Friday, September 30, 2016

Blessed Are You

Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:12-26

Blessed Are You 

I see these faces of tender children
refugees and encamped for freedom
I see Jesus among the gentle and weeping
and know our greed has made us weak.

Our strength is in our beloved people
grandmother earth who has fed us well
grandfather sky who has watered and warmed
the generations yet unborn who need us now.

Our weakness is in our chosen blindness
our unwilling to see the crisis before us
our choosing comfort over community
choosing ease and looking the other way.

We will be blessed or cursed depending
on how we live this day, how we raise children
how we walk with others and love them
or how we turn a blind eye on their need.

I see the faces of tender weeping children
and see my babies, my children in their eyes
I see that we are all related and share so much
if  we will but open our eyes and see.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Michael and All Angels

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 1:47-51

Today is the feast day of Michael and All Angels or Michaelmas. " St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin - the edge into winter - the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months. It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defenses during the later months of the year. Traditionally, in the British Isles a well fattened goose, fed on the stubble from the fields after the harvest, is eaten to protect against financial need in the family for the next year; and as the saying goes: “Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day, want not for money all the year”. (Historic UK) This time of year, as the light diminishes we often find ourselves wanting for protection and safety.

Jesus is at the beginning of his ministry and dealing with some folks who are very skeptical about him. Nathanael identified him as the son of God after Jesus surprisingly understands who Nathanael truly is. Being understood at our core invites us to let love in completely. Our defenses, built up after many hardships and challenges, often shut out love. Nathanael is thrilled and probably shocked by being known and loved completely. God invites us to let down our defenses, knowing we are defended by a heaven full of angels.

Today I ask God to help me be open to love and understanding. May we live honestly like Nathanael, and open our hearts to the living God and the people around us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fresh Wineskins

After this Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Then they said to him, “John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.” Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.'” Luke 5:27-39 

Fresh Wineskins

There are important times to recycle
for reusing, re-purposing, making do
there are other times when only new works
we are called to know the difference.

Starting over requires a new slate
new chalk, new ideas, new direction
leaving the old dance steps behind
the old habits, communities of destruction.

We are children of fresh wineskins
despite the desperation of these times
blessed with imagination, reason and skill
invited to build a new vessel for love.

Our old familiar ways are now obscured
our homes are burned down, covered up
the old songs have been taken from us
we must paint a new horizon with new paint.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Do Choose!

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

There have been times in my life when I can forget what God desires for my life, as well as for everyone else. God does not want us to suffer or be broken. We humans are broken and sinful, and we are often undone by disease. Often times, well meaning people will tell us that suffering is good for the soul, pain reminds you that you are alive and so forth. None of that is helpful when you cannot get up from your bed, or when your body is wracked with pain and covered with disease.

We find Jesus in two separate instances where his only goal is to bring healing. We find him in these circumstances a good deal. The incarnate God wanted nothing more than to bring healing to the world. The obstacles were put in his way by humans, misguided, controlling and fearful humans.  The ones who loved so well and lowered their friend to Jesus found healing and forgiveness as well. God's desire for our lives is to find healing and forgiveness. Sometimes it happens in very strange times and places, and we are invited to be ready at all times for love does not keep time or scores.

Today, I ask God to help me always be ready for healing and forgiveness. May I let go of being right, let go of the identity the disease has given me and lean in to love and possibility. May we all make ready for the desire of God's heart.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Put Out Into Deep Water

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

I have spent my life by the ocean and love being on the water. I am not afraid of deep water, as I barely remember learning to swim and am often most comfortable in the water. Deep waters can be very dangerous, though, even for the most experienced sailors, swimmers and fishing folk. A storm can arise and destroy boats and lives. Deep water means losing sight of the shore, too far to be rescued quickly, too dangerous to traverse unless skilled and practiced.

Jesus found himself among the folks who make their living by the sea, the rough and skilled folks who fish for a living. They know their seas and the seasons, they watch the skies and the weather indicators. Jesus, obviously not a seaman, tells them to go out into deep water and put down their nets. They've been unsuccessful and are frustrated. The last thing they need is for someone who knows nothing to tell them what to do. And yet, that is where God meets us, in the midst of our worst frustration and exhaustion, inviting us to go into deep water by faith.

Today I ask God to help me go into deep waters and cast my nets again. May we not give up on love or faith because of our failures, but renew our efforts to wait upon the Lord and live.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

She Got Up

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

She Got Up

After all she had been through
she got up and served them
her joy made her ache to serve
her love made a place for everyone.

Near death she had asked to live
aching to only be restored and back
back to the life she knew so well
back to the life of making a home.

No one thought she would live
God brought a new way of being
love brought a new way of seeing
the sick still have potential to rise.

