Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sealed Away


Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. Matthew 27:55-66 

Sealed Away
As if torture and crucifixion were not enough
they locked and sealed your body away
guarded from friends and robbers alike
mortar made from the hate and fear of the world.

When love is too free and God is too near
we rise up to crush and to deny them both
kind spirits are ousted with sticks and stones
and we break the backs of those who carry love.

There is no seal that love cannot break
no paste or glue that will repair the prisons
the Divine is breaking down the confining wall
and destroying the fences we fearfully erect.

No borders can confine the love of God
given freely and constantly to us who would deny it
poured out again and again,  aliens and strangers
know what balm and compassion truly are.

Build what you will to hold back love's tide
but it is rising all the same this night
you cannot guard nor control a swelling ocean
nor keep still these hearts that are set on fire.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Way of Peace



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

I was right here in Cape May Point 40 years ago today, having finished my first year of college, reveling in a summer working on the beach. My mind was far away from the church. One could say I was at that stage of life where the church had little positive meaning for me. I was spiritual and prayerful even then, but the church I thought I knew had no place for me. Just a few miles away on a hot July day, eleven brave and faithful women made their vows before God and the gathered church. They suffered much because of what they did that day. They paved the way for a then teenager like me to be welcomed into the church. They made it possible for those of  us who followed in their footsteps to walk in the way of peace.

This passage from Luke's gospel, the Canticle of Zachariah, reminds of God's love and faithfulness despite the changes and challenges of life. God has promised that we are free to worship without fear, and that God's tender compassion will break upon all of us. We will have light in our darkness and peace in the midst of terrifying times. Even today, this far on, these words are good news and solace to the soul. There is still more that the hands of God on earth would accomplish, still more justice, light and freedom to be brought. We are being invited by God, to make room for others today, to find a place and welcome those who have been shoved to the margin, and left outside.

Today I want to give thanks for those brave women and men who 40 years ago today, trusted God and made room for women in the leadership of the church. May God give us all an extra measure of strength since there is still so much more to do. May we welcome with love and open arms today everyone we encounter in the name of Christ who turns noone away.

Darkness Came Over the Whole Land


From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God's Son!" Matthew 27:45-54 

I've been thinking a good deal about life forty years ago since I attended the celebration on Saturday. I was here forty years ago, working for the summer. My little sister Betsy  turned twelve that July and begged to be taken horse back riding. Neither my parents nor my brother was willing to take her, so, although a novice, I took her. We went out to the riding stables and were led on some trails by a very young woman. We got to cantering and my sister's horse stumbled and threw her, dragging her for a while and breaking her leg. It was a nightmare of profound proportions and I felt so guilty. A sadness crept over me and darkness seemed to cover everything. I have never ridden a horse since that time. 

The reading from Matthew for today portrays Christ's crucifixion and dying. The world changed at that moment, and the physical as well as spiritual worlds reacted. No one should suffer as he did, and yet for our sakes, Christ took on the darkness, the guilt and shame of the world. our humanity and brokenness hung on the cross with Jesus. God invites to seek the forgiveness and healing that the work of the cross made real.God calls us to not be overcome by the darkness, guilt and shame but to embrace the light and love offered to all.

Today, I ask God to help me accept forgiveness as I forgive others. May we recognize our own brokenness, guilt  and shame - those things that cloud our hearts and darken our spirits. May we offer all that up, trusting God to heal and renew us today.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mocking


So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.” Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:24-31 

Mocking

I bent the rules and didn't heed
the fashions and the times
I did not bend to popular rules
nor lend my name to support tyrants.

What I did, I did to heal and feed
those who came to me bleeding and afraid
I fed the lost and those outside the gate
and for this they will crucify me.

The brave bullies gathered round
a defenseless and gentle man
the incarnate God is in their midst
they beat with reeds and struck his head.

Their weaker brothers and sisters
trembled outside the gates crying out
wondering if violence wins today,
does humanity stand a chance?

Those who will not fight are mocked
those who would beat plowshares
are mowed down with ridicule and lies
and little children are expelled from the border.

In the mocking is all humanity
our worst and horrid selves
in the savior of the world bent down
 we find our best incarnate selves and love.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

God's Treasures


Jesus put before the crowds another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

"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 13:31-33,44-52

I had the extraordinary blessing of being in Philadelphia Friday and Saturday as people across the Episcopal Church gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women. These were "irregular" ordinations in 1974. Eleven brave women (4 more were ordained in DC in the fall of 1974) laid their lives on the lines for all those who would follow behind them. It was an extraordinary event, and I was brought to tears over and over again, by seeing dear ones, young and old alike, as we were thanking God for where we have been. We were also challenging one another to be seed and treasure for those who follow after us.

