Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday 2013

On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for 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 handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened. Luke 24:1-12

Idle Tales
The dawn was still a way off
they struggled through their grief
hearts on the ground as they walked.

Tears flowed down like warm rain
the told their favorites stories
aching in their longing
sharing their sorrow with no shame.

Darkness covered them
hiding from the authorities
they moved in the shadows
to their ritual washing of the dead.

All had done this before
each had lost so many
death had swallowed up love
over and over again.

Fear became terror
all was not right
he was not there
he was missing among the dead.

Shattered and frightened
the darkness gave way to light
what they dared not hope was true.

Screaming and running home
feet flying in the morning light
the shouted their idle tales
to disciples hiding from the law.

He is not dead he is risen
no idle tale this my friend
God has brought back life and love
and we are free from fear forever
God has made us home.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sealed in Stone

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, `After three days I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Matthew 27:57-66

There is sometimes nothing to do but wait. And waiting can make many people anxious. I am not blessed with the gift of patience but I have grown more patient over time. Today, is a day when we wait for Easter. We know it is coming but we cannot do anything more than to prepare our hearts, and to be ready when the stone has been rolled away and love is alive again.

The authorities were anxious. They suspected a plot and further retaliation from Jesus' crowd. They called him the impostor. They remember his words of promise and took them as a political threat. So they sent guards to a tomb, to watch and wait in order to protect their authority, their power and their position. How often do we as humans fight with all our strength to protect what we have - position, wealth, authority and power? And how rarely do we recognize that all of these are gifts from God? We are invited in our waiting to dwell in the darkness of the sealed and guarded tomb, reflecting on our powerlessness and God's mighty love for us all.

Today I ask God to help me to stay still and trust the power of God's love. Those things which we cannot control, may we release in prayer. May we do the service we can today, offering our lives in thanksgiving for God's many blessings. And may we rest in our waiting, knowing that love will rise again and remove all the stones and barriers from true life.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" They answered, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law." The Jews replied, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death." (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate asked him, "What is truth?"

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, "I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" They shouted in reply, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God."

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor."

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!" They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but the emperor." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

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.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Good Friday

The clouds gather on the horizon
the wind picks up and rattles the trees
an ominous portent and anxious hearts
we rush indoors huddle with fear.

The sky is darkening and world turning cold
the boats in the harbor bob and roll
tie lines clanging with the movement
we hunker down and await the worst.

We look to the hills for understanding
and see instead love nailed to the cross
life draining out, blood and tears everywhere
hung out in shame like a criminal.

We are alone on the dust swirled ground
bent in grief and sorrow
there is no breath in our lungs
and hearts have almost stopped beating.

We may live through this horror
our failings, greed and betrayal
all on display upon that crude wooden cross
we cannot turn away but we cannot bear it.

The shadows are long
lungs spent from weeping
God goes to the cold ground
and a stone is rolled between us.

Linger with us in this darkness
wait for the gentle Lord
who is transforming our despair and cruelty
into a new life of joy.

Wait and do not turn away
for life is coming
through the pain and torture
love will toss aside the cold, cold ground.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:12-17,31-35

Today is Maundy Thursday and we will gather tonight to remember, to wash the feet of one another and to share one last communion before Easter morning. These final days of Holy Week, both dramatic and overwhelming, give us space to enter into an ancient act and in some small way participate in God's redeeming act. I will never fully understand it, but these liturgical reenactments help me to enter into a sacred space where God's love dwells.

Jesus has washed his disciples' feet and asked them to lead by service. He then instructs them about his imminent leaving and gives them the commandment to "love one another." Since that moment in time, all who follow have struggled to love the members of their community. Somehow, the newest commandment from God can be the hardest one for us to keep. Anger and jealousy rise up when we are in close proximity and we find ourselves at odds with the very ones we are commanded to love. But God promises to be in the midst of us, healing and forgiving. As we are willing to serve and wash one another's feet, we will find love, giving by God, overflowing like living streams washing us over with God's love.

