Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. Luke 11:37-41

I remember being a child in grade school, hardly able to breathe through the school day on Halloween. Everything hung on the end of the day, it getting dark and our setting out into the neighborhood. Safety was of no concern, as was having dinner or anything else. All that mattered was getting out there and getting the goodies. The absolute fun of being a child on a school night able to walk around in the dark with other kids and demands candy from adults. We couldn't worry about the proper things that adults worried about - cleanliness, nutrition, hygiene - we child soldiers on a missions to conquer the world in one night. We may have conquered only candy and a few hours of freedom but the joy was real and lasting.

Jesus encounters those who live by very strict rules and who judge others by the same. He is criticized for not washing before dinner, following the customs of his people. His mission and zeal always took precedence for him over the customs and rules of his day. People, love and compassion took precedence also for him. And he bristled at the adults who made the rules the center of their faith rather than love and service. We are invited today to live as people who put others first, who honor love and compassion before custom and rules. We are invited to be like children, who rush with joy to the arms of love and compassion.

On this Halloween, the Eve of All Saints', may we remember the love and joy we have been given as children. May we not be anxious about the proper ways but act in love, compassion and forgiveness at all times. May we reach out for those who are outside of the customs and rules of our people and bring them God's joy this day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wholly Bright

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” Luke 11:33-36

I woke up this morning in the still darkness to find a covering of snow on the ground. I also woke up to good reports from my family that they survived the worst of the storm and folks still have homes and power, for the most part. All day yesterday, I could think of nothing else but them and our family home, where the light house stands shining bright in ever rotating circles. It has always been a constant reminder of God's protection and light. It can be disconcerting to those who have the wholly bright light shine in their eyes while trying to sleep, but for us who have made the place a home, it is love writ large.

Jesus is moving through the crowds, and folks are expectant and developing an dependence on his presence. Understanding that God makes a home within each of us, he encourages them to take charge of their faith, acting from the place of blessing and light for others around them. He did not want them to hoard God's love or hide it, but maturely share it and encourage God's love and light in others. We are encouraged to find God's blessings and presence in our lives and to actively share that goodness with others.

Today, as the storm passes and we wait to hear of everyone's safety, may we remember that God abides with each and every one of us. We are God's light and we can shine for those who have lost their way. We can be a beacon of hope to those who have broken hearts and who are still wrapped in darkness. May we shine brightly as the pieces are put back together, and may we be tender and loving to all as God mends our broken lives.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A House Divided

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. Luke 11:14-20

There is something about a storm that makes petty the things we worry about and shows that the only thing we really have is love - and our loved ones. We might now agree on some things and have our quibbles over minor details, but when the tide rises and the winds blow, we remember how much we are blessed and how much we love each other. Being so far away from my family, here in Alaska while they face the monster storm, reminds me how precious they are and how blessed I am by their love. Nothing else matters but their safety and being able to see them whole again.

Jesus cures a man who was unable to speak, he had no voice. His silence was a burden to him and his family and they surely rejoiced when he was well. Others wanted to undermine their joy, wanted to test Jesus and his faithfulness. Love was more important then and as it is now, and the wholeness outweigh any religious correctness. Vanity flies out the window when a love one is troubled and in harm's way. And when safe and healed, nothing should challenge the joy. We are invited to rejoice in all the good blessings that come from God, that originate in the author of love.

A Prayer for All Loved Ones

" Gracious Creator, author of all that is good and lovely, you have blessed us with love and family, and have promised to cover them with your mantle of protection. Hear us now as we cry to you for those in harm's way, both our loved ones and the strangers who are someone's love also. We are totally dependent on you, and give thanks for the abundance of love and healing you bring to us all. Make us ever grateful for the enormous blessings of this life - the loved ones, so precious and beautiful to each of us. Amen"

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Let Me See Again

Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52

I cannot hear the story of blind Bartimaeus without thinking about the first verse of Amazing Grace. A song which has been so embedded in my life, so much of the part of the fabric that it seems woven into my DNA. My ancestors walked the Trail of Tears and sang that song. "U ne la nv i u we tsi, i ga go yv he i,hna quo tso sv wi yu lo se,i ga gu yv ho nv." " Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see." It is the song so many know by heart and it is the song of resistance, survival and the reassurance of God's grace in our lives, all written by a former slave ship captain.

Bartimaeus does not back down when others tell him to be quiet. He has been sitting by the road, begging for his daily bread and wants to live. He no longer want to be stuck in his pain and limitations, by the rules of society that have pushed him to the margin, nor by his own personal history. He wants to move and follow Jesus. He receives his healing and gets on his way following the source of all healing and compassion. We are invited to be bold like him, and then when the barriers are lifted to be up and sharing the love we have received.

