Thursday, April 27, 2017

Be Satisfied


In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” Luke 3:1-14

Today we celebrate the life and work of Christina Rossetti, poet and writer who composed my favorite Christmas carol - In the Bleak Midwinter. She was born to a refugee father in England and used her words to liberate her heart and soul from tragedy and depression. She found satisfaction in her love and devotion to her family and to expressing her soul through her writings and poetry. Her life was not easy but she found her spiritual satisfaction as she expressed her heart. She has blessed many of us down through the ages.

In our Gospel we hear about John's ministry and his direction to the crowds on living fairly and with compassion. He is very direct in his language, always ready to teach and remind people of God's promises. John invites us today to live fairly and compassionately, expecting always the presence of the living God.

Today I ask God to help me prepare my heart anew for the living God. May we used the gifts and blessings we have for the good of others and be satisfied where we have been placed. May we all find God right where we are today.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

That They All May Be One


Jesus prayed, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26

Being One

She stands in a darkened harbor
raising her torch to the sky
we look up and smile at her words
give me your tired, your poor.

She stands aside at the border
looking on the guns and the razor wire
her relatives waiting on the other side
praying for one more kindness.

Our words are holy when we talk unity
we think we are so hospitable
as we demonize the recent stranger
who days ago were our people.

Love seems in short supply
meted out to those like us
welcome for the thoroughly vetted
the lighter skins the familiar languages.

Jesus bends in prayer over us
asking us to see our brokenness and need
knowing that others ache like us
reaching to be embraced as a lost sibling.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Good News Everywhere - St. Mark's Day


Jesus said to the apostles, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. Mark 16:15-20



Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist. His was the first gospel, the sparest gospel, and the most profound in its simplicity. Mark is said to have founded the church in Alexandria, the present day Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It is speculated that Mark, was actually John Mark, one of the seventy Jesus sent out and present at the last supper and in other places. He wrote and in his writing people believed. Mark's symbol is a winged lion. He gave the church his gifts, shared his story and forever changed the world of faith.

Today we read the end of Mark's gospel, a very simple account of Jesus' ascension. He put the disciples to work, sending them out into all the world. When he had ascended, they seemed to get right to it. And the "Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by signs that accompanied it." Our work as servants of God, as evangelists always comes with the promise that we are working alongside God, alongside the risen Lord.

Today I ask God to help me use the gifts I have been given to carry the love of God to the world. May we all know that we are never alone as we go forth but that we are accompanied by the Lord working alongside us all.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Peace Be With You

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31

Peace Be With You

There are always scars
even after great healings
the remnant of tearing pain
lingers as a tangible reminder. 

There are always places and times
when we feel like an outsider 
when we feel we are being laughed at
there are always those scars.

There are always those scars
which hold the truth of the pain
that we can touch and remember
giving thanks for that cruel past.

There are always important scars
that take all the doubts away
of life offered and taken away
of life restored and reborn anew.

There are always those scars
but there is also always peace given
reminders of things that were done
washed away by love beyond measure.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Take Courage - Earth Day 2017


Jesus said, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” John 16:16-33 

I plan to spend some time in  the garden, getting things ready for planting and imagining what we can grow this year. We don't have a lot of space, and less with good sunlight, but I try to have a garden where ever we are. It's a small thing to do, to dig in the dirt, planting and tending, helping things to grow. I will not go out and protest or make a statement. Instead, in my very small way I will stand and encourage life, reusing, composting and nurturing this living space, this planet earth, our mother and our island home. The seeds I will plant are not just for beauty and food, but for the soil and the birds, and the other living things that love to eat our vegetable leaves. We share this place, all of us, and it takes great courage to love every bit of it and care for it as family.

Jesus is trying to help his disciples prepare for a life without him. Every day he has been teaching them by words and example. He has taught them to love the least among them, to be light for the world, to be strength in the face of greed and persecution. It has become normal for them to have the teacher with them and to rely completely on him. Now, they will have to use the muscles, the hearts and the love he has instilled in them. They will face great danger. Most of it, as it is for us, is our own fear and anxiety. He calls us all to have courage, we do not have to be in charge, He has conquered the world and we are never alone.