We are often sick and sick to death
God stirs in the midst of our anguish
God moves in the midst of our pain
God moves so that we might serve again.


Friday, September 23, 2016

With Authority and Power

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region. Luke 4:31-37 

Yesterday I was looking at the movies that are out in the theaters. There was a plethora of horror movies, which seems to happen this time of year. As we get close to Halloween, we ache to be terrified, as if there is cleansing, some healing these scary movies provide. We like it best when they are based on true stories, of people beset with horrible houses, horrible children and horrible communities. The problem is, when people are truly beset by unexplained things, we run in terror the other way and are powerless to help.

Jesus was not afraid of the man in the synagogue, nor did he run the other way. He brought healing and freedom to the man, ridding him of the pain and damage that bound him. They people who witnesses this were frightened and amazed, both wonderfully excited and ready to run. In the face of God's loving presence, we often find ourselves feeling this way.  We are invited today to be fearless in the face of things we cannot explain and to call on the ultimate authority and power, the love of God which is ever present and unending. In the face of the worst evil, social and personal, we can count on the ability of God to conquer even the worst that comes at us.

Today I ask God to help me remember to seek God's love and power and not rely solely on my own. May we remember that there is much in our daily lives we cannot conquer alone, and may we completely rely on the power of God's love to conquer that which seems impossible and unchangeable.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Spirit of the Lord

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. Luke 4:14-30 

The Spirit of the Lord

As dawn is breaking the light lifts
the day into being and we breathe again
taking in the Creator's spirit being annointed
for the work we have before us today.

The brilliant midday sun beats on us
our knees buckle weariness blankets us
we wonder whether we can withstand it
we forget that we are never truly alone.

Peace hushes our fearful heart at day's end
we sit still to watch the  coming sunset 
birds lift on wings to dance in the pink orange sky
we bow our heads and find ourselves thankful.

The Spirit if the Lord come on strange ones
folks who ache to serve and heal their nations
it dwells within the feeble and the foolish
who know their blessings both light and dark.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Take Up Your Cross

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "if any want to become my follwers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their  life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful   generation  of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in glory of his Father withthe holy angels." Mark 8:34-38

Some days our work in the  church,  particularly whe  we are mired in intense disagreements and complex problem solving, can seem like a cross. These are the blessing and gifts of our ministries. At least for me, my crosses are those when I feel helpless to do anything. When there is such human suffering get and ugly violence breakso out, that is where I feel drawn to the cross and  you own cross. That helplessness always leads me back in to God'said arms.

Jesus challenges the people to not expect easy road and to embrace
 challenges as gifts from God.  We are never alone in our burdens as Jesusproceeds us to the cross and gave his all for all.

Today as  I sit in another meeting I ask God to help me see the blessings surrounding me. May we be mindful of our manifold blessings which often lose focus due to our personal struggles.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Voice Crying in the Wilderness

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages. Luke 3:1-14
Voice Crying In The Wilderness
It takes a strong heart and faith standing up to viciour cruelty beamingwith a smile and genuine love. 
It doesn't demand athletic prowess or brave physical heroism but rather requires a warrior's spirit zealous for justice. It takes sleepless nights of praying, tears of hope and fear to be a witness for God in this very broken world.
Today we need more Desmonds, more Theresa more Martin, we need voices crying against the destruction of water, lands and dreams. We need more who will stand up to greed and cruelty,more who will defy the powners that be and more who will stand with the broken and defiled. Change the dialogue and scream if you must but be a warrior for God. Let no legacy of love be forgotten, no deed of kindess untold, no tears or laughter, lullaby nor lament go without memory and action.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Heart of God

John 12:44-50 
Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
We have been here at the house of Bishops in Detroit.  We have spoken and listened a good deal about how we live into being membersaid of the Jesus movement. I had the opportunity to preach last night and was terrified. I spoke from my heart, sharing my story. I spoke of our understanding the need to see each other as relatives. We are all related.
Jesus spoke of his intimate relationship with God the Father.  And he told all those who will listen that through our relationshipto Jesus we are intimate with the heart of God. We are embedded in God's love. We are invited to live love by loving our neighbors. 
Today, I ask God to help me walk in love. May we understand how connected and embedded we are now and always in the heart of God.

Heart of God

John 12:44-50 
Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
We have been here at the house of Bishops in Detroit.  We have spoken and listened a good deal about how we live into being membersaid of the Jesus movement. I had the opportunity to preach last night and was terrified. I spoke from my heart, sharing my story. I spoke of our understanding the need to see each other as relatives. We are all related.
Jesus spoke of his intimate relationship with God the Father.  And he told all those who will listen that through our relationshipto Jesus we are intimate with the heart of God. We are embedded in God's love. We are invited to live love by loving our neighbors. 
Today, I ask God to help me walk in love. May we understand how connected and embedded we are now and always in the heart of God.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hiding Away

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Lord, who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”
Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him. Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.John 12:36-43
Hiding Away

I wish to run and hide away
To bury my face in a pillow
Say not today please
I fear your ridicule the most.

