Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hand to the Plow

When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Luke 9:51-62

This week we have watched as a talented chef and TV host with a great following fell from grace by her own hand. Over and over again, when we worship individual people they will disappoint us. We are so captivated by their stardom, we regularly miss their humanity. And we miss our humanity and our vulnerability, thinking we know better than God at times.

Jesus has his face set for Jerusalem and invites the disciples to not get caught up in revenge or politics - who slighted whom - but rather to follow him without turning back. They are reluctant, wanting to tend to their daily business, thinking they know what is best. We too often respond to God with a "yeah, but..." God invited us today to be people who look forward and not back, to be people who trust in God and not in our own humanity and pettiness. We are invited to see the bigger picture, even with our limited vision, and invited to lean into the plow trusting God to supply the harvest.

Today I ask God to help me keep my eyes ahead and lean into the work that is ahead. May we not be reluctant to trust God, turning over all our cares and concerns to the one who hold us close. May we be fearless in our forward looking attitude, knowing that God goes before us, even to the rockiest roads we might find.

The Collect

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rise and Pray

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46

Some days when the light breaks through
the clouds part and we see the mountains
sunshine through the hanging mist
I feel too happy to pray.

May we rise up and pray
while the ship sinks and as the nets are full
as our babies cry and children graduate
while our hearts are bursting and when they break
may we rise up and pray.

Other days the gloom conquers all
deep sadness sung over and over by rain
keeping time on the roof and in puddles
and I feel too down to pray.

May we rise up and pray
while the ship sinks and as the nets are full
as our babies cry and children graduate
while our hearts are bursting and when they break
may we rise up and pray.

Some nights sleep sneaks in
waking me in the dimness of the night
my faults and fears move in like fog
and I am too scared to pray.

May we rise up and pray
while the ship sinks and as the nets are full
as our babies cry and children graduate
while our hearts are bursting and when they break
may we rise up and pray.

On the eve of destruction they slept
as the beloved wept and prayed in the garden
the living child of God bent in pain
and he never was too tired to pray.

May we rise up and pray
while the ship sinks and as the nets are full
as our babies cry and children graduate
while our hearts are bursting and when they break
may we rise up and pray.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Down to the Sea in Ships

Some went down to the sea in ships,

doing business on the great waters;

they saw the deeds of the Lord,

his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,

which lifted up the waves of the sea.

They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;

their courage melted away in their evil plight;

they reeled and staggered like drunken men

and were at their wits' end.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,

and he brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,

and praise him in the assembly of the elders. Psalm 107:23-32

This Monday the trolling season begins. All across Sitka, boats are being readied and folks are packing in supplies and crews. Many folks come to help relatives for the summer season, aiding with the catch. With the tourists from the cruise ships and anxious, excited fishermen the town is a-buzz. It is remarkable how a sleepy little village can come to life all of a sudden, and equally remarkable how fragile life can be so close to the edge of the ocean.

The psalm appointed for today reminds us of the dangers we live with as people trying to make a living. Here on the Pacific Rim, in Alaska, we know too well how dangerous life can be. Every year many are lost at sea, by sudden storm and accidents. And yet we are reminded to trust God and to pray. God has brought those tossed by storms to safety and rescued lives from danger, making them children of a living God and giving them safe haven and rest. God will also respond to this generation, keeping us through the storms of life and sheltering us from the wind and waves.

Today I ask God to help me put my whole trust in divine love. May we all find shelter and protection in our hard times and our rough seas. May we cry out to the Creator knowing that God is more ready to respond than we are to ask.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

As One Who Serves

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Luke 22:24-30

Many people have been caught up in Downton Abbey, the English series about a wealthy household in challenging times. Now folks are having Downton Abbey themed parties, and I have noticed that everyone dresses us as the aristocracy and not as the servants. How vivid our imaginations are, that with the proper clothing and pretense we might all be royal and important.

Jesus is spending his last hours with his disciples. They are clueless as usual. They see themselves as a group of religious insiders, close to the throne, as it were, and believe they are impervious and protected by God. Jesus is trying to teach them the authentic way to be close to God, by giving up on lofty self aggrandizement and leaning in to help with love and compassion. We humans want to be important and/or famous, but God would have us be those who live for others, living humbly so that others might thrive as well.

