Monday, October 31, 2016

Bring Fire to the Earth

Jesus said, “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.” Luke 12:49-59 

Fire to the Earth - an anthem

This ain't no global warming
nor a blaze of unknown origin
but a burning, trembling spirit
for justice and for love.

We are surrounded by absolute wealth
and by desperate painful poverty 
justice has been replaced with selfishness
compassion with self care and pampering.

This ain't no global warming
nor a blaze of unknown origin
but a burning, trembling spirit
for justice and for love.

We cannot control our spending
yet we deny others the very basics
we have more rooms than anyone needs
but no room for the lonely and homeless.

This ain't no global warming
nor a blaze of unknown origin
but a burning, trembling spirit
for justice and for love.

We want more oil for our selves
would poison unborn to get our way
we ache for more than is rightly ours
putting children in harm's way.

This ain't no global warming
nor a blaze of unknown origin
but a burning, trembling spirit
for justice and for love.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wait For It

For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:1-2

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." Luke 19:1-10

I am not terribly good at waiting. I do wish I was more patient but I am likely to lose it before things happen as I think they should. I remember, as a child, staring up at the school room clock, willing it to move faster. It never did but rather seemed to slow down with every glance and glare I directed at it.  Some people are much more patient than I am and actually enjoy and savor the time of waiting and anticipation. I ache sometimes to be like them and more often quickly change my mind and despise them instead.

We hear from the prophet Habakkuk, who lived during very trying times that sometimes visions and results seem to tarry and we are to wait. Zacchaeus was not a patient man, living in hard times, challenged by the shortness of his stature and the height and depth of the crowd. He ached to see Jesus and had a terrible time waiting so he finally climbed a tree. It was to his home Jesus chose to go. He was by no means a perfect man either. And yet it was to his home that Jesus chose to visit. God loves the patient and the impatient, the near perfect and the never perfect. God aches to draw close to us in our messiness and our failures. God draws near, in our time, whether we take the time to see it or not.

As this Sunday closes, I ask God to help me be more patient and present in the coming days. May we not try to fix things but rather welcome God's presence in the midst of our mess and agitation. May we be ready to live in the hard times we have, knowing God's vision of love and justice is drawing ever nearer.

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Do Not Be Afraid Little Flock

Jesus said, “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.”
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” Luke 12:32-48 

Do Not Be Afraid Little Flock

It is folly to think we are in control
wisdom to recognize we are silly sheep
given to fear and wandering aimlessly
thinking we know how to find home.

Home is the place of God's good pleasure
where we can delight in being loved
where we can find safety and security
not trusting in our own sense of direction.

There is food aplenty in this valley
and safe shelter at the hand of the shepherd
we can pass through dangerous dark crags
come out to the light of love again.

When we try to be our own good shepherd
we lose sight of our own true nature
we get buried in our greed and selfishness
thinking we are not part of a whole flock.

Gentle guidance and a firm hand
leads us to where we can thrive and drink again
cool water flowing in living streams
feed on generous portions at the Savior's hand.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Everything Will Be Clean

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”  Luke 11:37-52 

Trying to stay on top of cleaning in a house full of people, whether adults or children, is often overwhelming.  I am never a great housekeeper but always worried when folks were coming over, how I would be judged. As I have gotten older, I realize that the hospitality I have received at other folks homes has been what is most important. I don't have time to judge how things look, only how things really are.

Jesus was rarely so incensed as when he observed folks judging others rather than examining their own hearts and motivation. Selfishness and judgment really upset him as he knew they were barriers to love, healing and healthy relationships. We are invited to examine our hearts and not worry so much about looks and exteriors. Love is sometimes hidden but never replaced with show.

Today I ask God to help me examine my heart and clean house of any harbored anger, fear or judgement. May we all make room for love by getting rid of prejudice, disdain and anger within.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Full Light

While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”
When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!
“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.” Luke 11:27-36 

We are in Pennsylvania awaiting the birth of our third grandchild and second granddaughter. Sometimes waiting can keep us all from seeing things as they are at present, as we wait and hope for something more. We can miss those things which we are wonderful right in our present moments, we can fuss and bluster over things that will very soon have little or no meaning. And, no matter how we prepare for the events to unfold, they will unfold in God's time and not in our control.

