Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When You Pray


Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:1-13

When You Pray

Early in the morning as the universe awakes
I silently pray to the Creator of all life
that this day might be filled with kindness
that I may walk with care and compassion.

As I pray at the days end and sun's setting
I am thankful for all the blessings of life
for children's laughter and elders's wisdom
for enough food and a table to share.

I dream that I am praying healing and blessing
those who have walked on are praying with me
they are singing ancient and new songs
smiling on us confused and anxious children.

I wake again to know that holy blessing
only the Creator has made the world new again'
has renewed me with tender sacred rest
the world gives gratitude with bird song.


 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Take Up Your Cross Daily


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

It had been a very busy week as we celebrated the last graduating class at my seminary EDS and had our last Alumni days in Cambridge.  It still reverberates withing me, a deep sadness and a deep gratitude for an education and formation that is part of every thing I say and do.  At times, it is a cross to bear when the church treats one as an alien and outlier, although that is something I was before going to seminary. I saw the mark of Christ in each and every person there and ache that we are being dispersed, as it were, to the four winds. And my cross to carry from here on out, is that while on the wind, we scatter the seeds of love and inclusion wherever we go, with great joy and thanksgiving.

Jesus is praying with his disciples and a conversation erupts as it sometimes does when at prayer. He tells them to take up their cross and follow him, although they really had no idea what he was talking about. They closed their eyes to the violence in front of them. They closed their ears to his death and coming departure. They didn't want to know. Just like us, they didn't think they could bear being part of the diaspora and not part of the tight knit group of disciples. But to sow seeds, to carry God's love, we must be scattered and sent to the four winds. We are never alone, despite the burdens we might carry. And we can carry our burden with joy, for we are knitted into the heart of God.

Today I ask God to help me carry this new cross with joy. May being scattered become a mark of great promise for us all, knowing that we are bound in love to God forever.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blessed and Broken


Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see him.
On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:1-17 

Blessed and Broken

I cannot help but hear the birdsong
nor see the bright green on spring
I am broken and torn apart
waiting for the blessing to go on.

Birthing a child means facing death
facing pain, tearing and dislocation
this new birth that is promised to me
is barely a prayer on my lips today.

There is abundance coming soon
life in the bounty of God's grace
on this side with the waiting crowd
starvation looms closer that being filled.

We are all this aching crowd today
standing still and looking very sad
we are all a kind young child
who has had his only food taken away.


 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sick and Dying, Healing and Rising


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

Sick and Dying, Healing and Rising

My human eyes can only see the grave
the ashes scattered and the mourning
my human heart can only despair
and weep as glorious things come to an end.

I was forever changed by so many
turned around and transformed here
this place of learning will be no more
yet no one can take what is in my heart.

They will rise again and stand up
they will resist the wilting diseases
they were committed to a loving God
and their loving God will hold them fast.

Creator as we sorrow at these endings
may we know you hold the future close
life beyond this grave is surely coming
love beyond measure is coming to stay.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nothing is Hidden


 ‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’
 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’
 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’ Luke 8:16-25

Today I go to Cambridge to attend the final commencement at my seminary , Episcopal Divinity School. The board, of which I was a member, decided to cease awarding degrees at the end of this academic year. I voted against the move and resigned from the board. Much they have done has been done in secret, and their relationship with the students and faculty has not been positive. Today I go to stand with those who, over the generations, have taught and learned together, becoming a community of light and support. We will see how the new iteration, as part of Union Seminary in New York, will be a light to the church and world. My prayer is that it can be so.

Jesus is teaching the disciples and the crowd. He has brought light into a world of darkness and shadow, and has brought healing and promise to a people in pain. Everyone from his family to the crowd and including the disciples in the boat, struggled to understand who Jesus was. He was real. He was the living presence of a loving God, light of the world, related to all. And he was honest with them and with us. We cannot crave power and abuse others and remain in relationship with God. We cannot secretively try to be the ultimate authority, when the winds and the waves know who is truly in charge. God, the source of love and power, had become family, and within all relationships we must be light, honesty and the family of God bringing love at all times.

Today, I ask God to help me be an agent of God's light. May we all carry love and compassion to the darkest, most broken places. And may we share our light with those who have been broken by power, crushed by injustice and know them to be our family in God.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sowing Seeds


Soon afterwards Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.” Luke 8:1-15 

Sewing Seeds

With all hopefulness we plant
as the world warms and we turn
to the sunlight and spring rains
we look up in great expectation.

