Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Walk While You Have the Light


Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-- `Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light."
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. John 12:20-36

The past few days have been a flurry of arrangements for my Mom's funeral. She walked on into the light, into new eternal life leaving us to mourn as we send her on.  My sister and brother and I worked together on the arrangements, and now we await family and friends from far and near. My mother was very loved by generations of people. She was not a professional pastor, but her influence, guidance and loving touch was felt across the miles. She treated everyone as a beloved child of God She walked in the light on this earth, by sharing love, by serving the least and by laughing and smiling through every challange.

Jesus was at the end of his mortal life. He was also quickly becoming an enemy of the temple and the state. He announced that everyone was and could be a child of God. The temple, state and cultural dictates for who was acceptable were abolished by him, and it made those in control angry. Jesus promised there was more life and light on this earth and in the world to come. We are invited to walk along in the light, trusting that the world's darkness will not consume us, trusting that God has more for us than these present days of sorrow.

Today I ask God for that sweet light that reminds us all of our beloved-ness. May we all walk together as children of God, walking in the light of God's abundant love. May we see the Creator joining us in our pain and sorrow as well as in the moments of laughter and celebration.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pressing On

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.
To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh—even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:1-14 

We Press On
 In this life the rains comes
and the dear ones leave us
we are sorrow and comfortless
and yet never abandoned or alone.

Love bought us through suffering
life challenges through loss
and in all the storms and violence
we are sheltered in God's safe harbor.

We press on because we are more
than broken bottles bobbing on life's sea
we are more than shells tossed aside
we are beloved children wanted and desired.

Our losses crowd our darkest dreams
and yet the light shines through the clouds
we are sore and weary, aching from the strain
and yet love pushes us on.


 
 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Palm Sunday Eve

 
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God,did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death--even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
 
 
The last few days have been overwhelming. I flew east early Friday morning after my brother called and said my Mom was at the end of her life. I flew into Philadelphia from Helena, praying she would live long enough for me to see her one more time. Driving down from there on familiar roads, all our days together passed through my mind. How sweet and complicated it is to be human. How even more challenging it is to love others, knowing that their presence will come to an end. I made it in time to spend her last hours with her. My sister Betsy and I sang and prayed with her, reading to her from Philippians, reminding her of the love that surrounded her, speaking the names of all those she loved. She left us while out of the room, but we were able to pray her on her journey on our return.

We begin a holy walk now through Holy week. Each step takes on a new meaning as we more thoroughly understand the price that was paid for all of us. Jesus steps from heralded arrival as a king to tortured and crucified enemy of the state, remind us of our humanity and the great gift of sacrificial love and salvation. We are loved so much by God that Jesus took the worst of the world on himself so that we might be forever free. Life that will survive the death of our bodies, resurrection that will come to us all.

Today I ask God for peace as we walk the road of grief. May love be the burden we bear for each other and the world today.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tender Sheperd

Again the Jews were divided because of these words. Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?" Others were saying, "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one."
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God." Jesus answered, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods'? If those to whom the word of God came were called 'gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled—can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, 'I am God's Son'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, "John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there. John 10:19-42 
Today is our oldest daughter's birthday. Emily was born on Easter Sunday in 1978 and brought us so much love. She continues to bring us so many gift of love, laughter and life. From an early age she had a gift for music, a beautiful voice, and loved to sing with us. When she was little we would sing "tender shepherd" to her as a lullaby. It was sung in Peter Pan and became part of the musical score of our lives. Despite everything that challenges us, we can still sing  together remembering the tender shepherd who will not let us be snatched out of his hand.
Jesus is surrounded by religious leaders and theologians who want to argue with him and discount the work he has been doing. His answers rely simply on love and relationship - his love for the hurting people and his mission from his father. Love for the world has sent him and that love will keep safe the vulnerable, the needy and the lost. The leadership is worried about power. Jesus is worried about love and care. We are invited to make love and care the score of our life, the map, the way we go as we follow Christ.
Today I ask God to help me along the road of care. May all our work be in the care of others, no worrying about authority or power. May we sing and rejoice in every new day, given us by God, so that we might tenderly care for others.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Annunciation

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38


The Annunciation

Oh Mary I am with you
weep as your heart overflows
the weight of God's love
will fill your young body
and change your life forever.

From this day forward never
will you be simply a child
always a mother, the virgin
giving her life for another
who gives his life for the world.

Weep Mary for the great burden
is new life for all the world
and you alone will carry him
you alone will be misunderstood
you alone will ache in the night.

