Monday, April 30, 2012

Spilling Salt, Spreading Light



“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.Matthew 5:13-16


Today we are taking off and heading north. We will both have meetings in New York and then we go on to Boston. I always get a bit anxious when traveling, especially now, after the most recent surgery. I don't always feel strong enough for the work ahead. It might be easier to stay home and not venture out. Traveling north, facing the spreading light that is spring in the north east, bright with greens and flowers everywhere, we are being called to imagine a new way of doing things and new life ahead. Nothing is certain, but we have to set out with the gifts we have, asking God to bless us on the way.

The disciples and the followers of Jesus had lots of gifts and lots of limitations. This life was all new to them and they were struggling with what it meant. They were not welcome everywhere and rarely understood. Jesus spoke in stories and parables that did not always understand. And Jesus invited them, no matter how confused or limited they might feel, to be salt and light, to shine for all the world and show them the flavor of love. Despite all the risks and challenges we are invited to be salt and light, love and compassion for the whole world. God promises to provide the energy and courage we need to keep shining.

Today ask God for traveling mercies for us all, and the courage to be salt and light. None of us alone can be all the light and salt the world might need. Together, we can shine for God and make love real and tangible to the world around us. God help us all to bring what we have, so that they world might be transformed by love and bathed in God's light.

Desolate Blooms Hymn



The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

In desolate places
in lengthening shadows
the wind lifts and sings
the songs of abundance
in this place.

God's love is transforming
compassion is contagious
and life breaks through
in the middle of our dark places.

In small offerings
two fish, five loaves
the heart begins to grow
compassion creates abundance
all find their fill.

God's love is transforming
compassion is contagious
and life breaks through
in the middle of our dark places.

In these times of lack
we can lose sight of gifts
piled high within us
ready to burst forth
like a song.

God's love is transforming
compassion is contagious
and life breaks through
in the middle of our dark places.




Mark 6:30-44


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good Shepherd




Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away-- and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care 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. I have other sheep that do not belong to 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 in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father." John 10:11-18


As a bishop, I have a crozier that is one piece of wood hand crafted by my Uncle Charles WalkingStick. It is my shepherd's staff, the sight of my role as bishop, as shepherd of the people. Because of this, I have spent a goodly time observing shepherds in many places. I grew up with family friends that had a few sheep and taught us a bit about them. It was such a small herd that getting cooperation seemed easy. I have watched the sheep in the thousands pour over a hillside in Ne Zealand with boys in ATVs and sheep dogs keep them in line. I have been blessed to visit Ireland with my husband several times, and seen large and small herds wrangled by young and old, with border collies ever nipping at their heels. The sometimes herd with whatever works - a staff, the dogs or their car, if need be. And I have been to church in Coal Mine on the Navajo reservation when a young man brought his newborn lamb to church. There are many ways to be a shepherd, and many types of people can be shepherds, I've learned.

Jesus tells his followers that he is the Good Shepherd, the one who sacrifices all for his sheep. They would have understood. Many of them lived among the sheep and their livelihoods depended on the sheep. The sheep were their sustenance and their everything. There is an intimacy and an interdependence that is understood in the role as shepherd. And we hear Jesus reminding us today that he continues to be the Good Shepherd. We are known by name and loved, protected from harm and guided into green pastures and safe passage. The Good Shepherd is with us whether invited or not, caring for us when we turn away and run off, seeking us out in the dark and the rocky terrain.

Today, I ask God to help me to trust the Good Shepherd, knowing that with each step I take I am guided along by one who take my safety and care seriously. May I, who knows this depth of love, likewise live for others, taking my role seriously, guiding with compassion, forgiveness and love. May we all, no matter our role or our call, use the tools we have to guide the weak and the strong among, providing shelter and comfort, green pasture and safe travel to all who come our way today.


The Collect

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Leaving Nets


While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
Matthew 4:18-25


One of the things about living by the ocean is the amount of lost fishing lures and lines one finds washed up. As I child I loved to gather up all of the detritus and bring it home, seeing if it was somehow useful. I love walking the beach, collecting the bits of life that the tide leaves behind. I often wonder about the people who lost these things and if they miss them in the least. I often find partial nets, bobbers and sinkers and other more unexpected things like toilet seats and housing materials. The other day I found a piece of pvc pipe and brought it home to my mother. She didn't think it was particularly funny, but took it anyway. Pieces of lives, left behind, made into artwork and curiosities by total strangers.

Jesus calls his first disciples from their work, from their families and away from everything they have known. Their hands were calloused, their bodies burnt by the sun, their whole world defined by water, wind, waves and tides. They left bits of themselves behind, families too, to follow a stranger who offered nothing but the chance to be "fishers of men." We never see the people they left behind in that moment, the sisters and mothers, the wives, children and fathers. We can only wonder what those moments were like. We know from the whole set of Gospels that they saw their families and continued relationships after that day. But their lives changed profoundly and completely as they left their nets behind. Nets can be livelihood, comfort and safety, and we all have nets to leave behind. God invites us to move from our comfort and safety so that the world might know the love of God.

