Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 4

Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I am now under the equivalent of house arrest. My parents want me to stay indoors, at least during the day, to protect me from the attacks of local people. They used to love us and now, because of me, even my parents have to be careful. The good news is that it is almost winter and the days are shorter. I go outside at night before bed, say my prayers and look at the stars. They were abundant last night, reminding me of God's promises. Like the stars, those promises seem very far away.

Mama has decided to focus on preparing me for the journey. She is very upset, but the sewing and handwork at least gives her something to concentrate on. She has talked privately to a few women that still remain our friends. They are going to help me get ready for the trip to Bethlehem. Tomorrow they will come and sew with Mama, bringing things they have left from their babies to loan to me. Their friendship really bolsters my mother's faith, as these are women who say they believe that God is using me. There are always a few good people, despite the anger and fear of the rest of the village.

I keep remembering the Psalms we used to sing and pray. The words of this psalm keep running around in my head. "I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep: for you only, Lord, make me dwell in safety." Auntie, I cling to these words like clinging to a solid rock. They help me see light in the darkness. When the baby stirs and kicks, I can only think of you and your big belly and the kicks of your son. You and your faith give me great hope. Remember to pray for me and especially for my parents. They carry such a heavy burden these days.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 3

Jesus began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. And he sent still a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Heaven forbid!” But he looked at them and said, “What then does this text mean: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” Luke 20:9-18

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I was out hanging laundry with Mama today. The sun was warm but not too hot and it was lovely and peaceful for a moment as we worked together. We talked about nothing important and it felt so nice and sweet after all that has happened. We were even singing together a bit - how about that? She has been so stressed and I know she is angry with me. I can tell that by how silent she has been. But for a moment this morning, standing out in the sun amidst the freshly wash sheets swinging in the breeze I felt everything was going to be all right. How I wished that feeling had lasted a bit longer.

As we were at our work, some young men from the village passed by. They started saying terrible things about me, one after another, one worse than the preceding one. It was as if the grew bolder with each taunt. Mama got very afraid and screamed to me to go inside. I ran and fell as I was going but nothing was hurt but my feeling. Mama went out and confronted them and Poppa came along to help her. Now they want to keep me inside all the time for my own safety. Am I to be a prisoner for something God has done? \

I am so sad that I cannot eat even. I've taken to my bed. Please pray since I have lost all my strength today.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 2

One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders and said to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?” He answered them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” They discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” Luke 20:1-8

Dear Auntie,

So this happened today. Joseph came running over to our house, almost bursting in, and wanted to talk to me right away. He was nearly in tears! I have never seen him this way, really. He has gotten word that we will have to travel down to Bethlehem to be registered. Going to that dirty, bustling city is a challenge at normal times but this is anything but normal. On top of everything else, I have to travel with him while carrying this child for the registration! I will be so big when we go and I was so hoping to have Mama by my side. Now everything is a mess - again, some more. Poppa and Mama are in tears as well, since going to Bethlehem will be a hard journey for me at the end of my time and I could die. The household is in an upheaval and I just want to crawl under the covers and hide.

Aunt Elizabeth, I know you would come if you could to see me. I know you have you hands full with other things. Your positive outcome gives me hope today. The people around me, who are supposed to be helping me are acting like they're the ones who are pregnant. They act like they're the ones who have to waddle around, weighted down by this new life, looking like some sideshow rather than a young woman. None of my friends come to visit me now, like they used to. My growing belly has frightened them away.

Please pray for me, and for us. We will find a way forward but today seems very bleak. The sky decided to darkened and pour down rain, as if it knows how troubled our lives truly are today. And if there is anything you can do to comfort Mama, I would be so grateful. She seems so old and weary these days. And please write to me. Hearing from you always restores my hope.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent 1 - Mary's letters begin

Jesus said to the disciples, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Matthew 24:36-44

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

this has been a terribly hard day and how I wish I could come back and stay with you until the child arrives.  My mother is really trying to be cool and collected but she is beside herself with worry. My dad is doing a lot of work outside when he is not inside complaining about my foolishness. It is worst when he starts saying mean things about Joseph. They want to believe that we are being used by God, yet I know from how they talk and look at each other, they think I have been brainwashed. Just a stupid girl charmed and overwhelmed by an older man. You understood me. Our days together were so gentle, prayerful and supportive. We talked about preparing our hearts as well as our bodies for what God is doing. We made our daily work to be about giving God space in our lives. We understood something new was happening. We both knew the world would not accept or understand us.