Weep, Mary as you rejoice
the angel visitation in deep night
the hosts of heaven will be your aide
reluctant Joseph will walk with you
and you alone will feel the first kick.

Weep and pray Mary mother of all
for your burden is tremendous and wondrous
your life transformed and hidden
your body completely given to another
the world id grateful for your sacrifice.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lord, I Believe

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." The man answered, "Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him." Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped him. Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains." John 9:18-41 
Years ago, the city of Baltimore took on a campaign of revitalization. B'lieve or Be'lieve Hon was the slogan. In the unique accent and culture of the city, the people were trying to move beyond crime and desperation to find hope  and new life around them. Slogans are easy, real belief which motivates real actions is a true gift. It is to wake up every morning grateful and expecting a miracle. It is seeing the truth in a tough situation and trusting that God has your back, and that there is more than the stuck place we might be in.
The blind man that Jesus healed is on the hot seat, as well as his family. He gets thrown out of the temple for simply being grateful for his sight. He can see much more than the religious leaders. They have lived their lives so long by rules and power, that the true gift of faith has eluded them. To really have faith is a letting go of control. God invites us today to let go a little so that we might receive a new depth of faith, a miracle or two in the making.
Today I ask God to deepen my faith. May we see the world for what it is and open our hearts to the miracles around us. May we trust that God has our back and serve the people we meet today with hope and expectation.

Monday, March 23, 2015

God's Work Revealed

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?" Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man." But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight." They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see." Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet." John 9:1-17 

God's Work Revealed
Driving away, the snow topped mountains reveal
the powerful and touching beauty of creation
the heart of God's compassion and love
painted across the huge big sky canvas.

Who sinned the disciples ask the Teacher
no one sinned he replied and moves to the broken
the blind, the aching and touches the wounds and shame
and gives us sight and new hearts to welcome beauty,

The sinking sun decorates the horizon pinks and reds
we hold our breath with the splendor or it all
the Work of the Creator revealed in a daily moments
when we are mended hearts turn to see.

Wash in the pool for God has touched us all
turn and see so that we might live again
as the beloved children of the artist and deisgner
who decorated all our lives with beauty and wonder.

 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Draw All People



 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-- `Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. John 12:20-33

Some missionaries who came to bring the Gospel to our Indigenous tribes, considered our traditions satanic. For many Native tribes, the Gospel was a welcome message, even though the methods were sometimes misguided. The people on this continent already knew God, and although our customs and dress may seemed different and disturbing, many wanted to know Jesus.  And we readily understood that we were welcomed as we were, for Christ truly offered himself for us all.


We are drawing close to the Passion, and our Gospel reminds us  of the sacrifice that is to come. We are also reminded that as Christ faced this time of trial, God was blessing him and the people around him. Even when we don't understand what is going on, God is drawing near to us and giving us the strength to face the days ahead.

Today I ask God to give me what is needed for today. May I carry the Gospel as an offering to others and not as something I possess. May we all offer the Good News to all who need a word of encouragement and a sign of hope. May we remember how vulnerable and needy we all are, and that God promises to draw near in all our times of need.


 Collect
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Listening and Hearing


Jesus said, "Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God."
The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, 'He is our God,' though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:47-59 

Listening and Hearing
The sun is barely up and I hear singing
birds rejoice in a new day and light
we wake to bury our heads in our screen
and miss the songs of the living,

If we would but wake up we too could
hear the ancient rhythms beating drums
voices raise in harmony and unison
the morning song of thanks to the Creator.

But we listen with greed in our hearts
hoping to hear of benefits for us
we have set aside the currency of love
spent it all on satisfying our desires.

And still the morning breaks open
with invitation and song for our hearts
make way for love and new life
hear God's heart as our hearts break open.
 
 

Friday, March 20, 2015

True Food

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. John 6:52-59 

I just arrived in Helena and have to head to the grocery stores. After many weeks of being away, there is much to get for the weeks ahead. The grocery store can also be a temptation to buy easy, quick meals instead of healthier foods that take time and preparation.  We can all get distracted by the cookies and the sweets, the microwave fast food. We also know that we need to feed our bodies in ways that strengthens them rather than tears them down.

Jesus is again being questioned by the religious leaders. He wants very much for the to understand that his life is a gift that brings them eternal life. What he offers is eternal. Like all humans, they want a quick fix, a fast solution, a simple fix for a complex need. They want to be satisfied without relationship or understanding. God invites us today to seek a deeper relationship with the eternal, a living, complex relationship with the author of life.

