Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Is My Body

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’s disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mark 14:12-26

Both simple and beyond understanding, the last supper drama always makes me sit up and take notice again. I love celebrating the Eucharist in churches, and I miss participating as a congregant at times. My job is to remember and bring us to that place of God's love for us, so tangible given to us who are so broken. I have to concentrate on the words and the gestures, yet those who receive can just be drawn in again, as if for the first time.

Jesus and his disciples are observant Jews and the Savior of the world goes to the cross as one. He made sure they honor God in their traditions, and showed them how their lives would change after that night. They couldn't possibly understand what was in store for them, as we cannot. Yet we have these lasting moments, this holy drama, to remind us of God's loving presence in and with us as we face the worst challenges ahead.

Today, I ask God to help me face the day with joy in my heart. Despite the mountains and challenges ahead, may we hold to the gifts of Christ we have been given, taking in the Body and Blood so we can go out again, singing a hymn.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In Remembrance of Her

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”
While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. Mark 14:1-11

In Remembrance of Her

Love is never wasted when poured out
demonstrated by generosity and honor
love is never wrong or embarrassing
even when the audience is jealous and unkind.

We can store up our resources and gifts
build walls and towers in great fear
or releasing great love and compassion
burn fear away like the gray morning fog.

The drying sun will surely come one day
today we deal with the overwhelming flood
storms destroying the precious homes
winds taking down what has always been.

In remembrance of her love poured out
may we surround the needy with that heart
may we live without reservations and walls
changing the world by never holding back.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Keep Awake

Jesus said, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:28-37

Keep Awake

I woke to the rain pouring down
wanting nothing more than to roll over
windows streaked with flowing water
a warm soft pillow beckons me back.

There is much to do every morning
the earth turns and the seasons change
there is ache in me to dive under cover
let others face the groaning world.

I would like to roll yesterday back
and take away all the mistakes I made
erase all the wrong words and sighs
living only for love and kindness then.

We can not but wake and start again
face the day before us with a song
welcoming the challenges and the rain
pushing onward through gulfs of sadness.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Days of Suffering

Jesus said, “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not be in winter. For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘Look! There he is!’ – do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be alert; I have already told you everything.
“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” Mark 13:14-27

Days of Suffering

The rain won't quit nowhere to go
water filling every street and byway
houses crumbling, families separated
where is God in the center of this storm?

The winds rise up from four directions
the water engulfs all races and clans
we are tormented by the historic loss
wondering what to do and what to pray?

There is much to fear in the coming days
the troubles seem to swell all around us
fear and loathing rise like flood waters
when will we be rescued from this place.

Let us pray and be watchful with fervor
for our suffering is known and shared
the heart of God is breaking for the victims
aching from the lack of our compassion.

May we be those who do not idle by
but rush to those who cry out loud today
for God is by our side in our activity
the Divine rejoices when we end abuse.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Keys of the Kingdom

When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20

I have been known to lose my keys and get frantic trying to find them. It usually has happened when I am running behind or when things are already hectic. When my daughters were young, there were even times when a small child would deposit them in an unknown location in the house like a toy box or a bathroom, and completely forget when questioned. It's a very human thing to loose things and to feel foolish and frustrated. We can even feel like a failure when the simple but things like keys get misplaced.

Jesus asked the disciples what folks are saying, and then asked what the disciples think. Peter blurts out what comes to his head, like he often does. Jesus promises him the keys to the kingdom. Peter, the very human, very fallible, self-doubting rough edged disciple is the foundation of the church. And we too, the fallible the ones who lose keys and our way sometimes, like Peter, are still given the keys and are never far off from God's love and guidance.

Today, I ask God to help me forgive my failures and move forward with the work of living out God's love in this world. May we, when we lose our keys, or lose sight of God's love for us, remember Peter, and forgive ourselves and others so that we too might loose divine love into a needy world.

The Collect

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rule of Love

 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbo
r as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbor as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question. Mark 12:28-34

Rule of Love

We are on this road together
travelers all with one Creator
bound together daily to strangers
we can choose to love or hate.

