Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween - Consider the Ravens


Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, 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, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:13-31 

We've lived in both Baltimore, Maryland and Sitka, Alaska, where ravens play a big roll in daily life. In Baltimore, they are forever linked with Edgar Allen Poe, and now the football franchise. They represent the dark, haunting, self-effacing and tough Baltimore that is just hiding around the corner. In Sitka, the ravens are everywhere, ruling the town. They are social, working together to get what they want. They are vocal and complain mightily if humans do something they don't like. They are beautiful and strong in both cases,menacing and comical in the same moment. Very like us humans.

Jesus invited his friends to quit worrying about the stuff of life. Every worry keeps us away from the love and power of God. And it is surely easy to say, and easy to hear, but always much harder for us to do. We easily get fearful and lonely, and find ourselves in moments of terror and panic. We are bombarded by ads and messages that tell us we are never doing enough to secure our lives. But on this day, when the world is askew, children are allowed to knock on strangers' doors, and when the distance between living and dead seems almost permeable, may we let go of worry, and be childlike in the face of a extraordinarily loving God.  The Creator, who knows our weakness as well as our needs and promises to come home and dwell with us.

Today, I ask God to help me be childlike in my faith. May the worries of the world drain off, and may we find delight and wonder in neighbors and strangers alike. May we laugh at our fears and worries, trusting that God will provide our needs. And may we welcome and embrace every ghoul, goblin and fairy that comes our way, knowing that even these are blessings from heaven.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Value


When Jesus went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 11:53—12:12 

More Value

The price tag hung taunting
we could not pay it ever
what we have will not buy goods
the good we have will give life.

We are more so valued than sparrows
God keeps eyes on these little ones
we are so more wanted and desired
and yet we toss each other away.

We could fight all the right battles
and lose our very souls to darkness
we must walk these dark alleys
giving every step to the Holy.

We are more than sparros
more than conquerors and pirates
more than royalty and poverty
we are the children of the living God.

As darkness descends we fear not
for we never walk in the steps taken
steps that love have suffered for us
a journey that is always towards home.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Key of Knowledge


While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” Luke 11:37-52

When our daughter Ariel was struggling in school after first grade, they had us come meet her second grade teacher. Ariel was to be put in a special needs class and we were anxious for our bright little one. Her new teacher, Dr. Rainwater, welcomed us and then looked at Ariel. She said, "Ariel, you are very bright. I am sorry you struggled. There is nothing wrong with you. It is my job this year to find the key that unlocks that amazing brain." As the tears rolled down our cheeks, we nodded as Ariel grinned from ear to ear, knowing she was going to have a great learning experience. 

Jesus is invited to dinner by the high and mighty. They think themselves clever and in charge of all things. He does not mince words but tells them just how unfaithful they have been. They have kept knowledge and wealth for themselves and use it to punish others who are less fortunate. They, who have everything, have abused everyone. This is one of the times when we see Jesus most riled up. He cannot abide such abuse of the weak. God invites us who have the good fortune to gain knowledge, understanding and position, to remember that each is a gift from God. A gift that comes with the expectation that we share all of our blessings, helping everyone around us.

Today I ask God to help me give freely and love without limits. May we all share the blessings we have been given, opening doors to others who have been shut out. May we remember when we were needy and respond to those around us with the compassion we desire, now and always.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Love One Another

Jesus said to his disciples, "I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
"If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world-- therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, `Servants are not greater than their master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, `They hated me without a cause.'
"When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning." John 15:17-27

I was fortunate to have an amazing group of friends during my awkward teenage years. We lived in many different places, but when summer began, we would cluster together and spend many hours together. We played volleyball after supper until the light gave out. We played guitars and cards until we gave out. We were awkward kids against the world. It was wonderful to be loved unconditionally by people other than parents. These folks remain my friends although we have gone to different places. I will always be grateful for that time and their love.

Jesus is preparing his friends for the changing times. They had spent heady days, traveling together, being welcomed and wanted. They saw miracles, and hope restored. But as everything does, things were about to change and the world was to grow very violent. He was encouraging them to cling to one another, and to make love their mission, despite all that would come against them. We are invited, in these changing time to cling to love, and to one another, trusting that God will pave the road ahead.