Today, as we all face a variety of limitations and storms, as we hunker down to face what comes our way, may we be bold as we cry out to God, trusting that God will restore us. May we rely completely on the amazing grace and love of God, which is more ready to give than we are to ask. May we cry out and offer our need, and seek God in all of our pain and anxiety. And may God provide just what we need to get up and love others.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Joy in the Morning

I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O LORD,
you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
To you, O LORD, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me!
O LORD, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30

I have returned home after a good week in Fairbanks. On Thursday we had a healing workshop and a service of healing. people shared their stories of hurt and abuse, of violence, loss and dislocation. And yet despite what they had suffered they were all gathered to find healing and to offer healing and forgiveness to others. They were all seeking to serve God by offering themselves. I was touched and moved by everyone's honesty and commitment to others. What joy and possibility despite what has gone on before.

I find that the psalms are often wonderful expressions of the life of faith. Despite the pain we have suffered God does not leave of there, and the psalms are anthems to God's continuing faithfulness and everlasting constancy, despite all the harsh and cruel people we encounter in our world. We know pain but the psalmist helps us celebrate both our survival and God's love for us.

Today, as light dawns in Sitka, our home, I give thanks for the morning and for every morning we have. I ask God to turn all of the mourning into dancing today and to bring joy where there was only pain. May God's love and faithfulness be wrapped around us today, like a warm blanket of tenderness and forgiveness, so that we can share out joy with others.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Seek and You Shall Find

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And 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 who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him 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

Seek and You Shall Find

A small child frightened and alone
left by the side as darkness falls
searching as dusk surrounds for light
and a safe night place.

The hot tears that fear provoke
the keening deep in the throat
aching for arms to be sheltered in
a place call home forever.

The initial panic can pass
and we can learn to toughen up
and to hide the ache and scars
from ourselves and from God.

God alone know the broken child
the one you hide away inside
the one who tugs at your sleeve
bringing fresh reminders of the dark.

God alone stands in for us
waiting for our asking our seeking
feet running towards the light
hands outstretched to be held again.

Love encircles us as we pray
forgiveness wraps around as we sing
healing comes as we seek our need
love bring us to the light of home.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Do Likewise

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 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

Today I will be doing a training on healing. All of the technology that I have tried to use in preparation for the preparation has failed. I was anxious and worried until I finally realized that healing is an activity we cannot do on our own. We have to rely completely on God but also on the people around us. My surgery was so recent and yet I have forgotten how completely dependent I was (and am) on others. Some were loving family and others were complete strangers. All provided tender care and were never unkind or shaming. They too wanted healing for me and were active participants in my recovery.

The lawyer was questioning Jesus with a desire to understand how to be faithful. Like many of us, his mind got in the way of the answers he was being given. So Jesus tells him the story of the Samaritan and tells him to do likewise. He told him to show mercy to all, strangers, friends and enemies alike. We participate in our own faith as we tenderly care for others, and show mercy and kindness to all people. We are invited to respond to others with love and to become active participants in the recovery of others. Our walk in faith is not one of judgment or shaming ourselves or others, but rather, to always be participants in God's healing and restoration.

Today as we gather to learn together about healing, I ask God to help me be an active participant in the healing of others. May my faith be strengthened with each stranger who becomes a friend. May we set aside all shame and judgement and move together tenderly and prayerfully. May we give what we have so others might thrive and be followers of Jesus by being his hands on earth.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Revealed and Hidden

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

The hotel where we are staying will alert you when the northern lights appear. I saw them before when I was visiting here years ago but I would love to have that experience again. Right now they seem hidden from view, and nothing I can do will change that. Their beauty, the dancing light show across the sky is a gift for us all and is hidden to those in a hurry or occupied otherwise.

Jesus welcomes back the seventy two and prays with gratitude for their willingness and their simple faith. Recognizing the power that has been bestowed on them by the hand of God, he reminds them of the blessing they have received. He also reminds them to continue to be humble and grateful for the power and presence of God in their lives. They were connected to the source and were encouraged to see that power and capacity is a gift from God. We too are reminded today to be grateful for the gifts we have received and be expectant and hopeful like children. We are blessed by God, everyone, and asked simply to remember all that we have is through God's gracious and abundant love and power.

Today, as we gather to deliberate and pray together, I ask God to grant us patience and to have hearts open like children. We humans are prone to anxiety and trying to taking control of things out of our control. May we let go of control, waiting and watching like little children. May we delight in the gifts of this day and rejoice in the power and promises we have been given. And ay we continued to be called by God in the service of others.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Peace be to this House!

