Saturday, January 31, 2015

Context and Culture

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.'  "You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."
Then he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.' But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, 'Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban' (that is, an offering to God) - then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this."
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile."
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, "Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7:1-23 
We are leaving soon for a trip to Rome, where I will be leading a conference. Afterwards we will have time to tour and visit and take in the sights. I have never been to Rome, so  trying to understand the context and culture of a place I've never been is very difficult. It is not just the language, the customs or the food. It is understanding what has power and influence, how people think about themselves and one another, and how they face the world every morning. For each place and people, these things are very different. As an Indigenous American, I know our peoples and cultures are vastly different and we cannot be lumped together. Each tribe has different rituals, influences and world views. 
Jesus and his disciples were upsetting the norms of the culture and were under criticism from the ruling elite. They were being called evil, when all that they were was hungry travelers. A debate over good and evil arose. We humans often cast other people and cultures as evil when we do not understand. But Jesus points out that human tradition is neither good or evil. Evil is a product of the human heart - those behaviors and attitude that destroy and lessen others, that put ourselves as better than others.
Today I ask God to give me a listening heart and eyes to see the gifts around me. May we all understand that we have the capacity for good and evil, and may we chose everyday to bring good into the world. May we not use our hearts and mind for judgement but rather for learning and opening to new blessings around us.

Friday, January 30, 2015

In Deep

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:47-56 
 I arrived home yesterday morning early and the walls of snow were deep and high. Despite the fact that our road is plowed, our old car is having a rough time getting up our steep and snowy hill. Sometimes the things we take for granted can be impossibly challenging. Snow is just cold, chunky water. And yet snow can change everything. The taxi that drove me home had to stop at the entrance to our little street. We carried the bags the rest of the way.
The disciples were out on the boat. This was a normal, everyday occurrence for these hearty fishermen. The water was an everyday part of their lives. But that night it was dangerous. A little wind and they were tossed and thrown. Disoriented in the dark, they lost their bearing. And Jesus came to them, walking on the sea and brought them calm in the face of their fears. When our everyday lives are tossed and thrown, when the simple things become impossible, we are reminded that God is in the midst of our worst storms, making a way for us, making a way to us.
Today, I ask God to help me trust completely in the midst of my worst storms. May we face the impossibilities of our lives with new hope, always ready to pray, always ready to reach out to God. And may we be a comfort when others are tossed and have lost their bearings, being the hands of Christ to a frightened world.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Small Lunch

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves have you? Go and see." When they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. Mark 6:30-46 

A Small Lunch

A Small lunch, five loaves two fish,
a bowl of homemade pea soup
a smiling face of love across the table
and miracles happen.

When there seem to be not enough
when hope and virtue are lacking
let us offer what we have
and feed the helpless ones around us.

The snow may be piled up high
and the challenges surround us
but God is drawing near to us
and love with satisfy every need.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Turning My Mountains into Roads

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’
But I said, ‘I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—
he says, ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’

Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, ‘Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’

Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you;
I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out’,to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’ They shall feed along the ways, on all the bare heights shall be their pasture;
they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,
for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.
And I will turn all my mountains into a road, and my highways shall be raised up.
Lo, these shall come from far away, and lo, these from the north and from the west,
   and these from the land of Syene. Isaiah 49:1-12 

Today I will set out again for home. I will attempt to fly out of Helena, this majestic city nestled in the mountains, my second home, to the east coast where my family is waiting, knee deep in newly deposited snow. I have been delayed by several days. In this time I have had the chance to relish what a gift it is to have people waiting upon one's arrival, how precious it is to have people who live love large no matter the circumstances and complications.

In our lovely passage from Isaiah, this vision of God's care for those who have been bound, those who have been darkness, those who have been kept from the nourishing love of family. God reminds us all that despite the complications and circumstances, God is always acting for us in our suffering, in our challenges and finding us a road home.

Today I ask God for safe travel and a smooth road home. May we always trust God for the next steps in our journey and may we always know we have a home with our beloved Creator.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Words and Wisdom

Jesus said, "But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict." Luke 21:12-15

I was supposed to be on a flight home Monday arriving in Boston today, Tuesday morning. I spent all Monday morning with religious leaders at the Montana legislature. It was a great learning experience and a wonderful chance to meet leaders across Montana. While all that was going on I was going back and forth as flights were getting canceled, mine included. Now I will not get home until Thursday morning. I wanted to stomp my feet and cry, I ached to have my way. And yet the people on the other end had no control of the weather and were doing all they can for me. Words and wisdom came in the form of gratitude. Thanksgiving for people who were kind and helpful despite the highly anxious patrons they were dealing with.

