Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Abundance in the Wilderness

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

Abundance in the Wilderness

At first I could not see it
could not comprehend how edible
and delectable, sweet and filling
and we would never hunger again.

Coming to this wilderness fear surrounded
seeing only peculiar difference and lack
absorbed in foraging and wandering
we cried out in want and pain.

The rivers run thick salmon
river banks chocked with ripe berries
the water roiling with life
we almost missed the blessing.

The clouds remind us of the cold winter rains
when we huddle together for warmth
deep in darkness but lacking nothing
for we have been filled again.

We see the lack first and learn to pray
crying out as small children from our bellies
love responds with abundance and beauty
and we learn gratitude and music again.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Holding A Grudge

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

Some people can be very mean when they don't get their way. And some people don't like hearing the truth. None of us likes to be reminded of our mistakes. Our faith is based on forgiveness and sacrifice, and we are daily invited to let go of grudges, forgiving one another, setting each other free for service.

John the Baptist lost his head because of a seething grudge. Because he told the truth to power, he was an enemy. Grudges make people want to hurt others, and expel them from their lives. People with power and money can do a great deal of damage, which can last through many generations. God, on the other hand, does not expel anyone, but seeks to bring forgiveness and healing to all. We are invited, in this story of John the Baptist, to understand truth can bring anger and resentment, but that is not God's way.

Today I ask God to help me hold onto nothing negative but rather to put my energy into healing and solutions. May we not be distracted from caring by those who would harm us, but rather, be swept up in God's compassion and God's truth. May we be free of all hate so that we might love fully today.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Teach Us to Pray

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."

And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, `Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:1-13

There is little in this world more wonderful than hearing a child pray. Something happens when, at six or seven, they have heard the Lord's prayer so often, they feel confident to say it with the adults in church. Often they will pray at the top of their voices, full of joy in participation and accomplishment. The words aren't always right but the heart is.

The disciples of Jesus come to him to learn how to pray. They are good, faithful men who have learned from their parents and teachers. But they know that life has changed for them, and that they need new words and ways to talk with God. Jesus teaches them this simple prayer and then tells them that God is always more willing to listen than we are to pray. God can be sought out for small and great things, for the deep groaning in our hearts to the simple peace to make it through the next moment. Ask, search and knock - God is open to our needs and our hearts.

Today I ask God to help me be direct and honest about my needs. May we seek after God in all our moments, whether big or small, knowing that God is more loving than any perfect parent and more generous than any human giver. May we be known as people who pray, seeking God's love and restoration in every moment.

The Collect

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


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

One of the biggest challenges of living in Alaska for me is being so far from my family. It is a deep ache in my heart when I think of them all and wish to put my arms around them. I am so grateful that God has called me here for a time and love the people here. But there is a place and a people who share my history, warts and all, that tastes, smells and feels like home. Home, the place where friends and family gather, year after year, is important to us all.

Jesus returned home with his disciples for the first time. He left a young man on a mission and returned as a prophet with a following. He returned a phenom, and was rejected. His mother had suffered the same rejection and derision when she found herself with child. It is hard for those who know us best to see who we have become, not because they can't or won't, but because it leaves them out of the picture. They do not see themselves in us anymore. And yet, Jesus was still completely from his hometown, one of many children, a part of the stories, the tastes, smells and feelings that make home. May we hear God's invitation to accept rejection as fear and discomfort, and as an invitation from others to love beyond the circumstances, as we would our families.

Today, I ask God to help me see the discomfort and hurt in others that is their motivation. May we make a home for those who have none today, and find ways to serve others when we are out of our element. May God grant us an extra measure of compassion so that we might love others as we love our families and our homes.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Little Girls

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 5:35-43

Little Girls

Our little girls were not princesses
by warriors and dreamers readying
to heal the broken peoples' hearts
hurrying to join the dancers.

Our little girls are fierce and strong
vulnerable and fragile misunderstood
teased and tormented for their difference
still proud and regal in their hearts.

Our little girls are not commodities
tokens or objects of desire.
They are our hearts and our future
our present and our now.