We might find ourselves in need
as we journey the lonesome highway
the neighbor that we carried carries us
we live another day because of them.

God is near to the weary and sorrowful
close to laughing children doing chores
close to the poor and neglected as well
who need love today as we travel on.

Early in the morning in muted light
we are drawn to the Creator's beauty
we breathe deep as we face east
we give thanks for another day to love.

And as the day closes in deep darkness
we rejoice in those who made us whole
the ones who walked with us sharing burdens
the ones who we were able to carry today.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Then they sent to Jesus some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that ‘if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.”
Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.” Mark 12:13-27 


The air has changed ever so slightly
a few leaves beginning to turn
the signs of the season are all around
we are tested mightily by our turning.

These feelings and notions take us
back to our childhood and school
getting shoes back on after months
a new schedule more rigid than summer.

The smell of pencils and chalk appear
the quavering on tummies about this year
will the teacher think I am very good
will there be friends for me to have?

We are never far from our childhood fears
tested regularly by notions of failure
divine love abides despite our terrors
these turning will refine us ever more.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Again Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away. Mark 11:27—12:12

I would like to believe I take rejection well, but I know myself and am often angry, hurt and despondent after being rejected from a position or something I wanted to be a part of. In a very short time, I can hear my mother's voice saying, " Carol Joy, God is protecting you from something, keeping you safe for another wonderful new thing we can't even imagine yet." Of course she was right and there isn't anything good that comes from moping.

Jesus's parable about the vineyard tenants set the religious leader on edge and they want to crush him. They fear him because they want the love, position and power that they recognize in Jesus. The people who are in power can often be abusive to those who threaten their perfect little world. We who have roles of leadership can easily be tempted into holding on to what we have and pushing others away. God invites us today to share the gifts, the vineyards which have been given to our care, and be thankful for the roles we have been given for the time we have them.

Today, I ask God to help me honor the vineyard I serve in by sharing all that I have been  freely given freely. May jealousy and greed be rid from our lives so we can see and embrace the "wonderful new thing we can't even imagine yet."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Asking In Prayer

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:12-26

Asking In Prayer

I prayed that I might have a sign
I asked for guidance and wondered
is this silence as important as an answer
as the night and day surely need each other.

The moon covered the sun for a time
but the clouds obscured my vision
yet still the event took place as promised
even though I am not a true eye witness.

I know that my parents prayed for me
but I wondered what they prayed for
as I pray for my beloved children
do they know what I ask God for?

Some days the light gets blotted out
we think ourselves unloved, unanswered
yet faithful parents still fiercely pray
a loving God still  acts for all of us.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Have Mercy On Me

Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.  Matthew 15: 10-28

Have Mercy On Me

I am that Canaanite woman begging
not one of the chosen and exalted tribe
I am outside of the circle yet I too
need the healing that God provides.

We stand together as fragile and strong
mothers who beg for their children's lives 
sisters who fall asleep praying at night
daughters who live our lives for others.

We know the living God within us
life is passed on and born through our kind
we are never far from the divine love
to you we appear as only refugees.

A war never resolved any kind of thing
but a mother's faith has changed the world
no matter our tribe, circle, kin or clan
holy love will find us and renew us again.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Look Around At Everything

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

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

Look Around

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Let Me See Again

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

But To Serve

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

But To Serve

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

First Will Be Last

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

First Will Be Last

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Hour

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Salt and Peace

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

Salt and Peace

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stepping Out of the Boat

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

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

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

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



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Welcome One Such Child

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Only Through Prayer

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

Only Through Prayer

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

We may believe in science alone

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

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

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

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


Thursday, August 10, 2017


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


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Take Up Your Cross

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Like Trees Walking

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

Like Trees Walking

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. Luke 9:28-36

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

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

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Even the Dogs

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

Even the Dogs

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Take Heart

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

Take Heart

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

Take heart you who worry and flail in pain

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

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

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


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

All Ate and Were Filled

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

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

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

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