Jesus told his followers that there were major challenges ahead. Now simply a change of plans but life threatening, spirit crushing challenges. And he promised them that words and wisdom would be given them. They did not have to worry about how to prepare, because they we not alone. Jesus would give them words and wisdom. And we too, are not alone in our most crushing challenges. Our needs will be met no matter how overwhelming the circumstances might be.

Today, I ask God to help me remember that many people are facing spirit crushing circumstances. May we be given words of comfort and wisdom to be compassionate to all we encounter today.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Do Not Worry

Jesus said to the twelve, "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

Tomorrow I am heading home from Montana and returning home. There is another big snow storm bearing down on New England. It is hard to hear the words, "don't worry ", when you really want to get home. When everything is in upheaval and nothing seems reliable, it can be hard to hear those words. And the truth is, there is nothing that worry can really do to change the weather or the behavior of others. Wolves will still be wolves and weather will still surprise us.

Jesus was sending his disciples out with a promise. He promised that despite the real struggles they would face, the would also be supplied with what they would need. There will be words when needed, there will be strength when called upon, and the Spirit will be with us in every storm to come. We may tremble when the situation is strenuous and overwhelming but God will provide what we need in every circumstances. We are held securely in the palm of love's hands.

Today I ask God to give me peace and help me set aside all worry. May we put our energy in service and care and let worry go. May we trust that we carry the Holy Spirit and that same spirit will provide every need, moment by moment.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Leaving Nets

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

My life has been draped with nets. Fishing nets are part of my life's visible background, the floats woven into the nets, some brilliant plastic colors and others, ancient ropes repaired over and over again. To leave the nets means to set all of the basic fabric, the rhythm of the tides and the definition of life aside. My life has been defined by the ocean, and by the music of life by the sea. It hits hard to hear Jesus ask these men to leave aside all that is known.

Jesus comes to these simple fishermen and changes their lives forever. They left their father, their home and the crew they have known all their lives to follow a stranger beckoning them on. For the love of the world they went. For the love of God and the redemption of their people they went. Somewhere deep in themselves they understood the importance of this invitation and took the chance. Life afterwards was not easy. But they somehow also knew that their sacrifice of comfort and familiarity would transform the world.

Today I ask God to help us all respond yes to the invitation despite the losses we might suffer. May we trust that God will give us new fabric and new communities of faith and love as we step out and follow. And may we remember that we can follow and will never be left alone.

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Other Side

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me." For he had said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion; for we are many." He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, "Send us into the swine; let us enter them." So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you." And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. Mark 5:1-20 
The Other Side 
Having survived one storm
hit again with raw and agonizing human need
 a broken young man whose  mind terrorizes
which has woven trouble for the whole village.
We are tossed like flotsam on the ocean
surrounded by evil left to one's own devices
we want to run away and go with the healer.
But here we must stay on the other side
with our people and our community
absorbing the healing we have been given
and building anew the love that passed by.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Storms on the Sea

On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" Mark 4:35-41 
 I have been dreaming about storms on the ocean. These have been some stormy times for me. And yesterday, finding out my mother has another diagnosis to add to the pain of her already aching body, seemed like more than one can bear. Having lived my life by the ocean, I know what real storms are like and how dangerous they are to human (and all) life. I have been on a boat when a storm comes up. Getting to port, getting to shore is the only goal. And everyone on board is racked with fear. It is a very real feeling to consider God as being asleep in the stern careless to our perishing. 
The Gospel today reminds us that we are never alone, even in the worst of life's storm. God is truly with us and we are invited to be in dialogue with God in our daily fears, the big ones and the little ones, seeking through prayer a way beyond the crisis. God's strength and power are not limited like ours and Christ Jesus is not asleep at either the helm or the stern. God abides with each of us, tenderly riding along on good and bad seas.
Today  I ask God for peace within, Though I also would like the storms to subside I trust that there is already a way forward. May we offer our fears and anxieties to God this day, trusting that our safe harbor awaits and that God is moving us beyond these storms to a new and brilliant shore.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Brought to Light

Jesus said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!" And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away."
He also said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.
He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. Mark 4:21-34

Brought to Light
This quiet tranquil and obscure place
make me feel secure and hidden away
no one can find me here nestled
in the silent comfort of deep night.