Today I ask God to help me to leave my comforts and security behind for the sake of others. Help me to step out into the unknown so that God's transforming love might be known. May we all feel the call to serve, and move out from our safe and familiar places,knowing that we will not step out alone, but will be lead by God's spirit. May we be courageous today, not because we are, but because the need is so great to share the love that we have been so freely given.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Light Dawns


Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:12-17


The weather is cool and spring like this morning. The end of April has proved to be cooler than her beginning, with more rain and wind now than late in the winter. We woke this morning, groggy and somewhat glad to be alive after a long day and night of illness. The sun is radiant and the sky is a brittle bright blue. I had no idea what yesterday looked like, never having ventured out, only rising to let the dog out and in. That kind of darkness can hit us all, whether through illness, depression, oppression, or a multitude of the world's ills. Sometimes we can get so pushed down that we can't even look up to see the light, can't gain traction enough to look anywhere but down. What a gift to be able to see the light of day and walk in it. A normal privilege but thrilling when missed for some time.

The Gospel of Matthew continuously connects ancient prophesy to the ministry of Jesus. The ancient prophetic tradition which continually held justice, compassion and release was to become identified with Jesus' message and ministry. We are invited likewise to be people who preach justice, healing and reconciliation. And more than preach those things, we are to live those things, opening our arms to all people, and acting on behalf of those who are poor, silenced and shrugged off from society and the light of God's love.

Today I ask God to help me remember my gratitude for the dawn, and to live that gratitude in the service of others. May we be carriers of the light. May we be servants of justice and health for all. May our strengths be offered for the weak, our abundance for the poor, and our joy to those who only know darkness. May God give us all the strength this day to live the prophetic expectation, and walk in the light of God.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Night Prayers


Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:5-11

Whatever is going around, which my mother had the other day, and my brother also, hit us like a ton of bricks. We have laid around all day, mostly sleeping, trying live beyond the impact of a stomach bug. There is no brain left in me, just a heart, glad to be alive a hopefully, beyond the worst of it. Maybe Jesus, in his wilderness experience was tormented by some terrible bug, thinking how awful it was to be alive at that moment. Maybe living evil finds a way into the most vulnerable and painful moments, tempting us to push the limits, in order to take away the pain and misery. Whatever happened there, he learned his humanity in that wilderness. I feel like I learned a bit more about mine today. Getting to the end of a day like this, the only thing I know to do is offer prayers. Prayers for a good recovery and prayers for all those who suffer this night.

O God, come to my aid.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen. Alleluia.


Keep us safe, Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ and rest in peace. Alleluia.
Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace.
You have fulfilled your promise.
My own eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples.
A light to bring the Gentiles from darkness;
the glory of your people Israel.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.
Keep us safe, Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ and rest in peace. Alleluia.


The Lord's Prayer - New Zealand Prayer Book

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.


Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.



O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live
in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day,
who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never
forget that our common life depends upon each other's toil;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake
we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Feast of Saint Mark



Jesus said to the apostles, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. Mark 16:15-20


Today we celebrate the feast of Mark the Evangelist. He has been identified by some as John Mark the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place or as the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested.

The Coptic Church holds the tradition of identifying Mark the Evangelist with John Mark, and holds that he was one of the Seventy Disciples sent out by Christ, as is confirmed by the list of Hippolytus. It also believes that Mark the Evangelist is the one who hosted the disciples in his house after the death of Jesus, into whose house the resurrected Jesus Christ came, and into whose house the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost. Mark is also believed to be one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana who poured out the water that Jesus turned to wine. These traditions have no solid proof neither from the New Testament nor from Church history.

According to the Coptic church, Saint Mark was born in Cyrene, a city in the Pentapolis of North Africa (now Libya). This tradition adds that he returned to Pentapolis later in life, after being sent by Saint Paul to Colossae; these actually refer to Mark the Cousin of Barnabas), and serving with him in Rome; from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria. When Mark returned to Alexandria, the pagans of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods. In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.

As we celebrate this feast day, I am reminded of the symbols associated with Saint Mark, that of a lion. The Gospel of Mark is the first to be written, simply and with clarity, and his Gospel continues to bring us vivid pictures of the life of Christ. I am obviously partial to Mark, since I am married to a Mark, who like his name sake is both fearless and gentle, brave and kind, willing to be a servant and also a leader. He reported what he saw, a continues to inspire all of us to be simple, kind and honest with our work as evangelists.

Today I ask God to strengthen us all with simplicity, humility and candor in everything we do. May our lives tell the story of the love of God. May we not be shields or barriers to God's love but rather, like Mark, be willing to carry the good news to the ends of the earth. May we be humble enough to tell the story simply; may we always be welcoming and loving to those whom we fear; and may we, like Mark, be courageously willing to give our lives for the service of God and the love of others.