Our little girls will change worlds
as their mothers and grandmothers
ancestors who stood against the white tide
hiding to survive and dancing at midnight.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Go to Your Friends

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.

The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. Mark 5:1-20

To My Friends

Once I was stranded
you found me and brought
me good food and took
me home to rest.

When I got crying
as the losses piled
up you stood and stayed
by my side.

When I wandered looking
for a new life and home
you patiently lingered
and waited for my return.

When I threw aside the best
you sang old songs and held
onto the discards waiting
for my return.

Now that my heart is nee again
I run to you to share
all the love I have received
for you have borne my pain.

Now that the broken is mended
it is to them who held me dear
despite my temper and despair
your never let me drown.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Even the Wind

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

Yesterday I had the privilege to be out on a boat with the Presiding Bishop and Richard Schori. A local fisherman and friend took us out on the water for a 2 hour trip so that Bishop Katharine could understand Sitka from the water. It was an overcast day, mild by our standards, and the wind was calm. A perfect day. I have been out on the water in times when that was not the case, when the sea and the wind were conspiring to keep us from returning home. The exhilaration and joy of life on the water can quickly turn to panic and disaster.

Jesus was asleep while the storm came up. The disciples were rightly terrified, as they knew all too well a bad storm could end their lives. Jesus took control of the wind and the waves. We know that, even with all the modern equipment we have, trouble can find us on the water. And yet, Jesus took control of the storm and saved the lives of the disciples. And even more, he reminds us that God is with us in the midst of life's worst seas, when trouble batter us, and heartache try to drown us.

Today I ask God to renew my trust and help me to remember to seek God in every storm of life. May we all deepen our trust today, knowing that God's is active in the worst storms. May we cry out in every challenge, believing that God's love can turn the tide of fear and pain.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lighting the Lamps

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

One of the things about summer in Alaska is the length of days. Even after the sun goes down officially, the twilight is very elongated and the sun is coming back around again very early. We don't have to light our lamps until very late, if at all, on sunny days. In the dead of winter, we need all the light we can get. How common a thing like light can become extraordinarily precious when it goes away.

Jesus is talking with his followers about using what they have been given. Our light is needed, our hospitality and generosity, our service and our tenderness is all needed in the world. Nothing can be saved for some great unexpected need that might arise. We are encouraged to give it our all when we are able. God invites us to set the world ablaze with love and compassion.

Today I ask God to help me not hold back. May we all offer what we have, not worrying about what people think but remembering always what God calls us to do. May we set the world alight with compassion and love today.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mary Magdalene

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene

Woman why do you weep?
my love has made you whole
you are no longer damaged goods
now you are a child of God.

People see you on the streets
judging you for you shape and style
they pity or revile you
to justify their own sick hearts.

Woman why do you weep?
my love has made you whole
you are no longer damaged goods
now you are a child of God.

Their lust and cruelty still aflame
you heart kindled with love and compassion
a forgiven heart is free to sing
and your dong echoes through the ages.

Woman why do you weep?
my love has made you whole
you are no longer damaged goods
now you are a child of God.

The world rejects the misfits
those who give their lives feeding their young
torturing and excluding laughing and cursing
but you are beloved for ages to come.

Woman why do you weep?
my love has made you whole
you are no longer damaged goods
now you are a child of God.

God tore down the walls and the rules
others would raise them again
to keep out riff-raff disciples and saints
leaving only empty broken shells.

Woman why do you weep?
my love has made you whole
you are no longer damaged goods
now you are a child of God.

The Collect

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Better Part

As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42

I am one of four sisters, and know how hard it can be to get things done when people aren't pulling their weight. I was always more of a Martha than an Mary, and often struggled when others were not willing to help, just wanting to have fun. We can get so wrapped up in our tasks that we can miss the joy and celebration.

Jesus is visiting with these sisters. Martha just wants a little help from her seemingly always missing sister. Jesus knows we can get so caught up in the work ahead, and the tasks that surrounds us, that we fail to see love right in front of us. We fail to enjoy and celebrate it when we have it. We get caught up in the work and lose sight of the people and God's loving presence among us. We expect they will always be there and that there will be time. But there isn't always time and Jesus knew how limited his time just might be. He wanted Martha to relax and accept the love she was being given. God invites us today to set aside the tasks and take up the relationships - the people, the community and the Creator who surrounds us with love.

