Thursday, January 31, 2013

Blessing the Small Offering

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. Mark 6:30-44

We are visiting our youngest daughter in Boston and took time this morning to walk around Harvard Square. Since I went to seminary here, and she was born here, it is always a wonderful things to walk the old haunts. One thing about the square is that there are always panhandlers and the homeless, asking for help. I saw a wonderful thin today though as most people hurrying on by, ignoring them. An elderly couple, brought out food and coffee to a older bedraggled couple on the street. They took the tray from the little coffee shop and served them. The small offering became a great blessing from the looks on their faces.

The disciples and Jesus were surrounded by a great crowd of very needy people. They gathered there for many different reasons, all needing help, healing and relief. The were hungry and the disciples were overwhelmed by the sheer number. They found a few fish and a few loaves of bread. In the blessing somehow the small became large, the few became many and there was enough for all. We live in a world where there is enough for all, but too many go without. Are we willing to offer our little bit for the sake of the larger good? God invites us today to ponder what we have to offer, what we can share for the healing of our world.

Today ask I God to offer what I have for the sake of the world. What we have may seem small and grossly inadequate, but God can use it. In the offering and the blessing, people are fed and made whole. We each have two hands only but when we all share our little God brings a mighty abundance. May we be those who usher in a time of abundance with our humble little offerings to God.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Making A Promise

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. For when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:14-29

When I was a child I remember making promises for life to my little friends. I do not remember the promises but I remember the intensity of the moment and the life long fidelity which we pledged. We would pinky swear and when we were older and braver, become blood brothers and blood sisters. In the heat of a moment we can make promises we believe are forever and iron clad.

We hear the story of the death of John the Baptist. He was beheaded and paraded around on a platter, all because a besotted celebrating king made a promise which his new wife and step daughter took advantage of. I cannot imagine the manipulation and selfishness it took to hold him to such a promise. Foolishness and cruelty all around.
They used the heat of the moment to destroy a life and a ministry. All too often, we humans take advantage of those moments to destroy others. God invites us to see the damage and selfishness in our desires to win over others. We are invited to know our hearts and ask forgiveness when we are overcome by cruel jealousy and anger when confronted by the truth.

Today I ask God to help me to use only compassion and forgiveness rather than manipulation and coercion. In every encounter we have choices. May we choose love and forgiveness, patience and kindness. May our lives be lived with the humility of fragile humans who trust in God and not in the control of others. May our lives be transparent today reflecting God's love alone in our hearts.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Without Honor

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.
And he went about among the villages teaching. Mark 6:1-6

Without Honor

Rolling in to town
old familiar streets
the haunts of our youth
playgrounds and recess dreams
grown beyond those now.

This safe harbor becomes rough
no welcome rather a cold shoulder
jeering and gossip critics abroad
wanting only to come home.

I am not who you thought I might be
I stand out in the crowd and followed
by those who aching and sore
my only fans the world's rejected.

My heart is full of love
my hands open and ready
a voice willing to speak truth
to the tangled seaweed locals
who want to draw me under
one last time.

There is no honor for those
who stand on familiar lanes
and remind communities of commitment
to justice, fairness and healing.

There is no justice for prophets
only tar and feathers and shunning
but love will rise up always
and God's peace with conquer
the worst thrown our way.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Do Not Fear, Only Believe

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:21-43

We lived in Baltimore Maryland for many years. We both went to college there, we met there and were married in Baltimore. Our older two daughters were born there. I was a seminarian from the Diocese and returned there to serve. Baltimore is a city with many delights and many challenges. It can be a rough place to live but mostly it's a colorful character, full of wit, tenacity and wisdom. They nicknamed her Charm City many years ago. One particular rough time in the city, folks took up the slogan, "b'lieve hon". Hon is a local slang, shortened version of honey as only one can say if you're from Baltimore. People know themselves to be run down and run over on occasion, hard pressed and disregarded, but they are willing to fight back with great heart and a sense of humor.