Today I ask God to make my life a mission of love. May we live to love others, and in doing so give the future over to our loving Creator. May we be beacons of hope as we love, in this world of violence and despair, trusting that God is busily making all things new.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tough Questions


When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "`You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
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 22:34-46
.
My mother has often said she keeps a list of questions for God. I have never seen this list but we have discussed some of the questions that make up her list. She really wants to know why any parent should have to suffer the loss of a child. When my sister Peggy died of cancer at the age of 42, my parents were staggering and shattered for a long time. She is such a faithful Christian woman, I wonder what questions she is formulating for God as she sits in a wheelchair, semi-paralyzed and fully dependent in a nursing home at 91. She asked me after she fell why God didn't take her then. She is ready and she has her list.

The Pharisees either thought that the Sadducees gave up too easy, or were spiritual whimps compared to them. They take a run at Jesus as a group. Nice behavior for religious, God fearing folks! Jesus calmly answers their questions then asks them a question or two in return. They were stumped and silenced from then on. We have a loving God who invites us to ask questions and to seek answers. And we also live this life shrouded in mystery. God's time and timing is not ours. God invites us to draw near with compassion and love and to worry about loving our neighbors and serving others. In the service of others, we will find all the answers we need.

Today I ask God to help me trust in the midst of mystery and questions. May we, when the road ahead seems very unstable and unclear, trust in God's love working for us. May we get working for the love of others and know that we will have answers in the midst of our service.




The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Teach Us to Pray


Jesus  was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given 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 a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:1-13 

Teach Us To Pray

We are bent in anxiety and strain
our toil has taken it's toll
nodding off instead of listening
falling into darkness instead of prayer.

The world is dark and fragile
wet leaves swirl around our heads
our thin blankets paper like in the wind
we hope to make it through the night.

O Lord how do the homeless and outcast pray?
when the world steps over and ignore us
when we are shunned and dispersed
sent away from away from the groaning talbes.

Lord teach us to pray when the tide rises
when hate becomes normal and fear abides
when the deep bitter cold swirls round and round
and when we have no breath left to sing.

 

 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Martha, Martha


Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42

I am sometime Martha, and sometimes Mary. There is always more work to be done. Everyday I look around and see the things I left undone yesterday and grieve my inability to get everything done. And yet, when I take time to delight in God's creation, when I take time to draw near to beloved family and friends, when I take time to listen to the still small voice, I find I am renewed and restored for the work ahead.

Jesus is visiting with beloved friends. His dear friend Martha is overworked and her sister, who by all rights should be helping out, is sitting soaking in every word of Jesus.  Martha's complaint is heard by Jesus. But instead of ordering Mary to do her "womanly" duties, he invites Martha to take a rest, to sit and be fed as well. Sometimes we think that the tasks are most important, but God reminds us today that the relationships we have take precedence always.

Today I ask God to help me take the time that God provides, and to take time with others, trusting that we will find God in our midst. May we all choose the better part, sitting with the words and people of God, soaking in the love and strength we need for the road ahead.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sheep Into the Midst of Wolves


Jesus said, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:16-22

Sheep Into the Midst of Wolves

We remain ever vilgilant
listening even while we eat
staying together so as not to lose
the little ones who like to wander.

We are sheep among the wolves
without sharp tools and defences
people never meant for combat
the innocents caught in the crossfire.

We are those dedicated to peace
to finding green pastures
those willing to be lead by love
always ready to return home.

We know too well our vulnerability
but will not raise a hand to retaliate
love has been our shepherd and guide
and we will follow ever where he leads.

There is no safe pasture for us
just the trust in Divine  shepherd
who, despite the hungry wolves aurrounding
will bring us beyond this dark night.

It is a world of cruel and hungry wolves
doing what comes natural to them
we remain as we were sent forth
Sheep into the midst of wolves.

We are never alone and never hungry
fragile and vulnerable though we are
we are guided by light and love
never needing to destroy to live.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Revealed to Infants


The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" Jesus said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and 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 who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Luke 10:17-24 

One of my daughters, when learning to roller skate, reminded me that she did not need instruction because God had taught her to roller skate in heaven. She remembered clearly being taught but when she first took off on the skates, she didn't seem to remember the lessons. But her confidence in God taking time with her and equipping her with life skills has always inspired me. We too often doubt what God will do for us when we ask. 

