Saturday, March 31, 2018

Laid In A Tomb



When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of
Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.
So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which
he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before
Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, `After three days
I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise
his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has been raised from the dead,'
and the last deception would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of
soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb

secure by sealing the stone. Matthew 27:57-66

Laid in a Tomb

Away from the daylight
sealed away for eternity
lying on a rough marble slab
life began again for all.

In the darkness of the waiting
grief and fear all wrapped around
the body that was recently living
now awaits a new unknown thing.

In this damp and dreary place
a funeral pall as our garments
our tears as our sustenance now
we fail to hear the breaking dawn.

Yet dawn will break magnificently
we will know warmth once again
we will see the One carried away
transformed again by divine love.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday


Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus replied, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go." This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, "I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me." Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave's name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?"
So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, "You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said." When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, "You are not also one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" They answered, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law." The Jews replied, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death." (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate asked him, "What is truth?"
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, "I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" They shouted in reply, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a bandit.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God."
Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor."
When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!" They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but the emperor." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it." This was to fulfill what the scripture says,
"They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots."
And that is what the soldiers did.
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 18:1-19:4

Good Friday

It is still this agony we would escape
we want to turn away and not face it 
right in the middle of the road to new life
death sends us shivering for shelter.

We want the Easter lilies and the candy
colorful attire, an explosion of spring
yet today we stand alone with mortality
with our sins and daily bloody cruelties.

The cross stands before the resurrection
betrayal and abandon before the glory
pain and suffering when we know the end
we want to skip forward and miss this part.

Yet here we are, all of us weeping together
at the foot of the cross looking on this agony
what the sinless beloved of God suffered
for all of us to be now one beloved family.

Our selfishness, rage and careless folly
have returned our Savior to this cross
today we called to the once and for all death
so that we may truly know eternity again.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Maundy Thursday


Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
"Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Today people in churches all over the word will reenact the last supper by washing feet and stripping the altar bare. The customs we participate in are fairly sanitized from the experience we read about this day. Washing someone's feet was either a servants's job or something one did themselves. I have known parishes where the priest and participants all get pedicures before the foot washing. In Jesus' time, and in warm places even now where there is not access to running water, washing one's feet is a lowdown dirty job. 

Jesus washes his disciples' feet before they sit down for what would be their last meal together.  Peter misses what's going on and demands to be washed all over. He reminded them all that this was an example, a model of how they should treat one another. They are accept the dirty feet, the broken hearts, the messiness of our daily lives with great joy. He give them a new commandment to love one another. We are to use his example to love completely amidst the grime and the pain of our relationships.

Today, I ask God to help me love completely, accept the mess and the grime as joyful part of being a disciples. May we not try to tidy up the people around us, but rather love them completely as Christ does, and serve joyfully not matter how they look to us. For God sees the us all as beloved, cherished and simply asks us to serve.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Troubled in Spirit


At supper with his friends, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples-- the one whom Jesus loved-- was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "Do quickly what you are going to do." Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the festival"; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once." John 13:21-32

Troubled in Spirit

This journey has always been treacherous
these days seem even more troubling
the river bends to unveil the unseen rapids 
we are on a small boat on turbulent waters.

We pray and hold our children closer
showing them how to listen and to see
strapping them in to save their lives
hoping they do no see our tangible fear.

We walk this holy road to the cross together
no matter the terrors we pretend do not exist
they are roaring in our ears and we tremble
raising prayers that we might simply survive.

I am troubled in spirit for the days ahead
the Divine likewise knows why we are shaking
this river, this life is in the palm of the Creator
our hearts beat together and we continue on.
 


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Fallen Grain


Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-- `Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light."
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. John 12:20-36

This time of year is both hopeful and scary, with potential and dangers abounding.  I love to get seeds and start them indoors, yet some always will do better than others. It is often my lack of knowledge combined with carelessness that can destroy the most fragile seedling. Likewise, some seeds are so intent on bringing life and flower, that carelessness and lack of skill will not limit their potential. Despite the seeming frailty, they still must be broken open, by water, warmth and light to give abundant life again. 