Jesus has several encounters in our reading for today. A woman who has been suffering for many years, her life and funds drained from her reaches out to him. And her faith makes her well, despite all her suffering, and she is called daughter. Then Jairus' daughter, who was given up for dead, was raised to life. She got up on her feet and walked around. The faith of a father, a mother - the ones who cherish and nurture life no matter the challenges -are the ones to see restoration and renewal despite the doom around. We are invited to be people like them, who live with determination in our faith, believing that God has more for us. God has more for us to do and God has much, much more to give us.

Today as we begin our visit home, may I be a true believer, one who trusts that God has much much more in store. May we live as people who have faith, not when it is easy but even when the streets are mean and the money is tight. May we have faith like Jairus and the woman, people who reached out in faith and knew the loving touch of God.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Today is the Day

Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

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

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:14-21

We are in prep mode for making a visit east with our family. Being far away has been a challenge and as the day approaches for our trip, I get more excited about seeing our daughters, my mother and my siblings. I am going home for a while, not long, and I want for all of the time to be good and positive. As I pack I think about all the people and places we will see and wish that I could pack a portion of what I have learned and witnessed here.

Jesus returns to his home after being well received across Galilee. People are excited and hopeful for his presence and his ministry. We know that all too soon some folks will find fault and others will plot and scheme. But on this day, standing in the temple and reading he realizes out loud what he has come for. He is comfortable in his role and in his skin, with joy seeing clearly the responsibility he has before him. He knows himself to be part of a larger plan. We all wish for days like that, when we understand ourselves in completeness and with no doubts. Being human, we experience them rarely, but in the midst of all the doubt, anxiety and confusion, God is acting for us through it all.

Today, may we embrace the life and the place God has given us. May we boldly do what we can do, in the time we have. May we trust that God is with us today and always, praying for strength to face the challenges and the doubts. May we know that we too have a role in the reign of God on earth and do all we can to bring God's love and healing where ever we are.

The Collect

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Free From Torment

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. Mark 5:1-13

Free From Torment

We are haunted unbalanced
walking alone with our worst selves
we wander the highway of nightmares
and linger in our sadness too long.

We are tortured by our failures
the glib and gliding of others
we search the heavens for signs
and we bury our sorrow in tedium.

No one can claim freedom from torment
lonely and frightened with a polished face
we go to the world pretending daily
and shatter as we walk in our doors.

The heart of God is crying for us all
children lost in the doubting wilderness
students caught by their own sad reflection
pilgrims aching for a warm soft rest.

We are wanted desired and needed
our broken hearts and minds will be remade
we are loved beyond reason and measure
and God want to bring us home.

Friday, January 25, 2013


On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41

Some days the calm comes easy, other days it seems as if one storm after another clouds up our lives and blow anxiety and trouble everywhere. When health problems arise or relationships get stormy or broken, if feels as if there will never be calm again. Sometimes it feels like we won't make it through the day or through this crisis. We humans can be bent over by crisis and storms, lost and wondering when peace will come.

The disciples had been watching the storm mount and grew anxious by the moment. Jesus slept through it all. These were water men, fearless and skilled in all sorts of conditions. For them to be scared meant that it was a real doozey. These skilled professionals were undone. They knew from experience that they were facing their doom. By waking Jesus and asking for help, they found themselves in a situation transformed, surrounded by peace when there was only tossing and fear. We are invited to name our storms and ask God for the help we need. We try, as best we can to be calm, but we need help when the big storm clouds swirl.

Today I ask God to help me be quick to ask for help and slow to be independent ans self-assured. We all need to do what we can, but offering our skills we may still find ourselves in rough seas. May we all be quick to ask and pray, trusting that the one who calmed the storm will come to our aid today.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brought to Light

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:21-25

Brought to Light

The long nights swallow us
disoriented we cannot tell
night's end from beginning
and we wander like the lost.

Despair and hopelessness
like winter's bitter wind
surrounding us inside and out
we lean in to the fear.

We forget that light is coming
dawn is drawing near
not alone in our deep blues
morning is at hand.

Our spirits lag in the shadows
we ache for understanding
give in to cruelty and judgement
thinking we are truly left alone.

