Friday, February 27, 2015

Living and Active

Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:11-16 

Living and Active
Buried beneath the snow nothing moving
seeds hidden beneath the crusted ice
reaching down to the forgotten soil below
life and breath are moving despite our present vision .

The holiness and fruitfulness is not long gone
resting for a newly hoped for blossoms
nights are shorter days stretched beyond our sightlines
underneath our despair is life making ready again.

The Creator is neither asleep nor resting
but singing, rehearsing new love songs
whispering the possibilities and creations
that are breaking now through the crusted ice.

Come let us listen again ti the Word
the voice of God's love impregnating all that was cold
a lullaby, a reel and a jig to dance to 
breaking forth unexpected but surely welcome.
 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Joy has Been Fulfilled

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
Now a discussion about purification arose between John's disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath. John 3:22-36 

The true joy of a parent is to privately smile while your child does something amazing. Our three daughters have always amazed us, always and continually given us reasons to smile. We were put on this earth to give them life, strength, safety and a home while they need it. We know also that it is our great joy to step out of the light and exit offstage as they move with great agility through the world. When you love someone, when you have had the privilege to  nurture them and watch them grow, it is the ultimate joy to watch them fly, and to fade into the distance with a smile on your face.
John knew his time of preparation and nurture were coming to a close. He always understood it was not about ego, competition nor accomplishment. He knew God's call to love meant to nurture, set the stage and get out of the way. True love is never about ego or competition. Genuine love is pure joy in the joy of others. We are invited today to live as John did, getting out of the way of God and letting love shine through us all.
Today I ask God to help me get out of the way, and find joy in loving completely. May we be like John, who took great joy in paving the way, and in so doing, made room for God's transforming love incarnate in Christ. May love transform us all this day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

By Night

When Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
"Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." John 2:23 - 3:15 

By Night
When the brightness of the day leaves us
and we are on our very own alone
it is then the darkness seeps in
and fear deep in the stomach's pits arrives.

We like Nicodemus fear we do not understand
we are not faithful or bright enough
we are no match for the world's temptations
and we sink to our knees in worry.

 At night we return to childhood
haunted by our inadequacies and faults
jealous and desirous of other children's gifts
wanting to be accepted and special too.

The Creator in the deepness of night
hears our shallow breathing and our tears
gave us hearts to hear hope in the dimness
and made us new as we give into sleep.

We are made new in the deepest dark
remodeled and caressed for the newer day
restored as a child in loving arms
made whole despite all the night's terrors.
 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Laborers in the Vineyard


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

Farm labor is hot, back breaking work. The harvest demands multiple hands working efficiently. Very few of us realize how physically demanding this kind of work is, nor do we have experience with the field bosses. Some are kind but many are harsh and pay by the load or poundage harvested. We are not talking about gentle bosses, but cruel and intense with few protections for the workers. Life in the fields is a hard life. It makes folks either cruel to each other sometimes, and sometimes a camaraderie develops that  is a world unknown to the field bosses. Although the product down the line -fancy wines etc- might fetch a big price, the people who bend and sweat to harvest, see the least of that money.

In to an harsh environment of filed bosses, competition and abuse, Jesus comes to turn the tables. He tells us that God's justice treats all fairly and equally, and even those who came late will have enough to take home to feed their families. It seems almost unjust, to not get credit for hours of labor. But we also know that many don't always have the same opportunities, the same skills, the same capacity. And yet we are invited to be humble, like the last, to understand that we will be provided with enough, and even plenty. God's justice is for all at all times.

Today I ask God to help me put aside any jealousy or competitiveness and to take delight in the gifts given. May we all rejoice in knowing that there is enough for us all, and no matter when we show up, God will provide a place for us and enough for the day.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Water to 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.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days .John 2:1-12
There are very few good things about being sick. I have been laid up for a while but I have been blessed to have my family around. We have laughed so much, done a puzzle together, and talked at length. Embedded in a loving family or community, even when you're not feeling well, you can forget all about the discomfort and the challenges. Family can bring the best out in us all.
Jesus' first miracle happened within the context of family. He was with his family at a wedding, most likely a family wedding. It was at this event, where his mother encouraged him, almost nagged him, into his real role of Messiah. He resisted, as we all might resist the push of others to step out in faith. Often those who love us can see what is possible in us when we cannot. Mary saw the potential in her child and knew it was time for him to act on it.
Today I am grateful to God for a loving family and a community of supportive friends. May we be those who encourage the gifts and the blessings that others have. May we help them know they are blessed by God and feel confident about their gifts. And may we make it our business today to see the miracles that are the family of God which surrounds us all..