My life is so misunderstood by you
You think me a character from a book
A different fascinating species you
have not welcomed me to your home.

I am  other, different and sent
Here to change hearts and minds
Here to bring love which is unknown,
Here to live with your brokenness.

I am known to multiply loaves and do miracles
I carry a story so much bigger than those
I carried God'said love for all to know
To embrace and transform whole communities.

I come with abundance  and life
Too many want a small sample, a taste
The fear of diving too deep keeps them aside
Keeps their hearts from being truly full.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Walk in the Light

Jesus said to them, "the light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overtake you. If you walk 8n darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light." After Jesus had said this, he departed and hide from them. John 12:30-36

Today begins  the first day of theach House of Bishops meeting in Detroit. We gather twice a year, once on retreat in the spring and then a meeting everyone fall. We reconnect and learn together.  There is much anXie type in this world, terrorism and election politics, climate change and financial crisis. It is easy and very human to give into despair. It is natural to want to withdraw and secretly criticize.  We cannot go that way.

Jesus talks directly to his critics about wallowing in fear and dread. He understands how easily we are manipulated by loud angry voices. We can move away from others as our fear and anxiety mounts. We are invited  to deepen relationships,  turn from fear and human wrangling and walk in the light. 

TO'Day I ask God to help me always walk in the light.  May we turn away from human wrangling and scandals and set our face on following Jesus, the source of light and love.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Coming Into Jerusalem

When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!” John 12:9-19 

I am home for a  brief time before I head to another meeting. I spent the weekend in Oklahoma, attending a gathering of the Oklahoma Committee on Indian work, the 30th Oakerhater honor dance and several church services where the Presiding Bishop was preaching and present with the people. I was over and over again struck by the joy and hopefulness which I encountered. There have been many setbacks in recent years to Native ministry but there was also a new joy and a new hopefulness. There was encouragement and possibility among the people gathered. Everyone wanted to be a part of the present and future, this Jesus movement. It was one of the moments when following Jesus was a great and continuing joy.

The people have heard of Jesus and his miracles and come to greet him in the streets of Jerusalem. They ache for new life and new possibilities. Their struggles and losses have overhwlemed them for too long. They want to be part of joy and possibility, not structure and rejection. The religious leaders are overwhelmed by the response Jesus receives and plot to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus. They do not understand how transforming love is, how incarnate love in Jesus turns the despair into new possibilities. We are invited today, no matter how weary and discouraged we might be, to turn to Jesus, for there is life and abundant joy on the way.

Today I ask God to help me follow on the way. May the low places reminds us that God is with us and the high ground be places of great rejoicing. May today be like the day Jesus entered Jerusalem, a time when we are overwhelmed with joy and possibility and strength for the journey ahead.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Holy Place

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, ‘What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place* and our nation.’ 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! 50You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’ 51He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. 53So from that day on they planned to put him to death.  John 11: 45-54

Holy Place

We are heading to a  holy place
to dance, to pray, to sing and honor
we ar going to the touch the earth
where ever so long ago a saint wlked.

He walked daily with his people
he told the story of Gods love for them
he touched and sang in their ancient tongue
always a deacon serving God right there.

The wind blew hard and the ground dry
harsh aand holy he wandered the tall grass
he told of his Savior in words understanding
songs that brought God to walk among them.

Hidden from the brisk city streets away
from high altars and lofty theologies
he walked the road of love and kindness
we will remember his gifts forever.

Today we will find our places
between earth and sky wind whipped
we will dance and sing and pray
for Making Medincine brought love
and made this forever a holy place.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Let Us Also Go

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:1-16

Let Us Also Go

Let us also go, that we may die with Him
let us follow the way we do not know
we fear the anger of so many leaders
but we go because loves spurs us forward.

Let us go the where turmoil and violence live
where some lives matter more than others
where clean water is threatened for greed alone
where lives are on the line for real justice.

Let us also go where the mothers are hurting
where the shadow of death lingers as well
where violence in the home spills to the streets
where the dust itself is infected with fear.

Let us also go to the margins, the edges
where we too might die along with the dying
where there are no cameras no media coverage
where holy people are dismissed as trouble.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

After Labor Day

The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled—can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there. John 10:31-42

Although our New Years Day is January 1st, I always regard the day after Labor Day as the beginning of a new year. We would leave summer and friends behind, walk to school in crisp and uncomfortable clothes, still itching from mosquito bites, and face a new and different reality of order and learning. I loved school but I loved the freedom to dream, play and roll in the sand much better. I do believe I learned a great deal in summers, often much more that stuck with me than the rote and rigidity of school rooms. The ability to create and imagine were often stifled in the classroom but summer was a culture of endless opportunity and invention.

