Saturday, May 31, 2014

Be Clean



 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” Matthew 7:28-8:4


These days we spend a good deal of time packing and pulling things out from where they are stored. It reveals a lot, especially how much mess is hidden behind closed doors and closed drawers. Our illness or dirt may not be visible, but all of us have it, hidden or revealed. Not one of us get away from the mess of life and the brokenness of being human.

The folks who had leprosy were shunned and reviled, considered dirty and dangerous. They were sent away to live apart from society. Jesus came down from the mountain and immediately healed those who asked for healing. They wanted to be clean, freed from the external and internal scars of their disease. It is what we all want, I believe. Jesus touched them, although no one would have dared, and brought them from near death to new life. He set them free, and we who ask are likewise set free, made clean. God invites us to simply ask for our needs to be met.

I ask God today to help me ask for the healing I need, freedom from the internal and external scars that keep me from living completely. May we all have the courage to ask God for what we need, so that divine love and mercy might be revealed to our world.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Building on the Rock

 
Jesus said, "On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'
"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell - and great was its fall! Matthew 7:22-27
 
Building On The Rock
 
In times of storm and rapid change
when winds blow and rain pours
when turbulence and terror strike
I am building on the rock.
 
Moving away from one home
packing precious and necessary things
when all seems uncertain and wavering
I am building on the rock.
 
From west to east across a continent
from Pacific north rain forest
to middle Atlantic threats of hurricane
I will be building on the rock.
 
In times of change, loss and grief
overcome by storms and tides too high
as all things seem to be sliding away
I will cling to the rock on which I stand.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ascension Day



 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20


Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. Christ took leave of his disciples but not without commissioning them and sending them to do ministry throughout the world. He sent them, before he left, to share God's love with the whole world. Ascension Day reminds me of how often in life we are coming, going and sent. There is always more to do. We have boxes everywhere right now, and all of our belonging are disappearing. It is normal to be overwhelmed by the leave taking and the packing. And yet, there is always more to do, and God is sending us all into the world to teach love and peace.

I have always loved this painting of the Ascension. It is the view from the ground, where we humans dwell. We cannot follow Jesus up to the Father, but we can always be ready for our commissions, our sendings into the world. While our feet are still on the ground, we can venture forth in love, knowing that we are be sent with the blessing of Christ. We are not alone as we go, but rather are accompanied all along the way.

Today I ask God to make me strong during these transitions. May we trust that we are never alone, rather, we are sent, blessed and accompanied by God all along our way. May we rejoice in the knowledge that we are grounded in the heart of God.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Questioning

 
 
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: "What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He said to them, "How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
'The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet"'?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. Matthew 22:41-46
 
It is normal for us to ask questions and a sign of intelligence and curiosity when we do. Sometimes our questions can reveal our anxiety about our present and future. I have lots of questions for God about the next steps in our adventure. It is never easy to be on the brink of a new direction when nothing has been made clear. We can struggle and imagine the worse case scenario and loose sleep over the what ifs. I choose to offer my fears and anxiety in prayer, trusting that God is with me, calling me on.
 
The religious leaders are asking questions to test Jesus. They are not trying to be curious or learn, nor are they admitting to the vulnerability. Instead they are playing games with questions, trying to catch him in falsehood. Instead of playing the game, Jesus offers another question, which in the end silences them. They were not interested in being vulnerable and open to God. Jesus invites us to the place beyond joking and teasing, to a place of real vulnerability and need. The Divine invites us to ask for the real needs we have so that the Creator might be revealed in our lives.
 
Today I ask God to help me ask for the help I need in the days to come. May we not spend time in worry, but rather ask for our needs and those around us. May we trust that God is working in this situation as well as God has been working from the beginning of creation. May we know God as we pray our needs today.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sowing Seeds




Jesus said, "Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." Matthew 13:18-23

It has been one of those days when the usual progression was out of whack and there was no way to put it back. The weather, which has been mild and sunny, turned cool and cloudy again. Trying to pack up and put things ready for the next stages of our lives make things more complicated. We have worked hard over the past months as a church family to replant a community of love and hope, a place where growth can happen because there is good soil and lots of encouragement. It is hard to leave knowing another will have to come and continue. Sowing seeds means sometimes having t let someone else harvest.