Jesus is overwhelmed by the words of the woman shouted from the crowd. She speaks out loud of her gratitude to God for their presence among them. Meanwhile, his disciples are jockeying for position and trying to control things that they surely cannot. We, like the disciples, try to make things work to our liking and often miss the glory and gifts of every particular day. We are invited by God to stop and listen, to see the gifts before us and rejoice in the light we have right with us now.

Today I ask God to help me take each moment for its blessings, each person for their gifts and be grateful for everything. May we let God's timing be ours as we take time to revel and give thanks for the many blessings of this day.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves

Jesus said, “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew  10:8-16

Wise as Serpents 

It is that season when the earth turns
Away from the light and into shadow
When cold blows through cracked windows
And danger seeps in arounder everyndoor.

The season is of a thinness between
The barely living and the barely dead
Leaves piles up like broken dreams
We are forced to close our eyes too early.

It is the season of reckoning and decision
Where we can choose life or selfishness
Humility and honor or deep treachery
Stocking up for the winter or hopenness depair.

The world consumes and forgets
Yet there is still more life to come
We areally pregnant with hope
Wisdom and love will return in season.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, `God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, `God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." Luse 18:9-14

I have had a batch of tests lately. Being sixty it seems lots of systems get challenged. Right now I have  a mysterious infection they cannot seem to identify. Tests answer probing make one very humble, as bits are examined and a series of questions are asked over and over. One can not be proud or shy in these circumstances. Age itelf challenges pridesign and learning to ask for help is a new way of being humble.

Jesus is talking to those who are in roles of leadership about humility and therefore to all of us. We can get so full of ourselves we forget how human and broken we are. The tax collector reminds us that we are in need, daily need of forgiveness and salvation. That humilityou and human fragility are a gift and a vehicle to drawing closet to the heart of God.

Today I ask God tohelp me joy in my humanity and be ever willing to be humble in all things. May we draw  closers to God as we accept

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Better Part

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 

Tradition and specific gender roles are very important to Native peoples. We understand inherently how to put ourselves among our people, and are taught from a very young age what to do and when to do it. Honor and respect are essential to our lives and we tread very carefully when we have to step out of normal roles to step up in leadership. Many Native women, despite, like myself, being from matriarchal and matri-lineal tribes, are extremely careful to cross lines that would disrespect another. Balance and harmony are critical to our share lives.

Mary had upset the balance and harmony of the household and their culture. Martha goes to Jesus, the teacher and leader to help things get back in balance, for she fears for the safety and continuity of her household and life. Jesus understands Martha concerns and also understands that there are times and places where the traditional boundaries must be disregarded. A Jewish rabbi telling Martha that her sister had the better part was truly an outrage. And yet, Jesus wants us all to understand that there are times and places where balance and harmony have to take a back seat to justice and inclusion, where the circumstances demands more than a status quo response. Jesus was invited Martha to also chose the better part, no matter how difficult that might be.

Today I ask God to help me understand, day by day, how to chose the better part. May we not be persuaded to fall back on the familiar and comfortable, but step forward when necessary for the sake of justice and inclusion.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Our Neighbors

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ Luke 10:25-37

Our Neighbors

Those who live rough on the streets
congregating in dark alleys, in deep doorways
they must be up to no good, they're troubled
not like us cossetted and comfortable.

We easily cling to the group we know
old friends, school chums and desireables
folks who will help us get ahead
and those who know our importance.

They must be damaged in they do not agree
do not live like us and share our values
they must be failures if not well endowed
God must be looking away from them.

We cannot see the love in their eyes
nor the hope they harbor despite everything
the world has crashed down around them
and yet they pray and hold each other up.

God give us the eyes to see love living rough
our neighbors who don't frequent our club
the ones from whom we can learn a new gift
who can show us how to draw near to you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Return With Rejoicing

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” Jesus said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Luke 10:17-24 

I arrived home bleary eyed after a trip on the red-eye. Somehow though, it all vanishes when one is enfolded in hugs and get to sit at the table with family and laugh. There are always challenges in engaging in mission, setting forth to uncharted territories. And there is also the amazing possibility of good, transforming work done while being surrounded by the love and prayers of family and community.

