Monday, March 31, 2014

Escaping Notice

From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-phoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go - the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak." Mark 7:24-34

Monday (and less often Friday), clergy often take as their day off.  After a full Sunday and the preparation that came before, it is nice to set aside some time to be one of the folks. Some go see movies and most of us catch up on chores. It is always hard when someone approaches you on that day off with some spiritual or physical crisis. You want to be compassionate and do what you can. You also are tempted to scream, "it's my day off - leave me alone!" I really don't know anyone that has done that, but a few minutes of rest and privacy are highly valued. 

Jesus was seeking that kind of rest and privacy as he tried to make his way unnoticed through Tyre. He thought he might have some time to himself there. A woman notices him and begs for help. At first he refuses but then she is very bold, and, for love of her daughter, is willing to make a fool of herself and go to any lengths. Jesus has compassion on her and on the deaf man. Despite his human need for rest and privacy, the compassion of God, overwhelmed him. It also made people pursue him all the more. God invites us to know that compassion is at the heart of the Creator, and that Jesus, in his humanity, knew the struggle of being exhausted and in need of rest. God knows the work we do is often more than we can do alone, and provides us with the strength we need.

Today I ask God to help me be strong in my weakness, and compassionate in my exhaustion. May we care for our human needs but never dismiss God's power working in us. May we find renewal in the love that has been showered upon us, and be grateful every day for the work we have been given.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Defiles

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
'This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.'
"You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."
Then he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.' But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, 'Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban' (that is, an offering to God) - then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this."
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile."
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, "Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7:1-23 

The sun was shining yesterday and in the afternoon we went looking for whales since many had told us they had seen them. It is herring season and the whales are feasting. Our first drive all the way out Sawmill Creek seemed fruitless and slow. We spent some time in the park and then returned home. But right as we were to give up, we spotted some spouts and decided to investigate. With a little patience and watching we saw orcas, listening to them,watching them rise and fall in the water. We are blessed to live in a place where such abundance is our entertainment. Anyone who has seen the movie Jaws knows how repulsive and frightening these creatures are. Something so dangerous is also so incredibly beautiful.  What God has made is not ugly or bad, but it is what we do with God's creatures and to one another is truly where evil arises.

Jesus grew up with very strict dietary laws and was being held accountable by the religious leadership. In his tradition he was engaging in forbidden behavior -not just with what and how he and the disciples ate -but even more with the people they associated with. They were breaking the long held traditions. He reminds them all that what or who we take in does not defile us, it is how we treat others - what comes out of us - that defiles us. We are known by our actions of evil. We are invited this lent to consider how we treat others, how we judge others and how we care for them rather than what we do or do not eat. We are asked to examine our hearts.

Today I ask God to help me examine my heart and be cleansed of all malice and evil. May we live with a loving heart, letting go of judgement and taking up compassion. May our words and actions invite others to know God's love today.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Crossing Over

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:47-56 

Crossing Over

All too often I get afraid
seeing ghosts and demons
when love's shadow passes by.

The sinister captivates our minds
we tremble and reel around
when we might be looking up.

The storm is always temporary
the love and comfort constant
and we would turn away with fear.

The crossing over is always hard
changing and turning, visiting new places
challenging to our sense of safety.

We are built into the rock and yet we quake
we are the children of the stars and of light
and yet we quake in our little beds.

May we who have known love's presence
never turn away from hope and light
remembering love walks with us in the storm.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Deserted Place

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves 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 deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves have you? Go and see." When they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. Mark 6:30-46

Flying in from after a long day, I looked out the window as the plane was landing. It was a beautiful sight, the mountains, island and waters of Southeast Alaska. The vast unspoiled landscape is breathtaking. As we came lower and began to land, we could see the herring fleet out in the harbor, almost on top of the other, bringing in their catch, providing food and livelihood for so many. Hidden in what some might consider desolate places, is a bounty of God's grace where many can be fed.

Jesus is aware of the emotional and physical cost of ministry. He urges his followers to take the time away and the come with him. In the process, they are spotted and a crowd gathers. They do not turn them away but Jesus opens his arms and heart to them. There is no food and the little lunch or supper that is offered is ridiculously shy of the need. In that deserted place, hidden from their eyes, the power of God's love provided enough for all. Even when we are tapped out and weary, God provides the necessary strength and fuel in abundance.