Jesus is taken to task and threatened with stoning by the very rigid and rote religious leaders. He had learned the rules and requirements as a young child, had been dutiful and submissive when appropriate. As the Son of God, in the midst of the rigidity, he had to instruct people that God does not dwell within human rules and regulations but in the living hearts and minds of those who are willing to be remade and transformed.

Today I ask God to help me live a life of service to God. May we seek God at all times and find God's love in the awkward and difficult places we often avoid.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Letting Go

Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus; and he turned and said to them, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." Luke 14:25-33

Letting go is one of the hardest things human beings can do. We are hardwired to control things, to right the ship, to turn a profit, to hold on to the power given and to tighten the grip on all that we love. Letting go, true letting go, id letting go to the Divine, giving God the power over our lives and living without - control, a map, possessions, anger and hatred. There are so many things that weight us down, that is baggage both physical and emotional. Even when we let them go, we find ourselves picking them up again, the next day, week or year.

Jesus invites us today to follow him by letting go of the things, relationships, control and authority. Learning I can do nothing about the days to come and the people around me is a hard lesson, a walk of a lifetime. Jesus calls us today to not be power hungry as it will be our undoing. He invites us to not be fixers of others, which never works out anyway. God invites us, to settle in and wait upon the Lord, for abundance and love in great measure is promise. As we let go, only then do we truly see the love and great generosity around us.

Today I ask God to help me let go. May we all look within and find those things that have bound us and which keep us from seeing God clearly.

The Collect

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Called by Name

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” John 10:1-18

Last year we went to a wool fair in New Hampshire and watched the shepherds with the sheep dogs. They were all border collies and demonstrated their expertise at corralling, herding, redirecting and herding the sheep in through the gate. Each dog responded to calls, whistles and their names. There was one of the dogs, a young female, who was struggling to follow directions. He would call her out by when she was distracted and acting with all the confusion of a child with ADD. It was absolutely captivating, the relationships that were demonstrated. The lives of the sheep depended on the care and direction of the shepherd and the cooperation of the dogs. Everyone had to participate and do their part.

Jesus, seemingly always confronted by the religious authorities, explains his relationship to God and to his followers. It is the intimacy and responsibility of good shepherd to his sheep. A shepherd who would, and did, lay down his life for his sheep. We, through him are directly related to the divine. We all have our parts to play, our responsibilities to keep. God gave him the authority to call us each by name.

Today I ask God to help us take our part in the life of faith. May we respond to the call and follow where we are sent, for the love of God in the world.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Lord, I Believe

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” John 9:18-41

Lord, I Believe

I am new at seeing this world clearly
new at walking forward on my own
new at following the righteous path
Lord, I believe but surely need help.

I have known miracle in my own flesh
and have witnessed love beyond measure
today the storms are bearing down
I am helpless and directionless again.

Lord, what is ahead is not what has been left
the terrors and poverty of the past still haunt
those who judge continue to point at me
they question my worth and my truth.

I will trust your love to guide me on
wake and sleep in the knowledge of you
walk, one foot at a time, the path ahead
and trust you when the deep darkness descends.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Feast of David Pendleton Oakerhater

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” John 9:1-17

I have been blessed to visit the church where Oakerhater served and will attend the 30th anniversary celebration and honor dance next weekend. Normally I would have more to say but I think this saint's words hold more power than anything I can contribute today.

His biography follows after his words to his people - When he first returned to Oklahoma in 1881, he said: 
You all know me. You remember when I led you out to war I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all He tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace.
David P. Oakerhater (born around 1850) was a warrior and leader of the Cheyenne Indians of Oklahoma, and led a corps of fighters against the United States government in a dispute over Indian land rights. In 1875 he and 27 other military leaders were taken prisoner by the U S Army and sent to a military post in Florida. There, thanks to the efforts of a concerned Army captain, they learned English, were encouraged to earn money by giving art and archery lessons to visitors, and encountered the Christian faith. David and three others were moved to become Christians and to go north to study for the ministry. David was baptized in Syracuse, New York, in 1878, and ordained to the diaconate in 1881. He returned to Oklahoma and there founded schools and missions, and continued to work among his people until his death on 31 August 1931.

He is a shining and powerful example for all of us Indigenous leaders who are working for the Gospel and in service of our people.      

O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, who didst choose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be thy servant, and didst send him to be a missionary to his own people and to execute the office of a deacon among them: Liberate us, who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to thee and to the neighbors thou hast given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen