Monday, March 27, 2017

Nothing May Be Lost


After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:1-15 

Nothing May Be Lost

She made me promise as I went out
to take this large basket with me today
I could not possibly eat it all
but Mama has a way of insisting.

I climbed the mounitan with the corwd
so many different kinds of faces and tongues
they sat listening closely to the teacher
he had a way of making us all safe.

I overheard the leaders talking to the side
so many were hungry and far from home
so many without nourishment nor money
but I still had my basket full from home.

I offered what I had with me though small
it was carried to the teacher and he smiled
everyone sat down and the basket went round
everyone was full to a sleepy overflowing.

I looked about and everyone was smiling
the insisted on  basket from my mother
the burden I did not want to carry today
became a miracle feast for this vast multitide.

I wander home down the hill with the basket
once a burden now the story of my young life
a tale of miracle, love and abundance
where once there was  loss and emptiness.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Here I Am

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38


Here I Am

Here I am servant of the Lord
woken and frightened in the night
specters speak to me with promises
I shutter feeling so all alone.

I cannot do but what God has asked
yet shame and heartache will greet me
my neighbors will be friends no longer
and even the faithful will have their doubts.

I will hold the child of God within me
it will feed and grow within this frame
once born I will have to keep him safe
fed and educated in a world of scorn.

How will my family my beloved act?
will they turn away from me in horror
wag their heads and sigh at my delusion
send me away so as not to see their shame?

 Here I am servant of the Lord
weeping in fear and totally alone
I will stay and watch until the morning light
for I can do nothing else but follow now.
 

Friday, March 24, 2017

You Will Be Free Indeed


The Pharisees answered Jesus, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
“Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.” John 8:33-47

I had the opportunity to lead a confirmation service in a men's prison when I was Suffragan in Southern Virginia. It was a very moving experience for me.  Previously, I had only done services in a women's prison. The prison was maximum security and the prisoner who I confirmed was sentenced to life without parole. As I went to the chapel where we were to gather, a line of prisoners walked by, single file, chained together at the ankles and waist. I could not keep the tears from flowing, knowing that these were someone's brother, father and son. Not that they hadn't committed a crime and been convicted, but my heart broke as to how we see and treat people. The man, who I confirmed told me he didn't mind paying the price for his crime, just that he felt bad his family had to suffer as well. He wanted his heart to be free if his body could not be.

Jesus continues his discussion with religious leaders who question his words and his role. They knew well the rule, regulations and cultural constraints of their world. But they were unable to take in new possibilities, and hear God speaking to them. They were captured by their own ways and behaviors. God invites us to listen and open our hearts, no matter how bound we might feel. God invites us to welcome love and freedom, even while we are chained to troubles,  to know we are free indeeed.

Today I ask God to help me listen and welcome God's freedom and possibilities in my life. May we all recognize those things that bind us and seek God's love and freedom for ourselves and our world today.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Truth Will Make You Free


Again Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:21-32


The Truth Will Make You Free

We build cages to hide our brokenness
put others in prison since we fear them
construct walls around cities and borders
helping all avoid encountering out truth.

We are shattered people in great need
yet we slouch coolly into arrogance
we wrap attitude around our frames
pretending we are better than others.

There is no shame in need or failure
love regards no one as unworthy
the truth of our nature is dependence
we pretend to be completely otherwise.

Speaking the truth first comes as a whisper
but it will echo and resonate through hills
spilling it's song onto the ocean's shores
becoming a song for all the ages to sing.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Light of the World

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:12-20

Today is sunny, bright and cold. The first day of spring has happened but the weather isn't cooperating very well. Something happens t me this time of the year, as spring ever so slowly warms the earth and the snow finally melts. Although the snow hasn't melted yet, I start to think about gardening, planting, looking at seed catalogs and dreaming of what we will grow this year. It has something to do with the light. As the earth turns again towards the sun, I am changed, moved somehow by the gift of more light.