Today, I ask God to help me let go of tasks and take up love. May we celebrate and rejoice in the love we have been given. May we delight in the people who show us God's love, and be those people who take time to share love with others.

The Collect

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A House Divided

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

People don't always like to come clean about the divisions within their family or their church. "We are one big, happy family", I hear all too often, when the opposite is true. Being related by blood does not guarantee we will get along, rather, it often means we know how to irritate each other best.

Jesus is talking to the people about the self discipline and intentionality needed to be a real community. Any given group of folks can be a family or a church, but to commit to each other, in a true live-giving and servant fashion is completely different. We often sweep troubles under the rug, and placate the loudest whiners, but that controlled peace does not a family or faith community make. We are being invited by God today to seek a path of self-discipline and spiritual integrity. We are being asked to be adults in our faith so that the world might know God's love.

Today I ask God to help me take on the responsibility of building a community of love. May we work together to give of ourselves and serve the people in God's name. May we take our faith and obligations seriously, understanding that our healthy behavior can establish sanctuary and home for those who so need it today.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Crushing Crowd

Jesus departed with his disciples to the lake, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he sternly ordered them not to make him known. Mark 3:7-12

When something phenomenal and exciting happens, or when a celebrity appears, folks tend to come out of the wood work. In a normally sleepy town like this, when there is a parade or an event the crowds show up. When John Wayne came to Sitka years ago, people came out to see him. They still talk about it. Today, we had a blackout for several hours and people were on the streets everywhere trying to figure out what had happened. Not so rare, a blackout, but it will give us all much to talk about.

Jesus has healed people and the word has gotten out. Those who are suffering are being brought,and others come in droves just to see the phenomenon. They want to witness it and not be left out. They want a story to tell their grand children, even if they aren't sure about the faith and healing part. Jesus had to have a ready boat just to be safe, and had to ask the spirits to keep silent, just to survive the crush. People didn't even know what they wanted, but they knew they wanted something. God calls us today to examine what we seek in our lives, and why we seek it. God offer us love and healing so that we might serve others, not so that we can be popular, famous, or talked about.

Today, I ask God to help me not focus on the crowd, or public opinion, but to the needs of the heart. May we all seek to serve others, rather than to be popular or revered. May we use our time with others to bring love and healing where it is needed today.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Plucking Grain

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.” Mark 2:23-28

Feeding the hungry never should
be thought of as a crime
and sheltering the innocent never
considered a time of sin.

Wealthy toss aside their waste never
considering the needs of those
who Sunday after Sunday never
have enough to eat.

God has blessed us with abundance never
to limit the light and the rain
we would harness these and charge never
to share the blessings we are given.

God requires more of the blessed never
letting one disregard the needs of others
with great blessings come great responsibility
compassion and love being the cost.

We are children of abundance asked never
to judge only to share and welcome
we are offspring of a loving Creator never
walking alone but always with the poor.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Old Wineskins

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 2:18-22

One thing that becomes very clear with age is that we all become less flexible with time. Physically we have to keep stretching and exercising or we lose strength and muscle. Once upon a time our bodies moved however we wanted them to. It is the same with our spirits and our attitudes. They can also become rigid with age, unbending and inflexible.

Jesus is being confronted by folks who wanted to know why he wasn't fasting like John. He replies with the images of new and old cloth, new and old wineskins. He is talking about our spiritual and emotional flexibility, our receptivity to new ways of experiencing God and community. We can all point to times where others were unbending, and maybe even when we ourselves clung to one way in spite of the presence of God's love in our midst. We are invited by God today to practice our flexibility and openness to the changes around us.

Today, may I be an open and receptive vessel rather than an old wineskin. May we all be willing to stretch and grow as God has called us. May we not fear the changes we face but rather know that God is working in the midst of them, and with each change comes a new opportunity to experience God's real presence today.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Love Will Do

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 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 fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”? But so 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, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ Mark 2:1-12

There are many stories of mothers and fathers having Herculean strength to lift a car and rescue a child from an accident. Love will make us do amazing things, impossible things to save the life of a loved one. Some give kidneys and other organs, others raise money for the necessary surgery, run marathons, swim miles and dangerous waters, all for the love of another.

The folks that sought out Jesus were not deterred by a little crowding and a roof. They wanted healing for their friend so much that they were willing to deal with the consequences of their actions. They tore through a roof, which they would have to repair, gladly yo save their friend. When we love we are willing to deal with the consequences of our actions. Their faith was the faith needed to free him from his pain and suffering. Jesus welcomed their faith and his willingness to be loved so much he would put his life in his friends hands and in the Saviors. The religious leaders were caught up in an argument and they missed the power and the love that surrounded them.

Today I ask God to help me set aside all arguments and seek the love, power and forgiveness that surrounds me today. May we all let arguments and ego go to the transforming and healing power of God's love today.

Monday, July 15, 2013

All Who Are Sick and Oppressed

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.

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.

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter. Mark 1:29-45

All Who Are Sick and Oppressed

They try to hurt others in their need for relief
in their addiction and pain blame others
in the darkest of nights they strike out
and the innocent helpers get shamed.

Our pain can be mighty and fierce
our losses so deep and inflamed
that we can think we are better by having control
healing by abusing those around us.

God's hand outstretched no judgement made
an offering constant and consistent
the end of suffering, isolation and shame
if we would but move toward love.

I sought you out for forgiveness
but you gave me punishment and abuse instead
your hurt so deep you would torture another
and send a child on to their destruction.

God's hand is still waiting, open without threat
arms thrown wide for the miserable offenders
the angry abusers and the cowering abused
healing waits on the morning mist today.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Who is My Neighbor?

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:25-37

This Sunday, we read about the Good Samaritan. A young man, of education and faith has come to Jesus. He wants a deeper and clearer understanding of how he is to live. Jesus chooses to tell him hoe to be a neighbor by defining the neighbor as a Samaritan. Noe the Samaritans were the sworn enemies of the Jews at the time. The Samaritans were part of the Jewish people. They did not go into Egypt as slaves but satyed behind, intermarrying with the natives and taking on some of their customs. They were not enthusiastic about the restoration of Jerusalem, but rather understood God in a broader sense. They were despised by the Jewish authorities of the time, painted as evil with a wide brush stroke.

It was a Samaritan that took the role of compassionate neighbor. It was a sworn enemy who demonstrated God's love in time of need. It was one related but outcast from society that was the one who saved a stranger. Often times, those who we know best can be least compassionate and understanding, and our neighbors can irritate us and make us mad. Jesus chooses to invite us to a place where we examine how we really love, and who we really despise. Jesus invites us to consider our most despised as the neighbor. He makes us uncomfortable to invite us to see our truth.

Today, I ask God to help me be a good neighbor, to those that are easy, and especially to those who make it hard. May we all turn from our loathing and be moved with compassion. May we be faithful to God by serving those who challenge our patience. May we know God's love within us as we

The Collect

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Leaving Thier Boats

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

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 1:14-20

We live in a place where many people rely on the sea for their livelihood and sustenance. Very few turn away from the sea, their boats and their nets for any reason. Many people live on their boats in the harbor. The water is a complete way of life, a language, a culture and an identity. The only people willing to scurry off boats this time of year are the tourists who flock to Alaska on cruises. But for the locals, boats and boating equipment are prized possessions, and really part of the family. It is no surprise that the church here in Sitka is named St. Peter's by the Sea.

Jesus is beginning his ministry after his baptism and time in the wilderness. He calls Simon (Peter) and Andrew, James and John away from everything they knew and loved. They would lose their sea legs and enter a role that would change them forever. But something made them respond immediately. Something made them leave a safe harbor and life for Jesus. Love is something that cannot be hidden, and God's love must have radiated from the one they would follow. They must have seen a promise so big, a sense of welcome and acceptance so large that they could not resist.