The Collect

Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.




Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Raising up Children


But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume 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.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:7-12


Raising Up Children

We were raised with a tight grip
and we sent out with a open hand
children in a small town Sunday
morning on your knees flying bikes
until the sun would set.

We were raised with no car seats
no restraints in the back of the car
holding on for dear life
as we were rocked to sleep by motion.

We were raised by well meaning adults
returning from war and loss
ready to renew the world in their image
staring at the sleeping strangers
they had made.

We were baptized so early on
a babe in a mother's arms
those arms now withered and soft
beat the flour and dough into submission
and reigned with a iron fist.

We have children of our own
and they have children too.

God has made us children despite our frailty
our infirmity, our rebellion, our confusion
and our broken family trees.

God has made us children, a family
and we are made in the image of one
who loved us from the start.






Monday, April 23, 2012

Family


The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. Matthew 1:1-17

Last night we watched a program about celebrities and their ancestors hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. called Finding Your Roots. It was a fascinating study juxtaposition of the idea of who one is and where one comes from and the truth about who one's ancestors truly are. The program used both genealogy and DNA science to produce incredible results. Both stars had Jewish ancestors and were able to trace back, not hundreds but thousand of years. We live in a marvelous age, when we can understand more deeply who we are than ever before, and simultaneously can get lost and cut off from our roots more completely than ever in the past also.

The Gospel of Matthew begins with this family tree, because the Gospel was written for a predominantly Jewish audience in the early life of the church. Proving that Jesus was a legitimate heir of the faith was incredibly important to the early Christian converts and their detractors. It was also written as a defense of his followers, in that, because of his family tree, they were following the right Messiah and not the wrong one. One can only imagine the challenges, anxieties, fears and frustrations the early church leaders had trying to inspire the faithful while dealing with real political pressure and physical dangers all around. They wanted to be authentic and accepted by their families, not shunned and abused for their faith. We all do at some level. We all search for meaning and home in our present family, as well as from our ancestors, our forebears, our holy ones - the ones who came before. We all seek to be acceptable, belonging to a family and clan rather than an outcast, set apart and isolated.

Today, I ask God to help us all respond to the need for home and roots in all of us. We Americans are a fast moving culture, a high stress and high demand people, who are often overwhelmed and often isolated in the midst of a crowd. May we see the pain and hope in every person we meet, greeting them as a brother or sister, with love and welcome in everything we so. May we be the people who know family and home to be a safe and formative place, where strength and faith grow day by day, and where there is time to be both wise and tender. May God give us all the strength and faith to build communities of home and support for all the people we find ourselves with this day.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

To All Nations




While the disciples were telling how they had seen Jesus risen from the dead, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." Luke 24:36b-48


Last weekend I had the privilege of leading a retreat with a group of Navajo people who are training for ordination. We talked about the "process" a lot, and about some of the challenges of making the church culturally appropriate across their nation. Some things don't translate from culture to culture and folks have to find ways to express them in their own ways. In the past, the church frowned upon any Native cultural expression being brought into church. In my mother's generation and before, they were told that all of the spirituality and traditions of their people were of the devil, and to be a christian they had to put away all that they knew. Now, we have a great deal of work in repairing that loss and exclusion. And yet, wonderfully, these folks want to carry the Gospel across their vast nation, and desire to share their faith within the midst of their people.

Jesus found the disciples, isolated and early in the morning. He asked to have something to eat as they trembled in fear, not knowing what to do. Just a few days earlier, they had known only death and destruction, and were having a hard time comprehending the resurrection. Taking in that reality was overwhelming. From that humble little breakfast with friends, that place of intimacy and care, we hear Jesus empowering them to take God's love and forgiveness to all nations. From the humblest of places, the simplest tables, God empowers us to share the good news.

Today I ask God to empower us all, with a spirit of humility and joy, so that we can carry the message of love and forgiveness to our various nations, not hiding the good news in confusing ritual, but rather sharing it right where the people are - from breakfast tables, from family gatherings, from familiar places - to all our nations. May we be translators and interpreters, hosts and servants, so that all the good news might be shared across our unique and gifted nations. Strengthen us today, Lord Christ, that we might be simple disciples, ready to rejoice in the wondrous love we have been given, and willing friends, sharing our stories with the world.






The Collect


O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sorrow to Joy

“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:16-24



Sorrow to Joy

I am restless with waiting
a warm teasing spring wind becomes
an angry, tormenting storm out here
on the edge of the ocean straining
to see through the fog
praying for a sight,
a promise heading towards this lonely port.

I walk the widow's walk staring out
over the waves and winds
wrapped in heavy wool and scarves
I cannot stop my watching til night
and the world has fallen dark with sleep.

I imagine out there in the distance
on some warmer waters, you lull
in a hammock or hang from a sail
listening to the water and the gulls
dreaming of more familiar climes
and your home port right here.

