Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tending Growth

"And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:4-8

This time last year we had already planted most of our garden. Here in Alaska it is something we will do a little later than in New Jersey. Most of the yard here is given over to a co-op so we will probably have most of our plants in large boxes on the porch. We do have potato plants started in our windows and look forward to getting out hands in the soil, planting seeds and tending them as they grow.

Jesus was using parables to help people understand their faith and God's love for them. They had lived by very rigid laws and the dictates of the religious leaders. Following Jesus meant they had to take responsibility for their faith and their relationship with God. They had to tend their faith, had to nurture love and compassion in their lives and would need to remember later hoe he taught them. He taught them through pictures drawn with words of familiar scenes that they could comprehend and remember. They could share their faith through these same stories. God invites us to move from absolutes to relationships, to faith lived by dictates to faith as a never ending story. We are participants in the life of faith and desired by God to be in relationship.

Today I ask God to help me live the story of my faith by seeking to nurture love and compassion day by day. May we tend the fragile seeds of faith, water the growing ones and in all things be tender gardeners of our own faith and of others. May we never blatantly destroy the tender shoots nor walk callously over the fledgling garden. May all that we do plant deep roots and nurture love today.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday's Song

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;

all day long an attacker oppresses me;

my enemies trample on me all day long,

for many attack me proudly.

When I am afraid,

I put my trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise,

in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can flesh do to me?

All day long they injure my cause;

all their thoughts are against me for evil.

They stir up strife, they lurk;

they watch my steps,

as they have waited for my life.

For their crime will they escape?

In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;

put my tears in your bottle.

Are they not in your book?

Then my enemies will turn back

in the day when I call.

This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,

in the Lord, whose word I praise,

in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me?

I must perform my vows to you, O God;

I will render thank offerings to you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,

yes, my feet from falling,

that I may walk before God

in the light of life. Psalm 56

Monday's Song

Waking to sunlight streams
shaking off visions of the other ocean
my sleeping heart longing for home
seeking memory's shelter at night.

We are never alone in the strangest lands
God holds our tears in a divine bottle
God holds us close as we toss about
and tells us the story of promise and love.

A traveler and a gypsy mother
thrown into the a story of moving and change
friendly foreigner and curious stranger
a haunting song on the twilight's breeze.

We are never alone in the strangest lands
God holds our tears in a divine bottle
God holds us close as we toss about
and tells us the story of promise and love.

Walking unfamiliar roads by peculiar dwellings
peering in to find the warmth of relatives
seeking shelter with the other travelers
we are adopted children from different mothers.

We are never alone in the strangest lands
God holds our tears in a divine bottle
God holds us close as we toss about
and tells us the story of promise and love.

Some days we are rejected with polite smiles
and other times we are turned away by stones
they hurl their words and their fears at us
as if we could hide their shame.

We are never alone in the strangest lands
God holds our tears in a divine bottle
God holds us close as we toss about
and tells us the story of promise and love.

Another week begins again and we venture out
knowing the welcomes are for tourists and shoppers
the signals tell us to move along quickly
we are not wanted and yet loved by God.

We are never alone in the strangest lands
God holds our tears in a divine bottle
God holds us close as we toss about
and tells us the story of promise and love.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Love one another

At the last supper, when Judas had gone out, 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 13:31-35

Sometimes things have to change. We are getting ready to change our service schedule and times and it makes everyone nervous. We are all creatures of habit, us humans, and we do not like our comforts disrupted. Church changes are even harder some times. We fear we will no longer feel at home and welcome.

At the last supper, at a critical time in their faith journey, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment. They are to love one another. Their lives will change, in a few brief hours, more than they could ever imagine. And love is the single most important thing they are to do. Despite whatever changes they face, they were to love and forgive each other, sacrificing ego and control for the care of others. God invites us, when we find ourselves in the midst of change, when we feel we are sinking and losing our bearings, to love one another and we will find God right here with us. If life is unsettled, then love all the more, and God's promise peace will surround us.