Now, chaos reigns and I wish I could be anywhere but here. We are supposed to be preparing for the baby, but Momma would rather just ignore it. She only lets Jospeh visit for a small amount of time each day, and even then, Poppa dominates most of the conversation. What does he think will happen if he keeps him away? That the baby will some how magically disappear? I try to remember all the prayers and songs you taught me but some days I am very weak. I find myself crying all the time. Life as we knew it will never be the same and I am so scared right now. But I also hold on to all you said to me. I fall asleep at night repeating the psalms we prayed together.

Auntie, please pray for me and if you can, find a way to calm Momma and Poppa. They want the best for me and think this is the worst. I have to hold on to what I know - that God is in the midst of this, even when it seems impossible.

Much love,


Saturday, November 26, 2016

House of Prayer

As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written,
‘My house shall be a house of prayer’;
but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard. Luke 19:41-48

House of Prayer

My breath is gone from me
the holy mountains are carved up
sold off  to the highest bidder
holy ground for sale and abuse.

There is nowhere we walk
that has not been damaged
by drilling and draining
treating Mother like a cow.

Our prayers as the sun rises
fall on broken and desecrated ground
the bones of our ancestors unearthed
so that people can keep moving.

They keep moving so they cannot hear
the prayer songs of morning
the raw earth crying out at noon
to the Creator for salvation.

What we do to this holy place
becomes mark on our bodies
we are left with out breath
we are dry for the water is gone.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Stones Would Shout

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19:28-40 

Crying Stones

You might think this empty silence
some days we are singing to the clouds
other days we are crying like small children
and some we are purring like little kittens.

Walking on us you feel but our sharp edges
casting us from you fields you know weight
riding over us in the night you are stabilized
we watch you and wonder if you know.

We too rely on the goodness of the Divine
aching to be more than weighty obstacles
knowing we are more than dirty rubble
more than crowns and kindoms that fall.

We hold up and under gird your life
we filter the waves and wash your clothes
we shelter you from the wind and burning sun
and will cry out again if you remain silent.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Day 2016

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:26-35 

I am very grateful for those brave Dakota people who took it upon themselves last spring to remind us all what we as Native people and people of faith are called to do. We have a responsibility to protect and care for the most vulnerable, for the rare and precious gifts of Creation, the signs of Creator's love in our lives and to peacefully and prayerfully live together. On a day when the truth of who we were in the past has been obscured, and who Indigenous people are now is radically misunderstood or romanticized, I am so thankful for those who have called all nations together for prayer and peaceful resistance in the face of abuse, greed and mysogeny.

Jesus reminds the people to be in relationship with the Author of Creation, Love and Peace. When we go our own ways, folks use violence. When we follow the heart of God we care for the most vulnerable among us - the children, the elders, our women and men, the fragile gifts of Creation. As we gather as families from east and west, north and south, may we give thanks for the people who cared for this precious continent and who continue, despite a violent and selfish culture take responsibility to lead in a different, loving and holy way.

Today I ask God to help me lead in a different, loving and holy way. May we each remember the abundance of gifts we have received in this life, and work for the care and feeding of the most vulnerable among us, including our precious mother earth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Up A Tree

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 

Many of us find ourselves from time to time, up a tree. We have lost perspective or can't see ahead for all the chaos surrounding us - whatever the circumstances that put us there - we are up a tree. We all try to live a good life but surviving and thriving, earning saving, all the life stresses adults face often lead us away from God's love and into a downward spiral away from faithfulness. It is in these moments when we can be assured that God draws near, calls us each by name, and comes to stay with us.

Jesus is passing through Zacchaeus' city and he aches to encounter the living God, as we all do. But being small he has to climb a tree. Most grown ups don't climb trees as easily as they did when a child. It was a struggle to climb up just to see God's love incarnate, and he must have been excited and terrified all at the same time. God invites us to recognize ourselves in Zacchaeus' role - up a tree. We are invited to see God stopping along the way, calling us each by name, reaching out a hand to help us down and then coming home with us.

Today I ask God to help me know when I am troubled and feeling up a tree, that I can rest in the knowledge that God is coming by, seeking me out and restoring me. May we all, in the midst of our struggles, seek out the incarnate love of God, who is calling is in the midst of chaos and taking us home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Receive Your Sight

Then Jesus took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God. Luke 18:31-43 

Receive Your Sight

Sometimes things get in the way
we are blind to our blessings
the light is obscured by walls
the truth refracted and aimed elsewhere.

We stumble thinking we have control
we fall as we take pride in our efforts
we blink and the world has changed
we become afraid in our alien hoemland.

The broken heart is broken open
the limbs which are painfu; are alive
the chill we feel in this dark season
preparation for an abundant harvest.

