Sunday, August 31, 2014

Take Up Your Cross

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
"For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Matthew 16:21-28

Take Up Your Cross

Today my faults seem to great
keep me from going out the door
I am flawed and embarrassed
I cannot longer bear this alone.

Once we seemed perfect and brilliant
now we are aged and wiser some
clearer in sight of our limitations
genuinely aware of the broken bits.

We are called to pick up the mess
following where he leads us
promising that we will not be alone
surrounded by others with great shame.

And we can revel in going out together
a broken mass of people loved beyond the faults
cherished as perfect, beloved and wanted
as we struggle through the world of need.

We will be made strong for the journey
given companions on our various ways
we will rest in the arms of a loving God
and our burdens will be lighter each day.

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Light of the World

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf." Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:12-20 (NRSV)

The light here is Helena is different from my East Coast homes, and different also from our time in Sitka. The light at day's end is is fierce and intense across the big sky and big mountains here. The light in the evening is mottled and filtered through deep green trees in my mother's back yard. The light in Sitka was most often soft and shadowy due to low clouds and damp air. Light is different everywhere and yet so necessary to us all.

Jesus is in the midst of a holy festival and on the hot seat. He could have walked away but instead he told the truth of who he was. He knew shedding light on it would make him many enemies among the religious leadership. It would upset the comfortable and the safe. The light of the world was offering to them new life, new hope and reconciliation, and they coveted their comfort more than their healing. We are invited today to let go of our comforts and head into the light. 

Today I ask God to help me explore this new world with an open heart and an open mind. May we all be ready to see the light of the world and be changed forever. May we let go of comforts so that love's light might pour into our hearts today.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Anyone Who is Thirsty

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, "This is really the prophet." Others said, "This is the Messiah." But some asked, "Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?" So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not arrest him?" The police answered, "Never has anyone spoken like this!" Then the Pharisees replied, "Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law - they are accursed." Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?" They replied, "Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee." John 7:37-52


The brown earth brittle and dry
the late August sun unrelenting
high above sea level humidity
I sigh for thirst and need.

He was unwanted and unexpected
drawn forth for renewal of the world
to a dry, arid land of shriveled hopes
to people who shunned the least.

Their rivers had run dry from abuse
their faith was shallow due to disuse
their songs died in their arid throats
their criticism like banners flung wide.

He arrived for all who would admit
to need, ache and sheer isolation
his tools were simple love and faith
his life given for our restoration.

Let us be those who set aside greed and pride
who revel in our humility and our need
let us draw close to the one from Galilee
where came the healing of the world.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Living the Vision

Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon's house and were standing by the gate. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them." So Peter went down to the men and said, "I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?" They answered, "Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say." So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging.
The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. On Peter's arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, "Stand up; I am only a mortal." And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, "You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?"
Cornelius replied, "Four days ago at this very hour, at three o'clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. He said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.' Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say." Acts 10:17-33 

Today I begin a new ministry here in Montana. I will be encouraging and developing ministry and leadership among Native peoples. This is a vision given long ago and now finally becoming a reality. Visions don't often give us the instructions for daily life and structures. They inspire us to follow where God is calling us and go where we are sent.

Peter had an amazing vision that told him that, despite all his religious training, there was no one he should call profane or unclean. There was no one outside the reach of God's embrace. His vision gave him the courage to go where he was called and to do what was asked of him. Despite his training and cultural upbringing he was ready to move across all barriers and boundaries. His vision gave him the courage and the change of heart he needed. We are invited today to remember this dreams and visions God has placed on our hearts, and to know these visions from God as the strength and power to move forward day by day.

Today I ask God to help me live into the vision and be a faithful follower and servant where I have been called. May we all take our callings one step at a time and rejoice in the visions we have been given today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lord, to Whom Can We Go?

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father."
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil." He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:60-71 

It has been a season of ups and downs of stops and starts, with a few breakdowns mixed in for good measure. It can be easy to want to run away and hide, curl up in a ball,basically finding someway to avoid any more trouble or challenges. But life is full of blessings and challenges and if we hide away or run, we miss the blessings that are so often hidden among the dark clouds.

The disciples are hearing and living the challenges of following Jesus. Some grumbled and complained and some turned back. Yes, they missed the challenges and the pain that was to come, but they also missed the miracles and the splendid joy of walking with God. To walk the road of God incarnate means to encounter the rough streets and pains the world dishes out, trusting that there is more than calamity, more than a cross even, in the days to come.

Today I ask God to help me cease complaining and embrace the many gifts and blessings before me. May we who follow the living God, find time to notice and rejoice in all the blessings we have before us today.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Under the Fig Tree Again

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." John 1:43-51 

Under the Fig Tree Again

I will find you under the fig tree
hiding from the heat of day
I will bring you cooling water
and help you to begin again.

