Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fleeing the Scene

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” And they all left him and fled. And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked. Mark 14:43-52

Fleeing the Scene

Fear overwhelms us and we move
the violence at our doorstep
out the back door we go
the life of a traveler still better than death.

The table was groaning
we were well fed and in a stupor
betrayal took us all by surprise
and we took off in all directions.

One minute there was peace the next terror
hair standing on end and confusion every where
a metallic taste on our lips and a scream
vibrating up from the depths of our souls.

For a few ounces of silver love was sold
for a few moments of notoriety the joy was destroyed
a chance at being righteous to everyone's loss
it all boils down to selfish greed.

Love does not betray nor flee the scene
dying alongside love is still living
wrapped in the embers of bombs and swords
we still can rejoice in the love that abides.

Run away if you must but come back when strength returns
turn around and see the smile that you missed
sit down and remember all the love you sold away
and come home to the table of love.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Remove This Cup

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” Mark 14:32-42

All of us have burdens in our lives that at times are too big to bear. We feel as if we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We pray in desperation and with anxiety to have the burden removed. And yet most often our prayers result in the strength to continue, a resolution that we did not anticipate, and the strength to rise up and face the hour.

Jesus kneels in the garden praying. The disciples, who have promised to go to the death with him, have fallen asleep. Th.ey are weak and human as we are. Jesus tried to wake them for prayer but realizes he is on his own. The weight and the burden are his alone to bear. He reaches out to God, intimately and personally, asking for an escape route. He finally turns it all over to God asking for the strength to face the days ahead. We too often beg for release. God's answer is most often the strength to face the hour ahead and an outcome we never could have imagined. We humans struggle long for answers and often chose prayer as the last resort. God invites us today to bring our burdens to the one who walked the road to Calvary, to the one who died so we might live.

Today I ask God to give me the strength to pray through all the burdens. May we offer our needs and worries to God, so that God might strengthen us to continue in our service. May we rejoice that we can talk with God and that God will bear all our burdens, carrying us through the deepest anguish. And may we remember that Jesus moved from Gethsemane to the early morning garden of resurrection and our lives are in God's hands today.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Drink It New

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mark 14:22-26

Drink It New

It came to an end so quickly
after that evening when so confused
we sang a song wandering into the garden
falling asleep with heavy hearts.

Betrayal and arrest shocked us
beating and crucifixion horrified us
the eviction of love from our sight
our hearts were broken open again.

There is no comfort for this loss
no words that will replace the hole
a sheer and endless chasm has been made
and we stand aside together wondering.

Are we humans so greedy and false
that when love comes around we have to kill?
Are we so afraid of exposure and humility
that we would destroy God's greatest gifts?

The parable was told of the garden's owner
who left for a time the servants were in charge
and the servants got big ideas in their heads
and beat and destroyed even the son.

The price of God's love for us is paid
a cross and and Calvary's terror turned
into a drama of redemption and love
the Creator offering all for each of us.

We sit at the table again sharing
one last meal after betrayal and rejection
and wonder why we have to reenact that loss
why we cannot live as kingdom's citizens.

God call us to the table as precious children
cup and plate overflowing with love
tender offerings for our enjoyment
and we stay away because we want control.

God's loving cup is ours for taking
if we will kneel and be a part of the family
if we will but call on God today
the kingdom's door will open again for us all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Memory of Her

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9

One of the great blessings of Phoebe's wedding was having friends and family gather from far and near. Seeing old friends and having family near was such a wonderful gift. There are several women in my life who came to our rescue giving their time and their all to make things go smoothly and to give me aid. They gave from their heart and their skill and I can never repay them for their love is priceless. When a person offers love without price, how can we not help but treasure them and honor all that they do?

Jesus is sitting at the family table of a man who was cured from leprosy. A grateful household, they wanted to do all they could for Jesus. A woman came forward and anointed Jesus with her love, tears and expensive perfume. She offered love without price as a sign of her gratitude. Some would see her action and ridicule her. They don't understand love or the gratitude that comes from a loving heart. Jesus understood her heart and knew that it was this kind of transformed love that stands the test of time. We are invited to be people who are willing to love without price and give of ourselves with gratitude. God knows our hearts and looks beyond all our mistakes to the love we offer and share.