Today I ask God to give me an extra measure of love and compassion. May we all remember the frightening and unsettling times in our lives, loving others as we would want to be love in those days. May our compassion and concern be overflowing, sothat others might feel God's peace in the middle of rough seas, today.

The Collect

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wisdom's Children

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” Luke 7:31-35

Wisdom's Children

They have not learned the bully's skills
nor have they learned aggression
those things come from being human
but these have learned compassion.

They have not learned to grab or bite
nor hide when troubles come
they rise up when others cry out
and bring the calm and salve.

They have not learned to hold a grudge
or be self-serving and vain
instead they rejoice with others
and tend those who weep.

They did not learn to break promises
nor turn way when friends are weak
they shared the little food they had
and waited until others are well.

These are the children of our faithfulness
when we forgive love is born
when we let go of anger peace is set free
and our children grow in wisdom.

When we harbor hate and fear
we starve the vulnerable and least
when we will not bend with need and change
we cut off the weakest and bind them up.

The children of wisdom seek love first
they dance in the light and the rain
they hold onto to love boldly
fiercely love and tenderly hold on.

The children of wisdom are our to feed
we can supply them richly or choke them off
we can make them weeds or elegant flowers
by how we choose to demonstrate our compassion.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Under My Roof

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. Luke 7:1-10

We arrived back home in Sitka shortly before six last night. As we flew in the clouds were thick and the air was thick with water. We had left Albuquerque very early in the morning where everything is dry and it seems as the sun shines all the time. The sound of rain on the roof welcomed our dry skin and parched throats. The sweet new green everywhere welcomed us to familiar surroundings. Under our roof we knew we were home, understanding again how the world works in this place.

A military leader asked after Jesus since his beloved servant was dying. This leader had learned the way of the people and followed their ways of respect and honor. He did not run to Jesus but asked the appropriate people. In living his life this way, he was respected and trusted. His honesty and faith touched even Jesus. Here was a man who welcomed different ways and respected home rule and honored the ways of the people. Healing came with such respect and faithfulness. Healing was a gift from the Divine when we are humble enough to know where home is, and when we honor the gifts and the people we have been given. And love bring healing no matter where home is found.

Today, I ask God to help me honor and respect the people and their ways in our adopted home. Like the Centurion, we are far from family, so help us to make the people our family. May er who ventured far from our peoples' lands, have respect and honor for the local ways. And may we have faith that God will be with us wherever we are, bringing good news and healing to all who seek the love of God.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Without Foundation

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:39-49

Without Foundation

Like a brittle reed in a stormy wind
water rising high and ground giving way
we are moving through the air without tether
no anchor to hold us no firm foundation.

The travel makes us weary and fragile
like little children after a long day
we spin and giggle way too loud
and then break into terrifying tears.

We are looking for a solid home
a place to lay our heads and grow a garden
a community where we are known
a solid rock of love unmoving.

Some days we can be like tender shoots
subject to burning by the sun
and some days solid wide oaks
a solid force against any gale.

Today we bend and shutter with the cold
trying to move beyond the shallow hopes
looking for sure footing in the changing tide
praying for a solid savior to rescue us.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Love Your Enemies

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:27-37

Today I am at a retreat center in Albuquerque with colleagues working on curriculum planning for various trainings. It is a lovely spot, just to the west of the Rio Grande, majestic in its desert beauty. We are working hard to strengthen the Indigenous leadership within the church and to encourage those who have not understood how to be supportive to Indigenous ministries. We are striving to put the past in its place with education, provide healing for those who are hurting and to move beyond old anguish that held folks back to making partners and friends with everyone concerned.

In our Gospel today we find Jesus continuing to teach from the mountain side. He is setting the traditional "eye for an eye" theology aside to a new way of living. He suggests we love those who hate us, be kind to those who terrorize us, forgive those who have hurt us and to be generous without expectations in return. God invites us today to live in the present putting the petty jealousies and conflicts behind us, and to live loving and engaging with everyone. No easy challenge for we are often taught early on who and how to hate. But we also know, as we invite love in, love will overwhelm even the darkest of places and the most painful of relationships.