All will be revealed
night always yields to day
darkness is scattered by morning
and fear is withered by love.

So let us kneel together praying
as we lay our bodies down to rest
may we be remade in peace
may we know the light of love.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Good Earth

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:1-9

One of the things I love to do is to have a little garden. Standing in the rich earth and watching the plants grow gives me great joy. Having rich earth is work though. Some places we lived was rocky and other very sandy. The earth needs to be tended and fed, turned and nurtured, water and encouraged. One can not just stick a plant in the garden and stand back. It is a day by day caring, a season by season relationship.

Jesus is using a parable to help folks understand their life in faith. Many have come out to hear him, many want constant miracles and ready solutions to their problems. Jesus, sitting in a boat, since the crowd had pushed them off the beach, reminds them that they have a part in the life of faith. We cannot be babies waiting to be fed and crying when we are hungry. We need to tend to our earth, to be rich and ready recipients of God's love in our lives. God's love is for all but we must be active participants so that it can flourish on earth.

Today I ask God to help me tend to the garden, to nurture the soil and deepen my faith. Help me to do the hard work of weeding and watering, of feeding and watching, always patient knowing God is the true gardener. May we all tend to our faith, making time for prayer and worship so that the love of God might flourish upon this "fragile earth, our island home."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.
Mark 3:20-35

Transitions from childhood to adulthood are difficult. Our roles change both as parents and as children. We take on new responsibility and we let go of others. Our families often send mixed messages, wanting us to be adults and children at the same time. As a mother of three grown daughters who are incredible adults, I know I still want them to need me as they did as children. I can privately be resentful of the passage of time and the changes continue to remake us as a family.

Jesus was at the beginning of his ministry. He had called his disciples and they were on the road together. There were in high spirits and the religious authority felt threatened as did his family. All were confused as the roles had changed. No longer was his mother and siblings his supporters but in their confusion, his detractors. He had to from for himself a new family, a new way of supporting and being supported that sustained and empowered his ministry. God calls us, in times of change, transition and confusion to seek the God's support and sustaining. We are also invited to be remade as we remake our communities of faith and support.

Today I ask God for the strength needed for growth and transition. We are on the brink of new lives and new ways of being and it can be confusing. May we know today that God is walking with us in our journey and that we can remake ourselves and our communities as needed for the road ahead. May we never get too old or too jaded to ask for help. And may we seek God in our confusion, trusting that God will deliver for us a new family and a new home.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Called and Named

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Mark 3:7-19

Today is Inauguration Day and Martin Luther King Day. I hoped to wake up early enough to hear the president's speech but had to settle for watching it on line. We are removed by so many hours that it is easy to overlook or forget what is going on today. The crowds of people on the Mall in Washington, a rainbow hue of people, smiled and cheered as the president spoke movingly about 'we the people'. He spoke of how important it was for us to act together in the care and renewing of our world.

Jesus was so overwhelmed by the crowds that he took his disciples to a remote place on the mountain. We hear them named and called to be co-workers in Christ's ministry. Even Jesus alone could not meet the vast needs of the people and shared his authority and relationship with God with his disciples. Some he even gave unique names and charged them with preaching and healing the people. In this day and age, he still calls us each by name and sends us out to care for the needs of the people. None of us are an entity unto ourselves, but are invited to be co-workers with God, and with one another.

Today I ask God to help me serve others in God name and to rely on the strength of my co-workers. May we not see ourselves as individuals alone but as brothers and sisters together, committed to the healing and renewing of our world. May we take our gifts and ministries as things to be shared with others and may we be ever grateful this day for the blessings we receive and the companions we have on the way.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mother and Child

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11

My mother will be ninety early next month. She is still lively and alert and although her short term memory is not good, she can remember all the funny things we did as kids. And she can still look at me with that look - you know the one - the look that tells you that you are in deep, deep trouble. Mothers have a hold over us in so many ways. They can be our biggest supporters while also being our disciplinarians. And when we are grown, despite the changes in relationship they still hold us in their sway. They have held us close during the myriad of changes we have gone through, and have helped us grow into the full stature of our humanity.