Today I ask God to help me rely on the loving Conqueror for all my needs. May we be caretakers together of the planet and the people who are in our care. May we build up and restore. And may we be courageous as we to stand in up to the presence of greed, abuse and waste in our world today.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spirit of Truth - Easter Friday


Jesus said, “I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:1-15 

Spirit of Truth 

We have been on the road some time
seeking the road of spirit and truth
we have been misguided and discouraged
but we will not give up this calling.

Beautiful places have turned us away
small, hidden hamlets have made welcome
the overlooked and the forgotten
have become the place where truth is planted.

Love does not regard wealth as happiness
nor power and prominence as real
love digs down to the interior of the soul
into the very heart of people and place.

We will continue to seek the spirit of truth
for God abides with her where she can be found
silently at the break of every new day
she sings her welcome song of thanksgiving.

We will let her teach us what she has to share
find the love which she nurtures and embraces
we will become planted in this rich deep soul
and be a home for all refugees and asylum seekers.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I Will Not Leave You Orphaned


Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.” John 14:15-31 


I Will Not Leave You Orphaned

The fatherless, motherless weeping child
alone but surrounded by many rules
other children share many beds beside beds
wishing to fall asleep in someone's arms.

The isolated, broken and abandoned
are the ones God seeks out this day
the cuddled and secured and well fed
can find God in their own time.

Love is the greatest unused gift
we have yet to unwrap the potential
to offer our strength and our homes
to the comfortless who carry our God.

Compassion and caring have been left aside
we grovel to earn and to gain power
love lurks in our alleys with the poor
God's love bends in the shadows to feed.

This God who is love cannot be seen
unless we too bend and tarry again
in the dark and lonely waiting rooms
by the tear stained orphan and the bereaved.



 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Monday

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:1-18

Easter is a wondrous and most holy day in the church calendar. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with wonderful music ans pageantry. The rest of the culture has little or no awareness of what is going on. The focus is on new clothes, bunnies and eggs. Very few understand that all of these are symbols of the resurrection. They don't worry about what we do. As it was on that very first Easter, it was a glorious moment witnessed by a very few.

Mary went out early and was hurt and shocked by what she saw. Then the Peter in John, seemingly in a foot race, fearfully went in to the tomb, saw the evidence of his rising and went home, leaving Mary alone again. It seems as if they didn't tell her the good news, as maybe they didn't understand it at that moment. So Mary got a visit by angels. Her weeping and confusing were met with promises from the angels. Even better, she met Jesus face to face and he called her by name. Now for those of us who might be weeping today, or can't deal with the emptiness we see, there is still more to come. A loving God who see our anguish and calls us each by name.

On this Easter Monday I ask God to give me the strength to face the emptiness and trust the angels' message. May we know that we will see him face to face and each be loved and called by name.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Have Pity On Me - Holy Saturday

Have pity on me, have pity on me,
O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
Why do you, like God, pursue me,
never satisfied with my flesh?

“O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!” Job 19:21-27a 


 


In This Darkness

In this darkness we wait weeping
full facing our broken promises
our incurable need to be  important
our self-importance removing love.

In this liminal place there is honesty
knowing how little we deserve the love
understanding for once our foolishness
choked by the damage our pride has done.

The perfect one lies dead and pieced
his flesh marked by human creulty
he healed every disease and torment
and took on the pain we so regularly inflict.

Sit and weigh the fullness of death
there is nothing to hold that will not fade
noone to embrace who will not pass over
not a stitch of fabric that will not rot.

In this darkness I repeat the verses
those I do not deserve to say but learned
at a young age when my heart was pure
trusting that despite myself it will be so.

The ancient promises of prophets and kings
the songs of travelers and refugees
the verses when we lay down at night
the anthems sang as we faced the morning.

In this darkness pity me O God
help me to be prepared for an Easter morn
give us all the trusting hearts of children
and the love unending so undeserved.


For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that
 at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!





 




Friday, April 14, 2017

Denial - Good Friday


Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” John 13:36-38 

Denial 


Today is the day where we face the truth
steel and rough wood and torn flesh
sent to death for our sin, our folly
as the innocent was taken away we denied him.

There is blood on our hands and our faces
we would be safe before we would be faithful
we would skirt the responsibility if possible
better yet put it wholly on another.

What he did we remember this day
our selfishness, hubris and neglect
sent him to a criminal and a terrorist's fate
destruction for him who showed our sins.