Today I ask God to help me move through this day with the heart of a servant. May there be no resentment in the tasks we have to do. May we greet each challenge and task with the expectation of meeting God. May we serve with the love God has given us so that all may know we are disciples.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Walk While You Have the Light

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

I have learned some new things about light and myself after a winter in Alaska. Light is a true necessity of life and when we have limited light we can truly stumble. We don't lose the light here completely during the winter but it is very limited. The days are short so one tries to be outside when it is light. Light is fuel and strength, and without it we are just lost and withering folks.

Jesus is struggling to help the people understand God's purpose and his own behavior. He understands his time is very limited and that God would have them all accept the love and light that he brought to them. We humans tend to be wary of that kind of love and selflessness. We want to explain divine things in human terms with our limited experience and understanding. God is asking us to accept and celebrate the presence of God in our lives. To revel in our blessings while we have them. Knowing God is walking in the light while it is here.

Today I ask God to help me walk in the light. As we walk more deeply into the passion and complexity of Holy Week, may we also be the children of the light. May we celebrate the small miracles of our days and rejoice with every smile and warm gesture. May we hold fast to the love we have. And may we share that love with a world that knows too much darkness.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Falling to Earth

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

Falling to Earth

There are days when the light warms
and others when it seems far away
when hearts are rattled by circumstance
and new life seems but a distant promise.

Letting go and dying to what has been
shame and humiliation shadows on the horizon
beginning again in the cold broken earth
the world turns and we breathe anew.

Spring still refusing to wake up
winter's teeth still biting and closed
we ache from the cold and impending change
and fight the desire to let go.

Let go we must as we take passion's journey
walking through the fallen drying palms
sitting at the final table, leaning in
we wait to be broken open and reborn.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pressing On

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14

It is Monday in Holy Week and there is so much to do that it can seem overwhelming. Five mid-day services and three evening services this week along with three more on Sunday. The cup is full and overflowing. Sometimes the tasks ahead seem too monumental, whether it's holy week or other life challenges. But I must press on because all I do I never do alone.

Paul is writing to the church in Philippi. The people have been faced with overwhelming challenges and are losing heart. It happens to the most wonderful and faithful people because we are all very human. We want to be above average, better than everyone else but we are just like everyone else - human. Paul understands the temptation to pride and the holier-than-thou arrogance that comes with serving God. We clergy are as human as everyone else. God invites us through Paul's invitation to press on, trusting that we are not laboring or running on alone. In our hardest climbs and our biggest challenges God goes with us - "Christ before us, Christ behind us." What ever is before us today,we are able to go on and serve today because we are never alone but are tethered and bound to God in every breath.

Today, I ask God to help me remember that I am not alone and I do not have to rely on my own strength. We are bound to God, intimately interwoven into the family of the Creator. Everything we do we do with God's love and strength coursing through our beings. We can face today with the bold promise of Christ being with us, within us and around us as we go forth to serve today.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday 2013

After telling a parable to the crowd at Jericho, Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' just say this, 'The Lord needs it.'" So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They said, "The Lord needs it." Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

"Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!"

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out."
Luke 19:28-40

Soon we will head out and bless palms by the water. We will gather with our neighbors from the Lutheran Church and process each to our own churches. We will move from ringing bells and waving palms as we march to a solemn passion reading. A day of drama remembering the ultimate drama, God's once and for offering for the whole world. So it is a day where we are at once happy and sad, exuberant and morose. Sort of like returning to junior high for a while in order to remember God's incredible love for us who rarely deserve it.

Today, I ask God for the strength to be wholly present to the whole drama. May I neither be too morose in our celebration or too light in our mourning. May we all enter this Holy Week with expectations of being changed by the powerful love of God, which is willing to sacrifice all to save each and every one of us.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” John 11:28-37


Putting up a brave front
in the light of day
in front of neighbors and onlookers
we collapse on our beds and cry.

The racking sobs the lack of breath
loss so deep it roils up
darkness is its invitation
my aching heart its home.