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Following

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 
Following
In dance class the teacher would lead
and we would try to follow the steps
some student took to it quickly
and others went in crooked ways.

Awkward and attempting to understand
the Teacher tells us to follow and we wonder
whether this will be another failed attempt
to draw near to grace.

We are seen under our fig tree hiding place
we are known in our late night wakefulness
we are known in our fearfulness and anxiety
and as we are known we are called and loved.

Come on and follow the one who loves
the awkward, the friendless and the poor
who dances with the lame and the weak
and calls all of us into the center of the circle.

 

 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Come and See

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!"
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). John 1:35-42 

Transitions are always hard. Moving from one self understanding to another is always challenging.  A new job, a new home, a sudden move or illness - all of these can stress us to the max. We are in a new home, I have a new job, and there have been many changes in our daughters' lives, We are all coming to terms with new ways of being. It is hard sometimes, in these transitions, to imagine what is ahead, or what a stable future might look like,
The men who were following John, encountered Jesus and knew that changes were before them. They were in the midst of a transition and were faced with questions. Jesus asked them what they want and they reply they want to see where he is staying. Seems a silly question. But they were seeking a deeper understanding of their  own lives and what it meant to be standing at this critical intersection, this massive transition in their lives. What they had been waiting for had come and now they had to imagine themselves in new ways, The good news is that Jesus took them to his place and made them welcome. And in our days ahead, we will also be shown safe places and made welcome. We are always welcome to come and see.
Today I ask God to help me to ask for what I need.to be shown. May we trust that God is always making a place for us and welcoming us all along the road, no matter how confusing or rocky it may seem. May we trust that we are held firm in stable and loving hands that likewise hols our futures, secure and welcoming, always.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I Saw the Spirit



The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God." John 1:29-34 






I Saw the Spirit

In the deep snowed winter
nights long and never ending
deep within the darkness
the dreams come unbidden.

The faces of a thousand witnesses
those who loved and taught well
and those who tortured and teased
all waiting in another world just beyond.

The spirit comes and rouses hope
for spring and plants awakening
of life renewed and balance regained
of light enough to made flowers blossom.

In the depths of the dream nightscape
the spirit whispers through the ancient ones
dear ones who have walked on
reminding the sleeper there is more to life.

In the shallows of the morning dawn
when shadows barely resinate
I saw the spirit and certainly saw
that love was walking the earth again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday


Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." Luke 18:9-14 

All of the sudden it is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In the midst of a winter that has crippled so many, we take time to reflect on our humanity, our failings and humble ourselves as we prepare for the coming passion of Christ and Easter. It is a holy moment, a liminal moment, when we turn inward and have a conversation with ourselves and with God. We are invited to be humble in the coming days, seeking not our will but God's will, and recapturing gratitude.
Lent is also a time when many give something up. Others find it more useful to take something up, embrace a discipline or service that helps them reflect on God's blessings in their life. While in Rome, we met with an order of folks who - both lay and ordained alike commit to three simple rules of life. Live simply, pray once a day at a designated time and befriend the friendless. Over the years their ministries have grown in phenomenal ways. We ate in a restaurant where they teach developmentally delayed folks to cook and serve so they can go on to full employment. They take up loving others in order to bring Christ's love to the world.
May this Ash Wednesday be a time when we all turn inward and follow outward where God is calling. May we be truly humble so that God can use us to being the love of Christ to the world through our loving.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fat Tuesday

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.John 1:19-28 
Fat Tuesday
As they dance down the street
ending the celebrations for a time
the Lord of the Dance is with them
making merry and drawing us all in.

As we feast one last time before Lent
when we let go for a time and party
in the midst of all the wild hullabaloo
the Holy One is sitting with us too.

God brought forth the plenty and the want
the need to be silent and the urge to cry with joy
all the world is on the edge of new life
and we must take our joy where we find it.

Tomorrow is for ashes and for introsepction
today is for giving thanks for life pulsing through
even deep within the snow drifts we can rejoice
for we are safe and warm within God's arms.
 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. John 1:1-18 
I am stuck here at home, since flights were cancelled and rearranged. I will fly to Montana later this week when a seat is finally available. This present world in Northern most Massachusetts is covered in white fluffy snow, piled eight and ten feet high, and crystals blowing in the bitter wind. Living in the flesh means living within the circumstances that are dealt us, surviving with the challenges we face, whether from weather, circumstances or illness. And John's Gospel reminds us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, living our challenges and weather, struggling against circumstances and illness.
John's Gospel begins, not with the story of Jesus' birth, but of the beginning of time, where the word was embedded in the Creator and then released for a time to bring us grace upon grace and make us children of God. Remarkable words, simple but powerful. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ - the ability to be part of the living family of God, fully human and yet completely a part of the heart of God. What a creation story, that from the beginning of time, God's activity was always to bring us home, to welcome the travelers, the outsiders, the pilgrims, the broken, a home in the heart of God.
Today I ask God to help me live with the gifts I have been given. May we all receive grace upon grace today, and in the midst of challenges this winter brings, remember that we have been sought out by God since the beginning of time.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

By the Roadside

They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 
We are awaiting another snow storm and wondering where the snow will go. We have huge snow piles by the side of the road, so that people frequently disappear by the roadside as they walk along the sidewalks. There is no visibility at intersections often, so one has to be extra careful when entering the roadways around here. Pedestrians are unseen until they are walking out in the road. It makes for a hazardous walk, a hazardous drive, a crazy day for everyone.  It is easy to overlook the needs of others, as we struggle to get to the grocery store with everyone else in a panic. 
Jesus was walking with his disciples on a journey. They were focused making progress along the way. When a blind man interrupted them, they first wanted to ignore him as a nuisance. But Jesus stopped and took time with the man who was willing to risk life, limb and embarrassment to be touched by Jesus.  The roadside encounter changed the man's life forever - he could see. It changed the people around him too, for the messiah told him that his faith had made him well, and they too wanted health and wholeness. And it changed everything because again we see that casual roadside encounters can change the world.
Today I ask God to give me the patience to have the small, casual encounters. May our journeys never be too important to overlook the needs of others. May we take the time to offer a touch, a hand, a word of encouragement for those we encounter today.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Servant of All


They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again."
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them 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 as a ransom for many." Mark 10:32-45 
 Servant of All
Returned home to a wall of snow 
another shoveled and moved mountains
another made the way clear and safe
someone cared enough to make way.

We live in a world of competition
and yet none can live without those who serve
the ones who keep us safe and moving
those who feed us and make our way clear.

Those who would be first might put in boots
and make way safe for others clearing and salting
 might find the broom or the kitchen
and make a place for the neediest of us all.
 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Let the Little Children

Jesus left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them .Mark 10:1-16   

Today is our last full day in Rome. We will be up very early to fly home tomorrow. I have been astounded every day, by delights and wonders that I did not expect.The welcome of Bishop Whalon and his clergy was truly touching and enveloping. Archbishop Moxon taking us to the excavation where Paul spent his last two years of life under house arrest was an  amazing and breath taking moment. Deacon Ruben, who gave us a private tour of the scavi under St. Peter's Basillica was unforgettably touching, and our snowy visit to the carceri where St. Francis went to pray was so moving and powerful. All these places made me feel wonder and joy again. But it was the people, those who extended a hand and made us feel welcome, that gave me a new heart and new eyes on this trip. The heart of a wondering and fearless child.

Jesus knew that folks wanted rules and regulations. Instead he wanted to talk to them about the depth of love. He wanted them to see that God wants us to open wide our arms and to make room for the noisy, the messy and the different. And we are to befriend the troubled and the broken. We are to be the people that help restore wonder and joy to others, who make a place for the ones the world has rejected.

Today I ask God to give me the courage to take on the coming days as a child. May I always see the joy and wonder in the world. May we see the holy and all the gifts of creation in every day and every being. May we live loving others, honoring what they offer and delighting in their unique gifts.

Monday, February 9, 2015

At Peace with One Another

Jesus said, "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."Mark 9:42-50
Some people hold grudges a long time. Others blow up and fight, making up just as quickly. Some families argue constantly and others never do. Often the families which seem to be in constant conflict, when challenged by tragedy of one sort or another, come together in peace, ready to protect and serve each other. Our daughters, all grown, have always teased and fought, but they are loving and close. There is a trusting peace in their presence, a knowing that everything will work out.
Jesus had just cautioned his followers about competition. He told them to focus on serving the least and keeping the little ones safe from harm. There is perfect peace when we set down competition and raise up the needs of others. God moves into the places of need and struggle, helping us bring hope and peace in very hurtful places we find ourselves. God brings peace to all and makes us ambassadors of God's peace.
Today I ask God to help in being an ambassador for God's peace. May we not try to be first but may we be humble enough to ask for the help we need. May we see the needs around us and offer a hand of love and peace,