Let us put aside the blockades we built
arming ourselves with love and forgiveness
exercising our right to be more than fear
training our eyes to see in the deepest darkness.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Works of Darkness

Luke 23:33-43

When they came to the place that is called The Skull,
 they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on
 his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father,
forgive them; for they do not know what they are
doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing.
The people stood by, watching Jesus on the cross;
but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved
 others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah
 of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked
 him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and
 saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save
 yourself!" There was also an inscription over him,
 "This is the King of the Jews."
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept
deriding him and saying, "Are you not the
Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other
 rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God,
since you are under the same sentence of
condemnation? And we indeed have been
 condemned justly, for we are getting what
we deserve for our deeds, but this man has
 done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus,
 remember me when you come into your
kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today
you will be with me in Paradise."

There are times in our lives when darkness seensure to overwhelm us. Winter'season long days for darkness can make us uneasy and feeling blue. When I lived in Sitka, Alaska my doctor insisted that  I  take vitamin December since everyone needs the island was deficient due to the lack of light. 

Jesus faces the cruelest death that humans can dream up, and yet even in the midst of excruciating pain, with his life draining from him, he forgives the murderer next to him and promises him eternal paradise. God in flesh, still acting for love in the face of the world's extreme anger and violence. No matter how fearful email might be in this season, we can trust that the living God is in the midust of our darkness, violence and despair. 

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Jesus also 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.” Luke 18:9-14 


Some think shame inhabits the humble
Others see a fool who cannot be aggressive
God sees a child email who knows home
At home seated at the table of the Lord.

The winter sun rises for usome all today
Sending frost and wind into the ether
Light removing hate and teaching
The soul to sing in the heavenly chorus.

There are poor children on the street
Where God himself does dwell
Dressed in the dirty rags of homelessness
Dancing the sweet celebration of humility .

Humility is the dance of true leadership
Willing to give us a seat for the broken
Happy in the face of harsh cruel words
Knowing love has taken root in the heart.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Then Jesus told them 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

One of my favorite childhood books was The Little Engine that Could. Like the little engine, I had challenges that were not those of other children. My parents were very faithful people, and they prayed all the time, and taught me to pray in every circumstance. Every since, when feeling challenged on all sides and not capable of meeting the challenges, I have thought of the Little Engine and given myself to persisting in prayer.

Jesus used stories to explain things to his followers that even children can understand. He did this not because he considered them children, or not capable of understanding, but in order to plant the story deep in their hearts. When the disciples looked back, they could recall these stories and pass them on to others and to future generations. God invites us to use stories that have simplicity and power in order to tell of God's love for us. We will always remember the persistent widow and, following her example, persist in prayer.

Today I ask God to trust every need to God's divine love. May we persist in prayer through all our challenges this day and always, trusting in the depth and completeness of God's love for all of us.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Kingdom of God is Among You!

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them—it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17:20-37

The Kingdom of God Among You

These tiny hands so ready to hold
those eyes which as for love alone
the faces filling the room with joy
see the kingdom of God among you.

The warm waves lapping your toes
the generous sunlight through the window
the enormous sweetness of their smiles
feel the kingdom of God among you.

The lark sings in the morning light
the children's voices rise in harmony
the sobbing of the lonely ones
hear the kingdom of God among you.

The bedraggled homeless on the street
the grief stricken now motherless child
the hungry standing in long lines
know the kingdom of God among you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Go On Your Way

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19

There are days, when no matter how faithful we truly are, and no matter how we trust God with all our needs in prayer, we don't know which direction to go and don't always know if our choices were right. Some days, the paths we are following are obscured by challenges or we get distracted by the people and situations on our way. Following God  can be complicated for us particularly if we are called to a different road than the crowd and serving in places most people won't ever understand. God is always drawing us back and setting us on the chosen path again.

Jesus heals ten lepers, but only the Samaritan returns to him. One out of ten came back and he was the alien among them. We don't know his motivation for turning back, except to say thanks and to be grateful to God. In his turning, Jesus assured him of the strength of his faith and that he was on the right road. God also finds ways and people to reassure us as we continue on our journeys in faith.

Today, I ask God to help me trust the direction I have been given, and to always be grateful for the blessings on the road. May we be agents of healing for those who are lost and afraid, knowing that God has more blessings for us all that we can even imagine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
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 17:1-10

I have never understood why it seems to be human nature to laugh when someone stumbles and falls. Fortunately, it is often human nature to help a person up and make sure they are ok. None the less, we all stumble and fall, some of us, like me, more often than not. Some of us have challenges that make walking difficult, if not impossible. We don't find fault or laugh, necessarily, at those who have difficulties, but we can get very impatient and annoyed by their need.