The loss of a gentle touch
no longer will we hear that voice
no more for dancing or debate
but closed in the stone cold ground.

A lake of tears not enough
to empty my drowning soul alone
the world is less an invitation
than a horror show.

Sorrow so deep we are spent
we sleep in the desperate hours of night
freed for a moment from our sorrow
God kisses us with hope.

It is a long road from deep sorrow
to a high hill filled with light
we walk these deep foreboding woods
hand and hand with God.


Friday, March 22, 2013

I Believe

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:17-27

Some times it takes courage to take things on faith and to believe. We humans like to see results, we like to have proof with our eyes. We want tangible evidence. We want things we can hold and rely upon. Particularly when we have faced great loss, disappointment and isolation we can find it hard to trust anyone and believe that things will get better. When looking up from a dark place it is hard to see positive and to hope again.

Martha's brother has died and word was sent to Jesus who took his sweet time in getting to their home. Martha, the practical, reliable one has been shaken to her core. When she hears that Jesus is finally coming she runs to meet him. Her first words are angry and she chastises her dear friend for not coming sooner. Her grief and her disappointment are palatable. We have all been there. We have cried out to God in anger and grief. Jesus doesn't leave her in her anger and her grief, nor does he chastise her. He hears her ache and has compassion for his friend. She moves from utter despair to solid words of faith and trust through his presence. Martha stands as a model for us all. She knows she can lift her hurt but she is also trusting God with her heart. She knows love so deep that she can show her true self and believe that God will and does transform her sorrow and her pain.

Today we are invited to open our hearts to God. To trust God with the pain and sorrow we have hidden from the world. As we draw ever closer to Holy Week and enter into Christ's passion, we are invited to welcome Jesus into our passion and to lay all our fear and pain upon him. For God's desire is to draw close and to stand with us in our pain, so that we like Martha can say, "I believe!"

Thursday, March 21, 2013


At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”

The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me!" We learned this phrase early in our youth on the playground. We tried to believe it but we know that words can hurt, can inflame pain and can make others so angry they will strike out. Those children who were taunted and teased as a child for being different know how much words hurt, and how that hurt linger can for a life time. We can be in so much pain by what others say that we can strike out in anger and pick up stones.

The people who were angry at Jesus were not being tormented by his words. Jesus was offering them love and healing, offering God's love to hurting people. But they were afraid and angry for he was talking about his intimate relationship with God. They saw their world changing and fear rose up and became anger, and anger became violence. They felt under attack for their assumptions might just be wrong, so they moved to kill rather than understand. We humans often rise to blame and violence without understanding. We get afraid and lash out. Jesus reminded them of God's love for them, and reminds us still. In our moments of deep fear and torment, no matter how angry we get, God is still working on our behalf, healing and bringing light to a world darkened by violence.

Today I ask God to help me look beyond my confusion and fear. Help us to see God's love moving in our lives. Help us to embrace the change we fear, trusting that God has more for us than we can imagine. Help us, when the desire to strike out overwhelms us, to always move to prayer and compassion.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Find Pasture

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
John 10:7-18

Find Pasture

Having strayed from the path
darkness surrounds us the cold
biting and damp we huddle hoping
for one new morning.

We have been left on our own
with no map and no direction
the one who promised to lead us
deserted the whole flock.

We are wandering aimlessly
and stumbling through the night
crying out in hunger and hurt
we seek a loving shepherd.

On our own we follow fearful gossip
darting left then right
crashing into one another
never finding our way home.

A voice like welcome breaks through
the nigh is shattered by kindness
and caught in our deepest ravine
we look up to see new life.

In the middle of the night
in our worst folly and nightmare
in our headstrong wanderings
he is there.

In our lost moments of panic
on the city streets horns blaring
in the thickest brambles caught
he is there.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Like Those Who Dream

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126

Last night I had a very vivid dream. My father walked into our house with my mother. He was alive and healthy and I remember crying out and running to him. I embraced him and held him close and told him it had been far too long. It seemed as though I could dream in touch and smell, knowing his embrace and the touch of his face. My face was wet with tears when I woke. I don;t know if it is the season, but this time of year I find myself longing for lost family and friends, strongly missing loved ones. Even aching for a reunion, aching for that closeness that death and distance can remove from us.