The wind keeps me indoors as it whips
hard cold rain against every pane
the storm is worst than promised
delivering gales of screaming wind howls
and fears of dangerous wrecks so near
so near to home.

I will not stop pressing mt face
on the glass nor pressing
my knees in prayer for love
has found and will not abandon
will not break this tender heart
love will not, cannot turn and sail away
love is always returning, turning home
with the breezes of laughter and joy
sending you swiftly home.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Waiting for the Helper


“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:12-15

Last night we went to get some groceries for my Mom and then stopped to have a bite to eat in a little place next to the store. When we were coming out to our car, another woman was coming out of the grocery store and putting groceries in her car. As we got closer, we saw that she was putting her groceries in our car. Two cars parked next to each other, looking very similar, and in the dark almost indistinguishable. When we got to our car and she realized her mistake, she was mortified. We told her not to worry, and the three of us laughed about it. She was in a hurry t get home to her kids, running behind, running ragged, hurrying and not looking. We live in a world where the pressure in on, there is no time for anything quiet or reflective and everyone needs more speed.

The disciples were in a hurry to understand what Jesus was really talking about. And Jesus knew that there would be a time of transition and waiting for them. Even then, it was something they did not want to deal with, waiting and not knowing. Being patient as God brought things together, when understanding, faith and spirit would be woven together into one strong fabric. They wanted simple answers in their now, and we want the same. We are invited today to be people of reflection and waiting. In this Easter season, we are invited to continue the celebration of resurrection and trust that God is doing even more for us, strengthening us, body, mind and spirit.

Today, I ask God to give me an extra measure of patience, with myself especially and the people around me. I ask God to give me a sweet waiting spirit, a heart that will gentle welcome all, rather than rushing by to some self-set goal. May my words and actions be an invitation to others, to breath more slowly and wait upon God. For God has promised us blessing upon blessing, new spirit and new life.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Rule of Love


“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another." John 15:12-17

This morning, as we were eating breakfast, our animals were fighting. Play fighting. We have a girl rescue mixed breed named Petey and rectory litter cat we adopted named Darla. Our girls didn't get along a first. Darla was a small kitten when she came to us and Petey had been with us for more than a year. Darla hissed and complained when they first were together. Now they play fight and Darla cleans Petey's fur and they sleep on the same bed. When Petey is outside answering nature's call, Darla will sit in the window and cry out until Petey returned.

Jesus talked to his disciples about the number one commandment - love. There is no getting around the truth that our single most important requirement for a follower of Jesus is love. Love that doesn't judge, love which cares for all, love that seeks God in another, love that moves beyond fear and different. Love is not something that we can legislate. Loving calls us to be servants, to be filled with compassion and forgiveness and to live humbly with everyone. It is a tall order and we need all the help we can get. I know I do.

Today I ask God to help me be loving in all circumstances. May I see the youth in the eyes of the elderly, the dreams and hopes of the children, and remember that we are all vulnerable and afraid at times. Our first reactions may be fear and defense, but God promises to give us the hearts and minds that can move to compassion and love. May we all find ways to love the unlovely, the fearful, the angry and those who strike out in their own pain. Someone love us when we were miserable and unkind, and someone can know God's love through our kindness this day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Intertwined


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 15:1-11


Intertwined

I walked early upright chasing
brother and sisters running ahead
out in the yard under a blue cloud canopy
free and untethered we played until dark.

On the move first on bikes than bigger wheels
we drove to the edge of our universe
escaping the confines of home and rules
pushing boundaries of safety and sanity
independence was our chant, it was our cry.

It takes wisdom to see the tethers of love
to know the confines as caring
the boundaries as tender safety nets
to recognize be held as being set free.

It takes a hard fall a rough spill
we wake up surrounded by our bleeding needs
our obvious vulnerability and we cry out
again and again, to parent and siblings
we cry out to our Creator our God.

They were never far off but always with us
God with sweet soft vines held us close
without our knowing we were protected
love bound our wounds and took us up
lifting the burden of arrogance and independence
and revealing healing and new life.

We are bound together woven in love
free to wander, free to discover
new love in foreign places as we carry
our elder wisdom with us, our new strength
compassion and power that are found
deep within our weakness and humility.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Orphans No More


“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. John 14:18-31

I arrived home last night after a wonderful experience with people who are working on providing Native clergy and leadership across our church. I spent time with others who are trying to prepare themselves in order to serve their people. Each group was trying to make sure everyone had supportive relationships, and a group of people to act as a family together. For so many, who have felt so isolated for so long, and others who have suffered abandonment. My heart was full of joy and hope as I returned home.

Jesus was reassuring and comforting his disciples. One can only suspect that their anxiety over the future and their ministries was quite palpable. They knew they had a lot to learn and were afraid of being tossed out on their own without enough support, without enough direct5ion and without family and friends at their side. They were following Jesus, and they were walking a new way, trying to be faithful amidst overwhelming opposition and misunderstanding. God wants all of us to know that as we step out in faith, we do not step out alone. God is with us and we are part of an extended family so large, we need never feed isolation and abandonment. God's love is there for us in our darkest, most fearful moments.