Weeds will grow and drought will come
parasites and small creatures will ravage
we can then give up and turn away
from the tender shoots we once loved.

We must nurture despite the challanges
keep faith in the midst of calamity
pray despite the dire predictions
and keep watch in the darkest nights.

God hovers over this tender garden
creating growth and endless potential
bringing dew in arid and fragile moments
sending fruit in time to nourish us all.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Shown Great Love


One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50


Today we celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. Mark was 23 and I was 19. We have never understood ourselves to be the perfect couple, the most likely to succeed, or those who make the celebrity pages of the magazines. We never tried to be that it couple or do things "right". We are simply those kind of people who have tried to love well, and forgive always. We have tried to demonstrate and live love large. We never tried to be anything but ourselves, honest about our frailties, our quirks and our great joys. We welcomed three girls into the world, and they were and are our hearts' desire. And they too love well and completely. We are grateful in everything because we have been blessed beyond measure in love.

A woman of the city anoints  Jesus. She pours our her precious oil and her love in the sight of the religious leaders. They ache to be perfect, while she aches for love and healing. She is perfect in her love and humanity, and they are still puzzled in their need to be right. God invites us to be like the woman, fully human, fully loving and completely grateful for the love we receive.

Today, I ask God to live every moment in gratitude and thanksgiving for the love I have received. May we observe the good gifts that love has brought us today and forget being perfect or right so that we can be forgiven and free.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017 - Heart Trouble


Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”  John 14:1-14


Heart Trouble

It is not a physical thing but so real
the pull of love so deep and eternal
binding us all together as one family
sharing blood which pumps through all.

A mother's heart is always breaking
torn open constantly to make room
a space for another a place to rest
close by the warmth of home.

A mother is always bending
the rules for a child that needs mercy
to pick up a small one in distress
bending, a savoir to our weariness.

Gentle, like a mother we are held
led back home time and time again
brushed off,  propped up  with words
that reach beyond time and space.

Love makes a permanent impression
the smell and sound of it never fades
the direction home is never lost
the hand that leads us never fails.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Wisdom is Vindicated by All Her Children


The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ When the men had come to him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,    who will prepare your way before you.”
I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’ (And all the people who heard this, including the tax-collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)

 ‘To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.”
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.’  Luke 7:18-35


Sequoyah was the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet. "In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible. This was one of the very few times in recorded history that a member of a pre-literate people created an original, effective writing system. After seeing its worth, the people of the Cherokee Nation rapidly began to use his syllabary and officially adopted it in 1825. Their literacy rate quickly surpassed that of surrounding European-American settlers." Sequoyah used his skills to help his people move through a landscape that was changing rapidly, and which would be turned upside in a matter of a few years. When my people walked the Trail of Tears, it is reported that 90% of the tribe was literate in both Cherokee and English. Our survival in a extremely hostile world  and eventual resurgence as a people can be credited in part to his wisdom.

Jesus is frustrated by the seeming desire of the religious leaders to remain ignorant and unwilling to be blessed by the presence of the Incarnate God. While acknowledging God's justice, they were stubborn and rigid in their understanding of God's love and presence. We can cling to notions of the world, long beyond their usefulness. And we humans can cling to a culture and way of being that destroys relationships and keeps others from seeing the face of God. The promise of Jesus, is that despite our human failings, God's love will live in all who are willing to listen and be made wise.

Today I ask God to help me listen and seek God's love and wisdom in every moment. May we not avoid learning and growing in order to hold on to old notions of God's reign. May we live into the love of Christ's as we love wisely and fully as the children of God.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Only Speak the Word


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

There are times in our lives we feel under attack. It hurts, especially when it is people who should be bringing Jesus to each interaction. I am always amazed when people within the church go on the attack, as if any of us have the right to be bullies. All of us ache for healing and sometimes we get in our own way. My mother used to say that "you know you're getting close to God when the devil is working overtime." My mother was a wise and faithful woman, survivor of great trauma and extreme poverty. She knew the face of evil and she always turned to Jesus and brought him with her where
ever she went. She brought Jesus to us as well.

Today we read in the Gospel of Luke about Jesus healing the centurion's slave and a mother's only son. Both were near death or had died. It seemed as illness and death were cruelly victorious. Jesus, on the other hand, brought light, love and healing and changed forever how these people and their communities understood the presence of God. The saw Jesus and their world changed for the better. God invites us to bring the love of Jesus wherever we go today.