Jesus has sent out seventy who returned, overjoyed, overwhelmed and amazed. More than likely they were also living on fumes. They had trusted and done good work and felt the true joy of loving service. He reminds them that their joy is a gift as are the miracles they have witnessed. Being embedded in the love of God is the greatest gift of all.

Today I ask for strength in the midst of weariness and gratitude in response to all that is ahead. Ma we understand that we are held in the heart of God and that all we are able to do is a result of divine love for us and for the world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

St. Luke

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed. Luke 1:1-4

When I was in graduate school, I had to study advanced social statistics which involved data collection and too much math for me. One of my professors, reminded us regularly, " fast and dirty is just dirty". He wanted us to be measured, careful and exact in our studies, so that no one could challenge the work that we did. He wanted for us to be well regarded scholars and researchers.
He felt the work we would do would be too important to lose by being careless.

Luke, the physician and evangelist, is for many of us a great story teller. But to me, he is also a symbol of  clear and careful thinking, wanting to present a thoroughly investigated account of  the story of Jesus. He didn't want to present evidence without doing hard work. His faith was so strong that he wanted to pass it on in a way that was without question and clear. God invites us to do the hard work of our faith, and calls us to be willing to understand who we are and where we come from.

Today I ask God to help me do the hard work even when I just want an easy life. May we, like Luke, take on the task of telling the story, by doing the hard work to deepen our faith daily and know all the stories.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Plowing Ahead

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

Plowing Ahead

Right now, nothing looks promising
the grey dripping tears sky somber
light disappearing into her winter self
we are on the cusp of a fruitless season.

Bitterness and despair can over take
when the snow flies and winds blow
when the four walls seemed dreary
and even the paint is wearing thin.

There is always work to be done
songs to be sung, babies to rock
elders to comfort, food prepared
love's labor is never lost in winter.

Shoulder to the plow means forward
despite challenges and biting wind
we dig deep furrows and bury seed
possibilities waiting for new light.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Justice Quickly Granted

Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, `Grant me justice against my opponent.' For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, `Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'" And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:1-8

Persisting in prayer is often a challenge when we are weak and overwhelmed. This week, overwhelmingly sick, and far from my family, I had some angry conversations with God between fits of sleeping. And I have found myself, in the midst of chills and misery, automatically repeating the Jesus prayer. I am grateful for parents to whom prayer was a conversation, daily practiced. As a child I was embarrassed when my Dad prayed out loud in a restaurant. Prayer was part of their waking and sleeping and it became embedded in mine.

Jesus is again helping his followers to understand the love of God by telling them a story of the unjust judge - who he makes clear - God in nothing like the judge. We as humans can get caught up in the idea of justice as a binary understanding, but Jesus invites us into a conversation of love and possibility. We are asked to keep praying as God has already worked for justice on behalf of each of us and the world.

Today, I ask God to help me pray through every moment and every breath. May we never be discouraged, as God is more ready to act for us and justice than we can ever imagine.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Whoever Welcomes This Child

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met Jesus. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”
John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:37-50

Whoever Welcomes This Child

Beautiful, innocent and ever hopeful
bearing the gifts of new life and imagination
these were the ones we needed to fix
we needed to remove them to make them whole.

With power comes great responsibility
to see the beauty and the need around us daily
breaking the backs of mother and child
is no way to make a nation great.

Their faces tell the story of their ruin
long onyx hair chopped to be respectable
tongues lost in fear of belts and chores
little lives buried far from red clay home.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says it best
My child, perform your tasks with humility;
then you will be loved by those whom God accepts.
The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself;
so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord.

The trumpet has sounded in the land once again
a call for kneeling and great humility
a willingness to love the messiest of creatures
to protect the waters and know God calls the least.

