Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Of God

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

I arrived last night in Helena. My husband and I drove the car across the country from our home in Massachusetts. There is no way not to be struck by the beauty and magnificence of this land of ours. And there is also great waste, shock and horrors along the way. There are some folks who are delightful and kind. Others are spiteful, angry and unhelpful. Some are an obvious gift from God and others, well, it is hard to see the love of God in their eyes. Standing on the camp in Standing Rock, the people gathered to save their water, their children and their land, gathering peacefully, caring for one another and the place - in that place I knew God's presence. Some people might see a protest as a frightful thing. I saw only the love of God in their eyes, hearts and in their words. Of all the stops we had, this one touched me deeply and forever.

Jesus is being challenged by the religious leadership. He is different from them so they cannot see the signs of God in him. Their perception is bound by culture and rules. God's love is not. Their sight is influenced by very tight parameters, but God's love is never bound by our rules and our ways, whomever we are. God invites us today to see beyond our own limitations.

Today I ask God to give me a broader vision and a deeper sense of God love and presence in the world. May we all be drawn beyond our comfort zones to know God in new and different ways.

You are Free Indeed

They answered Jesus, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
“Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.” John 8:33-47

Free Indeed

We have traveled nearly two thousand miles
weary and joyous, inspired and challenged
speeding highways and narrow hill climbs
we have a new understanding of freedom.

We are free to wander great plains and valleys
crossing boundaries of state and tribe
free to be whom we choose on the road
as others are free to be just who they choose.

This freedom though comes at a price
destruction of innocence and theft of land
destruction of culture and languages
the freedom of some snatched away for others.

We have felt the dust and the moisture
the great blessings from above
our hearts swell with gratitude
as our eyes fill with tears.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Holy Banquet

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, `Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, `Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:1, 7-14

The Holy Banquet

The table has been set for the holy ones
no fine china but rough simple dishes
game that was caught by our best hunters
bred that was formed by gentle hands.

The guests will be hungry since poverty
and isolation has burdened their lives
separated from family by the well meaning
they scour the streets for a crumb to eat.

They will come dirty and distrusting
wondering what we might be selling
they have been hounded by fixers and helpers
folks who are sure they know what we need.

The Holy banquet is not for those already fed
not for the secure, controlling or divisive
this rough table is spread for the magnificent
for the beautiful and wondrous that noone see.

The table is set for the ones we have shut out
the one we are not willing to invite tou our homes
this groaning baord is full of every treat
and we will see God sitting among them now.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Teaching from God

About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.
“Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”
The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” John 7:14-36 

Teaching From God

They rounded us up like  frightened cattle
herding onto  rattling trucks and trains
taking us away from sobbing parents
sending us far away to fix us.

Our hair was cut and faces scrubbed clean
our  sweet mother tongues were banished
replaced by harsh tones and strict lives
we lived to dream our pain away at night.

At night we dreamed of gentler homes
where fires roasted our familiar dinners
we ate with elders and babies gathered around
tears trickle out as we remember mamas.

We climbed fences and were gathered up
we chose to die rather than to be abused
we chose the teaching of God rather than
the teaching of those who tried to fix us.

We were laid to rest in foreign fields
but we are remembered to this day
the love of God did not die with us
our spirits embody this coming generation.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Greater Things Than These

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” John 1:43-51 

Greater Things Than These

This is sacred land being destroyed
these are holy people being poisoned
elders and babies put at greater risk
so we can enjoy easy access to cheap fuel.

Now is the time for believers to rise
we are being called to greater things
we need to move mountains and rulers
we need to change selfish hardened hearts.

Seeing under a fig tree into his heart
is easier than stopping this plague of greed
which flows across our holy island
taking from the depths of our mother's heart.

It is the time to come out from the shade
stand in the intense august sunlight 
God is standing with those cherish the people
God is encamped with the most vulnerable.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

To Whom Can We Go?

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.John 6:60-71 

To Whom Can We Go?

We've been on this path so long
rolled over by crisis and storms
the lessons so hard we want to turn
but to whom can we truly go?

There is no place left for us now
we are refugees on a holy journey
we seek only to follow the teacher's path
to tend the gardens that he has planted.

There is no other way but forward
facing the rising sun with new prayers
singing and drumming as we go together
a people sent forth and following.

We face scorching noontime heat
and rolling waves ready to consume
high tides and droughts in our ministry
and yet we face the trip ahead with joy.

