Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lack of Faith

Now after Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. Mark 16:9-20 

Lack of Faith 

Mary witnessed a risen Jesus
shook with disbelief and joy
running all the way home
to tell the brothers the good news.

They shook their heads disregarding
the impossible story of a mere  woman
one who had made bad choices in life
who was loved by Jesus none the less.

Their jealousy and ignorance kept them
permitted by culture and clan
to ignore the wondrous story
since it can from the lips of Mary.

A woman scorned not giving up
standing on the truth of her heart
knowing that love has broken every bond
freeing her Lord from death's prison.

Lift up your heads today children
God is restlessly moving among us
waiting for those who would believe
the impossible for love's sake alone.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Gravely Guarded

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, `After three days I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. Matthew 27:57-66

It seems a long wait from Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday, until Easter. The disciples, family and friends were simply deep in grief, not waiting for anything in particular, just brokenhearted and inconsolable. They were broken people. They left Jesus' burial to another. They couldn't cope with all they had seen. The religious leaders were waiting and fearful for they had heard his promise. They thought these broken people would rise up and still the body away. They spent the royal coffers to make sure that an uprising would not happen. They overlooked the grief and the sadness, thinking it all an act. 

In this day and age, people hardly know what Easter is truly about. They dye eggs and hunt for them, but miss the deepest meaning, the hardest truths and the darkness of humanity. For some, it's simply about the coming of spring and fancy clothes and dinners. But for the faithful present over these days, we know that love broke the back of death, sin and evil. Despite the world's plotting, the need for might and winning, despite the gross misconduct of the strong and selfish - despite it all, Jesus will brake the bonds of death and all that is evil. Waiting is no joy, but the anticipation and angst cannot overshadow the possibility that love will rule the day, that servant hood and selflessness will guide our feet in the days to come. 

May we wait and pray, knowing that the sufferings of these hours have a miraculous resolution. May we abide in the darkened room, draw close to the tomb, and live expectantly for love and love alone to rise.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’s disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:12-25 

Some folks have considered how Christ can be in our simple bread and wine, how we understand an ongoing presence in this simple gifts. As a mom of three, I know what it means to give my body for another, and I see in the features - eyes, face and hands of my grandchildren - the presence of those who they could not have known. We are related across universes, even when we are seemingly alone or far away. God's presence in the simple bread and wine is part of being family, being related, being children of the living God.

Today as we reflect on the last supper, the foot washing, and all the passion that is to come, I invite us all to recognize ourselves in the people present with Jesus. The deniers and the faithful, the friends and the plotters, the confused and brokenhearted, all were there with Jesus that night. The passion that swirled around made them all part of an eternal scene, made them all witnesses to God's love that was offered for the redemption and renewal of the whole world. And this is our family story, the story of our people.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Rejected Cornerstone

Then Jesus began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?” Mark 12:1-11 

In this world bigger and better rules, and small and unnoticed are slated for destruction. We are a disposable society, and often throw away things because we are bored with them. Plenty of use, but we think since we don't want it anymore, neither would anyone else. We miss some incredible beauty and passion because of our greed and need for new. And we can overlook the precious, tender love when we reject people because of looks, accents or origins.

Jesus tells his disciples a parable about the Vineyard owner, who is patient beyond belief. And yet, the folks in the parable, refuse to recognize the blessings they have, and want more. And in their wanting more they are moved to violence and destruction, throwing away the good in their greed. We are invited by God to see that the incarnate love of God dwells most often in the rejected, the outcast, the unwanted. In this Holy Week, we are invited to seek the hidden precious, the priceless love we might just throw away in our carelessness.

Today, I ask God to help me see the hidden in the every day. May we recognize the blessings right in front of us, and know that God is dwelling among the most unlikely people and places.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Again to Jerusalem

Again Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” Mark 11:27-33 

Again to Jerusalem

Entering the city of great faith and doubt
tested and tried with each and every visit
the son of God, Incarnate one for all
knew this journey to be important, fateful.

The friends recording his return visit
might have wondered about all the testing
might have thought the Pharisees fools
to doubt the wonders of their beloved friend.

Yet the man who was God and Mary's son
knew too well the devices of broken humans
how jealousy and greed become the accelerant
to anger and rage waiting to explode.

The timid steps inside the gates were reminders
the cautionary tale of a city given to madness
an holy place that can erupt in such violence
and try to destroy the Savior of the world.

Oh, Jerusalem, how God's heart does weep
for children left to neglect on the streets
for the women scorned because of their birth
for the destruction of the presence of love incarnate.

Can we go again to Jerusalem and stop
the hatred, accusations and the abuse?
Can we go with the heart of our loving God
who made all people in the divine image?