This Tuesday in Holy Week, we find Jesus anticipating the time of his death and resurrection. The people around him, especially his disciples, do not want this to happen. They want to hold back what needs to be. They do not want to see the true cruelty and violence of this world. We all ache for a softer, gentler world. Yet, we also know that the falling, the burying, the darkness cannot hold back new life. God's love is so strong that it breaks through the crust and stones of this world to bring abundant life. And we are invited to honestly and openly be part of this drama, this passion, when God's love and sacrifice is demonstrated for the whole world.

Today, I ask God to help me move faithfully through this Holy Week, this season of falling and breaking open. May we be those who are willing to share in this season, so that light and love might be brought forth in new and abundant ways.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Whatever You Ask for in Prayer


On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:12-25 

Whatever You Ask

The darkness of the world lifts occassionally
and we think we do not need to pray fervently
this is the time when terror and violence rage
the here and now of being on our knees.

The echo of the rapid fire gunshots
reverberate throughout the school halls
the innocents whose blood cannot be removed
is a mark on every face not to be ignored.

Busy with these daily chores and meetings
caught up with the screens and the mail
we are seldom in conversation with God
rarely do we cry out and ask believing.

This week calls us to our knees together
when murder was on the leaders' minds
when they plotted to kill the peasant King
who brought the love of God to the poor.

This is the season of our need for prayer
when we have colluded with our silence
when we have failed to ask and act
yet Jesus still walks this road for us.
 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday - A Borrowed Donkey


When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1-11

The people who I admire the most and who have been consistent throughout my life, are often those who have little of their own and share gladly with others. These beloved find ways to welcome and celebrate others, constantly telling and showing their love in small ways. They never seek praise and honor for themselves. They are comfortable in their own skin and so do not try to impress others. They are real and not afraid of their faults or their brokenness. Nothing is for show, everything for love.

We are at the end of Lent as we celebrate Palm Sunday and move into Holy Week. We have this moment in time when we celebrate the King of Love, the incarnate one who brought the Divine into our very broken world. We have this moment where the God in flesh is celebrated, riding on a borrowed donkey, where the poor people of the city honored him by throwing down broken palm branches and their ragged coats as he moved through them. The people sang and shouted, moved by the closeness of eternity and love. For many of us this is a thin time, a time when the lines between eternal and corporal, between heaven and earth, and between the living and the dead are very thin and porous. We are invited by God to walk together through this week with an awareness of our fragile existence, while knowing we are bound to the heart of God throughout eternity.

Today I ask God to help me face the days ahead. This Holy Week, I ask for courage, honesty and humility. May we all walk together in these trying times, knowing the King of love walks with us, truly knowing our suffering and bearing all of our burdens.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Cup that I Drink

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:32-45 
The Cup That I Drink
You might think their life is glamorous
envying all they seem to have
jealous of their comfort and their power
the people that flock to be near them.

You might want to suffer like the Savior
be the rock star of the  great martyrs
eating little and looking pious to the world
with a heart that is still human and greedy.

From two anxious brothers aching for glory
to those who think they have solutions
we think we can fix all the broken bits
when only God has the solution for us.

We are driftwood and scattered shells
hugging an angry and turbulent sea
we will rise with love that is divine
getting buried when we trust ourselves to soar.





Thursday, March 22, 2018

First Will Be Last


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

I have been thinking a great deal about our present dislike of immigrants here in the US. Except for those of us who are Indigenous to this land, everyone else are immigrants, some legal initially and others not. We have demonized the migrants who come and pick our crops and do the other jobs we were prefer not to do. We have shipped them out and crops rot in the fields. Folks who love their families and are willing to do anything for them are being shut out, while the selfish and the greedy parade around like winners, given the spotlight and the welcome. I can only wonder who is truly first and last in this age?

Jesus is confronted by a young man, desperate to be blessed and sanctified. Jesus is both gentle and honest with him. The young man's luxury has kept him from following. He is one who protects his money and status before caring for the needs of the people around him. We too, can get caught up in protection and security when the world is crying for clean water and secure food sources. God invites us to be sacrificial and aware. We are asked to welcome and to share.

Today, I ask God to be sacrificial, welcoming and sharing. May I never put myself first, but rather, see those who are in need around me and respond to them. May we live, putting ourselves last, so that those who we have neglected and scorned might have some comfort and warmth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Let the Little Children


Jesus left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘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.”
Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:1-16 

Let the Little Children

They came to our land and homes
with words or help and support
they took our children and changed them
making them to be foreigners to us.