Jesus used illustrations that people could understand, that were common things of their daily lives. In this season of rogation  we find ourselves busying ourselves with planting and growing. We pray for enough rain and sun to feed all things well. God invites us to make our prayers as much about our hearts as we do about our food. God invites us in this season to tend our attitudes and relationships so that we might yield the fruit of love.

I ask God to help me always have an open heart and mind to those given into my care. May we live as those who are good soil, always weeding out judgment and anger so love may always grow.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

 
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
Then the disciples came and asked Jesus, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
‘You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.’
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Matthew 13:1-16
 
Understand with Their Hearts and Turn
 
The sun shines through the bright green grass
flags fluttering for the ones who scarified
giving everything for the love of neighbor
for a place to be safely welcomed home.
 
We are called to turn our hearts
to open the way of welcome and love
to bend as grass to the needs of others
knowing God will supply the healing.
 
Our communities may be broken
cracked from abuse and desperation
but new seed is being sown today
and we are being called to grow again.
 
May we be those who are brave enough
to love, forgive and welcome
being rich soil for all sorts of grains
being deep roots for the homeless and hungry.
 
 
 
 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I Will Not Leave You Orphaned

 
Jesus said to his disciples, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them." John 14:15-21
 
 Transitions are certainly difficult. We humans rarely embrace change willingly. We often run from it or get mad. Some of us take it personally and get hurt or hurt others. In reality, change is part of everyday life, and it is something we are invited to embrace. For God has promised to be with us, revealed and present in everything we do. We will not be left alone or orphaned even of the changes we face make us fear for that.
 
Jesus was comforting his disciples in anticipation of his final days. They were not fearful then but they would be. We know that they fell apart and were terrified after the crucifixion. We know they hid away trying to make sense of things and to move forward. He had given them the commandment to love one another and it was by living this commandment, day by day, that God' presence in Christ became real again for them.
 
Today I ask God to help me love others fully and to accept the unknown ahead of us with joy. May we trust that God in in the midst of our every moment as we move to uncertain times ahead. May love be our command this day and always.

The Collect

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Narrow Gate

 
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:13-21
 
The Narrow Gate
 
It is so tempting to forge
the easy path, the soft life
indulgence and mediocrity
a life lived unexamined.
 
God calls us to the narrow gate
where we must draw ourselves in
examining what is foolish, expendable
sacrificing comfort for life.
 
The world calls  us to reward ourselves
to pamper, to comforts bought and sold
but we are invited to the narrow gate
the gate that opens to life.
 
So come and prepare the journey
set all  burdens, heavy loads side
The Creator's verdant pasture awaits
and love beckons us with open arms.
 
 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Asking

 


‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
 ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
 ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
 ‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Mathew 7:1-12

We have been in Montana this week making preliminary arrangements for my upcoming work here. It is very hopeful and exciting. There also still lots up in the air. It is so easy for me to give into the anxiety and worry about what's next. I often forget that I do not have to rely on myself alone and that simply asking, knocking, seeking, begins a process of open doors and more possibilities. I often try to figure everything out, even when I know I need to rely on others and trust God. Our frail humanity often waits until all else fails before we ask the Divine for everything.

Jesus continues his teaching to the crowd. He talks f setting judgment aside, working on our own personal sins and flaws, when trusting God in everything, moment by moment. It is easier said than done. We are invited by God today to turn over the burdens we have been carrying for so long, and to trust that God will open doors, finding a way forward and blessing us each step of the way.

Today I ask God to help me ask for the help I need and refrain from picking up the burdens again. May we trust God for our every need, knowing that there are more answers and more blessings than we can ever imagine.
 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Consider the Lilies

 
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:25-34
 
 
Consider the Lilies
 
Do not worry says the Savior
to a grown woman trembling with fear
to the man with empty pockets
walking along a trash strewn alley.
 
We are mortals filled with care
wanting a home to gather our family
we have been on this road so long
and ache to be fed familiar food.
 
We are not divine but desire holiness
we would serve God with all the people
we would live to carry love's burden
and tend the poor and lame for God.
 