Today, I ask God to help me to follow Jesus with the same excitement and spirit that those disciples did. May anxiety and fear not bind us, but may we rather, jump up and follow when we are called. May we recognize God's love today and the need of the people. May we be willing to give up what we know so that God's love can transform our hearts forever.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Starting Over

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ Mark 1:1-11

One of the great things about the lectionary is that you get to start over. When one Gospel is complete a new voice takes up the story. It is a way to clear one's head and get a new perspective on things. Growing up, one of the more prized toys, which we considered pretty high tech, was the etch-a-sketch. Never had one and envied everyone that did. My favorite part of playing with it was that when you messed up, when things just went completely wrong, you could hold it up, often over one's head, and shake the image away. An instant do-over.

Today we hear the opening verses from Mark's Gospel, the first and shortest Gospel. Mark has a refreshing perspective on the narrative, with concise words and simple pictures, the author draws us into the power of Christ. He is not romantic or flowery, but instead tells it clearly. And today we hear the voice from heaven declare God's love for Jesus. And in our baptism, we participate in that honor from God, our do-over, which is a daily renewal of God's promise of eternal love for us.

Today I ask God to help me forgive the mistakes of the past and rise up with great hope and expectation. May we forgive one another, allowing endless do-overs, trusting that God loves us beyond our faults and mistakes, beyond our broken relationships and our hidden shame.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why Do Doubts Arise?

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:36-49

Being human means that doubts arise even in the most faithful and confident people. When we have had a shock or trauma, when disappointment and isolation overcome us, we have doubts aplenty and question our once strong faith. We question our capacity to do things that we know we can do, and we seek only safe places and safe people in our fear.

Jesus appears to the disciples one last time and as always they are overwhelmed and frightened. Like all of us they have no way to take this in, and wonder what God is doing? They question their sanity and the reality that they are experiencing. Jesus offers them food and comfort, and tells them to be safe until they are given the strength they need. He understands what they have suffered and shelters them until they are whole again. God understands our broken hearts and our trauma, and offers us food and solace until the strength and the spirit return again. Not even the disciples closest to Jesus were expected to get right back to it after such a trauma and loss.

Today I ask God to help me be patient with the healing and restoration. May we not lose heart when we have been through great trauma and loss, but may we rest in the loving arms of God, trusting the strength and spirit to return in God's time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What God Calls Clean

In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius.’ He stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ He answered, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.’ When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.

About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’ The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven. Acts 10:1-16

What God Calls Clean - An Anthem for Wednesday

I felt I didn't measure up
not good enough for this calling
none like me stood in front
and I was afraid of rejection.

God has called us clean
despite what the world might say
God has opened wide the doors
and love is the rule we live by.

The road was hard and lonely
by the dreams remains and lead
by night and day I learned
and opened up my heart.

God has called us clean
despite what the world might say
God has opened wide the doors
and love is the rule we live by.

Those around me were different from me
forgiven and loved all the same
I would turn away and reject them
for fear of being excluded too.

God has called us clean
despite what the world might say
God has opened wide the doors
and love is the rule we live by.

Our humanity can make us fearful
but God has set us free
to live with love and compassion
welcoming strangers as companions.

God has called us clean
despite what the world might say
God has opened wide the doors
and love is the rule we live by.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Women with Idle Tales

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. Luke 24:1-11

It is not hard to be misunderstood. As a woman in a previously all male profession, folks are often confused by my garb and some have asked whether I was a nun. As a young woman, feeling strongly God's call on my life, I tried to convince my husband the call was for him. Thank goodness he was smart and kind and encouraged me to respond to God. He didn't hear my call as an idle tale.

The women who go out to the tomb face an onerous task. They go to wash and anoint the body of their beloved friend and teacher. Their grief is deep and their steps are slow. When they encounter the angel and remember Jesus' words they run with joy to the disciples. Their story seem impossible and frivolous,
a cruel joke on the men who are grieving and who could not face a visit to the tomb. They could not look on their friend in death. And they were women, who might easily, the disciples think, be given to hysteria and confusion. But God gave the story to the women, some of whom were unfit for any respectable station in life. The women who went out early with broken hearts were given a gift beyond measure.