The Good Book came and Jesus
took residence among my people
the people who carried the Book
could not see Him in our midst.

We were a hindrance, a problem
their worldview didn't make room
for the language we spoke together
nor the different way we lived.

They took our little ones by force
they fed us foods that made us sick
they gave us blankets that were infested
all in the name of a Christian nation.

Jesus is still seating among us today
reaching out for the broken and abused
offering healing in our sacred langauge
singing blessings here in our homes.
 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Salted With Fire


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

During March, those of us who live in New England, and most of the northeast, have been inundated with snow. Our fourth Nor'easter in March is upon us, even though the first day of spring is supposedly upon us. We have lost power twice, in two different storms. Every intersection's edge is piled with snow making good sight lines completely obliterated. The roads and the cars are covered with salt and sand. It will be over some day, by right now it feels like we are being tested to the breaking point. I can still hear my Mother Betty say, "you know you are getting close to God, when the devil is working overtime!"

Jesus speaks to the believers around him, those who are testing those who are new to following Jesus, while expecting to be coddled themselves. Some Christians, even now, truly believe they can do whatever they want because they are saved. Jesus tells them that actually their burdens and responsibilities increase. We are to expect testing while caring for the young and new believers. We are to carry and share the Good News, not judging the beloved, but rather making safe and welcome places for all. God invites us to see the testing we have been through, as well as what is to come, as the maturing of our faith, and our drawing ever closer to God.

Today, I ask God to help me face the pain and the trials of this walk in faith, knowing that each hurdle is a sign of deepening faith. May we face of trials with renewed faith, protecting the innocents and the new to the faith, so that God can use us to transform this broken world.

Monday, March 19, 2018

St. Joseph's Feast


Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day's journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety." He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. Luke 2:41-52

Being a parent is a daily gift and a daily challenge. When our children are young we try to keep them safe and teach them. They often get beyond our eyesight and get into dangerous places, no matter how careful we have been. As our children grow to maturity, they grow into themselves, full of ideas, attitudes and  terrifying habits. We can no longer hold them close, yet we ache to wrap them in our arms and keep them from themselves. I have always been grateful for and blessed by my daughters. They have also taught me about prayer and humility.

Joseph finds himself as a parent to this child of great promise, who is both a mystery and well known to him. As a parent he is constantly struggling to give enough freedom and boundaries all at the same time. He did not desire to be a parent and was called into places he never wanted to go. And yet for the love of this child and for love of God, he joyfully and fearfully accepts this call. That doesn't mean his life is easy. This young boy tests the limits of his patience and capacity. We are invited by God to rejoice in the children in our care while understanding we will never get "it" exactly right. Love is the gift we have received and give freely, even when we are pressed beyond our capacity and understanding, for God goes with us to these hardest places.

Today, I ask God to help me live my life in prayer and humility, giving thanks at all times for the amazing children and regular challenges I have been given. May we give love freely, despite all of the challenges we face,  trusting that God is with us in all of the hardest moments when we feel elast able to cope.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thunder


Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. John 12:20-33

Thunder

The storms of this world trouble us
deep rumbling thunder in the sky
the voice from heaven glorifying
we trembled and run to hide.

When God is doing a new thing
remaking the world, setting us free
we cling to the old imprisonment
hold fast to the bars the bound us.

Despite ourselves and our troubles
the Creator is moving the clouds
dispelling gloom and dark terror
washing the world clean of this scourge.

The hearts of the young are brimming
their voices like thunder from above
our children are screaming for peace
the Divine smiles over all creation.

The hour is drawing very near to us
our souls are troubled by our lack
yet the heavens and earth will tremble
for love divine is on the move.

 
 


Collect
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

St. Patrick's Day


If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Today is St. Patrick's feast day, celebrated here in the US, mostly as an occasion to drink in excess, to wear green and to celebrate all things Irish. In fact, St. Patrick was not Irish but rather captured as a slave in England and brought to Ireland as a teenager. He worked in harsh conditions, feeding the animals and probably sleeping in the rough. He eventually escaped and went back home to his family. But the story doesn't end there. He was ordained, returning to Ireland to bring the Gospel back to the people who enslaved him. He did not destroy their traditional holy places but honored them by making holy sites into church plants. He made the Gospel indigenous to Ireland. Instead of revenge he brought God's love and for that he is revered and honored by the Irish people.