The Least

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward." Mark 9:30-41 
This morning after breakfast in the convent, our driver came to take us to the hermitage of St. Francis or the Carceri. A holy place high on the hills above this holy city. Snow had fallen last night, and the mountainous roads, full of swtich-backs and sharp turns was incredibly treacherous, It was a scary trip so early in the morning but Gionni was very skilled. We arrived to a silent place, only one man leaving. We hiked from where the car had to stop and climbed up the rest of the way. A spectacular view was overshadowed by the silence and holiness of the place. A sacred place, which made us feel truly humbled. To be where Francis slept and prayed, who lived with the least, welcomed all, and in so doing, brought new life to the church.
Jesus speaks to his followers about the need to be best, first and the greatest. He told them it gets in the way of where God is calling us. God is calling all of us to serve the most vulnerable- children, the poor, the hungry,the sick and the imprisoned,We dwindle when we lose sight of where and to whom we are called. God makes sacred the most humblest of places and people.
Today, as we get ready to leave Assisi, I want to remember the lessons of Francis visited today. May we all, renew our faith as we give up prestige and offer a hand to others. May we be one with creation and see God.s beauty surrounding us today.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Night Falls in Assisi

Jesus left the synagogue at Capernaum, and 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 sundown, 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 1:29-39

Night Falls in Assisi

A long train ride a full morning
we didn't think we were pilgrims
but here we are on holy ground
a place where Francis walked and prayed.

The snow begins to fall as night drops down
a blanket on top of the hill's darkness
we are covered in mystery and possibility
awaiting revaluation and new life.

There is pain as well as joy in these pilgrims
letting go of all we know, and dying
life ending on other shores and new beginnings
we are all pilgrims as we stand this night.

Oh rain light in our darkened fearful souls
and let us see the fully wholeness of love
which surrounds and rocks us this night
as weary pilgrims seek exhausted rest.

Shine love into or deepening fears
let love break apart the tethered soul
into your hands we I commit my spirit
O creator, redeemer, lover of all souls.




Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cornelius the Centurion


In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius.’ He stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ He answered, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.’ When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.
 About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’ The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.
 Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.’ So Peter went down to the men and said, ‘I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?’ They answered, ‘Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.’ So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging.

The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshipped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, ‘Stand up; I am only a mortal.’ And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, ‘You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?’
 Cornelius replied, ‘Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. He said, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.” Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.’
 Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’
 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days. Acts 10

Today is a very important day in my life. Two women, whom I love very dearly, have important events. My Mother, Betty WalkingStick Theobald turns 92 and my dear friend, Cornelia Eaton will be ordained a priest. Both are Native women who have demonstrated what is means to be faithful and to follow Jesus. Each woman has been committed to serving her people faithfully. Early this morning we had the extraordinary privilege of going down into the Scavi - the archeological excavation under St. Peter's Basilica on a private tour. There we saw the tomb of St. Peter and the ancient necropolis that has been unearthed. Powerful moments on this feast day of Cornelius the Centurion, who by his faithfulness turned Peter to understand that God declared all people holy and welcome.

Peter is struggling with his own understanding of the faith he received.  Was Christ only for the Jewish people or for the whole world? Do we need circumcision to be welcomed by God? His dream and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit opened his eyes to the faithfulness of the Gentiles, and finally encouraged them all to be baptized. Standing in the depths below the ornate Basilica, in a damp and humble place. I was struck by the inclusion and welcome that Cornelius and his whole family must have felt. God wants us to hear that we are all wanted and welcome today.

Today I ask God's special blessings on these two magnificent women who have taught and lived God's want and welcome for all. May we, like them, be tender and loving as we minister to all whom we are sent, and to be witnesses of Gof's radical inclusion.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Transfiguration

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" He said to them, "Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him." Mark 9:2-13 
Transfiguration
A glimpse, a brief moment
when fierce present reality
let's go to the eternal
when anxiety becomes possibilities
and we can go on to the end.

A drowsy mountain top
becomes an icon of hope
an invitation to pray becomes vision
when the Divine comes in the midst of us
and we can tarry on.

Pain and distrust will surround us
doubt and anguish our conpanions
the devil dances round and teases us
and we have seen and beheld
that the Creator will finish the battle for us.
 

Take Up Your Cross

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." Mark 8:27 - 9:1 
We arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon. A bustling modern city dotted with ancient wonders. Tomorrow we have been invited to see the excavations under St. Peter's basilica, going to the place where Peter was buried. This wondrous place, where generations have come, was the site where Peter was crucified upside down. That which was a site of the worst of humanity became holy ground, sacred and beuatiful for all the world.
Jesus is having a very intimate conversation with his disciples,  Peter, who was fast to blurt out the true nature of Jesus. He was also fast to get upset with the Jesus' understanding of his last days. Jesus points out to them and to us, if we would be followers, we must put aside our needs and expectations, and ven our own comforts, in order to be made whole and complete in God's kingdom. 
Today I ask God to help me put my needs second and be a servant to all I encounter. May we all understand that following Jesus means following and always being willing to set aside our agenda for the needs of the world. May God honor what we offer and bring us to that place where our humanity is transformed by divine love.