You aren't perfect nor alone
an honest heart though broken
I will bring you healing balm
and tend the wounds the world gives.

I will seek you in dark night
when the clouds have gathered
round your head and dreams horrify
I will wake you with a gentle dawn.

I have chosen to walk with you
on this earth so broken and abused
I have chosen to walk withoutcasts
eating meals with enemies and sinners.

I will find you and bring you back
to a place you will call home
I will help you smile and laugh again
cuddling your children to your side.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Keys of The Kingdom

When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20

We have a clutch of keys for our new home and boxes and bins everywhere. Given the keys does not mean one has learn to inhabit it. It takes time and effort to settle in and make it one's own, one's home. Having the keys is just the beginning. Having the keys makes us responsible for so much and for so many. There is always too much to do, but seems like there is never enough time. Indwelling, belonging, settling in takes time. We will linger here until time enough has passed to walk through hallways in the dark and know it like our own skin.

Peter is told by Jesus that he will be given the keys of the kingdom. And yet we know that Peter has a rough time living into the roll of rock on which the church will be built. This moment of promise is followed by miraculous and difficult days, days of following, leading and falling. He will find his way, and embody the leadership and faith that was promised. But the keys are just a symbol, and it take times for all of us to live into our faith and our roles, our place in God's realm.

Today, I ask God to help me be patient with the challenges new keys present. May we revel in the blessings and gifts we have been given, as we grow into our new roles and callings. May God give us strength for today and courage for tomorrow.

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bread of Life

Jesus said, "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day."  John 6:27-40 

Bread of Life

O Lord please help me with the  needs
for today and each day forward
I am broken by this hunger
for love and life that does not die.

We are bent with age and worry
tilling this rocky uneven ground
we will plant and water here
asking that love take root here.

May we have a bit of bread
a kind word and a sweet smile
all the best blessings of the day
seasoned with the laughter of children.

May we feast on humble joys
here on this rock where we're fixed
may we nurture the weak and fledgling
and never tire in prayer.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Other Side

When evening came, Jesus' disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal."John 6:16-27 

It has been a very full day in a very full set of weeks. We have spent time packing up our belongings and setting out on the road to our new home. Every trip is a challenge and an adventure and every move seems a little more complicated and frustrating. We are only a few hours from our new place but have to sojourn while we wait for a car repair. Sometimes the little, perishable things of life can seem as great sign or curse from on high.

The people who were following Jesus were confused and confounded when he showed up where they did not expect him. His disciples were in awe of his ability to ignore physics and get where he needed to go. The rest of us mortals would love to be able to get around gravity and time. We are invited today to not get bogged down by the physical challenges of living, but rather seek God in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life. 

At the end of a very long day I give thanks to God for one day of safe travel and ask for continued guidance and protection on the road. May we not be so anxious about getting to the other side, rather embrace the love and blessings we have on our way.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Draw Water with Rejoicing

Surely, it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say,  Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 12:2-6

Draw Water With Rejoicing

Daughters there is nothing we can do
except what the day requires
draw water, wash our faces and hands
and turn our eyes and hearts to God.

This troubled earth scattered with broken hearts
we did not make it and only God can redeem
we can swaddled our young and sing outloud
and make each melody and whisper our prayer.

The sun comes up welcome slowly stretching light
we rise up and face the day with the night's tears
the burdens we bear inhabit our dreams
and the light has comes to dry it all away.

Let us draw water and make our teas
dance as the day is long
rejoice despite our constant fears
for the Divine dwells with us.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dogs and Lost Sheep

 Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28

We had a wonderful border collie that my parents adopted while I was in high school. She lived a long time. We had two children by the time Penny passed. All during her life she was herding us everywhere we went. Out for a walk she would push and nudge me to the edge of the road. She would round up the children and not let them stray. We had to stay in tight formation is she was to be made happy. Her love and energy was boundless. These lost and wandering sheep needed her much more than she needed us.

A foreign woman pesters Jesus for the sake of her child. At first, he refuses her claiming his mission was simply to the lost sheep of Israel. But her faith and dogged persistence changed his mind. Her tenacity saved not only her child's life but changed the mission. The interconnectedness of us all became real and substantial in Jesus' ministry. No one gets left out for any reason. And we often need the herding dogs as much as the shepherd. We are interdependent, interwoven and all a part of God's reign here on earth.

Today I ask God to help me be ever more open and inclusive. In changes and transitions we can close down in self-protection but may we open our hearts to those around us and welcome all. May this be a day when those we encounter know that we have been touched and changed by love.

