Thursday, June 30, 2016

Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14 

Many Are Called

Raised hands and swaying bodies
caught up in the spirit of the time
praising God so freely and easily
darkness and failure our silent ghost.

In the chills of the darkest night
alone and in the mist of sleeplessness
we groan aloud feeling so cast out
when we ourselves have walked away.

Our hands reach high in the daylight
then we slap away the beggar's hand
we shun  and imprison their dirty children
gloating about our own good deeds.

At night alone we seek solace and forgiveness
we rarely change, we rarely forgive
living so selfishly and acting so justified
as we lay to waste our planet, our homes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Vineyard

 ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’
 Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
“The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
   and it is amazing in our eyes”?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
* The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’*
 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet. Matthew 21:33-46.

The world is often a challenging place, where our skills and faith are tested. The hardest challenges to face are often those from within not without. I can remember times when I have been terribly hurt by those I trusted, some within the church. We are all stewards, temporary tenants of this vineyard, sent here to serve the world and not control others. We are call to be gentle gardeners, humble leaders, not seeking our own benefit but the blessing of others.

Jesus is being attacked by the religious leadership, the same folks who had been entrusted with the care of the faith and the community. They were more interested in status and control, in wealth and power rather than caring for their people. Jesus knew their ways and his parables stung them intensely, as they were meant to do. All of us in leadership need to be reminded how easily it is to become enamored with power and control, how dangerous we can get when we think we are somehow more important than the people entrusted to us. God invites us all today to examine our words and our behavior.

Today I ask God to help me be a good steward, humble and gentle with all I encounter. May we all hear this parable as a nudge to examine our hearts, minds and behavior. May we lead with compassion and gentleness, land giving again ourselves to the direction of the Divine.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. Matthew 21:23-32


None of us gets out without trails
none can follow a path and not doubt
none can hold a new baby and not wonder
how must I believe so I can understand.

We stumble and fall asleep on the road
we miss understand our own companions
we get lost in the dark and often turned around
even when love stands right beside us.

Believing calls for the homeless to see home
believing gives the foolish to gain great wisdom
believing grants compassion to the heartless
and showers the painfully afraid with courage.

We are at once far from home and settled
simultaneously terrified and ferocious
constantly finding ourselves hot and cold
and yet divine love beckons us onward.

Monday, June 27, 2016

My House a House of Prayer

Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
but you are making it a den of robbers.”

The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,
‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise for yourself’?”

He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” Matthew 21:12-22 

Today is the feast day of Cornelius Hill. "Holy Women, Holy Men" write the following about him.  "Born in 1834, Cornelius Hill was the first great Oneida chief to be born in Wisconsin, after the United States government had forced the Oneida peoples west from New York State.
As a young man, Hill spent several years at Nashotah House, where the Episcopal priests educated him and formed him in the faith, worship, and tradition of the Church. Hill was greatly respected among his people for his intelligence, courage, and ability to lead, and by his teenage years, he had already been made an Oneida chief, named Onan-gwat-go, or “Big Medicine. When land allotment became a legal reality under the Dawes General Act of 1893, Hill turned to the Church, and in 1895 he was ordained an Episcopal deacon. In 1903 he became the first Oneida to be ordained a priest. At the ordination, he repeated his vows in the Oneida language." Cornelius Hill understood that his land and people were holy and worked throughout his life to retain their dignity and way of life - to keep their place and his people, a House of Prayer.

Jesus encounters the abuse of the Temple, turning a Holy place into a market place. He was revolted by the practices of buying and selling religion. He taught his disciples that faith brought about great deeds and that cheapening faith trough the buying and selling of people, land and property was not holy business. God invites us to make our business prayer, faith and service.

Today, in honor of the witness of Father Cornelius Hill, I ask God to help me recommit my life to a life of prayer and service. May we all live lives of faith, and may our words and actions serve to bless the people with hope and renewed faith.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Face Set to Jerusalem

When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:51-62

There are easy roads and more difficult ones. When I first acknowledged my call to priesthood, and began "the process", I really wanted to find a way out. I had two small daughters and saw my future as a clergy person as impossible. My husband was incredibly supportive, so much so, that I wished he would be less so. It seemed painful and hard for me as a mom to fulfill this call. And in truth, it was a real challenge that also came with extraordinary blessings. But I had to face into my pain, anxiety and challenges to follow Jesus. And I have never looked back.

Jesus knew that ahead was incredible pain and testing. He also knew that he had a mission to fulfill, nothing short of making God's love available to the whole world. We are invited to follow this Jesus, not looking back but facing our pain and challenges knowing blessings and strength will also come to us.

Today I ask God to renew my commitment to follow Jesus, to face my pain and challenges, and live into the blessings to come. May we all turn our face to follow him who sacrificed all to bless all of us.

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 25, 2016

Tell the Daughter of Zion

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:1-11

Tell the Daughter of Zion

Humbly entering the Holy city
a God among us moment\
viewed as a political stunt
set off troubles unimaginable.

If we walk with the homeless
feed the hungry, provide compassion
it too may be seen as an act
staged to get attention and press.

A God among us moment
often goes unseen by most
a back alley gift of housing
and a hug to a child of trauma.

The world wants to enflame
hangs on excitement and thrills
God's love moves on a whisper
a touch of healing unannounced.

They came to welcome God
without any warning or publicity
their hearts moved by love
they knew the heart of God with them.

So may we today lead with love
return with love and sing out loud
for God has arrived in our humble places
and made them a holy city forever.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Ransom for Many

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:17-28

A Ransom for Many

The mother wanted privileges for her son
and the others were incensed and angry
none of would choose to be servants
all of wants to be seen as star material.

In God's eyes we are star material
each of equal value and precious
the most precious are the ones bent
for the care and feeding of others.

We ache to lead the festive parade
when it is holy to follow behind
when it is a gift to clean up after
all the messy and needy children.

We are built for love and caring
not built for war and destruction
we are made for following the teacher
not for overthrowing with hate.

God's love is more than enough
for each and everyone of us
challenged, gifted and differently abled
we live to be made whole by love.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

God's Generosity

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

Some days things just don't seem fair. We say to ourselves, "it shouldn't be this way." The children at this camp have many challenges, and sometimes we can feel sorrow for the unfairness of what they have to contend with. And by doing so, we can miss all the blessings and possibilities they bring to our lives. We can see only the challenges and miss the extraordinary strength and capacity they share with each of us.

Jesus unpacks his understanding of the first shall be last. We as humans can be very legalistic but God's love is not bound by our legalities or our childish notion of justice. God's love is bigger than justice and those who show up late are never excluded. We can bind folks or set them free to be loved. Those who would go first in God's kingdom are called to be ready to give up place, control and legalistic thinking. We are invited by our Creator to draw the circle ever wider, ever increasing the welcome and inclusion.

Today I ask God to help me not be a barrier but a welcome. May we live as those who are showered with love and are willing to share our blessings with those at the end of the line, the latecomers and those who by their attitudes show us they haven't had a blessings in a very long time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Last Will Be First

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, 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.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matthew 19:23-30

The Last Will Be First

These children beloved of God
here to explore God's blessings
here to be bound in love
to friends and family of support.

These little children didn't choose
didn't make wrong choices by living
the sin of the parents visited on them
give them a life of sorrow.

These little children laugh and sing
they hug and cry and hold one another
they live to be friends and share life
they live a life of unexpected joy.

These little ones teach us adults
to care for all of our people
to live our lives with dignity, respect
to be a safe place for all the broken.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Blessing Children

 Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
 Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these;* what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money* to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:13-22

Today is the first full day of Grace Camp and in Chapel this morning we spoke about blessings and gratitude. We were all asked to say out loud what we were any children were thankful for their families despite the fact that we each has at least one parent in prison or required inpatient treatment. One child did tell us last night that their father was dead. They are blessed by the love of family, despite the challenges they face. Each child was given a handmade quilt last night and many showed up to breakfast in their quilts. They talked about being truly blessed. I have so much to learn from them.

The disciples were upset that Jesus was blessing the children, but he was stern in his rebuke. The disciples had blessings to receive form the children, they just didn't know it. The children understood the goodness and presence of the living God and wanted to soak up all the blessings they could. We don't know their circumstances, but we can imagine they might be from outcast families. The disciples had many reasons to reject them, but God will never reject them and teaches us that they are the pathway to understanding and receiving God's love.

Today I ask God to help me be more childlike and to understand the magnitude of blessings I have received. May we make each moment count, and spread abroad the love of God. May we share the blankets of blessings with all we meet today.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Driving Out Demons

Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me" -- for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39

Today we are driving 8 children to Grace Camp. Grace Camp is a week for children of incarcerated parents. My daughter Emily is accompanying me this year, as she has written a book for just such children and our wonderful chancellor has bought a copy for each of the children. We are delighted and anxious, as we want to be the most help we can but still have to learn what is best. We want to help with their challenges and demons while celebrating the great gifts of each child and family.

Jesus is up against a great challenge in the ill man and the community that has gotten used to his illness. They want him better but they don't want things to change. Healing always comes with change, losing demons always comes with some sort of about face and a measure of loss. We lose the familiar so new flesh, new ways, new life can move in.

Today I ask God to help us see the beauty in each child we will be with this week. May our actions help bring healing where needed and may we celebrate each one as incredible treasures. May God use us all to rid the world of demons, who would destroy goodness and keep beauty and love on hold.

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 18, 2016

What God has Joined, Let No One Separate

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there.
Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”
His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” Matthew 19:1-12

We as a people in the United States have spent a week listening to pundits and politicians talking about the massacre in Orlando. The folks targeted were thought by the shooter to be an offense to God. Love is never an offence to God, for love is of God and none of us really understands love's power or unpredictability. It is the miracle of birthing, the miracle of healing, it is the miracle of death where we go on to the loving arms of our Creator.

Jesus is under fire again, seen as someone who might be offensive to God. The religious leaders could not see what love had created for the whole world. They wrapped themselves in argument rather than in love. We want to separate people, divide and conquer, rather than bring together. God invites us today to be those who encourage love and encourage folks being brought together.

As this day ends, here in Montana, preparing to be with the children at Grace Camp (a week for the children of the incarcerated) I am reminded how easily we separate people and divide families. May we be agents of love restored into this world.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Not One Should be Lost

Jesus said, “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:10-20 

The shootings in Orlando late Saturday night are a horror too common in this country. The rights of those who would own guns seem to outweigh the lives of the innocent and vulnerable, those judged by others as lost or different. I have been so saddened by our unwillingness as a country to take on bullies, the ones who feel their selfish needs overshadow the safety our all of our people.  " So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost." It is not God's will that we put anyone in danger, so how do we understand this need for weapons that put us all at risk?

Jesus had been challenged about not following the rules of the religious authority. He was very clear that he was law abiding and faithful, but that human laws were fallible and often short sighted. Control of those of difference are often hidden in laws and rules. We bury our fears and hatred in the flag of the second amendment, when the law was made, it was never envisioned to bring destruction of innocents by madmen and zealots. We are invited by God in this time to hear what is God's will from the mouth of God incarnate - " So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost."

Today I ask God for the courage and strength to be an agent of positive change and healing. May we live the love that God has given us and be ambassadors for healing and reconciliation that is the ministry and calling of us all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Like Children

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. ‘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 fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes!
 ‘If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire. Matthew 18:1-9

Like Children

The school bell rings one final time
and we pour out of the doors to freedom
we run and throw away all captivity
setting aside our fears and woes.

Summer is brief and toil and discipline return
for today we can welcome and invite
call out and sing our chance at play
share the equipment will all who will swing.

Our arms are open for loving and welcome
we cannot put rules over enjoying these gifts
we cannot let fear keep us from befriending
we cannot let hope die on the vine.

Violence has too often kept us indoors
politicians too often violates our trust
we are made for love and love alone
and we will share with all the children to come.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Children Are Free

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” Matthew 17:22-27 

I have been traveling since last week and have just returned from the 40th Convocation of the Church in Navajoland. The delays getting home were annoying and I am a day late being home. The joy of that occasion cannot be shattered by the difficulties in traveling. God has blessed the work of the church and the leadership. Travel is a small price to pay to celebrate with these unique people of God. Despite the challenges and hardships they have faced, they are loving, compassionate people, raising up new leaders and new hopes for the future. The children are free to hope in what is to come.

Jesus is challenged again by the religious leadership. How he behaves does not match with religious policy and procedure. Jesus came for a very different purpose - to bring God's love to those cast aside and neglected. Some wanted to point our his difference as failings. And yet God blessed the people by another sign - providing the needed money from the strangest place. God delights in providing what we need, and delights when we honor the outcast and the different among us. 

As this day comes to a close,  I thank God for the joy of being home and returning from a place of such joy and blessing. May we find God's delight as we journey to new places, among new people and in places of difference.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

And They Praised God

After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan. Matthew 15:29-39 

There are days when it might seem hard to give thanks or to praise God. Today is not one of those days.Today I get to see our grandchildren and I am always grateful and thankful for them. And when I see the face of my daughters I cannot help but praise God. I was told, after surgery as a young teen, I may never have children. And yet God blessed us with such incredible, miraculous gifts. There have been days when it was impossible for me to walk, so every day I can walk is an opportunity to praise God. We can take for granted the miracles in our loves but I would rather give thanks to the living God for the many miracles and blessings I have been given.

Jesus is followed up the mountain by crowds of needy and sick people. They were made well by the love of God and then they were fed to overflowing. Jesus didn't stop at the physical miracles of healing, all though it would have been enough for those who were healed. He also fed them, so that they could know the power of God in their lives, caring for the big troubles and the small ones too.
We are invited by God to continue to lift our troubles before God, since the living God desires to heal us and feed us as well. We are not left alone healed and hungry but rested and fed as well.