Today I ask God to help me be humble at all times. May we offer our lives in service to God and others, so that our offering might turn hearts to God and each other. May we be know as those who are close to God by our humility and our kindness to all.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Meal Together

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." Luke 22:14-31

It is always wonderful to have people to share a meal with, and even better if it is a meal shared with those you love. Sometimes at family dinners arguments can break out and unkind words are said. And yet, these are the moments we remember and treasure, they shape who we are and define our lives ahead.

The hour has come for the final drama and passion. The disciples remember this moment and treasure the words that were said. As Christians, these are the words and actions that define us, the words spoken, centuries ago at table with dear friends. These words and actions make us who we are, one family in Christ through the drama and passion of Christ. The common meal is our common heritage and week by week we participate in the meal as a family gathered together. Although it is not always easy, like any family meal, we are drawn together and defined as we eat this simple meal together.

Today I ask God to help me embrace the whole family of God. May we find moments and opportunities to share ta meal with others as one family united by sacrifice. May we find blessing today in our common lives, our common heritage and be ever shaped by Christ's love and sacrifice for us all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer is Near

Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Luke 21:29-33

Summer is Here

The night is never deep
we wake with shadows moist
heat and light define us
and we sigh with each breath.

All signs point to summer's presence
green growing and children screaming
we seek water and shade trees
drink deeply in the blossoms.

We thought we would go on forever
children without responsibility
undercover reading, private jokes
we thought we had more time.

Summer is here with a blaze
sheer pain and delight rolled in
the tang and sweet, rhubarb and strawberries
our endings are near in shadows.

Love has brought us here this far
and will build the raft as waters rise
there is much to fear and nothing to plan
let the warm rain run over our fears.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

When Pigs fly

Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me" -- for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39

Several years ago, out on a bike ride we saw pigs airborne. Not very high off the ground, but as Mark and I watched, these clever pigs were getting off the ground. We talk about pigs flying as the height of impossible situations. They are earth bound creatures and we never expect them to be airborne. But as I have learned in my life, things that seemed completely impossible, somehow find a way, through God's grace to happen, despite our doubt and brokenness.

Jesus walks into an impossible situation. A man has been terrorizing his community and himself. Everyone is afraid for him and worn out with trying. Jesus doesn't avoid the horrible circumstances but plunges right in and brings wholeness back to this torn and terrorized human being. Right into the ugliest impossibility, God walks and restores the ravaged and broken. The people react with fear and rejection, while the man stays behind, at Jesus' direction, so that they can all live into the presence of love. God is walking into our impossible places, and promising healing, despite all of our fears.

Today I ask God to help me offer up the impossible in my life, making myself vulnerable to the Creator's touch. May we all not turn from our worst, but rather, embrace our terror and fears trusting God to release us from the impossible. May we not be afraid to invite love into our lives, no matter how hurt and broken we might be.

The Collect

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­ kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Raise Your Heads

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:25-28

Looking Up

The deep darkness never appeared
the sun rolled along the horizon
napping for moments behind the hills
only to rise quickly once more.

Living in this new world
the angles of light and day
have changed shaved harsh in winter
and rounded lazily in summer.

The solstice light lingering
quiet artists working through the night
a silent dance to possibility
a voice raised in delight.

We are travelers all at this home
looking for the signs at the far horizon
gazing hopefully beyond the drooping clouds
imagining sun in the long winter's rain.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. Luke 21:10-19

Long distance swimmers are a strange bunch. My daughter Emily and I have both been swimming long distances for charity. We may not be classified as traditional athletes, but we hang in there in the open water and go the distance. This year she is planning again to swim the Hudson for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It is an amazing gift, a huge challenge and they spend all spring and summer training. But it teaches endurance and builds community like little else. They have each others' backs and make sure each one finishes with cheers and supporting family and friends.

Jesus is instructing his disciples about what they will face. Life as a faithful disciple will never be easy, though some days will be better than others. He reminds them to move away from political maneuvering and cling to God's strength and their faith. God will provide what is needed for the challenges ahead, no matter how overwhelming they might be. Our work is to endure, and to be strength and support when others waiver and fall. We are invited to trust fully in God's love for us, and hang on, enduring to the end.

