Monday, July 31, 2017

What We Do In Anger

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

What We Do In Anger

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pearl of Great Price

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

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

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

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

The Collect

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

Saturday, July 29, 2017


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Other Side

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

The Other Side

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Safe to the Other Side

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Good Seed

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

Good Seed

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

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

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

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

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

The Collect

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Stretch Out Your Hand

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

Stretch Out Your Hand

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Again Beside the Sea

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stand Up

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

Stand Up

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

I Do Choose

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

I Do Choose

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sowing Seeds

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

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

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

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

The Collect

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Casting Nets

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

Casting Nets

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

Prepare the Way

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

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

Prepare the Way

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Peace Be With You

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Slow of Heart

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

Slow of Heart

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An Idle Tale

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. Luke 23:56b – 24:11

We live in the days when trusted new sources have become named as "fake" news. It has always been important to have accurate information, whether about the world or about closest friends and family. Women have known what it's like forever to be considered idle gossip and fake news, basically unimportant talk that is shallow and "idle".  I have often found that when going into a new parish, the women of a the church, especially the elders, are a great wealth of information, and often understand the subtleties of the culture. The elected leaders are often less aware that these keen observers.

The women go to the tomb to do their duty. They are preparing to clean their friend's body and to anoint it with oils and perfumes. It is an onerous task, but they went with deep love. Then their world changed in an instant. They had witnessed a multitude of miracles, and were filled with joy, excitement and terror as they ran home. The disciples didn't believe them simply because they were women. Not a trusted source. Yet God, throughout the ages has revealed miracles, new possibilities and new life to the least and the overlooked among us. God invites us today to seek out the witness of those who are overlooked and sidelined. We might just know of miracles and new life in their tales.

Today I ask God to help me seek out those who have been overlooked to hear their story. May we live seeking love and miracles in the simple, everyday overlooked places and people. There we just might encounter the living God.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Into Your Hands

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:44-56a 

Turning over the present and future is a daily spiritual discipline for me. I like to plan ahead and like things to go smoothly and predictably.  And yet, I know I am not in control and the more I let go and let God, the less stress, worry and anxiety I live with. Somewhere in the middle of the day, or by evening's end, I have found a way to take back all the burdens I have put on the Creator in morning prayer. It is a very human thing and a very hard spiritual discipline for me to master.

Jesus dies on the cross but not before he turns over his eternal spirit, as a child might fall to sleep in a parent's arms. Despite the pain and human struggles, he let go to God so that a change might come in the whole human narrative. Life was winning out over death even as he was dying. And we have a symbol too, for letting go of control and turning even death over to our Creator. We can let go at all times, knowing God has more in store than we can even imagine.

Today, I ask God to help me let go of the things that keep me bound and fearful. May we turn over all our worries to God, so that we might know life breaking into death and light conquering all our darkness.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

My Burden is Light

Jesus said to the crowd, “To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

My Burden is Light 

We dig our toes into the cool sand
as we sip our morning coffee slowly
the day's heat has not begun in earnest
we are free with our thoughts and songs.

Walking by the surf I watch and listen
you skip stones and laugh like a child
we feel somehow younger, lighter
the winter burdens have been shrugged off.

This place is holy and full of promises
young ones and old, whispered over years
we have been broken by the years at times
but renewal and light can always be found.

The  former days are not like now
we can live like strangers in our homes
or we can listen and hear the sweet sounds still
love will never take away these small joys.

The Collect

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Daughters of Jerusalem

As they led Jesus away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Luke 23:26-31 

Daughters of Jerusalem

Weep not for me my daughters
I leave this world of woe to you
the Incarnate one was close among you
the world rejected the love showered down
rulers trumped up charges in their anger
the followers of our sovereign remain
though they hated me the very most.

Find shelter for yourselves and the beloved
they will come for you another day as well
they will see you as a threat and hostile
they will vilify you, a noose around  your neck
they will abandon all kindness and civility
until you no longer make them ashamed.

O Daughters of Jerusalem the seeds sown
within you will never die yet other hate
and hate they must for it gives them power
or so they think to conquer and destroy
they will tear at your flesh like dogs
in their fury they will strike blows
as angry small children not getting their ways.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Demanding Crowd

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. Luke 23:13-25 

I was never part of the in-crowd in high school, never one of the cool kids. I was among the many watching from the sidelines. Yet, even from the sidelines we can get caught up in the crowd, go along with the prevailing sentiment, and shout it as if it was truly our own. I can be persuaded and then realize all too late how wrong I was. We would like to believe we would not join the demanding crowd, and yet we do, more often than not.