Today I ask God to help me go out despite the grief and loss that surrounds. May we not hesitate to minister and reach out, despite our personal and societal limitations, knowing that God has more good gifts than we can imagine. And God yet has good news for our broken hearts.

Monday, July 8, 2013


It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:44=56

I am often surprised by grief in myself. My body often remembers an anniversary before I do and it takes looking at calendar to realize why I feel so bad. The loss of a loved one is overwhelming, as if a part of our own body is taken away, never to return. And other losses can bring on that same grief - the deep sense of trauma and pain. We find ourselves feeling isolated and alone, racked with weeping and wondering how to get through the day.

in our Gospel today we hear again of the death and burial of Jesus. So familiar and yet so very raw. The disciples standing by in shock, the women doing what they could for his body and dear Joseph or Arimathea risking his position in order to know God's presence in his life. All were going through the motions, trying their best and feeling inadequate for the circumstances. The complex reactions of our humanity are demonstrated in this simple story. In grief, we can be stunned, we can rush to do the small and large tasks - nothing makes the grief and loss any better. It can feel as if God is far off in our grief. And yet, there is more to life than our losses, and God promises to be with us in are darkest places and near us always in our loss and grief.

Today I ask God to help me be aware of all those who are caught in the depths of grief. May we provide a sense of God's loving presence to those who are isolated and alone today. May we not shun their loss but rather embrace our own, seeking God in the deepest places and in our darkest hours.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Two by Two

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'

"Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."

The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

When I was in seminary doing CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at University Hospital in Boston, we were paired up and assigned to specific floors. When my partner and I went out on our first day, we did everything right, introducing ourselves to all our patients and their families. We were not received terribly well. At the end of the introductions we found out that we had been on the wrong floor the Whole time. As we collapsed in laughter, I was so grateful to have someone to share the joys and sorrows of ministry with, a human companion to help out on the journey.

Jesus sent them out two by two, modeling for all of us that none can do our ministry alone. No matter how tough and resilient we are, we need companions and community to grow in faith. We need folks to lift us up when we are falling and to remind us of God's love for us. We need one another, and the witness of the elders and the ancestors to remind us of the Creator's faithfulness throughout our whole history. We are invited today to remember we are never singing or dancing alone, neither are we weeping or fearful by ourselves.

Today I ask God to help me rely on the community and to offer myself to the community also. May we remind one another that we are not walking this faith road alone, but are surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses. God is faithful in the midst of us, giving us joy and humor when we fall, and lifting us up so that we can continue on the road.

The Collect

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Today in Paradise

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

People come from all over to discover this little town. The pour off the cruise ships, arriving on orange lighters to eat, shop and collect all the Alaskan experience they can in a few hours. In their minds it is a sort of paradise, a place far removed from their everyday life. And yet our everyday life is right here and some days are very everyday.

We hear the words of Jesus today as he hangs dying on the cross. A man who has committed horrible crimes asks to be remembered. For all the terrible things he has done, as Jesus writhes in agony, he forgives and makes a place for his fellow suffers. He declares with the little breath he has that this man will today be in paradise with Jesus. The ache and agony are real as is God's promise to the man and to us. We can search the wide world for paradise, or seek God's love in our lives, and know it today. We can labor or steal, sweat and connive, or we can simply as God every morning. We are invited to chose God every morning, living in the loving paradise of Christ.

Today I ask God to help me see the paradise that surrounds us. May we celebrate God's love for us, recognizing how blessed we are. May we awake every morning seeking God, knowing that today we will be walking in paradise with Christ.

Friday, July 5, 2013


With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.

Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.

I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”

Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!

Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me,
for you will deal bountifully with me. Psalm 142


Living in a strange land
seeing with outsider's eyes
little introduction to their ways
we fear falling under the spell.

They cannot understand our need
nor can they not imagine their own
a long way from home we cry
dark nights cover the tears.

The ancient voices surround us
mountains of memory revealed
as the clouds lift for the sun
we hear a new kind of invitation.