This reading from Corinthians is probably the most common passage read at weddings. Yet the love that is referred to here is love that eclipses even the love that any couple, any family might have. This love, a gift from God, is the love that Patrick demonstrated, a love that moves beyond revenge and protection, to sharing openly and with great grace. It is the love of sacrifice and offering. A love, which, given by God, can only be shared. It is a love of daily forgiveness, of seeing people with the eyes and heart of God. It is a love which we humans can only see when it is shared, when another make room in their life for captors and friends alike. This is a day when we should be rededicating our lives to the service of others rather than drinking ourselves under the table. This is the love we have been given so freely and is most activated when we share freely.

Today, I ask God to help me be forgiving of all and grateful for all in my life. Like Patrick may we embrace the people and places we find ourselves, sharing God's love freely with captors and convicts,  saints and sinners as well as this world that aches for the real embrace of a loving God.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Momentary Vision


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

A Momentary Vision

We are often given a glimpse
of what we will know for certain
yet a momentary vision must be
enough for these days of struggle.

Often we are awake in night's darkness
 our breathing shallow and afraid
we know we are on the verge of knowing
yet the truth is often to hard to bear.

High on the  clouded mountain top
light surrounded him and blinded them
the ancestors gathered to give the sign
the whole of the universe colliding there.

We can only see in a mirror dimly now
in the smooth summer waters we catch it
in moments of quiet and in the crowds
we know that the eternal is standing there.

What comes first before bliss is struggle
before justice comes skin peeling truth
before love comes an ache so very deep
what we know now is nothing but shadow.


 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Take Up Your Cross


Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 8:27 – 9:1

Yesterday I was honored to spend time with the Presiding Bishop's delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women.  They are amazing and inspiring women who have taken time out of their busy lives to follow Christ by carrying the needs and concern of women around our globe. They are fierce and loving, carrying their message and commitment with great joy. Yesterday, we also witnessed children around the country risking expulsion to carry their message. On the one month anniversary of the shooting in Parkland, children are risking all so all children might be safe.

In our gospel today we hear Peter pronouncing Jesus as Lord and then rebuking him for scaring the followers. Jesus reminds them that they have a cross to carry as they follow him. They cannot follow Jesus without denying themselves. We too, are invited in the depths of Lent, to deny ourselves and take up the cross we need to bear. Each of us has a cross to bear and we are invited to carry it with joy as we follow Christ. For we know that our burdens are made light as we offer ourselves to God for the sake of the world.

Today, I ask God to help me be brave and strong like these delegates and the students across the country. May we live our lives, willingly carrying our crosses, so that the world might know that God is love.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sighing Deeply


The Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.” Mark 8:11-26

Today is one month after the Parkland shootings, where 17 innocents were murdered and many others were injured, our young people will walk out of school . They want us to understand how foolish and  petty the leaders in our country have been. They want us to change, to be the adults we should be, to keep our youth and our country safe. Instead of bickering and being swayed by funding, our children want us to live faithfully and work for safety and compassion.

Jesus is confronted by religious leaders who are fussing about petty issues. He sighs deeply, the ache of foolishness and pettiness weighing him down. Knowing that there was need all around, he asked them to focus on the people around them, instead of petty human rules. We are invited to open our  eyes and hearts to the needs around us. We are called to see and respond, setting petty differences aside.

Today, I ask God to help me see and respond to the needs about me. May we all live as God has called us, with compassion and welcome for all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Compassion


In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. Mark 8:1-10

Yesterday, I stood in line to get credentials to visit the UN with our delegation of women. I talked to several women who were from Canada, also here for the forum, who do amazing ministries and service for the suffering around the world. They gave me pins and cards about their work - one  caring for exploited women, the other medical providers to the world's poorest regions. Their love and compassion was evident and inspiring.

In the Gospel today, Jesus has compassion for the crowd. From that compassion, the small resources became a great miracle foe many. The incarnate living God was moved to do something for the people who came to seek healing and closeness to God. We learn today that the Creator is moved by our needs and our hunger. Miracles of abundance wait for those who seek to now and feel God's presence. There are miracles for the hungry, for those trying to find their way home.