Every night is answered by daylight
every hateful thing answered by love
every small seed becomes broken open
and abundance cannot be held back.

The stories we tell obscure our faults
and belie our need for healing and light
we hunker down hibernating in darkness
awaiting a new season new restoration.

We need no longer wait for God is with us
Emmanuel has come for all and all time
in our darkness there is tender illumination
in our sorrow the soothing healing songs.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Good Soil

Again Jesus began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold." And he said, "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"
When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that
'they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'"
And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold." Mark 4:1-20 
 There is a peculiar phenomenon that happens this time of year. Sometime shortly after the holidays are over, in the deepest dark of winter, the seed catalogs start arriving. For us amateur gardeners, it is a breath of life, a hope for the future, and a big tease. Everything around is brown, bleak and frozen. And yet there is the promise that one day there will be a chance to plant and grow again. Some day soon we will be able to turn and feed the earth, making it a strong home for the seeds and plants to come.
Jesus uses the images of good soil to talk about receiving the word of God and bearing fruit. We all know that as humans we are too often careless and shallow, with good intentions but lacking the discipline necessary to provide a healthy living environemnt for faith. We are invited today, as we ponder our hopes for spring, to prepare the soil of our hearts, making ready to be abundant. We care invited to ponder and pray as we make ready for new seeds and new fruit, all gifts from God.
Today I ask God to give me the patience to prepare. May we take time in prayer and preparation for the new seeds God is sending to us. May we be those gardeners who take the time to make ready, to weed and to feed, so that God may use us abundantly in the coming seasons.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A House Divided

Then Jesus went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind." And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons." And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"—for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit." Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." Mark 3:19b-35 

As parents of three children, we have often been asked, by our daughters, of course, who is our favorite. The answer always comes back, from both of us, that we love them equally. And yet the desire, to be the best, to stand out beyond the others, and to divide the flock is a constant in life in a household. But as parents, we know the truth. We do love them each completely and together we are more than divided into our individual gifts and tendencies.

In our Gospel today, Jesus is being pulled in many directions both by the religious leaders and his family. He stood fast with their pulling and told them that a house divided cannot stand. We are stronger together, and if we want to be the family of God, we will love the work of being a people together. We always want to be chosen as the favorite, or have God chose our team, but we are invited today to work at being a family together in love and service.

Today I ask God to help me work at bringing people together in God's love. May we be dedicated to the justice and compassion of God, welcoming all to the family of God. May we make room for all who would be our siblings, and trust that God will hold us all together.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Love Your Enemies

Jesus said, "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."  Luke 6:27-36

Love Your Enemies

I met you once as a child Dr. King
a gathering of clergy families at the manse
we weren't marching anywhere that night
just laughing, praying and feasting together.

You who would let freedom ring
held one child and playfully chased another
little children together so different so the same
all beloved in the eyes of God.

You who had a dream could see
with the eyes of God, how loved we are
how treasured we were as children to a father
a father who sees not color but the heart.

You who left us way too soon
still sing full voiced lift every voice and sing
lift each footstep down each aisle urban street
we move together towards the loving arms of God.

May we walk today in your long shadow
the shadow that reveals the love of God in each
the shadow that will not recoil from the peaceful fight
until all the world can gather by the living stream.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Under the Fig Tree

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

There are safe places and hiding places, places where we can be and feel completely ourselves. The places, these arbors of comfort and familiar, make us feel secure and at home. We are comforted, and peaceful. We had a fig tree when I was a child that was so easy to hide within and there we could find coolness and quiet, so near home and so safe. We all need places where we know ourselves, comforted and in our element.

Jesus came to the place where Nathaniel was at home. Jesus found him in his element, where he was honestly and completely himself. Nathaniel is convinced to follow Jesus because the teacher knew him in his completeness, his down to earth self and accepted and welcomed him just as he was. And God takes us all that way, completely in our simple, whole selves, warts, wounds, challenges, awards and all. In our completely we are loved.