Today, as I settle in here, I ask God to help me seek always after relationship and participation. May all of us who struggle and are tempted know that God understands our needs before wee do, and is making a way forward for us all. Not only in the present struggles, but for everlasting.

God is With Us

This was meant to post yesterday!

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,"
which means, "God is with us." When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 
When our daughters were small, they loved being read to by their father. They truly loved doing everything with their Daddy, since Mark was a great Dad and still is. I loved to watch them interact, their laughter and the banter, the ideas and conversations that flow. He knows how to draw them out and always knew how to help them be their authentic selves. He is a father and a treasure and we all know it.
Joseph has his doubts about the situation he was in with Mary. He was scared for good reason. The community would shun and abuse them, never believe them and make life miserable. He wanted to be faithful but had his own anxieties and worries.Knowing his anxieties God sent an angel to give him courage and strength for the days ahead. After the angelic encounter, Joseph was able to move ahead and be strong through challenging times - times even he could not imagine.

We all need times when we are brought courage and strength for the days ahead. Sometimes we need a word of support from a friend or from family. We might not recognize those moments as angelic visitations, but certainly, we know when we have been strengthened for the journey, when we are ready to face what we can't even imagine. God sends us those moments and those people to provide for the road ahead.

Today I ask God to strengthen me for the road ahead. There is much to do and many challenges await all of us who attempt to be faithful. Our faith is a gift from God, so may we be encouraged that there will be sent angels and messengers to help us on our way today.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bread of Life

Jesus said, "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day." John 6:27-40 

Bread of Life
Ancient lined and weathered hands
move rhythmically kneading and massaging
breathing life into a stagnant dough
investing in the possibilities of rising.

First comes the faith that the people can be fed
and next comes the labor to serve others
willingness to rise up early, apron ready
to make the once listless flour feed many.

There is faith and sacrifice, God acting for our live
 we who would serve are pounded and kneaded
covered and warmed as we find breath and rise
hidden in the safe darkness that brings life.

We ache for instant gratification and full bellies
God aches for loving arms wrapped around the dying
aches for trusting hearts who walk the dark city streets
and hands outstretched to the invisible beloved children.

The air is ripe with the smell of baking possibility
the hope of lives kneaded together to feed the world
of faith strong enough to bear the cuts of the world
of hearts full to overflowing with the creator's love.
 
 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick

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

I find myself often feeling like an outsider, having to learn a new culture and language. It always demands a leaning in, a listening, and a willingness to make mistakes and be corrected. Being a stranger in the land can seem as a deficit, but it can also be a great gift. It can be very humbling to be led by the hand, slowly, rolling new sounds around as we stumble in unfamiliar landscapes. It is one of God's great gifts, I have found, to have to navigate anew, to have to be a student while teaching, to be wholly another while we are welcomed in.

St. Patrick was born in Britain and captured by Irish pirates as a teen, where he was brought to Ireland, sold as a slave and tended sheep. He eventually escaped only to return to Ireland as a bishop, bringing the good news of the Gospel. He is credited with "indigenizing" the church, honoring the heart and spirit of the people so they could make Christianity their own. His love for God and his willingness to be an outsider, compassionately returning to the place of his slavery with God's love for the people, has made him a beloved saint and a model for us all.

Today I ask God to give me the strength to live as Patrick did. May we all love the people we serve so much that we honor their traditions and customs while sharing the gifts of God's love. May we be transformed by compassion, returning to our challenging places, so God love and healing might flow.


Collect



Almighty God, in your providence you chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2015

From the Fragments

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 toward 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."
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:1-15 
From the Fragments
We are those who walked that trail
by force for removal so another could thrive
we could disappear into the dark west wind
never to be seen in need again.

We are the ones who became fragments
bits and pieces of who were once were
fierce warriors, tender mothers artists all
split into only our desperate hungry selves 
hoping only to live beyond the winter.

We are the ones who tear the bread apart
who share the pieces, softening them 
for the young and the old who we feed
by hand as the nestle in our arms.

We are the ones who are called to sit
brought together again in the soft spring grass
welcomed home on this gentle slope
we are gathered up and no longer lost.