Our gospel finds us glimpsing the very intimate relationship between mother and son, and the very humanity of the savoir of the world. He was on the verge of living into his full potential, which his mother already knew, but he was reluctant. I am sure there was more discussion between the two that what comes through in our Gospel. Mary had a 30 year old son who she probably thought was long overdue for his important role. And Jesus was struggling living into his call, and maybe resented his mother and her pushing. She saw it as encouragement, he saw it as forcing his hand. We all struggle with the gifts and skills that we have been given and our sense of competency or lack thereof. And parents often struggle with their children's reluctance and slow growth. We are human as was Jesus and his mother. And God promises, that if we will step out a bit in faith, despite our anxiety and reluctance, we will be blessed with strength upon strength.

Today I ask God to give me courage to step out in faith and the humility to ask for help when I need it. May we be bold in our asking and in our encouraging today. May we use the gifts we have been given, trusting that God will make them good and more than adequate for the needs of the situation. May we set aside reluctance and anxiety and step forward for the love and care of God's world today.

The Collect

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fields of Gold

One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 2:23-3:6

Fields of Gold

They walked through golden fields
wheat and grain ripe and dancing
fed themselves enough to survive
and were thought to be traitors.

He walked up the crowded steps
and touched and broken man
restoring life and possibility
they called for him to be destroyed.

We stood in the sunlight and laughed
the days of rain banished with joy
and those who would have complete control
sought to do us harm.

We live in a world with enough
food and shelter and medicine
yet some are on the steps begging
and others hoard and criticize.

They took only what they needed
no extras, no padding, no safety
they showered the rich and poor alike
with love that mended broken hearts.

The world could not accept it
it was too beautiful and fine
so the riches of God's blessings
were thrown on the fire to burn away.

We walk in fields of gold today
and take all leaving none for others
we hoards and binge and exercise
hoping to control the demons within.

They walked through golden fields
wheat and grain ripe and dancing
fed themselves enough to survive
and we still think them to be traitors.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beside the Sea

    He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
    And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:13-22

Yesterday the sun broke through the clouds for a brief moment right before sunset. After many days of gloomy clouds and steady precipitation it felt like a load being lifted for a time. We drove down to the docks to watch the light dance on the water and to see the sun struggle to part the dense overcast. Behind us the mist clung to the mountains and in no time the sun was gone and it started to drizzle again. We have found that living here, we take every opportunity to be outdoors especially when there is sunlight. Things can change so quickly, clouds can come all too soon.

Jesus was challenged by who he ate with and his lack of fasting. His time on earth was short and he knew that enjoying every moment he had with his friends, disciples and companions was more important than dietary laws and traditional expectations. There are times and seasons for restrictions and self-denial. God invites us to celebrate the light and the love we have, when we can. All of what we believe to be constant and permanent is not. We are here for a time and we are invited to be ready to enjoy the love we have in the present.

Today I ask God to help me celebrate God's blessings in my life. May I not be bound with the need for control but have my eyes and heart open for new encounters with the living God. May we be people who are known for our celebration and our love. May we make room at the table for others different from ourselves and may we know we are blessed by their presence today.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Come, Follow Me

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: `You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." Mark 10:17-21

When I was a child I would try to walk in others' footprints in the sand. Some people had left footprints that were so far apart it was impossible for me. Their stride was too long, or I was short and they were tall. Others were very erratic, stopping and starting twisting one way and the other. Often the other small feet were not wide like mine. I would imagine who was with them and try to figure out where they were going. Many prints finally disappeared washed away by wind and water. None the less, it was fun and challenging to follow someone else's lead.

A faithful young man comes to Jesus seeking how gain eternal life. He has kept the traditional laws of the faith. Jesus understands that he is extremely wealthy and comfortable. Despite his faithfulness and goodness, he has never stepped out of his comfort zone. He has not walked in someone's shoes, he has not had to follow another nor has he had to share anything. He is asked to forgo comfort, to share his goods and with the needy -to live a life of service rather than stay in his life of being served. We are invited by God to live a life of service and to let go of those things which keep us from following God.