Today I ask God to help me embrace the welcome God has offered, to come just as I am. May we never be afraid to draw close to God for God see us in our completeness and loves us completely. And may we draw near to others accepting them as we have been, completely.

The Collect 
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fields of Grain

 One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ And he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 2: 23-3:6

Fields of Grain

The mountains majestic are covered
in their deep winter coats of snow
a pearly alabaster reminder of life
resting  a season and hidden away.

Oh that today we could walk those
dusty warm alleyways between stalks
flaxen and bending so ever ripe
we sit within brooding walls and wait.

Healing and plenty come in season
this juncture is ours of planning and hope
when the early morning light returns
illuminating the love that has always been.

Rise up, you weary wayfarers and pilgrims
you wounded and afflicted hungry ones
for the God of harvest welcomes you
to the jubilant feast that is set for all.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Water and Wineskins

 Jesus went out again beside the lake; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
 And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax-collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
 ‘No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.’
 One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ And he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’ Mark 2:13-30

My work focuses on helping Indigenous folks take places of leadership in the church. We struggle a good deal with adapting the traditional culture to the church and the church to the culture. Some folks might criticize the work we do, as not being orthodox. And yet for too long the church has told Native people that who they are is not invited to the table. We are making new wine skins, places of hope and possibility, forming new ways to welcome people into the faith and honor authentically the gifts they bring.

Jesus went down by the water and called a tax collector. Then he went and ate with them and joined them at their table. The religious orthodoxy of the day said this was scandalous. And yet Jesus challenged them and us to understand that broadening the love of God is never anything but good. Making a place at the table and rejoicing in welcoming the other is essential to out faith.

Today I ask God to help me sit at the table with strangers and learn from them. May we always be making new wine skins, new possibilities rather than shutting others out. We who live in a time of radicalized religion that punishes difference - may we be known as those who are always making room, always making love visible.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Through the Roof

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic— ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’ And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ Mark 2:1-12

Through the Roof
The convinced me to go
despite my reluctance and discomfort
vulnerable for all the world to see
probably returning no better than before.

They love me well and constantly
seek to heal my brokenness as if I shame them
as if my useless limbs remind them of fraility
they want to hide me away.

But no they lift me up down the road
a great swelling crowd is gathered
and there is no room for me
but love persists will not take no.

Up to the roof they go gently swinging me
they set me down and get to work
to beat a hole into the roof
a pathway to lower me to God.

The touch of love persistent and coruageous
has brought me to this day trembling
I want so much to be whole again
and see turn my face to heaven's light.

I am touched and held forgiven set free
a dependent no longer but a part of all
mended now I will sing the healing for all
and persevere for God walks among us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What I Came Out to Do

 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. Mark 1:29-41

I have been reflecting on the many women who I had the great blessing to spend time with this past week. Mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers. All women who had faced tremendous challenges in their lives, who have suffered and lost, who had been set aside and who still serve with joy. Each knows the Creator's love, and knows the real presence of Christ in their lives. they walk traditional roads and serve their people, their families and their communities with joy. They know they were created to bring love and healing to their communities.

Jesus begins his ministry by calling his disciples and then ministering to their families and their communities. They want him to stay local but he knows he is called to all the people on that road. He knows the needs are great and there is so much hurt and anger that wants to interfere with healing. With joy and faith he sets out and they can't help but follow along. We are created to bring healing and love, as were the disciples. Some are called to our local tribes and communities and others are called beyond. Where ever we are called, we follow Christ, because that is what He came out to do. We can't help but follow.

Today I ask God to help me follow where ever Jesus leads, with the joy and faith of the mothers and grandmothers I encountered. May we all rise up in the morning and do what we are called to do, to love and serve, bringing healing as we follow in the footsteps of the master.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Leaving Nets

 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—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 1:16-20

Leaving Nets

The sand that slips between my toes
familiar like close family
and the reflected sun off the water
we know each other so well.

Oh Ocean I have sung the old songs
and you have sung right back to me
we are two parts of the same life
we are breathing out and in together.

I dream of you in restless nights
an in sweet childhood dreams there you were
together we have faced many angry tides
living to laugh again at oranged soaked sunset.