 
 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Heard in the Darkness


Jesus said to Nicodemus, "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.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God." John 3:14-21

Sometimes it's hard to explain to one's children how much  you love them. There is no quantifiable number or comparison. I know I would cross the world for my children, give up anything and everything for them. I also know that this love does not originate within me, as it is truly a gift from God. God loves first and forever, sparking within our selfish hearts, a love so deep and broad that we ache with it. God was willing to sacrifice everything so that we, broken human beings, can be made whole and love completely through the sacrifice of the Son.

Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the might. He wants to know about God's love and God action in the world. Jesus tells Nicodemus about the sacrificial love of God, the Creator's willingness to sacrifice all for our healing, redemption and transformation. We often wander in darkness, stumbling and thinking we can manage on our own. God, who loves us more than we can even imagine, broke into our darkness and continues to break through our darkness, giving us a new dawn, the light of the world. God's love is sparked in us, and renewed in us as we offer our lives in the service others.

Today I ask God to help me grow in love. May we be willing to sacrifice ourselves, our pride, our ego, our control, so that others may walk in the light and receive that same love. The world can be a dark and stumbling, broken place. May we be those who offer Christ's love light to the world.





Collect
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Throwing Stones

Jesus said, "Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God."
The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, 'He is our God,' though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:47-59 

Throwing Stones
Does my difference scare you?
Do I challenge the life you lead?
Walk a while with me for a day
and we will find a road we both can walk.

The words I say confront your pride
confound your sensibilities and stop you
the love I offer is for now and forever
the way of life is a path of letting go.

This is holy land of ancient ancestors
is a place of joys and sorrows deep
this ground has seen the terror of greed
and has welcomed the sinful and the saints.

We are never going to be alike
our differences are gifts beyond measure
through your eyes I can see the world anew
and through my heart you can feel love anew.
 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Whose Are We?

They answered Jesus, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father's presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father."
They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does." They said to him, "We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
"Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God."  John 8:33-47 
When Indigenous people introduce themselves, they always speak of their tribe, their clan and their people. Many cultures do the same thing as it is important for others to know not only who you are but whose you are. We belong to many groups - our tribe, family, siblings, out church - and identity is key to understanding ourselves and others. We want to think of ourselves as unique individuals but whose we are is as important as who we are. 
Jesus is again debating with the religious leadership. They have been testing them in many ways. He pushes back when they say they are Abraham's children. They would be behaving and living differently if they were truly his. And we are reminded that as we claim belonging to God, we are also called to live lovingly and not with judgment and condemnation in our hearts.
Today I ask God to help me live as a child of God. May our words and actions bring honor to Christ as we live without judgment and condemnation. May all we do live out the love and blessings we have been given today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Light of the World

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf." Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:12-20 
Light of the World - A Song for Today

It  has happened again during all
 our rumbling and complaining
the light of the world arrived again
and turn our tears in laughter.

Come let us turn again to the light
let our frozen angry hearts give way
may we melt with the love we have craved
letting go of all that confined us.


Despite our grandstanding and tirades
despite our greed and our selfishness
despite all the wicked things we do
the Light of the world has returned.

Come let us turn again to the light
let our frozen angry hearts give way
may we melt with the love we have craved
letting go of all that confined us.

Instead of punishment and shame 
we receive light and love unending
despite the chains we surely deserve
he comes again and frees us all.

Come let us turn again to the light
let our frozen angry hearts give way
may we melt with the love we have craved
letting go of all that confined us.
 
 
 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Living Waters

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, "This is really the prophet." Others said, "This is the Messiah." But some asked, "Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?" So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not arrest him?" The police answered, "Never has anyone spoken like this!" Then the Pharisees replied, "Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed." Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?" They replied, "Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee." John 7:37-52 
I have tried to figure out whether snow is really living water. So cold and stagnant, stacked up here eight feet high, it seems to have no life, no use, except for the beauty it provides by moon and starlight. The challenges it affords are many. Today though, we are beginning to see a thaw, and the once frozen walls of snow are growing shorter and more mobile by the hour. Even the glacier formations we named are on the move. I am reminded that a warm moment can change everything and a warm heart, a compassionate, caring friend can change the tide of our lives completely.
Jesus is preaching amidst the festival and confusion arises. Some people are very moved, the authorities demonized him, and others are ready to attack. When we are in transition, and we find ourselves confused, too often, we react by attacking or demonizing. But when we are moved by God, our hearts are warmed, and we are able to be life and support for others.
Today, I ask Jesus to help me be a warm heart, a place of healing and life rather than a person of reaction. May we be moved by the love of God and make our hearts a warming place, a place where those who were bound and stuck can be free to live again.