Thursday, April 30, 2015

Built on the Rock

Jesus also told them a parable: "Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye.
"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.” Luke 6:39-49 
I have experienced a good deal of hurricane and storms in my life. I have watched quickly built homes crumble in the storms and their pieces float by in the swirling waters. I learned early that not all of life is all gentle summer breezes, but that much of life can be unpredictable winds and storms that blow in very quickly.  Building on a firm foundation, requires time to build the foundation, the hard labor of moving rocks and pouring cement in order to secure one's relationships and one's family.
Jesus challenges his listeners to exam how they live their lives. He speaks of how easy it is for us to judge others, and not to look at our own folly. He reminds his listeners that loving and following God are not easy roads, and require patient building, and consistent compassion. We humans are too easily persuaded by fashion and what others are doing. We love building sand castles since they are quick and easy. But loving and life that last is built with time and commitment, humility and patience. 
Today I ask God to help me live a sturdy life of faith and constancy. May we not spend our time judging others, but rather give our selves to the hard work of building a firm foundation of love and commitment.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Love Your Enemies

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

Love Your Enemies

They really don't know my ocean
they  only know her warm vacation sand
use her as a setting for their holiday photos
and forget her when they pack for home.

She is always restless and often cold
taking for herself the innocent fishermen
breaking open the clammed up shell
and freezing out the seagulls on the surf.

She is friend and enemy, known and unknown
fathomless and all too often shallow
like the people who make up our communities
they hurt us when we least expect it.

My ocean thrives because we forgive her
love her despite her cruelties and sorrows
we look forward to her presence again
and seek her out in our dreams.

We like the ocean ache for forgiveness
we are enemies and friends at once
we hurt the loving friends and family
and restlessly freeze out the innocent.

God give us the strength to love
letting go of judgement and absue
let us freely give our forgiveness when hurt
and love those who do not know us at all.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Walking through the Cornfields


One sabbath while Jesus was going through the cornfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ Jesus answered, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?’ Then he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’
 On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:1-11

 Walking through the Cornfields

There is nothing in the field this Sunday
snow like powder shaken over it
the field awaits more sun and heat
this early spring field awaits it's courage.

The broken and the sorrowful wait
the winter's over now they show themselves
but the cold and bitterness linger
and they wonder whether there is an answer.

We have looked over the sore spot all winter
wondering if life can ever be restored
we have hidden from the constant storms
tenuously venturing again outside.

There is birdsong on the morning breeze
and the cold tree limbs are brushed with color
life is coming again to this now barren land
and there will be plenty abundance.

We will listen in the night and not fear
for the spell of evil has been broken
God's loving warmth draws ever near
and blankets us against all cold.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Know My Own



Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away-- and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father." John 10:11-18

I have had the privilege to go to sheep camp several times with my dear friend Cornelia.  The labs and ewe in the picture are her sheep, which she cares for with great tenderness. Several years ago she had me bottle feed a little lamb who had a crooked back and whose mother had rejected. I worried the little guy would never get straightened out but now he is strong and healthy. We are known by named, loved and cared for ever so much.

Jesus uses and image that his listeners can relate to. Sheep were the mainstay of the region where he lived. Few people had much more than their sheep, which were their food, their clothing, their livelihood. They understood how essential sheep were and at the same time they knew how challenging, ornery and difficult caring for sheep could be. And yet they understood the love and care given. We are invited to hear that we are each called by name, known and love beyond our challenges and our oneriness.

Today I ask God to feel safety in the arms of the loving shepherd. May we know we are cared for and led, protected and guided in every pasture. May we find solace in the life laid down for us and offer that same love to the world around us.


O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Upon The Mountains

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the LORD to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God. Isaiah 52:7-10
Upon the Mountains

From this height the fragile world
is soft, rounder and ever so quiet
crystal water and thin sweet air
we see for a moment with God's eyes.

The songs we sing as morning breaks
float through the air and catch in trees
water rushes from white melting snow
we are renewed so close to the sky.
Gathering the strength and courage
to descend to the depths of brokenness
we carry the new songs of love's promise
to fragile people starving for good news.