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Luke 10:1-12

On this journey, now in Fairbanks, I was noticing how hard it is for people to be peaceful in transit. In the airport in Anchorage, although it is a small, well laid out place, and not overcrowded at all, people still move with a restlessness, a frenetic and unsettled pace. How hard it is for those of us on the road to have peace.

Jesus is sending out the disciples and seventy-two others, two by two. We have no real record of these folks, but I imagine they were anxious and fearful as they set out. They took nothing with them, nothing to comfort them or remind them of home.Their instructions were devastatingly clear. They were to carry God's peace with them and to bless those who welcomed them and shake the dust off from those who would not welcome them. We humans usually go and seek peace especially when we are on a journey, but God is reminding us today that we carry God's peace with us. We carry God's abundance and blessing with us. Nothing more is required of us, no sacred visits or holy waters, no tokens or signs. God is with us and God's peace is with us always.

Today, I ask God to help me recognize that God's peace is within me and that I lack nothing but the courage to journey on. May we all be given the courage to journey on and share this day, for many are sent but many run to the hills in fear. May God's love banish all our fear and anxiety today and may we spread God's peace where ever we go.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A New Song

Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 149

One of the hardest decisions I had to make, as we packed to leave the east for our sojourn in Alaska, was what to do with my harp. It had been lovingly repaired and I really wanted to bring it with me, but the cost and the complications ended up being too much. Leaving my family behind was harder, of course, but having my harp with me, give me a strength even I don't understand. Letting go was hard. And yet today, to my surprise, a dear woman from St. Peter's showed up at our door with a gorgeous harp to lend me. The joy brought tears and gratefulness beyond measure. A new way to sing s new song!

The psalmist is never afraid to lay it all out before God. Both in the hardest of times and in the most wondrous of times, the psalmist finds ways to put music in our midst of us. A voice rising from the ancient dust, to sing of the faithfulness of God and to remind us to sing and rejoice even in new and strange lands. God invites us to move beyond our familiar and secure and to pour out our need, along with our love and our hearts before the lord. We are asked simply to be fully human before God and to offer the gifts of celebration and joy we have been given.

Today, as I begin another journey to Fairbanks, I ask God to help me be full of new songs and new hope for the coming days. May we never forget to sing and dance before the Lord, as well as offer our prayers and petitions to the Creator. God is in the midst of us and always inspiring us with new life and possibility. May we all remember to sing with joy like children rejoicing in the love we have been given so freely and completely.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

To Serve

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Mark 10:35-45

To Serve

Oh the arrogance and pride swelling
our heads and our hearts we are
the accomplished and the best
we assure ourselves a place in God's kingdom
we can now go to the head of the line.

The world spins off her center
as wealthy grow righteous and feed
off the need of the vulnerability
the desire and the ache among the least
and promise green pastures for the elect.

Rain like tears from heaven hit the ground
the Lord above is crying, hard cold rain
our hearts are thick with pride
senses dulled with abundance and comfort
we drift away thinking righteous thoughts.

The rain falls on those who would follow
and those who would lead, never forcing
only keening for the abandoned children
the elder pushed aside by our hurry
the tender souls who do not harm
but cannot fight alone.

We who would lead must follow
kneeling with a brush and towel
offering our bread and roses to others
bending and waiting on the world
making space for love to take hold.

We who would be recognized must veil
and be silent while the silent speak
go hungry while the hungry are fed
ache while the broken are mended
and be blind as the blind get their sight.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Majesty of God

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child." And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God. Luke 9:37-42

The winter beauty of this new place has begun to reveal itself to me. The mountains are covered in snow and the trees look frosted with powdered sugar. The dark ocean contrasts beautifully with all of the lush green and sparkling white of our world. And yet the image I have focused on the most is that of our grand daughter Lilly eating fish crackers. Her mom sent it to me on my phone and now it is the wallpaper. There is her beautiful face staring at me every where I go. For me the majesty of God is most pronounced and witnessed in the faces of my beloved husband, children and family. Haring each voice as we talk across the miles powerfully reminds me of God's love in my life.

The disciples were struggling to heal a little boy whose father was in complete distress. The man appeals to Jesus and the boys is made well after several frightening moments of convulsions and screaming terror. People were delighted and amazed, remarking to one another about the power and majesty of God. Jesus calls them a faithless and twisted generation. He has offered them love and healing and so often fear and confusion kept them from stepping out in faith. They couldn't see the forest for the trees, it would seem and neither can we. We get so caught up in the daily tasks and frustrations that we fail to see and invite the majesty of God.