Do not worry the Savior croons
to weary servants seeking a new life
rest in the arms of God's mighty love
sleep as a trusting child in  mother's arms.
 
We can worry today and swim in trouble
we can chose to offer God our all
walking in the beauty of today's light
trusting tomorrow to God's generosity and capacity.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Treasures in Heaven

 
Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
"No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." Matthew 6:19-24
 
We spent yesterday traveling by car from Helena to Billings and back. The beauty of the landscape is astounding and around each turn the sky and the mountains reveal new treasures to the eye and senses. The rivers converge and disperse, the road turning and climbing, and we stared out the windows in awe and amazement. After a while you wonder if you can take it all in. The treasures and beauty of the created world are endless and it is hard to imagine the wondrous and endless gifts of the Creator.
 
Jesus continues to talk about living a humble and simple life. He suggests we put a premium on heavenly treasure and spiritual gifts - like compassion, forgiveness, service and humility. He reminds us that the commodities of this earth and our possessions do not last, but the heavenly one are eternal. God invites us today to put a premium on the lasting gifts so that we might daily enjoy the love and beauty that is before us.
 
Today I ask God to help me live with humility and compassion. May everything we so be in service to our neighbor and to God who brought us this far, and who promises to bring us home. May we prize love and be humble in all that we do today.
 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Simply Pray

 


 ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
 ‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
   hallowed be your name.
   Your kingdom come.
   Your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.
   Give us this day our daily bread.

   And forgive us our debts,
     as we also have forgiven our debtors.
   And do not bring us to the time of trial,

     but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:7-15


We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning in Montana. Whenever traveling, I find myself praying for those who pass through my mind and for a safe and blessed journey. I suspect no one overhears my dialog with God as it is silent, but I do a lot of listening and simply asking in prayer.

Jesus was teaching a great gathering. He asks them to be genuine and faithful in their lives and to keep their prayers simply. He assured them, ash e does us, that God asks for nothing fancy, rather the Divine requires an honest heart and an open, loving spirit. Asking simply and humbly we are promised a hearing from the Creator who loves us more than we can imagine. We are simply asked to be ready to forgive, ready to welcome and humble in all that we do.

Today I ask God to bless our journey today and the people we meet along the way. May we be humble and gentle in all that we do, modeling our lives on the life of prayer. May we entrust all that we do to the goodness of God who loves us more than we an imagine.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Practicing Prayer


Jesus said, "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
"So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."  Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 

Practicing Prayer
Light one single flame
against evil and shame
turn away from attention
and turn your heart to God.

In the small spare room
on a subway platform
in the grocery line
let us find God.

Let no one see your prayer
let no one hear your words
let God alone play melody
and harmonize with the Divine.

Light a single flame
and let it melt your heart
seek the holy moment spark
and let your life be praise.

Let your prayer be service
hands ready to calm and feed
heart ready to welcome 
stranger and divine  together.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

In My Father's House

Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it." John 14:1-14

Although my mother still lives in the house they bought so many years ago, it is still my father's house. All the constant repairs and painting, the fixing and the fussing, all make it my father's house. He took an quirky old house and make it quirkier. It suited him and the basement, garage and many other rooms still remind me of him. He is everywhere in the house, despite the fact that it has been nearly 20 years since he passed away. There are silly reminders of him everywhere. This house, so close to the Atlantic Ocean, tells the story of a Navy man who found his home, his mansion.

The disciples are anxious as they often are. They are afraid that Jesus is going to leave them, and they are worried about their future and their directions. They are afraid of being abandoned. That is something many of us fear. But Jesus comforts them by telling them there is already a place prepared for them. He shocks them by telling them that God is already with them, and the divine is working at all times for their good. We can take great comfort in these words as well. We are promised a place for in the Creator's house there is always enough room.

Today I ask God to help me rest in the promise of a room prepared. May we be people who live trusting that God is present with us, even when we cannot see what is ahead. May we know that we are planned and prepared for, and there is comfort and rest always in the Creator's realm, in the house of God.


The Collect

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Love Your Enemies


Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:38-48 

Love Your Enemies

The radiating late spring sun
a warm loving embrace and wind
gentle and sprinkled with birdspong
and you would find fault with today.