We wish to linger in the thin sweet air
and keep our hearts unsoiled and strong
but we are here to gather love's blossoms
and to spread the petals across our world.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Through the Roof

Once, when Jesus was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean." Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do choose. Be made clean." Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. "Go," he said, "and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them." But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, "Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Stand up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home." Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today." Luke 5:12-26 

Most of my life, as soon as make plans, things fall through. It can be very frustrating to hit barriers when trying to do something very positive. We can all lose hope at times, when our best timing, our best hopes are crowded out by necessities of life or by the limits of others. I often think of the man who was paralyzed a lifetime and how many times his hopes for healing were dashed, only to be lower through a roof, and not only be healed but strong enough to pick up the bed and walk. Even when disappointment, barriers and changes surround us, love is breaking through the roof, making space for our healing and renewal.

The crowds followed Jesus because they wanted healing. The religious leaders crowded in because they were afraid and confused. A crowd of hopeful people in pain and religious who were in crisis. Into this crowd drops a very broken man, who was so loved by his friends that they broke through the roof.  Love made them push on when there was no other way, and love broke through the crowd and healed their friend. We can be those today who are in pain,hopeful, yet afraid and confused. To all of that God's love says to us, don't give up, love in on the way!

Today I ask God to renew my perseverance and my hope. May love break through all the barriers set before us today, mending all the broken hearts and broken spirits we encounter today.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Deep Water


Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.Luke 5:1-11

I love swimming in deep water. The light is fractured and filtered. Diving deep there is both a sense of being lost and being held at the same time. Deep water can also be very rough and dangerous both for the swimmer and those on a boat. The deeper the water the higher the swell and the greater likelihood of being capsized. The deeper water also promises more abundance, a swarm of fish hidden from sight. Going to deeper waters always demands courage and faith.
Jesus seeks out companions in ministry. He finds himself in a crowd watching two small boats laboring for their livelihood. On his word they set out into deeper waters. This took courage and faith since they had labored all night and come up empty. Moving beyond our empty demands that we move with courage and faith. God invites us to live with courage and faith despite our discouragements and failure. We are called to try again with God's blessing, trusting the Creator's abundance and love for us.
Today I ask God for an extra measure of courage and faith. Each is a gift from God. May we venture out today in deeper waters, knowing we are guided by the loving hand of our loving Creator.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

At Daybreak

After leaving the synagogue Jesus entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea. Luke 4:38-44 

At Daybreak
We wake to find the fire cold
the wood damp the frost returns
just beyond the horizon's edge
a pink shimmering light begins to break.

Light trickling at first then bursting
like raging water over a falls
we tumble to our feet and stretch
leaning in to a brand new day.

The mountains begin to take shape
now that the muddied horizon is clear
those who followed us here will come begging
and there will always be more to do.

May I linger in the filtered light
and hide deep within early mornings' cover?
I would remain here forever my friend
but we are all called onward, you and I.

We will bundle up our hopes and dreams
sharing our goods with others
we have been blessed here in this place
we have been fed and now we arise.
 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Power and Authority

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, "Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, "What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!" And a report about him began to reach every place in the region .Luke 4:31-37 
 I heard a Ted Talk recently about Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard business school, who was recommending that folks take two minutes a day (or more) to stand in the "Wonder Woman pose". She is an expert at body language and her research shows that this type of power stance helps woman particularly overcome feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and fear of failure. It also sends a message to the brain to stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. We all need help overcoming and ridding ourselves of our demons. For too many of us, low self-esteem can keep us from being courageous and being who God has called us to be.

Jesus confronts a man possessed, and the demon knows who Jesus is. The poor suffering man wants to be rid of his demons and to feel safe in his own skin. Jesus takes authority over the demon and rids the man of all his suffering. When this kind of change happens, people take notice and they did. God wants us all to be whole, strong and courageous, and so many people have challenges that seem too great. The good news for all of us today is that the Creator is ready and willing to take charge and rid us of our demons, if we are willing.

Today I want to be willing and courageous to make positive changes in my life. May we trust that God has the power and desire to rid us of our demons, our fears and our weaknesses today.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Proclaim the Lord's Favor

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" He said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, 'Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'" And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way .Luke 4:14-30 

Proclaim the Lord's Favor
The morning light set the range ablaze
mountains with their snow white covering
valleys of orange and deep greens 
and each tree pushing forth new life.

The year of the Lord's favor is now
when our bodies resist awakening
and bones and muscles cry out in aching
when nothing seems new it is God's time.

It is God's time to show us new love
blooms arising from dead solemn earth
twinkling eyes of the young and the old
time to see the birthing around us.