Jesus wanted us to understand how often the most extraordinary blessing is found in the smallest of seeds, and hidden away among the most" irregular" of circumstances. If we love boldly, we will find God's treasures in our midst. The places  and people on the margin often bring the most fruit and the outcast and frail bring forth the most blessing and strength. We are invited by God today to rejoice in the blessings we have been given and seek God's abundance in the out of the way, overlooked places.

Today I ask God to help me turn my heart and mind to the hidden blessings, to the treasures that I might not see on the near horizon. May we never lose hope, as God is using us to bless those around us, and to be strength and support for those who follow behind.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Along the Sea


Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea - for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Mark 1:14-20 

I have grown up and spent much of my life by the ocean. We had neighbors who were commercial fisherman, their whole livelihood depending on the sea. After nearly two years in Sitka, Alaska, a place which relies on the abundance of the sea and the catch of those who fish for a living, I can tell you how hard the work is and how essential the work is to the life of a whole community. Leaving family, nets and boats is an impossible request. Boats are passed on in families, and many can tell you the lineage of a boat before they can tell you their own heritage.

Jesus calls these fisherman and asks them to do the impossible. They remarkable thing is that they did it. They immediately left their boats and followed him. We cannot imagine what truly transpired on that day, but we can imagine what kind of force, what kind of presence might draw us from all we know and love. They must have been moved by a love bigger than anything they had known, a love which propelled them to change their lives completely. And today, God invites us to be ready to change our lives completely. A love so big calls us to get up and go, following the one who is love incarnate.

Today, I ask God to help me be ready to follow Christ and go where I am called. May we remember the example of those fishermen, willing to leave everything to follow. May we rise up when we are called and go where we are sent, today.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Weeping Bitterly


Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:69-75 

 Weeping Bitterly

The clouds are hanging low
and the morning is barely breaking
cowardice and fear surround me
I have again denied the one I love.

They look at me and expect strength
they call me brave, steel and rock
a woman accused and I am subdued
I fall to the floor a wail like a child.

How can God love our humanity
our broken, selfishness and egos
our need to spare ourselves 
sacrificing love for our safety?

My savoir and friend looks at me
a heart and mind forgiving even me
knowing my weakness and my sin
love lets me begin again.

And so I will be made over, reformed
still this fragile human, lumpy clay
imbued with the promise  of forgivenness
love that knows no bounds.

 I will let the nail pierced hands mold me
into a new vessel marked with my sorrow
able to hold more than ever before
equipped to pour love into our broken world.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Testing


Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’” The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you,
From now on you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of Power
and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?” Matthew 26:57-68 

There are times in our lives we feel tested, sometimes tested beyond our capacity to hold it together.  I never liked tests of any sort, whether physical or academic. Tests also made me very anxious and often tongue tied. I remember auditioning once for a chorus, it was our annual auditions, and failing miserably at singing the music. This was music that I supposedly knew but everything got scrambled in my anxiety. My throat tightened in my nervousness. Even in presumably safe and friendly situations, we can be overcome by fear. Fortunately for me, our conductor let me sit with the chorus that night. He listened in while we were in rehearsal and finally popped me on the top of the head, saying, "you know this music, silly!"

Jesus was being tested for his life. He could be nothing but authentic, nothing but who he was completely. Calm and settled in the face of threats, taunts and violence, he found a peace that let him walk through the pain and testing that was before him. He took our humanity on, facing the cruelest and inhuman treatment people can devise. He took this on so that we might all live closely with our Creator, trusting in power greater than humans can imagine. God invites us today to seek Christ's peace in the face our testing. Whatever we face, we are not alone and have a companion as we walk through anxious and dangerous times. God is calling us to walk on, knowing our need and our humanity.

Today I ask God to give me an extra measure of peace as I face the coming days. There is much to do and many changes to embrace. May we have the peace of Christ as we face the testing before us. May we remember that there is more beyond the challenges of today. God's love and peace are poured out in abundance for us all today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Very Early


Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 15:37-16:7 

Very Early

This trauma, this loss
we are overwhelmed
and bound together
our compass, our stay is gone.

Very early we set out unseen
the tears that flow are hidden
the new light barely shows
the depth of loss and greif.

We set out to do the impossible
to anoint his body locked away
our need to salve wounds
that can no longer be mended.

Finding an opening where none should be
screams muffled by our fears
Light and life poured forth from where
only death and rot should be found.

Very early in the morning
three women set out on a humble errand
a moment that rocked their world
as death blossomed into life.

