Saturday, August 19, 2017

Look Around At Everything


When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1-11 

Look Around

A week or two or turmoil
the moon will cover the sun
we are not where we once were
we will not be here for long.

Look around the world as we know it
turns and turns to and from the sun
we cannot stop the turning or change
we can only love who is with us now.

There will be bullies in every corner
tyrants and violence at every turn
change is surely coming soon
like the sun rising to burn away fog.

This moment of terror and pain
will teach us to make love real
taking on the angry with silence
facing the fury with tender prayer.
t

Friday, August 18, 2017

Let Me See Again


They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 

One of the things that is most hurtful to those who have been abused, victimized or injured, is to silence them and to take away their voice. Too often, nice well-meaning folks want to speak for those who are hurting, abused and neglected. We often don't listen to them. I am convinced that true healing comes when we listen to the people who know what they need the best. When we know them by name, when we sit and listen, refusing to tell them what to do, then we are Christ's body in the world.

Jesus is in the neighborhood and Bartimaeus calls out to him. Folks tried to silence him in their own embarrassment and awkwardness. They didn't want Jesus to see just how broken their community truly was. Jesus calls out in response, he stops and listens, asking Bartimaeus what he wanted. Once healed, Bartimaeus followed Jesus, and with those restored eyes probably witnessed the horrors and the miracles of the journey that followed. God invites us today to seek out the healing we need and to follow Jesus, being the body of Christ to the world that needs it now more than ever.

Today, I ask God to help me ask for the healing I need, so that I may follow Jesus every step of the way. May we all let the wounded speak, let the silenced voices ring, so that Christ's body may walk again among us in the church.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

But To Serve


They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:32-45 

But To Serve

We fragile humans look for fame
for a lasting legacy and praise
we are shaped to hold one another
we are made for loving service.

The master potter molded each
a unique design and gorgeous image
perfected by a familial gentle touch
formed to reflect divine goodness.

We ache to be set apart and hallowed
yet our biggest use is in our giving
our greatest triumph is a smile shared
our simple song a gift to the world.

Oh sit again by the teacher's feet
love has come your way to stay
our response is not to hoard it
but to serve that love all our days.


 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

First Will Be Last


As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Mark 10:17-31 

First Will Be Last

The monuments went up to cleanse history
from the shame, torture and abuse
of human suffering and indignities
from wealthy men who wanted more.

You can put your name on stolen goods
but they are still stolen and must be returned
you can bathe your world in gold and silver
but the water will wash it all away.

A child will calls us what we really are
look now, the emperor has no clothes
wealth cannot buy us love and devotion
unless we use greed to subjugate others.

Our poverty and loss is a rough road
and it is filled with loving souls
who have no need to push another down
who live to give another help along the way.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Hour



On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days. John 2:1-12 

We have all been forced by family members and others to do things we know it is not the time or the place to do them. People want us to show off our gifts - "sing for us!" "dance for us!" "tell us one of your great stories!" They mean well, but we can know in our hearts we are performing rather than giving of ourselves truly.  We become known as the wine maker, the performer and the like when we have much bigger work to do - changing the world through love and sacrifice.

Jesus is at a wedding and his mother wants him to perform.  She is confident in his abilities and want to showcase them for her family and friends. She wants her boy to make her proud, and he reluctantly agreed. Yet Jesus knew it was not his time and place and knew that God had created him and helped him thrive for the love of the world. We are invited to see that we are created by God as well, to bring light and love to a world wrapped in darkness, fear and hate.

Today I ask God to help me live humbly and sacrificially for the good of my neighbors throughout the world. May we not be satisfied with parlor tricks and flowery speeches but rather, live and labot for peace and kindness to be reborn in our world.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Salt and Peace


Jesus said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:42-50 

Salt and Peace

We live in a world of stumbling blocks
many we have created of our own doing
threats hurled across international lines
we find ourselves anxious and afraid.

We ache to be accepted as we really are
yet we let fear and anger rule our days
we do not take the time to know our neighbors
we do not salt the world with flavor and joy.