Today may we not be numbered among the faithless and twisted generation, but rather be bold in our faith. May we expect miracles and see God's love and power in every situation. May frustration and fear take a back seat to love and healing, and may we be agents of hope and inspiration where ever we are. May God give us the strength to rejoice every morning and know the majesty of God in our midst today.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Happens on the Mountain

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

Yesterday was Alaska, which is a big deal here in Sitka. This was the place of the actual transfer of the territory from Russia to the United States government in 1867. It is a state holiday and our normally more sleepy town is transformed into a crowded Mardi Gras type atmosphere for several hours. It had rained before the parade and ceremonies but the skies clear and a rainbow smiled upon us. This morning. waking up, I witnessed the first hard frost and our world is transformed again, two days in a row before my very eyes.

Jesus went up the mountain with Peter, James and John for prayer by themselves. While Jesus prayed the others slept which, at this point, seems to be pretty routine for the fishermen made disciples. The world around them changes, though, and they glimpse the divine and eternal Jesus with the ancestors. The have a vision of a reality they cannot see and the world is forever changed for them. They did not tell the story until later, when it made more sense to them. Not for fear but for timing and understanding, did Jesus ask them to keep silent. Some day, the visions we have today, these glimpses of another world, of another more divine and eternal will make be made complete somehow. For now, God invites us to take in all the wonders before us and know that with every change and season, God is making love more grounded, more permanent and more complete day by day.

Today, may we celebrate the life we have been given, however humbled and burdened it might be. May we give thanks and be grateful as the seasons change, celebrating the bounty and visions we have received and opening our hearts to the insights ahead. Despite our aches and pains, the discomfort of growth and change, may we see beyond this summit to know we are being made more and more in the image of God, more and more grounded in love.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Take Up Your Cross

Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:18-27

I am still reeling some days from the effects of moving. Boxes are almost all here but the differences in climate and culture are challenging to me. Challenging also is
distance from my family - from my mother, my siblings and my children. Sometimes it's a physical ache, surprisingly, and other times it hits me when after supper I think to call someone and realize they are in bed already. It is a small cross to bear for serving among wonderful people in this place. Each of us who chose to follow God and minister to people are sometimes called far from our comfort zone and away from the familiarity of what we know as home.

The disciples are trying to understand what their ministry is and their place in it. Jesus asks them in turn who the people think Jesus is, and who they understand him to be. When Peter replies,“the Christ of God,” Jesus cautions silence and then tells them to take up their cross daily. Their will be burdens to carry for their ministry and blessings also. If they are willing to deny themselves and bear the burdens of servant-hood, then they will be lifted from their suffering to see and know the reign of God face to face. That promise is made to us also, if we are willing to offer our lives in the service of God and in caring for the people.

Today, I ask God for the strength to carry the burdens and rejoice in the work and relationships I have been given. Help me to see the challenges as the in-breaking of God's kingdom among us. May we deny ourselves, letting go of control and offering ourselves daily to God's transforming love. May we see no work as beneath us but may we rejoice in the opportunity to be bound to the source of light and life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Journey

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Luke 9:1-6

My husband went to the post offices to pick up several of our boxes which have arrived. Since we are only here for 18 months, we sent only the essentials like clothes and papers we needed. We tried to pare down to the minimum, not burdening ourselves with items we do not need. We do take great delight in discovering little treasures we sent from home like our handmade coffee cups and my swim fins. Folks have been very kind here, lending us items and sharing a desk and a bookcase for our time here. I am greatly moved my the generosity and blessing that we have received in welcome.

Jesus sent his disciples out two by two with very clear direction to take nothing for their journey and to be completely dependent on the welcome they received. He also told them to be harsh with those who were unwelcoming and who did not offer them shelter and food. There is no mention of them returning with clean feet, so I have to imagine they were well received and offered much kindness. They were traveling with love in their hearts and giving the people God's love, blessings and healing. They were bringing the gospel of God with us to the people, and carrying forgiveness from God with them. People are often generous in the face of abundant blessing. Some will turn away but most will be curious and acknowledge their own needs and desires. God invites us to go out with only God's blessing and to welcome those who carry the God's good news of love and healing for today.

A Prayer for Travelers

Dear loving Creator, be with those who go forth this day in love. May their hands be open, their hearts on fire with love and may they see family and friends where ever they go. May you surround them with peace and strength, so they do not get weary in the face of rejection and delays. May we who are travelers have eyes to see the face of God in everyone. May we make room for others as we have been made welcome. And may we carry our stories of hope and new life as we find home at journeys end. Amen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Do Not Be Afraid, Only Believe

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus' feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler's house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:40-56

Do Not Be Afraid, Only Believe

The hard rain began close to midnight
the lullaby of deepest night
reminding us that winter is coming
out of the storm we are sheltered
safe from the soaking and shivering cold.