Jesus, after examination was found not guilty, but Pilate didn't want to lose favor with the crowd or the ruling parties. He was persuaded by the demanding crowd, to let an innocent man die and to release a known murderer. Politics are not always the friend of the innocent and we can all be Pilate and the crowd when we are angered or fearful enough. God reminds us today that it is very easy to be swayed by the crowd or the politics. We are invited to put fear and popularity aside and see God among us, working for the innocent at all times.

Today, I ask God to help me step out of the maddening and consuming crowd. May we be faithful to the One who has given us new life by working for the protection of the needy and the innocent at all times.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Stir Up the People

Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered, “You say so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.” But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.” When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies. Luke 23:1-12 

Stir Up The People

Power hungry and never secure
they seek to destroy those in chains
the poor, the homeless, the sickest
in order to secure their power.

They silence the peoples' voices
lead leaders away to slaughter
make friends with the creulest
sign contracts with the deadly.

Foolish we humans who believe
that power originates from wealth
from family or land or privelege
rather than from the heart of God.

We can make rules and imprison
so that love which is always love
cannot be demonstrated on our streets
yet love will always rule every day.

God is not mocked or scourged
all of creation groans for the Creator
beauty and strength are gifts given
and the power hungry will always starve.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

Independence Day

It is a great land of mountains and streams
flowing waters and roaming buffalo
this place is a gift from the Creator for all
to cherish, to protect and to share.

From first contact we fed the strangers
the ones who would conquer and kill
the ones who were sent away empty handed
the ones who got lost on a terrible adventure.

We have always lived in loving harmony 
with the land our mother and all our relations
we have fought to protect the rights of all
and been herded to rough places like cattle.

We have laid down our lives for this land
we have served in wars and during peace
we have coded, liberated and led the charge
we have been warriors of freedom all along.

So set the sky ablaze in nighttime glory
celebrate this incredible holy ground
make room as we have done for generations
for the lost, the broken we made at home.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Power of Darkness

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:52-62 

Darkness and anxiety can overcome us and fear can become our singular guide. The third of July is always a tough day for me, as it was the day my mother fell, and after which she never returned home. It would take nine months before she passed but her quality of life was rock bottom from then on. She had put on a July Fourth bicycle parade for years, feeding kids cookies and cool aid on her front lawn. That ended abruptly. We ran the parade for her the next day, but it felt as if the darkness overshadowed everything.

The hour has come for Jesus to fulfill his final destiny - offering himself up for the life of the world. For those close to him, those who loved him, darkness overwhelmed them and nothing was the same thereafter. We see the painful scenario as Peter repeatedly denies him, then weeps bitter tears at his broken humanity. We are those who often find ourselves weeping the selfsame bitter tears. God invites us to remember, when we feel the darkness settling in, that there is more life beyond these horrid moments.

Today, I ask God to help me look up and remember all the possibilities and promises that await us. May we lift up our hearts and voices, knowing that the darkness is momentary and is never, ever victorious.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Even A Cup

Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple-- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” Matthew 10:40-42

It is the Sunday before Independence Day, so many folks are on the road, relaxing and planning cookouts and celebrating. We Americans are blessed with incredible freedom and abundance. This indeed is a land of plenty. We can get so caught up in the festivities and forget about the people in need and invisible around us. We are surrounded by abundance, yet many are without and we need to see them and offer them what we can.

Jesus was talking to his followers about how important simple kindness is. We are blessed by God when we look to the needs of others. We are invited in the season of celebration to put a priority on the needs of others, for as we do we will draw close to God. If we desire to be holy, then generosity and kindness must be our discipline.

Today, I ask God to help me see the needs of those around me. May we all together respond to the needs of the least among us, so that we can be drawn to the heart of God.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Is It With A Kiss?

Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Luke 22:39-51

With A Kiss

We make nice and talk nice
behind their back jealousy rises
we plot and plan and dream
evil turns our hearts to stone.

Deep in self doubt and confusion
we see the ones who are happy
the ones who are deeply in love
our anger consumes us like fire.

We are all the possible Judas
we are all capable of selling out
we are all able to let fear and anger
define how broken life will be.

Love can turn our broken dreams
into places of forgiveness and renewal
life beginning over and over again
one sacrifice for all to destroy our evil.