It will always ne the vulnerable who suffer
their small portions obliterated by greed
their dwelling destroyed by cruel hubris
their lives lost because they were not seen.

A child  was placed in our angry midst
among the mobs ready to fight neighbors
there is no flavor or goodness in any of us
when we seek to destroy the fragile peace.

O send us light, peace and wisdom now
ans make us the instruments of love today
that we might return sweetness to the hurting
and exchange our might for the hope of peace.






Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stepping Out of the Boat

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

There are times when we need the safety of the familiar boat, and other times when we are called to step out. Last week, when we were in Virginia, at the Indian View Baptist Church, the preacher wondered whether it wasn't Peter's lack of faith in Jesus that made him sink, but lack of faith in himself. I have been thinking on that all week. We often get in our own way, and in the way of receiving God's love and goodness. We rely on ourselves and realize we can't do it. We sink and yet God is still there to stretch out a hand. Can we step out of the boat in the midsts of the storms that are raging these days? I have never feared falling out of a boat because I am a good swimmer, but if called to walk off the boat, I  don't know how I would respond.

The disciples, all skilled water men and fishermen were overwhelmed by a storm. The wind and the waves were against them. It was a perfect storm and they feared for their lives. They saw Jesus coming and it frightened them even more. It took messy, hard headed Peter to be willing to put fear aside and reach out to Jesus. He sunk when he saw his own limitations, suspecting he had to do it all on his own. But Jesus was right there the whole time, as he is now, and we are invited to step out of the boat during these stormy times and reach out.

Today, I ask God to help me be faithful in Jesus and in the strength and ability given me. May we all use what we have for the good of others, knowing God is in the midst of our very worst storms.

 

 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Welcome One Such Child


They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” Mark 9:30-41 

The history of this country and Canada as well, includes the real attempt to "kill the Indian, save the child." Small children were shipped off to boarding and residential schools, taught to be like "normal people " and often worked very hard in fields, shops and industry. The stories folks tell of this schooling is heartbreaking. The church and the government did not welcome the children but worked overtime to fix them. So many died of heartbreak, loneliness and disease. The one who lived are often broken by their experience.

Jesus was trying to help his disciples understand humility and compassion. They had been arguing about who was most superior in their group. They were behaving like children. Jesus chose a little child, held him close and invited his disciples to do likewise. To embrace and not fix, to welcome and not judge is the way of following Jesus.

Today, I ask God to help me have a humble and welcoming heart in all that I do. May we not try to fix people, but rather hold them close, make them welcome and give them what they need to survive.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Only Through Prayer


When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet Jesus. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able! All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” Mark 9:14-29 

Only Through Prayer

A skilled surgeon can do so much
medicines can help with the cure
therapies of all sort can mend
yet some healing is only through prayer.

We may believe in science alone

but are hearts are still flesh and spirit
love is not a simple chemical formula
some healing comes only through prayer.

God lives within and without us
we are bound and constricted by fear
the pain of the past and compiling loss
releases us only through prayer.

We are spirit, stardust and human
bones and organs wondrously made
we know more each day and less as well
peace can only come through prayer.

This day my heart is troubled
my brokenness is ever before me
God help me to see today's beauty
setting this child free with prayer.

 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Overshadowed


Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.” Mark 9:2-13 

Overshadowed

There are days when no clouds come
when the light is perfect the air soft
most days are a mix of cloud and light
exact clarity is surely hard to find.

We glimpse now as through guaze
hoping to understand before long
the light and shadow refine and refract
rarely defining, more rarely explaining.

Sometimes we find ourselves standing
on the shoulders of faithful giants
some days we sink into holes we have dug
never seeing daylight or hearing birdsong.

We must cling to the images of love
focus on the delights and joys we have
there is a downside to every mountaintop
real living requires us to work and pray.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Take Up Your Cross


Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 8:34 – 9:1

I sometimes wonder what the disciples heard when Jesus said this phrase. The suggestion that we take up our burdens and challenges, denying ourselves and following him can be hard to hear. Yet, the cost of discipleship is nothing less that being very human and still stepping out. The reality of our lives is that we do not wait for perfection, we move when God calls us and  knowing our brokenness and frailty can work for the blessing of others. I try to avoid my call, had all sorts of excuses, tried to put the call on others but in the end it was my job to put one foot in front of the other and follow.