Today I ask God to help me love without restriction, forgive without limits and live as a good neighbor to all. May we find within ourselves those places that need love and turn to God for help. And may we seek those who we have angered or hurt and ask forgiveness. May we do our all to make love the sign of of faithfulness to God's call.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. Luke 6:20-23

It was a magnificent day yesterday, visiting with Mark's sister and brother in law. It was their wedding anniversary and they graciously shared it with us by taking us to a baseball game. The local team won which is always good. When I first met Andrea she was 8 years old. Over the years she has become one of my sisters, one of the family, and close to my heart. It is amazing how we are blessed with family, both those we are born to and those who choose to be part of our lives.

Jesus was teaching on the mountain side. Many of the people who came to him were poor and ill, broken by life and the treatment of the world. Broken people are often pushed away and not appreciated. The Divine wants us all to know that we are loved and blessed by God, even when our circumstances are dire and we feel shut out from the world. God is growing us family and new possibilities despite what we witness. God is making the broken whole and loving families out of what once were strangers.

Today, I ask God to help me count the blessings of life. When we witness our brokenness and see the injustice around us, may we also know that God is creating blessing and wholeness in spite of what we see. May we always be ready to respond to the needs about us, and may we never despair for God's love is working through us, and surrounds us today.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lord of the Sabbath

On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grain fields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:1-11

Lord of the Sabbath

When I was hungry and failing
you brought me food in abundance
and when I was bent from pain
you brought healing and relief.

The soft breezes blow even in the desert
and bird song is heard on lonely islands
the sacred ground and the holy mountains
rejoice at the presence of the loving Divine.

Our weakness our humanity is made holy
through love which seeks to heal and feed
love which bends the rules to answer prayer
and gathers vulnerable children at dusk.

The soft breezes blow even in the desert
and bird song is heard on lonely islands
the sacred ground and the holy mountains
rejoice at the presence of the loving Divine.

Holy ones before us have broken rules
to make freedom ring for all
many suffered in prison and died
so that we might sing freedom's love songs.

The soft breezes blow even in the desert
and bird song is heard on lonely islands
the sacred ground and the holy mountains
rejoice at the presence of the loving Divine.

We kneel and give thanks for the sabbath
a day set aside from labor and toil
we give God the praise for our blessings
the richness of our children's embrace.

The soft breezes blow even in the desert
and bird song is heard on lonely islands
the sacred ground and the holy mountains
rejoice at the presence of the loving Divine.

So let us get up and dance with the wind
for the one who was humbled is Sabbath's lord
for those who are broken and beat down
have been raised up and made whole.

The soft breezes blow even in the desert
and bird song is heard on lonely islands
the sacred ground and the holy mountains
rejoice at the presence of the loving Divine.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Sheep

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one." John 10:22-30

The other night I got to go to sheep camp with my dear friend Cornelia. She brought in a little lamb that had been rejected by his mother. The little lamb had a crooked spine and initially could not stand. As someone who has lived with the pain of a crooked spine, I had a genuine compassion for the little guy. Kee, the sheep herder, told me that he had worried about the little abandoned boy. He prayed at night because he was so concerned that the little lamb seemed so challenged. Kee then told me that within two days, he was up and walking and thriving. I can attest to the fact that he was hungry and greedy like any newborn, full of life and truly a precious creature full of good life medicine.

Jesus is challenged by the local religious leaders about his identity. He reminds them that he has already explained to them who he is and they won't believe. He goes on to tell them of the intimacy of his relationship to God, the Divine Creator and his father. An intimacy and a relationship that gives him an intimate relationship with those who seek God. They are Christ's sheep, and he promises to care for them tenderly. We are reminded today that we have a savior who love us intimately and tenderly, whether we are perfect or barely able to stand. God wants us and draws us close at all times. The gentlest shepherd who hold the most vulnerable tenderly and ever so close.

Today, I ask God to help me be a disciple by being a person of compassion and tenderness. May we reach out to all people as if they were vulnerable little lambs, demonstrating God's love through our gentleness and compassion. May the world know the shepherd through our hands and our hearts.

