Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Your Sins Are Forgiven

Once, when Jesus was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean." Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do choose. Be made clean." Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. "Go," he said, "and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them." But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, "Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Stand up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" - he said to the one who was paralyzed - "I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home." Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today." Luke 5:12-26 

As someone who has lived through not being able to walk, and has spent time confined to bed, I can testify to the desire to rise, be healed and be among normal people.  We do not want to have to be helped with every small function of life. We ache for independence when we are so completely dependent. We covet other people's abilities to do normal things and care for themselves. We can even get to the point of resenting those who help us because of our great need and their seemingly carefree living.

Jesus encounters a man who was dropped through the ceiling by his friends. So much love! They carried him across a crowded city and found their way to Jesus, letting not even a roof get in their way. And Jesus takes pity on the man and heals him, both of his physical ailments and his broken spirit. The religious leaders were stunned by all of this and wanted to stir up trouble. Instead Jesus sent the man home, completely healed, completely free. The man was forever grateful to God. So we are invited to remember all the broken places God has made whole, and to be grateful this day for our independence and our capacity to love.

Today I ask God to give me the courage to be grateful for all that I have received. May we be grateful today for the care and kindness of friends, family and strangers when we have been in need. And may we show our gratitude by sharing what we have been given with others.

Monday, September 29, 2014


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 1:47-51


I dream of heavenly visitors
dressed in simple clothes
suits of seersucker and linen
coming to collect the lost.

In dreams they know my name
and call me from the crowd
bringing comfort and home
in a fraught and worried setting.

When fear rises and betrayal begins
they come to calm the fevered brow
they simply visit to remind us of love
beyond time and our mortal frames.

Where there has been deep sorrow
they weep with us but do not linger
an out stretched hand beckons us
beyond the limits of our age.

We mortal fall asleep to awaken
the immortal love and light
renewing our mornings with hope
giving us courage to persevere.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

God's Wonder and Authority

When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, `From heaven,' he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?' But if we say, `Of human origin,' we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
"What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, `I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him."  Matthew 21:23-32

Arriving home after nearly 24 hours in transit was both joyful and exhausting. All of the wonders that we saw and the wonderful people we met keep passing through my mind. How do I honor those with whom we met, and how do we move forward from here? God always brings us to places and to people who change us. Our experiences made us go a new direction. We are meant to pay attention and to listen to these moments in our lives, seeking God within each of them.

The people in the temple hearing Jesus were not willing to be changed. They sought to undermine Christ's authority or disenfranchise him. They were not going to hear him with an open heart. God calls us today to live with an open heart. Each wondrous encounter in our lives comes with sacred opportunity. By the heart of God we are broken open anew to be remade by God's authority and power. The invitation today is to always be made new by God.

Today I ask God to help me be made anew. As we come home and settle in may we not forget the gifts we have been given. May we always be open to God's transforming love and power.

The Collect
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wash One Another's Feet

 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:12-17

We spent the morning on Thursday touring the Hiroshima museum and the peace garden. One little boy, probably 9 or 10 buried his face in his friend's backpack to hide his tears. It was overwhelming to see what anger and war can reduce people to - to violence and destruction beyond understanding. I was profoundly moved, and the tears came over and over again. The folks who are leading us around and caring for us are so kind and attentive. Despite all they have suffered, they are living lives of service and peace. A remarkable witness.

Jesus, at a most fragile time in his life, on the eve of his own destruction, washes his disciples' feet. He sets this as a model for them and for all of us, to act as servants to one another, to lead lives worthy of God by serving others. Our anger, violence and selfishness are not of God. And reaching down and caring for others is.

Today, I ask God to help me be truly humble and move to serve others at all times. May we be broken open anew, with hearts that ache for peace. May we bring God's peace and love by offering up our arrogance to the service of others. May we follow Christ by being servants to all we encounter today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


 ‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’
 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’Luke 8:16-21

Listening in Hiroshima

Today we walk amidst memories
children and parents vanished
powerless victims of the poweful
suffering the abuse of the innocent.

We must listen with our eyes and ears
leaning in with our hearts open
the broken hearts of lost generations
crying out for peace.

Paper cranes bright reminders
once laughing children stolen
taken from this fragile earth
by the angry thoughtless bomb.

We must listen with our eyes and ears
leaning in with our hearts open
the broken hearts of lost generations
crying out for peace.

We will be forever changed by today
a small broken piece carried away
an icon of human's selfish folly
God ache in every heart for peace.