Today, I ask God to help me step out in faith for the service of others. No matter how tenuous my steps might be, I ask God to hold me up and make me strong, so that I can be support and strength for others. I ask God for compassion and forgiveness so that I might be compassionate and forgiving of everyone I meet today. May we know that selfishness is an anathema to God, and love and relationship are the marks of God's presence. We are invited to walk, one step at a time, we are never, never alone, today or forever.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blessing Along the Way


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7

God can find us in many languages and in many places. My experiences over the weekend have reminded how we use certain passages from the bible, or certain church rules to exclude others. In the passage from John, which we often read at funerals, we find that the disciples are confused and anxious and Jesus speak words of comfort and peace. They have confusion and darkness in their hearts. The world is changing around them and their new teacher has challenged them to expand their thinking and their faith. Jesus know their are troubled. He speaks words of beauty, of rooms and space for each and every one of us.

God knows that sometimes we are all troubled, overwhelmed by deep darkness and pain. Rejection and loss have surrounded some of us. I heard many stories of pain and loss over the weekend. I shared some stories of my own. God knows we are troubled and worn out by burdens to heavy to bear. We are broken some times, but we are never alone and God's activity is making new space for us, bringing new light and possibilities to bear in our densest sorrows, carrying healing and love along the way. So as I travel home today, I share the prayer that was shared during the communion and the Lord's prayer in Navajo, to remind us all that even when we think we are alone, God is there. May this be a blessing to all today.

In beauty I walk

With beauty before me I walk

With beauty behind me I walk

With beauty above me I walk

With beauty around me I walk

It has become beauty again

Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo
T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’




Sunday, April 15, 2012

Peace be With You



When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31


I have had the wonderful privilege of working with some folks who are in the discernment process. We have been talking, reflecting, eating, laughing and praying together. They have all offered themselves for ministry and are starting the preparation and the study to be ordained. God has called them and they are people of great faith. And as Native people, it is sometimes confusing and even discouraging to enter the process as we have it set up now. The hoops and hurdles are overwhelming and one can lose hope or at least get frustrated by never seeming to get to the end or treated like other clergy in the wider church.

Thomas had been out on an errand when Jesus first visited the frightened disciples gathered behind locked doors. Jesus offered them peace, and the assurance that he was with them. They recognized Jesus at first because of his nailed hands and wounded side. We look down on Thomas, calling him doubting, but in fact he simply didn't have the same opportunity as others. They were confident because of seeing Jesus and being given his blessing. Thomas had not had that privilege so Jesus offered him the same. Thomas was blessed too and his faith was confirmed then also. Some of us have missed or been excluded from faith building and life changing events because of circumstances, our families, our traditions or real life obligations. And Jesus recognizes those losses and exclusions and promises to come and bring us peace and blessing also, even if we were locked out or felt left out at some time.

Today, I ask God to give me the strength and humility to honor the faith and leadership I see today. Help me to encourage the frightened, lend a hand to the weak, share laughter with the anxious, and learn from the faith and peace, the wise ones among us today. May we see Jesus together this day, and know the blessing of him who suffered for us and who gives us the power and wisdom to love others. May we all, whether locked out or among the privileged, offer ourselves so that Jesus might be seen among us every day and the weak strengthened by God's love and blessing.


The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Living God


Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” Mark 12:24-27

I am waking up in Farmington, New Mexico and aware of the awesome spiritual work we will be doing in the next coming days. After a long day of delays and such yesterday, Friday the 13th, I wasn't quite sure if I was ready to be alive again quite yet. Or at least awake. God's spirit, God's power is within each and everyone of us, but I was feeling pretty weak as I raised up my hand to turn off the alarm. We are often worn down and weary, but God is the God of the living. God is the God of the living even when I am feeling inadequate and too feeble to look alive let alone carry the love and spirit of the living God. So for today I have prepared a prayer all of us as we end the first week of Easter and grow even more into the resurrection of Christ.

Dear One God, Creator and healer of us all, help us to recognize you spirit in one another today. Help us to know we are raised up when we are worn down, filled with your spirit and love when we are on empty, and being restored even as we stumble and fall. You are with us, here in our rooms today, whether a cathedral or a shack, a chapel or a coffee house,you are with us as we breathe in and out and will never abandon us. Help to use the gifts we have been given, help us to see your gifts and blessings in others and make us strong even in our weakness, even at the very brokenness of our humanity. Reach out and bless us all today with strength for the weak, faith for the falling, compassion for the angry and love for us all. In the name of Jesus who was human that we may truly know God with us, and who died so that we might fully live. Amen

Friday, April 13, 2012

Idle Tales


But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Luke 24:1-12


Years ago we were camping in the Rockies with friends and the early riser of us all came back telling tales. He said Smokey the Bear was at the campground. We had our oldest with us and she was barely three. Our friend was a great kidder but as a young mother I did not like him teasing or frightening our little one. He insisted he had seen Smokey the Bear, that all was well but that we needed to go right now. Indeed, as we rushed up the hill after him with Emily in his grasp, we realized the impossible was true. A young forest ranger was talking to the children about fire safety and Smokey the Bear was greeting the children and giving them small gifts. The impossible was true, it was not just an idle tale but a chance encounter with an completely unexpected guest.