Today I ask God to help me have compassion for all I encounter today. May we be moved by the living God, to share the little resources we have knowing God will increase abundantly our offerings.


Monday, March 12, 2018

A Mother's Request


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

I am in New York this week for the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women (UNCSW62). We had an opening prayer service where more than 100 women from all over the world gathered to sing and pray together. These are mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, women and men together, asking God for peace, inclusion and understanding. There is hope, joy and persistence in every one of the gathered. There is a loving passion for justice in every face, faces who have looked on injustice and exclusion for far too long.

A Syro-phoenecian woman confronts Jesus. She is an outsider to the faith and a woman. She has broken all the taboos to talk with Jesus and ask for healing for her child. He challenges her back with the cultural restrictions  the day, but still she persisted. Love made her bold. The fierce and undying love of a mother or father teaches us how to be faithful. God invites us to have that fierce love that never backs down. We are asked to love everyone as if they were our child, our grandchild, fiercely and persistent in the face of cultures and powers who would silence women and marginalize all who are outsiders.

Today, I ask God to help me be fierce like the mother in our Gospel today. May we be life protectors, the ones who persist in loving those who have been abused, marginalized and silenced.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Defiled


Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

“You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)—then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:1-23

Sometimes the best people and the finest institutions can be defiled, no matter how up standing and righteous they may seem. We humans scheme too much and hide behind piety and practice. Often times, people scheme because they have been so hurt, they refuse to be hurt again. Others expect to get revenge and hide behind their outward goodness. None of us can keep from being hurt, or from getting sick on occasion, but we can work at humility and love in our hearts. We can do the work to radiate goodness and love from within.

Today, Jesus observes the difference between lives that look good and those that are good. We are often taken in by glamor and fame, even when we know the makeup is covering horrible cruelty and brokenness. We honor the thinnest and winners and overlook the best hiding in plain sight. God invites us today to see the people who are blessings us all around, and to follow their example of quiet humility.

Today I ask God to help me remove the pride and jealousy from my heart that stand in the way of honoring the true blessings in our midst. May we all, in this Lenten season, do the hard interior work of self-examination, so that we might be ready to embrace anew the resurrection.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

One Small Lunch


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



One Small Lunch

When did the miracle begin?
as the Incarnate one prayed
over such a small offering
or in a loving mother's hands?

The routine acts of love we do
become miracles when we share
when we offer the little we have
for the care and feeding of others.

The regular acts of daily prayer
as we linger in traffic or in a line
as we wait for children to come home
the miracles begin with a whisper.

True need is always unseen by those
who know too much and do little
yet a small loving act of kindness
can change the course of history.
\

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Dancing for the King


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

Sometimes, when we serve God, we find ourselves between powerful people who do not want us to exist. They want us to go away. Sometimes they are in seats of government and sometimes it happens within the church. Folks who want their sins hidden, people who want the truth tellers to be silenced, folks who think their power gives them the right to abuse and bully others, will always take advantage of the meek and pure of heart. Yet history always turns towards justice, and we honor the saints of God and not those who got their ways for a season.

This story of the dancing daughter and the beheading of John the Baptist, brings the harsh truth of our daily lives into sharp focus. We see people of power taking advantage of others, getting their way despite all the evil they have done. This is no parable but gritty, harsh, headline grapping reality. We are caught up in the  drama of desire and sinfulness. John dies to silence him, the truth bearer. We are invited by God today to be the truth bearers and understand that no one likes to face their own truths and sins. There are real, lived consequences for following God.

Today I ask God to help me be brave and follow God, to be a truth teller and one who brings light to the shadows. May we not be those who manipulate for our gain but be those who live for Christ alone, sharing light and love, despite the cruelty and abuses of the world.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Without Honor


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

Without Honor

Among those who share this call
it is often perplexing to see who leads
how real and important decisions are made
whose culture us the assumed center of all.

To sit outside among the beloved community
to be welcomed but not listened to or heard
can cause a person to want to scream loud
yet the voice is silenced, the tears are dry.

Without admitting and taking responsibility
the healing is paused on a distant horizon
the forgiveness waits like a hungry orphan
new life is dying of thirst by the roadside.

Creator come sing an honor song to this body
broken and damaged from our own neglect
Creator dance us into a new honest beginning
breathe a new breath into this sighing heart.