Today we read about the return of the seventy two that were sent out. They were overjoyed by the work of the Holy Spirit. They had seen people healed and lives changed. They went out with anxiety and came back with great joy. They had been sent out with nothing and came back with everything! We are invited today to have the same confidence in God working in us as those first sent. We are invited to be as trusting and confident as beloved children. 

Today I ask God to restore our faith. May we be childlike in our faith\. May we trust that God has so much for us to go and so many more lives to change and miracles to provide. May we end this day with the joy of those first sent.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Laborers into the Harvest


After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades.
"Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” Luke 10:1-16 

Laborers
We are Laborers not Lords
our red brown hands rough and torn
our arms strong and burnt by sun
 and our legs weary at the day's end.

We live simply in the shacks provided
warm ourselves with visions of home
laugh together when the field boss is gone
and pray that we will live another day.

No one notices as we walk the ailses
security makes sure we don't steal
we are at once necessary and rejected
we are the laborers in the harvest.

Our clothes are worn and ratty
we migrate with the need and season
we are silently feeding a nation
we work for the Lord of the harvest.

The sand and dirt is in our shoes
it covers our faces and our knees
we are bent and weary from the load
but blessed to be serving the Divine.

We kneel in the muddy fields of gold
and stand in high cotton and corn
we seek the Lord's favor in every season
and ask to be used for the healing of the world.




Monday, October 20, 2014

Follow Me


When the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:51-62 

Every year on the duck pond in Cape May Point, a new batch of little ducks are born. There are a sight to see and a joy to watch. They are awkward and small, struggling to keep up. Their life depends on them following their mother. She will challenge them, and push them, in order that they might survive. Though they follow her, if she senses danger, she will confront the danger along, making the little ones stay back. Her whole life is about giving them the strength and skill to survive, and the ability to go ahead on their own.

Jesus is talking to his disciples  about the hard times ahead. They did not want to hear it, and wanted to punish someone else for their extreme anxiety. Jesus would have us understand that we need to follow closely to learn how to live, we need to lean into the lessons and be challenged beyond where we are comfortable. The Master would have us thrive amidst the challenges, giving us strength and faith for the struggles ahead.

Today, I would follow Jesus. May we be ready to be humble as we follow, willing to give up our images and crowns for the sake of others. May we be ready always to be students of the Divine teacher, who desires to give us the all that we need for the journey ahead.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Proclaim Good News

Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:14-21

Proclaim Good News

We are called to walk this pilgrim road
this path of sharing and releasing
this humble blessed daily trek
following the one who sets us free.

We are called to tell the story
love made real and visible in our lives
love that supplies our needs today
giving us vision for the future.

We are called to go the the streets
the avenues of oppression and abuse
to walk and live with the broken discarded
bringing love's healing and release.

We are called to abide in the challenges
to live in the tension of becoming
we are the human hands of God's love
and we are called to serve others today.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Overshadowed by a Cloud


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

There are moments in our lives when objects that have been hidden are revealed and when the struggles of life seem to finally let go. The past few weeks have been like that for me. I often forget to slow down and notice the changes, to listen to the still small voice of the Divine in my life. I want to get on with things. But there are times when we are simply invited to the mountain top, to absorb the presence and love of God. Sometimes there is nothing more to say than thank you. Sometimes there is nothing else to do but live a life of gratitude.

Jesus takes three of the disciples with him up the mountain. The three disciples were not the most religious, nor the most scholarly. They were rough and tumble fishermen and simply his friends. They witnessed a moment of transfiguration, a moment of revelation. The true nature of Jesus was revealed, as was his relationship to the Divine and all the Ancestors. A scholar might have been tempted to write a book about it and a religious leader might set out on a lecture circuit. These three were overwhelmed by love and gratitude. They held on to the image and the moment. This moment would give them strength for all that they had to face in the coming days.

Today I am grateful to God for clear moments of revelation and insight. May we hold tight to the gifts and insights we have been given, knowing that God will use us in the coming days to strengthen others. May we life with gratitude, knowing God's love and presence have drawn near to us today.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Honest Answers


 Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ They answered, ‘John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Messiah of God.’
 He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’
 Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’  Luke 9:18-27

Honest Answers

You do not have to like the way
I walk or talk or do my job
so unless you can be honest with me
we need no walk together any further.