Today I ask God to help me let go of material anxieties, to offer all that I am and to hold nothing back. May we examine our lives and find those things which have held us back from offering ourselves to God and others. May we trust that God goes before us and leads us each day in safety. May we walk in the footsteps of the Savoir, letting go of worry and taking up the love and care of others as our love offering to the God of love.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rising Up Early

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. Mark 1:35-39

Some people are early risers who get up enthusiastic and raring to go. Not me. I like the comfort of my bed and need several cups of coffee and a good deal of time to face the day. When I was newly ordained, in Baltimore, I thought I needed to be an early riser and joined a master's swim team that started in the pool at 5:30am. I was wonderfully awake at 7:30am after my swim. By three in the afternoon I was asleep, drooling at my desk. These days, the mornings here in Alaska are dark for a good long time. I am up before the sun these days, but it is not early.

Jesus was up early to pray and be by himself. When the others awoke they came looking for him, anxious because folks were demanding to see Jesus. Jesus took the time, under the cover of darkness, to engage with God, seeking direction. He had to be alone to talk to God and find his way forward. We all do. Whether we rise up early or walk alone in the bright sun, seeking a quiet way to talk with God is always important. It is not that God cannot hear us in the hubbub of the day, it is that we have a hard time hearing when surrounded.

Today, I ask God to help me take the time to listen. May my heart and mind be open to God's direction in my life. May we find ways to leave the world behind for a few moments so that we can draw closer to God. And as we draw closer may we be more and more empowered to serve the people right where we are.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:21-28


Many are tormented by spirits
haunted by past deeds old friends
mistakes and indulgences torture
and we have no peace in our hearts.

Many walk the earth half alive
twisted by fear and self loathing
dreading each new encounter
laboring to silence the screams.

Many are lost in the crowd
hiding in plain sight their demons
shuffling along side every one
aching for release from this prison.

Many fend off night's sleep
for sweet dreams turn into danger
heart pounding fear and terrors
haunted by failure and dread.

All of us long for peace
the silencing of nightmares
the quieting of a trembling heart
a firm hand on our fevered brow.

One comes among us for each
to banish the internal storms
to wipe away the past debacles
and to tenderly sing us to sleep.

Monday, January 14, 2013


In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Mark 1:9-13

With the new year come new resolutions and lots of people trying to change their eating habits to lose weight. I've heard the word temptation floating around a good deal. And it is hard to stay on a tight regimen, but it is personal and a small temptation. We often worry about these kind of temptations and let slide the real temptations - using our blessings for our own comfort alone.

The temptations that came to Jesus were those of the abuse of his power, the use of his gifts to control and subdue others, and using what he had been given to make his life more comfortable. On the heels of the glorious moment when the heavens opened and God declared love and blessings, Jesus faces not only hunger and isolation but the worst of temptations. He recognizes his own power and has to chose to use it for God's purpose and for the good of others. We are invited today to struggle with our own temptation to use our power and position for our own comfort alone. We are invited to seek God in our blessings and to chose for the good of others.

Today I ask God to help me face my own temptations. May our temptations become blessings and our struggles bring us closer to the heart of God. And may we offer to God the blessings and gifts we have been given so that the world might know God's love and blessing today.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Up From the Water

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." Luke 3:15-17,21-22

I just came up from the water, literally. This was the first time since I had my concussion that I had permission from the doctor to swim. And a kind woman arranged for me to swim, all by myself, this afternoon. I started out slowly, not wanting push my luck. I felt rich and blessed as I swam from one end of the pool to the other. I felt the water surround me and hold me up, buoying both my body and my spirit. Water is so much a part of me and returning to the water, however briefly is always a gift to me.

On this Sunday as we celebrate the baptism of Jesus, let us remember those words from above. They are so completely tied to the water and to our baptism. "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." We are made children of God through our baptism, whether there was little water in the font or a great big ocean. God has lifted us up, raising us from the bondage we barely understand, to a life of beloved children welcomed at all times at God's table. May we celebrate the riches we have, the blessings that shower down like rain, and may we dance in God's perfect light, knowing we are loved, wanted and set free.

The Collect

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Sight

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” John 9:1-12

I got my first pair of glasses during my first year of college. My brother and two of my sisters needed them at a very young age but not me. I was arrogant and thought I would have great vision all of my life. As I have aged I have come to understand what a gift our sight is, and how each of us has a very different take on the world through our eyes. We often take this extraordinary gift for granted. We often turn our eyes away from the real world around us and are blinded those we chose not to see.

The disciples and Jesus encounter a man born blind. The disciples want to find the cause of this man's affliction. Jesus heals the man by making a paste of mud. Jesus blamed no one but gives the man his sight, a tremendous gift to a man who had to spend his life begging on the street as an outcast, rejected and condemned although he did nothing wrong. We often ask why some illness or affliction happens to a person and too often we judge that person. But what we are to hear and see today, is God inviting us to a place of healing at every turn and every affliction an opportunity for grace and compassion.

Today I ask God to help me have new vision. Help us to see the afflictions and challenges of this life as an invitation to compassion and love. May we be moved to prayer and kindness, love and service by what we see around us. May we not judge those who are suffering but rather offer what we can and ask God for the strength to respond.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Wrong Sort

He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:13-17

The Wrong Sort

I am part of the wrong sort
tempted and tossed fumbling
in the dark and foolishly trusting
all the wrong people.

We make mistakes and blurt
out unkind words and hurt
others are shamed and vexed
and we are broken humans.

We don't have correct manners
are shunned by society
ache for the wrong people
have no fetching up at all.

We are one family we are told
and yet the staring the whispers
tell us a different story completely
rejected we turn away in pain.

We are God's children but some
would have us find a different place
a different neighborhood separate grocery
so they don't have to see us at all.

God comes to our humble tables
in diners and on picnic blankets
in our squalor and our simplicity
we are welcomed at the holy table.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Little Help

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Mark 2:1-12

There are times in our lives when we need help from others. The past few weeks as my concussion is healing I have had to ask for help from many folks since I am supposed to be taking it easy and letting the swollen brain heal. I do not like needing help from others. Yet I have learned in these past weeks of the depth of others faith, the kindness and compassion that is there and the willingness to do extraordinary things for the good of others.

Jesus was mobbed by folks who had heard of his ministry and the healing that was going on. They cam from all over and were pressed in so close that the people who were carrying their paralyzed friend could not get close. They didn't give up and go home. They used their strength and their creativity to bring their friend close. They persisted because of love, and in their persistence their friend was healed and the religious authorities were silenced. Love in our hearts and persistence can bring healing and change the world despite the doubters and the naysayers. God aches for us to be full of love, compassion and faith, for the little we can do can change everything.

Today I ask God to help me do my part. May we walk in faith, not giving up when things get rough or when we are rebuffed. May we remember the faithful friends who opened up the roof and be people who are willing to use our God given gifts for the healing of others. May we imagine possibilities this day, and think beyond the predictable so that God's love may be known in our midst.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lifting Her Up

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. Mark 1:29-34

One of the biggest challenges of healing is the patience it takes as the body mends. I got a concussion several weeks ago at which time they said it would take days or possibly weeks to heal. And now, as time drags on, the doctor says it's not uncommon for it to take a long time and to be patient. One of my least favorite words. We neither like to be patient or to be taken care of but would rather be up and doing.

After a bit of a challenging time at the temple, they brought Jesus to Simon's house. Simon Peter is the king of impatience, a very human human, and often in trouble for his attitude. His mother is sick and he takes Jesus to see her. Jesus heals her and she gets up and to her joy, is able to feed her family and her guests. Jesus is overwhelmed by the need around him and has compassion on their needs. He looked at the face of great suffering and ended it. Today God is offering compassion in the face of suffering and seeks in every moment to end the world's pain and suffering.