Jesus is talking to the crowd and the disciples. Many just wanted a quick healing and to go about their lives, unchanged. Jesus knew that there was a need for all of us to give up ourselves for the life of the world. It cannot be about number one, the self. Life is about the whole community and we are called to step out in faith despite the weights we bear and the fears that gather around us. In this time of increased fear God needs us evermore to be stepping out in faith, not holding back, making love the gift we bring to each and every encounter.

Today I ask God to help me keep stepping out, keep walking and following Jesus. May our lives be examples of letting go of fear and moving in faith, so that love, which casts our fear, might be spread far and wide.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Like Trees Walking


They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”Mark 8:22-33 

Like Trees Walking

Sometimes it takes time and trial
like Jesus healing the blind man
once with saliva again with touch
we heal over time and don't always see.

When we have to walk away from trauma
when we have to leave our pasts behind
we seldom see the reconstruction hope
we seldom take the long view of love.

The arc of history bends towards justice
Martin said and still was mowed down
love conquers all but comes too slowly
we live in the in between seeing trees walking.

Let us be grateful today for healed scars
that remind us of divine love and faithfulness
what we survive has brought us a new day
we will thrive as we let love in again.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Transfiguration


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

We are in Virginia so that we could attend the 75th anniversary of the founding of Indian View Baptist Church in King William, VA, It was so named because one of the matriarchs at the time said she looked around and everywhere she looked she could see Indians. At the time, 19 dollars was collected for the construction of the church. Today, there were more than a hundred people jammed into the little country church. All those years ago with lots of faith and very little money, they made an incredible witness to God's love and presence in the midst of their community.

Up on the mountain. the disciples witnessed an incredible view of the true relationship of their teacher to God. It was a view of intimacy and connectedness. This vision, this view, would hold them through incredible trials and tribulations that were to come. That view would give them hope and renewal in the days to come and for the generations of faithful that followed. We are invited by God to view the glimpses of God's loving presence among us as the possibilities and hope for the future.

Today I ask God to help me to hold on to the view I had today, of the faithful people gathered, standing on the faithfulness of their ancestors and their people. May we hold on and move forward so that those who follow us may be standing on holy ground and supported with strength and hope.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Even the Dogs


 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’Mark 7:24-37

Even the Dogs

Sometimes the holy takes time
never as long as we humans do
it took a desperate women to teach
that a parent's love is always fierce.

Our faith is nothing less than love
it demands that every child is fed
every limb mended, every demon banished
every prayer is for some needy child.

The living God among broken humans
was overwhelmed by the need at first
parents taught him the inclusion of all
every child aches for a place at the table.

We who can welcome or prohibit now
need to look at the lesson from one mother
God will provide food and healing enough
if we open our hearts and let love thrive.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Take Heart


When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:47-56 

Take Heart

The quiet interrupted in the blueberry patch
anxious folks who cannot see the miracles
the abundance that weighs each laden branch down
is the life that we are given every single day.

Take heart you who worry and flail in pain

the one who walks on water and heals everyone
also watches over your waking and sleeping
the terrors of the night are no match for him.

Life is never easy but always overflowing
our problems like winds and waves dominated
by love that does not sleep or ever waiver
love that renews us again and again.

Take heart for the incarnate divinity stills
both storms of body and storms at sea
calms the children in their frantic joy
and holds you close as you weep and sigh.

 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

All Ate and Were Filled


The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men. Mark 6:30-46 

As clergy, we are often asked to do impossible things. A call can come in the middle of the night, while on vacation, or even in our offices. Standing with family by a death bed, sitting with folks in a waiting room, praying alone with the dying and with those whose world is falling apart - all of these and more are just part of the call. Hungry, sick, lonely and afraid people are all our people. Sometimes we feel that we don't have enough to give, there aren't miracles enough, or that words and actions have failed us. God never fails to stand with us, even when we feel so inadequate and empty.