I ask God today to help me bring the love of Jesus and his compassion with me everywhere I go. May we not strike back when we are hurt, but rather bring love and forgiveness despite the pain and sorrow we bear. May light overshadow the darkness and may love heal all the wounds.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

House on the Rock

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

A Firm Foundation

The oceans often rise taking sand
the angry grey waters pour over dunes
sweep grass away by the roots
we stand and watch from our windows.

The winds blow and rattle windows
the clapboard sings the stormy songs
the hymns of love rise in the face
of all the fearsome worry the tempest brings.

We keep watch because of love so deep
beyond oceans and other night terrors
we are founded and encouraged in love
and sleep through the worst tumults.

When the winds and waves stop their screaming
we wind through the debris strewn streets
tending to the weeping broken and damaged
with the endless compassion of the beloved.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Good Measure


Jesus said, “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:27-38

A Good Measure

Loving my enemies is terribly hard
they spit in my face and abuse me
demeaning what I do and who I am
keeping me sleepless at night.

My prayer in the deep darkness
is to be more loving, forgiving and generous
despite the torment heaped on me
not to return punch for punch.

Those hardest to forgive at times
are those who should know better
those who have been kindly served
are often those who will strike out again.

So there are always prayers even
when the trembling night anger wakes
and the hurt is deep and palatable
the Creator stands by to bless again.



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Blessed Are You



 Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
‘Blessed are you who are poor,
   for yours is the kingdom of God.
‘Blessed are you who are hungry now,
   for you will be filled.
‘Blessed are you who weep now,
   for you will laugh.

 ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
‘But woe to you who are rich,
   for you have received your consolation.
‘Woe to you who are full now,
   for you will be hungry.
‘Woe to you who are laughing now,
   for you will mourn and weep.

 ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.  Luke 6:12-26


My Dad loved the sermon on the mount and particularly when blessed was more correctly translated as happy. Happy are you. He understood that being touched by God was more than just some beatific martyrdom, but rather a life of joy and celebration. Despite everything we face, he believed, we could be happy. And he was happiest by the ocean, sitting in a lawn chair, surveying his mown lawn and visiting with the neighbors. He did demonstrate how to live a happy life and see blessing in the simplest of things.

Jesus, in our Gospel, is teaching the people. They need to know that they are beloved, good and wanted by God. These words have inspired so many over the generations, it is sometimes hard to really sort them out well. In my life, these words, which we call the beatitudes, remind me that despite the circumstances, in everything, in every trial, God loves us and is giving us possibility where we see none. God is not punishing us in our pain and sorrow, but rather, standing with us at all times.

Today I ask God to help me live a blessed, a happy life. May we be reminded in every trial and challenge that God is with us and we are truly blessed.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Stretch Out Your Hand


One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:1-11

Stretch Out Your Hand

Lord, I am so ashamed of this broken body
of my withered hands, my deformities
you would have me stand in front of all
and show them my horrific body.

I ache in the night and cry for healing
yet my shame comes with daylight
I have been teased and judged for so long
standing in from of them is my nightmare.

Yet you would heal this nightmare
you would banish this lifetime shame
you would give me life anew
and make me savor abundance.

You have invited me to the table
not turning away but making room
welcomed the unlovely and alien, in you
all that I was and am is welcomed home.



Sunday, May 7, 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.”  John 10:1-10

I was thinking back a few years when I had the opportunity to go to the family sheep camp with my friend Cornelia. One little lamb had a very crooked back and his mother refused to nurse him. Cornelia took an old coke bottle, filled it with milk and handed me the lamb and the bottle. I got to feed him who was all of a few days old. I marveled at how they cared for these sheep, even when the mother rejected a little one, they did everything they could. A while later, when visiting again, I found out his back was fine and he was healthy and spry.

Jesus talks about who he is to a culture that would understand all his metaphors. Sheep were embedded in their daily life and were a precious commodity. Jesus is the one who will give us abundant life, we seek us out when we are wandering, doing foolish things, and even nurture us to health when the whole world and all our loved ones have turned their backs on us. The good shepherd, who loves us so well and has laid done his life for each and everyone of us.