I ask God to help me today do all in my power to end another's suffering. May we be instruments of God's love and compassion here on earth. May we ache with others, walking with them through their ordeal, bringing them hope and solace in their pain. And may we all be willing to ask for the healing we need, so God might use us for the healing of others today.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. Mark 1:16-20

In Sitka, it seems that the whole world is fishing. The harbor this time of year is packed with boats and in the summer the tourists come to catch salmon. They come wide eyed and leave exhausted and smiling with their flash frozen catches. Whether one is a commercial fisherman, sport fisherman or doing sustenance fishing, everyone engages in fish, fishing and telling stories about fishing. Some days it seems as if everyone is growing gills and scales. The water is our life, our food and our language.

Jesus begins his ministry by calling Simon and Andrew then James and John. These were strong, hard-working guys, whose whole life was by the sea. They would go places they had never imagined and do things they would still marvel about later in life. They dropped their nets and began a life as a team who lived to serve others. They would leave rough waters and move into even deeper ones. They would have to learn new ways and new languages, be remade as servants of God and fishers of men. We are invited today to follow God just as we are, trusting God to remake us and teach us what we need. May this year begin with a yes from each of us, a willingness to put down the familiar and be drawn into the deeper waters for the sake of God and the world.

Today I ask God's blessing on all those who are trying to follow on the way. Those who are willing to leave the familiar and the comfort zones and serve others for God's sake. May we all be willing to leave our nets behind and follow God into the places of need and want. May we carry God's love with us and trust that we will find our way home.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Beloved

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Mark 1:9-13

My Beloved

You are my beloved
cherished in the womb
from your first day
we hovered over you
smiling through our tears of joy.

You have been a stranger
moving too often exposed
to strange customs, languages
an outsider at home.

Our people don't understand
your parents listening to God
following angelic direction
and throwing caution aside.

You are my beloved
made out of ancient wonder
compassion and delight
molded from flesh and bone
ours alone.

This journey you begin
is neither easy nor sure
the road is dangerous and rocky
but there will be guides and signs
like the star arising at your birth.

Gentle beloved heart of my heart
go from this place with joy
for God has made you more
than enough for the journey
and God will bring you home.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Epiphany 2013

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

`And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Matthew 2:1-12

Being in a new community and coming from a very different one, I am aware of the challenges that newness brings. The feast of Epiphany finds strange men from the east, following a star and finding the child Jesus. They offer there gifts and go home a different way. Their plans changed, the goal was not what was expected and they were thrown off course. And yet they offered their gifts, honoring the child, and finding God on earth right in their midst. They saw the light and followed to its source.

The story of the Magi is so familiar to us. We often think of young children, dressed in robes and turbans, filing down the aisle of a church in some play. Our familiar children in our familiar costumes. But these were strangers, with peculiar customs, with different language, dress and habits than anyone understood. They turned the community upside down looking for the child, and in doing so brought God's light to the whole world. In the three regal strangers we find that God's light and love is for everyone. In the mystery of the three strange wise men, we find ourselves no longer strangers to God.

On this Epiphany, I ask God to help me live in the light. May all that we do reveal God's love in our lives. May we recognize strangers as friends and all people as members of one family. And may we offer our gifts to God, knowing that what we offer, no matter how humble or strange, will be blessed and used for the reign of God, present here on earth.

The Collect

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Earthquake and Tsunami Warnings

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." John 15:12-16

Last night, as we were watching the end of a movie, the floor began to shake. At first it felt like a huge truck was passing by, but it continued on and on. Within a few minutes the television was reporting an tsunami warning and we were to evacuate to higher ground - the high school just a few blocks up the street from us. After rousing our neighbor, we collected a few things and the three of us drove up to the high school.Some folks were frantic on phones trying to find family members. Others were conversing and laughing, sharing stories about what they were doing when the earthquake happened. Most of us looked dazed and tired as we sat and waited. The woman sitting next to me kept saying that she wanted to go home. I was grateful that there were people who knew what to do and where we should go. We were safe and warm. When the all clear notice went out we were all quite happy to head home. We were drawn closer as a community for a time, holding each other and our neighbors close like family.