Light leaves us sooner every day
and the ache within cries out
unbidden and ignored pain rattles
crying for healing and screaming
for attention for healing now.

What we ignore in the daylight becomes
master in the silence and in the dark
we wander the shadows seeking relief
seeking a touch that will not hurt
will not add to the pain.

The teacher is among us
so is shame and we tremble
hiding our embarrassment our illness
so long within us groans
for a touch of the holy.

God is among us aching for us
feeling our need and shame
like burning heat and flame
our need is so great is shouts
to the maker the creator to be whole.

A woman broken by years of pain freed
a daughter near death restored and dancing
a mother's heart warmed within her
a parent's gnawing worry taken completely away.

God is among walking and waiting
knowing the tears we hide in the rain
seeing the burdens we carry
hearing our groaning from all our worry
God's arms are open to all that we bear
"do not be afraid, only believe."

Monday, October 15, 2012


Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39

Halloween is around the corner and the horror movies are flooding the television channels. For some reason, we give ourselves permission to be frightened and scream at this time of the year. I really enjoy Halloween and all the fun that comes with it but I can do without the horror films. Maybe it is because I have been exposed to too many real scary things in my life, maybe the exposure to mental illness in friends and family, maybe - but for whatever reason, I find that horror films just make me sad. There is enough in this world to be frightened about for me.

Today, Jesus comes across a whole village which has been scared to death for years by a very sick young man. His disease is so profound that they isolate him from others and put him in chains. He ran around naked for so long terrorizing the whole community. I don't know what possession really looks like, but having been with folks who are mentally ill and violent, I can imagine their terror. Jesus heals the pitiful young man and send the demons away into the pigs, who in turn toss themselves over the cliff. The pigs cannot bear the torment either. We are invited today to understand the violence and terror that is all too real in many families. We hear and see that God even will cure the worst of the worst and send the torment and pain to its death. What possibilities we find when peace overcomes terror and love puts away violence forever.

I pray this day that God will help me be an agent to end violence and terror. May we live as prayer warriors, taking on even the hardest illnesses and the most painful of situations. May we know that we never pray alone but that God is with us in our silence and our tears, and that God will find a way to bring peace and love where there has been only terror, pain and violence. May God give us all the strength we need to combat the terror and violence in our communities, and invite God to remake us in the image of love.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

All Things Are Possible

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible."

Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age--houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions--and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." Mark 10:17-31

We moved to Sitka just over two weeks ago and this place has captured my heart. It's beauty and the warmth of the people has really touched me. And yet, I am also tugged back home to the other coast. My internal clock is still eastern and my orientation is still to look out to the ocean to the east. The ocean here is west, due west, and it requires me turning around and reforming my perspective - a letting go of the familiar and familial and an embracing of the new and very different.

Jesus encounters a faithful young man who yearns to follow Jesus and to be considered among the disciples and the other followers. Jesus tells him the simple things of faith and then challenges him to let go of his substantial wealth and his place in the community. His possessions and his class kept him from embracing the true love of God in his life. In his cossetted comfort, he was unable to see his own need. God invites us all to turn around, letting go of those things which bind us and hold us back from the love of God. We are encouraged to set down our burdens and turn, facing a whole new direction, a whole new way of life. How scary is that?

Today, I ask God for the strength to let go of all those things that keep me from the love of God. May we be willing to turn around, setting down the burdens that keep us from following God, and tearing down the barriers that keep us from loving others. May we forgo comfort for compassion, goods for godliness, and embrace the true freedom we have in God's abiding love.

The Collect

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Come to Light

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” Luke 8:16-18

As I write the sun is slowly making its way up. This time of year, the daylight time is shorter and shorter and sunrise is late due to daylight savings time. Here in Alaska, they promise me that there will be some light in the dead of winter, but not very much. Something I have yet to experience and am praying that I will be able to thrive in the depths of winter here in Sitka and find sources of light for our lives.

Jesus understands the importance of light to the people, the need for oil and other fuels so that darkness doesn't encompass us. He also knows that some of us use the darkness as a cover for anger and hurt and we strike out when we think we are hidden by a blanket of darkness. He wants us to understand that God is with us in the light and the dark, in our bright days and our darkest nights. We are not alone in God. As a sign of our relationship with God, we are challenged to let our light shine, sharing God's light and abundance with people around us.

