Thursday, May 31, 2018

Feast of the Visitation



In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she 
entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
 the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed
 with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 
And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as 
I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she 
who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home. Now the time 
came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Luke 1:39-57

I have three daughters and had three sisters. We count on each other and try to be support and strength
 to each  other when life is challenging. When our sister Pegi passed at 42, it was if a part of my
being had been severed. We were linked by more than blood, a sisterly understanding of the real,
lived challenges of being women in this world. Although we live in separate places, my sisters and
daughters are always close to my heart. They each carry a part of our mother, our history, our story.

Mary runs to Elizabeth after she is challenged by the angel. Shocked and excited, she seeks out her
closest female relative, a sister, though so much older, who understood what she was going through.
Elizabeth was miraculously pregnant as was Mary. They could laugh and cry together, carrying to
each other their parts of their mothers and grandmothers, their history, and their story. Their stories
are also our stories, of God miraculous love changing the world through unknown and unlikely
women.

Today, I ask God to use me, despite all the challenges I have to carry the miraculous love of God and 
encourage all those unlikely and unknown women and men to share the story they know. May we 
share our stories so that the world might know the Creator's love.



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Family of God



Jesus said, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:43-50 
The Family of God

She heard the Creator's voice
a young girl child on a mission
she faced down fear and monarchs
changed the world in her time.

They dropped nets and walked
following a man of no means
they lost much and witnessed more
changing the world in their time.

They've left comfort and security
hearing the words with their hearts
strangers healing ravaged lands
they changed the world as well.

So in our time we are God's family
will we risk it all to bring love?
can we move beyond our comforts
to change the world in God's time?




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Bring Out Good Things


Jesus said, “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!” Matthew 12:33-42 

I love all sorts of vegetable stands and markets. The Italian Market in Philadelphia, the Lexington Market in Baltimore, Carrado's in Clifton, NJ  and the Allentown Farmer's Market are just a few of my favorites. There are people from all over speaking in many languages buying and selling their wares. People become animated and joyous in these places, calling friends over to look at something, haggling over prices with a merchant. It is alive, exhilarating and exhausting too.

Jesus is challenging the religious leaders to get out among the people. The leaders think they know what is right, and Jesus knows how wrong they are due to their isolation. The are so comfortable and aloof, they have no idea about real life. Their needs were met by taxing people, abusing power and looking the other way. We are invited to be trees of a different kind. We are invited by God to be people who get in the middle of the people, bringing joy and living in the midst of real human chaos and delight.

Today I ask God to help me see the Creator in the midst of the chaotic and sometimes frenetic creations. May we all bring good fruit to the hungry, loving arms to the lonely and a listening ear to all those crying out for justice in our time.

Monday, May 28, 2018

A House Divided


Then they brought to Jesus a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.” He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:22-32 

A House Divided

They gave their lives so others might stand
so that the heart of the republic would flourish
their dying should never ever be in vain
their loss should never shame their families.

We forget the value of so many young ones
whose lives lay ahead and now are buried
of those who fought so that we could fight
our petty squabbles, our slight differences.

The poorest understand what is at stake
the cozy forget how easily we can lose
a hold on life, liberty and freedom
when compassion is gone we all forfeit.

Let us never forget how easily it crumbles
how short life is and just how grand
this easy laughter, this time in the sun
is a precious gift which other gave up for us.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Trinity Sunday - God So Loved the World



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

In the midst of seep pain and heartache it is hard to imagine, to draw into ourselves, a God who loves us so much. We feel more condemned and punished than loved. When we hurt and are feeling overwhelmed, we cannot even take in the beauty and blessings that surround us. We can be consumed by guilt and anguish that we cannot even accept the love that surrounds us. Yet, God is ever present, with us in the depths of our pain and loss, standing along side of us in our darkest hours. 

Jesus is questioned by Nicodemus. This man has had his assumptions and the rules that he lived by challenged by the loving presence of Jesus. He wanted to understand what Jesus was saying but feared losing the solid ground under him, his power, and his independence. Nicodemus, like us is broken open when the world around us suddenly changes, when we can no longer rely on our strength and intellect alone. Today we are reminded that God is present in flesh, in spirit and in creation. There is no dark place where God will not go with us. There is nothing that can change the way the Creator loves us all - completely.

Today, I ask God to help me seek the love of God in the darkest moments and places. May we all stop trying to put the Creator in a comfortable, known box, and instead let love shower down on every hidden place and every broken moment.

Friday, May 25, 2018

I Desire Mercy



At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

He left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. Matthew 12:1-14
I Desire Mercy

You have been created in the image
molded in the  sturdy framework
grown in the verdant garden
of  the Creator's love and compassion.

Each age provides an opportunity
for forgiveness and endless mercy
a chance to soar with new wings
moments of closeness to God.

Judgement and criticism will choke
the beauty that is inherent within
the blossoming garden of grace
the endless streams of kindness.

