we be those who offer the love of God to strangers and friends alike, not worrying about their orthodoxy, but about their hearts. May we not add to anyone's burden with our theology, but rather by our humility and love, welcome all.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Work While It Is Day

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” John 9:1-12

There was an old joke in my family. When the lights would go out during a storm, like the ones we've been having of late, we would raise our hands in the air. Inevitably, the lights would come back on. We would all laugh at one of my father's favorite puns, which he adored. He loved to play with words and his puns would make us groan. He was also a fan of hard work, and we kids had little time for rest and leisure if my Dad had a project in mind. We were expected to work while the sun was shining knowing a time would come when we had to sit it out.

Jesus heals a blind man, a man who had spent his life begging because there was no other work for him. Jesus was sent by God to heal him and to heal the world, to bind up the broken, to set prisoners free, and he took his job seriously despite all the back wash from angry religious leaders. He lso had the man participate in his own healing by washing in the pool. There is good work for each of us to do, and as followers of Christ, we are invited to work when we can, constantly serving others and asking how we can be agents of healing and renewal.

I ask God today to help me be ready at all times to lean in and help. May the Divine inspire and renew us so that we can each do our part for the uplifting and renewal of our world. May we carry the burdens of others in the sunlight, knowing that God will bring healing and light, freedom and strength to those in need. May our words and actions glorify God who sees in the light and darkness, and into the depths of our hearts.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Another's Glory

Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:50-59

Another's Glory

The mirror is your friend
your only true abiding companion
the light of day is not for warmth
nor night's shadow for introspection.

You live alone among the family
your needs priority, your comfort first
imagining yourself loved and adored
your preen and pose for your fans.

We live for another's joy , another's glory
we serve with constancy and hope
love blossoms where sacrifice is offered
love takes root where no notice is given.

God has given us new words, new language
our hearts and hands make beautiful music
we embrace the stranger, bend to the child
spoon a meal to the dying and clean during the night.

The Divine love authors more joy
as we give love away as we move through shadows
The Creator molds new hearts of forgiveness
compassion and service become our delight.

May God find us in our bending and reaching
our sweating brows crinkled with smiles
may joy be our night and our morning
as we live for others, as we live for God.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the people were expecting.” Acts 12:6-11

I don't really know if I have every experienced an angel visitation, at least not in the classic, gauzy vision with wings type of experience. I have been rescued, and taken out of circumstances that could only have been through a divine hand. I once was driving my car in Baltimore rush hour traffic when my car died in the middle lane on Cathedral Street. People were furious and edging toward violent when a man rushed out of his parked car, pushed my dead VW to safety and was gone. We had no real verbal exchange but I knew him to be an angel.

Peter is under heavy guard, the next to be crucified by an angry king who wanted to squash the controversy, and needed to subdue his critics. Peter, and the faithful, were making his life uncomfortable by spreading a Gospel of love and forgiveness in a world that thrived on power and greed. Peter is rescued in the middle of the night by an angel with supernatural powers who leaves him once he is outside the gate. Peter is strengthened and renewed in the short encounter. The faithful are also buoyed up and encouraged. God promises to find ways to rescue us, to encourage us and lift us up, even in the most bound and direst of circumstances. God and all the surrounding angels and powers are present as we are faithful servant of love and forgiveness.

Today, as we face tasks, monumental and tedious, heart-breaking and joyous - whatever is before us - may we remember how ready God is to stand with us and free us from our chains. May we ready our hearts to receive divine intervention, angel visitations and the touch of God's love in our lives. May we be faithful servants of God's loving embrace, bearers of divine forgiveness and welcome, so others may know the presence of the living God breaking through their bonds and chains.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Truth Will Set You Free

So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:25-32The

We took a walk along the ocean last night. Although it is September, it felt like the middle of the summer as it was very warm and muggy. The clouds obscured most of the star but the nearly full moon was brilliant and reaching through. It is normal to want the summer to last forever and yet it does not. We all know our lives are changing rapidly and things cannot remain the same. Those who want to live with denial and delusion can get away with it for a while. But the only way to live and thrive is to embrace the truth, no matter how hard it might be and to dive in head first, trusting God to lead the way.

Jesus is still struggling to offer a loving and closer relationship with God to people who want to remain in control. They want to cling to the security of their management techniques, their lists and their rules. It has worked in the past for them. But God has arrived, in the flesh, to offer them a new way, a new reality, and an intimacy with God. They are terrified. And yes, we are all terrified when faced with the truth and faced with the waning of the familiar and the secure. God promises to be more in times like these. God promises to go before us and surround us as we embrace the truth and let go of our controls. We cannot control the world and God is ready and willing to find us safe passage and renew our weary souls.

Today, I ask God to help me embrace the truth, and to take God into my heart. The changes are mammoth that we face, but God is bigger and kinder than all that we face. May we see our losses as an invitation to deeper love, our failure as more tender relationship, and our need as being met before we can cry our. May we see the freedom road, the way ahead that God has promised as we face the truth and open wide our hearts to God.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Faraway Hearts

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

'This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.'

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Faraway Hearts

It is not distance but control
nor different opinion but power
that keep us separate
as we push away the heart of love.

Our fear, rattling through our bones
makes us conform to society
follow fashion trends
raising our children to be consumers only.

Our faith, a decoration from childhood
is a place to go to be seen
a way to teach our offspring their place
and never a challenge to the heart.

In every generation we are given a choice
to choose love or society
choose wealth over compassion
success over service.

In every life God breathes
breath of deep love and humility
an ache and desire for kindness and forgiveness
we spend a life time shaking it off
sending God's love away.

In every moment God offers new
life and freedom, a rebirth of the heart
a path of light and promise
where voices are raised in tender song
and hearts are made one in love.

The Collect

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September Light

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:12-20

It is Labor Day weekend and the people have come in droves to the shore to squeeze one last weekend out of summer. Although the autumnal equinox does not arrive until late in the month, our internal calendars are measured by back to school and all the fall routines including football schedules. I love the fall but many get depressed when fall arrives, and struggle with the loss of light. I watched the light as it filtered through the trees in Western PA, and a breeze caught the leaves falling, dancing on the streams of filtered light.

Jesus continues to explain his role and who he is in God's reign. Few want to hear or acknowledge him. It means their world is changing, the old order is passing away and a new order, and a radical new season is beginning. We humans resist and rail against change, especially when it means we will have to think and function in new ways - we will have to learn new things. God wants us to understand the gift and benefit of change, of new light and the rotation of life, the rotation of the earth. We are given the glorious gift of seasons and times, so that the changes in light bring us new revelation, new insight into the heart of God.

Today, I ask God to help me see with new eyes, and with an expectant and open heart. There is so much to do in the coming days and the anxiety of expectations can take away from the joy of life. No matter how life changes, God's light is with us and no matter how much new we must take in, Jesus promises to show us the way and light our path each step on the road. May we embrace each new day, learning and growing by God's light, dancing and swaying with the falling leaves, celebrating the incredible gift that is the light of the world.