Jesus is teaching in the temple and truly pushing the envelope. The people who are listening to him are some friends and some enemies. He speaks boldly of his authority and his relationship to God. He is the light of the world, the needed balm after so much cold, exclusive religious behavior. The time had not come for his arrest, but he knew in his being that the time was coming. His world had turned enough for him to be bold and fierce. We are invited today to be bold and fierce in our love for others and for the world. The earth has turned and darkness can descend all too easily.

Today I ask God to help me set aside judgement and love boldly. May we be aware of the season we are living in and carry the light of Christ to a world that seems to be ever dimming.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Living Waters


On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” John 7:37-52 

Living Waters

This cold march Atlantic seems so dead
harsh winds bend us over running for home
the birds circle around and cry out loud
life at a standstill as lifeless as a graveyard.

Beneath the deep gray waters churns new life
we cannot see it but it knows us very well
it sings in the deep where we cannot hear it
life sings new life despite all of our fears.

When broken by life and painful circunstances
we face down towards the cold impersonal ground
we fail to see life reaching out through the snow
readying to burst forth against all the deafening odds.

Water is moving, flowing churning even this very day
rebuilding the spirit that has been spent, the broken reed
distilling new life from the cold heart and shattered hopes
reigniting us, lifting us, planting us on warm fertile ground.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Change of Plans


Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 

I have a very detailed calendar that helps me keep track of my busy schedule with all the traveling I have to do. I got upset recently when my husband didn't check our combined calendars when making plans. Strangely enough it was me who had to change my mind and my plans after that conversation. I apologized for my anger and realized how often we make plans that have to be rearranged. Our rational selves figure things out, only to be thwarted by our subconscious, our angels and our fragile bodies. There are many more important voices at times that our small brains.

Joseph was engaged to Mary, and when finding out her truth, wanted to do right by her, and also save face for himself. He came up with a good rational plan that would cover all bases. Instead, an angel appeared to him in a dream, and he changed his plans and changed his life for ever. He would face terrible challenges as well as disgrace, isolation, becoming a refugee and losing all control of his present and future. Joseph's change of heart made room for the Savior of the world. Often times, our rational minds press forward and God has to lovingly, or otherwise, interrupt us, so that we can help change the world.

Today, I ask God to help me listen deeper, to make plans with the understanding that there is always another way. May all that we do help bring God's love into the world today.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Because of Her

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” John 4:5-42

Because of Her

She was just collecting water
a daily strenuous woman's chore
her mind on the task cooking ahead
when she met a stranger at the well.

He asked for water and they idly talked
she working him resting from traveler
two strangers passing the time of day
until the world around them changed.

She knew all to well her personal failures
she did what she did for her kids and to survive
life never got easier but she was mostly safe
this encounter turned into a new understanding.

The strangers became family in God's love
confronted by forgivenness and understanding
she was reborn, lifted from her fears and scar
turned upside down by the living God.
 

 


Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Time


After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him.) Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?” And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,” others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.” Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews. John 7:1-13 

Yesterday spent a good deal of time in the emergency room because of severe back pain. Last night, I heard that a dear friend and mentor lay dying. Being human means we find ourselves in times where we feel helpless and have to wait on the timing of others, the timing of God. None of us likes waiting, being still and silent in the midst of pain and death. And pain and death, along with waiting, are so real parts of living. We have days when we can ignore our need and dependence. And we have other days where we see the reality of our lives. Dependence, waiting and praying are part of our intaking of breath and exhaling. Sometimes we can delude ourselves.

Jesus is counseled by his brothers to get away from the festivities and go back and do his miracle thing with his disciples. Their own brother made them uncomfortable, maybe even embarrassed. They did not want to be seen with him and had some anxiety about their own lives if they did. They wanted control and safety. Jesus knew that true life is neither safety or control. He knew he had to live for God and serve others. Fearing the consequences was something he could not worry about. Nor can we. God invites us today to live in the messiness of real life, living in the midst of pain and death, always looking to serve God and others.