We are made in the image of the Divine
crafted out of star dust and red earth clay
we are made to live love out loud
being generous with family and stranger alike.

If you do not believe the way I do
you are still part of the human family
still woven from the same rags we all are
and bent by the same overwhelming storms.

Let us be then be truthful together
our warts and faults plainly visible
the marks of living and of falling
might just be the marks of being made new.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bringing Good News


Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money - not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, "John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?" And he tried to see him.
On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place." But he said to them, "You give them something to eat." They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish - unless we are to go and buy food for all these people." For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, "Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each." They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:1-17 

There are times when it is hard to be on the road, to do ministry in multiple places. It is easy to loose track of belonging and one's bearings, as well as finding oneself longing for home and family. With each new invitation of ministry in my life has come the challenge of being on the move, traveling from place to place, being the visitor rather than the hostess. It offers a unique perspective, the perspective of a stranger. Will these people, in this place welcome me?

Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the good news and offer healing. They were enabled to do all he had done in their sight. He also recognized the impossibility of the assignment. People might chose to reject them, but go they must. And in any place, among any people where they went, if they welcomed them and welcomed the good news, God would dwell with them. For us today, God promises to go with us on our hardest journeys and to be with us where ever we welcome God's presence.

Today, I ask God to help me be a faithful disciple. May I go simply and offer what I can, knowing God is with us all. May we all take and share the blessings we have been given. There is enough for all with much left over. May we be the carriers of good news and abundance today.
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Child, Get Up!


 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.
As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her haemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’
 While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.’ When Jesus heard this, he replied, ‘Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.’ When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, ‘Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, ‘Child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:40-56

Child, Get Up!

This day is electric with love
the light and possibility is endless
despite the family making death preparations
a touch will bring power and new life.

Love always is a surprise
when least expected and most needed
God lens in and breathes on the broken
making life wholly new again.

We try not to be hopeful
so we won't be disapointed
God calls us to be childlike
expecting miracles with every breath.

The sorrowing will hear the wind changed
the shaken will be touched with peace
the broken hearted will be mended
love is breaking through again today.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pig Jump


Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As Jesus stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me" -  for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39 

I have been unable to write this blog for a few days. We were at convention and I don't have wifi at my home in Helena yet. We traveled from Helena to Billings for convention and saw some beautiful country side and mountains along the way. There were places along the way that might have been identified as buffalo jumps, those places where local native people would have driven the buffalo in order to trap them. These are places of great power and are held in great reverence, as were the buffalo. The animals were never over hunted but the people took what they needed using every part. With the advent of European fur traders, the sacred buffalo hunt became a reckless slaughter.

Jesus finds a man suffering so severely that the whole village is afraid. His family is afraid of him. The healing made them even more afraid. God's mighty works can startled and frightened us. These can be beyond our understanding. The miracles of God never invite us to destroy others, or take over what was others. The evil within the man destroyed the people's means of survival. It was a moment they would never forget and that place would always be holy to them. Despite their fear, God had stepped in and made whole the most troubled and the most violently tormented. And God promises that for us alos.

On this day, which some people celebrate Columbus Day, and some of us celebrate Indigenous Day of Survival, may we all remember with reverence the mighty gifts of God. May we seek release for the troubled and still expect miracles of love and trnasformation in our tiem.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

She Has Anointed My Feet


One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him - that she is a sinner." Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he replied, "Speak." "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace. Luke 7:36-50 

She Has Anointed My Feet

This love demands activity
a giving impulse from the heart
undeserving of this wondrous love
the tears come rapid and unbidden.

I know my failing are so public
what I have had to do to survive
in this ugly and vulgar world
has made me a broken and scared vessel.

And yet God incarnate has come to dwell
in this city which is so forgotten
he comes among the common people
and makes a holy place for us.

This divine love demands my response
I will give everything to receive from him
there is so little I can truly give
but my grateful heart and soul.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We Played For You



The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" When the men had come to him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?'" Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me."
When John's messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
'See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.'
I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
"To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
'We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not weep.'
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon'; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children." Luke 7:18-35 

 We Played for You

You didn't like our music
it was beneath you kind
you thought us too common
too unlike your people.