We must listen with our eyes and ears
leaning in with our hearts open
the broken hearts of lost generations
crying out for peace.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.”
 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”
 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up,    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13

Today we travel from China to Japan. The House of Bishops Meeting concluded last night with a big meal and celebration. We have all been changed by our experiences here. The generosity and hospitality has been amazing. Our Night Market tour guides, Michael and Anna came to bid us farewell and to give a gift. They were so kind and helpful. And Lily, who is a priest in this Diocese came today to take me to the fabric mart. We had a great time, laughing together and looking at material. They have instilled us with a new thankfulness and gratitude. When I am tempted in the coming days to be discouraged, I will remember all their kindnesses.

Jesus has a holy time away from everyone and wrestled with temptation. It was real and embodied, taunting him and poking at his human weakness. He must have been hungry, tired and lonely, struggling with the next steps of his ministry. Maybe he was tempted to be selfish or take an easier road. In his temptations, we see ourselves, and know how often we have given in, and ignored God's call and direction. But God is always ready to send us angels, to lift us from the peaks of temptation and loneliness, so that we might, with gratitude, serve others.

Today I ask fro traveling mercies and guardians angels. May we all recognize our times in the desert and lean on God who will see us through. May our eyes be opened to the blessings and kindnesses around us and may we live every day with great gratitude for the love we receive daily from God.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Filled with Expectation

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’  So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’Luke 3:15-22 

Filled with Expectation

The people gathered round
held their breath is expectation
hoping God would be revelaed
and love them as they are.

These simple folk who suffered much
saw hope dawning in their lives
walked down to the water
they were not disappointed.

The sound of God's voice
the presence of a snow white dove
the hair rising on every arm
love has come into the world.

Incarnate, and very human
love mingled with the least
the broken and the lost
shared the same bowl with God.

In every generation we are filled
with hope and expectation
and let the hurts we suffer
be signs of God's indifference.

God in here with us
rising from the water's banks
deeply embedded with us
in our world of dust and shame.

God is living with us
drawing us from our sinking
pulling us through the surf
to new life under this sun.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Desiring Mercy

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew 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 the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard this, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."Matthew 9:9-13

Desiring Mercy

Obviously at fault and completely broken
sitting in the booth of shame
we are called despite our shattered lives
we are beckoned here by God.

Divine mercy breaking through
light piercing the deepest gloom
our storms an invitation for mercy
the holy at out table to linger and abide.

We know our faults, our scars, our limits
none the less God would have us now
broken fragile servants loving a wounded world
God's mercy flowing through cracked vessels.

We who would be disciples most human
must be daily forgiven daily mended
fragile and completely foolishly human
God desires mercy for us all.

Laborers for the Vineyard

Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, `You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o'clock, he did the same. And about five o'clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, `Why are you standing here idle all day?' They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, `You also go into the vineyard.' When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, `Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.' When those hired about five o'clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:1-16

 It has been a wonderful and full day here in Taipei. I was blessed to attend the cathedral with other bishops and to enjoy the incredible warmth and welcome of the people. Bishop David Lai presided and Presiding Bishop Katharine preached. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a good deal more about the church here. We learn about the challenges they ha ve and how they thrive despite of those challenges, being a tiny minority in this country and often rejected by family for being Christian.

God invites us to be laborers in the field, despite the challenges we might experience. We might be
torn up by the cost of following Christ or we may be reluctant because of the hardships. We are called to accept the wages we have been given and get on with serving others from the heart of God. The people here have demonstrated that despite the challenges, God is always providing more than enough and joy overflowing.

Today as our day comes to a close I ask God to help make me ready for the tasks ahead with joy. May we not worry about the cost nor the pay, but readily run to the place where we are called,  amongst the people, ready to labor for others. May we be known by God's love and joy where ever we go.

The Collect
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Take Up Your Cross

 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘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, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ Mark 8:34-38

Take Up Your Cross

I did not understand your burden
a minority among your people
cautious, loving and inviting
always respectful often misunderstood.

This cross you carry for God
a deep love for the people
a heart that would bear the heavy load
of living beyond these bounds.

Serene in the face of misunderstanding
you make these pilgrims glad
we come so far with such ease
because you carried us along the way.

You offered your life and your time
committing all with hope and joy
this road we trod together is light
you make us sing as we toil along.

God in the stranger in misted darkness
a holy land of radical welcome
may we lean in and learn from you
you who have suffered so all can live.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’Matthew 8:23-27

As we are gathered here in Taiwan, we found out that we are in the possible path of a typhoon. Anyone who has spent time near the ocean knows the threat this time of year of severe storms. It is that season and the storm that might come this way is not supposed to be too dangerous, but it reminds us how fragile life is and how easily storms arise.