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 20, 2013

A Great Feast

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32

I spent my afternoon well into the evening at sheep camp. I fed a little lamb whose mother had rejected him, participated in several ceremonies and was invited to a feast. We had fry bread and lamb stew in the hogan. It was a moving, spiritual time, a time of healing and community. We were people from far and wide and yet within we were welcome and at home.

one of Jesus' followers was a tax collector and he made a feast for him. He invited his friends and family to join the feast and made everyone at home. The religious authorities criticized and complained against Jesus for hanging out with folks they didn't approve of. They didn't understand that God's love calls us to make everyone family and to see no one as an enemy. God blesses those who bless others and offer everyone a place at the table.

Today, I ask God to help me have an open heart and an open spirit, making everyone welcome. May we all, after so many days of anxiety and fear, trust God to restore us as a people all related, all welcome. May relationships be renewed as we welcome one another to the feast that the Creator has set for us all.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Stuck in the Middle

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Luke 5:12-26

I was supposed to make it all the way to Albuquerque tonight but due to weather and other delays I am stuck in Salt Lake City. Partway, but not there yet. Caught in the middle with nothing but waiting, resting and dealing with the change in plans and a different, unexpected horizon. The airline was actually quite helpful and provided a room for the night and vouchers etc. But going with a radical change of plans is still a shock and waiting is always a challenge.

Jesus is healing people who he comes across. He doesn't expect much from them but that they want to be healed. These folks needing healing are caught in the middle of an on-going theological argument that swirls around them. The questions come as a barrage as Jesus is trying to care for a man and make him able to walk. Such changes to normal life was enough for the healed man to handle, but he was caught in the middle of annoying church leadership. Their argument was out of his control. He went on his way, shocked, surprised and thrilled to be walking at all. God brought him love and healing despite the mess he was caught him and in spite of being caught in the religious middle. God invites us to see the blessings and receive healing despite the messes, delays and conflicts we might be caught in.

Today, as I go forward on my way, I ask God to help me see the blessings in the middle of everything, no matter what swirls around. May we all rejoice in getting up and walking, despite the controversies that might distract us. May we focus on the love we have received so that we might reach out to others where ever we might be. And may we, who may be caught in the middle, thrill in the blessings we have, right where we are.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Putting Out from Land

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

Putting Out from Land
Heading out from this safe port
onto rough and strange waters
what lies ahead is uncertain
and there is much to fear in the traveling.

Too often we returned with empty nets
too often we were bone tired
hungry and exhausted cleaning nets
with nothing to bring to our children.

The port is safe and warm
curling up in the sheltered cove
warm sand and soft breezes
better than striking out again.

We strike out again from this land
for we follow a loving master
a captain who shares the helm
and softly guides us through the dark.

We serve in plenty or in want
and find ourselves stretching and weary
still ready to drop the nets
into hostile waters for love.

We have sailed the worst empty seas
and sought shelter from enemies
and our table groans with the bounty
of love which knows now fear.

So send us out again teacher
for we have more to learn
and others had need of your feeding
help us be safe until we find home port again.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. Luke 4:38-41

I keep wondering about all the people who witnessed the bombing in Boston, and all those who will never be whole after this incident. The depth of trauma and loss is hard to imagine. So far away, on the other side of the country and 4 time zones away, I feel helpless. I want to be able to help but there is nothing I can do but pray. Time and constant supportive love heal many wounds. God only knows how to heal a whole city. Those who have suffered might have to teach us how to help.

Jesus went to the aid of his friend's mother. She was sick, on the point of death, and he made her well. In response to her healing she got up from her sickbed and served them. He moved around and touched all those who needed his help, bringing new life and freedom from their demons. He set them free to live and love again. They were no longer dependent but able to stand up and share life with others. They were able to serve, love and grow again. God invites us to seek healing in these dark times, even when we are overwhelmed by despair. God promises to work into the night for the restoration of the world.