The enemy you fear is sitting with you
the terrorist is none other than you
we can sew seeds of forgiveness
or choke the life out of tender blossoms.

Indifference is not nearly enough
actively seeking friendship with stranger
calling the broken to the family table
we are mending God's family one by one.

The divine voice is on the rustling wind
calling us all to come home and eat
the fruits of joy and the tender green shoots
we are to feast when hating i done.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A New Heart



I will take you from among all nations; *
and gather you from all lands to bring you home.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you; *
and purify you from false gods and uncleanness.
A new heart I will give you *
and a new spirit put within you.
I will take the stone heart from your chest *
and give you a heart of flesh.
I will help you walk in my laws *
and cherish my commandments and do them.
You shall be my people, *
and I will be your God.   Ezekiel 36:24-28

Today is a glorious day in Sitka. The sun is shining and it is warm so everyone is walking around in shorts and tank tops. This little village is under the spell of lovely weather and no one seems capable of doing much else than wandering outside. We took our lunch down to the cove at Stargaaven and watch the water gentle lap onto the shore. The quiet and beauty was astounding. On days like this it is easy to have a soft heart, and an open spirit willing to take in everything and everyone. Other days, it is much harder.

This portion of Ezekiel reminds us that God's promises are for all of us and coming soon. Even when we feel like strangers and outcasts, even when there is only lack and failure, even when we have given up hope - God is gathering us up and drawing us in. We are in the process of being made God's people, even when the circumstances obscure that change. God is cherishing us and mending us, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Today I ask God to help me keep myself focused on the promises. Little challenges, and uncertain futures can pull our focus away, but God is acting for us and moving us towards home, today.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Be Reconciled


Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, 'You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny." Matthew 5:21-26 

Today is our 39th wedding anniversary. I cannot begin to count the times when I have said mean things to my dear Mark, only to follow him out the door, down the stairs, down the beach - where ever - to apologize.  We are all flawed and vulnerable human beings, and I am the worst among them. Asking forgiveness, and giving that forgiveness had been crucial to our relationship. Loving others demands that we seek reconciliation and forgiveness whenever possible. Love grows in a climate of forgiveness and humility.

Jesus was teaching from the mountain side, encouraging people to take seriously how they treat one another. He never said, "love is never having to say you're sorry." Just the opposite, he encouraged reconciliation and humility in all of our lives. Our culture may prize winners but God prizes the humble and honest, those who can seek out forgiveness and forgive those who have hurt us.

Today, I ask God to help me be grateful in every moment. We have been truly blessed with the love of family and friends and a life time of joy. May we all be grateful today for the love we have been given, and be always ready to seek forgiveness and reconciliation today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fulfill the Law




Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20

Fulfill the Law

We wiggle out of all constraints
and think ourselves forgiven
yet walk past the beggars needing bread
and do not stoop to help another.

Can we really believe that God is with us
when we tease and torture our classmates?
Is not love the ground over every law
and compassion the rule of Christ?

We feel sorry when we are poorly
yet run from others in our place
we teach our children independence
and fiercely protect our property.

God has made us more than property
a little lower than the angels
we are commanded to love one another
and to live with mercy overflowing.

May we fill the cups to running over
for the poor, the outcast and the needy
may we welcome to the highest seat
the humblest in our midst.

May the Creator find us living
the true laws of love that generate
abundant life for all and make room
for those who are struggling on the road.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Light and Salt








Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:11-16


It is getting to that time of year when the light comes very early in the morning. The days get longer very quickly in this northern clime and I keep thinking about wearing some sort of eye cover so that I can get a full night's sleep. In the dead of winter, there is so little light, it is easy to sleep late in the morning. We are starved for light in the winter and rejoice in any sunny day. We are creatures who are effected by the light, who need light for our survival. We need salt too, at least in moderation it is essential to our survival, although too much can make us sick.


Jesus, in his sermon on the mountain side, is encouraging us to share the light we have been given. Despite the people who will criticize us and try to hurt us, we are invited by God to see the critical need for light and salt. People are dying for the love of God, for the compassion and concern of neighbors, aching for the light of love. We are invited today to be those who carry he necessary elements to the world.