Today I ask God to help me love completely and offer all that I have. May we live like the woman who anointed Jesus, offering all that we have, with gratitude and love that has no price. May we have big hearts, forgiving constantly and celebrating love where ever we find it. And may God find us always being generous and giving from the heart.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fig Trees

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Mark 13:28-37

Today we are going to pick beach plums and then later in the week we will help make jelly with my other. Beach plums get ripe towards the end of the summer and they signal the coming of the monarch butterflies and the fall. Making jelly has been a passion of my mother's, and although her memory is diminished, her love of jelly making and talking while working in the kitchen has not. Often she has given gifts of beach plum jelly for Christmas after selling dozens of jars to a local store.

Jesus is telling his followers to pat attention and keep awake. We humans often get lazy and want everything to stay just as it is. We who like the change of seasons still balk at the changes that happen in our lives. We fight growing old, although inevitable, and we don't like it when churches and other institutions change and grow. All of life needs changes and growth or it stagnates and dies. Jesus invites us all to stay awake and pray that we might embrace the life we are given and the changes that are to come.

Today I ask God to help me welcome every part of the day, and every change we are facing. May we all trust God with the details of our lives, and believe that God is working in the midst of the mess and complications. May God bless us with courage ans strength for the days to comes, so that with joy we might welcome God's blessings into our lives.

Monday, August 26, 2013

At Early Morning

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

At Early Morning

One never knows what will be
early in the morning after all
the tears and hurts lightly slept
new light and the promise of a breeze.

When we think we are facing the end
new life, sweet faced smiling children
a possibility where there was none
and others think them idle tales.

Here we stand in the garden's beauty
light filtered through green leaves
shimmering dew drops on flower petals
morning's promise still unfolding.

When we come to the end of the trail
we begin again with hopeful hearts
every death calling for new life
every cold stone tomb a resurrection.

Afraid we are facing the worst
We rub away the sleep from our eyes
to behold love face to face
new and blossoming every morning.

I will go to the garden and the tombs
with trembling heart and hopeful spirit
for there is life beyond the story's end
an unexpected birth on the horizon.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Standing Up

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing. Luke 13:10-17

Yesterday our daughter Phoebe stood up with the love of her life and promised to be faithful to him forever. It was a wonderful, joyous occasion and a great gathering of friends and family. 71 years ago today, my parents stood up together and promised the same things - to love and cherish each other forever. My Dad has been gone from us since 1994 but the love that they promised still remains and has been transferred on down through the generations. My Mom sat there beaming with joy, filled with memories and tenderness. We stand up and make promises, but it is the constancy and faithfulness that moves mountains, changes hearts and restores the brokenhearted.

Jesus heals a woman on the sabbath and is chastised for the act. He stands up for her and for the love of God which knows no human limits and which sees beyond our structures, laws and rules. Love breaks the rules so the life can be restores, love can be found and lives renewed. We are invited to stand up against fashion and tradition when healing and love are concerned. Love knows no bounds when we are willing to stand up and live the promises we make.

Today, I thank God for the love that grows between those who are faithful to God and to one another. May we all rejoice in those people who have taught us how to love and how to stand up to fashion and rules and let love flourish. May God bless all those who commit themselves to others and may their lives be blessed as they grow in love.

The Collect

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Richer by Far

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

Richer by Far

She was left with little
an outcast from family
shunned by the community
and yet she gave her all.

Richer by far is the one
who knows that love holds
a sweet alabaster morning
for the tender of heart.

The God of ancestors and offspring
is not ashamed by our poverty
only by our dark selfishness
that causes us to hold love back.

Richer by far is the ragged beggar
than the club member, the owner
richer by far is the needy child
than the one swaddled in linen.

The divine Creator made us for sharing
for a deep rooted family and clan
where love is the royal adornment
and self offering our true gift.

Richer by far are we when
we smile at love in the morning
tuck the sweet children in at night
and know that we are blesed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Greatest Commandment

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment

Waking up to darkened skies
clouds heavy and low with rain
smiling on a grey morning
love them all was what was said.

Walking dangerous lonely streets
skyscraper a million windowed canyons
dirt roads in the last frontier
God loves them all who venture there.

Facing open arms or shaking fists
selfish siblings or aching elders
sweet child faces or angry idle ones
loving Gos is loving them all.

We are set on fire for love
the dark cannot consume this flame
we kindle it with our compassion and care
and smother it with our selfishness.

God is remaking our broken hearts
re-knitting the hurt into tenderness
our failures and pain woven into fine silk
to adorn the love that blooms again.