Today I ask God to renew my strength and endurance. May we all settle our minds to endurance and not to political gain. May we be dedicated to building communities of support and strength, lifting up those who are stumbling and troubled. May we trust God completely as we hold each other closely.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Last Days

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

and your young men shall see visions,

and your old men shall dream dreams;

even on my male servants and female servants

in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. Acts 2:17-18

These are the last few days of spring and the last few days we have to spend with our family on the east coast. We spent part of today out in the fields picking strawberries with our grand daughter Lilly and her Mom and Dad. It was a muggy, warm day, almost fully summer but still holding on as late spring harvests were going on. The lettuce was abundant and the heat wasn't yet threatening to make it go to seed. These last days are precious and wondrous.

We hear, the the reading from the Acts, that the crowd is overwhelmed by the disciples outpourings. Peter calms them by quoting scripture and promising that these days were new but that they had been promised a long time ago. The Creator is in charge of the world, always giving power and voice to the unexpected. The joy of living in the last days, when they happen, is that we are on the cusp of a new season and a new age. We are invited to be fearless trusting that God has all our days in hand.

Today I ask God to guide our steps and the journey ahead. May we treasure each of these days, understanding that we are on the cusp of a new age, a new season breaking through. May God give us all the strength to love the days we have and the people we have been given, today.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Render to God

The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent. Luke 20:19-26

We are made in the image of God, and yet we try to control and possess one another. We are the carriers of God's love and given the gifts of forgiveness and compassion. Spending the day with our granddaughter reminds me again of the incredible gifts that God gives us, all of the people that love us in our lives.

Today, we read in the Gospel how the religious authorities are trying to arrest Jesus in order to silence him. They want to control the people, want to control religious practices and the peoples' relationship to God. Jesus has been saying things that challenge their authority and control directly. The people are God's people, by Jesus' definition, and so as worthy as the temple scribes and pharisees. God wants us to hear again today that we are worthy, we are the image and likeness of God. We are fashioned by the loving Creator's hands and made for love. God invites us today to regain our sense of belonging to the family of God.

Today I ask God to help me see the image of God in everyone I meet. May we all dedicate our lives to living compassion, hope and love. May we render our honor to God by loving the people around us, honoring them with our care and service today.

Monday, June 17, 2013


And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Luke 20:9-18

The Vineyard

We are stewards of rich lands
swelling with plants and fruits
under golden summer skies we toil
jealous and wanting to possess it.

We are children in a wealthy family
burdened with riches and intellect
we walk our upscale neighborhood
laden with furs, leather and linen.

We are well-fed and well-school
we have earned nothing but we protest
all the small labors we have been given
all the miniscule rules that keep us safe.

The Creator walks in the garden
surveying the green and groaning vines
swelling fruit in season and smiles
but we stand aside and desire more.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him-- that she is a sinner." Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he replied, "Speak." "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources. Luke 7:36-8:3

I started writing this blog years ago. It has been a joy for me to reflect daily on the scriptures. At first it was a difficult discipline. It has now become an essential part of my daily life and devotion. I titled this blog Mamabishop for several reasons. I am blessed to be a bishop and a mother of three wonderful daughters. I also was told the story of the first time women were at Lambeth in 1998. They were shouted at regularly, " Mama, go home and take care of your babies!" We women who have been called to serve God also labor to serve our families and our communities.

Today's Gospel tells the story of the woman who anointed Jesus. She embodies hospitality and welcome, all the gifts that were lacking at the religious leader's home. She loved God from her heart and soul and offered her best to God. Her forgiveness and God's blessing were never in question. The passage concludes with the names of some of the women that also accompanied Jesus, and who served with him. It says they provided for the whole group out of their resources. These first women lived lives of sacrifice and offering. They lived to serve God with gratitude. We are invited to see those who would serve God, not through the lens of race, culture and gender, but by the heart of the matter. If their love of God and the people shines through, then they are servants of a living God.

Today, I ask God to help me live every moment in gratitude and service. May we who have been blessed to be called by God and the people never relent in offering our best to God and the whole community. May we never be ashamed to be misunderstood. May we give God all that we have, as the woman did Jesus, so that our love and joy might reflect the love of God.