We are about to be reborn again
the Creator studio is packed with supplies
new vibrant colors and brushes abound
to animate and revive us again.
 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

You Are Witnesses


Jesus himself stood among the disciples and their companions and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." Luke 24:36b-48

Today the morning light in Montana is breathtaking. Bright and brisk, it welcomes all of us to rise up and be joyful. The crisp, clear mountain air and the snow capped majestic mountains make one think nothing but spectacular. And immense gratitude for the beauty and gift of this new day. There are days when everything is socked in and we can barely see the sunlight, but it is always there, whether we can see it or not, whether we want to rise up and be joyful, or not.

The disciples were a frightened mess of traumatized human beings. They had seen horrors and loss beyond measure. Their core faith had been tested and shattered. Fear had crept in and taken hold of them. Like all normal human beings, they had lost sight of the promises in the midst of such great loss. We all do from time to time. Jesus ate with them, comforted them and moved them from panic and fear to insight and deeper faith. The trials they had faced became the firm foundation of their lives going forward. We are invited to see Jesus coming to us in the midst of our many fears, trusting that we will see beyond these scary moments and be surrounded by deeper love.

Today I ask God to open my eyes and deepen my faith. May we trust that even in the midst of our great traumas and fears, God incarnate stands with us and we will be made new by this loving presence today.




Collect

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Testing

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'" Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13 
 It happens to us all from time to time. Something knocks the stuffings out of us and we want to give up. The loss of my Mom knocked me for a loop. For a while I didn't want to get up and put my best foot forward, didn't want to work so hard. And yet I know that we are all called to the places where we are and God is willing always to give us the strength to resist the temptations so that we might joyfully serve where we are called.
After a wonderful moment by the river, Jesus went into the wilderness to pray. As close as he was to God he was still fully human, just like us. And when hunger, fear and loss crept in, he faced his own humanity head on. He was tempted to chuck the plans God had for him and make his life easier. He knew the power was within him. But he resisted, for the love of others, for the goodness of the world and for the likes of you and me.
Today I want to give thanks to God for the strength to resist temptation, and for tenderly understanding our humanity. May we like Jesus, resist so that others might thrive and so that we might see God's glory revealed in humility and service todaqy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Beloved

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." Luke 3:15-22 

My Beloved
Here standing naked and compeled
my role clearer by the moment
my humanity fearful for the backlash
the world looking with great skepticism.

Here a dove lighting from heaven
a voice like liquid light and hope
a promise that the path ahead 
is filled with companions and pilgrims also.

Momma used to remind me
that when things get overhwleming
the devil is working overtime
as we draw closer to God.

So sink me deep into the water again
wash me over so that I can stand
strengthen me with love and humility
and let me walk the road with joy and light.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Prepare the Way

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages." Luke 3:1-14 
No matter how well I plan and pack, I always seem to leave something behind. The road I travel is complicated and wondrous, all at the same time and there is much to keep track of. Sometimes, all my preparation seems for naught. But in the midst of this come the words of what it truly means to prepare - share. What we have we are meant to share. Being perfect isn't preparation, and only God's love is perfect. We are blessed to recieve the abundance of God's love.
John is out in the wilderness and the people come to him. They want a check list for how to prepare for God. John's reply is always about relationship, the care and serving of others, setting aside all selfish desires and opening to God's love. This love is never about winning but about compassionate service, of seeing the need and sharing with others. we are invited to prepare by letting go of the things we think we control, and by offering what we have for the service of others.
Today I ask God to help me live in holy preparation. May we let go of the control, which we never really had, and ask God to bless us with a new measure of love and compassion.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We Are One

Jesus prayed, "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:20-26 (NRSV)


Intertwined
We are wound around together
bound by love eternal and present
deep roots in ancient rich soil
interconnected breathing as one.

When we find ourselves in grief
we find ourselves like in  labor
so near to life, so near to death
one heart beating with everlasting love.

A mother and child so interdependent
so much in need of one another
constantly separating and drawing together
always tuned to a single channel.

We pant, we cry and  we moan
birthing new life and letting go
the thin veil between now and forever
constantly being broken open.

We are gathered and urrounded
the arms of love reaching beyond time
spreading out to  heal the tearing
leaning in to listen for a new song.

 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joy Complete

Jesus prayed to the Father, “While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:12-19

Today I fly to Montana with a heavy heart. I go with great joy for the work I am able to do and the wonderful people I get to work with, but leaving my family is especially hard this time. Losing my mother took a great toll on me. She was ready to go, I know, but I was not ready for her to leave us. Time comes when we all have to depart, whether for a trip or for another world beyond. Even Jesus had to pray himself through the leave taking and through the goodbyes said to all the peopled he loved.