Oh, Jerusalem, spread wide your gates
and welcome finally the love of God
that love which saturated every heart
which binds all humans to one another.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Coming Into Jerusalem

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:12-25 

Holy Week has begun. Despite the joy of our celebration of entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, this week we face death before there are more celebrations. Sometimes it is hard to stay in the passion of Holy Week, to hold on the the harshness of the story, especially when surrounded by family. We have our granddaughter with us, and a four year old is pure energy and expression. We're sad only when we have to take a nap or when the rules don't allow certain things. And yet, here we are on the verge of the hardest days of our faith story.

Jesus curses a fig tree, although the fig tree did nothing except be out of season. Maybe Jesus just wanted to pick one more ripe fig before the pain he faced. Maybe Jesus wanted to curse everything and everyone because what was ahead was so unfair. Being human made him as fragile and angry as we can be. And being human also made him able to demonstrate the amazing capacity of prayer and forgiveness. He showed them, even days before his death, the intimacy of relationship that God seeks for all of us. The fig tree bore his anger so that we could see limitless possibility.

Today I ask God to help me dwell in the challenges of this week. The possibilities and the sorrow, and the depth of human cruelty. And may we live each day in thanksgiving for God's desire for all of us.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Remembering How It All Started

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 

 Remembering How It All Started - As We Face Holy Week

It started with an angelic visitaiton
that caused all sorts of problems for Mary
created heart ache and confusion for Joseph
until an angel visited and gave him strength.

Then the real journey of faith began
a long and arduous trip to Bethlehem
a birth long ways from home without family
a narrow escape from death in foreign land.

What begins at the invitation of God's love
often caused dislocation and confusion
often seems a misdirection and mistake
making us aliens and foreigners likewise.

And what begins with God's loving promise
never fails to see love come fully round
all the pain and suffering and sorrow
the known and living presence of God.

Friday, March 18, 2016

On the Road Again

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:32-45

I spent a good deal of my time on the road, and it is often, midst the journey, that I contemplate my life and where I am going. This past week while at the House of Bishops meeting, I was sick, and so had more time on my hands, far away from home. I spent too much time in my room thinking  about life choices and directions with a fevered brain. It is easy to get misguided or deluded on the road, to romanticize home, or seriously contemplate a new way of living. It is easy to avoid reality and miss the signs and directions right in front of us. We can get lost, even with the best intentions.

Jesus is on the road with his friends and followers and they don't like hearing what he is saying. They direct the topic away from the horrible challenges ahead, denying what they are hearing, and focus on being competitive, sliding backwards into juvenile behavior. They then moved from competition to anger, after hearing what Jesus had to say - neither behavior being particularly helpful. It is nice to know that those closest to Jesus didn't get it right. Jesus brought them back to reality - a life of service and he brings us back to reality - our lives are intended and measured by our willingness to serve. Here, as we face into Holy Week and Easter, is a good time to remember how easy competition and anger arise and how hard it is to remain willing and loving servants.

Today I ask to help me continually offer my life for others, and leave aside the worry about titles and station. May we all prepare our hearts for this blessed Holy Week coming, by setting aside competition and living humbly day by day. May God's love be known as we serve those around us today.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Last Will Be First

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and 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 murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Mark 10:17-31 

Last Will Be First 

The one held captive and made a slave
returned again to love the people

the one feeding babies on Calcutta's alleys
will become our newest saint Theresa.

Patrick found God's love in pain's midst
saw the people aching to be remembered
he came to them when set free with open arms
and the world embraces still his honored name.

The people who stand in front and boast
taking the best seats and the finest foods
will never understand the joy of the caboose
nor the freedom of being love for love's sake.

The days thet seem like tortured waiting
are echoes of a future hope and rest
the tracks run behind and ahead of us today
we will surely venture on from this weary place.

Some come all you hobos and failures
you are beloved and needed by God
a place is being spread for you
and others wait with anticipation to see you.

Ride with us on the caboose
it is tight but warm enough for all
we are ready to give it all away
so we too can live for love.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Salted with Fire

Jesus said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:42-50 

There are times when trying to really understand life and our steps ahead are completely hidden. Ritual and regularity have lost their power. We find ourselves hopeful for the future but confused by where we might be going. No clear signs and no clear words can direct us. The only thing we can do is wait and pray. Like putting glazed pots in a kiln, we can do our best, and hope that the fire helps our creations become vessels of beauty. We offer what we have.

Jesus is warning the disciples about dismissing the vulnerable and the outcasts. How we treat them and these days when our directions might seem unclear, are most important. Our mean times are to be are times of great kindness and compassion, times when we give ourselves away, so that we can be remade, remolded and fired up for God's world.

Today I ask for strength to be sacrificial and loving in these mean and waiting times. May we love with reckless abandon despite our fears and anxieties, knowing God will make every one of us new.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Cup of Water

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” Mark 9:30-41 

A Cup of Water

The humble and simple act of offering
good drinking water to wayfarers
may be overlooked by so many
the angels you care for will remember.