Friday, October 14, 2016

They Entered the Cloud

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. Luke 9:28-36

Some days we can feel very earth bound, slogging along, feeling unable to make any positive changes. And other days we seem able to get through the list and the day with time to spare. I have been fighting pneumonia, and it seems I can barely get out of bed, let alone take care of the chores on my list. We are controlled by gravity and the weakness of our bodies. We often want to just give into our weariness and fall into sleep. Those are the days when God often surprises us, coming out of hiding, revealing that there is more than we can ever imagine.

Jesus took his disciples, Peter, James and John up the mountain to pray. I am sure they were all weary from their constant movement, their regular concerns for Jesus and their own families when they got to the mountain. There is no indication in scripture that Jesus knew what would happen on that mountain. He needed time to be away and pray. He energy was lagging. That moment, that both delighted and terrified the disciples was also the moment when Jesus set his face to Jerusalem. That precious moment gave him the courage and energy to continue on. The disciples, for fear of themselves and others, kept the event to themselves. We don't know exactly why, but we know that they feared speaking and making the others jealous - it had gotten them in trouble before. We are invited by God to know that our worst days, our days of exhaustion still hold great hope and possibilities.

Today I ask God to help me move to prayer when I am overwhelmed which seems to be everyday. May we live with joyous expectation, knowing that in our worst days, God is making healing and transformation happen, despite how we might feel.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Take Up Your Cross

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:18-27

Take Up Your Cross

How do we follow the Good Shepherd?
Bearing the crosses we have been given
shouldering the blame for what we have done
moving forward with one foot in front of the other.

Loving and forgiving take time and honesty
demand our best despite illness and challenge
in place of worry and wracked with constant fear
we take up our cross and follow the author of love.

We cannot know the perils of the future roads
we can only see and dimly so the road we are on
may we make peace with each we see today
and love the burdens we have been given.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Child, Get Up!

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.
As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:40-56

My father had four daughters and one son. He was very proud to have a son, and also adored his daughters. He  was traditional and conservative and he built us up, made us strong and taught us to each be our own person. He was respectful at all times. When I was feeling called to ministry, trying desperately to wiggle out of it, I called my father. I told him maybe I should go to Princeton and get a degree in Christian Education, he told me no! He said that if God was calling me to be ordained, I had to follow that call. I argued that it was hard for me as a woman and  a mother. He told me that the road would surely be hard, but I was not walking it alone and that God would give me the courage and strength for each day.

Jesus encounters two women who are overwhelmed with physical issues. A little girl is at the point of death. As a rabbi, he didn't need to take time for these women, he didn't need to touch, what would be in his day, the very unclean and repulsive. The father's plea was interrupted by a woman grabbing at him, and yet in all of this, he respected and loved these two, giving them the gift of life. Their faith and the faith of their communities make them symbols for all of us as to how God moves in this world. And, it gives us a way to be in the midst of a rude and abusive world. We are called to love and respect at all times.

Today, I ask God to help me walk the road of love and respect. May we take the time to walk the hard roads, the roads of challenge and abuse, knowing that God will give us the strength, courage and life we need for each encounter along the way.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Declare What God Has Done For You

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

Declare What God Has Done for You

Defying gravity and the need to be penned in
letting go to God makes the demons flee
all who grew to know me as a madman
now have to change their minds and hearts.

Fear wells up when what has become normal changes
folk don't know how to be when our afflictions are shed
my illness defined their goodness and compassion
now they want to kill the one who made me well.

Fear can choke the thriving life out of hopefulness
make the children run away who threaten constancy
make aliens and the underclass the true problems
when change and miracles destroy normal controls.

We like our lunatics thank you very much
we see them as our entertainment, we make fun
we can be superior and in power when the weak remain
we cannot tolerate the uppitiness of  poor.

God has done more than we could have ever asked
there is peace where once there was torment
there is healing when there once was bleeding
and God will find a way to mend the hoop again.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Your Faith Has Saved You

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 77:36-50

Your Faith Has Saved You

The woman didn'the belong with them
She came uninvited and unannounced
Love alone urged her on moving her
Faith forced her forwar where she was not wanted.

She lived on the edge of society
Unseen within the religious community
Shunned by other  men and women
Sought out by night by the men who reject her.

