Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Eye of the Needle

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, 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.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matthew 19:23-30 

Eye of the Needle

Seeing so many without
and so few with so much
who ask for more each day
leaving so little for the rest,
we loudly cry out to God
to bring us to a blessing place.

We cannot see the invisible
the threads that pull and tug
yet we are woven together
no matter how we isolate
even when we dominate
we are bound to the least here.

The sacrifice of a very little
promises the gain of the world
giving for the sake of others
saves even the lowliest among us
the willingness to forgo comfort
brings comfort and joy to all.

We are woven in a tapestry
not of our making yet divine
a holy fabric, seamless and fine
hidden from our eyes yet throbbing
with the pulse of all who ache
with the love that will not end.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Trasures in Heaven

 Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
 Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.Matthew 19:13-22

Today in our church calendar we celebrate King Kamehameha and Queen Emma of Hawaii. When still a young man on train tour in the U.S., he writes, "I found he was the conductor, and took me for somebody's servant just because I had a darker skin than he had. Confounded fool;. the first time that I have ever received such treatment, not in England or France or anywhere else........In England an African can pay his fare and sit alongside Queen Victoria. The Americans talk and think a great deal about their liberty, and strangers often find that too many liberties are taken of their comfort just because his hosts are a free people." Kamehameha came to the throne when he was only 20, a year after a smallpox epidemic devastated Honolulu. The quiet and unassuming royals became Anglicans and set about organizing Queen’s Hospital, as well as St. Andrew’s Cathedral, churches and schools; they did as much as any missionary to teach the people of the islands what Christianity is all about. When the king and queen devoted much of their reign to providing quality health care and education for their subjects as foreign ailments and diseases like leprosy and influenza were decimating the native Hawaiian population. In 1855, the King addressed his legislature to promote an ambitious public healthcare agenda that included the building of public hospitals and homes for the elderly. To this day, these benevolent sovereigns are honored and remembered by their people.

Jesus encounters a rich young man with all the right questions and all the wrong notions of his own place and power. He wanted to be Godly without any cost to himself. Jesus invites him to take care of the least with the riches he possesses and then he will know God. How often to we whine and sorrow about our ache for a deeper relationship with God as we remain greedy and self-protective? God invites us, as we look towards advent to truly prepare for the presence of Christ by truly loving our neighbors.

Today I ask God to help me rise about the busy-ness and the hubbub of the holidays and see the people around me. I pray that we can follow the lead of the Hawaiian Royals, who, made the care of the people their enduring legacy.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Two Become One

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there.
Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”
His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” Matthew 19:1-12 

In a few weeks our eldest daughter Emily is getting married in New York City. There is much excitement and joy all around. I remind people who are getting married that this is the hardest and most rewarding work they will ever do. And for some, no matter how hard they work at it, due to hurts and ills too deep to cure, violence and abuse, the coming together as one will never happen. The two become one is not instantaneous nor romantic, it is an deep commitment to see the other side to and to love the other voice, constantly forgiving and moving beyond the petty.

Jesus is under scrutiny and testing from the religious leaders. He answers them from the heart of God, the true desire of every joining to be holy and forever. And yet, there is an understanding that in our humanity and frailty, Jesus acknowledged how hard living as one flesh truly is. We are invited by God to renew our commitment to those we love and who we have vowed to love. To hold tight to the human gifts we have been given, since each of us is both frail and precious gift.

Today, I ask God to help me strengthen the bonds of love. May we all strive to be ready to forgive. to let go, to share completely with others. May our fear of loss not hold us back from loving, but rather in all seek the heart of God which is love made perfect.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Least of These

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Matthew 25:31-46

The Least of These

You rush past the beggar everyday
turning away as we dispose of the excess
complain about the poverty of affection
ache to be welcomed and understood.

The comfort we have is our blessing
yet it cannot be the punishment of the poor
the meal that we cannot do without
are generally those we do not even crave.

The needy know daily the deep ache
hunger and injustice are where Jesus dwells
that corner on the street which we avoid
is the throne of the king that is to come.