Today, I ask God to help me seek the healing I need to serve others. May the mending of our hearts inspire us to seek ways to bring love to those who are despairing and broken. May we reach beyond our fears and terrors and be brave so that others might live.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love One Another

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.1 John 4:7-12

Yesterday when I heard about the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, all I could think about is our daughter Phoebe. She works in downtown Boston. We finally got in touch with her and she is fine. For awhile the cell phones weren't working. Her office closed early and she got home safely. When horrors such as these happen we cannot help but worry about those we love, and wish we could protect them from all danger, no matter how old they are. Gathered in the crowd were folks who were cheering on those they love. Running in the race were those who run to honor someone else. Some were running to raise money for victims of violence. All the running was out of love and joy - love of the sport and the joy of living. People cheered on the throngs for the same reason. Glad to be alive to encourage others in their quest, fulfilling a dream, fulfilling their hope to make it to the finish line.

Today, there is nothing more to say then it is time to love more ferociously than ever. It is time we act on our impulses to forgive and let go. It is the right time to be active in our love for others, doing everything we can to bring joy into the world. May our agendas never get in the way of others' joy. May our dreams always inspire more love and sacrifice for others. And may this day after such tragedy compels us all to live for God and for our relatives, our worldwide human family, bringing love to the darkest place in our common story.

Monday, April 15, 2013

At Home

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 14:16-30

At Home

They invited me back to my hometown
and I thought I would be at home
the familiar library and shops were soothing
navigating ancient pathways was exhilarating
comforting smells and old friends nearby
obscured the fact that I had changed.

Once just a twitchy teenager
uncomfortable in my own skin
now a prophet a preacher a threat
myself a challenge to the status quo
and my words threatened their sure comforts.

When picking up the book with power
they could no longer execute authority over me
I no longer responded to the old cues
no longer willing to submit to petty anarchy
filled with the spirit I became the enemy.

They were used to stroking and comfort
to the soft suburban life without city threats
they hid from the face to face with the homeless
sheltered from the want they had created
they shut out all who would shatter their icons.

Perfect and full of organic poisons,
imperfection changed by a knife and lotions
anesthetized by fine liquor and prescriptions
they danced through the seasons of parties
waiting to be honored for their contributions.

I was a hostile threat though wanting nothing
I spoke the truth and threw off the balance
I became the poison and the problematic one
the shame and the rejected the single source of pain
needing to be spit out and expelled.

God changed this simple child with love and new life
and filled the vessel with spirit and truth
the sting of love and truth can be painful
for those who would stay by the grave nostalgic
rather than embrace the fragile living life of promise.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Do You Love Me?

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me." John 21:1-19

It was a glorious day in our little fishing village and we had a wonderful day in Church. The Diocesan Bishop was with us and we had two baptisms, one adult and one baby. The nets felt full today as we gathered for potluck and fellowship afterwards and as we celebrated as a community. Sometimes the spirit is fully present and the love and mutual support is felt. Today was such a day.

Jesus appears after his resurrection to the disciples who have gone fishing since they really don't know what else to do. They work hard and fail, even at that. Jesus invites them to put the nets in one more time, trying something new and they have an abundance. Then he feeds them and asks Peter, "do you love me?" Each time Peter answers he tells him to care for and feed his sheep. If we love Jesus we will try something new and share the love we have with those who follow. If we really want to have full nets and more love, we are invited to give love away.

Today, I ask God to help me never be afraid to try something new and to always be willing to tend the flock. May we be known by how we love and may we be anxious to give ourselves away. May God's love shine through us so that those who are stuck and broken, those who are frightened and isolated, those who are grieving and in pain, might know the healing love of God.

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 13, 2013

Put to the Test

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,

and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,

to guard you,’


“‘On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13

Put to the Test

Waking up from a nightmare
wrestling with old demons
angry men who would expel us
angry women who would hold on.

Life is growing, growing up
growing old, turning, reforming
transforming, remaking
falling in love over and over again.

We are tempted to roll over
hide under the cover 'til the sun shines
bury the changes in romantic ideas
worshiping old iconic gods.

We are tempted to return to Egypt
tempted to let evil win
tempted to give in to terrorists
and give up our children to them.