The hospitality of sharing a cookie
making room on the bench for another
widening the circle so all can see
that is the greatest work we can do.

God is love and love always makes room
makes another bed and sets another place
makes a lap for a crying young child
make conversation with a lonely elder.

Love surrounds us with the abundance
we simply share what we have been given
we leave off from claiming gifts as ours alone
knowing love made each gift possible.

May we step aside for the other
welcome folks as they come sown the road
set aside extras places and seats at the table
and the beloved incarnate God will be there.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Leave Her Alone

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."  John 12:1-8

Often times, people misunderstand certain types of gestures, especially if from an unfamiliar culture or tradition. The church missionaries sent to Indigenous people, mistook the daily prayers and offerings to the Creator as something dangerous and possibly evil. They mistook thanksgiving and love for something blasphemous and sinful. Often, no one stood up to explain, or be an ally, and these incredible gifts and customs were put away and destroyed.

Jesus stood up for Mary, explained her offering of love, and in so doing changed the world. Mary (our Gospel tells us) bravely offered a priceless gift of love and thanksgiving, and Jesus, the incarnate God right in the midst of the people, put his feet on the ground and hands on his hips and took to her defense - an indefensible woman. The living God, in Jesus Christ, stands in our midst today, and reminds us that our work is, like Jesus, the spreading of God's love, the welcoming of the outcast, and being allies with those who have no voice.

Today, I ask God to help me use the tools and gifts I have to spread God's love by acting on behalf of others. May we be the advocates for the excluded, the side-lined, the shunned, so that God's loving light may radiate throughout the world.

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Let Anyone Who is Thirsty

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” John 7:37–52

Let Anyone Who is Thirsty

The cost of gaining love is admitting need
as is the price of being fed speaking hunger
knowing the needs of the heart and soul
mean longing for being sated by compassion.

We would be self-sufficient and proud
looking down on others who are in need
they are honest and we deceive ourselves
we will never know fullness in selfishness.

Being broken open making room
we invite the warm rivers of life flow
through us and out of us to others
filling the world with green growth.

We would be strong and brave
yet it is in our weakness that we thrive
bent and kneeling we find solace and rest
softly weeping we find comforting arms.

Friday, March 11, 2016


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

Arrived yesterday afternoon in the Texas lowlands for the House of Bishops meeting. Many of us are hoping for a transformation, a new experience, a moment that move us forward and together. Each new Presiding Bishop brings great new gifts to encourage our faith and mission. I pray that we can listen and welcome the Holy Spirit into our midst in a true and deep way. There is much to rejoice in and much to be anxious about in the days to come.

Peter, James and John were eye witnesses to the true vision of the realm of God. They went up the mountain and saw their friend changed to his true self, surrounded by his true family and they were dazzled, ecstatic and terrified. This vision would strengthened them for the days to come, but also confound them when the true presence of God seemed so far away in the following days and weeks. We all want mountaintop experiences, and we also know we cannot stay on the mountain.

Today I ask God to help me be ready for new vision and to give me the strength and faith to live that vision out. May we rejoice in our transforming moments and integrate them into our daily lives so that others may share in the true presence of the living God.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sighing Deeply

The Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.” Mark 8:11-26

Sighing Deeply

There are days when the sun shines so
memories stream in like dust on beams
childhood and delights are intermingled
with the greatest of pain and loss.

There is a place where sorrow creeps
when the heart is so disappointed
the failure of other humans so bitter
that darkness can cover even daylight.

There are times when we give up or in
we let reaction become our way of being
we forget that we are precious and beloved
miracle offspring of a loving Creator.

We all know when darkness hovers
when fear can be tasted in every bite
we are made for more than panic flight
made for love's abundant embrace.

There will always be Pharisees
always people who will need sign and proof
and we are those who are dancing already
hearing the wondrous music of God's creation.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Seven Baskets Full

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. Mark 8:1-10 

I am often frustrated by leaders who declare the church is dying and hold tight to the funds meant for service. The church as we know it is definitely changing, changing as it does in every era and every generation. We are always being broken and shared to be made new and to be broader and more far reaching. The church has died and been resurrected in new ways over the centuries.

Jesus' disciples know they don't have enough for the crowds. These small minded followers have seen many miracles, but when it comes to money and food they think there will never, ever be enough. They are guided by fear. Today we are guided by fear and statistics. God invites us to put fear aside and be ready to change, to be broken open, shared and made new. Our faith is that of seven full leftover baskets, a faith of miracles and abundance, transformation, not stagnation.