He will come as a homeless child
to parents displaced and on the road
he will be known by those who journeying
those who linger at the dark corners tonight.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Seventy Times Seven

Then Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35 

We are having a Thanksgiving meal today, and I made the pumpkin pie last night.  I kept dreaming that the cat crept down stairs and licked the pumpkin out of the pie. Of course, in my dream I was unable to move or do anything about the errant cat, who just kept devouring the pie over and over. I wonder if I would have forgiven her if the dream had come true.

Some translations of this story report that Jesus said seventy seven times and others say seventy times seven. However the number is reported, we find ourselves, as the disciples did, instructed to let go of anger and to forgive, over and over again. The number of times to forgive is meant to seem impossible. We are to just keep forgiving, since we are forgiven. To live and thrive we must forgive, not holding on to the hurt and moving beyond the pain and the brokenness we cling to. God invites us today, as we are surrounded by family, or as we find ourselves alone in these holidays, to practice intentional forgiveness until it becomes second nature.

Today, I ask God to give me the strength and resolve to practice forgiveness with everyone, especially those close to me. May we practice forgiveness until it fits us all so comfortably that those around us know us by our compassion and forgiveness.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Take Care

Jesus said, “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:10-20 

Take Care

For us, it was always about the children
on this day after American Thanksgiving
we never deny them a feast or celebration
but we remember how they were taken away.

For us, they are the dreams and the hope embodied
they learn at our hips at our very sides daily
when removed from our homes and our peoples
they were stripped of our language and visions.

For us, seeking out our wandering children
is a daily task and we take care of their waking
their sleeping and their dreaming as a gift
a fragile, hearty, great delight of our lives.

For us, we know the ancestors are watching them
you call them angels and we can understand that
for we know divine light and love abide here
in the hearts of these little ones we are given.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cast for a Fish

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” Matthew 17:22-27

On the eve of Thanksgiving, when many are trying to get somewhere, it seems appropriate to talk about the gratitude we have and the overwhelming blessings we have in our families and in our communities. We may worry about how the feast tomorrow might go, and how the family will or will not get along, but we are all, in so many ways blessed with abundance. Our best response to all we have received,  is to live a life of kindness, honoring all, even those who tax and offend us.

Jesus is making his way to the final drama. His disciples want it to be like it always was. And they want him to use superhero powers to squash the demands of the religious leaders. Instead, he suggests they be kind and inoffensive, paying the tax through a coin from the depth of the sea. Among themselves they could rejoice in the miracle, but he wanted them and us to be humble and kind in all of our interactions. God invites us to see the blessings, even in paying taxes, and the miracles that abound in our daily lives.

Today I ask God to open my eyes to the miracles around me. May we live our lives with kindness and humility, honoring even those who demand too much and who push all of our buttons. May God's love be known in this world as we joyfully participate and lovingly engage the people around us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cured Instantly

When they came to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:14-21

Cured Instantly

I ached to be someone other than me
to fit in to be the right size with blond hair
to never be on the outside but in the center
not to be haunted by painful self doubt.

I thought I was alone in this ache
feeling possessed by demons and desires
wanting to be anything but this oddity
praying for an instant cure to what I am.

No disciple on this earth then or now
had enough faith to change the boy then
and now we often ask for a different self
when God has blessed us richly so.

And faith increased when I accepted all
the demons, the dents and the dimples
the failure that taught me great things
and the solace I found in true honesty.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Entrusted with Talents

Jesus said, “It is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Matthew 25:14-30

We all want to hide and run when life overwhelms us, when what we offer has been rejected and our person-hood is overlooked. We are reluctant and fearful to share after we have been abused and taken advantage of by bullies and cruel people. I am often reluctant to share from the heart because sometimes, even within the church, I have been shamed and set aside. Yet this is the awkward and tender place where God meets us, right in the midst of our fears and inadequacies. 

Jesus tells the parable of the master who leave certain sums with his slaves. We all cringe at this parable, especially on pledge Sundays and during Stewardship campaigns. We are all more like the one who was fearful and buried his share. We are so afraid of losing that we keep back way to much of ourselves, we bury it deep and deprive the community of our gifts. God invites in this season to let go of fear and live generously, understanding that there is always more from God than we can expect in the leaner and anxious seasons of our lives.

Today, I ask God to help me to offer myself and to not turn away from generosity and sharing. May our hurts be healed and our fears quieted so that we can invest ourselves in the places where we are called and with the people who have been given to us.


The Collect

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Take Up Your Cross

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “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 will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:21-28 

Take Up Your Cross

My cross is made of driftwood
surprisingly light but battered
full of the memories of loss and failure
pot marked by every storm of life.

My cross is found on the sand
in the liminal places of ebb and flow
where the receeding tide discloses all
where forgiveness has been in short supply.

My cross is rough around the edges
like me filled with both pain and joy
trying to pretend that all is truly well
while terrified as a small vunerable child.

My cross is a gift and for me a sign
that my burdens will be lifted daily
my troubles have been buried deep
my failures have been taken out to sea.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Loosed on Earth and Heaven

Now 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 

Loosed on Earth

When as a child I clung to you
you let me knowing I needed it
you wrapped me tight and swaddled
so that I could one day be set free.

We have the keys to binding and loosing
we often mix them up thinking it love
we want to hold those who need freedom
binding those who are ready to fly.

We memorize their every movement
thinking that we are living love
when we are simply not forgiving them
for growing beyond their ancient need.

May we set free those we love
so they might love beyond our imagining
watering seeds planted in other places
freeing memory space for new delights.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Beware of the Yeast Of Pharisees

The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.
When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They said to one another, “It is because we have brought no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:1-12 

The seduction of power, influence and money are great in our present world. A debate rages that should never even have to happen. A man of great influence and power abused young girls for his own pleasure and not everyone condemns the behavior. Simply said, what poor and minorities go to jail for, our leaders with money and influence (and religious support) seem to think they are beyond reproach. Not one of us is beyond reproach. And God loves to feed, cloth and heal the humble, the victims, the prisoners and the marginalized.

Jesus' disciples are concerned about his words and their own failure. His words about yeast confuse them and they blame themselves. He invites them to trust God to provide and not to put their trust in wealth and power, for they are corrupting influences always. God invites us to deepen our trust and depend on the Creator for all our needs.

Today, I ask God to help me pray in every moment and seek holy guidance in every circumstance. The desire for financial comfort and political influence can overwhelm us, yet we are nestled in the heart of God and our needs will be met, day by day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Divine Compassion

After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan. Matthew 15:29-39 

Divine Compassion

Rising up in the human heart
seeing the face of God in another
knowing that living is painful
making joy a regular daily gift.

Feeding meals on holidays
a nice gesture yet not compassion
which stops for the hungry
when there is no special day.

Momentary compassion cannot mend
a lifetime of cruel and nasty greed
nor replace the grinding poverty
nor mend the displaced refugees.

Only divine compassion pushes us
moment by moment deeper to darkness
daily to the edges of civilization
to the deserts where God's people dwell.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Even the Dogs

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 15:21-28 

Even the Dogs 

There is nothing like a mother's love
so fierce, so strong and so determined
that will grab the coats of angels and demons
to help and protect a troubled child.

The heart of God leaps into a mother's breast
while fighting to bring the child to earth
lodged there permanently for her offspring
no matter how troubled and broken.

She will persist when others give up
she will follow the principals and leaders
she will testify on the senate floor
and stand her ground fearless and determined.

A mother will grab the Savior's coat
holding on until there is an answer
the cure that her child needs is found
in the faith of the mother's God given heart.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Keep Awake

Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”  Matthew 25:1-13

I really enjoy sleeping and when I cannot, I know myself to be cranky and easily confused. People talk these days of mindfulness which is really another term for being awake and prepared. This keeping awake, is not about losing sleep, but rather, being present in everything, with everyone. We wander the world, glued to our devices, completely unaware of the world around us. We cannot be blessed, transformed or delighted, if we are so shut off from our own lives and those around us.

We are almost to Advent and our Gospel readings begin to prepare us for that time of waiting and watching. Jesus was warning those who thought themselves part of the in crowd, who didn't have to change, grow or welcome others, might find themselves unready to receive God's blessing. Their preconceived notions of God's presence and their greatness would be challenged, as ours are today. Yet we are invited to open our hearts to the new ways Christ will come into our lives.