And now  Oh Ocean I am called away
from the salt stained nets of my life
of the paint peeling wooden boat
who fits me perfect like a glove.

All of the soft familiar sunrises
and the intimate night time fires
I must leave you all behind dear friends
I am being called further on.

My love for you will never falter
you made me who I am today
and in my sorrow and dreaming
I will return to you for comfort.

Today I must hurry on despite the desire
to linger at one more sunlit day
so let me go and welcome me back
for our Creator calls me on to new seas.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Measured the Waters

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him? Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice? Who taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Even the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as dust on the scales; see, he takes up the isles like fine dust. Lebanon would not provide fuel enough, nor are its animals enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him; they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol?—A workman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts for it silver chains. As a gift one chooses mulberry wood—wood that will not rot—then seeks out a skilled artisan to set up an image that will not topple. Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Isaiah 40:12-23 
 I have been thinking recently about water and baptism. Yesterday at All Saints' Church in Farmington, we heard the Gospel reading from Mark about the baptism of Jesus. He went down into the water and when he came back up things had changed. Water is so much a part of life, in fact necessary for life, and many of the major Gospel stories revolve around water. Water changing into wine, an encounter with a woman at the well which changed her whole community - so much of our faith stories surrounded by water. Isaiah reminds us that God measures the water by hand, a very tactile and real reminder of the full engagement of God in the very basic needs of our lives. God's hand touching the water we were baptized with, changing us forever into the children of God.
Today, as I work in snowy Helena, I am grateful for the reminders of water all around. May we be grateful for the waters of blessing, the source and sustenance of life. And may we remember that God has touched those same waters and made us children, embedded in the tribe and family  of God forever.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Baptism of Jesus

 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." 

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." Mark 1:4-11

Today we celebrate the baptism of Jesus. And in doing so we remember our own baptism, we recall that we too are adopted into God's family. The words from heaven, are for us too. As a parent looks with love on their child, so too does God look on us with love without end, love without measure. We stand again in the water with Christ, we dive deep down and rise up in a new life. We are given a community that stretches back through time, a cloud of witnesses and a communion of saints. This family stands with us, reminding us of how deeply we are loved.

Today I ask God to help me see again with the eyes of love. May we all be those who remind everyone we encounter of God's love for them and how they are embedded in the family of God. They are never alone and held closely to the heart of God.

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Nothing May Be Lost

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’ John 6:1-14

Nothing May Be Lost

There seems so little to share
and the need so vast and great
a field of hungry far from home
a child offers us all hope.

The leadership could see the lack
no bread to stretch for so many
the broken people healed but weak
hoping for a meal for the journey.

We are not left starving in the field
the Creator of the shimmering grass
comes dancing into the sad circle
and lifts the heads of every single one.

Abundance bursting from small offering
small seeds broken open with fruit
a crescendo of hope and possibility
a great feast for the poor and least.

Spread the blanket on this sacred earth
which aches to be reborn and abundant
touch the earth and reach the skies
the blessings come from the heart of God.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Jesus called his disciples and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."  Mark 10:42-45

I spent the morning visiting St. Micheal's in Fruitland and sheep camp with my dear friend Cornelia and the Bishops of Province 8.Although I have been to both places before I enjoy being with those who are experiencing these special places for the first time and hearing the stories of those who have labored and served for generations. Key, the sheep herder met us out at camp, and I was struck by his faithfulness and constancy. The weather beaten face could not hide the sparkle in his eyes, and the joy he has in caring for the sheep. It's a tough job, and yet he delights in what he does. I thought I hope we bishops who are gathered are able to have the joy in serving as he does.

Jesus reminds us that we are not to be like the captains of industry, or the bosses in our world. We are called to be servant leaders, to lay our lives down, along with our attitudes and egos, for all we encounter. We are called to shed our needs, listening and responding to the needs around us. We are invited to find ourselves on our hands and knees if we are called to be leaders.