The psalm appointed for today reminds me that God's desire and God's activity is always about restoration and healing. We can dream because even in our darkest hours God is moving to bind up the lost and despairing, to give rest to the work and weary, and abundance to those who are starving and alone. Here in Sitka we have been inundated with snow and winter has a still tight grasp on us. March can be unbearable for many. The winter stores are gone and yet spring and new life are still not hear. The psalmist reminds us that we are never far from God and God is actively moving on our behalf, renewing love and our hope. May we embrace the wisdom of the ages as we await God's new life for us.

Today I ask God to give me the strength to see beyond the cold and isolation. Help us all to know that the world is turning and that God is bringing new life to us all. May we rest on the assurance that our tears will be replaced with songs of joy. May we let go of the past so that God can create for us a new future. And may we hold fast to the promises of God, even in our darkest hours.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Light of the World

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. John 9:1-7

Light of the World

Cold and aching, hope all gone
an end to isolation and darkness
is all I ask.

Sitting by the road begging, praying
I hear the ridicule and laughter
nothing kind.

I was born lacking,an embarrassment
a judgement on my parents who left me
by the roadside.

Crying out with weakening lungs
shaking with tears and a deep gnawing hunger
abandoned alone.

The hand that touches is gentle the voice
bids me to rise and wash in the pool
first kind words.

With water the world opened with light
shocked faces all around me but one
who smiled with love.

I expected a happy crowd but anger and fear
surrounded them as they surrounded me with questions
how can this be?

For me I was once blind, abandoned and rejected
I looked into the eyes of God's love
which sought me out.

For me, I was nothing, a shame and sorrow
I lived to know the faces of my family and see
the sun rise.

For me, there is nothing to say but thank you
nothing but gratitude to God from my heart
for making me whole.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Rare Gift

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
John 12:1-8

Years ago, when I was newly a priest, someone gave us a present that changed my life. My sister had died and we didn't know how to get to the funeral which was far away. A woman from our congregation called and asked if we would like some of her airplane miles. She knew of our loss but not of our circumstance. She was moved with compassion and offered something she could give. All these years later, I am still so grateful for her generosity and tenderness. It still brings tears to my eyes.

The story of the woman who anoints Jesus is a powerful one. She offers what she has, from the heart, with her tears and her hair she tenderly cares for Jesus. Those gathered around criticize her for her waste, but Jesus know this tender and generous act is from the heart. She didn't know what to do, so what she did she did from the heart. In gratefulness for the love she had received she offered a rare gift from her heart and with all that she had. As we move toward this Holy Week, the Passion and Easter, God invites us to seek those tender places within us, and offer what we can. For it is in our humanity and humility we draw close to God.

Today, I give thanks for God's love for me. Each of us are rare and splendid gifts in the eyes of God. We are called to offer ourselves, from the heart, so that others might know God's love also. May we never shy away from tears or compassion but always demonstrate God's love by living from the heart.

The Collect

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

No Turning Back

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
John 6:60-71

Today I will gather with members of this wonderful parish to talk about merging two services and finding ways to join together what was once separate. We have come to a place where we need to do this as they move to calling a new rector, but change is hard. Change is hard for us all. We just wish things could stay the way they were when they were comfortable and familiar, when we had everything just as we needed it. We are human and human beings get rattled and confused when things change so rapidly. Sometimes we turn away, give up or turn back.

Jesus is talking about very challenging things to his disciples. The days ahead of them will be very hard. His life on earth is coming to an end. Some get angry and walk away. They don't want to hear it. Others argue and get angry. They want the miracles and the food, the crowds and the acknowledgment. They never wanted suffering, pain and challenge. Peter, on the other hand, recognizes that, because of Jesus, he has changed. He understands that Jesus is from God, and that they are part of the eternal through him. Love demands he stays with Jesus, love tethers him to God through Christ.