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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Do You Want to Be Made Well

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids - blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me." Jesus said to him, "Stand up, take your mat and walk." At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, "It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat." But he answered them, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Take up your mat and walk.'" They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take it up and walk’?" Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
But Jesus answered them, "My Father is still working, and I also am working." For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. John 5:1-18 

We closed on our new house yesterday. It has been nine years since we have been in a home of our own, a long awaited healing to being in storage all over. When one waits for something so long, it can be hard to embrace the healing when it happens. So used to being broken or scattered, it takes a few moments to realize the miracle.

Jesus found a man who had waited years to dip in the pool. His healing was at hand but he did not realize it. Jesus put his waiting to an end. He told him to get up and take up his bed. The waiting was over. I imagine his surprise and shock, his joy and puzzlement. I imagine he was overwhelmed and speechless, stunned and grateful for such a long awaited miracle.

Today I ask God to help me embrace every miracle, every forward step, every moment of love's blessings. May we all be grateful for the small miracles and gifts we encounter every day. May this be the day when waiting is over and we take up our bed and walk.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Oh Woman

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John”—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized—he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he 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.” John 4:1-26 

Oh Woman

Carrying the water, carrying the race
despised, rejected and yet clear sighted
God's redemption and love sat with you
oh woman you are surely blessed.

Oh Woman you have been thirsty
oh woman you have been so hurt
oh woman you have been abused and derided
but you have never been abandoned.

Carrying the story the first apostle
the estranged, the enemy heard first
God's love come down to earth
the story told by a very human woman.

Oh Woman you have been thirsty
oh woman you have been so hurt
oh woman you have been abused and derided
but you have never been abandoned.

The desert blooms with living water
she will not lose hope but thrive
the end of the darkest night is done
and the morning heralds new life.

Oh Woman you have been thirsty
oh woman you have been so hurt
oh woman you have been abused and derided
but you have never been abandoned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lord, When?

Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, `Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, `You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:31-46

We sat yesterday in the large room that houses physical therapy and watched my Mom work at regaining her strength. Her arm and leg muscles are returning but her hands are still working at grasping, opening and closing. As I watched, I couldn't help but think of all the meals she cooked with those hands. She fed her family yes, but she also spent more than 20 years cooking a weekly meal for poor children. She reveled in this ministry and hugged and cherished each of those children with these now weakened limbs.She was love and strength to those little ones. And even now, in her weakened condition, I saw the light in her eyes, the light that reveals the fight to regain strength again in order to hug her family,  her grandchildren, and any person that might need her love.

Jesus reminded the disciples about what really counts in this world. He told them that the present and permanent blessings come from seeing the need around us and responding to it. When we serve those around us we serve God. Our actions do not save us, but they can bless us abundantly. We are invited today to open our eyes to the need around us, and to respond to the least as if we can see the face of God in each and every one.

Today I ask God to help me to see. Help us all to see the poverty, imprisonment and pain that is right here in our midst. May we not wait for an invitation but rush to serve the people right her among us knowing God is with them and is inviting us to join them today.

Monday, August 11, 2014

God So Loved

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but 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. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 3:16-21 

God So Loved
Of course it didn't start with me
child though I could not help myself
loving you came from my very core
implanted by the Creator's breath.

We did not fashion love alone
although we might think ourselves
ignorant Columbuses on new oceans
discovering what is ancient and divine.

From the very beginning before we understood
love ached and overflowed every barrier
swelling all the famished lands and people
making new again the whole creation.

We walk a world we barely know
and yet we are intimately known
despite our foolishness and creulty
God so loved the world for us.

Hanging moon and stars was no feat for love
divine desire created beauty beyond imagining
despite our need to destroy and conquer
love broke through our bitter darkness.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Walking On Water

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."
Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." Matthew 14:22-33

I have always been troubled by how few people learn to swim. When we lived in Sitka, I was told there were so many deaths from drowning that every child has to learn to swim to graduate. I was told by an old fisherman friend that many of those who spend their lives fishing never learn to swim. And an friend who spend a good deal of time sailing told me at least half of the sailors he knows do not know how to swim. Their reasoning is they don't want to prolong the inevitable.

The disciples, who are seasoned fishermen, who have spent their lives on the water, are terrified and at wits end. The wind and the seas that surround them have them fearing for their lives. When Jesus comes to them on the water, they are afraid even more. Peter tries to be brave but still needs Jesus' help. The truth today is we all need God's help and we all come to the end of our capacity to deal with life's storms. God comes to us in the midst of the worst times, in our tumult and failure, our terror and our disaster and bring us resolution and peace.

Today I ask God to help me trust that there will always be a hand in every storm, God's strong arm to lift me when the seas of life are too rough. May we know when we run out of options, God is still ready with more.


The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone. John 2:13-25 


There are times in life
where we need to overturn
the tables and the money changers
getting rid of senseless consuming.