We warmed our hands by the fire
accepting thirty pieces of silver for it all
we cried Barabbas with the rest of the crowd
we let him wash our feet and we slept.

Years have passed and yet we still
choose convenience rather than compassion
bargain with the known evil in our world
instead of building sanctuaries of love.

Today is the day we face the truth
a day of steel, rough wood and torn flesh
one alone suffered for our barbarism
one alone suffers still as the bombs fall.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

That They All May Be One - Maundy Thursday


After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” John 17:1-11

That They All May Be One 

We ache to be special and set apart
God aches for us all to be gathered and one
like a parent anxious for a child's return
God's arms are outstretched and trembling.

We fight for keeping our way of life
God fights for those who reach out in love
those who break down walls and barriers
those who set the prisoners free.

We bend our wills to selfish leadership
so that we too might be popular
God bends over with cloth and basin
washing away the grime of our lives.

We live safe lives, sheltered and protected
behind our walls away from the masses
God lives among those we would not see
walking with the broken, humble and alone.

We pray for peace and act like warriors
protecting our rights, our land, our freedom
 the living God prays that we all may be one
as he and the Eternal Divine are one.





Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Children of the Light


Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. John 12:27-36 

The heat came on very quickly yesterday. A freak heatwave in April when it had snowed at the beginning of the month. Windows were flung open and all sorts of people were walking around in shorts and summer outfits. It is truly just a moment, a glimpse of summer in a very long and cold winter. It will get much cooler again and the leaves have not sprouted on the trees, but the possibility of warmth and light got everybody's attention. It was a good day to talk about the weather and many people express complete gratitude.

Jesus was praying and the crowd heard thunder, not conversation. The promise of God became to them a weather phenomenon. We can hear and see what we want to, and can miss God's promise in the conversation. Jesus called them the children of light but they wanted to know what laws to follow. When the sun shines, children run outside, play in the grass and delight in the gifts we have been given. They know how to delight in the blessings and invite us to do the same.

I ask God to help me rejoice in being a child of the light. Help us all to welcome the signs and promises that we see and know around us. May we be true children and delight in the gifts we have been given as we go deeper into this Holy Week.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We Would See Jesus - Tuesday in Holy Week




Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” John 12:20-26 


We  Would See Jesus

There are always outsiders and insiders
folks who need shelter folks to keep out
folks who want things to remain as now
people who cannot imagine inclusion.

Even the disciples closest to his presence
even those who were broken and sinful
even those with scars and misdeeds
have trouble opening the holy circle.

Widen our understanding of love this day
broaden our ability to see strangers as family
deepen our love that we will no longer refuse
those who say to us we would see Jesus.

Generations have been shamed into losing
culture, language and many sacred places
violence and isolation tools of indoctrination
used to prepare the outsiders to see Jesus.

May we walk the holy highway of love
may this generations break the abuse of aliens
may we be servants of the living God
whose arms spread wide for all to come.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday in Holy Week - Do Not Be Afraid, Daughter


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

When I was in college I worked in a daycare with two year olds. Reading to them at nap times was one of my favorite tasks. They had several books they wanted read over and over and "Don't Be Scared!" was one of them. They loved shouting along as I read, "don't be scared!" And yet, even as I comforted my charges with that silly story, I had my own bag of fears I was clinging too. I would like to think I am brave, but the truth is, I have fears that hold me back and keep me from rejoicing every day. Fear is part of the human condition and what how we respond to that fear really can define us.

We hear today of Jesus' triumphal entry in Jerusalem. On this Monday in Holy Week, we rehearse the story from Palm Sunday and the walk through the week as the passion unfolds. One of the most common phrases Jesus repeats is "do not be afraid!" Easy to say sometimes, harder for us as humans to do. And yet Jesus walked the passion road for all of us, whether we are fearful or not. Whether we let go of fear or let fear define us, God goes before us always, interceding, taking the lashes and dying that we might live.

Today I ask God to help me identify those fears which are holding me back and give them up. May we let go of the fears that define us so that we might be wholly present as we enter deep into Holy Week.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday


When Jesus and his disciples had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, `The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately." This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

"Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

"Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
"
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?" The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee." Matthew 21:1-11

Palm Sunday

I find our again how wrong I can be
how set in my ways refusing to celebrate
new ways and new moments for fear
it means all mine are long past.