Today, as the rain comes pouring down, I ask God to help me share the gifts of light and mercy that I have been given. May our circumstances never dictate our generosity and may we light the lamps and be ready for God's love in our lives. May we use what we have been given for the help of others and banish darkness and sadness with our offerings. May God's love shine through us so the world may come to know the light of God.

Friday, October 12, 2012

An Honest and Good Heart

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:1-15

As the growing season wraps up and the gardens are put to their rest for the winter, there is always preparation for the next spring, and the ongoing composting and preparation that readies the soil for another season. Being new to Sitka, we find ourselves in several new seasons, preparing for a winter we haven't yet experienced and a renewal of a community which has suffered extraordinary change. To be an honest and good heart in a new place or a new time, means being willing to be dug up, turned and fed, willing to learn from gardeners with experience and time in the field.

Jesus was on the road with his disciples and the women. He used farming images and rural scenes to help folks understand better what he was teaching. The people understood planting and growing and so he used that culture to enlighten them all. The parable reminds us that it is God who does the tilling and the planting. We are invited to be "those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." We are invited to be earth, dirt, soil - whatever your word, we are invited to be the ground of faith by holding what we have been given, carefully and tenderly. And we are to be that ground by having a honest and good heart, a heart which nourishes and is compassionate and forgiving of others. Then God's garden of abundance will flourish wherever we are.

Today, I ask God to help me be rich earth, the medium which helps love and faith grow in this new place. May we all have the courage to be tilled, turned, fed and tended by God, so that God's garden of abundance might grow in our midst. May our days be full of compassion and forgiveness. May we never look back to the last season but always be focused on preparing our hearts for the next year. And may God give us the patience and strength we need to have our hearts made new, carefully and tenderly by God's loving hands.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Great Love

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50

Great Love

When the sun will not shine
and the drizzle is cold and stings
hiding the tears, the leftover bad dreams
in the dank puddles of my existence
you are there.

When I lash out in anger biting
words and hardhearted accusations fly
when I am bent in fury humiliated
by life and pompous know-it-alls
you are there.

When the burden heavy and deep
heaves me to the ground on my knees
in the darkness and the shame
in howling wind, no visibility
you are there.

When I begin haltingly and end badly
you are there.

When I fall into the same pit over and over
you are there.

When I think I know it all and gloat
you are there.

No greater love can one know
than the presence of the divine
love at my shoulder at my elbow
at my side with forgiveness, renewal
offered moment by moment
you are there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Children in the Marketplace

I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” Luke 7:28-35

I spent some time in my new office yesterday. The view from the window is spectacular, and the people in this place are warm and friendly. I keep wondering and praying about how I can best help them. They are full of many good things and the past year have wrought so many changes and some turmoil. It is always the task of an interim to help folks move into a sustainable future. I don't doubt that is there for them, rather, how do we celebrate and refine the many gifts they have among them. I pray for wisdom and the insight of a child to see and celebrate the love that is so apparent among them.

Jesus is challenged by the religious authorities and by those oversee the standards of the temple. When one is responsible for the regulation of things, one can often lose sight of the big, and one can often not see the love and ministry that is right in front of us. God invites us to hear the music and the invitation to dance and weep right where we are. God invites us to celebrate and refine that which we have been given and to have the heart of a child as we move through our own marketplaces and communities.

Today I ask God to give me the sight and the audacity of a child. May my heart always be ready to embrace, celebrate and participate. May we all be given new joy and wisdom this day, so that we might embrace the love right in front of us and find ways to honor and share that love with others. In new and strange places, may we find make a welcome and a home for those who have been scolded and shut out all too long.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God has Visited the People

Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
Luke 7:11-17

God Has Visited the People

God steps among us breathing life
spreading a blanket across us all
putting the song of hope in our hearts
challenging us to live for others.

She was always faithful and bright
more ready to learn and serve than others
compassionate and humble with a radiant smile
she was chosen to carry the God child to us all.

God steps among us breathing life
spreading a blanket across us all
putting the song of hope in our hearts
challenging us to live for others.

The infant was born and was celebrated
and then hidden from the world's view
God was in danger of dying
at the hands of the jealous and powerful.

God steps among us breathing life
spreading a blanket across us all
putting the song of hope in our hearts
challenging us to live for others.

The God child grew and took time to learn
he watched at his mother's side
he helped in the workshop and in the chores
and listened closely when the scrolls were read.

God steps among us breathing life
spreading a blanket across us all
putting the song of hope in our hearts
challenging us to live for others.

His time on earth was limited by greed
he stretched his hand to every need
moved with compassion for the brokenhearted
God among us was here for love's sake alone.