Jesus is talking with his disciples after having gathered children and blessed them, despite the fact that the disciples had tried to keep them away from the teacher. He wanted them to understand how responsible they were for others, especially the vulnerable, and how often they should forgive those who stumble. We are reminded too today have easy it is to criticize and how important it is for us to forgive.

Today I ask God to give me a forgiving heart and patience with my own and others stumbling. May we recognize of need to constantly support and forgive those around us, and help keep the most vulnerable safe from stumbling.


Monday, November 14, 2016


Jesus said, “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31


At our gates and on our steps
huddled against the cold and wind
sleeping in doorways and over grates
the keys to heaven rest for a time.

We hurry by and look away
fearing something we do not know
we might pity but often scorn
we have so much and still shake in fear.

We do not need  to worry about food
waking and dreaming they ache to be fed
we rush and bustle, phones to our ears
they wait and hope for a little share.

Come unto me all you that are heavy laden
the Savoir and Victim says to the world
we foolishly think we are over burdened
stepping over those who hear his voice.

As the winter winds blow their cold
as we shop and dine and feed our whims
may we be given eyes to see this day
the Savoir and Victim begging on our streets.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”‘ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” Luke 15:1-2, 11-32


I will always run towards you
though I can barely walk I will
seek and find you in the deepest hole
I will always reach to pull you up.

You who are lost and weary now
lift up your heads and see
in the distance love is running to you
to gather you up and embrace you.

We have been foolish and negligent
we have believed in ourselves too
we have shrugged off the love we need
assuming we could do much better.

Divine love, so deep and flowing
a mighty and powerful stream running
always underground near the surface
we reached for the glitzy bobbles instead.

Kneel to feel the ground beneath you
it throbs with life and new possibilities
like a mother ready to be delivered
she aches with the pain of love yet to be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Seeking the Lost

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:1-10

When we lived in Sitka, the US Coast Guard was a very real and critical presence. The base was on Baranof Island and we regularly saw their helicopters flying out to rescue the lost and capsized. In the cold waters, folks didn't last too long. Every July 4th and Alaska Day they would give demonstrations of their rescues. The chopper would fly so close to the surface of the water that the turbulence seemed unbearable. Much like the turbulence of today. They saved so many, with such skill and compassion that I have to trust that God will likewise rescue us who feel like we are drowning.

Jesus was confronted by the religious leaders, as always. They wondered why he hung with the bad crowd. His reply was simply that therein lies the active work of God, to seek out the lost, to rescue, heal and return them to the heart of God. On this day after a national election, some might feel very lost, as others might be rejoicing. Remember that God's work is to seek out and rescue the lost. In every day and every situation.

Today I ask God to help me trust in the loving and ready response of a loving God. May we not despair in these days but seek to serve God as we seek those who are hurting and lost today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Being Salt

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.
“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Luke 14:25-35

Years ago, when I was visiting Hawaii, friends gave me salt that they had harvested from the ocean. It was this gorgeous pink color and I asked them why it was that color. They told me it was from the coral that was adjacent to where they did their harvesting. Returning home, I found out what a gift this was and how foodies think this salt is so special. I am reminded today that we do pick up flavor and color from those lives that surround us. That can be a true blessing, or it can make us tasteless and useless.

Jesus had a great group traveling with him. He was the event to be a part of, the man of the hour for some, and he had to remind them of what is required of them. We have to give up much and share with those who have little in order to follow Jesus. And we have to put others first, caring for the least and putting selfish stuff aside. We must take up the blessings of others and share them as well.

Today, as the nation leans in and prays, we are reminded that the cost of discipleship is great, as are the blessings. Life will never be easy for those who follow Jesus, but we can know we are flavor, hope and blessing through him to all those we encounter today.

Monday, November 7, 2016


Jesus said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’” Luke 14:12-24


My hands are rough from labor
your clothes unwashed from the street
her body bent with constant pain
the eyes of passing people avoid us.

We are not A-list kind of folks
our hearts are always seeking justice
our mistakes have leveled us all
we band together as a misfit family.

We are strangers in this land unrecognized
barred from participating we still yearn
for our voices to be heard our bellies filled
we long for kindness and get rejected.