Today, I ask God to give me an open heart and mind so that I might grow and change as I am called to be. May our age or status not be an obstacle to our willingness to delight in God's blessings, especially when they arrive in odd packages and in different ways than we might expect.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Walking On the Water

Immediately 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.”
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Matthew 14:22-36

Walking On Water

So terrified of the wind and waves
the sound roaring all around my head
a glimmer of possibility just out of reach
I am called to step out of the boat.

There rocking has made us all unstable
we pray for a ceasing and a new calm
yet the voice calls me beyond this fear
beyond the trembling and this worry.

There is no security beyond a small boat
so well known and never has failed me
why would I leave what I know well
to sink in the roiling water just beyond?

I am called beyond this humble boat
so must step out and prepare to sink
for the holy is just beyond my reach
and will hold me tight when I sink.

Friday, November 10, 2017


Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:13-21

When I hear stories of miracles and abundance, I always wonder about the leftovers and those not counted. I wonder about how the Gospel writers, such products of their culture, most often failed to recognize the women and children in their midst. In these days, of the heighten awareness of the abuse women have suffered at the hands of powerful men, I cannot help but wonder if the leftovers, the barely mentioned, the absolute others, were not the ones who helped make the miracle happen. It was likely a woman that baked the bread and supplied the loaves and fishes. It was a mother aching for healing that pushed a small child to offer up everything they had for the sake of abundance for all.

Jesus, in an attempt to be alone to pray, after his cousin was killed, was mobbed by needy, aching people. They came and found hope and healing. On top of that they found abundance beyond their understanding. Someone overlooked woman and child offered a little and the Incarnate One transformed the very little in to a vast supply. We  are invited by God, to offer our little, however overlooked and leftover we might feel, knowing that God can transform our gift into a great banquet.

Today, I ask God to help me continue to offer what I have despite moments of being sidelined and feeling overlooked. May we all be renewed by the possibility of grateful sharing, which, in the hands of the Divine, can be transformed into a great celebration.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dancing Before the Company

At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus. Matthew 14:1-12

Dancing Before the Company

Oh how wondrous it could be
to influence all the powers by a dance
to have enemies destroyed by a tease
to silence the critics in a moment.

There is absolute tyranny in this
to desire the destruction of enemies
to ache for the death of the righteous
who point out our obvious flaws.

We were once children to fumed
at those who teased and those who won
the gifted and despicable that rubbed in
their wealth and worth to our shame.

We are no longer childish nor fools
we can choose to look on the petty
the selfish and the ladders climbers
as those who never knew real love.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Without Honor

When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:53-58

Sometimes our hometowns think of us with pride, but most of the time, people cannot forget what uncoordinated fools we were as children and teenagers. People who know us well won't often let us forget our mistakes. And honestly, we are guilty of the same. We like to remind old friends of the clumsy moments, and silly things we used to do. Yet many have grown and become something more than the limited expectations of the times. Are we able to truly welcome the whole person many have become?

Jesus has done some spectacular healing and wondrous teaching. Then he goes home and faces the ordinariness, the remembered childhood, the place that cannot see him as the gift he has become. We might now see the completeness, but they could not, just as we often cannot see the completeness of our family members and old friends. We are invited by God to be surprised and grateful for the people our family, old friends, and children. In celebrating their wholeness, we recognize the divine touch within us all.

Today, I ask God to help me live with my eyes open and welcoming changes in people and circumstances. May we all welcome and celebrate the divine touch in one another, so the world might be transformed by the love we share.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Hidden Treasure

Jesus said, “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 13:44-52

Hidden Treasure

I am a seeker for treasure hidden
within the heart of God and here
among the people who ache, grieve
that love does not captain the ship.

We live in a time when rich hoard
the poor are seen as weak and lazy
the broken are guilty of some mistake
and guns belong in everyone's hands.

There is no living compassion in terror
no one sought to care for the broken
the innocent children and women cry out
for prayer warriors to get up and serve.

