Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heaping Insults



Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" They kept heaping many other insults on him. When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us." He replied, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." All of them asked, "Are you, then, the Son of God?" He said to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!" Luke 22:63-71 

There are part of General Convention I love and parts I do not. When we deliberate issues, and there is a minority opinion, people can often be unnecessarily unkind. There is a victorious righteousness that can creep in, and move people for thoughtful Christians to cruel beasts. Gloating and the like have no place in prayerful deliberations. I often sit and pray while we are debating, that God will find a way to touch our hearts with compassion, rather than bravado, which seems so evident.
The soldiers are having a field day with Jesus. They have been given permission to abuse him and they are reveling in their short term authority. It is human nature for the smallness of our hearts to come out when given permission. We either strike out in fear or run away. The soldiers were safe in their mocking as they had the upper hand for a moment. Jesus went to the cross for them as well. He went for the petty as well as the kind and faithful. We have an invitation to be more than our base humanity today.
Today I ask God to help me hold those I disagree with, those who would harm me and those who find themselves in the minority in prayer. May we understand our baser urges and faithfully invite Christ into every one of our moments. May we have compassion on those who are broken by life and lend a hadn to lift them up.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Feed My Sheep


When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me." John 21:15-19

Feed My Sheep

They are always in need of a shepherd
always getting lost, always stumbling
climbing the mesa sharp ridge
we must risk it all to bring them home.

They will always be in need of direction
on the dusty roads linking small towns
on the reeking inner city streets and croners
we must offer all we have to bring them home.

They will always be in need of a shepherd
when we are locked away under house arrest
others will have to lead them out to pasture
others will have to lead them to God's love.

We will always need shepherds to guide the faint
always need apostles and witnesses to God's love
always needing missionaries to go into the darkness
bringing the lost and misguided back to God's arms.


 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Healing Touch

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." He went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, `Who touched me?'" He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:21-43

Yesterday was a day of tremendous healing for our church. I had the rare privilege of participating in the election of our next presiding Bishop. Michael Curry was elected on the first ballot by overwhelming numbers. It was not what some of us expected but our joy was uncontrollable. A church which has had a history of saying one thing and doing another, yesterday made a bold statement. The church, which has often sided with the wealthy, privileged and white, is now choosing to be lead by an African American, a man of God, a true faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Miracles are breaking out all over.

Jesus was aware of the pain and hurt around him. He stopped to heal a woman in the crowd and reassure her of her faith. He went with the father, who was terrified for his child, and even in the face of death pressed on. We are invited by Jesus today to see God's grace as always around us, always moving towards us, always pressing on. We might be disappointed in the timing, but we are not to lose hope. God is pressing on, through the crowds of life and the obstacles and naysayers in the way. The arc of God's justice and love is steady, sure and always moving.

Today I am just so grateful to have lived this far. There are not many words to process what we have experienced. So, let us take time to be thankful for God's love and justice made visible in our midst. May we be agents of God's healing and love in the days to come.

 

 

 

Collect

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Thy Will Be Done

Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, "Pray that you may not come into the time of trial." Then he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done." Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial."
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, "Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?" When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, "Lord, should we strike with the sword?" Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, "No more of this!" And he touched his ear and healed him. Luke 22:39-51 

Today, after worship here at General Convention, the Bishops will be bussed to the Cathedral so that we can vote for a new Presiding Bishop. There is much anxiety and a new level of distrust from some that the Bishops cannot elect a good leader. What we are sequestered for is prayer, time to be centered and let the Holy Spirit work through us. We are all fragile human beings, often caught up in politics and gossip. Today we need to be quiet and listen to the will of God.
Jesus went to the garden to pray and took his closest friends along. He asked them, in his anxiety and fear, for them to stay awake with him. They were full and sleepy. Even the Savior of the world, needed time to pray. He needed a time to be centered and listen to God. He what  was before him was unimaginable. The weight upon him was great and he sought to draw close to God and be enveloped in the Holy Spirit.
Today I ask God to be with us bishops. May set aside all politics and competition and seek the will of the one who made us all. May we stay awake and focus on the love of God and that alone today.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Betrayal


 

 ‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’
 He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’ Luke 22:31-38


Betrayal

 A sickly sweet smell permeates
jealousy, revenge wrapped together
a dear one becomes the betrayer
the closest one becomes the denier.

Fear swirls and tangles us up
fists grab for the sharpest swords
stinging words are flung in fury
and the world becomes a furnace.