Today I ask God for strength to face the changes ahead. May we who tremble as we walk into unknown places and unfamiliar plans, take heart that God is with us. We belong to God, beloved and chosen. We do not need to fear for we have been called by God and we are never alone no matter how big the challenges, no matter how rough the going might be. May we God grant us the ability to be strong for the weak and calm for the frightened as we go forth today.

Friday, March 15, 2013

More than Conquerors

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39

More than Conquerors

They dragged our people out
from their family tables
from the circles of prayer
from the church and from the garden
to take our homeland.

We had welcomed the starving
clothed and fed them
led them to safe shelter
and listened to their preachers.

We shared our ancient ways
and were rebuffed for ignorant
we took on the ways of the conquerors
and they took us from our homes.

We were educated and faithful
we sang hymns along the way
praying the Lord's prayer in Cherokee
as they beat us in their forts.

We are more than conquerors
for on the frozen soil we walked
Jesus walked with us too,one of us
bleeding and crying in our language.

We are more than survivors
more than a remnant museum specimen
more than greedy and short sighted
we have walked with God.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living Bread

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:41-51

As one who bakes bread and love it, and learned to bake bread with my mother, I can attest to the life giving power of bread. I know for some, it is poison. As for others of us, bread baking smells like home. It's rich velvety skin as it is being kneaded is a pleasant tactile experience as well as being real physical work. The rising bread, actually breathing and growing is miraculous to observe. Bread can enhance a meal and shared can make a friendship.

Jesus is being challenged by the religious leadership. They know him solely as the son of Mary and Joseph. Some might have known him as a normal kid in the neighborhood. None have witnessed his growth and full potential, and consider his words hollow rhetoric. But to those gathered round who had tasted and seen the new life within themselves, the healing and the transformation, they know his words are true. Even more, his words are comfort and promise to those who have been hungry and abandoned for so long. Jesus invites us to take his words as a true promise that we will be fed and renewed, we will be made whole and part of a loving community.

Today, I ask God to help me trust in that living bread, the life giving love of Christ. May we remember all the blessings we have and rejoice in the promises we have. May God's love feed and strengthen us today so that we might go into the world sharing the love we have received.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hunger and Thirst

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:27-40

Hunger and Thirst

I always seem to be wanting more
an gaping hole, a deep ache
a need to be filled crying out
unable to be still with emptiness.

My emptiness and longing
run through me like bad dreams
visions and vistas of parched lands
empty arms and aching hearts.

My heart throbbed with life reaching
for other life for warm arms
aching for shelter peace and tenderness
light in this wilderness.

My wilderness is thirsting in the river
loneliness in the crowd, a sigh escaping
from the thick warm covers
of the soft life I lead.

Lead me Lord to the water
let me taste anew this new life
let me look upon the land
with eyes of hope and promise.

Take me Lord to the table
you set for all of us everyday
help me to cherish the meal
that you prepare for each one.

Take me deep into the darkness
cover me with brush and twigs
hide me in the depth of this forest
we know to be love planted deep.

Lead me Lord from wanting to knowing
from hoping to holding tight
from fretful anxiety to joyful song
and from need of bread to need only of you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In The Midst of Fear

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. John 6:16-21

In the Midst of Fear

Rough seas and dark night
fear like a disease overtakes
my body and soul pain racked
we cry out and it flies away.

The swells toss us
the arrogant ignore us
we walk on dangerous streets
homeless and unprotected.

The water rises in our boat
the sinking has begun
never to see land again
or smiles on our children's faces.

When in the midst of fear
we shake in terror and weep
God comes on the water
God comes into our boat.

Light where there was none
hope when only screaming
a soft touch of possibility
when only death seemed real.

Food in the wilderness abundant
healing the deepest breaks
love is walking on water
joining us in our rawest night.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Enough Bread

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” Mark 8:14-21

Although I would like folks to think I am a great packer, I am not. Although I have plenty of experience traveling, I still struggle to pack, often bringing too many of one thing while leaving others behind. Most often is it something I forget like a tooth brush or the hair brush, but on occasion it has been something much more critical. It is very easy to worry about all the wrong things and miss the big picture.