The Collect

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Authority and Power

One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Luke 20:1-8

Authority and Power

We each believe we should lead
and yet none of us would have breath
if not a woman carried us and was
broken open for love.

We act as if our power is righteous
turning away from the weak and humble
blaming victims and hiding our shame
God's heart is broken open.

We claim authority of scripture or role
divine right of kings, white privilege remains
lauding our perfect teeth and thinness
over the homeless and the hungry.

The symptoms of our greed
walk broken on the streets
the outcome of our authority writhe in pain
and yet we think we are loved.

Love is the ultimate author
God the kind and loving Creator
offered us a beneficent garden
we ordered it burned to cinders.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Holy Ground

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words. Luke 19:41-48

I have just spent the day with the Episcopal Deacons. We began our time together with smudging and were joined by Chief Ken Adams, Mattaponi. He blessed the people with his story of his people and their kind welcome of the first settlers. We were invited to see this world as holy ground, as a place given by God to incredibly compassionate and welcoming people. And we were cautioned that commerce and greed can destroy our holy places and holy people. A storm came up and blew while we gathered and it felt as if the Holy Spirit was affirming all that was said.

Jesus is facing his end times as he enters Jerusalem. He observes how commerce and greed have made the holy places profaned. There is no place for prayer and the presence of God's spirit. Money determined how people interacted with God and others. We are called as people to revive our holy places and to restore honor and respect where it has been taken away. God invites us to be agents of restoration and healing.

Today I ask God to give us the strength to rebuild where life has been broken. May God fill us with the courage and the strength to see the holy in everything and everyone. May we do the work to strengthen our faith so that God's healing and justice surrounds our world, today.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stones Cry Out

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works 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!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:28-40

Today I return to Jamestown. The Deacons will be holding their opening service there. I cannot return to Jamestown without feeling as if I am surrounded by the ancestors. Voices whispering in my ears of what began here, in such humbled and well intentioned ways, became a beginning of the destruction of people across the continent. The stones and the ground cries out, both in joy and great sorrow. The memories and the blood stay long after the people are completely gone.

Jesus is getting ready for his final days, and he is fully aware of the portent and the trauma to come. His entry into Jerusalem begins his passion, the ending of one way of understanding God's love, and the beginning of a completely new way. The people around are filled by excitement and joy. Their understanding is limited but they are witnessing the birth of a new world. God invites us to rejoice when we are part of a new birth or re-birth and to remember that our small place in time is remembered by living God, a compassionate creator that enlivens even the rocks, trees and stones.

Today I ask God to help me return to Jamestown carrying a message of hope. May we remember that God's love and justice are in our grasp. May we always be messengers for healing in this world. May we always carry that Palm Sunday rejoicing as we move through hard and broken places. And may we hear the voices of the ancestors crying for justice and healing, responding with active service and true compassion.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Expecting God

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” Luke 19:11-27

I am flying to Richmond to attend a conference in Williamsburg. There is always a sweet sense of returning, a gathering of memories and good spirit. I will go to Jamestown tomorrow and being there once again is always thrilling. I am reminded of the services we have held there, the moments when we offered our prayers to God on behalf of Native peoples struggling to be heard within the church. Despite the challenges faced since, the good work begun cannot be undone. God is moving through many still.

Jesus was frustrated by his followers who just wanted God's kingdom, but didn't really want to work together or serve others. In every generation there are believers who await the end of times, the rapture, the great reckoning - it has many names. But God invites us to do the work we have been given, investing our time in the service of others. We are here to be servants of the world, investors in the well being and healing of our communities. We are reminded to quit waiting for some cataclysmic event and rather get to work right where we are.

Today I ask God to help me put one foot in front of the other on this journey. May all that we do be for the healing of our world. May all that we do invest in others. May God find us working for peace and justice when our lives end, and may we rejoice in the many blessings we have been given today.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Up A Tree

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

Up A Tree

I am too often climbing
higher for more to see
up towards the sunshine
away from the harsh crowds.

I am too often not welcome
in the small groups of beauties
among the caustic adored intellectuals
nor about the cathedral's marbled halls.

Outcast for making a living
overlooked for caring for my family
refused for the color of my skin
and who my parents were not.