God steps among us breathing life
spreading a blanket across us all
putting the song of hope in our hearts
challenging us to live for others.

We found a way to shut him out then
and still God seeks us this day
arms open wide for a healing touch
and a heart ready to find new life for us all.

God steps among us breathing life
spreading a blanket across us all
putting the song of hope in our hearts
challenging us to live for others.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Built on Rock

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

I had the great privilege to travel yesterday to Talkeetna with Anne and Nancy from St. David's who were going to a house church. Along with Bishop Lattime and Bishop Lambert, we had a wonderful experience in Eleanor's home surrounded by many friends. It has been raining a lot in their part of the world, and as we travel, we passed over river after river, swollen by the storms. They told of structures and homes being lost due to the rising water. The water was high and dark, moving with ominous power and great intent. I came home grateful, even more, to be living up the hill from our harbor, thanking God for sound structures and wise builders.

Jesus is telling his disciples of the challenges of living faithfully in the world. They want rules and regulations and he wants them to be guided by wisdom, compassion and relationship. He desires for all of us to care for one another with tenderness and thoughtfulness, with deep wisdom and patience in all circumstances. He calls us to have a rock solid faith in him, not wavering and following the changing winds of style and fashion, but rather, being moved at all times, by love and compassion.

Today, I ask God to help me live by a deep founded wisdom, the wisdom passed to me by my elders and my ancestors, by my parents and my children. May our lives be rocks of love, solid forces of compassion and patience. May we build for the long haul, may we love eternally, and all for the sake of increasing God's love in the world.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Like A Little Child

Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.Mark 10:2-16

Today is the final day of our convention gathering. I have been so touched by so many, moved by the ministry and their humility. One dear woman, Helen, came up to me and took my arm and said, "God told me to tell you he loves you, he really does!" Straight forward, like a child, she told me a truth I needed to hear. In the complexity of transitions, moving and starting in a new place, it is easy to forget the simple truth that God loves us, like a mother or father treasures a small child, no matter their age. As the music rises and the laughter persists, I am deeply moved by my new family. We were strangers just a few days ago, and now I am welcomed and loved as a child among them.

Jesus is hounded with questions by the religious leaders and his disciples. They want solid rules and clear direction. He gives them the clearest direction to the heart of God, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." The word of God to us today is to find the deep trust and love within us, which we were born with and given as a gift from God, and love others with the same love we have been given.

Today, I ask God to give me the eyes and heart of a child. May the jadedness and weariness not cloud my heart or my vision. May we all set aside politics and rules and come to God with an open heart and eyes of wonder. May God surprise is all today with love and laughter. And may we fill the world with the love and laughter we have been given today.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Love your enemies

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:27-38

Love Your Enemies

We are so different as we gather
one family but not known
we spat and quibble over money
and we weep together over our losses.

We can be so foreign and challenging
our languages so confusing our traditions
so odd and challenging to others
we are alone and afraid every one of us.

We come as the family of God
and kneel asking for a sign a vision
we feel so isolated and forgotten
but God is here in the midst of us
and we will be made whole.

We will be known as a people
when we rejoice in our uniqueness
and celebrate the other rejoicing
in learning and growing
side by side with God.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Abundant Blessings

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. Luke 6:20-23

We are gathered in Lake Meier for Diocesan Convention. Our opening Eucharist was a wonderful, joy filled time of worship. Folks have gathered from all over, and greetings of delight and happy conversations shape our lives together. In challenging times with limited resources, I am surrounded by people who know their lives to be blessed and their work holy. There is no whining and reluctance, but rather, hope and prayerfulness in anticipation of their time together and the work God has called us all to do.

Jesus begins his teaching by declaring that those who have challenging times in ministry, those who have been rebuked and mistreated, those who have suffered as they served are numbered among the holy and the blessed. God's mission is not given to the high and mighty but to the lowly and the humble. God has abundant blessings for those who are willing to be poor for others, servant for many and humble in the face of abuse and misunderstanding. God is more ready to shower us with blessing than we are to ask for the blessings.

May today be a day when we are not ashamed to ask for the blessings we need, knowing that God is more ready to supply them than we can even imagine. May our hands and hearts be open to receive so that we might share that abundance with others. May our service be a joy for all we meet today, and may our lives be an invitation to know the presence of the living God.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

To Save Life

On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:1-11

It hasn't even been a week and I realize I am a little home sick. I am so thrilled to be in Alaska and the people and clergy here are wonderful. But I surely don't have my bearings and my internal and external clocks are scrambled. I am so grateful to be here. Yet my body and soul are seeking to be knit back together, mended in new ways, and made whole in this new environment. Although seemingly inappropriate timing, I am aching for a healing, a binding together for body and soul.