Jesus looked on the people and had compassion on the lost, anxious and hungry crowd. He put his disciples in charge of finding food and they freaked out. They could only scrounge up a child size lunch. That small offering became the food for many, so much so that they were all filled. We, like the disciples, freak out when the task is too big - we're just human. And yet God stands with us in our small capacity and blesses even the smallest offering. We are invited by God to continually offer what we have, small as it might be, knowing that God will use and multiply it.

Today, I ask God to help me continue to offer all that I have, especially when it seems so small. May we all be open to God's new blessing on our inadequacies, so that the world around us, so in need, might be blessed with abundance.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What We Do In Anger



They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:13-29 


What We Do In Anger

What we do in anger becomes our shame
destroying prophets who tell the truth
using children to manipulate a king
the severed head bringing justice to none.

Anger and revenge never heal the wound
it bleeds and gets infected red and swollen
weeping and burning never closing
the sorrow and scars of our later years.

If we did not bury our mistakes and dread
if we rush to forgiveness and starting anew
if we but let ourselves be fragile humans
we might know the sweet taste of new skin.

Life begins again when we loose control
when we hit the nadir of our frailty and seek help
when we cry out in the smothering darkness
the yoke of anger release we are set free.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pearl of Great Price


Jesus put before the crowds another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

Whenever I hear of treasures or pearls of great price, I think first of my family, my three daughters in particular. I would do anything for them, and sometimes, I grieve when I cannot remove the pain and challenges of their lives. They are beautiful, strong and brilliant all, but the world has not always been a kind place for them.  Clergy kids seem to have more scrutiny and judgements put on them, and bishop's kids find themselves in complicated and awkward places. They handle so much, so well. I am so proud of my pearls of great price and ache, that I cannot give them every thing they deserve.

Jesus tells the crowd about the kingdom of heaven, the work of God, and about how God sees us. The
pearls of great price, the mustard seed, the treasure, the yeast - these are how God see us. Despite our mess and confusions, our broken humanity and life's cruelties, the Divine is always seeking us out and giving all for us. We are beloved treasure to our Creator, even if we feel like garbage today. We are invited to remember, in the dark holes we find ourselves in, that we are sought after and treasured by God.

Today, I ask God to help me treasure the people I have been given. May we find our treasures, hold them tight and see God in them. May our love and gratitude be the visible signs of God's love.



The Collect

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hometowns


Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. Mark 6:1-13 


Hometowns

The train was the central vein
the early morning and evenings
collecting fathers and children
commuting to another place.

My Daddy worked right there midst
 the hometown downtown conversations
never far from the pulse of things
a holy man among the shopping mothers.

It was never to be our hometown
we abiding our time there together
dreaming of running free in sand
not watched so closely and so judged.

The preacher's kids with wild friends
caught trouble when there was none
curried no favors with the local heroes
found ourselves always singled out.

Hometowns are soft hard places
bound by memory and past mistakes
the awkwardness of growing up
the desperate need to get far away.

There is comfort in seeing even God
could not change the hearts of locals
judged so harshly as a child of sin
he could never help them be redeemed.





Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Other Side


They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. Mark 5:1-20

The Other Side

We weather storms and expect miracles
for some the other side is heaven and rest
for others peace and justice in our day
for one is was the near presence of the Holy.

They say they grasses greener there
expecting children that will be better behaved
hoping for love that has so long eluded
wanting simplicity to replace real life.

On the other side we will always find more
troubles and demons, fears and storms
yet with us goes the Holy, love made real
miracles abound and there is always a cost.

Love made real is gritty and present
alive in the midst of storms and our fears
ready to envelope us with tenderness
ready yo remove the demons within.

Love promise is not perfect calm
it is hard work and labors of joy
the price for living love has been paid
we are free to move to the other side.