Jesus was asleep and his disciples were in full fledged panic. The winds and the waves were swamping the boat and they thought themselves to dying. They were skilled fishermen and sailors, so they must have known this to be a very dangerous storm. They called out and Jesus calmed the wind and the waves. We often rely on ourselves and our perceptions of the storms of life until things are beyond our control and understanding. Jesus stayed with them despite their fear and stays with us in our worst storms. We are never alone facing the worst, no matter what we see or feeel.

Today I ask God to help me to rely on Christ alone and not on my own understanding. May we know as the storms increase we are never alone in the wind and the waves. May we find ourselves embedded in the heart of God as we wait out the worst and rejoice in the one who controls even the wind and the waves.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Treasure Hidden in a Field

Jesus said to his disciples, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
"Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." Matthew 13:44-52

Over the past few days we have learned a great deal about tea. Our wonderful host, Bishop David Lai, is an expert on tea. Calling him an expert is probably short changing him. He has found a great treasure in tea, in the hospitality and tranquility it provides when shared with others. He has plumbed the depths of the spirituality that surrounds the preparing of tea, the true gift of humbly sharing and finding subtle and powerful beauty in the varieties of tea.

Jesus reminds us how we find joy. We set aside our usual limitations and follow after that which brings us joy. We find our joy and our bliss by embracing and honoring the treasures we have been given. The blessings we have are to be cultivated, honored, welcomed and pried. It is how God acts towards us and how we are to act towards others.

Today I ask God for renewed strength to seek the joy that is to be found today. May we delight in the blessings we have been given and act as God does towards us - embracing and enfolding the joy we have been given, sharing it with others, spreading blessing all around.

Tuesday, September 16, 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 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. 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 judgement, 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

Strange exotic beautiful night
a city bustling lights and energy
ancient and modern intertwined
for whom God loved so mcuh.
Struggling with language and  time
soothed by tea and true patience
lifted by joyful conversation and song
the holy presence in each gathering.
The Divine walks these streets
we will learn from them as we let go
our shallow knowledge will deepen
as we are the stranger and the fool.
God so loved the world 
here too is where he came and died
offering love when evil rose
and gentle kindness while oppressed.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Taipei, Day One

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?’ Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him. Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’John 11:55-12:8

I wake up and it is Tuesday morning here in Taipei. When we arrived last night we were both overwhelmed by the damp heat and the sweet welcome we were given. Our needs were attended to with kindness and an awareness of our exhaustion and that we were clueless. The young woman bellhop told me of wonderful markets to go to in perfect English. I admit I don't remember her advice but will seek her out again for her direction. Here, I am completely reliant on the skill of others. I have to accept their kindnesses and be grateful for all of their help. I cannot do anything on my own here, and must accept my limitations and others blessings with an open and loving heart.

Jesus finds himself back in Bethany. He is greeted with a banquet and such incredible tenderness from Mary. She anoints his feet with expensive perfume, wiping his feet with her hair and filling the house and everyone's lungs with the wondrous sweet fragrance. She is criticized by the greedy but Jesus understands her offering. She offers what she has for love of another, for the care and honoring of another. We are asked by God not to count the cost of the kindnesses and honors we receive but to know the sweetness of the heart that offers them. We rely on the care of others, even when we think we stand alone, and we are called to be grateful for the small (and large) blessings we receive.

Today I ask God for complete gratitude. May the exhaustion and fears that can surround us be wiped away by gratitude and love. May we be grateful for need and even more for the people who help us navigate when we are lost and in a new place. May our hearts be ever thankful for the blessings we receive today.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

More Than

We know that all things work together for good* for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.* And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.  What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.* Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:23-30

More Than

Today a big airplane across an ocean
feeling like a small child in a big arena
Sitting over ice and shivering in the heat
we are more than our limits or our fears.

I see their faces wherever I go
my bright beautiful shining daughters
they always remind me that despite it all
we are more than those who would crush us.

No one understands the burden we bear
our smiles hide the hurt and violent ignorance
that has long shadowed us  and our people
and yet we rise to say we are even more than.

The Creator breathes breath into our hearts
and teaches us the rythym of the sweet earth
we are made of stars and the prairie grasses
formed of clay and sand and more.

The heart of God beats with us and within
we are never alone in the city or forest
they sing those who have gone before
remember that you are more.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Unbind Them and Let Them Go

Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:30-44 

In this complicated transition process, of moving to a new home and a collection of new jobs, it is easy to set expectations too high and to get hurt when things don't go smoothly. I feel pushed from all sides. We often put way too many expectations on ourselves and on the ones we love. Maybe this behavior began as children, but I often need to remember to let go, to unbind the expectations, and live within today.