Jesus is talking to the disciples about relationship. The rules he sets down are no longer based on control and restrictions but upon love. He invited them to understand that their motivation for faithfulness should no longer be fear but love. God is treating us, no longer as servants, but as family. We are to care for one another as a loving family. And more so, we are to care for the world as one family, with no limitations and no restrictions.

Today I ask God to help me to be motivated by love in all things. The world may shake around us but God has promised to be with us, close like family, willing to give up all for our safety and care. May we trust God for our daily care and give thanks for our neighbors who protect and care for us. May we give thanks for morning light and the love of all that surrounds us this day.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Parent and Child

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:6-14

Parent and Child

From me you came but you are more
sweeter than imagining a light
shining as a beacon of love
throbbing with life filling the world
with giggles and tears.

You have grown beyond me
we are sometimes at a distance
you are flesh of my flesh
bone of my bone, never alone
I can still hear your heart beat.

You were fashioned marvelously
thrust into the world to poor parents
you who deserved the crown and robe
took to hand-me-downs with a smile.

You were challenged and haunted
moved too often you were teased
by the comfortable wealthy idiots
and yet you danced with glee in the rain.

You sing the song of freedom
and feed the hungry until full
you tend the sick and the dying
and bring life to the world in need.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. John 10:14-17

There are a variety of ways to be a shepherd. You can work with with dogs, use and ATV,or herd them alone. These many ways are often defined by culture, the land and how one was taught. The same holds true for clergy. We come in all shapes and sizes and use all sorts of techniques and tools to help lead our people.

Jesus tells the people that he is the good shepherd, the one who will lay down his life for his sheep. Within the culture and the time, that declaration meant a great deal. It stood for a type of shepherding that was personal and total, and a willingness to sacrifice everything for those in his care. Sheep aren't the brightest of animals and need a good deal of direction and guidance. They get lost easily -just like us. And God in Christ is making an absolute commitment to us all. More than any pastor or priest can do, the savoir of the world is committing complete faithfulness to each and every one of us. We might wander, but we will be brought home.

Today I want to give thanks for all of the pastors and shepherds I have known who have kept me safe from my own wanderings. May we all give thanks for those who show us by their faithfulness the steadfast love of God. May we have confidence that no matter how off course we might wander, God will seek us out and find us. No matter what challenges and obstacles keep us from the others, may we always cry out to God, in the sure confidence that the good shepherd is with us this day.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bread of Life

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
John 6:35-42; John 6:48-51

All sorts of people made New Year's resolutions, some to eat less, lose weight, get a better job - the list is endless. Many of these resolutions are broken within the first few hours or days because we are human. Humanity is subject to failure and bad days. Even those who don't make resolutions end up breaking that. None of us can fix the world alone. Our resolve and our resolutions are lovely. Acknowledging our need for help with everything and for one another is even better.

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." He really riled up the religious around him who wanted to deny what he was saying. They knew him as a child, knew his parents and so therefore doubted. He was an uppity local kid, they presumed. They grumbled just as we sometimes grumble. And in the midst of it we hear God offering us an end to anxiety over life, an end to resolutions and a beginning of a deep relationship. We all need food and water. We need each other and God's love even more.

Today I want to give thanks for my own human need, which forces me to rely on others and ask for help. May we be grateful today for our humanity, which puts in relationship with others and with God. May we not take for granted the love we have been given, but be grateful for many ways our needs are filled. May our resolve be strong this day to love with great joy. May we acknowledge our need and be thankful for the abundance we have today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Day 2013

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:15-21

A New Year

We have names given
by angels and mortals
we are born again
with each new day.

The sky explodes with light
the winds whips through trees
we are being cleansed
made ready for a new beginning.

Darkness has prevailed
we have given into greed
but we are still soft clay
remolded for love.

Light comes earlier day by day
strength returns hour by hour
music begins to filter in
brightness and joy cannot be denied.

There is a song beginning
a sweet melody of possibility
and tender sproust of hope
waiting only for our care.

May we plant tender seeds this year
burying the past so deep
letting the healing begin
by tending the garden of love.