O human how quickly we betray
how cheaply we sell out others
how easily we are seduced
quickly abandoning our garden.

O Creator of all how often we fall
and and quickly you forgive us
dusting us off, lifting us up
and how quickly we still turn on others.

O Divine light who offered your life
innocent blood sacrifice and pain
for our foolish greedy hearts
for our need for glory and glamor.

O sweet baby child of Mary
let us not go again to that garden
to the place of earthly delights
the place of earthly betrayal.

May we instead fly to your arms
not bathing in shallow pools
but clinging to our forgiveness
so that we can set others free.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

One Who Serves


A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
"You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Luke 22:24-30 

The first gatherings of General Convention are always wonderful and always overwhelming. I am thrilled to see so many old friends. I am cautious as the posturing and desire for power is so real and so very palpable.  We call ourselves a missionary society but real mission is service - putting ego aside to raise up others, putting aside wealth and security for the sake of those who have none. There is too much jockeying for position, too much tooting of one's own horn. 
The disciples were as human as we are. They immediately, when hearing the time was short with Jesus, wanted a promise of security and position. What they got was an invitation to service and a reminder that their work was not done. The worth of their lives is not measured in their earthly holdings. Neither are ours. Our worth is measured in what we give away, what seat we are willing to give up, and which losses we count as gain.
Today, as we gather for the first official day of business, I pray that we can work together for others, and not for our gain. I pray that I might be a worthy servant and that we might give away with the joy of Christ.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Prayer for General Convention

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
Now a discussion about purification arose between John's disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."  John 3:22-30 

A Prayer For the 78th General Convention

Dearest Creator, who fashioned us each unique
and gave us breath and intellect to chose
make us wise and patient in the anxious moments
make us playful in the serious tense times
make us forgiving when we are wounded
make us run to apologize for those we have wounded.

Loving Divine spark, you called us together to learn
help us to hear your voice in the middle of the clamor
help us see the beauty and blessings in our adversaries
help us to see clearly our our weakness and pridefulness
and help us to lay it all at the foot of the cross today.

Precious Jesus, you walked this earth as we do now
knew the cruelty and divisiveness of human beings
tasted the bitterness of exclusion, abuse and derision
give us your loving, humble spirit this day
that our words and actions might show forth
the love you have given us, the redemption you gave it all for
and the humility that you wore with honor for each of us.

Amen

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Making Preparations


 Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.
 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ ‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ ” He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’ So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. Luke 21:37-22:13

I was making final preparations for General Convention, packing all the materials and clothes for the epic event. I thought about packing for all those journeys when I was a child. My Dad had an old military trunk that we were each allowed a fraction of. We were expected to fit our essentials into a small square, and make do with what we had. That meant keeping clean and/or washing things out at night and wearing them again. I usually had to wash things out at night and go around in dampish clothes the next day. By the end of our voyages, I think I might had sprouted mold, or at least smelled a good bit musty.

Jesus is awaiting the dramatic culmination of all his ministry. He went to the people during the day and to the Mount of Olives at night. The political conniving was intense, and the temple crackle with deception and betrayal. In the midst of these swirling and very tense days, Jesus takes time to help his disciples prepare for their final moments together. God in the midst of human chaos, finds ways for us to live the moments and celebrations that our hearts and minds desire. The living God, standing among us is tending to the details we are panicked about.

Today I ask God to let me go with an open heart and mind. May we all be prepared enough and undone enough to trust God in the huge decisions and the minor details. May we remember how loved we are and take to celebrate the life we share together.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Solstice


 


Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his host!


Praise him, sun and moon;
   praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens!


Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for he commanded and they were created.
He established them for ever and ever;
   he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.


Praise the Lord from the earth,
   you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
   stormy wind fulfilling his command!


Mountains and all hills,
   fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
   creeping things and flying birds!


Kings of the earth and all peoples,
   princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
   old and young together!


Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for his name alone is exalted;
   his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
   praise for all his faithful,
   for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord! Psalm 148


Yesterday was the day of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Here in Montana, nestled in the mountains, the light was glorious, and as I was driving home from church I found a deer wondering in my neighborhood. Pink clouds at sunset, which lingered long as the day refused to die away, reminded me that this is a time of turning. Each day will be a little shorter, and we have the work of growing and harvesting ahead of us. Those of us who are going to General Convention, also turn our hearts and minds to the present and future of our church and how we will serve the Gospel together. There os much in this turning time, much to ponder and much to pray about.