We hear Jesus speaking prayers to his father. An intimate conversation, and yet a very clearly understood one. We are invited to speak to God as a child to a loving parent, as a family member to the one who knows us best. This passage from John gives us an intimate and tender look at the relationship of God to God's child on earth - and shines light on the us as well. We are children of a living, listening and compassionate God.

Today I entrust all those I love to the loving and listening hands of God. May we live today with the knowledge of how loved and cherished we are. May we tenderly care for those around us and lovingly acknowledge God's constant and unfailing love for each of us.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Protect Them

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” John 17:1-11 

Protect Them
We kiss them goodbye and shiver
from the warmth loss from their last embrace
so young and ready to be on their own
so unaware of the constant assaults and cruelties.

We are parents to fine young women
we have earned the silver in our hair
the bend in our backs the crinkles in our eyes
and yet we let them go and start to pray.

We have been mumbling and crying prayers
since they first made manifest within us
now we cry out loud when they are far away
aching for their safety and guardian angels.

When they were small and nestled close
when they swam next to us ever near to shore
when we watch them sleep and prayed
it was constant and easier it was our job.

And now they float toward distant horizons
our task is done and yet never complete
we send them off and thank the Creator
for the gift of their life and for continued safety.

 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Peace be with You

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.   John 20:19-31

My mind and heart have been wrapped in the remembering that grief brings. We remember, partly so as to not let the person go. My mother has gone on and yet my heart and mind are still attached to her presence. And in this process I am also aware of the many gifts she gave me. Most of all she taught me to make peace, to be reconciled, to forgive many times over. We honor God and one another when we are forgive, when we reconcile ourselves to our own humanity and the brokenness of us all. I dream of a time when my daughters  know for sure that what I gave them was love demonstrated in forgiveness and making peace.

Today the Gospel recounts the story of Thomas, who had not met Jesus yet and how anxious he was. Not only did Jesus understand his doubt, he knew his fear and confusion. In loving him, he offer him peace. And to all gathered there, he offered them the power of forgiveness and reconciliation - the two things that can instantly transform our world and bring us peace.

Today I ask God to help me be a peacemaker. May we live as those who have loved us well and taught us how to forgive, to make peace, and to bring love into the world.

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Take Courage

Jesus said, "A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me." Then some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying to us, 'A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" They said, "What does he mean by this 'a little while'? We do not know what he is talking about." Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, 'A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
"I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father." His disciples said, "Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!" John 16:16-33 

Take Courage

Waking by the stormy  steely ocean
gulls and geese creating cacaphony
a symphony of sound and bouncing light
we rise to face another day without a compass.

We set out with all the tools we have
fragile  weary sailors on  roiling sea
we have to pray or dance as we shove off
and face the losing of the shoreline.

Daily life begins again and yet we feel lost
a dense fog of grief and hope swirl around
we revisit our childhood dream scapes
and know we have to reinvent ourselves again.

Tacking in the ever present blustery wind
we give thanks for a lifting tide and rising sun
we can chart our direction primitive though we be
and learn to sail without charts on new seas.

Take courage he said and we wonder
when will the presence of joy return?
when will the summer's delight charm us
and fill our nets with happiness again?

It is ours to navigate and ours to discover
new worlds we never understood existing
embracing the eternal ancient gifts of love 
and setting a new course for a new home.



Friday, April 10, 2015

Stumbling



Jesus said, "I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.

"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." John 16:1-15 
I stumble alot. After my last back surgery, I recovered much of the use of my legs, which I had lost, but my walk and gait are not perfect. When I tire in the least, my right foot dragged slightly and I stumble and trip. I was never terribly coordinated, never much of a dancer, but now, I have to pay attention when I walk, or I need to hang on to someone when the surfaces are uneven.  Most of the time, people don't even notice, but I am aware how careful I have to be. 
Jesus is talking tenderly with his disciples. He is lovingly preparing them for the time after he is gone, when self-doubt will creep in, and hope might fade away. He assures them that he will be along side of them, someone to hang on to, even when they cannot see him. His presence will not leave them and they will surrounded by the love of the spirit to keep them upright and on the path, no matter how rocky it might become. We also are hearing that we are never abandoned and never left alone. We will also have a guiding hand, a spirit within us to hold us up and keep us from stumbling, even on the hardest roads. 

Today I ask God to help me remember the constant presence of the holy spirit. May we not fear stumbling for we are never abandoned or alone. And may we make our way today on the roughest paths ahead knowing we are held close and guided home.