Like you and  I  she was broken, imperfect
She knew all too well her failures and shame
The incarnate God blesses her gifts
And made the brokenness whole  again

Love comes round and surprises us
When we are reeling and deeply shamed
God longs to find us in our deep despair
Covering us with healing beyond understanding.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wisdom is Vindicated by Her Children

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ When the men had come to him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
   who will prepare your way before you.”
I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’ (And all the people who heard this, including the tax-collectors, acknowledged the justice of God,* because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
 ‘To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
   we wailed, and you did not weep.”
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.’ Luke 7:18-35

Some times we can get so discouraged by events that we decide to withdraw from it all. Sometimes we are tired and weary, and don't know how to go forward. This election season has been painful for many, leaving folks confused and wondering how we got here. It is much easier to be jaded than to find a way to participate, to sit on the sidelines and criticize. I always our children are watching, and they will participate or withdraw as we do.

Jesus invites us to live within the world we are and bring wisdom and love to the places we find ourselves. The confusion that overwhelmed the disciples - John's and Jesus - overwhelms us too. We can be so shook up that we do not what to do. God invites us to think about those who follow us, our children and our children's children. Are we willing to brave our own frailties and disappointments, and join the dance?

Today I am asking God to help me bring a spirit of love and wisdom to everything I do. May we dig deep and enter the fray, bringing the gifts we have been given, knowing that God will supply the wisdom we need.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Do Not Weep

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:1-17

Do Not Weep

My love is cold and dead
there seems no future for me
no breath in my lungs today
and I can only cry and pray.

Do not weep he says to the one
who is inconsolable broken and weary
to the ones who have been uprooted
to those who way of life has been destroyed.

Is God so hard of heart and out of touch?
the morning sun creeps up again
the cold air surrounds and we huddle
there is a scent of winter on the wind.

God has more in store than we imagine
standing with us as we cry in the streets
God is willing to be bent and broken
to restore life and love a;;over again.

The living God stopped at the funeral
goes to the encampment, seeks the homeless
aches for this world which is cruel and unkind
and seeks to restore the beloved to life.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Water Rising

Jesus also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.” Luke 6:39-49

Having lived a good deal of my life near the ocean, I can tell you about hurricanes from first hand experience. I remember as a child watching debris, toilets, furniture and windows, floating down the streets after a storm. When the winds and waters rise, nothing is terribly safe. The house we lived in was very old, and would whistle and sing when the winds pounded, but was on a deep foundation and held together, even after nearly 200 years. Even then, we have evacuated when called to do so, since a firm foundation and being a good citizen participant go hand in hand.

Jesus is obviously annoyed with his followers who want an easy fix to hard problems and want to find blame in others. He reminds them that their job is to be faith and bear good fruit, to be good citizens and do the hard work of building a deep foundation of faith and good behavior. Today we want a pass, an easy laid back house on the sand. But there are always storms coming and water rising and we must be those who demonstrate love and faithfulness even when things get tough.

Today I ask God to help me do the hard work ahead. May we find ourselves bearing good fruit and daily loving our enemies and working for the goodness of all in the face of many storms.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

We Have Done What We Ought to Have Done

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
"Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, `Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, `We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'" Luke 17:5-10

I think folks often mistake honor and power for the mark of God's blessing and presence when in fact it is the folks in the kitchen, the people serving the dinner, the laborer in the field who understands the heart of God. Bearing one another's burdens is very hard, cleaning up after others is hard work and singing joyfully when the tears flow is painful. And my experience is that God is closest when it is not about me, when I am supporting and loving others. There God's true blessings are found.

Jesus' disciples are cranky and exhausted. They plead for more faith and he tells them basically to get back to work. He urges them to find their faith in their service, as they give away love they will find living streams of faith. This is hard for us to hear, as it was then, it is now. We want our just desserts, we want the rewards of our hard work. And we are invited to see, in our exhaustion and crankiness, our weariness and despair, God calling us to renewed work for love will blossom as we live and serve others.

Today, I ask God to help me not withdraw but go deeper. May we not seek reward but more service, trusting that God will find us in the field. Love will find us and renew us again as we give ourselves away.

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.