Let us come and dine with you tonight
the bitter cold has set in and many die
there is room here for us as well as you
the table expands for love's sake alone.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

All Saints' Sunday

Jesus 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
"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:20-31

Today is All Saints' Sunday when we remember all those who have died this past years and all those who have gone before us. I am especially reminded of all of the saints  in my life andoesn't especially my uncle Charles Walkingstick, a veteran,  a funny man, a great brother and an exceptional artist. He was a Native warrior in my mind, a man who struggled to be fully himself and an honor to his people. Like St. Kateri Takekwitha, her heart was given in service, her fa other madetails her able to serve even when the world didn'the understand nor recognise her.

Jesus gave the sermon on the Mount for all those whose lives lived in faithfulness were all daily challenged.  He wanted us all to know that every kindness, every action of sevice, every prayer honors God and blesses us as well. Faith is not about heroics, politics or fame but rather simply aboutique love.

Today I ask God to help me live a life of service and love. May we honor all of those faithful people who taught us service experience and love by reaching out to this broken and anxious world.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hen Gathers Her Brood

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Luke 13.31-35 

I am a mother, no matter how old my children become. No matter how adult and grown up they are, and they truly are adult and capable, I ache to gather them and protect them. When I see one of them hurting, struggling or stumbling, I want to intervene. I know I have overstepped the boundaries some times. I have said and done things that were no longer my right, even though I am their mother. Most of the time they forgive me and understand that I am a bit of a nutcase anyway. That kind of fierce mother love is not diminished with age, distance or time.

That kind of love, fierce mother love, is the kind of love that Jesus had for Jerusalem, and for all of us today. It seems overwhelming at times. Other times we wish we had someone to scoop us up and hide us, nestled in safety under warm, soft wings. We are invited today, in the midst of troubled and conflicted times to seek the safety and security of God's love, trusting in the protection and care that is so readily offered, so readily given.

Today I ask God to help me set fear aside and trust that God is looking out for the welfare of the world. Give us all strength to do our part, to be God's loving and compassionate arms in this darkening world.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

From the Four Directions

Jesus said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:18-30 

From the Four Directions

They have come to gather and pray
seeking peace and honor for the people
in a very broken place, in hard times
asking for health and wholeness now.

Some would dig and destroy for profit
some would use the weak and vulnerable
God chooses the weak and vulnerable
to come to the head of the line and eat.

Those who gather will see beauty and harm
spread out across the sacred hills and waters
a place of conflict and a place of compassion
where the police stand guard over gentle souls.

Let us not be swayed to violence and martrydom
let us be moved to gather up the little ones
help us to fall on our knees and beat the drum
trusting that love can conquer the worst greed.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Set Free

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

Although I wish to, I am not able to be with the Episcopal clergy gathering at the Standing Rock encampment tomorrow. I will be there in prayer and spirit with my Dakota brothers and sisters as they seek healing for their land and clean water for the coming generations. When I was there in August, on a quiet Monday, those that I met with were living peacefully, sharing everything and caring for everyone that came to the camp. Over the last days, there has been violence and strife, and I know that the leaders and the tribe desire only healing and peace. I pray that peace and compassion will reign and violence will no more be on our borders and within our homes.

Jesus goes to worship and encounters a woman in great pain. He immediately cures her to the anger of the religious leaders. They want everything in order and according to the rules. Their hardened hearts are unable to see the need for healing, and for compassion at all times. We too, can easily lose our compassion when we get hung up on rules, ownership and business. We can miss the opportunity to encounter the living God.

Today I ask God to help me rejoice in the interruptions and diversions of this day. May we be reminded of God's great love for all humanity and be willing to stand in the breach for those in need of healing and protection. May we stand with the protectors, the healers and the compassionate servants today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All Saints' Day

Jesus 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
"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:20-31

I think the act of lighting a candle has great significance, especially this time of year when the earth is turning away from the sun and we experience so much darkness. Lighting a candle always makes me remember the faithful that have gone before, the generations of ladies and men who prepared the sanctuary, the many who lit the candles at the start of the service, and who opened the church doors so all could come in. These folks made room for love in their lives, despite a myriad of challenges, problems and hardships. They all knew that lighting one candle against the darkness, preparing the personal and public sanctuary, always made life and love overflow in their time.

Today we hear Jesus preaching in a way that had galvanized Christians down through the generations. "Love you enemies, do good, give to those who ask, share everything and know that tears will some day become joy and laughter." This is my paraphrase, but important ways of living that we should be dwelling on today, especially in the present climate. Our job is to light a candle, pray and love as we are able. We are invited by God, in this thin time of year to remember those who have tuaght us how to live and love, and to live like them, full of compassion and justice.

Today I ask God to help me live like a disciple. I need help to remember that God is with us in the midst of trials and darkness. May we all remember today how blessed we are and share all that we have so that the world might be full of the light of love.