You didn't want to believe
that God would touch outcasts
dwell with the great unwashed
and delight in red clay children.

You silenced our loud drum beats
outlawed our dancing and dress
but God entered into the stomp grounds
and brought us all home together.

We shared out food and you gagged
our little we shared with many
you tried to make us a museum
but we thrived with life and love.

God is in the midst of people
in the market and on the rez
in the deep drum beat heart beat
gathered with the joyous remnant.

God is in the market place
and on public transportation
standing in soup kitchen lines
and laughing at the thrift shop. 

Come and find the love of God
in the lost and alien places
in the shadows that you fear
God is surely there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rise


After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:1-17 

After trauma and loss, it can be hard to face the day with joy. When my mother fell this summer, just days after we arrived for a long awaited time together, it knocked me for a loop. She was initially paralyzed from the neck down, needing folks to do everything for her. She is regaining some movement but very slowly and with a great deal of pain. I found myself wrestling with God and what God was doing to this magnificently faithful woman. And  I have no more answers today, but the understanding that despite the worst, God is still doing more.

Jesus healed two different people in two different places in remarkable circumstances. One story is the magnificent faith of the centurion. And the other, the compassion for a mother who has lost her son. We are shown the heart of God in these stories, and God's continuing work in our world. We are invited to rise, to face a new day,  trusting that God's love for the centurion and that nameless mother in Nain, is the same love God has for each of us.

Today I ask God to give me the faith of the centurion. May we not wrestled with the whys but trust God for the answers. May we live knowing we are loved and sought after by the one who gave us all life and redeems us each new day.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Heart's Good Treasure


Jesus also told them a parable: "Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 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, 'Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log 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.
"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house." Luke 6:39-49 

The Heart's Good Treasure

This Mother's heart is full
love bubbling and overflowing
songs of gratitude and joy
for three strong beauties
and the myriad blessings they bring.

When alone and dreary-hearted
 their laughter and smiles break through
the low lying clouds and darkeness
all sadness is conquered by their embrace
all love renewed at the sound of their voices.

They each find ways to tend others
they see the goodness in neglected and scorned
they love beyond reason and capacities
looking into the windows of the souls
and calling forth goodness replacing fear. 

Late at night their voices harmonize
in my dreams still small they dance
and waking I remember their gifts
and seeking out those who have been lost
share the gifts I have in abundance.
 





Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Good Measure


Jesus said, "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:27-38 

There are some days when the abundance of God seems overwhelming. There are other days, of course, when all that I notice are the shortfalls. But autumn in New England is a glorious time. A time of apples and pumpkins everywhere and the trees all around a shock of colors. Today, it is impossible not to be grateful for the full measure pressed down, shaken together and running over. I am blessed with an amazing family, a new home and work that is thrilling and challenging. 

Jesus challenges his friends to love their enemies and to give love in abundance. He tells them to be merciful and to live without judging others. Some days that is a hard challenge, and yet, when we open our arms and hearts to others we see the abundance of God around us. It changes our eyesight and our perspective as well as our hearts.

This day I ask God to help me give thanks for the abundance that surrounds and nurtures me. May our gratitude take the shape of offering, our lives given for the care and love of others. May we strive to love all with the love we desire for ourselves. May we know God richly as we give ourselves away.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Blessed Are You


Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
"Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
"Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
"Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
"Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
"Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
"Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:12-26 

Blessed Are You

You are blessed on the east or the west coast
in the heat of the south or the chilly north
in the early morning dampness or the dry noonday
God has decided to visit and to dwell.

You are blessed as you the wind whips you face
fishing in frigid waters extra toughs filled with water
facing the rising seas and the hidden coastline
the Holy One stands along side of you.

And when the fields are ripe with corn
and the heat is oppressing and bugs relentless
when only the poor and foolish are out working
divine love surrounds your every labor.

And you in the kitchens and nurseries tending
the life of the dependent infants and aged as well
who clean clothes and the floors while everyone sleeps
you are blessed by the tender touch of God incarnate.

And you child who has never been welcomed
always suspect and never fitting in
your language and traditions peculiar and rejected
the loving Creator sits next to you as the tears flow.

And grandmother bent from years of toil
the stories you tell seem ancient and confusing
the young ones turned away to little screens
God's love sings with you those old melodies of love.