Today I ask God to help me live fully into the life I have been given, not fearing the consequences,n or trying to control the days, but rather trusting that God has all time and all our those we love in the loving divine arms. May we recognize that our daily uncertainties and pain as ways to live fully while cared for, in every breath, by our loving Creator.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Hour is Coming


Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.
“Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. John 5:19-29 

The Hour is Coming

Waiting for the ever late and slow bus
on the familiar corner and time of day
we often miss the changes before us
don't see the world turning before our eyes.

The rush and the busyness corrupt our eyesight
our voices are lost in the traffic and noise
we fail to hear the call of love's presence
fail to welcome life breaking forth.

We are surely broken and surely made whole
the dead will hear the voice and rise up new
we can change despite our discomfort and pain
we too can live beyond the walls and the traps.

Today let us listen and use the eyesight given
smell the possibility of new life on the wind
watch the buds forcing through deep March snow
and trust that we too small push past these limits.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Getting in the Pool


After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralysed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.’ But he answered them, ‘The man who made me well said to me, “Take up your mat and walk.” ’ They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Take it up and walk”?’ Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. John 5:1-18

Getting in the Pool

We wade first and acclamate
we hesitate to dive head first
always knowing that there might
be hidden danger yet unseen.

We thrill at the sight of an open font
dip our fingers in as we walk by
but there is deeper water there
and noone knows the dangers there.

We might get well and have to walk
we might be moved to speak or lead
we might be challenged to leave comfort
and live on the margins of the cities.

The water seems shallow and warm
but safety is never a promised thing
we will find a cure and a direction
our baptism will spur us onward.





Begging for Healing


 When the two days were over, he went from that place to Galilee (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country). When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival.
 Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.’ The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he himself believed, along with his whole household. Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee. John 4:43-54

I spent a good deal of time with a friend in Urgent Care yesterday. No matter how they call it, fast, urgent or emergency, there is never any fast or urgent about it. Like everything in life, there is paperwork to fill out and waiting to be done. I was thinking while I waited for my friend, how blessed we were to have somewhere to go for the help, and people who could respond to the need. Despite the waiting, there was medicine to be had. Sometimes in life there is no fix, no matter what we try to do, and waiting on God in intense prayer can be hard.

A desperate father came to Jesus for healing. He had walked for many miles, having heard that Jesus was closer by than he had been. His heart ached for his child. He had been told there was nothing to be done and no medicine to cure his child. Such anguish and heart ache. The father believed the promise from Jesus, and rushed home all those miles, only to be greeted by his slaves, carrying a message of good news. The man's faith carried his exhausted body back and forth to Jesus. We are called to carry our needs in prayer, despite our exhaustion, our pain, our sorrow, there is a promise to find Jesus on the road.

Today, I ask the Creator, God of all time and space, to help me be like that desperate father. May I believe despite the overwhelming circumstances, the pain and the rough roads. May we journey always in hope, knowing Jesus promises to meet us on the road and in our deepest sorrow.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Speaking Woman


Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that Jesus was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” John 4:27-42

Speaking Woman

They were troubled, astounded and astonished
an woman from the enemy camp persisted
in talking with the incarnate savior of the world
the disciples took offence at their boldness.

He had told her of her broken humanity
yet loved her all the same, sitting and sharing
she brought water and he brought hope
then she ran and told her people the truth.

She called her family friends and neighbors
to meet the man that brought God with him
that welcomed strangers and distraught aliens
making a comfortable place for them
at the banquet table that is always ready.

His disciples were not happy since privilege
and proximity lead them to believe
only they were special and important
the only ones who could speak with him.