Today I ask God for the strength and the fuel to serve others. We are often at our lowest ebb when we are asked to do more. May we know God's compassion and love as we serve God in our weakness. May we know God as we offer our small amount trusting that God will increase our poverty with God's loving abundance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Annunciation

Blessed are you, Lord, the God of Israel; *
you have come to your people and set them free.
You have raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of your servant David.
Through your holy prophets you promised of old
to save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
To show mercy to our forebears, *
and to remember your holy covenant.
This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship you without fear, *
holy and righteous before you
all the days of our life.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,
To give God’s people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:68-79

The Annunciation

Aroused from the deep sleep of youth
an angelic vision a burden to bear
a brief flash of light and promise
changing her life forever.

Her hands were still a child's soft
her hopes and dreams like any other child
her whole world was her little village
and one night visitor shattered this sanctuary.

She was to bear the light to the world
the son of God would be her flesh and blood
she would carry the solution for our brokenness
and be judged and misunderstood daily.

The servant of God cannot chose our call
cannot refuse a staggering burden
will not turn the cup away from their lips
for God has broken through our grief with love.

There is no one more revered than she
no one more misunderstood confused and judged
a young girl with her life ahead of her
naively said a very trembling yes to God.

She bears the light to the world
this child vessel of sweetness and youth
she bore the agony of her child's death
and call us all to answer yes to God.

Monday, March 24, 2014


When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "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." So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, 'Who touched me?'" He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 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, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Mark 5:21-43

We have three amazing daughters who, now adults, make me so proud every day. And when they are hurting or ill, I want to run and them, hold them tight and protect them from every danger and challenge they might face. It is a visceral, physical ache that has no resolution without being with them. These have been rough days in our family, with one daughter having major surgery so far away. Her older sister ran to be by her side and her younger sister has kept up a constant barrage of love, prayers and positive messages. It touches my heart, this passage, for Jesus touches these women, young and old and healed them. For a mama so far away from her babies, this passage gives my heart joy and some peace.

Jesus understands the visceral ache and turmoil faced by the woman and the young child. He knew the heartache of the parents and their families. He wanted always to bring healing and resolution, to make right what was broken and torn, breathing life into what the world has given up on. We are invited today to understand God as one who stands with us, aches with us and journeys to bring healing and reconciliation to the forgotten and the despairing. We are to reach out to God when we have given up and when our hearts are breaking, despite what the world around us might say.

I ask God to help me reach out in prayer in these rough times. May we know God as one who intercedes for us in our deepest pain and grief and who is willing to bring healing to the hopeless, life to the dead, and joy to the ones who have been weeping for so long.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Woman, Believe Me

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, `Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, `I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!" The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?" Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?" They left the city and were on their way to him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, `Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, `One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I have ever done." So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world." John 4:5-42

I find that it is often when I am about my daily routines, the things that I do without thinking - loading laundry, making a bed - I have an encounter than changes everything. A phone call, a conversation, or a moment in prayer, some interruption that turns my world around. The highly anticipated events are more often than not just that. But in the routine God often finds me and touches me right to the heart.

The woman at the well encounters Jesus alone. She is doing her chores, carrying water home, when the living God speaks to her face to face. She doesn't run away because she belongs there. This is her routine and he comes to her in her daily life and changes everything. Not only does the woman's life change in this simple encounter, but the whole community changes because of it. We are invited by God today to expect the holy in our simplest of chores and in our most humble places and encounters. God comes to us in this day and time offering living water and new life.

ay I ask God to help me expect the holy in the ordinary, the extraordinary in the routine. May we know that God is moving in the small and humble places bringing new life in abundance today.

The Collect

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Other Side

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 a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, "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 had said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion; for we are many." He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, "Send us into the swine; let us enter them." So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.

The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you." And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
Mark 5:1-20

The Other Side

May be we thought we might rest awhile
sanctuary and safety in the familiar
this other side of the gentle sea
a desolate place of welcome and quiet.

The silence we ached for was disturbed
need for healing outweighed our rest
love overpower the selfish wrestling
and the unclean were driven out.

We are called to a restless love
to foreign homes and local strangeness
invited to make welcome the least
we are made strong again by love.

We find our sanctuary in touching
make our rejoicing in others whole
bending our wills to God's spirit
we are remade in hope and joy.

Weary find rest and the broken salve
the lost find refuge and solace new
the brokenhearted sing loudly again
and we are called away to another shore.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Wind and The Sea

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

Today is the first day of the House of Bishops Spring meeting. The last few days have been very stormy in my life, with my daughter Ariel having surgery so far away, and all the travel I have been doing. Today she is home and sounding strong - teasing me even. Sometimes in the midst of storms we can forget that God is in charge. We can let our fear overwhelm us when our family is threatened and lose sight of God's love within us. Joy does come in the morning and even in our weakest hours, God is there.