Today I ask God to help me lay all these needs before Jesus. May we like the crowds on the mountain, rush to follow him and tell him what we need. May we also accept the rest and fullness offered today.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Woman, Great is Your Faith!

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28 

I had the privilege of  preaching and celebrating last night at the Esperanza Academy 8th grade graduation celebration. All these young women come from challenging circumstances and yet they, their guardians and teachers are committed to helping them grow and overcome all the challenges they face. A whole community, who are committed to healing the outcast and outsiders, who want to give these girls a chance. My heart was so full watching each of their faces, singing about faith and hope - despite it all.

The Canaanite woman comes to Jesus pleading for the life of her child. She changes Jesus and the ministry at that very moment. His focus had been on the community of faith he had been raised in, but her faith shattered his understanding and broke through all barriers. The faith of one woman changed hearts and minds. Her determination and faith had brought us all a model of faith. When the world, and even our faith structures seem to turn against us, God is for us and we need to remain fierce and faithful.

Today I ask God to help me remain fierce and faithful and hopeful against all odds. We are invited by God to ask for what we need, push for the needs of our community, and not let barriers or structures stand in the way of justice, healing and love.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Do Not Weep

 Soon after healing the centurion's slave, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17

Do Not Weep

We are not only broken down vessel
decaying flesh and useless limbs
we are spirit that lives made of stardust
and all the love that has traveled thus far. 

The rain on the windows and our tears
the grief that breaks us open again
is momentary loss we are eternal
riding on beams that are ageless and unseen.

A child is given life and a death sentence
we will surely all perish from this plane
what we see and touch now is temporary
we are being remade for the divine.

When we pass over to our ancestors
their is dancing there one heartbeat sounding
the heartbeat of all the ages
the divine heart living in all of us.

 The Collect
O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Walking On Water

 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Matthew 14:22-36

I am attached and defined by water. We all are mostly water and some people like me, need to be close to water. I am a swimmer, and have spent much of my life by the ocean. I am drawn to it, called and defined by it, and ache for it when far away in dry, arid places. I love the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean, and when I need to clear my head, or get centered, it is the ocean that I seek. A few hours with my toes dug into the sand, listening to the seagulls cry, can restore my faith, hope and vision.

Most of the disciples are men whose livelihoods depended on the water. They were comfortable and familiar with her calm times and storms. For them to be frightened by the wind and waves, meant what they faced was life threatening, a storm of the century. In the midst of this storm Jesus walks to them on water, calms the sea, and pulls Peter from his dying despair. God calls us to hear that Jesus is walking towards us in our dying despair, when our professional skills have failed, and when hope has died. God moves towards us in the most unimaginable storms bringing healing and new life.

Today I ask God to deepen my trust. When winds and waves of despair and personal assaults overwhelm us, when our bodies and skills fail, may we cling to the knowledge that the Divine is seeking us out bringing healing and new life in the midst of the worst we face.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Five Loaves, Two Fish

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:13-21 

Five Loaves, Two Fish

We don't like talk of miracles anymore
although zombies and aliens are okay
we don't like talk of responsibility for others
but we sure want someone to feed us in a pinch.

Some anxious mother packed more than needed
some unworried little child offered to share
some five thousand men sat down to eat
and ate the blessed food until they were filled.

Miracles take an anxious mother, a calm child
people hungry enough to believe and follow
as the disciples followed their teacher's instruction
the need was met in radical abundance.

We are anxious about enough for ourselves
we build walls to keep the hungry out
when walls are built the miracles disappear
fruit withers on the vine and welcome is a curse.

We can be the beginning or miracles again
opening doors and following the Divine
we can welcome hope and fullness now
little children will share their lunch once more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Dance

At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus. Matthew 14:1-12 

We live in a time of politics, a time of pushing and shoving, a time of dancing around and very little honesty. In pursuit of power, we can give in to thinking we can con people for the good of the whole. For great want of something, we will give in to deceit and manipulation.  Caught in the middle of all of this are the innocent, the vulnerable and the poor. Good people are destroyed when the wealthy and powerful play games and dance around.

We are privy to a scene which has captured the imaginations of artists and writers throughout the generations. Herod is a powerful ruler but a weak man, who honors John and Jesus, but is easily manipulated by lust and deception. His pride outweighs his honor. He doesn't want to lose face in front of his guests. How often do we give loss our honor and respect when we give in to peer pressure, desires and shame. God invites us to see the consequences of our lust for power and control, and calls us to examine our hearts and motivation on a daily basis.

Today I ask God to help me examine all that I do. May our words and our actions reflect the love of God in our lives. May we live honorably, not swayed by fashion or power, but moved only by love and service.