Jesus comes to revive his dear friend Lazarus, and it met with complaint and criticism. He didn't get there soon enough, he wasn't God enough to resurrect Lazarus - all over folks were speaking of his miserable failure. He even had to persuade the disciples to roll away the stone. Despite it all, he was empowered by God to bring his friend forth, and he asks them to let him go, to unbind him. Our humanity often gets in the way of our Godly gifts, and we are invited today to let go of our human expectations and set our hearts to beat in rhythm with God's heart.

Today I ask God to help me unbind the people and expectations I have put too much pressure on. May we turn our hearts to listen to where God is calling us and to let go of the unreasonable and binding expectations we have. May our lives be signs of God's presence, as we trust completely in the possibility of new life. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rise Up

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. John 11:17-29 

Rise Up

The dark water seems all around
swallowing all hope and breath
sometimes we want to give into the pull
exhausted and let go to be enfolded forever.

There is also buoyancy built in us
a lifting gentle constant reminder
softly we can lay on the surface like a bed
and be rocked to sleep in the waves.

Some days and seasons we are overcome
the undertow is fierce and cruelly laughing
we fight so hard to stay barely afloat
night and day seem so much alike.

There is life after this storm too remember
you who would let the dying happen
you who would turn and way with shame
to blame the ones who did not cause it.

This storm will end and life's ocean always gives
love and life to those who are willing to wade in deep
to struggle in the tumult and the waves to cling
to the love of God in darkness and in light.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waking Lazarus

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this Jesus said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them." After saying this, he told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right." Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." John 11:1-16 

Sometimes the hardest thing to do in the church is to be bold in the face of criticism and attack. We want to please  others and make people like us. We want support and consensus before we step out and we feel righteous when everyone agrees with us. But anyone who has spent time in ministry knows that we are often in the uncomfortable place of having to tell truth to power, having to be bold in the face of criticism. Faith is not always comfortable and being a disci0ple demands we sometimes walk alone.

Lazarus was dying and he was Jesus' good friend. The foment against Jesus was high and death threats were everywhere. The disciples knew it was unsafe for Jesus to go to Lazarus, but he went anyway, although he would arrive too late, some might think. He modeled a fearlessness in the face of criticism and threats of physical harm. Love goes where it must despite public opinion and public appreciation. Love is often counter-cultural and unpopular. God has no desire for us to fit in, but to help transform the world while we are able.

Today I ask God to help me do my part. Let us not be afraid of public scorn or humiliation but rather rise to the needs of the least among us. May we be known for how we love and how we carry God's love and healing into this needy world today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Taking Up Stones

The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God." Jesus answered, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods'? If those to whom the word of God came were called 'gods' - and the scripture cannot be annulled - can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, 'I am God's Son'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, "John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there .John 10:31-42 

Taking Up Stones

We can take up stones to skip them
delighting as they dance across the water
or we can take them up in anger's rage
and righteously take a life.

Our hands can embrace another tenderly
as they weep in deep loss and pain
or we can squeeze the life out of someone
whose voice we need to silence now.

As ones called the children of God
baptized into a holy family of love
stardust and ashes are we
capable of creation and destruction.

May today be the day we take up stones
to make the heavily burdened dance again
using our hands for tenderness and blessing
finding hope again in the dimming light.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I Am There

Jesus said, "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." Matthew 18:15-20

The seven of us who have come here to Texas, have been constantly challenged to figure out how to use the materials we are being shown. The richest part of our time together has been our time together, laughing and wondering out loud how we can help our people in our various communities. I believe,the joy and challenges we share will become the place where we find where God is leading us. I expect we will find Christ in our midst as we call out together in prayer, right here where we struggle to serve.

Jesus teaches the people how to be community, how to resolve the conflicts among them. And he invites us to imagine even those who have wounded us and who will not cooperate, are to be loved as Jesus loved the outcasts and ate with them. He also promises that when we are together, when we are committed to one another and to God, he will be right there with us all.

Today I ask God to help us hold one another anticipating Divine presence and Divine direction. May we labor and love together, expecting that God will bless our work with presence and direction, so that we might bring love incarnate to the world.

The Collect
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Good Shepherd

Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away - and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father."John 10:1-18 

Oh Good Shepherd
Here amidst the herd I stand
wondering if there is a way
to rescue this little lamb
to be enfolded is the shepherd's arms.