 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Safe to the Other Side


On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41 

I have been felled with a fever, wicked sore throat and terrible congestion. Here in the midst of summer, while our oldest granddaughter Lilly is visiting, I am knocked out flat. There are moments at night, when waking up with a pounding head and impossible throat, I wonder if I'll get to the other side. I desperately want to be healthy and play endlessly with Lilly. I want to all the things my body won't let me do right now. Living faith help me believe I will get to the other side, but some days, faith can be very hard when the body is weak.

The disciples, who are seasoned fishermen, used to raging storms were completely overwhelmed. All the signs pointed to imminent death. They were not seasoned disciples as yet. They knew the signs of trouble and had a hard time trusting their sleeping friend. They felt ignore. We can also feel ignored by God at times, when the storms rage around us.  God is faithful in all things and will see us to the other side. The storms will rage, yet still God is with us.

Today, I ask God to help me have a child like faith. May we trust God, no matter the circumstances knowing that God has the shoreline in sight and will bring us safely home.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Good Seed


Jesus put before the crowd another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Good Seed

What come from heaven is good seed
beauty and brilliance in everyone
the spark of loving kindness and forgiveness
a creative heart of hope and possibility.

There are days when all we see are weeds
the world can be a place of horror and anger
this day can turn from sweet to sour easily
we feel the weeds choking out the sun.

There is rain enough for all the gifts given
soil that will invisibly feed even at night
sun that will find a way to burn the gloom
and wind which will carry the new generation.

There are days when the weeds seem to win
they take over and choke the most vulnerable
justice and peace are the blessings from heaven
the holy will always bends towards justice and peace.

We are being led away from the daily trauma
into the richest land the clearest sky views
rich valleys are rising up around us now
these weary children will find some tender rest.

The Collect

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.




Thursday, July 20, 2017

Stretch Out Your Hand


One sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Mark 2:23 – 3:6


Stretch Out Your Hand

We are bound by pain and loss
imprisoned by fear and anxiety
jailed by our own inadequacies
threatened by all our human rules.

There is no judgement in heaven
there is light eternal love unbounded
there is forgiveness aplenty for all
and room for the worst with the best.

God living on earth brought healing
fed the hungry, tarried with the worthless
found treasure in the least of us
and nobility in every wretched beggar.

God walked among all of us then
and walks among all of us even now
we are bound and broken by humanity
freed daily by the source of all love.

Come stretch out your hand
lean into love, let go of judgement
you were made royalty and blessed
children of the God of boundless love.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Again Beside the Sea



Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:13-22

We are spending a few days with Mark's mother, the last surviving parent between us.  She is a brilliant, witty and strong woman in her 91 year. She is also a strict Catholic and has clear opinions on many topics. It is hard to convince her that things should be different. All of us as we age can get stuck in a certain way of living and thinking. Getting out is hard for her, yet getting out, whether by the sea and just to the store, change radically change one's perspective.

Jesus ventured out and gathered disciples, friends and a community. For the religious leaders, his approach seemed like folly. He reached out to those who we hurt, wounded, ill and outcast. He spent a good deal of time by the sea and in market places, among the people. He made room in God's kingdom for the least and rejected among us. God invites us to celebrate the love we have today, not trying to make it a nostalgic affair, but rather a present moment love of our present facilities.

Today I ask God to help me rejoice and love in these moments. as complicated and confusing as they may be. May we all celebrate the good gifts and relationships we have, knowing that God is always in the midst of us.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stand Up


When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12

Stand Up

Too often the pain keeps us down
the strength to get up again has left
we are broken by our disease and fear
we have lost our courage and fight.

The friends who love us go all out
we know there is no future in hope
learning to live with what we have
not looking at tomorrow for a thing.

They carry us around and try to help
we put up with their kindness daily
inside we are jealous of their health
inside we curse our feeble frames.

A voice tells us to stand up and move
to take the mat that has companioned us
to let go of a name we have been called
and hear that we are loved by God.



Monday, July 17, 2017

I Do Choose


As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. Mark 1:29-45 

I Do Choose

Life is only limited by fear
bodies curtailed by sickness
minds turned by a myriad of hurts
heart broken by great loss.