The women who went weeping to the tomb with heavy hearts, found unexpected guests and terrifyingly wonderful news. This Easter week we have heard several different recountings of the resurrection story. Each gospel puts different characters in the drama at different times. But the story of impossible being true is the same. In Luke's retelling the women as dismissed as carrying an idle tale, foolish and gullible. And yet the disciples would soon find out that the idle tale would be the reality and they would meet Jesus on the road and know him in the breaking of the bread. We are invited, this Easter week to consider that God is able to make impossible possible, and that our prayers and work in faith is to go about our business expecting God to make the impossible possible, changing hearts and minds in the process. God's love and work is to be bringing healing, hope and change where there never has been. God's desire is to be in relationship with us and for us to have our hearts open to God's possibilities and to look beyond our limitations.

This week, as I travel, I know that there are many challenges and barriers ahead, and I ask God to help me not focus on the very human limitations, but rather, put my focus on God's possibilities and God's story and agenda. God has promised to bring us out of our deserts, to heal the brokenhearted, to make the lame walk and the blind to see in every generation. This is our story today and it is no idle tale. May we all trust that the one who brought life from death, forgiveness from violence and destruction, and healing across generations, will continually and powerfully move with us today. May the road ahead be a walk of hopeful expectation, of moving towards God's love for the healing of this generation.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Great Commission


Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

Sent

Weary and feeling unprepared we go
empty pockets not sure of where we'll stay
lead by the spirit and following the command
we go into the world offering God's love.

Full and zeal and conviction we go
expecting to convert and convince
we force our message on kind strangers
we leave as empty as we were full.

Our mission and our going are gifts
our loving and the spirit is given freely
God goes with us in our incompletelness
and recovers the broken pieces in us
and the mess we have often left behind.

God's love is given freely
we are carriers however weak or strong
we are revitalized morning by morning
and showered with miracles like spring pollen
strengthened when the load grows too heavy
and compassion wells up within us
despite our fear and trembling
in the most distance places God is there.

God is there and God has sent us
God finds us and God seeks us
bidden or unbidden God is there
and we carry a precious gift given
we freely give God's love and trust
that God will make our message hit home.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Going On Ahead


Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. Matthew 28:1-16


Today is a pretty exciting travel day for me, the first time I will be traveling since my surgery. I am also a little anxious and feeling tenuous, since it will be my first time traveling any distance alone, and am worried that I am not strong enough to make this trip. I know it will be fine, but there is still some fear and trembling as I go.

This first week of Easter season, we rehearse over and over again the events of that first Easter morning. We hear of fearful people all, from the women, the disciples and the guards. None of this was what they expected. This new life, this Resurrection had some getting used to. They had heard the words but they had to live into it. They were eventually fine but there was still much fear and trembling as they started out to meet up with Jesus. We are only human and it takes time to live into a whole new life.

I ask God for traveling mercies for us all. We are all on a journey of faith, a walk full of fear and trembling. We take one step at a time hoping to meet our Savoir as we go. None of us feels completely secure, none of us is always sure, none of us likes traveling alone with a trembling heart. May God provide us all with traveling mercies, with good companions along the way and visions of God's love where ever we might find ourselves.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From Disbelief to Acceptance




Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. Mark 16:9-20


I spent my early morning hours at the physical therapy center. My Mom, after knee replacement years ago, referred to physical therapy as torture and to her therapists as her torturers. I get how she feels. It is enormous work to come back after surgery, to get beyond the pain and the physical limitations and progress until one is able to fully function again. It is a whole other thing to believe and trust you are going to really get there. Lying on the PT table this morning, I thought of Jesus, and had a moment of jealousy that he didn't have to do any therapy to come back from the dead. And sometimes, this post surgery thing does feel like struggling back from being dead - or at least completely out of the picture.

Jesus was resurrected miraculously and completely and it stunned his followers and they struggled with disbelief. They took their time and needed to exercise their hearts and minds in order to accept the unbelievable, the impossible, the incredible love of God in action for the healing of the world. We humans take time to recover, and it also takes us time to wrap our hearts and minds around the totality of love so bold and so generous that would overcome violence and death to restore love and right relationships everywhere. It takes us time to internalize our faith, to teach our muscles and our beings to live a life of grace. Those nearest and dearest to Jesus and his resurrection took their time to take it all in. And God promises to be with us as we take it all in and build up the strength and faith to live day by day in the spirit of God's love.