The disciples are taking Jesus from the crowd and a storm arises. These men, his companions, have seen miracles and great wonders. Their lives have been changed by Jesus, and yet, they panicked when a violent storm arises. Jesus was asleep and they were having none of it. Fear overwhelmed them and they lost sight of God's love and presence with them. Like all human beings we are overwhelmed at times by the storms of life. It may seem that God is sleeping, ignoring all that surrounded and threatens us. May we remember always that God is in charge and that we are never forgotten.

Today I ask God to deepen my faith and to make me strong for the storms ahead. May we remember today that God is in charge and that no storm or torment can tear us away from the heart of God.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Moving Toward the Light

Jesus said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!" And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away."

He also said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come."

He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. Mark 4:21-34

Moving Toward the Light

A twenty four hour of travel
day and night and day again
across tundra and mountain
to shine the light towards love.

The earth turns its face
this first day of spring
welcomes the warmth and bright
so long missing from the world.

The deep billowing snow
is replaced with the pungent scent
of turned soil and bedded plants
a garden hose watering it all.

The dark dreadful days are behind
now we turn and face the sunshine
letting our bodies soak up radiance
the love of God shining in us.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Good Soil

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 ESV

Yesterday was real challenge. Our daughter Ariel was awaiting surgery in Allentown and I was in transit flying back from the Arctic Circle. Right now we live at a great distance from her and my whole body and soul ached from that separation. She is a strong, smart and intelligent woman and she has been a blessing and an inspiration from her first breath. Not to be with her is tearing at my heart. Her older sister drove from New York to be with her and people from around the country (and beyond) have been holding us all up in prayer. I am so grateful the love that is planted so deep and abiding, that even at great distances, we can trust our loved ones to God's care.

Jesus was using story to help the people gathered to understand the word of God. The word of God in it's most simple form is love. There are many things that can destroy love or cause it to dry up. And yet when love is planted deep, tended and watered constantly, that same little seed of love, becomes sustenance and strength for the whole community. God invites us to plant our faith deep and to look up in times of pain, storm and hardship. This love that is given us is able to withstand time, distance and all the pain the world can throw at us.

Today I ask God to let me breath in love. Let us remember how deep our roots go, and how much we are surrounded by loving caretakers and family. May we trust the word of God, planting love deep in our hearts and trusting that ever battle is already won through God's love.

Monday, March 17, 2014

By the Sea

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, 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.

He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot. Mark 3:7-19a

I have been overwhelming touched by my experiences here by the Arctic ocean which is frozen as far as I can see. I have been blessed to live by the ocean in Cape May Point, which rarely freezes but supplies me with abundant images of God's love. And I have been blessed to visit Ireland and stay by the sea, on stormy, rough and wintry days to be touched by the overwhelming beauty of the land had her people. Something powerful seems to happen by the sea.

Jesus went to the sea and crowds followed him. The spirit was strong and the people responded. His disciples were mainly men who toiled on, and lived by the sea. They understood the power of God and the challenges of living dependent of the wind and the waves, the water and the spirit. They knew God in their very surroundings and responded when the Son of God called them. We are invited, on this St. Patrick's Day, to hear the call of the water and the spirit and to respond to God with all joy.

Today I ask God to keep us safe as we travel home. May we carry with us the spirit and love of the people here, who have made God's love manifest to us. May we listen to the wind and the waves, the water and the spirit, so that we might daily be filled with God's love and share it where ever we go.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

God So Loved the World

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

"Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." John 3:1-17

I have been spending the weekend in Point Lay attending the Arctic Deanery meeting. We have been working, singing and praying all day and well into the night. Last night there was a service of blessing of the whale captains and their crews. The little church of St. Alban's was packed to the gills, young and old alike gathered together. The windows were rattling with the strength of the songs. Moms and Dads came in from the blistering cold wind, with their little babies on their backs, snuggled warm inside their parkas. The love, tenderness, and interdependence is so visible here. The spirit is strong and beautiful.

Nicodemus didn't understand the spirit of God so he came to Jesus in the might. He had witnessed something he couldn't understand. He might have been embarrassed, but he sought Jesus out. When Jesus told him he must be born again, again Nicodemus didn't understand. He persisted. And in his persistence we hear Jesus say the most spoken and remembered words - God so loved the world. More than the passionate and fierce love of a parent, the interdependent love and joy of an isolated community, more love than we can imagine, is what Jesus told Nicodemus about. Love that is ours today, protecting us from all that would tear us apart or take us down.