Today I ask God to help me let go so that transformation can happen. May we all see the decline we far as an invitation to new miracles and new life. May we be willing to be broken open and transformed so that the wider world may be fed on God's love.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Children's Crumbs

From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-phoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” Mark 7:24-37 

The Children's Crumbs

It is thought that we should receive less
when we have given our all
shared our bountiful and beautiful land
made room for the princes and the theives.

We fed the bedraggled winter arrivals 
taught them to plant and hunt here
showed the how to read this world
they wanted us to read their books.

We sheltered the children of the innocent
and swam across deep rivers to survive
we were infected with foreign disease
given blankets to wrap the dying.

Even the living God had to learn
to heal the stranger as well as his own
each of has to learn the generosity
that is the heart of the Creator.

We taught our children without books
to be noble, respectful and kind
to honor all the relatives, two and four legged
to rest and live in harmony with the Divine.

We are more than dogs and crumb eaters
we are the inheritors of the loving One
the heart beat that drums throughout our lives
and walks over with us into eternity.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."
So Jesus told them this parable:
"There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."' So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.
"Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.' Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'" Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

I was thinking back to a time when I ran away from home. I was a teenager, full of angst and fury, feeling misunderstood and ignored. It was summer and we were back in New York. All I wanted was to be by the ocean and my friends. I didn't get very far, had really no money and finally, after many torturous hours I called home from a pay phone. They were happy to come get me, overjoyed that I was safe and alive. I never felt so foolish and shallow in all my life.

I imagine, in the story of the prodigal son, we preach about God's love in the father, running to meet his child, crying, and planning a big celebration. We forget the other prodigal, the other brother, who, despite his "good" behavior, is still angry and jealous. He wants equal treatment despite the fact that he has everything. All of us wander away from God's love, some physically and others who stay in place and fume. The good news is that God's love is always ready to welcome us back, always running down the road towards us with open arms.

Today, I ask God to help me turn around and return. May we all let go of our pride and stubbornness, so that we might be enveloped by the loving arms of our loving Creator. May our eyes see the abundant blessings we have, and as we are rooted in that love, share with joy the love we have been given.


The Collect

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

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Their Hearts Are Far From Me

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

“You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)—then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:1-23 

Hearts Far From Me

We think ourselves hidden and private
far from the eyes of others and God
we are openly stained by the cruelty in our hearts
monsters defiling ourselves and others.

The Creator is always close at hand
as close as those we love
they lean in and delight in our presence
and God's heart leans along with them.

We would deceive ourselves and others
we would clothe our wickedness in glamour
we would drape our slander in luxury
thinking no one the wiser for our folly.

God's heart is breaking as we pull away
we tear the fabric that is love's community
we destroy the garden where we are planted
burning the goodness with our deceit.

Draw close again and live
God has not wandered away, we have
seek the light that will not die
and be fed again at the Creator's table.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Thinking It A Ghost

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:47-56 

It has been almost a year since my mother passed over. In the past few weeks she has visited me often in my dreams, along with my Dad and many others. In my sleep state, it seems natural to be talking with them, updating them on our children and grandchildren. We laugh and talk as naturally as we always did. I imagine that in some ways I am talking with ghosts, but these are also a part of me. All that we love never truly leave us and somehow become part of our flesh and part of our constitution.

The disciples are again on rough waters. Jesus, the living God, who in his human form defies time and space, walks toward them and calms the sea. He tells them (and us) to not be afraid. The storms of life are under his control and all of time and space are flexible. Love makes the impossible possible. God's love makes our present hardships become new miracles, new reasons for believing. God's love strengthens our hearts daily. We don't need to fear ghosts or any other such imagined or real terrors, for God's love has conquered the worst - death itself.

Today I ask God to renew my strength. May we not be drawn under by our fears and our circumstance, but may we trust that God is moving over the troubled waters. May we know that calm and safe passage are being forged for us today.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Seventy-Seven Times

Peter came and said to Jesus, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, `Pay what you owe.' Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart." Matthew 18:21–35

All of our Native communities suffer from the lasting effects of everything from intentional genocide to broken treaties as well as land theft and all forms of neglect. Our federal and state governments have been responsible for horrible things over many generations. It is hard to forgive, especially when it has caused inter-generational trauma, distrust of other tribes and self-abuse in many forms. The work of forgiveness is especially important among our peoples, as we find our leaders and people need much healing. Forgiveness, even in the face of society's ignorance and continued abuse, can be hard won, but frees us from being dominated any longer.

Jesus answers Peter's question about forgiveness by telling a story of how the Creator loves and forgives. God loves and forgives constantly, always and invites us to do likewise. We humans can cherish our anger and our hurt so long that it gets in the way of thriving. We are invited today to forgive and let go so that we can be the people and the blessings that the Creator made us to be.

Today I ask God to help me let go of anger and to forgive all of the people and situations I have hurt me. May we demonstrate forgiveness so that they world might see God's love shining through us.