Today, I ask God for patience with myself and for others. May we be patient as our faith and capacity grows. May we be patient and forgiving of the set backs and mistakes we make. May we forgive ourselves and others when old habits return, when we sink into despair and disbelief, and when we are overcome by doubt. God has promised to be with us and empower us every step of the way. Even when we misstep and are weak, even when we stumble and fall down. May God give us the grace to live a life of love and grace, full of forgiveness and patience, so that the world might know that God is with us and has conquered all, even death itself for our sakes.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Running from the Tomb


When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:1-8

As the week begins, with Easter Sunday behind us, we might be regretting the volume of candy we ate, or the things we left undone or unsaid this weekend. Returning to our daily routine we might simply forget the extraordinary experiences of the last few days, the betrayal and fear, the violence and death, the fathomless darkness and the empty tomb. It was all so long ago. But around us are folks who have so recently suffered pain and loss, who are still have no confidence that there is a resurrection, a renewal, new life for them in the midst of such personal darkness. In the glorious beauty of the spring, there are still many running from the cemetery, terrified and trembling feeling the full weight of life and death.

In the midst of the early morning darkness, a purple blue haze giving way to long rays of light, the women crept into the garden to anoint the body of Jesus. They had walked and talked, cried along the way, wondering how they would do their duty, caring for the corpse, and still in shock from the hideous violence and loss. They were worried about the huge stone and whether they could get help. When they found the unsealed tomb, and the empty tomb, the living apparition telling them Jesus was risen - well the women must have lost it, awash in fear and hope, and terror and confusion. Like all humans, it would take days and weeks to live into the truth of love, live into what had happened to them, to accept what they had been a part of. God had blessed them with the message of hope and new life. God had made the first messengers and it would take a while to live into the role. First, they had to deal with the trembling legs, the fluttering heart, the fear and confusion that overwhelmed their senses.

Today, on Easter Monday, I ask God to help me live into the role I have been given. I ask for strength and courage to carry the message of love and hope, no matter how weak and trembling my limbs might be. May we all, despite our challenges and uncertainties, run with joy to share God's love with the people we encounter today. May we trust God to make us strong to love and to serve. May we trust God to embrace the new life we have been given and share it with the world.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

An Empty Tomb



Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:1-18


An Empty Tomb

The men have all go home
the morning still holds its chill
the tears stream down my face
my loss, so deep, so grave
it consumes my whole being.

Was it not enough for him to die?
Now the body stolen, misplaced
a cruel joke or a political game
all add more pain like heavy stones
piled upon my heart.

There is a voice, a whisper
comfort I never expected to know
there is light and promise
lifting me from my knees
lifting my head and wiping away the tears.



Woman, why are you weeping?
the deep resonate baritone
shook me to my core, so familiar
and yet an impossible sound
in this hard and desolate garden.

Mary! My name he shouted
my beloved Jesus, my friend and companion
my savoir and my teacher standing
in front of me alive, alive I say
and calling my name.

I must run now and tell my brothers
no time to wipe away the dusted and tears
no time to hold back anything but joy
no time to look back and wonder how and why
I must run to tell the others what has happen.

He is risen, really, I have seen him
believe me or deny me but here he comes
he is coming to be in the midst of us
to shine light in the darkness
to renew the weary and down trodden
he comes to set prisoners free and heal
all the wounds that you have hidden for so long.

Alleluia, he is risen and I will be
silent no more.

He turned my mourning into a gift
a gift of love to carry to others
a gift of hope to share with strangers
food for the hungry, warmth for the homeless
and love, and more love than we can imagine.

Run with me and shout let them know the story
He is risen! Alleluia.




The Collect

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit Romans 8:1-4

This morning we attended a wonderful annual ritual in our little town. The civic club and the fire department put on an Easter Egg Hunt in the circle, the center of town, and kids come to ride the fire trucks and to chase after eggs. There is always plenty for everyone and we always get to see dear friends we have not seen since last summer. Hunts like this probably happen in all sorts of locations, but for us there is a tenderness due to the familiar, intimacy and the generations who gather together. I was presented with a little soft white bunny because someone knew I had a grandchild. And my mother sat with the Easter Bunny for almost a half hour, watching as the children approached with awe, wonder and a few with outright fear.

What do we do on Holy Saturday? It's not Easter yet. Tonight we will celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter and we will rehearse our faith, listening to the ancient stories and the promises of God's love and faithfulness. We will light the new fire and celebrate. And tomorrow, Easter morning, we will celebrate with all the color and joy of the resurrection. But today we wait, we are in that in-between, neither here nor there time, a holding space. The disciples were terrified and locked away on this day, not knowing what lie ahead. We have confidence that Easter will indeed come, but for them, they fear death was at their door, that they too would be arrested and destroyed for following Jesus. Many of us will not admit how tenuous life is for us, how we are holding on my the skin of our teeth, how we tremble when alone with anxiety and fear. We are human, and as we await the resurrection, may we remember that lying in that tomb was a human man, like all others, dead and broken, cold as stone. And God brought life again to the flesh, and continues to bring new life to all of us today. Waiting is the hardest part, but new life is coming and we are all on the verge of knowing it in our lives.