Come let us not harbor our fury
but set it free so we may love
waking to more divine love each day
and more kindness for the hardest neighbor.

Come let us sink into the soft sand
and listen again to the ancient tales
God is doing an new thing within us
God is weaving love deep into our hearts.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Render to God

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:13-17

The day dawn warm and muggy but with great joy as our granddaughter Lilly and her dad Adam arrived. Surrounded by loving family it is impossible not to know what is most important in life. These are truly the blessings of God. This is where my heart is, among the loves of my life and their loves.
Loyalty and honor come easily when we are loved and accepted and come very hard when we are tested and abused.

Jesus was being put to the test all the time by the leaders of the faith community. They were more concerned about their position and their control than they were about their faith and compassion. They knew that Jesus saw through their arrogance and false compassion. They were truly selfish and greedy people. They wanted to trip him up but he knew love's truth and stood solidly in the strength of God. They could not shake that firm foundation built in love at the beginning of time.

Today I ask God to help me do all the necessary tasks without missing any moment to celebrate the love in my life. May I render love where love has been given and give God the glory in everything. May we all render love to God and neighbor and let go of all worry and greed so that God's love can flourish among us today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rejected Cornerstone

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

“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

Sometimes people get too comfortable with the place they are and the way they live. They will do anything to hold on to the power and control they have, rejecting any thing or any one who asks them to change for their own good and the good of the community. The behavior of manipulation and abuse is always eventually exposed and can destroy everyone involved. A small amount of change, participation and stewardship can prevent destruction but some humans would rather destroy everything and everyone to hold on to power.

Today Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders. He has just thrown the money changers out of the temple and they are very angry. Their control and power has been diminished and they want answers. Jesus does not respond to their fury with fury, but rather, he tells them a story. A story that rings painfully true to them. God's beloved will survive anything that the selfish and hateful can dish out, and God's reign will come no matter what is thrown at them. God's agenda is love not control, and love offered is the strength we hold on to in times of trial and abuse.

Today I ask God to help me cling to the chief cornerstone, letting go of any worries and pains. May we pray for those who persecute and reject us, knowing that God's agenda is always love and that as we live in love we will be built up and fortified. May we be renewed in God's love today for the service of the world.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My House

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city. Mark 11:15-19

My House

The focus was always on money
to save the people from giving
leaching the prayerful leaders
you sent them away in pain.

When forgiveness and compassion
are replaced by the bottom line
there is no sorrow more deep
in the heart of God.

This place could make us sing
and know God face to face
a sanctuary for the humble and broken
no cost spared for their safety.

But you would charge admission
you would shun those who disagree
you would put out the truth tellers
grinning as you counted your winnings.

There is no winning in God's house
only humble open hearts listening
the call for justice is shouted loud
the horn for freedom is sounded.

This house is for knees and hearts
for those who would love without price
forgive constantly and make room
for those who travel so far.

Those who would make a profit
who strive to own and supervise
their hearts have shriveled within them
they have turned from the freeway of love.

We can be rich in our small humble places
blessed by God with joy and laughter
the poverty of selfishness cannot touch us
for God is in this humble place.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Present Times

Jesus said, "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:

father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, `It is going to rain'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?" Luke 12:49-56

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

We spent much of the afternoon moving into the house we are renting so that our whole gang can be together for our daughter Phoebe's wedding. A week from today they will be saying their vows in front of family and friends. These are wondrous and anxious times. There is so much to do, so much to be excited about and so much worry with what can go wrong. Some times, we just have to trust that God will be with us, no matter the details or the problems that arise.

Jesus is feeling the heat of stress and anxiety. Big things are happening and the people are focused on petty and useless details. They don't realize the importance of the moment they are in and are distracted by small things. He is riled up enough to paint images with big words, fire and destruction, heat and storms, struggles and in-fighting, just so the people would pay attention. Some times we do forget to pay attention to God working in our lives. Sometimes we forget to trust God in everything.

Today I ask God to help me pay attention and to trust God in everything. May we all realize the times are changing and God is calling us to new places and new ministries. May we not be distracted by the small things nor rest expecting life to be the same as yesterday. And in everything and everything, may we trust God with it all.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Last First

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:17-31

Today we will be in transit all day going east, going home to reunite with our family for a time. There is the sheer excitement of seeing loved ones again, the delight in being at our child's wedding and the challenge it is to travel so far. We will line up and be called by row numbers, the last rows first, after, of course, first class. The ease of flying is always challenged by the rush and bother,the pushing and the crowding, and the challenge of TSA. And yet we go with great joy for love is at the other end, and love is ready to receive us. No trip is too hard then.