Today, I ask God to help me be full of the knowledge that I belong to God and we are each known by name. May we live with abundance and generosity, knowing we are cared for by a great shepherd who loves us all, no matter how far we wander.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

New Wine

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


New Wine

We can be judged by our words
but are known by our behavior
who we welcome and who we shun
will be our legacy and our identity.

We can pretend to be perfect
while we condemn the broken
the addicts and the tax collectors
who ache to be loved as well.

We can live isolated and clean
or get the dust of the streets on us
walking with the wounded
speaking with the silenced aliens.

God's love is alive amidst humanity
the tired, the poor and the homeless
compassion springs up where conversation
meets the soft places where we all live.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Saw Their Faith


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

Some days, each of us struggles to have the faith we want or even need. When pain in our body, or pain in our spirits overwhelms us, we feel abandoned, forgotten and even faithless. We secretly wonder where God is in all of this. We think God keeps away from us, or we are too broken to deal with, or some other misguided feeling that is completely natural to us humans. And we hear the voices of our past, the ones who told us how broken and unworthy we are.

Jesus is surrounded by a crowd so thick that the paralyzed man can get no where near for healing. His friends don't give up though, they climb to the roof and lower him down, right in front of Jesus. The religious leaders complain and say that God prohibits Sabbath healing. They think God is bound by human rules and that love cannot work around crowds and bad attitudes. We find out that God incarnate, right in the midst of the aching crowd, is willing to heal everyone and honor the faith and compassion of our friends when we are unable to have strength or faith to believe for ourselves.

Today I ask God to help me be one of those who breaks through the roof. May we live with compassion and faith, trusting that God is more willing to heal than we can ever imagine. There is enough love to break down any human made barriers so that we can all be transformed by God.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Put Out Into the Deep


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


Put Out Into the Deep


Walking to the laundromat door
ground litter with butts and needles
the refuse of the world aching
at the door to be washed clean again.

The signs of failure surround us
the invade our sleep and worry us
we are broken and sinful people
who have put the nets away empty.

To our sorrow and our despair
the love of God comes into our boats
we push out deep one more time
with no expectation, no hope for fish.

The Creator in our midst reaches deep down
forgiveness and possibilities rise to the surface
the once clouded depths are roiling with life
and we are shocked and awed again by love.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Serving Them


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


Serving Them

As she lay there dying she wondered
what she would do if cured and healthy
gratitude would bubble like laughter
she would serve them her best dishes.

Her fevered mind thought she heard
strangers and whispered prayers
thought she felt an electric touch
life cascading through her body.

She thought I am so old and broken
there is nothing more for me to do
she believed she could offer nothing more
seeking the peace of cool darkness.

The drops of agony in the form of sweat
dried from her wrinkled worn face
her eyesight cleared as her lids lifted
her heart felt young and regular again.

There is nothing to do but to rise
to persist in offering what she could
in her unbounded gratitude she gave
serving with joy beyond measure.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Let Us Alone


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

When I was young and helping my mother with dinner, she would often ask me to make a salad. Sometimes, there was only lettuce available. She would chuckle and tell me to make a honeymoon salad. When I looked at her puzzled she would simple say, "let us alone." I was a kid, so I didn't really get the pun, but from then on I knew to how to make a honeymoon salad.

The demons within the disturbed man told Jesus to let them be, to leave them alone. But Jesus brings healing and transformation and will not leave our brokenness alone, no matter how we plead. We might not think we have demons inside, but we do cling to our dangerous habits, our problems, physical and hurtful, no matter how much healing and compassion is offered. We like our brokenness because it is familiar. We are invited today to let those deep wounds and deep hurts be open to the healing love of God, to not scream, "let us alone!" one more time, but to let love in.

Today, I ask God to help me let go of those demons and hurts that I harbor and open my heart to God's healing love. May we all make room for healing and love so that the world might know that God's love is present and working among us all.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Let the Oppressed Go Free



 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.”
And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. Luke 4:14-30


Let the Oppressed Go Free

Standing in the midst of the crowds
sleeping on the streets with the homeless
waiting in line for an offering of food
the divine wonders what we have done?

We have put our trust in business deals
money and status worshiped like idols
we have given over to violent words
and erupted into a disease of self.

And the Beloved stands in the midst
of the weary, the prisoners, the aliens
at table with the broken and invisible
walking on dusty roads with refugees.

We who would see the living God
must walk where the Beloved walks
setting the oppressed free, loosening chains
and loving the lost and hidden we fear.