As this day comes to a close, and we get ready to head home, may we all remember these visions of love. Whenever we have these experiences of great joy, may we give thanks to God for a glimpse of the love of God. May we sing and give thanks to the one who would offer all for us today.
The Collect

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fresh Wineskins

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples - for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard this, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not 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?" Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? 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 on that day.

"No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins." Mark 2:13-22

One of great delights of traveling to new places is getting an new perspective in the world. Here from Barrow, nearly the top of the world, things look very different. We're a thousand miles from Fairbanks and only 1500 miles from Greenland -over the pole, that is. I have been struck these past hours by how different this part of Alaska is, and how I am being called to have a new way of seeing, listening and being. We are being called to a new heart and new ways.

Jesus calls the tax collector and the religious leadership went crazy. That just wasn't done. The tax collector was an outcast, shunned and hated. But Jesus knew that to really hear the good news we need a radically new perspective. Some times we have to be shocked out of our complacency and familiarity. We need to go to a new place. We need a new way of seeing and listening. We need a new heart.

Today I ask God to give me a fresh and new perspective, and a new heart. May we be open to the good news of God's love in our lives. May we find ourselves shocked by love and may we be overcome with joy today.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

At Home

When Jesus 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 paralyzed 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

Today I was on my way to Point Lay for the Arctic Deanery meeting with Bishop Lattime flying this morning from Fairbanks. We arrived in Barrow late morning, and walked around for a bit in the bright cold air. This is my first visit to Barrow and I am trying to immerse myself in they way things are in this part of Alaska. This is a very different world than Sitka, very different from my home back east, and yet, familiar. The ocean is frozen here but the landscape is stark and breathtakingly beautiful. We waited in the airport for a long time, and watched family and friends greet each other and laugh together. We are now overnighting in Barrow since our flight got canceled sue to weather, and despite the distance from family and home, it is also somehow safe and familiar.

Word got out that Jesus was home and they came out of their houses. So many people in such a small space that they had to cut a whole in the roof. The ache at home to have healing was so great, that friends would help each other into the savior's presence. It was a comfortable and safe place and they crowded together as people do who are familiar and comfortable together. Jesus didn't just greet the man but brought him back to health. And we are invited to not only be comfortable and safe, and make the world safe for others, but to also seek healing and renewal at all times. At home or far away, we are invited to seek the healing we need right now.

As the day closes on an amazing adventure, I ask God to help me seek the healing I need for this time. May we all be eager to moved from comfort to compassion, from familiar to love - love willing to go to any length for the healing of others.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Struggling to Follow

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea - for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then 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 with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching - with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Mark 1:14-28

It was one of those days. After a terrible night's sleep I overslept and had to rush to appointments. Then we had to meet with the police to look at the vandalism that had been done to the church. It was heart breaking to see old things destroyed, and although limited damage, it was a hard day. Nothing worked right. It's hard to be a follower of Jesus on some days. In this wonderful book, illustrated above, Alexander reminds us all that "some days are like that even in Australia." We follow because we have a leader who loves us and cares for us even when the day is a disaster.

Today, as the sun gets ready to set, I thank God for the opportunity to follow. Some days we may trip and fall, some days we may stumble and break down, but all days we are blessed and loved. We are called and we are the beloved, no matter what befalls us.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Into the Wilderness

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."

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:1-13

Into the Wilderness

The trees grow out of the fallen ones
green growth upon green growth
life rising from dead, fallen debris
dense deep woods of mottled light.

Came to the wilderness to seek anew
a life beginning again in the challenge
strengthening to serve and offer up
faith born from these lonesome days.

Into the wilderness of searing cold
the deep long endless nights
the wood smoke and snow crunch sounds
life on the edge learning from others.

Into the wilderness to find life
terror and fear became familiar friends
prayers became now part of my lips
and love was born from God's heart alone.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


After Jesus was baptized, he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 4:1-11

Most of us are not too tempted by apples these days, but rather the things we should not eat. We are tempted to indulge ourselves rather than to behave ourselves. We could probably talk for hours over all the things and foods that tempt us. But we rarely admit to our most common temptation, that is, when we shut others out and deny the people and places we are being called. It is easy to hide in our familiar places, our comfort zones. We are rarely tempted to venture to the places and people that challenge us or disagree with us. God has called us to those places and we refuse to go.