A person with everything was challenged by Jesus to give it all up. His identity had become enmeshed in his wealth and possessions. He wanted to love God and seek God's way but his comfort and ease were very hard to give up. We are invited today to consider what stands in the way of love and our relationship with God. We are invited to be willing to go to any length as we readily do for those we love.

Today, as we travel home, I ask God to help me be willing to be last, to give up my place so that others might have some small comfort. May we greedily seek after the love of God, willingly putting aside our possessions so we may be defined by Divine love shining through us today.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; 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.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:1-16


We weave these glossy webs
moist and catching the unsuspecting
the vulnerable and innocent wander
into the web face first frightened
they are bound by our selfishness.

We pride ourselves in personal power
aching to bring the loving to their knees
the warp and weave our hymnals
the ever tightening yarn of control
we choke the life out of possibilities.

The web is meant to catch our prey
we shine and gloss over our predatory nature
proud of accomplishments and winning
we feed off the innocent simple and unaware.

Love does no spinning no scheming
content with the beauty and gifts given
a child wandering in a meadow singing
songs that catch in the breeze
a melody of divine relationship.

Fury becomes us as we watch and ache
that we cannot control or contain love
we cannot plot and devise a way
green envy and orange rage fills us
we make love evil and banish it now.

There is still a meadow ans still children
no chains can prevent the boundlessness
no dried up vengeful mob can secure compassion
no self-righteous darkness can prevail
only God can restore that hurting angry heart.

Monday, August 12, 2013


“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:42-50

In our modern diets, many people shun salt and see it as the enemy. In ancient times, salt was highly prized. The word salary comes from the word salt, and the phrase "worth their salt" comes from the ancient practice of paying people with salt. It was highly prized and valuable. Locally, we have several folks who sell flavored sea salts harvested from the ocean here. By the cost, and how people prize it, you can tell how valuable it is considered.

Jesus is speaking to the disciples about their value and their endurance. He refers to salt, and the disciples would have understood what he meant. They were extremely valuable but would have to face many threats and "fires". They would be tested, but at no time should they see the testing as their loss of importance, but rather as the cost of being so essential to God's mission on earth. All of us face tests and fires that make us want to run away. We can sometimes feel as if the cost of following God's way is too much for us. And yet we need to hear today how highly prized and valuable we are. God asks us to see the tests as tests only. We are invited to weather the storms for the love of the world.

Today I ask God to help me face the fires and the storms knowing I am held in God's arms. May we remember our value today, and know that we are highly prized and loved by God. The tests will come to everyone and we are assured that even in the testing God goes with us. May we endure with joy and peace for the sake of our world, which needs God's love today.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Be Prepared

Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

"But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." Luke 12:32-40

The Boy Scouts motto is "be prepared!" As a young girl scout we were taught all sorts of preparations and readiness for any challenges, especially when camping in the woods. We learned practical things like first aid and CPR as well. I took the red cross life saving course and have always hoped I would never have to rescue anyone - even though I have. We like to be prepared and secure but we cannot necessarily be prepared for what God has in store for us.

Jesus is talking to his disciples about readiness. We can interpret that is the coming end times and judgment, but I would rather that we hear Jesus talking about possibilities. Are our hearts open and ready for the blessings God has in store for us, or would we rather hunker down and hide from the world? When we have enough are we hoarding and hiding or are we sharing the blessings we have with others? We are being called by God from our safe, secure places, to adventures beyond our imagining.
Do we dare follow?

Today I ask God to give me the courage to chose service over safety and love over security. May we use the blessings we have been given for the rebuilding of our world. May God call us from our hiding places in order to bring light and love to our world today.

The Collect

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

One Such

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37

One of the things I have learned is that no one is ever very far from their vulnerable childhood self. We carry the joys and sorrows of our youth and home life ever with us. Certain sights, sounds and smells can return us to being a small child. And if there were hurts and scars, brokenness and danger when we were children, those things also form the adult we are and keep us from being safe and loving others well.

The disciples were arguing like children about who was first among them. Jesus turns their childishness on them and reminds them that compassion and welcome to the smallest and most vulnerable is the true mark of greatest and leadership. We often worry about childish things - being first in line; being the wealthiest; having the best things; - but forfeit the innocent and the vulnerable among us. God invites us today to enter the heart of the child, the child we once were, and seek to understand how we might respond to the neediest little ones. God invites us to live our lives for the weak and the vulnerable.