Very early in the morning
when we least expect new life
God is breathing possibility into
the hidden broken bodies we hide away.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Let This Cup Pass


Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46

Sometimes we feel as if we have burdens too great to bear. We are human and there are times when we are so overwhelmed that we drop from exhaustion, sleeping and yet still un-rested and feeling all the more undone. These past few weeks, after our return from Alaska,  have been a joyous time seeing family and friends. These weeks have also been hard with my mother being so critical and so needy. Sometimes we just want this cup to pass, the burden to be lifted. And if it cannot be lifted, well then maybe strength enough to see it through.

Jesus was with loved ones and family. In a few hours all hell would break loose, and everything they knew and understood would change. The greatest and most powerful drama was about to unfold. Nothing they had expected, nothing they were equipped to deal with. The only way even Jesus could steal himself was to pray. He didn't want the role he was given but would ask God to see him through.  We are invited by God today to throw ourselves into God's loving arms in the midst of our crises. God beckons us to rest and trust, that the Divine who raised Jesus will see us through our toughest struggles.

Today I ask God for the strength I need today. Empower us all to pray in these challenging times and to know God is holding us close against all that assaults us. May we not fear or run from our roles but know God is with us every moment.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Weeds


Jesus put before the crowd another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, `Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, `An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, `No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!" Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Weeds

We are swift to judge
thinking ourselves insiders
believing we are safe and secure
and God is on our side.

If we turn away from the young
the strangely dresses the tatooed
if we turn back from the need
then do we not become the weeds?

 Will we be the weeds
choking out others for gain
worried only about our food
caring only for our comfort?

God's generosity unlimited and unseen
we take for granted this abundance
we think ourselves derserving
then are we to be the weeds?

Oh let us reach for the sun's light
basking in the gifts from heaven
and may we be food and care for others
may our lives feed others now.




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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Poured Out


While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples. Matthew 26:26-35 

As we drive home from the rehabilitation facility, on an almost daily basis  I am struck by how fragile and resilient we humans are. I sat in the physical therapy room watching my mother struggle to regain the use of her arms and legs, diligently counting the repetitions and putting her whole body into the effort. She is giving it her all, despite the challenges of being 91 and having a spinal chord injury and surgery. She, and the others around her, put their whole selves into the work of getting better and stronger. 

Jesus sits with his disciples and tell them that his life will be poured out for them, and for all of us. The words, so familiar in the Eucharist, are a shock and confusion to those gathered with him. They didn't want to hear it, they didn't want to believe it. Some would run from it. And yet, God reminds us today that God's love is poured out for us but never spent. God's love is constantly poured out in abundance for us. God's love is more dedicated and resilient than any human experience we have. And in Christ, who offered his all for us, we find an abundance of love, healing, forgiveness and renewal.

Today, I ask God to give me the eyes of love. May we see all the blessings of God's love in our daily walk, and be reminded of all that God has done and is doing for us. May we never lose hope, but continue to stretch and grow, strengthening our love and faith as we go forward today.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In Her Memory


When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.” Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:1-16 

In Her Memory

No one paid her any attention
she had no resume, no elevator speech
her hands were rough, nails jagged
just another hard luck story.

His disciples had seen it all
one needy and broken person after another
too much need and never enough cash
all wanting more than they deserved.


They did not know her name
nor do we so long afterwards
and yet her actions with her alabaster jar
changed the world forever.

The one who all denied and rejected
woman, poor and set aside
became the bearer of the Gospel
the singer of the love song of God.

Her tears and compassion
set the tone and scale for all we do
offering her all to the honor of God
her memory is carried on in acts of love.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sheep and Goats


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

I am partial to both sheep and goats. Although sheep provide incredible varieties of soft wools, they aren't terribly bright. Goats, on the other hand, are feisty and inquisitive, always pushing the limits. It seems to me we need both in our world. I always struggled with this analogy since it seems as if the sheep are favored over the goats. I don't want God to separate out those who are lively, those who push the limits, those who live on the margins. And being left handed doesn't help things much either. I don't think of those things which go to the left side as being evil, but as comfortable and familiar. I think sheep and goats, as well as right and left, meant something very different to his first century audience than they so to me. But what is clear is the call to serving the least.
Jesus is teaching the people that to serve God, is to serve the people on the margins, the poor, the prisoners and those without homes or families. We are being called to care for the alien, the immigrant, the children who are strangers in our midst. Jesus is talking to the people then, and to us in this present age. As Indigenous people, we have always welcomed strangers and fed those who come to our communities. Sometimes that has led to our destruction. And yet, hospitality and care are a critical part of our societies. Jesus invites us today to examine our hearts, and to chose welcome and service over isolation and exclusion.