The Creator of all life chooses
life and healing for us all
we are often broken by this world
and lifted up in scared dreams.

The artists who formed your body
also fashioned a heart and soul
woven with holy threads of joy
finished with threads of delight.

Life unlimited is the promise
no mistake or shame can remove it
we are knitted together by love
and love will bring us back again.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sowing Seeds


Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

We have some raised beds and planters that we have filled with vegetable and herb plants. Everyday we go out and water and look them over. We are not great gardeners, but we are enthusiastic. Enjoying fresh produce from our own garden is a delight. It doesn't really matter if it's a bumper crop or if we only have a few, it always is joyful. The whole process is a delight.

Jesus is teaching the crowd and he tells them a parable about seeds that fall in different parts of the field. So often we think this is a story about how we must be good soil, good seeds and excellent crops. In fact, all the circumstances are gifts from God. The abundance and the rocky ground, the drama and the joy are all parts of our lives lived here now. God invites us to be as rich soil as we can be, and to give thanks even when we find ourselves in shallow communities and situations which don't foster life. God invites us to see love manifested in all our days and seasons.

Today, I ask God to help me live grateful for where I am sown. May we all find joy in the challenges as well as the abundance,  as God is daily giving us a sure foundation of love.






The Collect

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Casting Nets


Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:14-28


Casting Nets

Knee deep in a gentle incoming tide
the sun is setting such muted light
whether I gather enough fish or not
I can be fully satisfied today.

Waist deep in my private thoughts
suddenly interrupted by a voice
come follow me this very day
I want to show you how to fish for real.

Over my head in confusion and fear
this is my place mired in the sand
why would I want to journey from this sea
this source of life and all I know.

Again and again I am called by name
the water sings along, the birds do too
they know I am destined for another place
all creation asks me to turn from my home.

I am sinking into these possibilities
the sun has been swallowed today by water
I am taken up by the notion of following
casting my nets in very different seas.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Prepare the Way


The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.'”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:1-13 


Prepare the Way


We are on a journey climbing
we are pilgrims and refugees
we are widening the way for peace
and making more room for love.

The roads will be uneven and rough
the travelers violent and forlorn
broken by heat bent by cold
we prepare the way of the Lord.

We are on a journey to bring
endless baskets of food for the hungry
endless healing for the never mended
wondrous hope for the rejected.

Preparing we lay block by block
joy building on hope building promise
light adjacent to sweet forgiveness
comfort nearby flowing streams.

We are on a journey climbing
we are pilgrims and refugees
we are widening the way for peace
and making more room for love.



 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Peace Be With You


While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:36-53 

The thing we need the most and we often have the least is peace. We  tremble from pressures inside and out and live in a world where many live in constant fear. Some fear those who are different from them. Others believe themselves to be better than others and want to keep the less-thans at a distance. The ones who shove people away have no peace, just control, which is no substitute for peace.

Jesus settles in with his disciples for a small meal. They have greeted him with fear and anxiety. He blessed them and sent them to remain where they were until they received power. The peace he gave the was the peace of patient waiting, of remaining with joy in the spot they were placed. Peace in lives might just be the cessation of competition, striving and impatience. We live in a world that drives us to stress and fear. God invites us today to remain and find peace.

Today I ask God to help me accept the moments and the places I find myself. May the places be wait be those where we will some day receive power, In the meantime, may we luxuriate in peace.
 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Slow of Heart


Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. Luke 24:13-35

Slow of Heart

Walking the road daily, caught
between overwhelming fear
and sincere, loving belief
between panic and desire
God always finds me there.

We all have Emmaus roads
the journeys we find treacherous
 the people we find impossible
the tasks that are too big for us
God always finds us there.

Living on the edge in terror
or in the center and comforted
we find life challenging and fearful
we think our trials too much for us
we are always found by God.

Thinking abandonment and shame
the living high and mighty torn down
the poorest among us suffering
on journeys impossible and terrifying
God will always find us there.

God is walking with us each day
and listening th our hearts so slow
caring deeply for our weary souls
leaning in to our terror and fears
God is always finding us here.