The ancient people understood the majesty of the natural world, the seasons created for their lives and their welfare. Times of outside labor and times to draw inside and share the stories. The tribe of Israel wrote chants and songs which they taught their children. They honored God for the length of days, for the brilliance of the moon in their darkness and for their lives together. In this age, when we are so mobile and independent, we can lose sight of the incredible gifts in the world around us. These gifts are fragile and we are dependent on God and one another for our lives and continuance.

Today, as I stand in the full sunlight of summer, may my heart be ever grateful for the abundance of gifts we share. May we all give thanks for our interdependence and the created order which provides us with such beauty and abundance. May we all remember to turn and give thanks for these precious blessings, using the daylight to carry love to others in need.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wind and Waves




When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" Mark 4:35-41


Wind and Waves

You cradled me as a child
your salt water helping me swim
your gentle waves upon the shoreline
my night time lullaby and then seranade.

I have floated across your surface
sailed across from harbor to harbor
been rocked at night as west bound freight
and prayed in the dune as the sun set.

You are life and can become terror incarnate
you are food and can starve us with fear
no one can control you or direct you
you have us in your sweet and dangeous hands.

You respond to the pull of the turning moon
rising up high and elegant in due season
you hide your treasures dark and deep
you only listen to the child from Galilee.

Your lessons are clear and abundant
we cannot control our lives or your seas
our fears and needs will make us cry out
we are bound to call upon the Lord.

Your majesty,  your coastlines remind me
My life is small and unworthy of saving
your closeness and familiarity tell me
that we are bound together in life.

The Divine is more than all the oceans
and we are less than all we imagine
and yet we are loved beyond reckoning
rescued beyond our inherent value.











Collect
O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

There Will Be Signs

Jesus said, "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:20-28 
We live in a world, and in a country that has signs of both great prosperity and great violence. The shootings in Charleston highlights that racism is alive and well. Across the world the amount of refugees points out how cruel and racist we all are. The signs can break our hearts and bring despair. They can also encourage us to speak up and to act. We need to see the daily abuse of people who society consider less than. The rampant violence and abuse can be seen in financial inequality, educational inequality and hounsing is we choose to look. The signs of God empowering us to move are before us.
Jesus is sharing with his disciples about the imminent changes and violence that they would face. Although they could be afraid, he wants them to embrace the signs as God's real presence among them. He wants them to be empowered to move with determination and faith. He invites them to see redemption on the horizon, even when the signs point to the worst outcomes. We are invited, in our sorrow, to look up and seek our hope which is grounded in the love of God.
Today I ask God to help me walk with hope. May we be grounded in the love of God and face the worst of the violence and abuse that surrounds us. May we be disciples who are willing to stand up and embrace the world aorund us.

Friday, June 19, 2015

By Your Endurance

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down."
They asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?" And he said, "Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is near!' Do not go after them.
"When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
"But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls." Luke 21:5-19 
My heart was broken when I heard of the killings at a bible study in Charleston. A group of faithful leaders welcomed another to their Bible study and died at his hand. Each of the victims were those who lived their lives serving God and the people in their community. They worshiped in a church that has been a beacon of hope for two centuries, a community committed to freedom for slaves and equality for all people. Their faithfulness endures, and today they remind me that we have so much more work ahead. Hate is alive and well and we as Americans can no longer ignore the sickness that has so effected our young and old alike.
Jesus is surrounded in the temple by those who love him and those who hate him. His message of God's love for all is terribly dangerous to the religious leadership. They want him silenced, they want him dead. They do not want God to love everyone, especially the poor, the outsiders, the slaves. And Jesus reminds them that God knows the depth of our human depravity and will give us the strength to endure the abuse of those who hate God and those who declare love and inclusion.
Today, I ask God to help me pray for direction for us all. May we be motivated by God's love and inclusion to be steadfast in our love and openness, letting no evil deter us from serving God and our communities. May we live faithfully and stand with those who have been attacked for their witness and love.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Two Small Copper Coins

Then Jesus said to them, "How can they say that the Messiah is David's son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."' David thus calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?" In the hearing of all the people he said to the disciples, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 20:41—21:4 

Two Small Copper Coins
Oh mother, you have always given all
your heart was moved by others' needs
you took in children that had no home
and found a seat at the table for the lost. 

Oh mother, you make food go far
and pray even for the abusers
never complaining about your own lack
thanking God for your many blessings.