Jesus was again in a boat with his disciples. As they leave the shore someone realizes that they didn't pack the provisions right and there is little bread. It becomes a huge issues, even when Jesus cautions them to get over it. They fall back on worrying and arguing when bread is missing as they are traveling with the savior of the world. They are in close relationship and proximity to the one who feed thousands and who has taken care of their needs. And yet they still get very human very quickly. We are invited to remember that we can trust God to provide, even today. Jesus is in the boat with us and we are not alone,

Today, I ask God to help me not to worry. May we move from anxiety to trust and from fear to believing, May we remember all of the many blessings we have, not focusing on our lack but on God's limitlessness. May we not be caught up by the petty lack but may we be moved by compassion to share with others in true need. And may our small acts be witness to God's love and power in the world today.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."

So Jesus told them this parable:

"There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."' So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.

"Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.' Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'"
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32


So far away from home
my mistakes ever before me
the hollow in my heart
deeper than the hollow in my belly.

I remember the soft warm bed
and the strong arms enfolding me
the rich lingering smell of baking
and the soft laughter of home.

Held so tight I pushed back
knowing better I took my flight
thinking I could go alone
I set my feet on destruction's path.

Nobody made me go
Nobody wanted me to leave
Nobody forced my hand
and now I am a nobody.

So far away and weakly weeping
I set a course for home
that I might work my way
back into being loved.

The dust mingles with my tears
The blisters and the scabs rubbed raw
no pain can be enough for me
and yet I am running home.

Another runs to me arms wide
free flowing tears and calling
my name over and over a welcome
I dare not deserve.

Love embraces me surrounds me
welcomes me back without shame
love washes me and binds my wounds
and sets a feast of joy.

The Collect

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Picking Up Stones

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
John 8:49-59

We spent yesterday hearing from the Bishops of Connecticut about their experiences in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. We then heard from others about gun violence and gun control. We spent a good deal of time talking together about the challenges facing us if we speak up against violence and our experiences in our diverse communities. To voice opposition to violence is an easy thing as no one is really for it. But to stand in the face of the fear and anger that brings rise to the violence we witness in our streets and in our homes, is a whole other challenge.

Jesus speaks the truth of his relationship to God. He infuriates the religious leadership and their reaction is violence. We humans, when fear and anger rise, pick up stones or any other weapon we can find. As Jesus did, we live in a world that is wracked by violence, among people who move to weapons when surrounded by fear. And the fear is often of the other, the outsider and those who make us uncomfortable in their difference. Jesus hid himself from their violent reaction, for a time, but faced it on the cross. We are invited today to face the violence within us.

Today I ask God to help me look at my own fear. May we face the fear and our need to pick up stones. May we put down the stones and the weapons long enough to understand what we fear and why we are so angry. May we share our fears and fury with God, who understands our pain and wills to transform it. May we live honestly with our fear so that God can help us live honestly with one another today.

Friday, March 8, 2013

On Eagle's Wings

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91

An Anthem A New Beginning - On Eagle's Wings

Arising in the early morning scattered light
we seek your love dwelling in these hills
we asks for your guidance so far from home
and we need you love to hold us fast.

The new day promises overwhelming encounters
new and old faces some alive with great joy
and other bearing great pain
and none of us are alone on this journey.

Arising in the early morning scattered light
we seek your love dwelling in these hills
we asks for your guidance so far from home
and we need you love to hold us fast.

Bound together like mountain climbers
hand over hand and feet tucked in crevices
we move like praying holding fast
to the vision the summit you have promises.

Arising in the early morning scattered light
we seek your love dwelling in these hills
we asks for your guidance so far from home
and we need you love to hold us fast.

We cannot look back or peer down
we are too far away from the solid earth
trusting deeply we move slowly forward
knowing we are surrounded by love.