We are tried by the changing season
light and darkness changing places
young becoming old, babies becoming rulers
we are wanderers lost in a new world.

The Creator breathes on creation again
walking in the early morning dew
gathering the wounded and weary
bearing the yet to be born.

In the chaos of dawning we f9ind God
in our brittle morning eyesight
we glimpse a new possibility of living
and run to the loving arms.

Let us rise to the test and change
make room for former enemy, welcome the strange
tasting sweet summer berries
and living for those who come behind.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Up Out of the Water

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:15-22

After a full day of clergy conference we begin with our deanery meeting. It is a joy to welcome all these folks here to Sitka. Church meetings can be overwhelming and I am reminded how much of what we do by meeting is to renew and deepen relationships. Sometimes the challenges of gathering is deeply worth it as we find our value in one another and bless each other by our gatherings.

Jesus arrives in the scene to be baptized before he begins his ministry. Although all of John's baptism in in preparation for Jesus' ministry, it is still important for him to join in the ceremony, to join the gathering, to be a part of the people. Coming up out of the water we are told that the heavens opens and a voice declared the Creator's joy and pleasure. As we enter more deeply into the life of our communities we are given a word and a signs of the Creator's joy and pleasure in us through Christ.

Today, I ask God to help us enter fully into the life of our communities. May we be blessed as we enter into the deep water, knowing that God will lift us up and call us each by name. May we see our blessings and delight in one another, and share the joy of God's love this day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rough Places Made Level

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled,

and every mountain and hill shall be made low,

and the crooked shall become straight,

and the rough places shall become level ways,

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:1-14

Yesterday began our Southeast clergy conference which will be followed this evening with the deanery meeting. From our sharing we found that many places, churches and people are in transition, and transitions can be rough and uneasy times. But they can also provide us with the possibility of new life, the times of new dreams and new visions, and make us creative problem solvers.

We hear today from our Gospel of the preparation for the coming of Jesus and his ministry among people. John the Baptist reminds the people of God's promises from the prophet Isaiah. He also challenges them to change their lifestyles and their selfish ways. As only John can do, he tells the truth to people who really don't want to hear it, and yet they flock to him still. We are invited by God today to turn and face the truth of our lives and seek the new dreams and new directions that are coming from the hand of God.

Today, I ask God to help me listen in the midst of these busy times to the call of the Baptist. May we open our lives to new direction and new inspiration from God in this Easter season. And may we turn and turn again until God makes shapes and remolds us to serve the world in Christ's name.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

From the Beginning

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26

From the Very Beginning for my daughters

From the very beginning
I could not help but love you
thrilled and excited by your arrival
worried about my own adequacy.

Before you had life and breath
I drew three little angels
imagining you before your time
wanting you from the beginning.

From the beginning there was love
giving birth to love embracing you
wrapping you up in soften skins
and guiding you each step of the way.

God created marvelous beings
to show us a glimpse of Divine love
to show us that we are the Creator's image
fashioned by love from the beginning.

From the very start love doesn't hold
onto the scrapes and the battles
the sleepless mights or the chaos
but clings to the beauty embedded deep.

We pray and hope and dream
with you cradled in our arms
and love you at a distance now
as we loved you from the very beginning.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shelter from the Storm

While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:12-19

Shelter From the Storm

Raining cats and dogs water falling
from the sky hard to earth
winds beating on the huge logs
that provide us this shelter.

Staying inside on a rainy day
no gallant effort we have a home
a safe harbor and provisions plenty
but there is no hiding from other blasts.

We are known for our faith and following
for the truth we have been given
love for a broken world we have
and the world would turn on us.

We can hide or we can live
put the boats up or launch them now
we are called to thrive in the storm
and set sail in dangerous seas.