Today, I ask God to open my heart more and more. May we not judge and separate others, but rather see the face of Christ in each and every one. May this be the day where we welcome sheep and goats alike, understanding that God loves each and every one of us.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More Talents


Jesus said, "For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master replied, 'You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all 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. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Matthew 25:14-30 

An old friend of my mother's called today to say she and her husband had visited my Mom. We talked about the fact that despite her present physical limitations, she is fully herself, talking happily with her visitors and thanking them for visiting. My mother has been incredible support and strength for so many. She has never had wealth or fame, she stayed home to raise five children, and always took a back seat while my Dad was out front. But she used all of her gifts, all of the time, changing lives and hearts by loving and laughing with friends and strangers alike. Even in such a challenging state, she is trying to make us laugh and encourage everyone.

We read the familiar parable of the talents today. Jesus is teaching the people that we can live with our limitations and bury our talents, or we can put the little we have to good use. We are all tempted to hide away because of limitations and past failures. There is never enough money, time or talent to survive the risks, we might think. But God is calling us out, away from the burial plots and the graves, out to a place of new life and new possibilities. God is inviting us to trsut again and to share the little we have so the world might be fe, so the world might know love again.

Today I ask God to help me offer the gifts and talents I have. May we not be fearful, but instead rise up trusting that God has given us what we need, and God will make us able. May we walk forward today, with the faith to invest the little we have, giving our all to God, so that we might give God's love to others.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Keep Awake


Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13 

Keep Awake

Always drowsy, eyes drooping
the soft wind and the lull of the ocean
the whole body aches for the release of sleep
for dreams to cover the present hurt.

We are called to be ready at all times
lamps trimmed and full for the bridgegroom
and yet the day has been so long the work exhausting
we want to lay down and take our rest.

Does God demand an exhausted people?
do we think the Divine would abuse us this way?
Or can we live with anticipation and joy
ready to act in our sleeping or our waking?

God delights in our tenderness and care
the love we shower on one another
and the time we take to tend our bodies
as we build up the temple for God.

May we take this day the look in hope
to anticipate the miracle, the bridegroom, the change
may we believe that the Creator is on the brink
of doing a new thing in our midst.

Be awake to the possibilities
not jaded by the hurt of the past
leap up and embrace the love that is coming
light your lamps sister, the day is here!

Friday, July 11, 2014

It Will Not Return Empty



Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; call upon him when he draws near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the evil ones their thoughts; And let them turn to the Lord, and he will have compassion, and to our God, for he will richly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as rain and snow fall from the heavens and return not again, but water the earth, Bringing forth life and giving growth, seed for sowing and bread for eating, So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; it will not return to me empty; But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, and prosper in that for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:6-11

It Will Not Return Empty

Held over  in waiting rooms, bus stations
endless streams of opinions and prognosis
all around seem dry as a the high desert
and healing streams cannot be found.

We wait, holding our breath
fearing that if we hope too much
we will be disappointed andashamed
as if we have life under our control.

The clouds slide across a grey sky
portent and promise move together
we are so afraid of losing love
that we hold it to tight for breath.

The Divine in moving as we wait
sending streams of water to our desert
in the dark blue nighttime when we cry
God is mending our broken hearts.
 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Birth Pangs



As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’
 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
 ‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.Matthew 24:1-14

Sometimes the events of our lives overwhelm us and it can feel as if the world is coming apart or to an end. I have always loved the story of Chicken Little, who believed the sky was falling. That little chicken had a very limited view of the world so it truly seemed as if the his world was coming to an end. And yet, with the help of friends, he found out there was more. And even in these challenging, overwhelming days, it is helpful to be surrounded by those who can remind us that there is more blessing on the way, despite the darkness and the gloom.

The disciples become very anxious about the end times, and all that Jesus is talking about. They're scared. They want comfort and reassurance. They do not want their way of life to change. And yet, their way of life, which had become familiar, was always temporary. We are encouraged today to find the challenges and changes that uproot and terrify us, as birth pangs - the promise of new life. New life always comes with pain. New stars are born in collision and confusion. God asks us to trust beyond the frightening moments of today and expect new life beyond our imagining.