Today I ask God to help me be the humble leader I am called to be. May  we be ready at all times to give away our ideas in order to make room for those in our care. May we put down our expectations in order to make room for love. May we let in the love of Christ into our beings, and be servants today and always.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:1-12

I have been spending these past few days in the Episcopal Church in Navajoland. I have been seeing and hearing of the wonderful ministries that are happening here. We walked out yesterday to see the hogan that is under construction on the grounds of Good Shepherd, Fort Defiance. Each log has felled, stripped and prepared by members of the congregation. They hope to have it ready so that it can be used for ceremonies of cleansing and blessing. The challenges are many in this place and yet the beauty of the land and the gifts of the people are incredible. Everywhere I have been I have been blessed and encouraged.

We are invited in our Gospel today to understand that true blessing is often surrounded by great challenges. God's blessings are often hidden from sight, and never draped in silk and satin. God's blessings are found in the messiness and complexity of life. And blessings come to those who are willing to be hungry for compassion and justice and to who love freely despite the condemnation of the world.

Today, I ask God to help me see the blessings around me. May the stark sunlight mesas and the snow dotted hills remind us of God's presence and blessing. May we even find blessing in our hunger and our pain, as we seek to love as God has loved us.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Water Into Wine

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11 

Water Into Wine

Momma leave me alone
I am not ready for this job
the world is wanting more from me
than I can ever give.

I know you think I'm gifted
but I feel challenged all the time
you want to see miracles everyday
like water into wine.

We humans cannot make miracles
we can live into the gifts we're given
we can have the faith and pray all day
and hope the hardened hearts are moved.

I was shaped from birth to be more
than others before me I know
and yet there are shadows everywhere
and I like the hidden life.

Your persistence and your love
force me to demonstrate
a simple sign of God's presence
in something that will disappear.

So I will make the water wine
but will pray for changing hearts
love made visible in every day
forgiveness as miracle's sign.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mary's Final Letter - Epiphany

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

`And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.  Matthew 2:1-12

Dearest Aunt Elizabeth,

the most wondrous and thrilling visit happened today. Remember how I had told you that we had reports of strangers looking for our child? Well today they came to visit. They were wise, gentle men, dressed in exotic silks and splendid robes. They smelled of exotic spices and rich oils. They came into our little dwelling, this humble stable asking to see the king that has been born. They told us wonderful stories of what they had read from the stars. And they had followed a star here, right here where we are. They sat with us and brought us foods of all sorts - dates and nuts, fruits of all colors - more than I could describe. Much I had never seen before. We were overwhelmed! But that was not all.

They then presented their gifts, gifts fit for royalty. They gave us gold, frankincense and myrrh. Overwhelming riches and overwhelming generosity. We did not know what to say or how t thank them, They told us they were just doing their part. And then they shocked us by telling us we could not go home, that the authorities were looking for us. They had decided to go home a different way so not to reveal our location. They told us we were in danger, and that we must hurry and not look back.

Now we are packing up in quite a hurry. Joseph tells me he had a dream that verifies what the wise men said. He thinks we need to find our way into Egypt. He has some relatives there and people here are helping us with arrangements. All my dreams of coming home are gone. This will be the last letter I send for a while, until we are safe and no longer in danger.

Oh Auntie, it is so marvelous and scary all at the same time. God is surely guiding our steps and protecting us, but it is not how I imagined it at all. Just when I think I understand, the plan changes in an instant. Please send my love to everyone and pray for us as we journey on, with God's help.



Monday, January 5, 2015

Mary Letter -Day 36 -Restore Us Again

Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin.
 You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation towards us.
Will you be angry with us for ever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people,
   to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps. Psalm 85

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

yesterday was a real trial for me. It was as if I was overwhelmed with worry and sadness. The clouds had moved in, the temperature fell, and the skies drop rain for hours. Maybe it is the nature of life in the stable, that all animals, including, get close together when the weather turns bad. It seemed as if the whole group of living beings were worrying together. Fortunately, the sun rose high and clear today. It is a beautiful promising day. How easy it is to be turned to sadness. It can be easy to forget God's promises to us all.

Joseph and I have talked about going home. Jesus is strong and I am fully recovered from the birth. We think the road home is much less congested and we should be able to move quickly. I am excited about finding our way home, reuniting with Momma and Papa, and sharing our little one with our families. My sadness of yesterday has been replaced with hope and joy.  I cannot wait to embrace you also and to see young John! We have so much to catch up on. You have so much to teach me, as does Momma. I realize how much she has to share with me, now I am a mother too. Oh, I have so much to learn.

Love always,