Oh Good Shepherd will you lead us
to cool drinking water and ample shade
to safe shelter for this night
and warm soft light for our sleep?

We might be many together
but we suffer so often alone
not knowing your touch in our pain
your presence in our deepest fears.

Oh let me rely completely on love
love so mysterious endless and unbound
let this moving mass of quaking sheep
trust completely the heart of God.

Oh dear shepherd lead us on
we are timid and yet willing
we are anxious and yet completely yours
ready to follow and be lead today.

Friday, September 5, 2014

One Thing I Know

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." The man answered, "Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him." Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped him. Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains." John 9:18-41 

Today I have the opportunity to collect six other folks who will become our initial trainers for the Bishops' Native Collaborative. This day has been a long time in coming. We have dreamed, planned and imagined for years.  We have prayed and consulted, applied and talked for a very long time. We are committed to training leaders for our Native communities, and helping these leaders to teach and encourage others. This I know, God has called us to this place and I pray that we will all be strengthened and encouraged as we learn together.

A man who was born blind is cured and yet the religious leaders are perplexed and upset. The control they enjoyed was gone. They were confused and angry wanting to understand but more wanting their control back. The once blind man would not get involved in their judgements and arguments, rather he delighted in his healing.  He was thrown out of the temple for his honesty but sought out and encouraged by Jesus. God invites us to not be bound by the past but to embrace the sight we have been given today, trusting that God will seek us out and encourage us every step of the way.

Today I ask for strength for the work ahead. May we delight in the sight and vision we have been given, trusting that God will seek us out and encourage us as we walk in faith. May we walk together in faith today.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hearing the Words of God

Jesus said, "Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God."
The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, 'He is our God,' though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:47-59 

 It seemed that when we were small they were constantly testing our hearing. The doctor would put you in a little booth with a huge headset on and make you raise a hand when you heard a sound. Left for the left and right for the right. As we got older the tests got more sophisticated, but it seemed as if the adults were really concerned about our hearing, both in school and out. I never had hearing problems and yet remember being tested regularly. Maybe the technology was new and everyone wanted to use it.

Jesus was still in the temple arguing with the temple bigwigs. Their lives were orderly and controlled, full of traditional behaviors and appropriate routine. But their hearts were empty and far from God. Anyone of us can fill our time with routine and tradition and fail to hear the heart of God in our lives. Our busy-ness can make us deaf to God, unmoved and unshaken by love, compassion or service. God calls us today to listen and hear, the heart of God, aching for love of the people.

Today I ask God to help me listen. May we all live lives open to God's movement and direction, open to the needs of the people where we are. May God give us all the strength to listen to hear the still small voice of our Creator.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Made Free

They answered Jesus, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father's presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father."
They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does." They said to him, "We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
"Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God." John 8:33-47 

Made Free

We were made free 
but found our chains
our heavy feet of clay 
and our high retaining walls.

We were made free
but shut love outside
keeping all challenges
outside of our vision.

We were made free
with the love of God breathing
life and goodness within us
but we would shut it out.

Sometimes in the deep water
or in the dark of night
the freedom floats in again
and we call it aberration.

We were made free
and we bought our slavery
we bound our hands 
and bent our heads to greed.

Monday, September 1, 2014

David Pendeleton Oakerhater

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.'" Luke 10:1-9

I have been blessed to go to the Whirlwind Mission and to see the place where David Pendleton Oakerhater served. As as prisoner of war, this brilliant Cheyenne man heard the Gospel and became a warrior for God's love. He was ordained a deacon and served out his ministry as a deacon, never being granted the opportunity to be ordained a priest. Despite incredible challenges, he served lovingly, faithfully and without complaint or despair. As a Native person, I take courage from his steadfast faith and service.

Today in our Gospel we hear Jesus sending 70 others out to carry the good news of God's love. They were given little preparation, no direction and no income. And yet they went with joy and shared God's love with those who would hear them, who would welcome them and make room for good news. We can find ourselves in times of great challenge and despair and take heart from these 70 and Deacon David who went with joy and built a legacy for so many of faith and courage.

Today may we be warriors for God's love. May we not look at our lack nor count the cost but rather give our all so that many may know the touch of God's presence and healing. May we our anxiety and go forth with the courage of the saints to share what we have been given.

Collect of the Day: David Pendleton Oakerhater, Deacon and Missionary, 1931
O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, you chose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be your servant, and sent him to be a missionary to his own people, and to exercise the office of a deacon among them: Liberate us, who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to you and to the neighbors you have given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.