"Dear God, help us as we wait this day. Help those who have little hope left to know that you are near. Help all those who have abandon all hope to see a light in the near distance. Shine your love's light in all our hearts, that our waiting may be a time of joyful preparation, trusting that you are bringing abundant new life to us all. Amen"

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday 2012


So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it." This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

"They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots."
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Today, Good Friday 2012, is the 10th anniversary of my consecration. It was a joyful day beyond measure that warm spring morning at St. Paul's College as we processed into the gym. Surrounded by young friends smudging the procession, I was filled with thanksgiving, awe and humility at God's presence and love in my life. And today, as we reflect together on the ultimate sacrifice of God, his child's life, his son's flesh for the life of the world, I am again surrounded by humility, awe and thanksgiving for God's love and power in my life. In all of our lives.

Truthfully, there are no words I have when reflected on the cross, the drama, the violence, the madness and the love. We are all, at times, willing to sacrifice the innocent, to protect ourselves against others, shut out those who are different or renegades, torture and tease the challenged and gifted among us. The cross is our making too. Today, we contemplate together, silently, the ways in which we have been broken by our need, and how God has so graciously and completely offered love and sacrifice for all our faults.

Today, let us pray. "Dear Creator, who in the darkness of chaos created light, who in the pain of birthing brought us joy and abundance, in the pain and violence in our world, has offered us, over and over again the prince of peace. May we gather up our broken pieces, the cruelty and the hurt and lay them at the foot of the cross. May we be filled again with love and compassion, as we contemplate your love, willing to be sacrificed for us and for the whole world. Hear us Lord, as we cry to you from deep in our souls, silent aches and sobs of failure and abuse that have bound us too long from loving. Break the bonds of our slavery as you break the bonds of death. Blessed Christ, may we rise with you, washed in the light of your countenance and renewed by sacrifice for us. Amen

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday


And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:12-25


I am participating in services tonight at the Church of the Advent in Cape May. The rector, John Mitchell, was kind enough to include me, even though I still have some physical limitations. I feel blessed to participate. When driving over to church to pick up a few things, the whole area was blocked off in a construction project. Although they say it will be done by tonight, there always seem to be extra stressors during Holy Week that none of us can anticipate. There is way too much to do and things can be very tense. Boilers, electricity, illness, squabbles - all see to act out during Holy Week. I have to believe it helps us understand the a bit of the complexity and tension surrounding the players in the Passion.

The tension was mounting. The familiar crew was gathered for the Passover Seder dinner together, a ritual they all knew by heart and which brought families together every year. In the background is the political tensions in Jerusalem, the religious leaders accusations and demand for arrest, the mounting squabbles among the disciples and the awareness that betrayal was at hand. In the midst of all of this Jesus feeds his friends, blesses them, and offers himself to them, body and blood. He understands his sacrifice and aches with compassion for their confusion and petty jealousies. He keeps them together and calms them, despite all the hubbub around him. He, like them is very human, and Jesus pours himself out for them and for the redemption of the world.

As we walk the way of the Passion of Christ in the coming days, may we, like Jesus, have compassion and tenderness for those around us. May we remember that church administrators are worn down to a frazzle, clergy are spent, and all of us are aching for rest and refreshment. Jesus, in the midst of messy humanity poured out his life for them and for us. May we make our way with overwhelming compassion and tender care in our hearts, so that we might fully rejoice in the resurrection to come.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rejects


And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord's doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” Mark 12:1-11



A Psalm for Wednesday in Holy Week

O Lord, I sit alone rejected
they have seen me and found me wanting
my work and my labor are not enough
my rights and privileges ignored
I cry to you my strength and my defender.

My God, since I was young you held my hand
lifted me up when the tide rose too high
rocked me when tears came overflowing
and sang the songs of love and hope
deep into the night.

The wounds are deep the scars are many
they have left me to fend for myself
I would storm their castle if I could
but no army surrounds me they have gone
abandoned me for another charm.

Wondrous Creator, I sit on the spring grass
and feel the wind on my face
the salt air stirs the life around me
and the ocean roars your tributes.

So I will stay and sing your praises
loud and long at the treasoner's gates
I will celebrate and dance for your love
has not abandoned me has not gone
but is mending me as I sleep safely in your arms.

Only God, round and present with us today
hear the cries of the anguished and abused
speak the words of love to the broken places
help us hear you adore your creation
and no one is turned away or left behind.

Sing the songs again and we will celebrate
we will rise up and dance and honor dance
we will sing and praise you forever and ever.