Jesus is in trouble again with the religious authority. Responding to the need of the people, both his disciples and the broken folks he encounters on his way, he feeds and heals people, right where they are. God doesn't wait for the right time, right place or the perfect circumstances to bring healing and transformation. God responds to the need, not to our human rules and our human conventions. We are invited by God to ask for what we need where ever we might be, whatever the circumstances.

Today, I ask God to bind me together, body and soul, old home and new home, so that I might be strong for others and serve their needs. May we ask for what we need from God, where ever we find ourselves, so that we can bring God's love and healing to all our communities. May God make us bold, so that we are not bound by human convention, but set free to serve by God's love and healing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Great Feast

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” Luke 5:27-39

I arrived at Meier Lake very early yesterday and was greeted by the staff here. They had much to do so they left me on my own after they helped me get my bags to the room and gave me a bit of a tour. Since I left home very early I had little to eat. As the day progressed, I realized how hungry I was, how little resources I had and how hard it must be for those who are homeless and in strange surroundings. It was very peaceful and beautiful, but anxious making none the less. About then, Glenn, who is in charge around here, showed up, with sandwich fixings from home and some fruit and snacks. I couldn't have been happier - it was quiet a feast. There was joy and gratitude in my heart.

Jesus calls Levi and in gratitude Levi (Matthew) sets a big feast. There is much criticism for the way Jesus hangs with people who celebrate and make merry. They expect him to be always sacrificial and always austere despite the fact that they are not. Jesus reminds them that it is good to celebrate and give thanks for God's gifts of love and calling. We are invited today to be ever grateful for those gifts of abundance we have in our lives, and to make glad with the people who have provided for us in our time of need.

Today, I ask God to help me celebrate the gifts, big and small, which come my way today. May we see the face of Christ in each giver, in each friend we make today. May we know the love of God visible and living in each act of kindness and affection we receive. And may we, in our gratitude, lay feasts for others, for those who need to know today that God is with them, loving them and feeding all of their needs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Through the Roof

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Luke 5:12-26

Tonight I am packing my bags again. I get on a plane early in the morning to travel to clergy conference and diocesan convention. So new in this place and now on the move again. I am feeling conflicted, wanting to stay put for a while and knowing that I am called to take my place with the other clergy and people. It is the time in the life of the church, that together we have to find new ways to do ministry. We have to use our resources and our creativity and find ways to reach those who have been shut out and set aside.

Jesus was caring for all sorts of people, restoring their limbs and making infected bodies clean. Many wanted to find fault in these individuals, believing their illness was brought on by their sin or their failure. Good faithful people avoided them and treated them as outcasts and abominations. But Jesus considered them his friends and worthy of all good measures. He took time to be with them, learn their story and bring them to healing. The friends of the lame man were so moved by Jesus' care that they found a way in to the building when there was none. When all the well-intentioned, good-meaning people were keeping those in need away, love found a way to bring the man to healing.

Today, I ask God to help me be an agent of healing. May I not stand in the way but rather make new ways forward for those who have been shut out. May we all be those who will cut through the roof for the sake of others. May we use our blessings and skills for the care of those who have been refused, left behind and turned away. May God shine through us as we serve those who no one but God chooses as followers.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Let Down Your Nets

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1-11

Let Down Your Nets

We have toiled all night
coming up empty handed
no food for our tables
a bad day on the water
fear and failure all too common.

Do not be afraid you say
put out into the deep
and let down your nets
for I will provide the catch.

Exhausted and bitter with cold
we hear the strangers words
wishing we could go home
and climb into a familiar bed
and dream our familiar dreams.

Do not be afraid you say
put out into the deep
and let down your nets
for I will provide the catch.

We go back out facing the tide
deep into the dark grey water
silence swallowing up our shame
we drop anchor and the nets.

Do not be afraid you say
put out into the deep
and let down your nets
for I will provide the catch.

Groaning and leaning despite ourselves
we see the miracle of fish
swimming in our nets
abundance beyond capacity and belief.

Do not be afraid you say
put out into the deep
and let down your nets
for I will provide the catch.

We knew ourselves to be failures
so many attempts so little progress
God calls the sinners, the failures
to bring in nets full of others in need.

Do not be afraid you say
put out into the deep
and let down your nets
for I will provide the catch.

We will follow the stranger now our friend
we will listen in the darkest of nights
we will pray for more despite scarcity
and learn to be fishers of men.

Do not be afraid you say
put out into the deep
and let down your nets
for I will provide the catch.