Creator God goes with us, wraps us
although we are wet and worn and weary
love's truth abides and we go on
sheltered by the cover of love.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Keep Them

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one." John 17:1-11

Yesterday I participated in the Blessing of the Fleet here in Sitka. The many clergy of the town participated at the request of our Lutheran pastor. It was a lovely day and although cold in the shade, the sun was shining brightly. There were readings and music along with prayers. Then the names of the departed were read and folks placed flowers in baskets as the names were read. The list was a long one. At the end we took the wreaths and the flowers down to the harbor master who took them out to sea. We live in a part of the world where our common livelihood is always life threatening, whether commercial or subsistence fishing. We pout them all in God's hands, both those who are gone and those who are actively fishing. Keep them safe, we prayed.

Jesus had finished his teaching about preparing for the change ans is now ready for that time. As before, I doubt that the disciples expected anything quite so soon. They were looking at the long distance and Jesus was talking about the very near by. We can really never know when our time is at hand, but we can know that we are held in the arms of a loving God, put there as the disciples were for tender care in hard times. When we face hard times we can take strength from that knowledge.

Today I ask God to keep us safe here and to help us be one. May your model of tender loving care be our guide and may we all ray for your love to surround us and hold us close. May we draw near to you and one another, not only in dangerous times or on high seas, but in the brilliant sunshine. May our love for one another reflect God's love in our lives and may we share that we a world so in need of shelter from the storms od life.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Courageous Doubting

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

Years ago, when we moved into the rectory in Middletown, Delaware, the only usable phone we had was a rotary dial hard-wired into the kitchen wall. Our youngest at 8, could not figure out how to use it. In her life time she had not had any experience with rotary dial phones. The world of communication had changed and she had no experience to help her understand. She tried pushing the numbers but could not make a call. Sometimes we are faced with circumstances that we cannot understand and changes that take us by surprise.

Thomas was out when the other disciples encountered Jesus. They were a terrified bunch, locked up and hidden away from the world. Jesus came to them, in the midst of their terror and showed himself to them. When Thomas returned and they shared their experience with him, he responded honestly. He did not have any experience in his life that would help him have that faith. Jesus returned and brought him faith in the flesh. Faith is a gift from God and our human doubt is the portal to God's loving response. And in Thomas, we are invited to be honest about our need and our lack, so that God might provide for us, faith in the flesh.

Today I ask God to give me an extra measure of faith. There are many changes ahead, and some uncharted territory to be faced. We all need to be willing to express our needs and our doubts so that God may bring us the gifts we need, faith in the flesh, so that we might share the experience of God's loving presence.

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 6, 2013

Sorrow Turned 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.

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:16-33

Sorrow Turned to Joy

The rumbling of thunder
trembling beneath worn sheets
the lightening flashes
haunt us in our dreams.

Left alone like small children
we grope around in the darkness
looking for a way to see
looking for comfort in the night.

The waves crash and wind howls
we shutter with the tumult
and wonder if we will survive
this night of lashing terror.

Somewhere near early morning
we find our eyes closed and
our loneliness and terror forgotten
as we sleep exhausted and spent.

The warm sunlight bids us wake
and night leaves now shadow
sweet dew drops on the grass
and soft cool sand to our feet.

I take you hand and you mine
we step into a glassy sea
we delight in her warm embrace
and leave the fear of losing behind.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Waiting on the Spirit

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."

“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 16:4-15

Waiting is not my best attribute. And yet there are times in my life when I have to make something happen when it was really not the proper season or the ready time. We have been talking about how to best serve our native communities. We talked about how we can help change the high level of domestic violence, alcohol abuse and suicide. We found that as we joined together a spirit was moving through us. Small steps and personal ones, based on trusting and supportive relationships was what we found together.

Jesus continues in his preparation for leaving the disciples. No one really wanted to hear that. None of us want to hear about someone we love so dearly leaving us. It is hard to listen to and hard to imagine. So the disciples looked back and realized that Jesus had made a way forward for them despite their own humanity and obstinance.
God is always working a better future for us despite our unwillingness to listen or to change. God is securing the path for us and sending the spirit to us so we can know when to move.