Lift up your heads oh suffering servants
love has risen and found you here
you are not lost but on a sacred path
and you are never alone nor aboandoned.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Abide In Me

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

Abide In Me

We call each other home
secured in the intertwining
blessed by interdependence
transformed daily by love.

We cannot be undone or separated
even when at a great distance
we are soundly secured together
bound securely in our waking and dreams.

Abiding takes time and commitment
to dwell closely, sharing everything
every sorrow and joy in common
every task and every labor combined.

True food and true drink found in the bond
love's vines wrapping us all together
never alone in the darkness and loss
always lifted in love form the storms.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Healing and Rest

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing. Luke 13:10-17

Sundays in my house growing up were kept as a Sabbath. After Sunday services, when my dad worked pretty hard, we came home, ate and all rested. It was boring as a child. My parents believed in naps, even when we didn't want to take them. When we came across country, when I was a baby, my mother strung a small hammock between the seats. We always found places to sleep, often inventive places. I learned recently from a brain specialist that it is only when we truly sleep that I bodies can do the work of healing. It doesn't happen when we are awake and working.

Jesus changes a woman's life taking pain and disfigurement away and giving her new hope and new life. He does it on the Sabbath and engenders the wrath of the religious leaders. They couldn't have known that healing only happens when there is deep rest. Jesus knew that healing and rest go hand in hand, mending only happens when there is sabbath. God invites us to seek healing in those deep places of rest, those places of sabbath, where worship and beauty can be fully celebrated. God invites us to be those who make places of deep rest and sabbath.

Today I ask God to Help me be a person of rest and healing. May we live lives of invitation, beauty and rest and may we help God's healing be available to all.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

All Taught By God

Then the Jews began to complain about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:41-51 

All Taught By God

Often we have been told we are inferior
less than those who settled on our land
hair cut off and our languages abolished
and we are all taught by the Creaotr.

They tried to break our spirits and our wills
but in our night dreaming we heard drums
we danced and laughed to the old tunes
and watched the elders as they talked all night.

We are pushed to the margins and still holy
ignored and abused and still beloved and chosen
misunderstood and put behind glass in museums
and we are all taught by our Divine Creator.

God chose to leave none of us behind
despite the controlling rules of authorities
despite classrooms stiff and unbending
God in in our hearts and we will flourish still.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Bread Of Life

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

Our granddaughter went to church with us last Sunday. She informed me that she did not want to drink the "beer" she had the last time. I told her she did not have to or she could dip the wafer in the wine as it went by. She chose to dip and then returned to her seat to describe how bland and sticky the wafer was. She was confused and wanted explanations of why we do what we do.It is always important to see our rituals through the eyes and experience of those who do not regularly participate. We so often talk of Jesus as the bread of Life and then offer bland wafers and yucky "beer" to symbolize the transcendent incarnate presence of Jesus.

The disciples and followers of Jesus were confused by his language as well. They saw thousands fed to overflowing and thought they had finally gotten to the point where they did not have to worry over where their next meal was coming from. Humans ache for security and mostly we think very concretely. Jesus wanted them to see the larger picture, God's constant and abiding love for them. They wanted tangible assurances. Jesus wanted them to know that they would not be lost, they were truly provided for and yet they wanted simpler explanations and some guarantees. We are no different. God invites us today to not worry about the details because God is truly in charge and we will be fed and cared for. The promise still holds, "I will lose nothing of all the is given me."

Today I ask God to help me let go out anxiety over details and trust God with the solutions. May we not spend our time in worry but trust God to find a way through the darkest moments and abundant resources amidst our scarcity and fear.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Walking On Water

When evening came, Jesus’ disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” John 6:16-27 

Walking On Water 

In my dreams we walk on water
although waking we know the solid truth
we are earth bound and gravity defined
floating and swimming we can obtain
but we never have complete command.

In my nightmares I am swallowed up
the storm surrounds and has me undone
I cry out loud but there is no sound
the reality of drowning is often silence
the truth of our storms are the victims.

In our daily lives there is little victory
rich rulers still triumph over small ones
their tirades and storms destroy and do not build
they do not walk on water but drown the poor.

On my daily walk in faith I often stumble
I focus on the storms and shut out the hope
the distance voice that reassures and invites
It is I, Do not fear is daily drowned out
by the terrified loud beating of my heart.

In this day we are tossed by violent winds
there is no shelter for the weak and the innocent
the rescue teams are often slow in arriving if at all
still a voice sounds do not be afraid this day
for I am here and calm every tyrant and storm.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Other Side of the Sea

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’
 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:1-15

Today is the feast day of Manteo and Virginia Dare. Manteo was the Croatan chief who befriended the English settlers who arrived in Roanaoke, now considered the "lost colony". He was the first Native American person baptized in the Church of England tradition. He traveled to England several times, across to the other side of the ocean to help the settlers. Virginia Dare was the first English born child in the Roanaoke settlement and her baptism is commemorated today as well. Very little is known about the disappearance of this colony, but we remember the generosity and kindness that Manteo provided the weary and hungry travelers that cross the other side of the sea.

Jesus crossed the sea to the other side and a great miracle happened. Despite the small amount of food offered, and the doubt of his disciples, more than five thousand were fed and there were twelve baskets of food left over. These were hungry and destitute people, aching for the love of God. They found the love of God in abundance, as they were filled to overflowing. God invites us today to go beyond our comfort zones, to go to "the other side of the sea" and find abundance and plenty beyond our imagining.

The people of the Roanoke colony found God's abundance in a stranger, Manteo. I ask God to help me go to the other side and seek God's abundance despite my worry and doubt. May we go forth today, trusting God will supply our needs abundantly, and more so.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Into the Pool

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. John 5:1-18 

We have spent the last few days in pool mode. Between watching amazing swimming during the Olympics and teaching our granddaughter Lilly to swim in the pool, there has been so much moving water. I watched as Simone Manuel became the first ever  African American woman to take gold in swimming. An historic and wondrous event. She sweetly talked about being grateful for all the people that helped her along the way. And we have watch Lilly wanting to be in the water morning noon and night. She has to go with an adult, she needs helps as all of us did at one time.

Jesus came across a man who could not get into the pool for healing. He had  no one to help him, or so he thought. Most of the people around him were concerned with themselves or their loved one. Jesus came to bring him healing, a healing hand in dark times. The religious leaders didn't like it but Jesus healed him anyway. Extending a hand in love and healing cannot take a time out or time off. It's what God is doing every moment and what we are invited to do.Love others and help others. It's that simple, all the time and every day.

Today I ask God to help me be aware of the needs of others. May we lend a helping hand, despite our own challenges, helping change a life by our loving.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

At The Well

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John”—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized—he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” John 4:1-26 

At The Well
In the  midday heat going about exhausting chores
interrupted by a stranger, one who might consider me
a terrorist, an enemy and trouble for his kind
kindly offered me a drink of water and sweet conversation.

Our words were cautious at the very first then honest
a deep understanding flowed as river's water after rain
we knew ourselves to be related in blood and faith
we found ourselves in communion that was beyond us.

The stranger knew my broken life and did not turn
my pain and need for survival was well understood
he knew that I was on a journey of healing and hope
despite high rugged mountains and deep life valleys.

At the well in the flow of a normal arduous day
I found love that asked no price but gave its all
a way of being beyond walls and circumstances
a joyous life beyond culture, tribe and language.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Without Measure

 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized— John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
 Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.’ John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, “I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.’
 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath. John 3:22-36

I remember cooking with my mother when I was small. At a young age she had me measure flour, sugar and milk out for her. As I got older I took notice that there were some things she didn't measure. She would cup her hand and pour in the ingredient, stare at it for a moment and then give a nod, turning her hand over and dumping whatever it was into the pot or pan. I asked her why she did that. She told me there were some things that are always approximate, some things are not exact, some things you just have to eyeball. Cooking and baking are very much an art rather than a science.

John was trying to explain to the religious leaders and theologians about the love of God. God gives without measure is what he told them. He insisted that God's love was moving in the world, aching to give abundance and healing. Only fear, greed, and control stood in this love's way. Only our need to measure, judge and objectify kept our hearts from being open.

Today I ask God to help me crack open my heart. Let us set aside all judgements and comparisons and open our heart anew to the living God who is love.

Monday, August 8, 2016

God So Loved the World

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 3:1-21 

God So Loved the World 

We like Nicodemus wonder how we
can be born again, renewed, transformed
when these bodies have become so heavy
so scarred, corrupted and full of pain.

We can never go back again it's true
but we can still be turned again
like damp clay on a wheel that falls
the potter can lift us to magnificence.

We are surrounded by dark forces
storms and illness that knit our brows
even then as we turn full circle
the light returns and there is new day.

We are a new day on the same old earth
this blessed mother who has borne our hate
the sacred globe that is forever changing
changing us as we turn to the light.

God so loved the world that love's light
has greater power than ugliness and greed
love's spirit make us whole despite ourselves
 loves final battles have been already won.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

God's Good Pleasure

Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
"But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." Luke 12:32-40

I'm as easily drawn into fear as anyone else. When things in my life are all stirred out and no good outcome is certain, I can be captured by fear and worry. God always finds ways to remind me that there is nothing to fear. When I let fear overtake I lose sight of all of God's goodness. From a small child, to an brief encounter with a stranger, God finds ways to remind me not to worry. 

Jesus tells his followers, who he sees as frightened sheep, that it is the "Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom." God's desire is to abundantly bless us. God's aches to shower us with love. Fear can keep us from seeing and knowing this. Clinging tightly to possessions and money can keep us from seeing God's bounteous heart. We are invited today to step away when fear tries to envelope us and know the Divine as one who aches for us to be whole and blessed.

Today I ask God to help me step away from worry and fear. May we cast aside the darkness in our hearts so that God can fill it with overflowing love - love that spills over to everyone we encounter today.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Under the Fig Tree

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” 
John 1:43-51 

It is the time of year to find shelter and rest in the shade. As the summer stretches out and the heat permeates everything, we are all inclined to move as little as possible. This time of year it is hard to get much done because everyone seems to be on vacation or at least "out to lunch".  I find this time of year also lends itself to sitting and talking with family and friends. A time of renewing relationship and getting to the heart of things.

Philip wanted his friend to meet the man who had transformed so many lives but Nathanael, comfortable under the fig tree, did not want to change his comfort level or his sense of peace. He was honest about who he was and cautious with Philip's new best friend. Jesus got to the heart of the matter, seeing Nathanael for who he truly was and embracing him completely. We are invited to understand that we are known in our completeness and loved completely. That means our failures and blemishes as well as our successes and beauty is adored by the living God.

Today I ask God to help me be fully human, fully honest and accept the radical love and complete love of God. May we each recognize and accept this total loving embrace, understanding that God is always in the heart of things. We do not have to pretend but know we are loved beyond any human understanding.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Come and See

 The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’
 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter). John 1:29-42

Come And See

Traveling to strange lands opens
a new way of understanding and seeing
ears uncomfortable with strange tongues
heart aching and longing for home.

The answer to our questions is come and see
pushing beyond anxiety and discomfort
giving in to another's gracious hospitality 
 being fed strange foods in strange settings.

God is found in the foreign and different
in the places we least expect to be found
in the distant and the familiar discomforts
mostly in the stranger and not the friend.

We get lost in our clinging to the known
falling over the familiar clutter
we build walls with the detritus of long gone
and miss the new arrival of incarnate love.

When faith is diminished fading like the sun
as evening sets on our possibilities
run to the edges, the margins, the depots
come and see what God has done today.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Voice Crying In the Wilderness

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,'” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. John 1:19-28 

One Single Voice

Often lost in loud conversations
over talked by anxious others
no word gotten in edgewise
yet still a clarion call to change.

Ever resounding through the years
the outsiders voice, the rejected tone
rings loud and clear in our day
our ways have become tangled paths.

The voice invites us to go to the river
to the edge of all that we hold dear
to strip off all that hides our humanity
sink deep in the waters of truth and love.

We would rather stay hidden and deaf
to the clarion voice that call us today
from the light of truth that has no shadow
we would run from the love that is offered.

Come, sit and listen to the wilderness
hear the lone voice that teaches ad instructs
find a new path of love and redemption
and you will be found whole again.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John 1:1-18

Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed or stuck, I have to look backwards to remember how far I have come. When I feel abandoned by God, I look back and see just how blessed and loved I am. We all have days of disappointment and confusion. I can wonder how I got so lost or why I feel like I am struggling harder than ever. I remember then, that I have been on a path of following Jesus and the road is not in my control, but it is always surprising and miraculous, even when darkness descends.

John does not begin his Gospel by describing the ancestry of Jesus but rather with the heart of God where the real life of the Incarnate God began. There in the center of love and creation is the beginning of all that is good, our lives and our redemption. God acting for a very broken world giving birth to a grand new possibility, new hope and transformation. God doesn't stop becoming flesh after the cross and resurrection. That was a beginning and God continues to walk among us if we wouls but recognize love and hope and hold on tight.

Today I ask God to help me hold on tight. The seas may get rough and the challenges many, yet still God promises to be among us today, full of love and healing in our darkest moments.