Arising in the early morning scattered light
we seek your love dwelling in these hills
we asks for your guidance so far from home
and we need you love to hold us fast.

The knees tremble and the hands slip
but you hold us fast dear Creator God
your splendor surrounds us even on these rocks
and the wind sings joyful melodies for us.

Arising in the early morning scattered light
we seek your love dwelling in these hills
we asks for your guidance so far from home
and we need you love to hold us fast.

Let us continue on then today
let us renew our strength and begin again
knowing love will be with us and lift us
all the way.

Arising in the early morning scattered light
we seek your love dwelling in these hills
we asks for your guidance so far from home
and we need you love to hold us fast.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said, "They will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come." Matthew 24:9-14

Although we have lived in Alaska for a very short time, I have learned a great deal about endurance while here. Folks who have grown up and thrived on our little island are sturdy, resilient folks. They don't give up easily and tenaciously find new ways to go forward when the way is blocked. They have a fierce sense of community and deep love for the land and the people. When things get tough they don't faint away but regroup and find new ways to celebrate the life they have been given.

Jesus is trying to prepare his followers for the challenges ahead. Life is not easy for any of us but it is often extremely dangerous for those who follow God in opposition to the authorities. Their life together had not been simple, but they were buoyed up by his presence and ministry. Soon they would be on their own. Not left alone but under scrutiny and abuse for who they are without the visible presence of their teacher. We all need to move out on our own, out of our comfort zone, out to face the world. We can despair and fall away or trust that God is saving us, God is with us, even in the darkest of challenges. We just need to endure.

Today, I ask God to give me strength for the challenges ahead. May we not waver, fall into anger or fall away. May love be our banner and our goal always to serve God. May we endure by simply holding fast and not giving in to jealousy or fear. May we strengthen our souls, day by day, so that we might be the carriers of good news, the bearers of God love to the ends of the world.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Light of the World

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

It has been sunny and delightful the past few days in Sitka. We have so much cloud cover as the norm, that when the sky lifts we all notice and want to run outside, no matter what we should be doing. It makes people a little silly, greedy and a little crazy. Nights without cloud cover are very cold. I leave today for the House of Bishops but hesitate because I do not want to leave Sitka in the sunshine.

Jesus is speaking during the festival and from inside the temple. He was teaching them that he is the light of the world and that he was sent by God, from the heart of God. These words were considered inflammatory and illegal. No one claimed to be God without violent punishment, let alone from inside the treasury of the temple. But Jesus knew the world needed light, deeply needed the love of God which institutions can often forget, and he knew he was the one to deliver that light and love in himself. The people were desperate for light, as we are here, and Jesus promise to provide what we need, despite the all constraints we live with.

Today, as I travel. I ask God for confidence. May we have confidence to trust that there will always be light in the world through Christ Jesus. May we be bold to trust that, despite the problems and challenges we face, God is acting to bring us light and love, and to free us from the bonds which tie us now. And may we, when freed, bring the light of God's love to the world.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rivers of Living Water

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39

Rivers of Living Water

The cold had dried the skin
and made my heart brittle
frozen water and frost abound
and I am parched and alone.

Amidst a lush and moist rain forest
we wander anxious and afraid
standing on the ocean's dune
we ache and thirst in the dark.

This lenten journey of discovery
this emerging breathless time
we seek renewal and forgiveness
deeply wounded and abandoned.

Wandering in dreams of the past
on the brink of a shaky future
we stumble through our days
falling on our knees to pray.

What we cannot see is the thaw
the movement just beyond our vision
compassion lessening the bound heart
warmth setting the frozen places free.

We will drink and be satisfied
love again in the warm breeze
walk upright and stable in the night
and see God face to face.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Going On

The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?” John 7:32-36

There are days when the worries of the present and the mistakes of the past overwhelm us all. We cannot fix the past and worrying will not really influence the present. Worrying can only freeze us into place and help us second guess. The only thing we can do is to keep going, to move with faith even when our faith has been shaken. The worst cannot happen and the best is yet to come is we can keep our eyes forward and our feet one step in front of the other.