Today I ask God to help me wait on the spirit. May we all listen to the words we hear and not filter out what we would rather not hear. May we offer our lives for the sake of others, joyfully accepting the path that God reveals. And may we prayerfully wait, when necessary and tenderly hold those who have been broken by violence and pain. May we know that even in our deepest pain and torment, God is providing for us a path ahead.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

“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

Gathering in Fairbanks with others bishops to pray together and talk about how to serve our people best. Loving one another has been the commandment of the faithful from the beginning. We find that it is easier said than done though, and the church has not always loved first.

Jesus is training and teaching his disciples how to live in the time after his active ministry. The disciples probably didn't hear him well at the time but these words took new meaning after the resurrection. Living post-resurrection is the challenge for all of us. The love of God ignites our love for one another. We might not be able to love one another unconditionally, but God loves us unconditionally at all times in all places, despite all the challenges we face.

Today I ask God to help me accept the love of God. May we all exercise love and care of others as we have been given unlimited sources by God. May we understand this new commandment as a gift of God, a gift that is limitless and deep, poured out for us all.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rooted in Love

“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

Rooted in Love

The momentary surprise in the garden
that encounter for the ages
has led us to a life of commitment
a life of bearing fruit.

Our path has never been easy or simple
standing out in every crowd
never belonging always traveling on
we tended what we were given in each time.

Some days are all Easter and some Lent
the bearing of others burdens and shame
we walked in each and learned their language
and found shelter and home in these deep roots.

To others we look less than whole
rendered more than complete by many artists' hands
we live our lives across the palettes
and love completely throughout the sphere.

When rooted in love our jobs are simple
make love the path and love the song
and all our labor is never in vain
God walks our garden every morning.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Orphans No More

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

“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 14:15-31

When I was a child I remember playing at being an orphan. Me and my friends would pretend we were alone in the world and act out adventures within our safe little back yards. Maybe our imaginations were captured by Peter Pan or some other story. Maybe all safe children play at being the other while orphaned children pretend at having a family. I never had to deal with being truly orphaned so I cannot even honestly imagine the experience. But I have experienced the pain of distance and dislocation from family, and know how it is to ache for the arms of those I love.

Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure. They probably didn't pay much attention to his words at the time. These words probably came back to them as they huddled together after his crucifixion. They were so accustomed to his presence that they thought they were safe and possibly indestructible. After all that had happened they were wracked with fear and fully aware of their humanity. They were bereft. And it was to these bereft and terrified friends that these words came back to their full meaning. They were not orphaned nor left alone. They were provided for despite how the circumstances might have looked. God was prepared for all the events, even when they were not. And God is still caring for us despite how little we pay attention and how fearful and confused we might be. We are never alone or orphaned - we are beloved children of a truly loving and watchful God.

Today I ask God to help me trust completely. In the midst of trying days it is easy to become isolated and alone. May we all remember that we are beloved children of a loving Creator parent who is providing for us when we pay attention and when we don't. God is active in our anxiety and confusion as well as on our faithful and committed days. God loves us more than any human parent can, and gives us the strength to love beyond our own ability today.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Simply Ask

“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.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:1-14

It is Easter Monday. Living Holy Week and Easter can be a challenge. The passion and the drama we can overlook or we can truly be drawn in and enter into the true suffering and shame that it is to be human. The last week has been a challenge for me as my body was fighting a bug and there was always too much to do. But yesterday morning as folks walked, one by one, to put daffodils on an empty cross, I realized anew that prayers get answered and resurrection happens. God is with us in the darkness as well as the light.

Jesus is talking with his disciples about life after life. They really don't get it and neither do we. We have enough trouble seeing past the daily hurdles, the tasks and trials that face us. We just want life to become a bit easier. God understands our broken humanity, our short sightedness and our limited-ness. God desires for us to ask for what we need, to ask for what we don't deserve, to ask for the full measure of God's blessing in our lives. God was willing to sacrifice completely for us so there are no longer any barriers to full relationship with God. There is room in God's arms for everyone. Everyone.

Today I ask God to help me to as. Sometimes we get s busy with tasks and challenges we forget to simply ask. Today, may we talk to God about all our needs, trusting that God's desire is to make possible the impossible, to make whole the totally shattered, to bring life today to the hearts which have died.