Oh mother, the priests scorn you as simple
others think you foolish or naive
God knows you as a beloved child
and neighbors call your humble house home.

Oh mother, may we all learn from you
who offers food and comfort for everyone
may we honor you by following your habits
sharing God's abundance in our small towns.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

God of the Living

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her." Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."
Then some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you have spoken well." For they no longer dared to ask him another question. Luke 20:27-40 

26 years ago today I was ordained a deacon by Bishop Eastman of Maryland in the  Washington National Cathedral. We were a large class of eleven deacons. Who would have known those years ago where we would be lead. Each of us has gone to serve in a myriad of places and have been blessed by God all along the way. The wondrous building, a memorial to so many, was a dazzling place for an ordination. And we have all learned in our living, that God is not dazzled by architecture, but is concerned about our hearts.
Jesus is being tested by the theologians, trying to catch him in a mistake. His answer stuns them, as they recognize that in simplicity he has confounded the wisest among them. The living God is among us, and is concerned about the living. God would have us focus, not on the contest, the winning, or the dazzling, but rather in the love and service that we share,
Today I ask God to renew my vows by my service to the living. May we all remember that God is with us as we walk our local streets and invites us to service and simplicity in all that we do.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Watching

When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.
So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. So they asked him, "Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, "Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?" They said, "The emperor's." He said to them, "Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent. Luke 20:19-26 
Watching
 They are watching the children of God
those who would believe us lairs and fools
those who would decide we are trouble
and those who do not understand at all.

Some of the children of God watch others
hoping they will stumble and fall
greedily aching to see the holy soiled
never seeking forgiveness but destruction.

Some of the children of God are watching
the world with an eye to reach out a hand
watching the faces and moved in heart
to make room for the needy and broken.

And God is watching us all as we ignore
the person beside us on the bus
the mother of three who cleans the stalls
and the violence victim at the checkout stand.
 
 
 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Going to the Well

The Samaritan woman at the well said to Jesus, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:19-24

Yesterday as part of the closing Eucharist at Convocation, we were invited to come to the font and bless ourselves with the water that had been blessed for baptism. Everyone came forward, anointing their heads and hearts, renewing their baptism, reconnecting to community and recommitting to service. The young ones were helped by parents and all felt the presence of the spirit among us.

Jesus meets an outsider, a non-tribal member, someone he should never talk to, nor should he share the same well with him. Their conversation went on to their religious differences but he promised her that that which separated us in faith and clan would be of no more importance. And yet, we see too often who is left out of our church leadership and our circles. We still exclude by difference although that is not God's intention.

Today I ask God to help me continue the important ministry of inclusion. May we know no barriers to our faith and never keep others out. God has made us one family, one people of God across generations, languages, cultures, customs and economics. May we have faith enough to live that out today.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Kingdom of God








 Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come."
He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. Mark 4:26-34



I have had the privilege of attending and teaching at Convocation in Navajoland. We had meetings in the morning then classes in the afternoon. All ages of people cam to learn about the history of the region, practicing worship in the church and licensed ministry and the ordination process. At the end of the day we were treated to a wonderful picnic supper and then traditional Navajo songs and dances. There are many challenges for the various ministries here and yet there are seeds of joy being planted everywhere. This will be a place where I can always point to where I glimpsed the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus taught the people with parables and stories, not because they were stupid or child like, but in an oral tradition, stories are told in a way so that they can be remembered and repeated. The images stay with us forever and we can repeat the stories word for word because they are most powerful and rich in their simplicity.

Today I ask God to abundantly bless the ministry and people here in Navajoland. May all of us, who are attempting to serve the people here  know the power and the gift of their story and may we never fail to see the kingdom of God in their midst.

Collect
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Authority


One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders and said to him, "Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?" He answered them, "I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" They discussed it with one another, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'Of human origin,' all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet." So they answered that they did not know where it came from. Then Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things." Luke 20:1-8 

Authority
I dreamed many dreams last night
saw my mother in my dreams as a first
since she passed I have been wandering
wondering which direction I might go.

Last night I dreamed of my toddler
soft hand in mine sweet milk breath
all my daughters in one little child
took my hand and led me out.

Last night the sun set over the rocks
ancient faces carved into their tops
shadows of invitation from ancestors
keep going, keep searching, we go too.