Jesus is reluctantly attending the festival. It is a place full of people and he is the object of great controversy. He thought at first to avoid it all together but changed his mind and came half way through. He had to stand in the middle of anger and cruel words aimed at him all because he healed a man and spoke of his relationship to God. His warrant was signed. And yet Jesus went to the festival despite the anger and the hate. He went for the people who would know God's love in their lives for the first time. He went for you and me, the people who are anxious and reluctant. He went for us so that we all might live with God's love embedded within us.

Today, I ask God to help me take one step at a time. There is much to be anxious about, much to make me worry. All these things have nothing that can be done about them right now. May we trust God enough to lay all our worries at Christ's feet. May we keep going, with the knowledge that despite our lack, God will be walking with us. And may we trust that the road ahead is full of blessing, no matter how deep our fears, today.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Let It Alone

There were some present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them--do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did."

Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, 'See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?' He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'" Luke 13:1-9

We went to the raptor center this week to watch the eagles that have been rescued these amazing and majestic birds of prey are brought here when they have suffered massive injuries. There are a few who will never leave the center but there are 19 now slated to be released. Folks were tenderly working with them to regain their abilities. More than healing their bodies, they give them the support and nurture to fly again. They have to be idle for a time to heal but then loving hands bring them back to health and freedom.

Jesus tells a parable about a disappointing fig tree, it's owner, and the gardener. I used to imagine that the parable was about God, the fig tree owner and Jesus, the gardener. Now I have come to realize that we are the owners and God in Christ is the gentle gardener. We are the ones who give up, who fall into such deep despair that we cannot bear to watch another failure. In the face of all our failure and our broken wings, God's love pleads with us. God invites us to turn over our worst, so that we can fly again.

Today, as we draw ever deeper into Lent, may we acknowledge our broken wings, our broken bodies, our broken lives. May we have the spark of faith that lets us offer all of our brokenness to God. And may we trust that God is a faithful and tender gardener, a talented and kind care giver, ready to mend us and set us free to do what we were made to do. May God set us free from the brokenness so that we may rise on wings of love.

The Collect

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Not Time Yet

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him. John 7:1-13

Not Time Yet

The stores are full of seeds
mulch and potting soil
pictures of exquisite gardens
but it's not time yet.

Teased by visions of beaches
warm water and laughing gull
skin soaking up the sunshine
but it's not time yet.

A little more light every morning
a bit more bird song and migrating
there is chatter on every breeze
but it's not time yet.

Dreaming a solid home for understanding
a place to rest and welcome guests
a nurturing next for grand babies
but it's not time yet.

Waiting and wanting we ache
wishing and hoping we scheme
hanging on every fortune cookie
but it's not time yet.

We are held in tender hands
surrounded by love and hope
the plans are already finished
but it's not time yet.

The Creator's breath within us
the Savior's heart beat here too
a resurrection is coming
but it's not time yet.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Nothing on My Own

“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” John 5:30-47

I am learning to bead while I am here in Alaska. A dear Athabascan woman named Sarah is teaching several of us and she laughs as we work. Every time I think I can work on my own, things get messed us and she has to help me get untangled and back on tract. We talk together and she shows us little tips and techniques. I couldn't do it without her constant watch care.

Jesus is explaining the intimacy of relationship between son and the father, between us and our Creator, and among all of us. Our reliance of God is complete. We are often proud of our singular accomplishment. Rarely do we see or acknowledge the great crowd of love, teaching and support we have received. How lovely then for Jesus to acknowledge dependence and interconnected need. We are invited to cherish our need of others and our dependence on God and one another. Love, care, support and kind teaching which enable us to thrive are true gifts of God for us, so that we and others may flourish.

Today I ask God to help me see all the people who have helped me to this day. May we give thanks for the throngs of folks who have nurtured and helped us through our lives. May we offer the gifts we have, knowing that we are simply passing on what we have been taught. May we share God's wealth and blessings, since they do not belong to us and were always given to be shared.