Not alone or abandoned but challenged
to embrace the water and the wild
people and children running free
from the past that they abhor.

We will carry our people with us
and show them the new visions here
our bounty will grow in our hearts
and God's strong arms will see us throuh.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,* what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48

Today is Independence Day when we celebrate our freedom from tyranny. Unfortunately, we can take advantage of others in the name of our freedoms. We can be selfish and greedy in the name of personal freedom.

I am a long way from my family today. On the other side of the country, in a little beach town, my 90 year old mother hosts hundreds of people on her lawn every year. The bicycle parade, in which 500 plus people participate, ends on our front lawn. My Cherokee mother is a patriot and a warrior woman, like many Cherokee women, she cherishes and defends her family. And she also seeks to welcome and care for the community, demonstrating God's love and freedom right from her front lawn. She knows that hospitality and welcome are her way of honoring those who have come before. I miss helping her and watching her delight in the neighbors and strangers who gather for a few minutes to honor true freedom. Our little Episcopal Church, St. Peter's by the Sea, Cape May Point, rings the bell every year as the riders pass by, announcing God's blessings and the prayers of the people.

Today I ask God to help me celebrate our heritage by honoring our neighbors, strangers and friends alike. May we live lives of welcome and hospitality, making room for outsiders and those who are different from us. May we never assume our freedoms give us rights to bully or take advantage of others, and may God find us always praying for all the people everywhere in our time.

Prayer for the Nation

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.

Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion!

May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
May you see your children's children!
Peace be upon Israel! Psalm 128

As we get ready for the Fourth of July, I am keenly aware of the many blessings we have been given in this country. We have been given much and can live without fear in most places. I am also aware of how previous generations have used their liberty and freedoms to take the land of others and destroy people and ways of life. With blessings come responsibility.

The Psalmist reminds of today of God's blessings, and although his sentiments might seem archaic, his heart rings true. When we honor God and respect the people, there is a sense of profound blessing in the midst of our family and community. When we put God and others first, we cannot help but understand the richness and abundance we have received.

Today, I ask God to help me see the multitude of blessings in my life. May we all put God and others first so that our hearts and minds might be opened to the myriad of blessings that surround us today.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

For Peace

In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
Deliver me, O Lord,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.

What shall be given to you,
and what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
A warrior's sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!

Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.

I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war! Psalm 120

For Peace

They fight for superiority
to be chosen first and win
from diapers to the board room
first is the only acceptable place.

Little girls smiling and muddy
sent to wash and behave
swallow their rage and draw
aching to run free in the sun.

We teach the art of war and winning
wondering in soft arm chairs why
they run from us a first freedom
and terrorize their sons and daughters.

I am for peace and forgiveness
of a soft heart and a malleable spirit
I am for being the potter's clay
and not the tools of destruction.

I want to be part of the heart of God
which aches for the broken and the lost
pounding with love for the excluded and shunned
seeking lost lambs in the dead of the night.


Monday, July 1, 2013


Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:54-62

I encounter people on a regular basis who seem to function well in a state of denial. They off-load their past if it doesn't suit their self-image, and they inflate their importance, finding little time for reality. Many folks don't want to be associated with less than classy places or people, so they make things up to hide their humble and awkward pasts. The truth always finds a way to shine through though, and under stress or the spot light the truth will always emerge.

Peter is terrified and trying to find out was is going on. Jesus has been arrested and he fears for himself. When questioned, he denies his relationship to Jesus, and repeated feigns ignorance and acts horrified at the accusations. He denies the one he had promised to be faithful to always. He turned his best friend and mentor into a stranger for self-preservation. The good news of our gospel today is that God doesn't leave Peter in his anguish and failure. He becomes, through God's healing and forgiveness, a leader for us all. He moves from a frightened onlooker to one at the heartbeat of God's presence here on earth. We are invited to be honest about our failings and our needs so that God can brings us ever closer to the heart of God.

Today I ask God to help me never be ashamed of who I am or where I have come from. May we all embrace our failures and our past, knowing that God has more for us than we can imagine. May our bitter tears and our anguish be turned to joy and strength by the forgiveness and love of God this day.