The love of God persists in the face of assumptions
in the face of authorities and privileges
in the shuttered hall of government and kings
love will persist in breaking down all barriers.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sent to Save



Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
 ‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:1-17

I am just arriving at the House of Bishops after two amazing days in Washington DC. Thursday night a prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral was held for those who were marching in Washington in solidarity with the Water Protectors from Standing Rock. The Cathedral was full of folks who know that we are called, as First Nations, to care for the world we have been given. We are responsible for the coming generations. We are at this task, not as a political agenda, but as holy work. For our Creator has loved this world, the whole world, and in so doing, calls us to love " this fragile earth our island home", as well. One precious Savior came for the whole world, all of it, not  just our small part and following that Jesus calls us to love all of this world like precious family.

I am still integrating all that I saw, felt and heard. I was touched to be with family, old friends and new, and relations from across this land. In the capital of our country, in these troubled times, love was making a real, living presence, as people from all directions came together. The night before, in the solemn beauty of the Cathedral, we prayed for each other and our world with hushed voices, songs and drums. Flute and trumpet called us together to love beyond measure and protect the most vulnerable. And as the crowd was smudged, blessed and prepared, we knew to a one of us that God was calling us to be renewed and strengthened for the days ahead. Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota, called us to pray and then act. We did both, with love and respect for all who gathered around.

I ask God to help us know how to live these coming days. May we love so much and so well, that greed and comfort, which seem to be swallowing our land whole, will be subdued by love, overwhelming, protecting and renewing today.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

God So Loved the World


Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 3:16-21 

Today we go to Washington DC for the Native Nations March on Washington in honor of the Water Protectors and others. Tonight we will gather in the National Cathedral with Native leaders and supporters to pray for those who march and those who across our land protect the sacred, the holy and the future of our children. I have been asked, along with several bishops, to go, on the Presiding Bishop's behalf, to pledge the church's support for this holy work. The Creator so loved the world, and the Creator still loves the world so much, that this work is mission work, to protect the innocent, the vulnerable and the beautiful waters and earth that has been given into our care.

Jesus talks very clearly about why he was sent into the world. He did not come to condemn, nor did he come for one specific group of people, chosen or otherwise, but for the whole world - human and all our relatives, the seas, the mountains, the four-legged and two-legged as well as those who swim, slither and fly. This love is not bound by our human rulers, or by human greed. Love breaks down greed in every generation and brings light into the dark and selfish deeds around us. God invites us to see the Creator's love for all of Creation, and to honor all with the love we have for our families and our people.

Today, I ask God for an extra measure of Divine love to face the darkness that overshadows our lives and times. May the work we do today be honorable and holy, so that all might see the Creator's imprint in each and every moment of this day.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

By Night


When Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 2:23 – 3:15

By Night

The wind is high a chill within
I walk the edges of the streets
wondering whether God can find
room for me in the promised land.

I look to the moon and the stars
the dance and laugh in life's joy
no comfort there is found for me
for I am broken and quite alone.

He asks me to be remade, reborn
my life is nearly over and I am spent
the eyes tells me love comes again
a child's heart is all that is needed.

I want the baptism that mends all
the drenching that removes all shadows
the wild spirit that cleans all the dust
and makes me new  again today.

Our again on the familiar streets
everything is remade in my sight
the luxury of love and healing
have made me dance under the stars.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Cleaning Up


The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. John 2:13-22

Sometimes we don't realize the familiar and comfortable is getting in our way. Recently we had the belongings we had in storage brought to us. We have moved several times since 2011 and are finally in a permanent situation. It was wonderful to uncover old treasures. It is also perplexing as we find things we wonder why we ever decided to pack them up. Our spiritual lives can be like that too. We can clutter and hang onto things that are tripping us up.

Jesus arrives at the temple for a very solemn time and is outraged by the market and hubbub. For all gathered this is just business as usual. They find this mess normal and some enjoy making money off the needs of others. We can get so wrapped up in the day to day, we don't see the bigger picture, the people around us seeking a holy place, a space for healing and prayer. We often make others stumble as well as ourselves. We forget to look at what obstacles we place in the way of faith and life.

Today I ask God to help me clean up and make room for transformation of heart and soul. May all that we do provide others with holy places and healing moments.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Fig Trees


The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."John 1:43-51 

Fig Tree

Feeling small protected and hidden
Looking up at massive  green leaves
Covering the sun'sets mighty glare
I revel in my autonomy and silence.