Today I ask God to help me trust beyond the present circumstances and live into this new life. May we let go and let God find a path we haven't seen, a hidden star to guide us, and a community to surround us as we move forward.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

As An Alien in the Land


Deal bountifully with your servant,
   so that I may live and observe your word.
Open my eyes, so that I may behold
   wondrous things out of your law.
I live as an alien in the land;
   do not hide your commandments from me.
My soul is consumed with longing
   for your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
   who wander from your commandments;
take away from me their scorn and contempt,
   for I have kept your decrees.
Even though princes sit plotting against me,
   your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Your decrees are my delight,
   they are my counselors. Psalm 119:17-24





My Mom has been in the ICU for 5 night now. She says it's a strange land, where machines whir, beep and scream. Since he can't use her arms very well, she can't ring a bell for the nurses, but she can watch them scurry about. To go from being in complete control one day and completely helpless the next. She has always liked being in charge and in her own space. Now she is an alien in this land so she holds on tight to God's promises.

The psalmist understood what is was to be an alien in one's home territory, He understood what it was to be turned against by loved ones and allies. The psalm rings of total trust in God despite the strange and alienating circumstances. We are invited to acknowledge the dislocations in our present time ad cling to God's love in the most anxious of times.

Today, as we prepare for the long recovery, I ask God for patience and wisdom as we take steps forward. May we be those who cling to God's love in troubled and anxious times. And may we rejoice in the love and blessings we have today.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Woes


Jesus said, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.' How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean." Matthew 23:13-26 

Woes
Burdening those who are already bent
scaring those who are already crying
returning a clear plea with a blank stare
the hard of heart think they conquer the world.

Management and proper administration
taking precedence over hungry children
order and presentation  become the way
and the heart is cut out from our lives.

When we box ourselves in and gloat
when we believe our cruelty justified
when we smile at are own accomplishments
then true blessings disappear into vapor.

Our present woes are our own making
we have forged them with want and greed
we have stepped over too many bodies
and thought we had come away clean.

The Divine invites us to take a walk
to look and listen to our needy world
to get our hands dirty, to hold the dying
to live with justice, mercy and faith.



Monday, July 7, 2014

One Teacher


Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father - the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." Matthew 23:1-12 

When I went into my Mom's room yesterday in ICU she was in great pain. The nurse was doing all she could to make her comfortable, including giving her pain medication. She helped her to calm down her breathing until the medicine took hold. She gently held her shoulder, looked into her eyes, and breathed along with her until the calm took over. It was kind and gentle in a place that can be loud and furious otherwise. It was a gift of honor, so simple, so effective, but it made all the difference in that tough moment.

Jesus continued his teaching. He wants us all to hear that to be disciples or followers, we should be humble and do the small things that make all the difference to others. Our job is to lightened others' burdens, to be humble in all we do, so that others may see the glory and love of God.  Our pride and need for attention can easily get in the way of others' relationship with God. God promises to abundantly bless those who can take the small roles, serving others with great joy.

Today I ask God to help me be strong and humble in these challenging times. May we all be strengthened to serve, ready to offer God's love in the dark and painful places. May we know God's love in our dark and painful places, and know we are being bless in the humblest of times and places.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Come Unto Me


Jesus said to the crowd, "To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
`We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.'
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30


Come Unto Me

The unrelenting repeating miles
traffic congested seems everyone's happy
walking the echoing hospital corridors
wondering how much more she can bear.

Bright sunshine high clouds tourists abound
but there is no playground for us today
Momma is sick and in so much danger
how do we carry the load for her?

One who brings so much joy now afflicted
one who brought light brought low
one who has made room for so many
tied to a lonely bed of pain.

Into our world of weariness and tears
the song comes on the wind again
Come unto me all you that are weary
and I will give you rest.




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

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5th



I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.Romans 8:18-25 

The past few days have been a whirlwind of joy and crisis. We have our two oldest daughters with us and our granddaughter Lilly. While we were off getting supplies for the annual 4th of July parade. The hurricane named Arthur brought lashing wind and rain yesterday, so the parade was postponed until today. Running up the parkway to Atlantic City on a holiday weekend is a real challenge. And we are surrounded by loved ones and neighbors in this season, we are home at last, and my mother is ion good hands. The stress of life can overwehlmed us but God is always blessing us.

We are reminded in Paul's letter to the Romans, that life is full of suffering and challenges. Sometimes they seem too much to bear. And yet all around us are glimpses of the incredible beauty and blessings that God has for us, now and forever. We might be brought low, but we are never abandoned or alone. God is present with us and surrounding with love and support. We are invited today to see those people and things around us that bring us joy and know that God is with us. May we renew our hope in what is possible, as we turn and see the gifts of love in front of ud.

Today I ask God to help me be grateful for every sign of love that I see today. May we embrace the blessings that we know today, trusting that God is doing more for us than we can imagine or hope. May we be renewed as we rejoice in the love we have found tosay.