Seeking the Divine requires seeking
the ones we love so freely, easily
a stranger who completely rattles us
as well as those we would avoid.





Thursday, May 24, 2018

All You That Are Weary

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30 

There is nothing quite like settling in to watch the sunset with toes buried in the sand. The glaring heat of the day has passed and the waves make their twilight dance on the shore. I find rest and comfort by the ocean, her day and night sounds soothe me, and I often dream of childhood days digging in the sand as the waves wash over me. Others find comfort in mountain heights, or the sounds of the city. If we but close our eyes, we can bring to mind those places and people that ring our comfort.

Our Gospel finds Jesus praying for his disciples, much as a parent does for their children - for safety, comfort and a sense of total acceptance. The world may not embrace us, but there are people in our lives who love us and accept us just as we are. And we find Jesus stretching out comprehensive arms of love for those who would simply acknowledge our need. Too often, we try to be independent when we need comfort, afraid to ask because we might seem weak. In God's love we are made brave and strong, even in our limits and weakness.

Today, I ask God to help me seek the loving comfort of the Creator in this created world. May we seek to be comfort as well, to those who are lost and torn.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

You Did Not Dance


Jesus said, “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.” Matthew 11:16-24

You Did Not Dance

So wrapped up in you little world
you could not hear the music
distracted by your selfie pose
you did not see the rolling tears.

Your need to be on top and righteous
has destroyed you ability to feel
to ponder as a nation crumbles
to run as the house is consumed by flames.

Out in the streets our young are dying
they are holding one another weeping
they are singing the songs of hope
despite how we have let them down.

In our homes the babies are hungry
they are not my problem you say
greed has made you blind and deaf
you even think you are the victim.

The time will come when no money
can buy back the soul you sold
no prayer or thought can erase
the guilt that is written on your bones.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Listen!


As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
“Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!” Matthew 11:7-15 
A friend has  recorded the sounds of the world around him and found ways to make music from them. The ambient sounds we often filter out became a lovely song. We often shut out the people and words that can change our lives from sorrow and obscurity to beauty and belonging. Instead we listen to the sensational and the bizarre, we rubberneck rather than help. We try so hard to control our world rather than experience it fully.
Jesus invites those who would listen to see the world through the eyes and ears of God. The people listening wanted a way to control and conquer their daily lives. Jesus invited the into the beauty and real chaos of the world. He invited them to see and hear the love of God around them, and he invites us still today.
Today, I ask God to help me open my ears and eyes to God's blessings around me. May we not fear the world but rather love our neighbors, loving and helping them, so that we might experience the living presence of a loving Creator.



Monday, May 21, 2018

Proclaiming Love

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities. When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Matthew 11:1-6
Proclaim Love

The light is rising over the shadows
the sun is lengthening our days 
fear has made room for strength
terror overshadowed by compassion.

Children across our continent
roar fearless and fully justified
our work is love and protection
no one should be sacrificed.

The days are coming when ancestors
will gather like stars in the night sky
they will dance to purify this home
they will sing to bring a new dawn.

We will be the trumpets of love
the symphony of fearless understanding
the doors that open wide for all
the singers who will bring in new hope.





Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost 2018

Jesus said to his disciples, ”When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to
him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these
things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I goaway, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Pentecost 2018

Sometimes the world changes in a moment
a quick turn, a sudden shock, a clarity arrives
we know something or someone that is brand new
we find ourselves captivated and changed.

As children we watched as frogs became princes
as adults we shunned the fairy tales we so loved
we threw away all the dreams and mysteries
replacing them with calendars and cell phones.

Losing a sense of joy and wonder for so long
it takes a shock, a sermon heard round the world
a brief moment of possibility when there were none
the invitation to love one another on a grand scale.

Too many children have died for no reason
except another child sees no future, no love
too many wander through the world so bruised
wishing for an exit and a relief from pain.

We have been wrapped together in a new spirit
it is chaotic, confusing and quite exciting
maybe just maybe we are all related here
maybe there might be a common heart.




Saturday, May 19, 2018

Women Healed


While Jesus was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district. Matthew 9:18-26

I am not someone who swoons over royalty or fame. And I tried to avoid all of the programs leading up to the event today. And yet, I am moved and moved again to reflect on the transforming and healing power we all witnessed today as a world together. A little boy broken by the loss of his mum, a mother of color standing with royalty, and two bold young people listening to our PB proclaiming the love as Jesus as the healing and fire this world needs right now. It is a new time, if we let it be. It is a new moment for us to stand for love and peace and overcome  the voices of hate with loud songs of love and light.

Today in our Gospel we find Jesus in motion again, coming to the aid of real outcasts - real women who are broken by life and who, because of their gender and country of origin, were not included in the household of God nor considered worthy of God's loving touch. He turned the world upside down, breaking with thousands of years of tradition to bring love that knows no barriers, love that sees no color and hears all languages. Today we are invited to share the love of Jesus, the Balm of Gilead, the hope of God's love healing all our brokenness.