Today I ask God to help me remember the vulnerability of childhood and the frailty of our lives. May all our actions today be for the welcoming and caring for the most vulnerable among us. May our wealth be demonstrated in our care for others, our strength in our willingness to be vulnerable and compassionate at all times.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Help My Unbelief

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:14-29

Help My Unbelief

There are dark nights
tossing and turning
aching for sleep to come
praying for a deeper faith
and help my unbelief.

Mornings that come too quickly
light forcing open bleary eyes
heart worn from ache and crying
missing children and family
help my unbelief.

Day elongated by anger and derision
deep blue people seeking a punching bag
aching for a mother to make it better
punishing all that come too close
help my unbelief.

Broken hearts too much loss and poverty
spirits torn asunder by cruel missionaries
hopes broken by constant displacement
children growing up all too soon
help my unbelief.

God within us loving us beyond measure
help us all with our unbelief.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Tipping Point

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.” Mark 9:2-13

There come a time, or times, in one's life where we reach a tipping point. It isn't usually logical but rather it is experiential and personal. We find ourselves changed, transformed, decidedly different than before. Decisions have been made, almost in our sleep, and we know we now go a new direction with new determination. The die is cast, the line drawn in the sand, are most often not chess moves, or deliberate actions, but moments in time that change our whole perspective and direction forever.

The disciples follow Jesus up a mountain as they have done on numerous occasions. This time, everything is different. They get a glimpse of a more complete reality, a glorious and splendid understanding of the fullness of God's love. It changed them forever and from that point on, Jesus turned his face for the final drama in Jerusalem. God invites us to honor those moments that have changed us, those which at the time we may not have even recognized as holy or divine intervention.

Today I ask God to help me be thankful for the moments of transformation and transfiguration in my life. May we embrace the tipping points in our lives, those moment where everything we understand changes, as God's love and purpose being broadcast to us, today.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Take Up Your Cross

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power." Mark 8:34-9:1

The life of faith is filled with joy and it is also filled with challenges. Today I went to our ecumenical Vacation Bible School to open them with prayer. The room was filled with young exuberant people. They were singing, dancing and wiggling with life and joy. And then I went to offer communion at our senior home. A dozen or folks with multiple challenges, some unable to see or participate fully anymore.

Jesus called the people together to help them understand that exuberance is temporary and that faith requires being in it for the long haul. The road is bumpy and often challenging beyond measure. The measure of our faith is not in our exuberance, wealth or showiness, but in our endurance and strength for the long haul. A life of faith is not a pretty, shallow thing, but a deep beauty, ever lasting.

Today I ask God to help me be strong for the long haul. May our vision not be narrowed and nor our spirits flag, but may we rather trust God to walk with us on the rockiest roads. May we know our Savoir understands then rough places we face, and will be with us in the darkest valleys today.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Walking Trees

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” Mark 8:22-26

We spend a good deal of time walking in the forest here in Sitka. We are surrounded and blessed with both state and national forests, great trails and wonderful places to discover. The forests are dense and ancient and the trails can be smooth or rough. On a dense, rainy day, one can imagine walking trees and living fairy tales in the exquisite twists and turns of the deep forest. One can't always see clearly in the woods and imagination and creativity are inspired within.

Jesus healed a blond man by spitting on his eyes and touching him. The first touch brought back the man;s sight but it was not complete. He saw people like trees. Jesus touched him again and saw clearly. Healing takes time, and we often expect a magic moment when we are back to our "perfect" selves, even though we were never perfect before we were broken. God healing as well as the natural healing is always a process of learning, growth and discovery. It requires our patience, imagination and our trust. Like walking in the woods, it calls forth inspiration from within. God invites us to seek healing for our broken places. God's desire is for us to grow and be changed forever as we heal.

Today I ask God to reignite my creativity and imagination. May we all be open to our own healing needs and be ready to dream and stretch again. May we not be afraid to be childlike in the presence of God, dreaming and creating beyond our present limitations.

Monday, August 5, 2013

How Many Baskets Full?

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

How Many Baskets Full?

Today you wake up still a cynic
a hoarder, hungry and greedy
for the spoils of others toils
you want to believe when only
your house and belly is full.

What is enough to sate you?
Two houses an island full control
of all you survey and then
will you not want even more?