The abused know it wasn't their fault
the selfish and angry blame them so
yet  sick white boys still get many guns
we turn a blind eye as we kneel and pray.

Let us get up and seek the treasure
Surely God would have us live another way
standing with the victims and fighting
for an end to excuses and beginnings of love.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Good and Bad Seed

Then Jesus 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 13:36-43

Good and Bad Seed

The monsters of our movies are not like us
selfish, violent and under an evil cloud
we feel distant and superior to all the bad
happy and smug in our constant denial.

Too often we imagine ourselves superior
when we are broken, tearing into others
torturing our families with our obsessions
breaking hearts as we give in to addiction.

We pretend to be righteous and relevant
while we avoid the poor and dirty street people
the beloved of God make us uncomfortable
they are too real and too very honest.

These are who we could become today
the ones who search for God in the margins
the followers who lift up the lowly
sharing the good blessings of God's abundance.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Greatest as Servant

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father-- the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:1-12

I have been acquainted with several church leaders who take on their ministry as if they were CEOs of a corporation or an elected official. They pay big bucks for coaches who tell them how to keep their power and how to yield to no one. This has always startled me. I always understood our coaches to be found in prayer and confession, always Humbly seeking spiritual advice for the challenges of any given day.  I really struggle to be a servant daily and it is that roll to which I am called in all things.

Jesus has watched his religious leaders garner power and destroy others. They served no one except themselves. We are advised to not model our behavior on the wealthy, the powerful or those who cannot bend and live humbly. We are called to leave fame aside and serve the people at margins of our world. We are to lift up the lowly, empowering the least among to be strong. We are encouraged to leave self aside so that there is room enough for all.

Today I ask God to help me be a servant in all things. May we never seek our own gain but rather seek to lift others up. May the world be enriched by our humble service and may we leave only the marks of true love.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mustard Seed and Yeast

Jesus put before them 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.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth to speak in parables;
I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 13:31-35 

Mustard Seed

We will grow taller than we could hope
we will rise higher than any single loaf
we will stand together and have faith
for these troubles are but  ways to shine.

Rise up then and let go of  grey despair
the darkness has passed beyond our door
the horrors of yesterday do not limit us
all the tomorrows are ahead of us now.

Sing out loud in the brittle morning
love beyond measure the cruel and unkind
tell the story of blessings upon you
make the greedy ashamed for their pettiness.

Love might be still and almost silent now
but it will rise and cover you with shade
it will abide  throughout when all else fails
and you will shine for others in this darkness.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sown on Good Soil

Jesus said, “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 13:18-23 

Sown on Good Soil

When life's abundance passes us by
We may fell as if we are bad seed
or seed tossed in the road and levled
busted open by the worries of the world.

We might have thought ourselves oak trees
with potential to tower over and shade all
later as life has worn us down we fear
that we are but weeds in someone else's garden.

Though it may feel accidental and casual
divine love has not passed us all by
these days of crushing sorrow and loss
we make us into great vines to feed many.

We are twisted now but will flourish
we are bent now but will rise up again
we are resting in our winter's shawl
awaiting rebirth as love calls us forth.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Saints' Day

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:1-12

Twenty years ago today we stood in Jamestown together. Both in the Tower church and at the Shrine, we gathered to remember the first encounters of the Church of England and the Indigenous peoples at the site of the first permanent English settlement. The original Jamestown Charter directed the settlers to bring the light of Christ to the savages suffering in darkness. And we gathered 390 years afterwards to declare a change of the way the Episcopal Church was going to engage with our peoples. Persecution, subjugation and cultural exclusion were to be things of the past. After 20 years, we have not may the progress many of us there had hoped for. Many of our leaders are now numbered among the saints. 

Jesus reminds us today of how blessed we are despite what people or structures might do. We have been peacemakers, the merciful, the righteous and the persecuted. And we are reminded today to take heart, for, despite what they world does, what ill-guided leaders might do, what governments of churches do, we are still blessed and loved. 

Today, I ask God to help me go on with joy and hope in my heart. May we remember the great cloud of witnesses, who have gone before us, and who now surround us, and move on despite all of the challenges and obstacles we face.