The one up a tree has been invited
despite the norms and society's rules
God walked the earth to make welcome
those who had to climb to see.

God walks the earth, the dust and mud
seeking the lost and left aside
the aching spurned and those turned away
offering a place at the groaning table.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Crying out

As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. Luke 18:35-43

We are in transit, in Seattle, on our way to Boston. I have an engagement in Williamsburg, Virginia at the Deacon's conference and then we will be celebrating with family. Being on the road, it is easy to get wrapped up in one's own schedule and needs,ignoring the needs of others. People who mean well, and who are probably kind most of the time, can get very fierce and competitive in transit. They can shove and push and run over the slower and weaker.

Jesus is in transit and they have a destination in mind. The disciples don't want anyone to slow down their progress as they were probably already running behind. Someone's family probably needed them. The blind man crying out was an annoyance and was keeping them from forward progress. But Jesus stopped, and listened to the man's desire, and brought healing right where they were. On the road, it's safer and more convenient to ignore others. God never ignore the needs of those on the highways, byways and in the airport. God is not ever far from the needy or troubled.

Today I ask God to help me be compassionate despite the destination and the goal. May our goals never destroy our compassion and may we remember to seek and meet God on all of our journeys. May this day we be a blessing for some stranger, some pilgrim that is going our way.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

As A Child

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:15-17

I remember the mad dash for the swings at recess and at lunch. We had swings in the park near our library too, and we would run outside, drop our books and hurl ourselves through the air on the swings. The thrill of simply swinging, leaning back and flying through the air is so wondrous and so brief in our lives. We stand rigid in this world and fear change, avoiding swings and other things now.

God invites us on this Saturday to remember ourselves when we were children. We took everything in, we fascinated by the clouds, the dirt and the crawling things. We saw life as adventure and possibility. We opened our arms and ourselves to the world around us. Many of us have been hurt in our lives and so we shut ourselves off from others and possibilities. We go with what we know. God invites us to be a little childlike and open our hearts again. To find God is to find the child within that the Creator made, perfect and wonderful.

Today, I ask God to help me remember the delight and awe of childhood. May we embrace the people around us as a little child. May we welcome the world and the many possibilities that God has for us today. And may we welcome the little children around us, making room in our lives for all.

Friday, June 7, 2013


He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

Humble Pie

The contempt in your eyes
matches the perfect outfit
complementing your life's design
to be the best ever.

Your prayer posture is fabulous
after years of expensive yoga
bending in half and looking back
you see who is watching you.

Your tears and outrage
displayed for all to see
first to chair the committee
and last to pitch in and work.

You know better than most for sure
but God remembers you in the womb
the little child reaching for a hand
the needy old woman you will become.

Bend now for we aren't fooling anyone
humanity is all broken the cracks do show
let us offer up the mess and our failure
knowing God loves us from the start.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Do Not Lose Heart

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8

I come from a family who prays and from generations of people who prayed in the face of insurmountable odds and perilous situations. My ancestors prayed on the trail of tears. What looked like the end became another painful chapter in our history. But God did not leave us or abandon us. We persisted in prayer and despite the worst thrown at us and so many, our people are thriving once again.

Jesus told the disciples a parable, a story of faith. An widow persists until justice is done. In the face of corruption, greed and indifference, the woman came until the judge gave in from exhaustion. God does not moved for us from exhaustion but rather with love and compassion. The Creator is always open to our petitions, moving mountains and hearts for the love of creation. We are reminded today to pray without ceasing.

Today I ask God to help me not lose heart. May we respond to every challenge through prayer, being quick to ask for God's help. May we always seek divine guidance and intervention, trusting that God has a solution despite our desperation and confusion. Whatever journey we find ourselves on, may we trust God to be with us through the journey's end.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lightning Flashes

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. Luke 17:20-24

Although it rains a good deal here in Sitka, we rarely hear thunder or see lightning. I love it when the sky lights up and growls, especially if I can watch it from a safe place. Lightning is so powerful and so beautiful as well as being very damaging and deadly. The amazing gifts of life are often glorious and dangerous at the same time.

The rulers of the synagogue were questioning Jesus. They wanted to trust him and didn't but wanted to play it safe. They thought they might get inside information from him to keep themselves safe. Jesus challenges them by sating they have no control over those times. They will come like lightning, like a fast moving storm. Loving God and others is the best preparation. It is the best preparation for all of life.