They come calling for me, shouting
Rousing me from sweet sleep
As if the whole world was on fire
They drag me out to meet a visitor.

He is not too much seemingly ordinary
A traveling preacher from Nazareth 
As if any thing new can be said
As if any thing will ever change.

He stopped my dismissal with a smile
Telling me about those huge leaves
My hidden resting place so snug
Shattering my arrogance with love.


Tempted

Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be
tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty
nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter
came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God,
command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But he answered, “It is written,
‘One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed
him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him,
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down;
for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put
 the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world
 and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these
 I will give you, if you will fall down and worship
 me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan!
 for it is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’”
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels
came and waited on him. Matthew 4:1-11

Tempted

God knows how easy it is
The power of all creation
In hands trembling, angry
Wanting tof destroy abusers.

We have power to change world's
To bring light into dreary dark
To welcome as walls are built
To tear down and refuse hate.

All to often our power hunger
Makes us greedy, cruel and bullies
When the gifts we possess were given
To share, to shine in broken places.

This holy lent calls us to bend
Away from selfish hungry cruelty
Toward the tears at our tables
For every child aching for love.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Seeking and Finding


The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). John 1:35-42 

We recently had boxes delivered that have been in storage a long time. Although every box is carefully marked, there are always surprises upon opening any particular box. Of course, there are many books, but sometimes forgotten treasures are found, small letters and remembrances, set aside but now delighted in again. I find this search and discovery operation in our household, not unlike Lenten spiritual exercises. Our true selves are revealed, in all the mess and joy, and God has a deepening relationship as we seek the Savoir in the midst of our daily lives.

The disciples of John were invited by Jesus to come and see. Andrew brought his brother Simon with him to see Jesus. This naming disciples story is different from the calling from the seaside. Andrew and Peter (along with others) had to seek Jesus out and follow him to his dwelling. Sometimes, we are called away by God from our daily chores, but most often, especially in this season, we are invited to intentionally seek God's love, to work at understanding Christ in the midst of us, invited by God to step out of the routine and get a new name and a new perspective.

Today I ask God to help me intentionally seek Christ with an open heart and mind. May we do the work we are called to, that is, renewing our faith as we seek God's love in old and new places.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lamb of God


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:29-34 

Lamb of God

Deep in the heart of Lent
we find ourselves face to face
with the one who would sacrifice
everything for the love of the world.

He came and some how people knew
a change had come into the world
a possibility of  walls coming down
welcome for the alien and strnager.

Such a cost for one so innocent
a tender child becoming servant
a compassionate friend and leader
noone who deserved the world's hate.

Love made flesh living among us
ignites jealousy and fierce anxiety
love like this gives the broken hope
it makes the powerful hateful and weak.

Deep in the heart of Lent we find
our own angers, jealousies and need for power
we set them down at the foot of the cross
an offering for the Lamb of God.

 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday


Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 

Today, the season of Lent begins, and so with it, we turn, from the merry making of Mardi Gras to the humble examination of our lives. We turn the palms from the pageant of Palm Sunday into the ashes of today. We turn our hearts to self-examination and prayer. We turn, not to self-abuse but to self and community preparation for the coming of Holy Week and Easter. We let go, rather than give up, in our turning. We turn to honesty from pretending, to transparency from self-delusion and control to making room for transformation.

Jesus tells a story about the real life of faithful people. It is never about the public self. It is always about the private self. A faithful person responds with honesty and humility in the face of God's loving presence. We are all human and all broken, and it is what we do with our humanity and brokenness that truly matters. We are invited by God today to be truthful about who we are and what we do, and make room for God's trnasforming love.

Today, I ask God to help me be humble and honest today and everyday. May we begin Lent with honest self-examination, making room for God's transforming love in our lives, preparing us for the true gift of the Easter to come.