Today I ask God to help me live as light and salt. May we live each day, sharing the light of love, filling the world with the goodness of the Divine and inviting all to the table.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Poor in Spirit


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:1-10 

Yesterday was Mother's Day. It was a day filled with wonderful conversations and quite a few tears.  We had time to skype with each of our children and to talk with our mothers. I couldn't hold back the tears as I miss my family so much. I truly know what I lack - my daughters and my family in close proximity. Days like yesterday bring it close to mind and heart.

Jesus spoke to the crowds from the mountain top and talked to them about being blessed. Those who are blessed are those who know their lack, who know their imperfections, their needs, their failures. Those who are honest about their needs will truly be blessed by God. It is when we pretend to be independent, self-sufficient and without need that we find ourselves adrift and alone. God is always more willing to come to our aide with blessing than we are to ask.

Today I ask God to help me be honest with God. May we all recognize our incompleteness and go to the source, to the Divine, who loves us more than we can even understand or imagine. May we have the courage to be honest about our need so that God can truly bless us today.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014


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." John 10:1-10

Mother's Day

Trying to keep them safe
as they go out and in
finding them suitable pasture
is a mother's constant care.

Incapable of fending for themselves
unable to walk but a few steps
these little lambs are easily lost
and more taken advantage of.

Innocence makes them vulnerable
curiosity makes them dangeous
the world around is wondrous
but often the smallest are overlooked.

God has promised a gatekeeper
one who will watch night and day
one who will guard them when we cannot
who will lead them when we get lost.

Mothers and fathers need a Savior
for we were once innocent too
and we are often wandering misdirected
and need a savior to call us back home.

The Collect

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Leaving


 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. Matthew 4:18-25


I am flying home to Sitka on an early flight out of Boston. The past few days have been wonderful, reconnecting with my seminary classmates and old friends. It was wonderful to be with my daughter Phoebe and her husband Andrew. I had the privilege of preaching in the seminary chapel at an Evensong dedicated to the memory of Otis Charles. Leaving is always hard to do, as I wish there was more time to be with my other daughters and my granddaughter. God always seems to call us to move on and we struggle to let go.

The calling of the disciples is a remarkable story, These men leave their boats and nets. They leave behind the familiar, the comfortable and their source of income. To follow God, they turn away from their homes and families. We know they returned to them, but how hard it must have been for them once they were on the road away. Despite all their joy in following Jesus, there must have been moments of feeling pulled back home, being pulled in several directions. God knows our ache. And for those who follow Christ, we are promised the blessings of return and a family in the people and places we are called to serve.

Today may God give me strength for the journey and joy along the road. May we all trust that our journeys are but a way to deepen love and to know God more fully. May we move with the confidence of disciples, who left their nets to bring love to a broken world.

Led by the Spirit


 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,  “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and  “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”   Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11


Led to a gap in the trees
a quiet contemplative place
where spirit and light hover
together drawing us in.

Shelter from wind and storm
listening to my beating heart
fear and doubt came visiting
torturing my soul.

They danced about and teased
showing pictures of failure
reciting and taunting weakness
tears choked the silence.

About to give up and run
in the silence love broke through
not violent or terrorist
the sweet face smiled.

Like pollen in the wind
love carried the fear away
love beckoned me outside
brought me back to the world.
 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Hour is Now Here

 

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers 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 4:23-26

Today is the feast day of Julian of Norwich. It also finds me in Cambridge, MA where later today I will be preaching at Evensong in my seminary chapel. Julian is often quoted as saying, "all shall be well, and all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well." As I struggle to imagine how to preach to this distinguished group gathered at prayer, I am comforted by her words, reaching through the centuries with a hand on my shoulder.

Jesus encountered the woman at the well. She was the kind of woman a good Jewish man shouldn't be hanging around with. And yet, it was to this woman that he revealed the most intimate nature of his relationship with God. She too, saw Jesus for who he was. He tells her the hour  is now and that he is the Messiah, the one who is to come. He's arrived, and is seeking those who will worship God with honesty and integrity. There is no distance between God and us through Christ. And through Christ, we are bound together in love with all people everywhere.