Love is my compass and my authority
I am guided by Divine and human love
surrounded by witnesses of every age
pushing me forward and I am not alone.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Spellbound

As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God."
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, "It is written,
'My house shall be a house of prayer';
but you have made it a den of robbers."
Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard. Luke 19:41-48

Yesterday I flew into Albuquerque and drove up to Farmington. I collected my friend Chan at the Episcopal Church in Navajoland offices and we headed up to Bluff, Utah and St. Christopher's where convocation is being held. The day had been stormy early and the rivers were very swollen. The sights along our way, although I have seen them many times, were mesmerizing. We missed a turn because we were spellbound by the scenery. God's glorious creation, made us catch our breath at every turn.

Jesus was teaching and the people were spellbound. They were caught up by the near presence of God and the beauty that was transforming their hearts. We were caught up by the Creator's natural beauty and they were caught up by love. God's love for them was so tangible, so real, that they couldn't help but be caught up. God invites us today to be caught up, spellbound by love.

Today I ask God to help me see the love that surrounds us as we gather today. May we embrace the beauty that is within us and around us, trusting that God is moving through us and bringing love where it is needed most.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Trustworthy in Small Things

As they were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’ Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) ‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’” Luke 19:11-27 

Small Things
It is a small thing to tend small plants
nurture small children who have nothing
it is very insignificant to feed a young mind
and the world is transformed by these gestures.

Love is not found where trumpets blow
nor where fans flock and crowds press
love is found in the humblest kitchen
where the least among us in fed.

Faith grows when we do the very possible
the very boring things of routine and service
love blossoms when we do the smallest
service to the overlooked and the unwanted.

Faith never forgets a mother's touch
nor the hand that helped the falling child
love always remembers the tender gift
of time spent with the outcasts.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Climbing Trees

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." Luke 19:1-10 
 I remember what it was like when I was very small to try to look ahead through a forest of adult legs. I also remember how glorious it was to climb trees and have my whole perspective change. It was cooler in the green sprawling branches and I could spy on people without them seeing me for very few people ever look up. Getting closer to God has often come when I work to get a new perspective, when I struggle to new heights and new challenging places, where I find God drawing close.
We learned in Sunday School that Zacchaeus was small in stature. But that has never been the focus of the encounter with Jesus. Jesus looked up and sought Zacchaeus out, calling him down from his vantage point to a closer encounter with the living God. And this encounter changed the tax collector forever, and everyone around him too. Jesus didn't shame the man, he loved him, and that love brought not only a chance of view but a change of heart. God's love invites us to draw close and to be transformed by love.
Today I ask God to help me draw ever closer. May we be willing to move to challenging places in order to experience God's love and transformation today.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Your Faith has Saved You

Then Jesus took the twelve aside and said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again." But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." Then he shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He said, "Lord, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has saved you." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God. Luke 18:31-43 
There are often storms out on the ocean, just as there are often storms in our lives. Our family has been through so many losses and changes that it can seem overwhelming. It can seem like being lost in the dark, blinded by grief, loss and one too many transitions. There are lighthouses all along the shore and I love to see them, particularly at night. They remind me that in my own times of blindness and loss, there is still a loving God searching the shoreline, listening to our cries and helping us on our way home.
Jesus was on the way to his passion, his final moments in Jerusalem. The disciples didn't want his progress impeded by some loud beggar. But Jesus took the time to listen and to heal. The former beggar immediately became a disciple and follow wherever Jesus would lead. Our wretched need, our terrible losses and lacks are heard by God. Despite the busyness of the world, Jesus had time for our healing too. We might think we are insignificant, but God knows otherwise.
Today, I ask God to help me trust in him completely. May we take all our care to Jesus in prayer, expecting light for our journey and cures for our blindness. And may we take time for others who cry out to us, knowing that we never sail these rough seas or walk these rocky journeys alone.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Receive the Kingdom as a Child

People were bringing even infants to Jesus that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."
A certain ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.'" He replied, "I have kept all these since my youth." When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" He replied, "What is impossible for mortals is possible for God." Then Peter said, "Look, we have left our homes and followed you." And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:15-30 

Receive the Kingdom
The riches of the world sparkle and shine
the new fashions are garments that tempt
places of power require large sums of money
we come into and out of the world with nothing.

This nothing at the beginning and end
are the gifts of God for we are wrapped in love
our bobbles and trinkets can hide that gift
and we can start to believe in ourselves alone.

It is a small thing to share from our riches
with the poor and the outcast on our streets
it is another to leave family and home
to care for those who cry out all night.

This nothing at our start and our end
is truly the mark of the Divine on our beings
our common humanity is found in our lack
and joy and wonder return in our sharing.