Do you not see the joy and abundance
God dancing on the dirty street
with skinned knees surrounded
by laughter and sharing children?

Love and freedom have come to dwell
standing beside you in this full boat
love has promised compassion and fullness
it we would but embrace and believe.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vanities and Treasure Troves

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, `What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, `Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." Luke 12:13-21

Families can come apart over money and inheritance.We watched an Alec Guinness classic movie last night called "Kind Hearts and Coronets." It is the story of a young man whose mother married for love and family disowned her, and how he avenged her death by doing in all of the relatives that stood in his way to the title and money. A bit old fashioned and yet so very appropriate. How greed can make us do horrible things, and when we feel we are righteous, how we can get so carried away, even with our own families and friends.

Jesus is approached in order to settle a dispute over inheritance. He cautions the crowd about being ruled by possessions - money, land and power. Even among faithful people, folks who need to control the purse strings can choke out the goodness that has been done. Greed can be our fastest downfall. God is the giver of all that we have, and we often think we are responsible for our blessings and good fortune. When we hoard, we are unable to love, and when our possessions rule us, we cannot serve others. God invites us to put God and our neighbors first, as our finest gifts and what we hold fast to. May we not let our possessions rules us but rather open our hands to the world and share the magnificent abundance we have.

Today I ask God to help me focus on relationships rather than possessions. May no land, money or power stand in the way of our commitment to our neighbors. May we not hold the poor hostage by our selfishness, but share what we have, trusting in God for our every need today.
The Collect

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Miracle by the Water

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. Mark 8:1-10

Today, in just a little while, I will plunge into the water and swim a mile. Not for my health alone today but to raise money for cancer research. To many beloved people have been lost to the disease. Too many people have struggled and suffered terribly. All's I can do is my little part. Folks I know will be swimming in NY, and since there is no group here, I will swim along with them from the other side of the country. When we put our little efforts together, miracles happen.

Jesus is faced with a hungry crowd and not enough to feed them. He has compassion on them and wants to do his part. A little boy is found who has a small lunch which is offered for the greater good of all. His portion, his small offering becomes enough to feed the whole crowd. It is a miracle begun by one small offering. God invites us today to simply do what we can.

Today I ask God for the strength to swim and the courage to always offer my small part. May we all give what we can, no matter how seemingly small, trusting that God can make miracles happen with the smallest of gifts. May we do our little parts today with joy knowing God will provide the abundance.

Friday, August 2, 2013

One Woman's Faith

And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. Mark 7:24-30

It can be very hard to live as an alien in a culture or place. Being new or an outsider means you are suspect until you prove yourself. Having moved often I know how hard it is to be the outsider in a place. As a Native woman, I am often the outsider in the dominant culture of the church and community. To speak up for one's self or one's children takes courage and passion beyond imagining.

A foreigner and an outsider approached Jesus. She was a gentile, from a different land and culture. At first Jesus refuses her, because he assumes, early in his ministry, that he has come for his people only. But God even teaches the savoir of the world that love does not discriminate. Not one of us is outside of the loving embrace and healing touch of God. Jesus heals her child, and her bravery and persistence resound throughout history. God invites us to let love be our guide today.

Today I ask God to help me be brave and courageous despite the restrictions of place and culture. May we never step back from asking for what we need, and never flinch in the pursuit of healing for others. May we overlook first refusals and outsider treatments and be warriors for God's love in this world today.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)—then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:1-23

We don't like it when we get caught making a mistake. I know I don't. When I was little I tried to cover up my mistakes and/or bad behavior. I have come to realize that it takes a healthy, well-adjusted adult to admit to their mistakes and to live with the consequences. It is one of the most refreshing gifts to work with folks who admit to their humanity while striving to do better, to reconcile and to heal.

Jesus is very impatient with the childishness of the religious leaders. They criticize and judge others while they fail to police themselves. They want to control others, and be better than others, but they are unwilling to "man up" and admit to their shortcomings, which only creates more pain, suffering and abuse. We can understand this, how we ache for transparency and honesty, and know how hard these are to come by, whether in the church or in public life. We are invited to seek God's love in our hearts, taking on prayerful discipline and sacrificial living so that we can indeed be lovingly transparent and honest.

Today I ask God to help me, when tempted to judge or condemn others, turn inward and examine my own heart and my own behavior. May we live lives of prayer and sacrifice, seeking God's way of love and forgiveness today.