Today I ask God to give the strength to carry the message of this divine presence and love. May we trust in everything that God is with us and that all indeed shall be well. May we live today trusting that the time is now for us to dwell as people in love with God and one another.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Beloved


Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:13-17

Last weekend, between the clergy retreat and our deanery gathering, I had a chance to go out to the Glacier in Juneau. This is a sight that people from all over the world came to see. The glacier itself has receded over the years from global warming. The water is profoundly cold and small pieces of the glacier which have broken off float in the chilly water. It is a very sacred place, where the Creator's touch is profoundly felt. A place where one can see such beauty and be moved by how much damage humans can do.

Jesus came out to a sacred place where John was baptizing. John initially did not want to baptize him but finally went ahead reluctantly. As Jesus came up from the water, a voice from heaven was heard, declaring that this was the child of God, the son of the living Divine, beloved and honored. The intimate love of God was declared in that moment for Jesus and for the world. This a is sacred moment, when the Creator reaches across time and space to speak the love needed to be heard. This first baptism, through which all of us are baptized, remind us that God's love is for us all, God reaching across time and space for the love of the world.

Today I ask God to help me live in the love and blessing we have been given.  May we return the love and respect we have been given by lovingly care for the sacred places we have been given. May we be faithful stewards of the Creator's love, caring for the love and honor we have been given today.

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

God is Able

 


 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
 ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ Matthew 3:7-12

God is Able

The tears flow freely
anxiety upon anxiety
loss, bitterness shake the soul
loneliness piled on loneliness.

Empty vessels dry of life
rattling in a pile of loss
all those who given up
wander like brush in the wind.

When all hope is gone
lights are turned off
no energy to the system
a dark cloth masks the face.

Even then God is able
to pull us from the flames
raise us from the icy seas
and close the long gaping wounds.

There is more beyond today
a slight break in the sod
a gentle rising towards the sun
a broken seed making room.

God is able in the last gasp
the final goodbye
the giving up and letting go
to gather us up again.
 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Down Into the Water


In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:1-6

There is something about water. It is essential to life and it renews and refreshes us. The sun setting over the water captures our attention and a storm over the ocean is always an monumental event. Water can soothe us , rock us and drown us. The sea yields an abundant supply of food but the challenges for those who fish and harvest the vast waters. The water can carry us away and bring us back home.

John took himself away from center of the city, away from the religious spaces, and went down to the river. He invited people to be renewed, baptized and transformed in God's love. The water washed over them, they were brought low and gasping, rose out of the water to new life. Our present day baptism is symbolic of the ancient practices, a way of going down to the water to be born again into the family of God. We are beckoned today to the edge of the water, seeking God's blessings and transformation.

Today I ask God to help me leave the center and head out to the edge. May we trust God as we are submerged knowing that we will indeed be renewed.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sorrow Turned to Joy

 ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’ Then some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying to us, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”; and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ They said, ‘What does he mean by this “a little while”? We do not know what he is talking about.’ Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, ‘Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.  ‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’
 His disciples said, ‘Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’
John 16:16-23

Preparing to say good bye is always a difficult thing. This is my last South East Deanery meeting while serving in Sitka. I have made many friends here and have had some wonderful experiences. There has been great joy and delight in our almost two years here. And there have been hard times too, as there are everywhere. But joy has always taken over, even when the days seemed most dark. And so saying goodbye will be hard. The letting go of proximity in order to go to a new phase of relationship and adventure.

The disciples were struggling to understand all that Jesus was saying. He finally used the image of a woman giving birth. It is a terrible pain, exhausting and life threatening. And yet, the gift of new life is overwhelmingly glorious. Jesus had to leave them and they had to go on. Their ministry and capacity would increase as they trusted the gifts they had been given, and held onto the love and relationship that they had been given. All of life involves changes, and God invites us to embrace even the hardest of separations as the beginning of possibilities. Not ignoring the pain and travail, but rather understanding that there is more joy round the corner, and more love to encounter as we move on.

Today I ask God to help me be tender and graceful in my in my letting goes an my goodbyes. May we accept the birth pangs that overwhelm us trusting that God is beside us making us new. May we embrace the unknown, knowing that God's love surrounds us where ever we go.