This joy will quickly turn to horror
people who flocked to see the Messiah
will scream to have him crucified
I am sure I might have been part of the crowd.

We find a comfort in our religious practices
but they can become a noose a cross
which chokes out all possible relationships
we fear having to change our wretched ways.

Oh let me dive deep into this passion
let me wallow in the torment and misunderstanding
that I might raise my head and see the cross
as new life even for the likes of me.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Unbinding


When Martha had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:28-44 


Unbinding

We are not simply pages in a book
bound up tight with cloth and string
nor are we simply dying decaying flesh
wrapped up to keep the stench at bay.

Control is a thing we reach for
never grasping never able to hold back
the possibilities and the love which flourish
despite our very best efforts to tie them down.

Being set free is often too honest a state
we ache to hide back inside convention
yet to be bound up is akin to dying slowly
to be set free is the heart of a loving God.

The whispers deep  in our fractured soul
remind us that we were made in God's image
our small infant bodies had heaven within
and in our freedom we find paradise again. 

The strong and powerful will bind the weak
yet this binding is  not permanent or holy
the innocents will become strong in freedom
walls will fall, stones will roll and they will live again.






Friday, April 7, 2017

Raising Lazarus


Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” John 11:1-27 

Raising Lazarus

I was the one who stayed in the kitchen
the one who cleaned and listened at a distance
the woman who made a place for everyone
not always making the very best choices.

My brother has died but my legs still work
I am running to the long awaited teacher
my brother is dead and buried and we grieve
our hearts are on the ground dear Savior.

Even now as I am running I remember
all the words he said when with us
all the miracles and moments I knew
the chores could not keep me from seeing.

My heart is pounding in my weary chest
yet hope is rising up with in my soul
every fiber of my being understands now
that resurrection is drawing near today.

I thought I needed a tender present faith
like my sweet sister Mary has always had
yet God needs my strong legs and arms
my willingness to work beyond the veil.

As we meet on the road and embrace
I now understand that love breaks through
all the living and dying barriers we built
life returning again to these tired frames.


 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Across the River

Again the Jews were divided because of these words. Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’
 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’
 The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’ Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods”? If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods”—and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, “I am God’s Son”? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there.  John 10:19-42

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of my consecration as a bishop. It happened at St. Paul's College, Lawrenceville, Va where the gymnasium had been turned into a sanctuary, and people from across the church gathered. I loved the people of the Diocese of Southern Virginia and loved serving there. Since then, I have served in several dioceses, delighted by the people and their many gifts. Sometimes we hope we can plant roots forever, in one place, but it rarely happens. God called me beyond where I started, through some very rough waters, but always led me through. I look back in thankfulness, even for the hardest of times, because I have learned how I am held and sheltered, even in adversity. And not just me. God takes us to the other side and finds us new places, new peoples and new families.

Jesus is being grilled some more about healing a man born blind. This act seemed to aggravate the religious leaders. They were sorely vexed, wanting to kill him on the spot. Although he held up well in the argument, under horrid scrutiny, he was still in danger the whole time. God got his child to the other side of the river. And God promises that rescue and safety to us all. Despite everything the world can throw at us, we are the children of a living, loving and active God.

Today I ask God to help me look backward and rejoice, as well as looking forward in prayerful hope. May we remember how gently ans completely we are cared for, and give thanks for the promise of the days ahead.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Good Shepherd


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

Good Shepherd 

The night is dark the brambles thick
trembling from the cold and alone
having wandered too far from home
will anyone find this lost sheep?

In daylight everything feels safe
at night shadows lengthened nothing does
every rattling branch every creak and moan
signals danger, endless danger my foolishness.

There is a faraway voice repeatedly calling
my shame keeps me from crying out loud
It was my foolishness that put me here
my arrogance that let me wander too far.

The voice grows louder and I am embraced
loving strong arms that will not let me go
carrying me,singing, rocking me back to life
I want to believe I will never wander again.

We are sheep and prone to wander off
the shepherd knows our design and needs
we will never be abandoned despite ourselves
home will always find us when we rebel.






Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lord, I Believe


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

In both towns where I grew up there was a duck pond that I saw most everyday. Ducks aren't particularly noble creatures but they are constant, insistent and rooted. They are not very bright. They don't fly south for the winter. They believe all of their needs will be provided for in that one place. They somehow know that there will be food enough for them and their offspring. They were joined in season by other migratory birds. And they found a way to live side by side with most of them. As a child, I would often go and watch them, talk to them and listen to them talk back and forth. I would bring bread crusts and feed them and they would eat out of my hand. The would clamber over to me quacking and enjoying the moment. They believed that their needs would be met. I was grateful for their constant presence in my life still.

The bling man who had regained his sight was grilled by the religious leaders. They poked and prodded and then threw him out, probably for good. They gave him no blessing, and did not rejoice in his healing, but rather, punished him for his good fortune. Jesus sought him out and helped him understand what had happened to him. Jesus was there for him when the religious authorities were not. There was no judgement but rather simple explanation and love. The man responded with faith and love. We are invited by God to know that we are rooted in and loved, sought out when rejected, healed and taught when we are brokwn.

Today I ask God to help me have the simple faith in the untold mercies and blessings found in God's love. May we not fear the judgement and rejection of the world, but rather be firmly rooted on God's love, knowing that we will be sought out, we will find healing and our needs will be divinely met.

Monday, April 3, 2017

God's Works Revealed in Us



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

Our human frailties, both our hidden  and obvious weaknesses, we fear so much and they can  isolate us. I know too well my own faults and brokenness and often struggle to find God in the midst of pain. I can very quickly fault myself and others for that pain. The exercise gurus tell you to keep going through the pain. But can this pain, this weakness, this frailty be a venue for the love of God revealed? Can this be an opportunity rather than an sorry end?

Jesus heals a blind man on the sabbath. His disciples want to know whose fault this blindness is ans the Pharisees want to discount the healing since it was the sabbath. We humans love to blame and discount the gifts of others. Yet Jesus would have us focus on the hope for healing. That our messy human souls and bodies, broken and messy, are wanted by God. God wants to use even our profound weaknesses to show the world divine love. We are asked to participate, as the blind man was asked to wash in the pool. God's desire is for our humanity to be the reflection of perfect, divine love.

Today I ask God to help me not fear the weakness and the pain but offer myself again to God's possibilities. May we all embrace our challenges, not as punishment, but as God's visible presence, God's love made real despite our messy humanity.
 


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Dry Bones

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. John 11:1-45

It was snowing yesterday, although spring is here
It was a dark foreboding and  dimly lit daytime
there was no promise of growth and greening
no incentive to get u0p and face the day.

The dampness brought on the creaking
bone against bone in this rapidly aging body 
the little chores become mountains to climb
the desert weariness a constant companion.

Often prayer bent and wondering who listens
maybe if God had been here sooner I wouldn't 
be bent in sitting and limping in my walking
I wouldn't be incapable of the things of youth.

Martha went and said why didn't you raise him
like Martha I cry why didn't you come sooner
the savoir comes a dwells and we forget him
we think there are no answers when silence descends.

My bones are dry and creaking and will be scattered
the end of our time comes when it comes, in time
so let us dance our awkward and joyous today
let us sing while we have breath and live.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

To Whom Can We Go?


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

It is easy to get lost, easy to recall a time when one sets out on a hopeful adventure which turned into a disaster, and easy to ache for a clear direction like a yellow brick road. As a child, I watched the Wizard of Oz, with rapt attention, even though I knew the ending. The approach to the wizard terrified me. Now I realize that entry way looked an awful lot like church. A place of hopefulness and fear, vaulted ceilings of possibility, infected with the trembling reality of human failure. And yet, despite all of my fear and trembling and getting lost, God is in the midst of the adventure, this walk on unsigned roads that lead to new life.

The disciples are having doubts because the way ahead is rough. Jesus didn't mince his words but told them the truth of what was ahead. Many turned around and went home. Peter, stands up and announces his faith, his expectation, his hope, despite all of the dangers ahead. He wasn't being brave. Peter was being honest. He knew, that despite the terrors on the road, he was loved and belong to God in Christ. He knew what transforming love looked like and he was going all the way with Jesus. We are invited, in this latter days of Lent to go the distance. To see possibilities and new life even in the mess, the tangled highways of our lives. God is with us, even so.

Today I ask God to help me be like Peter, totally human and totally willing to follow despite all of the dangers ahead. May we know that transforming life waits for us, walks with us and is making the road ahead passable, even as we are falling down now.