Jesus was alone u on a mountain. (I always wondered how the Gospel writers knew of the exact exchange between the devil and Jesus.) He was there after his baptism to prepare heart, mind and spirit for the ministry ahead of him. He was there to get ready to go to difficult places and to touch the outcast and the unwanted. He went there to prepare to go to the margins, the tough spaces and out of his comfort zone. We are invited this Lent to get out of our comfort zones. We are invited to open our hearts to the people and places we have turned our backs on. We are invited to prepare ourselves to go to the margins for God.

Today I ask God to help me move away from comfort and the temptation of comfort. May we refuse to give in to putting up walls, but rather, may we break through those barriers we have built so well. May we go to the margins, out to the edges for the love of God today.

The Collect

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Completely One

Jesus prayed, "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:20-26

Completely One

Carved from the same ancient wood
felled together in olden times
the voices of the ancestors ring within
and we are completely one.

Bent from years of mending nets
the daily walk of the faithful
the old familiar hymns sing again
and we are completely one.

Torn from the comfort we know
at a loss of how to proceed
changes have made us afraid yet
we are completely one.

Buried and yet resurrected
broken yet miraculously healed
marked and carved repeatedly
and we are completely one.

Silenced and shamed for generations
our language and clothing burned
homeless and relocated every decade
and we are completely one.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Protect Them

Jesus prayed, “I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”John 17:9-19

I never considered myself a warrior of any kind. But when it came to my children, if there was a battle to be fought on their behalf, I was fierce and unrelenting. My daughters brought out in me a courage and a determination that only love can rouse. They taught me a love and faith so deep that changed me forever. To this day, I am fearless on their account and would stand in for them, taking the hits and the hurts they faced. We cannot always be present to protect the ones we love, but we can pray every minute and put them under God's constant protection. Being so far away right now, I pray for my children every minute.

Jesus knew that the time for separation and distance had come and the disciples would be on their own. He loved them so much, like a parent would, that he entrusted them to the love of the Father, planting them in the strength of divine protection. Love never lets go but is always seeking the best for those we love. Jesus prays to the Father, for his followers, then and now. We are loved like beloved children, whether we feel close or far away. We are assigned to the strong divine arms of love, that surround us in our darkest and most overwhelming moments. Even when we feel we are lost, God is surrounding us with strong arms of protection and love.

Today I ask God's protection and strength for all those who are suffering tremendous loss. May we who are broken by loss know ourselves to be surrounded by loving arms. May we know that our tears are shared by God's eternal love, and that no matter how alone we feel, we can trust that we are protected, love and held close by the strong arms of our tender Savoir.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Came From You

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me." John 17:1-8

I Came from You

The ashes have been scattered
the season has begun, time moves
but all that I am only reminds me
that I came from you.

Separate and uniquely independent
and deeply related by heart and soul
I carry the markers, same wiring
and all I am you sent to me.

Your voice echoes in the ancient songs
a brilliant tenor to my dark alto
I may seem alone to so many
but I know from where I cam.

I know from whom I came and where
I will return to your heart again
when my course is fully complete
you have promised to bring me home.

There will be loss and sorrows
this life is brimming with joy and grief
I know you delight with us and cry
holding through dark night terrors.

We are dust and to dust we shall return
but even at the grave we make our song
Alleluia, alleluia, coming home
we were sent from the heart of God.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

So Great A Cloud of Witnesses

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children -

"My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts."

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:1-14

I meant to write something very different today since it is Ash Wednesday. Last night, after arriving home from our parish Pancake Supper, I found out that Deacon Terry Star had died sometime early yesterday morning. My heart is on the ground. This young man was truly a star, a loving light and a tender friend. He did not take himself so seriously, but took his ministry and relationships seriously. Today he stands with the great pillars of faith, among the great cloud of witnesses to the love and abiding presence of God. His race is finished all to early, but his life inspires us to strive on.

This passage from Hebrews has always been a favorite of mine. Paul writes to encourage us to "lift or drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees" for in so doing we are bringing healing and new life for everyone. our little times of discipline and trials are minimal for God is with is through the toughest days, the roughest terrain and the worst weather. God is a loving parent who sometimes gathers his young to heaven to soon, but is with us in our deepest loss.