Today I ask God to help me be a carrier of God's love. May we not hold back but instead, run with joy to offer love and greeting to our family from around the world.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mercy, Not Sacrifice


As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Matthew 9:9-17 

Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Take my hand and know me
as the child I once was aching
hoping that someone would
understand and accept me.

Just like I am and not like you
swaddled and cradled from birth
I am not newly arrived though
you would send me away just the same.

I was formed in the warm earth
rounded by years under the sky
my people talk and sing differently
you would have us disappear.

We are broken just like you are
parents and children with problems
mistakes and anger can overwhelm
yet we are invited to the banquet as well.

I am not less than the angels like you
no more than a member of the family
like you I crave a place and a name
yet I am content with belonging.

Welcome me and see the blessings
get a little closer and sing along
there is nothing to fear in your sister
we are relatives, blood and toil bound.




Thursday, May 17, 2018

Take Heart


And after getting into a boat Jesus crossed the sea and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. Matthew 9:1-8

We humans can be paralyzed in many ways. Physically we can lose the ability to walk or move on our own. We can also be paralyzed with fear, guilt or shame. And we can often be judged by others to be a failure because we cannot rise up or rise above it on our own. In truth we cannot do much of anything on our own. We love our fiction, our fantasy of independence and self reliance. Yet we cannot thrive alone, no matter what stories we tell, what fictions we weave.

Jesus encounters a paralyzed man. This man aches to be healed and yet has not been. Everything has been done for him. He is ashamed of his dependence, he feels himself a failure and a reject. It is to ones like him who Jesus comes to, and to whom God's love come now. Jesus forgives his sins and frees him from hims paralysis. Liberated from all that has bound him, he is truly grateful and those looking on can't help but seek that love as well.

Today I ask God to help me seek the love of God as I put my arrogance and independence aside. May we all cling to the one who can forgive us and heal us today, bringing that same love to those who are paralyzed and broken in this world now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Cost Being Healed


When Jesus came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood. Matthew 8:28-34 

In this day of almost instant everything and a twenty four hour news cycle, we want all of life to be fast and cheap. This desire also shows itself in our desire to be fit in 10 minutes a day, to lose 30 pounds in a month and to stop the aging process overnight. We don't like to face the truth, that good and permanent changes only come with great time and great cost. We have to give up a great deal for good change to happen. We might be called upon to let go of our livelihood, change direction and do hard new things if we are to know true healing.

Jesus encounters two tormented, very ill men who are tortured by demons. The demons ask to be sent to the swine - and then immediately cause the death of the innocent pigs and the loss of the swineherd's livelihood. It must have caused the loss of the whole town's income as they ran Jesus off as well. The honest truth about us humans, is that we get very comfortable with our crazy people and our demons. We don't want to expend time or energy for ourselves or our communities to be made whole. Yet God invites us to know true healing - healing which raises up not one but everyone.

Today, I ask God to help me be patient and steadfast in the process of healing. May we live to care for the whole of our communities and risk all for the sake of others.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mothers and Soldiers


When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”
When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.
When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:5-17 

At ever pow wow I have ever been to, we honor our veterans and soldiers first. We have a long tradition of understanding their sacrifice and their suffering. Being a warrior is not simply being brave, it is about serving all the people and protecting the ones we love as well as those we may not like. It is about putting others over self. And yesterday, Mother's Day, is a moment to honor those who are our mothers, who have acted as mothers to us, and who have served others rather than putting themselves first. Being a mother, however you define it, means being a warrior as well as a servant, committed to protect and serve the most vulnerable and needy. That's what my mother taught me.

Jesus is on the road and encounters first a soldier and than a mother.Both have dire need for healing. The centurion had a servant in need, and Peter had his mother in law in need of healing. Both knew the critical role these people played in their lives. We don't know what the servant or the mother in law might have said, but we know what they did. They got up and put others first.

Today, I ask God to help me get up and put others first. May we be warriors and servants to the least and the most vulnerable, putting others first and serving with joy today.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

All Encompassing Love - Mother's Day 2018

Jesus prayed for his disciples, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:6-19

All Encompassing Love

With each rotation of the circling sun
I recognize ever more and more
the bounty and gifts she bestowed
the sacrifices she never spoke of.

At times impossible to comprehend
at times more rigid that tender
often overwhelmed by exhaustion
I can hear her footsteps still.

Not the only child she cared for
her brood and every child arriving
her open heart and open door
made a circle around us as we fell.

Her laughter rings now in the sky
lighting up the densest foggy night
her arms encompassing her Savior
her smile reaching down from heaven.

Now is the time for us to rise
carrying that sacrificial giving love
spreading it like summer's dust
like stars flung across the night sky.