Today, I ask God to help me remember that my primary task is to love God and others. We can spend our lives being anxious and preparing for end times, whether ours or more global, or we can work for love while it is day. While storms and challenges may come may we trust God with our future and offer our lives in the service of others today.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thankful for Healing

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19

Many of us have never been exposed to leprosy and cannot imagine the stigma attached to the disease. The people were outcasts, feared and rejected by all. They were isolated from their families and separated from all they hold dear. We still have people in our society that are treated this way. We shun those who make us uncomfortable, as if we can catch their weirdness, disfigurement or difference.

Jesus heals ten men who have suffered terribly. In their excitement they run to the people they were missing. They fly to their children, their parents and their loved ones. Exiled for so long the only thing they can think of is home. One turns and offers thanks and hears the savior of the world declare him faithful and beloved. Although they were all beloved and healed, the foreigner who gave thanks received an extra reward. The stranger knew his exile well, and was grateful for the blessed release. God invites us to engage our faith by being thankful for the healing and release that we have been given.

Today I ask God to help me be grateful. For all the healing and forgiveness we have received may we be ever thankful. May we receive a full measure of God's grace and love as we turn to remember God's actions for us. May our gratitude become our way of life so others may see God working in us today.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Millstones and Mustard Seeds

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke 17:1-6

Millstones and Mustard Seeds

Alone on the stoop a warm night
remembering all the winter days
cold shoulders that would not forgive
the weight of the world increases.

A heart so burdened with guilt
cannot free itself without help
we have tied on this burden and shame
let us now unbind our faith.

We rebuked the little ones
for being born the wrong race
forced them to cast off their language
and told them their ceremonies were evil.

Now the young ones take their lives
and find the future hopeless
we have not ask forgiveness for this
and we tie on more weight day by day.

Our faith could free us by love
we could plant arbors and havens
we could make safe places again
and weave stronger hearts.

We have drowned the little ones
our sin and greed has been their burden
our shame we put on their backs
and the children are not free.

Make the sacred circle whole
the child of God cries in the night
the little ones who need a sign
are waiting in the shadows now.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Such Faith

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say 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 only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also 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 slave, `Do this,' and the slave does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. Luke 7:1-10

My Dad was a Navy Chaplain and championed the self-disciple he received in the service as well as the order and respect. Long after he was done with active duty he like to think we were his own little platoon. He would wake up with march tunes played on the record player. He would have played them on a trumpet but he didn't know how. He wasn't really much of a tyrant, but believed we should all work hard and never laze around. When I saw the movie the Great Santini, it reminded me of my childhood sometimes.

We hear the story of the officer who have a slave who was ill. He sent Jewish elders, he knew the chain of command, and had them ask on his behalf. He understood the local culture and the temple customs. He was a man of discipline who trusted his own observations and insights about role and authority. He lived a life of great respect and honor so that when Jesus came near the centurion understood that the healing would be done. He trusted the authority of Jesus. We often doubt our own authority and power and so often expect God to be insecure or uncertain also. But God is completely reliant, rock sure and willing to do more for us than we can even ask. Our job is to believe.

Today I ask God to help me be firm in my faith. May we enter into those habits of daily prayer and study that strengthen and deepen our faith. May we as a community remind one another of God's faithfulness and help one another to be strong in that faith. For God has promised to be with us, bringing us healing all along our journey.

The Collect

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth: Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31


She sat down unaware of her surroundings
talking loud of the burden of her possessions
the position so important she had no time
tripped over the beggar and cursed him.

He strode by the corner where they always sat
hoping someone would notice their hunger
he threw his wrapper in the child's face
never seeing the anguish or the need.

We press a button and lock life down
keeping the need, the hunger from our doors
we fence in our lifestyle fencing out the threats
to our fragile delusions of grandeur.

And God walked the margins and the alleys
seeking the hurting and abandoned
beckoning them to a warm meal and safe place
smiling at their beauty, their sweet faith.

God walks the back roads and the dumps
never seeing us for we have locked away
ourselves from the possibility of mercy
and the warmth of God's sweet love.