Today, as we begin Lent, I ask God to give the the persistence to not lose heart, the strength to endure the hard times, and the creativity to imagine beyond today's struggles. May we know, in this time of penitence and discipline, that God has more to give us that we can even imagine, and God is with us on the mountain tops and the deepest valleys of our grief.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Shrove Tuesday

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh - even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:1-11

Today is the last day of Epiphany and is called Shrove Tuesday, taken from the old English 'shrive' or to confess one's sins. It is an Anglican tradition that we eat pancakes, to get rid of the fat and eggs before Lent, and many places engage in pancake races and other fun games. This day is also called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, again when the fat is consumed in preparation for the more austere and penitential season that begins tomorrow. We give up the indulgences of the flesh in order to draw closer to God.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians talk about having no confidence in the flesh and relying completely on the love of Christ. We are reminded how easily the things of the flesh can consume us and keep us away from deepening our relationship with God. We are invited today to celebrate the abundance of gifts that we have today, preparing our hearts and minds to go deeper in relationship with God during the coming season.

Today as we celebrate together, may we remember those who cannot celebrate and know no abundance. May we reach out in love this day and always, sharing God's abundance and blessings with those in need around us. And may we be willing to give up so that others may thrive, to suffer so that others might know some ease, and let go so that others might find a loving hand.

Monday, March 3, 2014

In the Olive Grove

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there, and brought Peter in.

"Surely you are not another of this man's disciples?" the girl at the door asked Peter.

He replied, "I am not."

It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "Surely you are not another of his disciples?"

He denied it, saying, "I am not."

One of the high priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn't I see you with him in the olive grove?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. John 18:15-18, 25-27

In the Olive Grove

In the dense and dark shadows
I hid in fear trembling, watching
as they bound you and took you away
I cowered in the darkness and cried.

I waited a long time until calm restored
the night noises only of nesting animals
the stars were bright my heart was dark
I wanted to see where you'd gone.

You loved me better than a parent could
forgave me my stumbling, my many mistakes
you made me believe that God was with us
and now I have broken your heart.

They found me hiding in shadow
watching as they tortured and teased
a girl betrayed me to their leaders
and I betrayed you before them all.

I cannot escape what I have done
over and over denial from my lips
and you would still welcome me back
and forgive before I even asked.

That night in the olive grove
I lost my faith and gained it back
fear, denial, rage and hurt
were but a blink of an eye to love.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Transfiguration Sunday

Six days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." Matthew 17:1-9

Here at St. Peter's we held a Together Sunday today. The Sunday School children joined us for the whole service, and the music was familiar and easy to sing. I struggled with how to talk to small children about the Transfiguration. It is not a simple story to preach. I finally found some glow in the dark butterflies and hid them all over the church with various people. At the sermon time we talk about how someone can seem one way and their real beauty can surprise us. Much like a butterfly. The children then ran around the church to find the hidden butterflies revealed.

Jesus went up the mountain to pray and was transfigured before his disciples. They saw his true nature, in all his radiance and beauty. This moment helped them to make it through the days to come. They saw him among the luminaries of the faith and understood his intimate relationship with God. But if we only take that vision away, we can miss part of the story. The part that tells us that we are all intimately connected to God, beloved children who are looked on with eyes of wonder and love. Sometimes we might think our beauty and love is hidden but if we truly seek it God will reveal it to us.

Today I ask God to help me see the beauty within me and around me. May we take the time to seek God today and ask for theat insight, that vision that we can hang onto, which will take us through the days ahead.

The Collect

O God, who before the passion of your only ­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Grain of Wheat

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor." John 12:20-26

There is something about late February and early March. I think a lot about planting a garden, even in those times when I know I won't be able to. I ache to get my hands in the soil, to engage the mysterious and wondrous process of caring for seeds and soil and waiting for the earth to be transformed. Burying seeds deep or shallow, depending on the plant, watering, weeding and watching - these are things that signal the fullness and promise of life.

Jesus was sought out by foreigners who wanted to meet him. He used it as an opportunity to teach. I am sure there was a question about the meeting and Jesus used it as a moment to deepen their understanding. He asked them to imagine a grain of wheat which is most alive if it dies. Wanting us all to know that he was to die and be resurrected, he told them this story. But he also told them this story for another reason. We must be ready, throughout our lives, to give up the husks, the identities we cling to, in order to make life and love thrive again. We must be willing to let go so that love can flood the world again.

Today I ask God to help me let go of my husks and shells. May we not hide it what has been but seek the transformation and change of our loving Creator. May we go to the ground to be born anew, so that the world might know God's love as we offer our all.