We are so easily won by ads
bright and colorful things we need
happiness to be found in a purchase
all still hollow inside.

It is time to rattle the shelves
to let it all fall down and break
to let go of the idols and products
to make room for the love of God.

That which is love is freely given
comes unbidden without price
we may miss for all the baubles
that distracts us in the sunlight.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Under the Fig Tree

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." John 1:43-51 

Under the Fig Tree 

The big wide leaves shaded me
The fierce sun subsiding
I took my rest and dreamed
like a small nestled child.

The light filtered through
gently waking me with hope
I reached up and ate my fill
sated and happy to be alive.

Under the fig tree I knew
myself completely alone
singing without restraint
a moment of heaven on earth.

All delight and joy
were my companions then
possibilities seemed endless
and hope returned to my heart.

The stranger later told me
he knew me under the tree
he knew me like the child I am
the man that I have become.

The stranger embraced my foolishness
my simplicity and my soul
and told me God is not far off
but lingering under the fig tree.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


About eight days after Jesus had foretold his death and resurrection, Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. Luke 9:28-36

In our conversations and readings, I have been struck over and over by the commonality among Native people concerning visions. Whether it is a Lakota vision quest, or a dream experience, visions are elemental to the spirit and lives of tribal people. They teach us our relationship to the Divine and often give us direction and understanding. They are often very personal and life changing. Even the most rational among us has respect for the visions of others, knowing them to be an intimate communication from God.

Jesus is beginning his final days on earth and takes a few dear friends with him up the mountain to pray. He prayed while his friends kept him company. What began as a time to steel himself for the journey ahead became of gift of vision for his disciples. They had a glimpse of the intimate relationship between Jesus and the ancestors, a holy vision of God's living presence among them. They were frightened, awkward and changed forever. God invites us to daily seek new understandings of our relationship to God, to hold fast to the visions we have of God's love for us and the Creator's nearness to us.

Today I ask God for insight and patience, sight and wisdom for the day. May we enter all that we do today with an open mind and an expectation that God will be revealed in our midst and we will have strength for the journey ahead.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing .John 1:19-28 

I am in Oklahoma City, here to collaborate with amazing Native scholars on a book of Indigenous Theology. I am thrilled by the opportunity and scared at the same time. There is much I want to get right and much I want to learn from others. None of us is the expert, and we will work together to develop common themes and directions. We are gathered, as it were, in a wilderness of thoughts and ideas, a place and time with much resources and abundance. I want to help make a path to understanding the heart of God together with these people. And it seems an impossible task.

John was baptizing, and inviting people to turn their hearts to God and neighbor. He did not claim to be the one, or the only way to God. He was doing his part to prepare people for the arrival of Jesus. He was helping them be ready for an intimate encounter with the living God, one who is not bound by cultures and rules, but rather is bound only by love and life. Each of us are invited by John to prepare the way, since God is daily coming close to us, renewing us in every encounter.

Today, as the sun sets in this ancient place, I ask God to help me walk and live with an open heart. May our spirits listen for the harmony from the heart of God. May we ever invite others to a closer walk with the Divine, in the midst of every wilderness and new place.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. John 1:1-18 

We had the joy of spending time with our granddaughter over the weekend. Lilly is three and full of life. She laughs big, runs fast and is not shy nor without an opinion. All the months we were in Alaska, we enjoyed talking to her on the phone and sometimes over Skype. But to have her in the flesh, with us, sound asleep and wide awake - that is something all together different. When love is spoken about it is one thing. When love sits down next to you and wipes their hands on you, well, that is something completely different and completely real.

John's Gospel begins with the wondrous poetry of word made flesh. God, once far away, and in the written and spoken word, now is real, tangible and even possibly messy. God is with us, incarnate and in the midst of our troubles and adversities. God is living in our customs and our practices. God is here in our awkward moments and our graceful times. God inhabits young and old alike, men and women also. For every circumstance, every challenge, every victory and every faialing, God is here with us.

Today I ask God's presence in a real and abiding way. The challenges ahead are many and the road seems so crooked and lonely. May we invite God to inhabit the messy spaces with us and trust that God made flesh is with us all today.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

They Need Not Go Away

Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves." Jesus said to them, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." They replied, "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish." And he said, "Bring them here to me." Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:13-21

They Need Not Go Away

Radical hospitality is a glass of water
a broken loaf shared all around
a little child's laughter lighting up
the weary and the needy in the night.

The hospital halls reek of loneliness
the bedridden and the lonely alike
a smile, a touch and moment share
would change the course of history.

They need not go away from this land
there is plenty here for the whole crowd
do not shun them nor send them home alone
for they have harvested the fields already.

We cannot do without the ones
who God loves with fierce compassion
we cannot set our tables today without
making room for those who show us God.


The Collect

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